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Riversedge

Voyage of the Vikings a Specialty Cruise? I think not!

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OP,  I am so sorry this was your experience.   We did VOV in 2015 and it did not disappoint.   Experienced cruisers told us we had "The A Team" of staff aboard.   Cutbacks seem to have changed that.   We were also on the Veendam.   We had the same wonderful captain and crew for Amazon Explorer in 2017 on the Veendam.   

This is a relatively expensive cruise and I'm sorry you did not get what you paid for and expected.

 

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I was on the September 15th cruise on Zuiderdam from Quebec to NYC. I found the service on the ship to be excellent, except for one rude person in shore excursions who charged us for an excursion I hadn't taken. I suggest checking your account onboard the TV in the stateroom every few days.

 

Flowers, small vases did appear on our table toward the end of the cruise and I began to notice them in various venues on the ship after initially not seeing any. 

 

The stewards in the dinning room are overworked but they do an excellent job. My steward knew I was watching carbs and always brought me extra veggies without my having to ask.

As far as the condition of the ship, one of the people working in the Lido said they were affected by a storm and that something was wrong with some of the tiles in the Lido and they would be working on it during the upcoming drydock. 

 

The three comedy shows we saw in the main showroom were excellent. Lincoln Center on Stage was fabulous and always so well attended people sat listening in the lounge outside.

 

I didn't like that Billboard on line was so loud that you could hear it in the show lounge. Can't really say I missed the big production shows because I never thought they were great, but they do need to do  more entertainment in the show lounge.

 

I have seen many pails and leaks on Veendam and Maasdam and while I didn't see any this cruise, my husband did.She's showing her ae and will get repaired on the drydock in December.

 

I wouldn't hesitate to sail Zuiderdam again. Service from the top down was excellent.

Edited by mamaofami

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How does one search for the Voyage of the Vikings? Is it Northern Europe?  Canada/New England?  Grand Voyage?

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18 minutes ago, Roz said:

How does one search for the Voyage of the Vikings? Is it Northern Europe?  Canada/New England?  Grand Voyage?

It is Europe. If you are questioning the “specialty” designation it is not nor does HAL use that designation. They have cruises, grand cruises,  world cruises and the Maasdam? Designation which I forget that term

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We've not done VOV.  From our very first cruise with HAL onward, our stateroom has been peppered with fliers for this very special itinerary that is apparently unique to HAL and something that they are especially proud of.   I hope we get to make this journey someday and that it's up to standard when we do.

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2 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

We've not done VOV.  From our very first cruise with HAL onward, our stateroom has been peppered with fliers for this very special itinerary that is apparently unique to HAL and something that they are especially proud of.   I hope we get to make this journey someday and that it's up to standard when we do.

When I sailed the Rotterdam the ship was pretty awful but the crew and the itinerary were exceptional.  My husband’s newest best friends on that cruise had sailed that itinerary 18 and 7 times. We thought that was a bit over the top back then but now I find myself trying to convince him to go again 

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On ‎9‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 2:34 PM, Riversedge said:

We returned a couple weeks ago from the Voyage of the Vikings.  Since we paid more than what it's costing us per day than the Grand Voyage we have coming up, we expected something very special.  We only had a lowly Oceanview room.  Most people on the cruise paid WAY  more than we did.  Since we could have bought a new car for what we paid for 5 weeks we were expecting a special onboard experience.  The crew looked the most overworked and unhappy as any we have ever seen anywhere.  We heard that the Zuiderdam had never done more than a 14 day cruise before and therefore was unprepared for the expectations of people expecting a bit more for the price we paid.   I have never heard so many people complaining in my life.  Even the people at our table that were President's Club said it was the worst experience ever and that they didn't care if they ever sailed HAL again.  That seemed to be the overwhelming feeling of most people onboard from 5* to the newbies.   We truly enjoyed the ports and at the end of the day we considered ourselves fortunate to have experienced the things we did.  We only did one HAL tour so can't comment on those but we heard many complaints about the cost and some of the guides.  

 

This is the letter I wrote to Orlando.  I've not heard anything back yet as it's only been about 10 days.  If we weren't already booked on another voyage we would be done with HAL.   Even the HAL people with the "rose colored glasses" were disappointed with their shipboard experience.  If Holland America doesn't do something positive soon they will lose many customers.  I'm not expecting Orlando to answer but if we all sit around and do nothing things will never get noticed.  I imagine they had all kinds of bad survey marks but do they even pay attention?  I'm sure some of you will go "not another Holland America hate thread" but we're all entitled to our opinions and expectations.  Not everyone has to agree with my perceptions.  We are 4* and younger than the average passenger.  From looking at age of most onboard, in 5 years none of those people will be able to travel anymore.  Then what??  Something has to be done to attract future cruisers. 

Linda

 

Dear Orlando Ashford:

 

We recently returned from the 35 day Voyage of the Vikings onboard the HAL Zuiderdam.  I can’t express how disappointed we were.  If this is the sign of how things will be on Holland America from now on, count us out.   I will address the issues in parts, but first let me remind you that this is a SPECIALTY cruise.  We booked an ocean view room so we were paying less than most of the people on the ship but we were still paying more per day than we are on our upcoming Grand Voyage.  An upper price point makes one assume that the experience will be special.  Not so. 

 

The positives:  There were some positive aspects of our cruise.  The ports themselves were amazing and we were so glad to have experienced them.  The cabin was comfortable and our room stewards, Putu and Rai were very good.  The temperature was easy to maintain and we liked the new interactive tv’s.  Jessica, who did most of the EXC talks was the best we’ve ever had.  The dessert chef is the best ever and the sticky buns at breakfast were excellent as well as the beef at dinner.   We enjoyed our one night at Sel de Mer.  The new tenders made the tendering process so easy and we never had to wait to get off.  Front desk was so helpful and friendly.  Lunch in the Pinnacle was excellent.  Justine, the Assistant Beverage Manager, is a huge asset to Holland America.  That’s where the positives end and the negatives begin.

 

 

 

Officers:  The top officers on this cruise, Captain Vaartjes and Hotel Director Darren Lewis were unfriendly and unapproachable.  The Captain's welcome talk was all about spending money at the onboard shops, at the bars and booking their tours (because we might get left behind if we didn't)   Our cabin was in the same hallway as the Hotel Director’s office so we saw him often when he almost knocked us over hurrying down the hallway.  Never an excuse me or hello and the two of them would sometimes be on the dock as we were getting off talking to each other.  They did not greet guests….just stood there with their noses in the air.  The friendliness of the ship begins on top.  It is the HD’s job to make sure a cruise is a positive experience in all areas.  Didn’t happen.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a hotel director that did a worse job.  

 

 

Ambience of the ship:  There were buckets everywhere in the hallways to catch dripping water.  Two buckets were outside our room for 8 days until I made the comment to our room steward that I was going to buy pool toys and have a pool party in the hallway.  They finally fixed it but there were other buckets in many of the hallways the entire cruise.  There were cones in the Lido a few places to mark where the tiles were broken.  There were very few flowers around the ship and none on the tables anymore.  Instead we had an empty lamp that didn’t even have a battery light in it.  No coverings on the chairs at gala night and some of the windows were so damaged that you couldn’t see out of them.  We never had a single decoration to show it was a specialty cruise.  No special celebrations other than the usual birthday song.    Nothing extra to show that this was, indeed, a specialty cruise.  

 

 

Dining Room:  The service was terrible.  We often didn’t get coffee, tea or water refills.  The first two weeks of the cruise we couldn’t even get our wine glasses refilled. At that point we got a new wine steward and things improved.    I had a lobster dropped in my lap with no apologies.  The staff was so overworked that there was no time to have any short conversation with them.  They couldn’t keep up with anything.  The maître d only showed up the two nights that an officer dined with us.  Never any other time and we did not see him trying to help out.  The dining room was very poorly run.  It often took an hour to get our first bite of food.  The assistant maître d came often and asked how our dinner was but didn’t really care.  When I mentioned that the fish in the seafood pie was old he said, “well there are 600 meals being prepared at once so we can’t make everything good.”  When I mentioned the same complaint to the waiter his answer was “enjoy”.   They were working hard but clearly not enjoying their jobs because they can’t keep up.  Breakfast and lunch were even worse than dinner.  What happened to having the women served first?  That didn’t happen as the waiter started with whomever he pleased.  The soups were barely lukewarm and apparently we don’t have an option of a cold soup anymore. 

 

 

 

Laundry:  Some items came up missing that we never got back.  We were told the ship was not expecting so much laundry but how hard is it to know in advance how many 4 and 5* members are going to be aboard and plan accordingly?  We saw the laundry guys in the hallway and they looked completely exhausted and unhappy but kudos to them for working hard. 

 

 

 

Bars:  Hardly anyone there during any time except happy hour.  Why not lower your prices and make it affordable at any time?  Even at happy hour prices the drinks were expensive.  And the wine packages had $8.00 wine for almost $50 a bottle if you didn’t have 4* status.  Many of the bar waiters were obviously not enjoying their jobs.

 

 

 

Shuttle costs:  When passengers are paying well over $500 per day per cabin why are we being charged $20.00 per person for a shuttle to town?  This happened 3 times.  Did we not pay enough for this to be included?

 

 

 

Cruise Director:  Jonathan Beaumont.  What a disgrace.  He was clearly not experienced and always had to read names off a paper when announcing entertainment or officers.  He was not visible around the ship.  Worst we’ve ever had.  Maybe the new distribution of jobs is not working??

 

 

Spa:  In advance of this cruise we had bought a couples pass to the thermal suite.  I called Seattle twice to make sure the price was for the whole 35 day cruise.  They said yes so we purchased it.  When we got onboard they said, no, it was only for half a cruise.  I called Seattle and they did say they had told me wrong.  The spa was supposed to work up a deal for us and call us but we never heard from them.  If you promise on something…..deliver.  At least honor us with a phone call to our room. 

 

 

 

EXC guide:  Apparently HAL has decided that the cruise director should take on this job.  When we had Jessica, the travel host, she was BEYOND amazing.  So upbeat, had us excited about the ports and gave us knowledge we needed.  She was always available when we were leaving the ship for the day.  Please do NOT take this position away as it was one of the things this ship did well.

 

 

 

Entertainment:  As we all know, the ship’s cast and crew are a thing of the past.  We enjoyed them so much but they were taken away.  Now there’s not much to like about the evening’s entertainment.  Modern Jukebox is a joke.  And how many people actually like to hear an hour of saxophone music and other musical instruments night after night?  Can’t there be something that’s enjoyable for all?  The comedian, Doug Funk, was a hoot and loved by the audience.  Movies, especially BBC, were shown over and over.  How many times do you think we need to see the same thing??  BB King could be enjoyable but it’s too loud and they play the same songs multiple times a week. 

 

 

 

Orange Party:  What a joke.  It was really a non-event except for getting people to go to the bar and buy a drink because they thought it was going to be a big deal.  Won’t have to bother with that again.  Most people left after the first set. 

 

 

 

Toilet paper:  I’m giving this a mention on it’s own because I have never seen such cheap toilet paper in my life.  It was worse than dollar store paper towels.  One person even had toilet paper that was full of holes.  Seriously?  Over $400 a day can’t buy decent toilet paper?  How cheap can you get?

 

 

 

We were told that the Zuiderdam had never done more than a 14 day cruise.  It was very obvious that they had no idea how to make a cruise special.  I have never heard so much complaining and unhappiness amongst passengers.  The staff was overworked and unhappy and it showed.  The majority of the passengers said they were done with Holland America, even the ones with over 1000 days.  I’m sure the surveys showed the negatives but I’m not sure how much attention is paid to them.  If you are going to provide a specialty cruise at high prices, then the experience should match the money commitment on our end.  When we booked this cruise it was to be on the Rotterdam.  Maybe that would have been a better experience.  The Zuiderdam had plenty of opportunity to plan for a long cruise but clearly nothing was done that showed it was being treated any differently than a 7 day cruise. 

 

 

 

There was nothing on this cruise to ever convince people to return.  Several people said it was their first and last cruise on HAL.   A cloud of dissatisfaction and unhappiness was over everyone aboard from crew to passengers.  This cruise ended up being merely a transport from port to port without any of the special experiences we normally get from a cruise. 

 

 

 

We have another cruise planned in January….a 41 day portion of the Grand South America.  We are still within the cancellation period.  Someone needs to convince us that we should continue with our plans for this cruise or we will be looking elsewhere.  If we’re going to pay the big prices, we expect big experiences. 

 

 

 

We are hoping to hear from you to convince us to return to Holland.  We need assurances that it can be a better experience. 

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

I wonder what ship I was on?  I got off the Zuiderdam 30 July after sailing on her for 8 1/2 months.  It was one of the best experiences I have had.  The Officers and crew where the best and the ship meticulously maintained.  I have sailed on 12 World Voyages with Holland America and 6 Grand Asia's and 2 Voyage of the Vikings.  My time on the Zuiderdam ranks up with the best of the Grand Voyages. 

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On 9/26/2019 at 5:52 PM, oaktreerb said:

Fixed dining works best because you are not having to start over every night to have your preferences known.....lemon for water, coffee with desert. The food imo has improved ...not so much food but better quality.  Staffing has been reduced to the point that it is impossible to receive good service in open dining unless you manage to get the same crew every evening.

 

 

Our feelings exactly.

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16 hours ago, Roz said:

How does one search for the Voyage of the Vikings? Is it Northern Europe?  Canada/New England?  Grand Voyage?

 

I found it by using "Boston" as the Debarkation Port, "Europe" as the Destination and "Over 17 Days" as the Length.

(I may have the headings wrong, but know that Boston and the Length were the two key Search elements.  I found it one time without Europe and another time with Europe.)

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19 hours ago, TanningPro said:

I wonder what ship I was on?  I got off the Zuiderdam 30 July after sailing on her for 8 1/2 months.  It was one of the best experiences I have had.  The Officers and crew where the best and the ship meticulously maintained.  I have sailed on 12 World Voyages with Holland America and 6 Grand Asia's and 2 Voyage of the Vikings.  My time on the Zuiderdam ranks up with the best of the Grand Voyages. 

 

I loved reading your blog and was so glad your transition from the WCs to regular cruising has been so great for you.  For a President's Club member on one ship for 8+ months you would expect everything to be over-the-top.  Glad it was and the whole experience was so great! 

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On 9/28/2019 at 5:11 PM, IllinoisGirl1978 said:

I recently remember there were two live blogs from the VOV, and I recall that they both enjoyed the trip. perception is key. 

 

This was my blog on the Voyage of the Vikings 2019:  

If you read through the blog, you will see weaknesses like, poor entertainment, no flowers on the lido tables, lamps that didn't light instead of flowers on the MDR tables, no one to do trivia games, etc.  But there are also photos of us with the captain, dining staff and room stewards, and lots of great times on the Zuiderdam too! 

Did I enjoy the cruise?  Absolutely yes.

Overall, was it as good as Voyage of the Vikings 2018?  No

Edited by sansterre

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