We’d like to provide our thoughts on our 27 day South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand cruise-which is our 16th cruise and our 5th on Holland America.
The itinerary was perfect-great port stops-and the food was exceptionally good-perhaps the best we have had on any cruise line. We enjoyed the Lido buffet, the main dining room and both the Canalleto and Pinnacle dining rooms as well as the beautiful and plentiful foods in the Neptune Lounge. The staff service was also among the best we have encountered. Our cabin stewards were great and the two Neptune Lounge concierge attendants were also competent, helpful, and cheerful. We also like the fact that the Casino is now smoke free-a particular issue with us on past cruises.
Our disappointment with the overall cruise and our reluctance to book another HAL cruise centers on the on board entertainment, or lack of it, as well as the marketing direction that Jan, our Cruise Director, indicated HAL is taking. In several discussions with Jan, he advised us to find another cruise line more suited to our taste since HAL is committed to eliminating social/ballroom dance venues in the Crow’s Nest and Ocean Bar and replacing them with carpeted areas with kiosks for researching shore excursions and providing more videos. He indicated that there will be more BBC videos shown (the same ones I can get on my cable television at home) and these will provide a significant portion of HAL’s entertainment offerings.
We were also disappointed to learn that HAL has eliminated the dedicated dance combo we enjoyed on past HAL cruises. The result of this on our cruise meant that the orchestra was providing dance music (excellent by the way) but only on nights that they were not performing in the VISTA Lounge. This left many nights without pre and post dinner musical entertainment including a GALA night that had no entertainment because both the orchestra and Adagio were doing live music as a BBC video was being played. The ship was like a funeral parlor-hardly gala and many people commented on how dull and boring.
It is interesting to note that the dance lessons provided by the ship’s dancers were well attended-usually 80+ per class and while elementary in nature, they indicated a sincere interest in dancing by many people. Yet we are told that HAL is eliminating these and the dance venues as well.
There were huge gaps in many evening’s entertainment with nothing going on except for the ship’s dancers and singers which by the way repeated the same dull performances during the 2nd leg of a “Collector’s Voyage”- a title that still baffles me. Our Cruise Director said he would try to fill in some of these but the only option he had was to schedule more Adagio performances. While we enjoyed these excellent classical musicians, there is a limit to how many of these concerts you can enjoy.
Jan indicated that HAL’s marketing direction is committed to providing top quality entertainment on board yet we saw little instance of this. Many of the performers were merely 2nd rate and some were downright bad. Better screening and more selective decision making is needed. Why doesn’t HAL consider eliminating the ship’s dancers and singers altogether and replace them with top drawer entertainers?
I must mention that the sound level in BB King was totally above acceptable DB limits and painful to ourselves and many of the guests on board. I have administered hearing loss programs in industry and know prolonged exposure to levels above 85 DB result in permanent hearing loss. If I were a staff member assigned to that venue night after night, I would be filing for Worker’s Compensation due to hearing loss. Jan indicated he told Seattle that many guests had complained about the sound being too loud but Seattle’s response was that they were within the contract limits so Jan could do nothing about it. Hardly makes sense to me to have a field commander overruled by Washington bureaucrats but that happens also.
To summarize our concerns, the ship’s atmosphere was just plain dull, the entertainment was mostly second rate and many times nonexistent, BB King venue too loud to enjoy for more than 30 seconds and I am not exaggerating, the Crow’s Nest was empty at night -we remember dancing with a DJ till late night on other ships and not in a dark hole like the Northern Lights that is allocated to the DJ now.
It took approximately 30 days for Holland America to reply to my concerns and they offered no encouragement that any if these issues would be changed.
We have cancelled a suite booked on a July trip to the Norwegian Fjords on Koningsdam and have booked with another cruise line. We d not anticipate booking with HAL in the future.
Spacious suite with excellent closet and hanging space, a large balcony and excellent bed. Dated look and in need of new décor. Television and programming in need of complete revamping. Large bathroom with tub and shower.