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As a former Hal loyalist, I was excited to cruise again after a short 2-3 years break. I grabbed my son to go with me as my hubby didn’t want to visit Alaska for the Nth time. The first indication that things weren't as rosy as I’d remembered was our embarkation lunch at the Lido. We selected a variety of items from the Asian section (Thai) and the meat was dry, tough and too salty. We thought, "Ok, maybe this is because it's embarkation day so quality control isn't as thorough..." How naive we were. Over the next couple of days, we realized that the Lido had severe issues. The Asian station's meat was consistently too dry, tough and salty. The pasta tasted like pure salt and no other flavours. Desserts usually had raw tasting dough. The waffle cones tasted stale. The printed menu on display was frequently wrong (as in the wrong menu was put up altogether or ingredients were missing compared to the printed version). And the plates are often too hot to hold. The only consistently decent hot food was from the Homestead station! How about the MDR food? Well, the taste there was quite a bit better but we found that the only thing consistent about the kitchen was their inconsistency... and their overly salty soups (we end up asking for half a bowl of soup and diluting it with hot water whenever we felt like soup). In the MDR, we've had two orders of the same item come differently(missing ingredients), a salmon filet filled with bones and pasta the texture of soggy cardboard. Our warm/hot water has come smelling/tasting like the pool and a medium-rare steak arrived overcooked. The most disappointing thing was the prime rib I ordered - it came was so filled with those fatty hard-to-cut parts I ended up not having a single bite because I literally could not cut the beef with my knife... even after I requested for another steak knife! Other than food issues, we've noticed the effects of budget slashing coupled with a lack of proper planning/training. We had to visit the photo gallery three times to receive our complimentary mariner picture of the shop and received a different answer/information each time. The Exploration Cafe didn't offer ceramic cups until the third day - the paper cups offered were completely inadequate: hot drinks were scalding to hold even using two cups. The paper cups were also prone to crumple if you kept cold drinks in them! Ordering hot water kettles from inroom dining resulted in kettles with hot handles most of the time.... The women’s washroom on Deck 3 was had completely unusable toilets one day (all of them!). Hotel management seemed a mess because we received the wrong information documents to our cabin... But although all these issues were disappointing, they weren’t completely “vacation ruining”. We can choose to eat the decent stuff in the Lido and the crew usually tried their best to fix things when problems happen (which was fairly often... we became VERY well acquainted with Guest services). It was our experience with the beverage manager that utterly ruined our vacationing mood. Here's the background: we aren't heavy alcohol drinkers so we purchased the quench beverage package planning to avail ourselves of mocktails, smoothies and specialty coffee. Unfortunately, we immediately noticed that all the bar menus on-board had been revamped for the worse. The drinks' description were removed, and most pertinently, the section on mocktails and smoothies disappeared. Not a problem, we can still ask the bar to make the drinks right? Well... Sort of! Turns out the bars no longer make drinks using real fruits. Instead it's "syrup" all the way! This caught us off-guard because we've had real fruit smoothies on previous cruises and during our cruise planning we saw another cruiser's May 2019 beverage menu and THAT one (multiple ones actually) still had drinks with detailed descriptions and real fruits stated. As we weren't reconciled to having only "syrup" ( corn syrup with a small % of real juice plus other favouring ingredients and preservatives) drinks, we wrote in to guest services and after a series of back and forths... we finally ended up speaking to the beverage manager in person. Horrible mistake. The beverage manager ( Cyrill?) had the worst service attitude ever and was confrontational to boot. He stated that he was the one in charge of ordering everything related to drinks. When asked about using real fruits in drinks, he basically implied we were lying about having it before or that it was some special one-off service. He swore that in all his 20+ years of service across multiple ships that he has NEVER ordered fruits to the bar and that drinks made due with just syrup. He even grabbed one of the bystanding crew members to collaborate his claim. Really? Was the poor guy going to contradict his BOSS to his face?! Talk about abuse of authority. When pressed, he told us to try the inroom dining... MAYBE they could make us a real fruit smoothie. As for if there was a charge there? He said he wasn’t sure. What kind of manager are you...? So after giving us a "that's that" attitude with no effort to apologize or make things better, he left and all we felt was incredulity. How did someone like this become a manager?! Was nepotism involved somewhere...?! On the spot, we weren't able to refute his highhanded claims but we afterwards we found the website with photo proof of previous/other ships having fruits in their drinks. (That url previously mentioned) We later also spoke privately to older bartenders who acknowledged that yes, they used to make drinks with real fruits. In fact, they still did so on their last contract a few months ago! So, the beverage manager straight up lied to our faces while trying to browbeat both us and his staff into accepting HIS way. This encounter with that disgrace of a manager completely destroyed any goodwill we felt towards HAL. In fact, because it's the beverage manager who has been such a disappointment, it's affected my impression of the whole beverage department and more... I know I’m sort of on the emotional side (really, most women are right? XD) but I ended up going out of my way to NOT walk by the bars if I could. Of course, we responded to Guest services about the horrendous treatment we received and the next day we met with the Food and Beverage DIRECTOR (one step up the chain?). He was a lot more gracious and friendly. We were given complimentary freshly made juice for breakfast/dinner (MDR) and one mocktail/smoothie of our choice each day for the remainder of the cruise. So in summary: - the kitchen was consistently inconsistent: the food was missing ingredients, under-cooked, over-cooked, too salty, wrong portions, etc - drinks from the bar for non-alcoholic drinkers nowhere near a “premium” experience - hotel management seems to have a systematic issue with procedures/training - crew was still great and did their best... except for ONE notable counterexample Final rating: Would not recommend and we’ll be trying other cruise lines in the future.

A disappointing cruise completely ruined by a trash beverage manager

Westerdam Cruise Review by ChristinaCruiser

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Large Outside Stateroom (fully obstructed views)
As a former Hal loyalist, I was excited to cruise again after a short 2-3 years break. I grabbed my son to go with me as my hubby didn’t want to visit Alaska for the Nth time.

The first indication that things weren't as rosy as I’d remembered was our embarkation lunch at the Lido. We selected a variety of items from the Asian section (Thai) and the meat was dry, tough and too salty. We thought, "Ok, maybe this is because it's embarkation day so quality control isn't as thorough..." How naive we were.

Over the next couple of days, we realized that the Lido had severe issues. The Asian station's meat was consistently too dry, tough and salty. The pasta tasted like pure salt and no other flavours. Desserts usually had raw tasting dough. The waffle cones tasted stale. The printed menu on display was frequently wrong (as in the wrong menu was put up altogether or ingredients were missing compared to the printed version). And the plates are often too hot to hold. The only consistently decent hot food was from the Homestead station!

How about the MDR food? Well, the taste there was quite a bit better but we found that the only thing consistent about the kitchen was their inconsistency... and their overly salty soups (we end up asking for half a bowl of soup and diluting it with hot water whenever we felt like soup). In the MDR, we've had two orders of the same item come differently(missing ingredients), a salmon filet filled with bones and pasta the texture of soggy cardboard. Our warm/hot water has come smelling/tasting like the pool and a medium-rare steak arrived overcooked.

The most disappointing thing was the prime rib I ordered - it came was so filled with those fatty hard-to-cut parts I ended up not having a single bite because I literally could not cut the beef with my knife... even after I requested for another steak knife!

Other than food issues, we've noticed the effects of budget slashing coupled with a lack of proper planning/training. We had to visit the photo gallery three times to receive our complimentary mariner picture of the shop and received a different answer/information each time.

The Exploration Cafe didn't offer ceramic cups until the third day - the paper cups offered were completely inadequate: hot drinks were scalding to hold even using two cups. The paper cups were also prone to crumple if you kept cold drinks in them!

Ordering hot water kettles from inroom dining resulted in kettles with hot handles most of the time....

The women’s washroom on Deck 3 was had completely unusable toilets one day (all of them!).

Hotel management seemed a mess because we received the wrong information documents to our cabin...

But although all these issues were disappointing, they weren’t completely “vacation ruining”. We can choose to eat the decent stuff in the Lido and the crew usually tried their best to fix things when problems happen (which was fairly often... we became VERY well acquainted with Guest services).

It was our experience with the beverage manager that utterly ruined our vacationing mood.

Here's the background: we aren't heavy alcohol drinkers so we purchased the quench beverage package planning to avail ourselves of mocktails, smoothies and specialty coffee. Unfortunately, we immediately noticed that all the bar menus on-board had been revamped for the worse. The drinks' description were removed, and most pertinently, the section on mocktails and smoothies disappeared.

Not a problem, we can still ask the bar to make the drinks right? Well... Sort of! Turns out the bars no longer make drinks using real fruits. Instead it's "syrup" all the way! This caught us off-guard because we've had real fruit smoothies on previous cruises and during our cruise planning we saw another cruiser's May 2019 beverage menu and THAT one (multiple ones actually) still had drinks with detailed descriptions and real fruits stated.

As we weren't reconciled to having only "syrup" ( corn syrup with a small % of real juice plus other favouring ingredients and preservatives) drinks, we wrote in to guest services and after a series of back and forths... we finally ended up speaking to the beverage manager in person.

Horrible mistake.

The beverage manager ( Cyrill?) had the worst service attitude ever and was confrontational to boot. He stated that he was the one in charge of ordering everything related to drinks. When asked about using real fruits in drinks, he basically implied we were lying about having it before or that it was some special one-off service. He swore that in all his 20+ years of service across multiple ships that he has NEVER ordered fruits to the bar and that drinks made due with just syrup. He even grabbed one of the bystanding crew members to collaborate his claim. Really? Was the poor guy going to contradict his BOSS to his face?! Talk about abuse of authority.

When pressed, he told us to try the inroom dining... MAYBE they could make us a real fruit smoothie. As for if there was a charge there? He said he wasn’t sure. What kind of manager are you...?

So after giving us a "that's that" attitude with no effort to apologize or make things better, he left and all we felt was incredulity. How did someone like this become a manager?! Was nepotism involved somewhere...?!

On the spot, we weren't able to refute his highhanded claims but we afterwards we found the website with photo proof of previous/other ships having fruits in their drinks. (That url previously mentioned) We later also spoke privately to older bartenders who acknowledged that yes, they used to make drinks with real fruits. In fact, they still did so on their last contract a few months ago!

So, the beverage manager straight up lied to our faces while trying to browbeat both us and his staff into accepting HIS way.

This encounter with that disgrace of a manager completely destroyed any goodwill we felt towards HAL. In fact, because it's the beverage manager who has been such a disappointment, it's affected my impression of the whole beverage department and more... I know I’m sort of on the emotional side (really, most women are right? XD) but I ended up going out of my way to NOT walk by the bars if I could.

Of course, we responded to Guest services about the horrendous treatment we received and the next day we met with the Food and Beverage DIRECTOR (one step up the chain?). He was a lot more gracious and friendly. We were given complimentary freshly made juice for breakfast/dinner (MDR) and one mocktail/smoothie of our choice each day for the remainder of the cruise.

So in summary:

- the kitchen was consistently inconsistent: the food was missing ingredients, under-cooked, over-cooked, too salty, wrong portions, etc

- drinks from the bar for non-alcoholic drinkers nowhere near a “premium” experience

- hotel management seems to have a systematic issue with procedures/training

- crew was still great and did their best... except for ONE notable counterexample

Final rating: Would not recommend and we’ll be trying other cruise lines in the future.
ChristinaCruiser’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Outside Stateroom (fully obstructed views)
Cabin H
The cabin was spacious enough for our needs and the TV was a good size. Floor to wall windows (despite being fully obstructed by the lifeboat) made for decent lighting during the day.

Sadly, we noticed that this class of ships' ocean-view statements apparently has the air con right over the beds with no way of turning it off. Having wind blowing into our face while sleeping isn't the best experience.

Tub had a faulty faucet which was quickly fixed by the plumber crew member.
Upper Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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