Number of Cruises: 15
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: July 21st, 2003
Itinerary: Alaska Inside Passage
This was our 6th Hal cruise. The Volendam is beautiful and well designed. Our ocean view cabin was spacious and very comfortable. We had plenty of storage space and loved the bathtub. Our cabin steward provided excellent service.
The Rotterdam dining room is beautiful. We had a table for 4 on the upper level. Food ranged between good and excellent. However, service could have been a lot better. Our waiter was very polite, but he obviously was new and had a language problem. He made many mistakes with our orders. However, he did try very hard but he just wasn't experienced. I was very surprised to have this problem on HAL. On other cruises we may have had these problems at lunch or breakfast but we assumed it was because HAL was training new waiters at these mealtimes. We also found it very strange that the dinning room is not equipped with cocktail forks. It is rather awkward to eat escargot, crabs , etc with a dessert fork. We asked the maitre'd about this and he said of course they have them, but I don't think they do. We asked for them several different times and never even saw one. It may sound petty, but I think HAL is cutting corners in the strangest ways.
The entertainment was quite good. The Broadway shows were entertaining and the costumes were fabulous. The CD was fine but the professional appearance of some of his staff can use a little improvement.
Meals at the Lido restaurant were a disaster. The hours for the dining room were too short 8-930AM for Breakfast and only 1 hour for lunch 12-1PM. This made the Lido and Pool Deck BBQ have long lines. (The quality of the food here was only fair) Then, after waiting on these long lines, you could not find an empty table to sit down at. This is not my idea of fun. This never happened to us on any other HAL ship in Europe or the Caribbean.) It did happen on the Carnival Spirit though)
Embarkation and debarkation were very smooth and well organized. However, the Vancouver Airport is not equipped to handle so may cruise ships at one time. It took over 2 hours to get through customs and airport check in.)
All in all we enjoyed the cruise, but think HAL may be trying to expand too fast or perhaps cut corners. This cruise certainly was not the same caliber of our first rate Scandinavia cruise on the Rotterdam 3 years ago.
We are booked on the Oosterdam with our family for New Years but I am seriously thinking of changing to another line. This cruise was just not up to par with the other HAL we have taken in the past. Maybe it is time for a change?