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For clarification - our cruise departed Ft. Lauderdale on 3/18 as a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise and was actually the first leg of the 24-day cruise. We disembarked after the 10 days and did not continue on to Rome. We picked this cruise, in large part for the itinerary (Holland America/Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas, Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba). were spectacular and were every bit as amazing and beautiful as we expected. Our poor customer service experience with Holland America began well before we ever got anywhere near the ship. We booked a full ocean-view veranda room. Roughly 2 weeks before our sail date, we received an email offering us an upgrade to a full ocean-view veranda room for a nominal sum (roughly $99 I think). I immediately called. The first person with whom I spoke was unpleasant at best. Needless to say, there was no upgrade available to a full ocean-view room since that's what we already had booked. It took another call and an eventual request to speak with a supervisor to confirm that we were in fact already booked for a full ocean-view room. It took another phone call on a separate day with a lengthy hold time to straighten out our transfer (they had the wrong airport listed on our documents even though they promised us on the phone that everything was correct in the system). I'm still not sure it was ever corrected but we were able to board the bus at the airport. In retrospect, I wish that were not the case. The treatment that we endured onboard for 10 days was horrendous. Over and over and over for the duration of our cruise, we dealt with blatant mistreatment. This was at the hands of the employees of the ship, from the lowest level staff in the dining areas all the way up to literally the ship’s captain. I can assume only that they were offended by an openly gay couple. Rather than bore you with the details of everything that we went through, I will give a couple of examples that illustrate what we experienced and how it impacted our trip. In the informal dining area (buffet style), you go through and get your food and then sit at any open table. The workers come through with pitchers of water, iced tea, etc. Almost without fail, we would watch as they would go to the tables all around us and bypass us. It became a running joke about which of us was going to go and get our drinks for the meal. On the 8 nights that we chose not to eat in the formal dining room (a whole other ordeal unto itself), we almost always chose to have food delivered to our room (from a very minimal menu) because it was simply less agonizing than going to the dining room. On the next to last full day of the cruise, there was an event called “Meet the Captain” (or something similar). I am keeping track of my personal nautical miles, and wanted to find out how many we would be covering on the cruise so we decided to go. The first part was a canned presentation. There was a short “ask the captain” portion at the end, where the audience could ask questions. Following that, a line formed to talk to the captain as well as the “hotel director” of the ship. After waiting in line for quite some time, I eventually got to the very front of the line for the captain. I was no more than 2 feet away from Captain Darrin Bowland. He didn’t look at me, acknowledge me, or speak to me. Instead, he had a conversation over my head with the man in line behind me. At first I thought that the man was perhaps one of the frequent cruisers and therefore knew the captain. Unfortunately, when they had finished their conversation, Captain Bowland continued not to acknowledge my presence and instead had another conversation with the next guest behind me. When this happened for the third time, I gave up. That really was the last straw for me. After 8+ days of being made to feel like second class citizens, to be so blatantly disrespected by the captain was infuriating, degrading and humiliating. If I could have gotten off the ship that day, I would have. Unfortunately, we were somewhere (I think) off the coast of Cuba so I had no options. Prior to getting on the ship, at the cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale, for some inexplicable reason, they had quite a large portion of the terminal blocked off. This led to several hundred people crammed into roughly 60% or so of a large room while we waited for them to begin calling our boarding groups. There were a LOT of chairs in the portion that was blocked off, while meanwhile literally dozens of people had to stand around for quite some time (from the time we arrived at the terminal until they even began calling the very first boarding group, there was a wait time of at least 45-60 minutes). There were many elderly and physically handicapped people waiting in the room. We went to one of the HAL personnel standing at the stanchions blocking off the section and were specifically told we could NOT sit on the other side of the room. Aside from that, once our boarding group was finally called and we were able to board the ship, we were able to go right to our state room even though it was before the time they said the rooms would be ready. Once we returned home (literally the day we got home), we got a survey from HAL. We answered it honestly. My other half received a very generic "we're sorry to hear about your bad experience but we have a no discrimination policy and treat everyone equally and fairly" email. I never heard back from anyone at all. I think it's pretty clear that I won't. Now for the good stuff. The ship, which is pretty new (2016? I think), was clean and obviously well-maintained. The room was smaller than some other ships we have been on and the bed was more uncomfortable than expected, but there were movies and TV shows (and some VERY limited music that no one born after 1910 has ever heard) that was available on demand. The bathrooms in the staterooms were very nice. The itinerary was great. The islands we went to were everything we expected and hoped for. We enjoy snorkeling, and found Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk (Bonaire in particular) to be amazing. The waterfall excursion (Damajaguas) in the Dominican Republic was one of the more unique experiences I have ever had and really enjoyed it. The gym onboard was comparable to other ships we've been on in terms of size, equipment and class offerings. There was a spin class available for $20. This seemed a little high to me, so we did not do that. Equipment was well-maintained and hours were good for the gym. There were a decent number of live entertainment options each night - a variety of types of shows in the main theater such as comedians, singing/dancing shows featuring the onboard talent etc. Pretty much what we expected there. In other areas of the ship, there was a blues-type band, a string quartet and live piano players that sang most nights. There was only one night where smoking was not allowed in the casino. There were several stores on board, selling jewelry, high-end watches, perfume and some other lower-priced items. With the exception of trivia, I found there were very few other options for entertainment, particularly if you weren't willing to pay to do things. The food was good, and there were plenty of options regardless of whether you were a picky eater, preferred a certain type of food or wanted to eat at a specific time of day. Food was available 24 hours a day, although options were limited during certain times of the day. Room service, while very limited as to the options, was completely free (no gratuity added as I have seen on some other lines for example). There was a mini fridge in the room, but you couldn't use it to store anything as HAL stocked booze etc that you could purchase. You can bring alcohol on, I think it was on 750-ml bottle of wine per person. The HAL literature says any bottles in excess of that are subject to an $18/bottle fee, although we didn't run into that issue. I think it's obvious that I will never again patronize HAL. This experience left such a bad taste in my mouth that not only will we never again set foot on a "dam" ship (Holland America's boats' names all end in "dam" - Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam etc) again - we won't even consider Carnival since they're owned by the same parent company.

Worst travel experience of my life

Koningsdam Cruise Review by jaubert

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2018
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Verandah Stateroom
For clarification - our cruise departed Ft. Lauderdale on 3/18 as a 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise and was actually the first leg of the 24-day cruise. We disembarked after the 10 days and did not continue on to Rome.

We picked this cruise, in large part for the itinerary (Holland America/Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas, Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba).

were spectacular and were every bit as amazing and beautiful as we expected. Our poor customer service experience with Holland America began well before we ever got anywhere near the ship. We booked a full ocean-view veranda room. Roughly 2 weeks before our sail date, we received an email offering us an upgrade to a full ocean-view veranda room for a nominal sum (roughly $99 I think). I immediately called.

The first person with whom I spoke was unpleasant at best. Needless to say, there was no upgrade available to a full ocean-view room since that's what we already had booked.

It took another call and an eventual request to speak with a supervisor to confirm that we were in fact already booked for a full ocean-view room. It took another phone call on a separate day with a lengthy hold time to straighten out our transfer (they had the wrong airport listed on our documents even though they promised us on the phone that everything was correct in the system). I'm still not sure it was ever corrected but we were able to board the bus at the airport. In retrospect, I wish that were not the case.

The treatment that we endured onboard for 10 days was horrendous. Over and over and over for the duration of our cruise, we dealt with blatant mistreatment. This was at the hands of the employees of the ship, from the lowest level staff in the dining areas all the way up to literally the ship’s captain. I can assume only that they were offended by an openly gay couple. Rather than bore you with the details of everything that we went through, I will give a couple of examples that illustrate what we experienced and how it impacted our trip.

In the informal dining area (buffet style), you go through and get your food and then sit at any open table. The workers come through with pitchers of water, iced tea, etc. Almost without fail, we would watch as they would go to the tables all around us and bypass us. It became a running joke about which of us was going to go and get our drinks for the meal. On the 8 nights that we chose not to eat in the formal dining room (a whole other ordeal unto itself), we almost always chose to have food delivered to our room (from a very minimal menu) because it was simply less agonizing than going to the dining room.

On the next to last full day of the cruise, there was an event called “Meet the Captain” (or something similar). I am keeping track of my personal nautical miles, and wanted to find out how many we would be covering on the cruise so we decided to go. The first part was a canned presentation. There was a short “ask the captain” portion at the end, where the audience could ask questions. Following that, a line formed to talk to the captain as well as the “hotel director” of the ship. After waiting in line for quite some time, I eventually got to the very front of the line for the captain. I was no more than 2 feet away from Captain Darrin Bowland. He didn’t look at me, acknowledge me, or speak to me. Instead, he had a conversation over my head with the man in line behind me. At first I thought that the man was perhaps one of the frequent cruisers and therefore knew the captain. Unfortunately, when they had finished their conversation, Captain Bowland continued not to acknowledge my presence and instead had another conversation with the next guest behind me. When this happened for the third time, I gave up.

That really was the last straw for me. After 8+ days of being made to feel like second class citizens, to be so blatantly disrespected by the captain was infuriating, degrading and humiliating. If I could have gotten off the ship that day, I would have. Unfortunately, we were somewhere (I think) off the coast of Cuba so I had no options.

Prior to getting on the ship, at the cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale, for some inexplicable reason, they had quite a large portion of the terminal blocked off. This led to several hundred people crammed into roughly 60% or so of a large room while we waited for them to begin calling our boarding groups. There were a LOT of chairs in the portion that was blocked off, while meanwhile literally dozens of people had to stand around for quite some time (from the time we arrived at the terminal until they even began calling the very first boarding group, there was a wait time of at least 45-60 minutes). There were many elderly and physically handicapped people waiting in the room. We went to one of the HAL personnel standing at the stanchions blocking off the section and were specifically told we could NOT sit on the other side of the room. Aside from that, once our boarding group was finally called and we were able to board the ship, we were able to go right to our state room even though it was before the time they said the rooms would be ready.

Once we returned home (literally the day we got home), we got a survey from HAL. We answered it honestly. My other half received a very generic "we're sorry to hear about your bad experience but we have a no discrimination policy and treat everyone equally and fairly" email. I never heard back from anyone at all. I think it's pretty clear that I won't.

Now for the good stuff. The ship, which is pretty new (2016? I think), was clean and obviously well-maintained. The room was smaller than some other ships we have been on and the bed was more uncomfortable than expected, but there were movies and TV shows (and some VERY limited music that no one born after 1910 has ever heard) that was available on demand. The bathrooms in the staterooms were very nice.

The itinerary was great. The islands we went to were everything we expected and hoped for. We enjoy snorkeling, and found Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk (Bonaire in particular) to be amazing. The waterfall excursion (Damajaguas) in the Dominican Republic was one of the more unique experiences I have ever had and really enjoyed it.

The gym onboard was comparable to other ships we've been on in terms of size, equipment and class offerings. There was a spin class available for $20. This seemed a little high to me, so we did not do that. Equipment was well-maintained and hours were good for the gym.

There were a decent number of live entertainment options each night - a variety of types of shows in the main theater such as comedians, singing/dancing shows featuring the onboard talent etc. Pretty much what we expected there. In other areas of the ship, there was a blues-type band, a string quartet and live piano players that sang most nights. There was only one night where smoking was not allowed in the casino. There were several stores on board, selling jewelry, high-end watches, perfume and some other lower-priced items. With the exception of trivia, I found there were very few other options for entertainment, particularly if you weren't willing to pay to do things.

The food was good, and there were plenty of options regardless of whether you were a picky eater, preferred a certain type of food or wanted to eat at a specific time of day. Food was available 24 hours a day, although options were limited during certain times of the day. Room service, while very limited as to the options, was completely free (no gratuity added as I have seen on some other lines for example). There was a mini fridge in the room, but you couldn't use it to store anything as HAL stocked booze etc that you could purchase.

You can bring alcohol on, I think it was on 750-ml bottle of wine per person. The HAL literature says any bottles in excess of that are subject to an $18/bottle fee, although we didn't run into that issue.

I think it's obvious that I will never again patronize HAL. This experience left such a bad taste in my mouth that not only will we never again set foot on a "dam" ship (Holland America's boats' names all end in "dam" - Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam etc) again - we won't even consider Carnival since they're owned by the same parent company.
jaubert’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VH
Cabin was clean and well-kept, small compared to other cruiselines (particularly small compared to Disney). Bed was uncomfortable. TV options were somewhat better than some other cruise lines (limited new movies and shows available on demand at no additional charge). Bathroom was actually really nice. Shower was larger than I am used to on cruise ships.
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