Just got back yesterday from the 3 day ‘Cruise to Nowhere’ out of New York.
The cruise was my wife’s 40th birthday present, although she has been on a cruise before, this was my first time. We were both very excited, HAL is known as a five star cruise line and this ship was brand new – we spent the last 2 months talking about it in anticipation, we booked a Spa Verandah Stateroom – which is right up her alley :D
The embarkation process went rather smooth but at the sign in, the HAL people at the desk weren’t sure if they were supposed to scan everyone’s room cards :confused: – there was a bit of confusion and it slowed things a little but never the less we spent all of 5 minutes at the desk and they moved us along to wait to begin boarding.
When we got on the ship we were quite impressed with the design and artwork, the staterooms were not ready yet so we went for lunch at the Lido. Following lunch, we went to go take a look at our cabin (10th deck – Panorama), and dropped our carry-ons off. My wife was a bit a disappointed that there wasn’t a yoga mat or pedometer in the room as advertised as part of the spa room package but it’s a new ship right? This was the beginning of the steep downward spiral. Next, she wanted to schedule her spa appointments, so she called down to the Greenhouse Spa to talk to the spa concierge – another advertised ‘benefit’ of the spa stateroom. No, there is no such thing – you have to come down to the spa to make your appointments, she was told. More concern. So she goes downstairs to the spa and schedules her appointments but was not happy because there was quite a crowd vying for the same – making appointments – and the spa staff was visibly overwhelmed and as such, not totally personable.
Next was to go make dinner arrangements, looking forward to a nice birthday dinner at one of the many restaurants on the ship. Pinnacle – booked. Canaletto – booked. Tamarind – booked. Not just Friday, or even Saturday, but the entire weekend. I was in disbelief! For real? Now what are we going to do? I went to the Front Desk to try and plead my case – practically begging; this is our birthday dinner, and asking how can this happen? The girl at the desk called the restaurants and said – they are all booked – sorry. I’m thinking, uh – no kidding? That’s why I came to you for help. You can still eat at the Lido, Terrace Grill, Rembrant, etc she says. Yay! A birthday dinner in the cafeteria! Sigh. Maybe it’s because I’m new to this cruising thing, I guess any fine dining on a ship requires pre-booking? Oh, and it gets better.
Saturday morning, I went to the gym while my wife went off to the spa for her treatments. Following the gym, I went and spent some time in the hydrotherapy pool (very nice – recommend it!) I went up to the room and after my shower, the phone rings. Sir, this is the spa staff- you might want to come downstairs to the spa – your wife has had an accident. Is she okay? I ask. I don’t know, they say - but please come downstairs.
I’m panicking. They don’t know!!?
I get dressed, running down the hall putting my shirt on, going down the stairs, 3 at a time. She had opened the door to the hydrotherapy pool, the door opened across the top of her foot resulting in a large laceration just above her toes. When I arrived, she was in a wheelchair, crying, another passenger was helping wrap her foot in a towel to try and help contain the free bleeding. The spa staff are standing there, deer-in-the-headlights look about them. I’m doing my best to try and calm her. The medical officer arrived a few minutes later and we went down to the medical office on A deck. Much praise for the professionalism of the medical staff and the onboard US Navy doctor, calm demeanor and quick attention. The accident, with the sharp door bottom, in a place where everyone has bare feet, required 5 stitches. Our bright hopes for the cruise, are now over.
We return up to our room and I called housekeeping, explained the situation and asked that a chaise lounge be brought up for our verandah so she can at least be outside with her foot elevated. This was taken care of promptly.
Our stateroom was directly below one of the Retreat cabanas, the first one on the starboard side – it was being used to hold the materials for cleaning the deck, empties and trays and such for the cabanas. Later in the afternoon, she is out on the chaise lounge and –what appears to be water – starts falling on her from above. We can’t seem to get a break! What in the world in going on? So I’m off to find out. I go upstairs and confront the staff and tell them what happened and they begin to deny it! :mad: I’m looking at the deck behind them, buckets of empty beer cans and bottles, which is clearly wet and swept right off the edge. After hanging over the rail and showing them our wet railing below, they begin to apologize. I can’t wait to get off this Dam ship.
We move her inside to the bed, she calls and asks for some foam pillows – something a little more firm to help elevate her foot. More down pillows show up. She calls the guest relations manager, and the head steward finally shows up with what she asked for. Determined as she is, she wasn’t going to let this keep her in the room for the rest of the trip. We made it down to the dining room, had a nice dinner (did anyone notice the Dining room had the same menu at the Lido cafeteria?) and made it out to the dessert extravaganza at the Lido pool.
Sunday we spent most of the day in the room as it was difficult for her to get around. In preparation for disembarkation Monday morning, we called the front desk and asked for wheelchair service off the ship. We were told the Dining Room is in charge of wheelchairs? Does this sound right to anyone? We were assured she would be picked up Monday morning.
We dock in NY Monday AM, have breakfast (I’m really tired of room service at this point!) and we’re ready to leave. 8:30 – nothing. 9:00 – nothing. We call the front desk, this time, it’s the Explorer’s lounge that is responsible for wheelchairs. But we called last night… no, we don’t have any record of that. Get me off this nightmare ship. I go down to the Explorer’s lounge, but the crowds make it impassable. (they later opened another gangway on the 3rd deck to ease the congestion) I go back upstairs, and she decides, let’s just walk, I say let’s wait. 10:00 rolls around, still nothing so we start walking – slowly. On the 2nd deck, I run into Doug, the security officer that took her statement in the medical ward just after the accident. I explain the situation, and he refers me to the Hotel Manager, who promptly makes a call and wheelchair is there in two minutes to help us off the ship. It takes an act of congress to get anything done that is even slightly outside the norm!
So, this is my first experience on a cruise. Please tell me this is not the norm, for I am at a loss for words. It staggers the imagination to consider how so many things could go wrong in the span of two and a half days. There are a few other negative details but this post is already too long. The weather was very nice but we were unable to take advantage of nearly everything the ship had to offer.
Not likely we’ll ever be back.