As a seasoned traveler, I was always under the impression that Holland America was a cut above other mid-tier cruise lines like NCL and Carnival, justifying HAL's higher fares. Based on my experience on the Oosterdam Mediterranean cruise July 23-Aug 4, I would have to say that this assumption is totally incorrect. My major complaint? I was in a balcony cabin, 8134, that had a completely inadequate air conditioning system. During the day, there was virtually no air coming through the vent but at 2-3am frigid air would begin to pour out. My complaint to customer services on the very first day brought a response of "keep your drapes closed." Service technicians tinkered with it but there was absolutely no improvement. When I continued to complain they brought me a box fan!!! Really? I paid a premium for a balcony cabin and I'm expected to keep the drapes closed and use a 1960s era box fan to keep cool? Outrageous. To add insult to injury, there were disgusting black particles being released out of the air conditioning vent all over the bed. The first few days I came down with a bronchial infection and hacking cough that I still have to this day. If you read through Oosterdam's reviews on this site, you'll see that air conditioning issues are mentioned quite frequently. HAL must know that this ship has air conditioning problems but they are so unconcerned with their customers' health and comfort they refuse to spend the money to repair or replace the system. Shame on you, HAL. They gave me a whopping $400 credit as compensation for my discomfort, inconvenience and compromised health. This amount was completely inadequate given that I did not have a decent night's sleep in 12 days and, in effect, the entire $5000 cruise was ruined.
Here are some of my other observations:
-Embarcation in Barcelona was easy and efficient. The Barcelona cruiseport is lovely- spacious, well lit and plenty of seating. We arrived at 11:30am and were in the cabin by 12:15. Disembarcation also was efficient with a time slot assigned for departure that allowed you to stay in your cabin until the designated time.
Horrible - see my main review for reasons why.
Gateway to the South of France. We stayed in Marseille but next time would do an excursion. Marseille itself is very crowded with not all that much to see.
Meh -- a lot of apartment buldings around the port, not really charming or interesting. Casino charges 20Euro entrance fee and requires formal clothing.
Took a Hop On Hop Off bus. Amazing coastal views.
I loved this little medieval town. Just walked around the town. The time in port was very short 7am-2pm.