This was my first cruise and the third for my wife, although it was more than 30 years ago. It was at a friends couple’s suggestion to join them on this cruise and we took the opportunity to celebrate my wife’s retirement, birthday and ... Read More
This was my first cruise and the third for my wife, although it was more than 30 years ago. It was at a friends couple’s suggestion to join them on this cruise and we took the opportunity to celebrate my wife’s retirement, birthday and 25th year of life together. It was not our friends first cruise with Holland America and we felt reassured it would be a carefree cruise.
We had read a lot of reviews on Cruise critics and they were very helpful. Especially for a first timer: We still brought to many clothes but enough money and a night light with movement detection that was very useful at night in the bathroom.
We took the transfer from Rome airport to Civitavecchia Port from Holland America. Easy to find their representatives at the airport but we had to wait for other travelers in the bus (old) with no A/C on. On our way to the port, the water from the A/C started to leak on the head/back of a few passengers.
The stateroom (with balcony) was ready early, upon embarking. The Westerdam renovation are partial as we noticed that the bathtub was damaged and so was the table. However, the color scheme is nice. My first surprise. it is cramped in there.
We decided to attend the Sail Away Party with our friends after noticing the invitation. Upon arrival on the aft deck, we are offered a welcoming drink…too late, my wife started to drink it and its not free. I choose a beer special, 5 for the price of 4. Upon receiving the bill I notice that there was also a charge for my wife cheap plastic glass. Total 46.86$. During the party, we were offered at least five times Beverage Packages. We felt harassed (especially since, by the end of the day, we were offered packages a dozen times!). Thank you for the invitation and welcome aboard!
We had also decided to take the Navigator Package and were told (us and our friends, in separate occasions) by the Holland Representatives in Seattle (not the same one) that we could wait and take it onboard. Wrong. And it became very complicated, frustrating and time wasting.
On the first dinner night, we asked for the Navigator Package because it is not available on the Westerdam list of packages. The Cellar Master offered us instead the Cellar Master Package with one diner at the Pinnacle Grill instead of two. However, his proposal was more expensive, but we decided not to spoil our trip over this. Wrong again. On the next day, the hand written invoice amount did not match the charges billed on our account. Furthermore, the « gift set » was also charged (17,70$) - not a gift for sure as it was never credited. We were also provided with Oosterdam and Westerdam Cellar Master Package descriptions, which are slightly different. Why? To add to this comedy of errors, we were also charged for our « included » diner to the Pinnacle Grill. It would require many visits to the Guest Services Desk and we were told countless times that it would be fixed the next day, and the next, and the next… At one point, I wanted to talk to the manager, who, we found out, was always unavailable and obviously hiding behind his/her staff. I never was able to speak to him/her nor received any reply. Overall, all the billing errors (and there were also additional ones) were finally resolved the morning of debarkation. On the positive side, the staff remained polite despite their lack of powers to resolve any such issues. I said to them: « I am not a valued customer! »
We took only one tour package with Holland America and, yes, they managed to displease us. First, there was a delay to obtain the disembarkation authorization. Therefore, the guided tour left later and lasted 7h15 instead of the 8 hours (approximately) scheduled. As a result, we could not visit a key attraction. It would be understandable if it was not that we were back at the port 1h45 before the boat departure! On other occasions, we saw the boat departure postponed by 30 minutes to allow for the return of a late tour.
We were also unable to visit St-Tropez due to the windy conditions in the morning, another disappointment. Unfortunately, the weather in St-Tropez was perfect in the afternoon. We visited Villefranche-sur-Mer instead. The windy conditions in Monaco showed us the risks of injuries during a tender taken by everyone, especially the staff. In the afternoon, only the fit and able were allowed to go shore. We must command the professionalism of the staff!
We were surprised to receive in writing security recommandations for Barcelona only, on our last stop, while mentioning Holland America guided tour. Nothing about Nice however, where we went from Monaco, a 25 minutes train ride.
The staff friendliness is uneven. Superb service in the stateroom, uneven at the Lido. There was a group of disorganized and unsmiling staff at breakfast time. No complaint at the dining room and even a few praises. Despite our open seating, we ended up at the fix seating one night and received the best service. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to share our comments with the Manager. The Pinnacle Grill service is what you should expect. It is however a far cry compared to 30 years ago, says my wife.
The food: it all depends on your point of reference. If you expect the average, you may not be disappointed. Not the most healthy, excepted for the salad bar and the sushi. We found it too salty, greasy and overcooked at times. And, I must laugh at the two micro scallops I was served as entree, the size of a bubble gum each. However, there was one recipe we asked for and obtained from the Pinnacle Grill.
Finally, the transfer process to the airport by Holland America was not explained. We did not know that we had to carry our luggages to the bus and which one was going to our terminal.
Based on our experience, we will not recommend Holland America. We met people who did not have any problems but never attended the Sail Away Party nor took any package. We wasted a lot of time trying to resolve frustrating problems Holland America created and never were offered some compensation for our troubles. Furthermore, we felt harassed to buy packages. To us, HAL primary objective is not customer satisfaction, it is profits. We have filled their survey and received a standard reply…but no apology…it says it all! Read Less