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H. Ludwig & Katherine Reism

Age: 80


Number of Cruises: 35

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Veendam

Sailing Date: April 22nd, 2006

Itinerary: Tampa Bay/San Diego

Stein Kruse, CEO, Holland America Line

Dear Mr. Kruse

We have returned from a 17 day Holland America Cruise April to May 2006 on the Veendam from Tampa Florida to San Diego California. We have been on 35 Cruises, ten of them on HAL. This one was one of the worse cruises we have ever taken. We made our reservation July 5, 2005 after we returned on a 14 Day Mediterranean cruise on Princendam which we enjoyed.

When we made our reservation for the 17day Panama Cruise, we requested early seating (I am a diabetic), window table for 6. Our Ticket said  "our dinner reservation was guaranteed” When we checked in on the Veendam, we were informed that all dinner reservations were lost and we had to make new arrangements. We tried to do that, but there were at least 50 people in line. First you had to stay in line for a number and than wait again till your number is called. This was not acceptable for us. You lost all the information on seating and we were asked to stand in line for hours to have this corrected? As an old customer we felt we should have some privileges. This was completely ignored! We tried to talk to the customer relations which took quite a while, and we were told by Mr. Axess, the computer, made a mistake and they have had trouble correcting this. He also told us that our senior status with HAL (147) days would not be considered any more. He promised to call us back, and he never did that. We went to the dining room at 6 PM to see what could be done, but found the same confusion and long lines and no help at all. We have never had such a mess before. No consideration whatsoever from anybody. The second evening we had the same problem, as we were the only people at this table (# 166). No one called us to tell us what to do. Finally two couples joined us. They were nice, but they were only at our table 5 times in 17 days, as they did not like to dress up for dinner. We asked for another table as we were tired to be alone on a table for 8. This is the first time we ever done that!! We were told there was no other tables open even though we could see empty seats all over.

We had other problems besides that. We found the air conditioning was uneven. Hot one day, cool the next day. The gym which had lovely equipment, was too hot to use for 10 days, very few people were using it. The pool water in the main pool was over 90 degrees. When we questioned the high temperature, we were told it could not be adjusted. Most people tried the ocean pool (salt water) so we had 25 people in a small pool, which was dangerous and not healthy.

A few days after this we made an appointment to see Mr. Axess again. We wanted to tell him that we were very unhappy with our cruise. His answered us was that this happens sometimes and we just have to accept it!! He blamed everything on the computer, (some excuse). He explained there was a lot of new help on board and they are just learning. This did not make us feel any better. After talking to him nothing improved. It only got worse.

We had problems with excursions. Shows were not comparable to last year's cruise. Except for our cabin steward and our dining room steward, it did not remind us of an HAL cruise at all. Then things got really bad when we were told by the Captain that some of the passengers and crew were sick. He never told us how many passengers or crew members were really sick. The lines at the Lido Restaurant were just as long as before. Except now the service got much worse. When we wanted rolls or anything special we could not get it, all we heard that they are short handed all over the Veendam We were not allowed to help our selves any place, not even use the salt and pepper shakers on our own. We tried the dining room for lunch or breakfast, but that was even worse. It was always just half full, but we were always told they do not have enough help to use all the tables, service was not good.

The library set up was even worse, the soft cover books and magazines were locked up, but the hard cover books you could take out. What is the difference between using the books and the magazines? All pages have to be handled regardless of the type of paper, by hand. The concern about spreading germs did not make any sense.

The cabin and hall stewards were not allowed to use vacuum cleaners, they had to use brooms to pick up the dirt and dust, dust flew all over. We had to live with this set up.

On the morning of disembarkation we tried to have breakfast at the Lido Restaurant at 8.30 am, we had a 11 am flight that morning and nothing but confusion. No coffee cups were available, only paper cups, and we had to wait for those, what happened to all the coffee cups from the the previous days? Did they get thrown overboard? We feel that we are entitled to a substantial refund for this cruise, it was not like any  other HAL cruise we have taken.

Hope to hear from you soon.


H. Ludwig & Katherine Reis


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