Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken ... Read More
Based on my experience with the Veendam and now the Westerdam, Holland America Corporate doesn't give its ships enough time in drydock to finish repairs and modifications. That caused major problems for some passengers from broken glass in uncleaned rooms to no electricity in the room or no water or no ability to raise the temperature above 58f. (We were relatively lucky. Our key cards didn't work, but our steward let us in the room until the locksmith came. Our veranda was repainted 2/3rds into the sailing, so we could no longer use it b/c of fumes, but upon asking, they provided us with a fan, so there were no fumes in the room.) Lines of angry passengers were long at first, and it seemed like, with numerous workers hammering away at modifications to Deck 10 and taking up crew beds, that the Westerdam was short staffed and unable to handle issues quickly. Nevertheless, good weather and good ports improved spirits and this was a good sailing.
The quality of the food was adequate though people thought changes to the buffet were odd. There's very little that's self-serve now, and the variety of options seems to have diminished.
Entertainment and enrichment were also adequate. Classical music in the Lincoln Center Stage venue was exceptional. The dueling pianists in the piano bar were loud and off-key, but hugely popular. They must have been doing something right, but what it is, I'm not sure. Trivia with Jake was fun. Tom, the port lecturer, did a great job helping people NOT on shore excursions figure out how to get around the various destinations and learn about what to see. By the end of the cruise, his talks became more akin to sales pitches, but he was available to answer questions mid-day. That was good because people complained his talks were scheduled in the middle of dinner. He was highly knowledgeable and an asset to the ship though this sailing could definitely have used more in the way of enrichment.
The condition of the ship was less than stellar. A fair amount of mess created by the new carpet, a crop of technical difficulties, leaks causing minor floods in several areas, and inadequate replacement venues for the unavailable Observation Deck all led to furrowed brows. Hopefully, all that can soon be fixed. On the other hand, flow felt counter-intuitive. Why must people tramp through the spa to get to the Lido? Lack of staff led to confusion at disembarkation, too, and made it harder for people with limited mobility.
Good things about the ship: The refurbishment means it's not at all smoky. Elevators are plentiful. The beds were comfortable, and in our room at least, the air flow was excellent. This was my second HAL cruise and compared to Princess, HAL seems much better about not creating a high-pressure sales environment for jewelry and art. Pre-cruise arrangements (airport transfer, hotel stay) with HAL were organized and efficient.
After the initial hiccup, service was great. They did a markedly better job than the Veendam of keeping track of my dietary restrictions - really impressed. Stand out crew members include Wisnu in the buffet, Rirus in the dining room, Darius at guest services, and our stewards Eko and Juns. Overall, a cheerful and earnestly friendly crew.
Fellow passengers were mostly friendly and, after the first three or four days, smiling and having a good time. Most ports were excellent and considering the crowds we've heard to expect in Croatia in the summer, going to the Adriatic in late April/early May, before high season, was a good idea. Enjoyable overall, and I'd sail with HAL again, but if at all avoidable, not right out of drydock. Read Less