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gaylenhazel

VEENDAM, Feb. 5th “HELL” week

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This was our first and most defiantly LAST cruise with Holland America. We’ve been on other lines and the treatment received at Holland was totally unacceptable! The first sign of what was to come was when we boarded. Not a person in sight to greet you when you entered the ship. No signs, no nothing. Bad start. My first impression was this was an older, tacky looking ship. Sorry cruisers, my honest opinion. We went to get the soda cards. They are now $35 plus 15% gratuity. Almost 80 bucks for the two of us. That’s a lot!!! We were told before the cruise they were going to be $27.50 Surprise!

 

Our rooms were fine. We had a verandah suite and our traveling companions had a nice deluxe S suite. The rooms were clean. Just found a half bottle of Perrier water in the mini bar. Someone obviously had drank from it and the staff did not notice it.

 

We had confirmed table reservations for a table of four. When we got to dinner we had a table for 10! Our friend had called long before the cruise and had received an email confirmation of a table for four. His concierge tried to change it the next day. The head waiter would never return her phone calls so she told our S-suite friends they would have to track him down themselves. Service huh? Don’t these people communicate with each other? Our table for 10 was miserable. We ended up there 3 nights only. The service was good at dinner but not friendly. The food was by far the worst we have ever had on a cruise. The one exception all week was the Pinnacle. It was excellent. We went there twice.

 

Next major problem was our room on floor 9 was so hot! We told our cabin steward. He did call someone higher up to look at it. He was quick too! This woman (didn’t get her name) came in about 15 minutes. She told us that nothing could be done. She said “The Veendam is an older ship and has some quirks. This is one of them. Hot air rises and since this is the 9th floor it is expected to be hotter than floors below.” Huh? Our friends were on the 10th floor and their suite was 10 degrees cooler than ours! She said the only thing she could do was bring a fan. She left. She never brought a fan. Never checked on us. Great customer service. Boy was it hot!!

 

Norwalk was aboard. One staff member told us on the last day that it was about 15 total for the week. We were in “yellow” all but the last day. This was a constant worry but I know you can’t blame that on Holland. Although the staff member did hint that they think it is being carried week to week through the staff. They are on board for months at a time. It made what was supposed to be a “fun” trip a constant worry.

 

The pools closed at 7 p.m. at night. What’s up with that? I was ticked about that. Not all people on Holland go to bed at 8 p.m.! I love to swim after dinner. I’ve never seen a cruise line close a pool that early. The shows were nothing special. We expected that. We went three times then gave up. They had a good banjo player one night.

 

The lack of service was by far our deciding factor to never use Holland again. We had "SO MANY" instances that I just can’t write them all out. They got our money and didn’t seem to care that we got extremely bad service. Just on to the next week….

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The first sign of what was to come was when we boarded. Not a person in sight to greet you when you entered the ship. No signs, no nothing.
My experience, over the years with HAL, has been that there are people all over the place when you board. Were you extremely early? Extremely late? Were there, literally, no people at the top of the gangplank when you got there?

 

Hot air rises and since this is the 9th floor it is expected to be hotter than floors below.” Huh? Our friends were on the 10th floor.
What was your cabin number? The ninth floor, if you are speaking literally, is the Sports Deck; the tenth floor is the Sky Deck. Perhaps you mean the Nav Deck?

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There was an elderly couple looking as puzzled as we were. No, we were not all that early. We boarded with the S-suite passengers since our traveling partners had an upgrade to an S. There was also an employee with a spray bottle cleaning the elevator glass. That's it. He "pointed" to the Lido. He did not speak English.

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Sorry you had a bad experience. Obviously (if you read this board) it was not typical. All lines offer a bad experience to some cruisers some of the time.

 

What's odd, to me, is that people who say their "bad cruise" started with a reception that was beneath their expectations seem to have bad experiences multiply throughout the week. THose whoose reception was better than they expected go on to have very good experiences. Someone should do a study.

 

This will, of course, color any future HAL cruise so you're probably best to choose another line for the next few years, at least.

 

Happy cruising!

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I'm sorry you had such a hard time on your cruise. Four cruises with HAL and I have had nothing but incredible vacations (which is why we keep booking). We also don't "go to be at 8pm" and have had plenty of people to dance and visit with in the lounges and disco (in fact my DH does not dance so I have to find partners with no problem at all.) Have your tried the Vista class ships? Don't give up on HAL yet. They offer a very classy and fun cruise but sometimes it is important to find the right ship for your life style as well. Wendy

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My experience, over the years with HAL, has been that there are people all over the place when you board. Were you extremely early? Extremely late? Were there, literally, no people at the top of the gangplank when you got there?

I boarded the Rotterdam two days AFTER the start of the regular cruise (missed the boat in Fort Lauderdale), and the purser's desk called someone to personally escort me to my stateroom. They also sent someone scurrying out to the gangway to help me with my luggage when they saw me struggling with it. My luggage was X-rayed right at the gangway and someone was assigned to deliver it to my stateroom. When the cabin steward escorted me to my stateroom, the luggage was right there waiting for me.

 

Now I will say that when I took my Zuiderdam cruise last year they didn't have cabin stewards escorting people to their staterooms ... maybe because it is such a big ship? But they were stationed at the elevators to provide guidance to anyone who looked "bewildered."

 

Of course, I'm not familiar with the ship this passenger had her bad experience on, but man ... I hope that's not some sort of newly-emerging Holland America service standard. :(

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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I don't know what boarding is like with suite pax, but maybe gaylenhazel was boarding earlier than she thought. When the rest of us get on, you can't move for stewards, security, CD staff, etc. Possibly they called suite pax before the onboard crew were in place. To have nobody but a crew member polishing glass is out of my experience; it's like arriving at a party an hour early. I've not had it happen and I've never heard anyone talk about it on the boards.

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It is unfortunate you had such a bad experience on your cruise.

 

We have never had any problems with HAL, the ships, the food, the service. One bad experience can happen on any cruise line or any ship, on an airline, in a hotel or resort. Just one of those things that hopefully doesn't happen again. Don't give up.

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I was also on the Veendam the week of 2/5 and to be honest it was not a great experience. We were in room 168 a mini-suite. Our toliet stopped working no less then 4 thats right 4 times. How we found out was too disgusgting to post. I asked the front desk why we were not told. A note on the door? A phone message. We talked with our neighbors and they also had issues. Trust me if we did not eat or drink we did not put it down.

 

The dinning room staff in my mind could care less. Even soda had to come from the wine steward who was missing for a lot of the time. On the last night we found we found that their was head waiters, section leaders etc. This was during the dinning room staff song. We never saw those people.

 

The Pinnacle grill was great. We ate there three times and Lasslo the manager was great.

 

The soda card cost was also $80.00 bucks for 2. That was crazy. And becuase we could only get poured soda and we were in yellow alert getting a poured soda was difficult. They were using cans to reduce exposure.

 

The unlimited laudy was 45 dollars but they do not return the bag you use to the next day so you can only do unlimited laundy 3 times. My steward did not want to give another bag.

 

I would be hard pressed to give Holland a try if another ship had the same destinations.

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gaylenhazel, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. It's a horrible thing to pay a lot of money for a vacation that occurs way to seldom.

 

You will not, however, get any sympathy here. The overwhelming majority of folks that post here are HAL Kool Aid drinkers. They have great info on the good stuff, but rarely have a less than flattering thing to say about anything.

 

If the service on HAL is as they describe, it would be the Four Seasons or Raffles at sea, rather than HAL.

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Sorry to hear your problems. We were on the sailing prior to yours and had the best service and thought the staff was the friendliest of any of our 16 cruises.

 

We were'nt able to board early because of the norovirus the previous week but when boarding at 3:30 we were escorted to our veranda cabin 169. No problems whatsoever.

 

In the dining room the service was superb (we were at a table for 2). Our waiter, his assistant, the head waiter and our wine steward were very attentive and outstanding. Even up on the Lido deck we were addressed by names since some of the bar staff had asked us the first day how we wanted to be called.

 

By the way, we only had 1 case of the virus the first day that was brought on by a passenger and no others during the week. The captain kept us informed daily and by Thursday we were back to self serve in Lido and in the dining room salt & pepper, bread & butter were on tables rather than being served.

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Sorry to hear of your bad experience. I usually notice the entrance to have many staff members on hand to greet one. I have been on the Veendam three times and all three were very good experiences.

Himself

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*laffin*abbott, better find yourself a foxhole to take cover in... as you say, dissent is not taken lightly here.

 

We like HAL a lot.... but on 4 cruises with them now there has been some sort of diminishment of the experience on each one and that's not because we are getting jaded.

 

but it's clear from many of the postings you find here that on a number of ships there are problems with the air conditioning, the toilets, the service in the dining room, the quality of the shows and often, the responsiveness of the onboard staff in addressing problems

 

Would I sail with them again tomorrow? Sure... would I come onboard LOOKING to find fault? no... but if some facet of the trip doesn't measure up, I'm not afraid to go looking for a resolution onboard, nor am I loathe to report my experience and whether it was adequately addressed, here on the boards when I return.

 

So feel free to join me and others in periodically reporting back when the emporer indeed has no clothes... just be prepared for the flack that accompanies those assertions..

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You will not, however, get any sympathy here. The overwhelming majority of folks that post here are HAL Kool Aid drinkers. They have great info on the good stuff, but rarely have a less than flattering thing to say about anything.

 

If the service on HAL is as they describe, it would be the Four Seasons or Raffles at sea, rather than HAL.

I don't think it is the "overwhelming majority of folks that post here" who are Kool Aid drinkers, but there certainly are a few who are anything but objective in their opinions. We all know who they are. It makes me ignore what they say because I know their comments are not realistic as to what to expect. :rolleyes:

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Thanks gaylenhazel for at least coming back to the HAL board to let us know. Clearly the desire of HAL to provide a superior service to most other cruise lines (and they really do, especially for special requests), while competing with them in price has led to major disaster, at least for some cruises. (Mind you, bad cruises these days are not happening only on HAL)

 

Staff have been getting overworked. When something like the Norwalk comes, there is no excess labor available to allow for all the extra sanitizing, plus covering the loss of crew members on quarantine. So the service on everything else suffers. Plus overworked staff are less likely to keep as clean.

 

Right away they need to abolish the autotip, and just add that to the cruise fare to allow for higher pay rates for staff. This will provide immediate benefit to the bottom line and staff morale since then nobody will be able to opt out of the autotip. Other cruise line should abolish it also - it's a cancer on the whole industry since the autotip is not mentioned in brochures. If they don't then once they abolish the autotip, HAL should detail the autotips of other cruise lines in their brochures and mention that they do not have an autotip.

 

The cost-cutting has also made itself felt in cabin temperature and toilets, and in reliability of ship's engines. While not everyone has the bad experiences of gaylenhazel, it's obviously happening more and more often. The Veendam, and other ships of its class are certainly not old and should not be having these maintenance problems.

 

Of course a major problem for HAL was that they ordered the Statendam class ships just before the market started demanding more verandahs. So they all have an excess of oceanview cabins that have to be sold at lower rates. I don't know the exact solution here except that they probably need to be sold off at some time, perhaps soon as fewer new ships are being built now so that market for used ships should get better.

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Wow....they must have had a total turnover of the entire crew on Veendam in the two and half weeks since we left and you arrived. We certainly had most responsive crew. GREAT service.

 

 

When we as "S" pax boarded (and we were among the first 3 or 4 to board) , the gangway was packed with stewards ready to assist and escort, even the Maitre d' was there greeting pax as we were delighted to find him (an old friend) aboard and that we got to say hello immediately.

 

No embarkation for any HAL ship begins until the Hotel Manager, Security, steward escorts, Neptune Lounge concierge etc etc are all in place and ready to begin the embarkation. I personally have been seated close enough to folks with the walkie talkies and have heard the conversations determining if everything is ready for embarkation to begin. With my own ears, I have heard them say whether to wait or to begin and why.

 

When you say there was no one on the gangWAY, surely there was a security worker who scanned your ID card. There definitely had to be a Security Officer. No way No HOW anyone crosses a gangway onto a ship these days without Security being there. It simply doesn't happen.

 

Perhaps in your excitement to be boarding, you weren't aware they were there? Perhaps you did not see all of the stewards lined up on the right side as you enter the ship?

 

We found Veendam to be in beautiful condition. No....she is not flash and dash. She never was. She never was built to be that (thankfully IMO :) But, she is well maintained and is in excellent condition IMO

Of course, your view can be different. We were aboard for 12 days and never found excessive wear and tear or things hugely in need of repair. That, of course, is just our personal observation.

 

Sorry your cruise disappointed you.

The remark about heat rising and your deck would be hot is ridiculous.

 

Hope your next cruise is better.

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I find it very interesting that someone who is able to get aboard the ship early because of their traveling companion's cabin, complains about the lack of attention. HAL extends a courtesy and then you complain that no is there to greet you. My suggestion would be to wait in the terminal next time you cruise and wait until the staff is in place to greet you. Joe V.

 

 

Zuiderdam 4/23/05

RCI - 2 times

Princess - 3 times

QE2 - 1 time

Royal Majesty - 1 time

Carnival - 1 time

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Is it possible the OP and her companions managed to walk thru the gate and up the gangplank 'way before boarding time without anybody happening to notice? It really sounds as if they accidentally slipped thru while the pier crew were busy and arrived onboard before anyone was ready to greet them.

 

Sounds impossible, you say, but I think we may have met the once-in-a-million person. Remember that some guy got into Queen Elizabeth's bedroom, and another guy flew his light plane into Red Square.

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Im really glad to see this post, not because Im happy HAL dissapointed you, which I hope they dont do that to me, but because life isnst all rosy all the time. And if the only things people read here were positive then whats the point of this board anyway? To sit here and dismiss issues that HAL might have had on that ship or any ship? we have to be honest thats the true service to this board so we can all get a an objective unbiased view of HAL- the good and the bad..

 

So thanks for coming back and letting us know..Im sorry you had a bad experience I Hope your next cruise is the best!

S

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Tom...as you say, that guy managed to get into Buckingham Palace so I suppose if one really stretches the imagination to the utmost.....

 

But, I seriously doubt they squeezed on in that fashion.

 

They always have shoreside security at the entrance to the gangway. Then there are always the guys that have to scan the ID cards. When the ship is in port (anywhere,anytime), Security is always in the gangway.

 

Naw......I don't think so.

 

I think it possible they were so excited and chatting with eachother etc...they breezed on by without paying attention---possibly.

 

Wonder if they had an embarkation photo taken? Hope OP returns and tells us if the photographers were there.

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Our toliet stopped working no less then 4 thats right 4 times. How we found out was too disgusgting to post. I asked the front desk why we were not told. A note on the door? A phone message.

 

While this isn't a nice thing to happen, it does - usually because some passenger "down stream" from you has tried to flush something they shouldn't. But the front desk doesn't know you have a problem until you tell them, not the other way around.

 

Even soda had to come from the wine steward who was missing for a lot of the time. On the last night we found we found that their was head waiters, section leaders etc. This was during the dinning room staff song. We never saw those people.

 

Why would you expect beverages to come from uther than the beverage department? And you saw the asst. Maitre d's every night as you walked into the dining room. Glancing around, you would have seen them throughout the dining room.

 

My steward did not want to give another bag.

 

THat I'm having difficulty with. Yes, the steward does forget to put out a new bag from time to time, but they've never failed to provide one when asked.

 

I don't doubt that you had a bad experience, and I'm sorry to hear that, you should write a letter to HAL's HQ outlining your problems.

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gaylenhazel, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. It's a horrible thing to pay a lot of money for a vacation that occurs way to seldom.

 

You will not, however, get any sympathy here. The overwhelming majority of folks that post here are HAL Kool Aid drinkers. They have great info on the good stuff, but rarely have a less than flattering thing to say about anything.

 

If the service on HAL is as they describe, it would be the Four Seasons or Raffles at sea, rather than HAL.

 

Once you've actually been on a HAL cruise I might be willing to listen to your comments about it, but insulting people who have gone out of their way to be sure you have a good experience is simply rude.

 

-dave

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The overwhelming majority of folks that post here are HAL Kool Aid drinkers.

 

OK, Call me stupid - but what does this mean? You keep posting it on this board, I don't get it.... :confused:

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