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Amsterdam Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
399 Reviews

HAL with the Family-the good, bad and very ugly!

Amsterdam Cruise Review by andreecruisemom

0 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jun 2009
  • Destination: Alaska

This was a cruise with my parents, sisters and our families.  We had my boys with us-ages 17,14 and 7 and my sister's kids, ages 4 and 3.  At the last minute, my sister's husband couldn't join us so she was in her cabin alone with her 2 young kids.  My 2 older boys shared a cabin, my parents had their own cabin and my sister (being the good Aunt that she is) shared with my 7 year old son.My parents and my husband and myself are very experienced cruisers.  My parents cruise about twice a year and have been on a wide range of cruise lines from Crystal to RCCL.  My husband and I try to cruise once a year (usually by ourselves).  We were recently on the Zuiderdam in October for Panama Canal.We wanted to be close together and not worry about kids and balconies this cruise so we chose to be in an outside cabin category.  We usually never cruise with less than a verandah cabin, so this was different.  We were offered an upgrade to verandahs the week before the cruise, but declined because we wanted our cabins to be together.  We were in 2766-2782.  I definitely felt a different level of service from our previous cabins to this one.  I also know that the cabin stewards are servicing many more cabins than they used to.  From never getting extra towels to our room sometimes not being made up until the late afternoon, this was not the service level I was used to.  We like to bring our own wine on board and I am used to always having a refrigerator in the room.  I didn't realize that this was only for verandah cabins and up.  Now when we called Holland America before the cruise, we were told that a "beverage cooler" would be in our room.  When I got on board and asked the front desk where our refrigerator was, they said we could rent one for $2 a day and that the "beverage cooler" was the ice bucket.  Then why not just say it was an ice bucket when I called weeks ago?!  There was also no way to tell the time in our room.  I called the front desk and they told me that there was a screen on the phone which showed the time.  I said that there wasn't and they said "oh, well your cabin must not have that phone."  I felt like a second class citizen-I guess outside cabins don't rate the phone.  My 2 older sons are deaf and hear with cochlear implants-I asked to have a clock put in their rooms so they could tell the time-they don't sleep with the implants on and sometimes it's hard for them to hear a call from room to room if they are showering or dressing.  The front desk argued with me and told me I was welcome to purchase a clock if I chose.  After speaking with a supervisor, they did provide their room with a small clock.The Alaska itinerary was amazing!  We were blessed with great weather and many whale sightings.  We did the ships excursion for whale watching out of Juneau which was excellent.  In Sitka we walked around the town and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We walked to the raptor center to see the bald eagles that are being rehabilitated and found it very interesting.  The kids all loved the "Great American Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan".  We didn't get off the ship in Victoria, we had all been there before and it was a night call-6-11 pm.  The last night, my kids wanted to hang with their friends, and we wanted to get packed.Dining-the worst I've ever had on any cruise ship.  We chose main dining at a beautiful large table so we could all eat together before the kids went off to the evening activities.  The first night-when we asked the waiter for kids menus he said "he didn't know where they were".  Our waiter was very difficult to understand and brought the wrong things to the table.  Service was sloooow-2 hours!  We complained to the Head waiter and was assured that the next night would be better.  Well, the next night was formal night.  We got to our table at about 6 (we were delayed by taking pictures).  The waiter had kids menus and we specifically asked that the kids be served first.  We waited and waited-kids were getting very unruly and hungry.  At 7 pm we complained that it was taking so long-the waiter who was helping our waiter said, well you didn't put your order in until 6:20 (OK, 40 minutes for grilled cheese or chicken and fries?)  Then food starts coming out for the kids at 7:10 with corn ships instead of fries.  I asked the waiter and he said, "well, if you want it fast, you sometimes get chips instead of fries?!)  The kids didn't even eat the food.  The rest of our dinner was so slow, we didn't finish until diners for the next seating were already being served!  My Mom found the hotel manager the next day and sat with him to explain the issues.  I must say that he took notice and from then on we had the head waiter helping with our table.  Now I have nothing against any of the waiters being in training and I'm patient with language issues, but our situation was a bad one.Room service was horrible.  My son called repeatedly to have chicken nuggets and fries delivered to the room.  Nothing-45 minutes later they called back and tried to convince him to get a club sandwich instead.  Then he asked for chocolate chip cookies and they delivered oatmeal.  When we called back to complain they insisted that they brought chocolate chip cookies.  On the last night, my sister and I were packing and watching a movie in the room and we ordered 2 club sandwiches-we repeated the order several times.  30 minutes later we got 1 club sandwich.  We immediately called room service to see what the problem was and they said we only ordered 1.  15 minutes later, another sandwich showed up.After the 2nd night-we received a flyer saying that they were going to open a "kid friendly" dining on floor 9 at the terrace grill from 5:30-7:00 every night.  (It should've said floor 8).  On the last night, we went to take the kids up there for a quick bite at 6:20 and they were closed down.  I showed the manager out there the flyer for that day that showed the hours and he told me they were told to close early because everyone is in Victoria and we should  eat in the Lido (where my kids don't like the food)  Eventually, someone brought us some pizza, fries and chicken for the kids, but everything required extra work and discussion.  I have never had this happen before on any cruise line with or without my children.Entertainment was good-we enjoyed the shows.  My 7 year old aspiring actor enjoyed the session "backstage with the entertainers".  The kids programs were good-the little ones enjoyed the 3-7 year old program and my teens had a great time meeting friends in the Loft.  We only saw them for dinner!I have to say I would think hard before booking a HAL trip again, and this makes me so sad, because I've loved the cruise line in the past!

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