Holland America obviously don't read these reviews otherwise things would have improved by now - or perhaps they just don't care! My friend and I boarded the Noordam in Sydney and I was very much looking forward to the cruise experience - boy was I disappointed!
The ship looks very elegant from the outside but inside it looks like it was decorated by a retired Dutch museum curator - who wants to look at antiques in glass cases as you sail across the tropical blue Pacific? The decor generally is dark, heavy and outdated, and the air conditioning very patchy. It is good to be able to walk continuously around the deck, but It is impossible to do laps in either of the pools which look like they belong in Disneyland, with massive concrete leaping dolphins and Neptune's chairs..
I was VERY disappointed by the lack of interesting entertainment. The priority of the company seems to be to flog as much as they can - art works, jewellery, beauty treatments, exercise activities, the casino etc. Many 'talks' were just thinly veiled attempts to sell, sell, sell and these 'talks' often had the prime time slots while genuine talks or activities (eg. trivia) were on a 9am. 1pm. or 7pm. There was no one looking after the library and solo card players, scrabble players etc. had to make contact with like-minded people by writing their name and cabin number on a list on the unmanned library desk so they could find a partner.
Films were shown in a ridiculously small and inappropriate room (at a time when the theatre was empty!) where the front row seats were higher than the ones behind - meaning the people in the back rows couldn't see properly - plenty of frayed tempers.
We mainly ate dinner in the dining room where we met some very nice, interesting people and generally the food was fairly good but, for my taste, the chefs use far too much salt. Generally on the Noordam the staff were very good (I can't say the same for the Veendam).
My friend who has traveled with Holland America several times before said she very much noticed the falling standards and felt embarrassed.
To add insult to injury about 80% of the passengers came down sometime during the 3 weeks with an extremely serious upper respiratory tract viral infection that was apparently bought onto the ship in Auckland - not a mention was made of it by management, yet all hell breaks lose when Nora virus breaks out! I can tell you the 1 ply tissues they give us were totally useless - I'd rather have decent tissues and forget the cutesy towel animals on the bed every night (think of the extra wasted time and washing these create!).
Ten days later we boarded the Veendam (I can't be bothered wasting my time doing a separate review on it) to cruise the St. Lawrence Seaway and while I thought its public rooms were more tasteful than on the Noordam, the cabin we were allocated would not have looked out of place in a backpackers' hostel - after our protests and paying an extra $US500 each we were moved to a nice balcony cabin in the stern.The philosophy of this ship is the same as the Noordam - sell, sell, sell with the added insult of disgusting service in the Lido restaurant and incredibly poor organisation of loading people on to tenders etc. Also I was not impressed with the cost of the Wifi ($US55 for 100minutes on both ships).
If this is cruising with Holland America, they can keep it.