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Our family (my wife, me, 3 adult children, daughter-in-law) choose Holland America because while we had wonderful experiences on Princess, Royal Caribbean, and NCL, we were looking for a little more service and luxury on Holland American. In particular, we wanted something a little less hustle-and-bustle, and great food. We got half of what we were looking for, and a few pleasant and one very unpleasant surprise. First the good. The ship was beautiful - tastefully decorated and spotless. Room layouts were beautiful. Easy embarkation and disembarkation. We found the front-line service people (stewards, waiters, etc.) to be accommodating and very friendly. Food was wonderful, and actually exceeded our expectations. Excursions were life experiences (although I'd note that the Juneau dog sledding is very frequently cancelled due to weather). Sounds wonderful, and these aspects were. Not withstanding this, we'd NEVER go on a Holland American cruise again. To our surprise and amazement, the ship was over-crowded, and this manifested itself in many ways. Buffet lines were often long (I waited 30 minutes for my wife to join me at breakfast and actually thought we had missed connections - she was waiting in the waffle line). Wait for tender was very long (we expressed concern that although we were an hour early for excursion that tender line might cause us to miss excursion departure, and staff shrugged their shoulders). Often times all the treadmills, bicycles, and ellipticals were taken at gym. Most frustrating, if you wanted to eat at the main Lido buffet during a popular time, there were no tables to be had - you had to walk around looking for someone to leave and dash to the spot, or alternatively take your tray to your room. I was incredulous to see, on multiple occasions, a senior ship officer taking up a large table to himself (eating and talking on his cell phone) during this prime time. We had to reconcile ourselves to long waits, or eat, exercise, take tenders, etc at "non-prime times." Not a terrible problem, but ironically, it was to avoid this kind of thing that we choose Holland American in the first place. However, by far the most frustrating aspect of our cruise was the rooms we got for our adult children. While my wife and I got a suite, we had one exterior room for our daughters, and an adjoining room for our son and daughter-in-law. Turned out that the rooms were directly below the piano bar. In our opinion, they NEVER should have had rooms there. It was open late (until the last customer left, which could be well into the morning). Loud (my daughter, who is a music teacher, could identify the chords while wearing ear-plugs). Foot stomping. Margaritaville night. The ship people claimed they never had complaints before, which we just felt wasn't credible. They'd claim to try to contain the noise (never were willing to close the bar at a reasonable hour) but then came the foot-stomping! Ultimately after 4 noisy nights, they sent chocolates (nice gesture but room service was free anyway), put a fan in one room to drown out the noise, and gave my son and daughter-in-law use of an interior room from another couple who had to leave for medical reasons. And, they credited us $75 per person - while this was a nice gesture, of course it didn't address the problem, and had we been given the choice of a noisy room for a $75 discount, of course we wouldn't have taken it. We felt betrayed that a line like Holland American, or any cruise line for that matter, would do this to passengers devoting their time and considerable money for a top-notch memorable vacation. Okay, it was memorable. Yes, we had a good time and as I said, there was lots to like. However, ironically, we felt that the service was meaningfully short of the other lines we had been on that were much less expensive. By the way, our final departure gift was that two of our heavy-duty suitcases were damaged on debarkation.

Some Aspects Very Good, Some Not Good At All

Oosterdam Cruise Review by AndyB

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2008
  • Destination: Alaska
Our family (my wife, me, 3 adult children, daughter-in-law) choose Holland America because while we had wonderful experiences on Princess, Royal Caribbean, and NCL, we were looking for a little more service and luxury on Holland American. In particular, we wanted something a little less hustle-and-bustle, and great food. We got half of what we were looking for, and a few pleasant and one very unpleasant surprise.
First the good. The ship was beautiful - tastefully decorated and spotless. Room layouts were beautiful. Easy embarkation and disembarkation. We found the front-line service people (stewards, waiters, etc.) to be accommodating and very friendly. Food was wonderful, and actually exceeded our expectations. Excursions were life experiences (although I'd note that the Juneau dog sledding is very frequently cancelled due to weather).
Sounds wonderful, and these aspects were. Not withstanding this, we'd NEVER go on a Holland American cruise again.
To our surprise and amazement, the ship was over-crowded, and this manifested itself in many ways. Buffet lines were often long (I waited 30 minutes for my wife to join me at breakfast and actually thought we had missed connections - she was waiting in the waffle line). Wait for tender was very long (we expressed concern that although we were an hour early for excursion that tender line might cause us to miss excursion departure, and staff shrugged their shoulders). Often times all the treadmills, bicycles, and ellipticals were taken at gym. Most frustrating, if you wanted to eat at the main Lido buffet during a popular time, there were no tables to be had - you had to walk around looking for someone to leave and dash to the spot, or alternatively take your tray to your room. I was incredulous to see, on multiple occasions, a senior ship officer taking up a large table to himself (eating and talking on his cell phone) during this prime time. We had to reconcile ourselves to long waits, or eat, exercise, take tenders, etc at "non-prime times." Not a terrible problem, but ironically, it was to avoid this kind of thing that we choose Holland American in the first place.
However, by far the most frustrating aspect of our cruise was the rooms we got for our adult children. While my wife and I got a suite, we had one exterior room for our daughters, and an adjoining room for our son and daughter-in-law. Turned out that the rooms were directly below the piano bar. In our opinion, they NEVER should have had rooms there. It was open late (until the last customer left, which could be well into the morning). Loud (my daughter, who is a music teacher, could identify the chords while wearing ear-plugs). Foot stomping. Margaritaville night. The ship people claimed they never had complaints before, which we just felt wasn't credible. They'd claim to try to contain the noise (never were willing to close the bar at a reasonable hour) but then came the foot-stomping! Ultimately after 4 noisy nights, they sent chocolates (nice gesture but room service was free anyway), put a fan in one room to drown out the noise, and gave my son and daughter-in-law use of an interior room from another couple who had to leave for medical reasons. And, they credited us $75 per person - while this was a nice gesture, of course it didn't address the problem, and had we been given the choice of a noisy room for a $75 discount, of course we wouldn't have taken it. We felt betrayed that a line like Holland American, or any cruise line for that matter, would do this to passengers devoting their time and considerable money for a top-notch memorable vacation. Okay, it was memorable.
Yes, we had a good time and as I said, there was lots to like. However, ironically, we felt that the service was meaningfully short of the other lines we had been on that were much less expensive.
By the way, our final departure gift was that two of our heavy-duty suitcases were damaged on debarkation.
AndyB’s Full Rating Summary
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