Holland America can inspire you with excellence and then take you into the depths of mediocrity with poor execution.
On our South Pacific cruise, we were very pleased by the quality of the wait staff in the Dining Rooms and Lido and the overall consistently good quality quality of the food. . But then we had to contend with long waits for tenders into the ports -- even when I got in line at 6:15 AM to get tender tickets -- and things like running out of chips all the time for sandwiches, or tired old ho-hum daily itineraries that need to be updated after years and years of the same. And why not have some sandwiches, pizza and snacks around in the Lido for those coming on board late PM from excursions or want a small snack around 9:30?
The Amsterdam is a nice ship even thought it is showing its wear in places. This is the best dining and room service crew I've ever seen in action. But I found the front desk people to be difficult at times and the captain and staff weren't all that friendly, except for the fine cruise director, compared to other cruises. We knew before the cruise we were due $1,400 in complementary money for booking the cruise but once aboard we found there was only $500 and the staff was indignant about our concern. When we got to Hawaii we quickly rectified the problem with the help of the vendor supplying the complementary money and I kind of got the feeling HAL was seeing if they could rip us off, especially when the money showed in my account online two months before the cruise. My wife also got food poisoning in the dining room one night and they would not cover the $140 fee for medical attention.
One writer on CC noted people were nasty but I didn't find that to be true. There are always going to be a few bad apples and sour personalities.
I did think the quality of entertainment was varied and generally acceptable, with a couple of truly outstanding performers. The ship's song and dance group was fine. The piano bar guy was truly outstanding. We were very critical of the casino which is simply too tight compared to many land casinos and doesn't give people enough enjoyment.
The ports were fine. Highlights for me were Bora Bora, Moorea, Rarotonga and Dravuni Island in Fiji with its fabulous beach. I thought Papette, Tahiti was quite unfriendly to tourists and and was all that impressed with Tonga. HAL, though, needs to stop taking guests into top port on Sundays, when some of the shop and businesses are closed!
Finally, we were told twice by HAL before the cruise we would not be updated to three star Mariner until after the cruise, yet the ship staff did upgrade us when we reached the milestone on board. HAL needs to learn to gets its act together on administrative matters so the right hand knows what the left is doing!
This cabin was good, but we were located directly across from a cabin steward storage station and you can imagine there was plenty of noise throughout the day.