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Catherine

Age: 46

Occupation:Communications

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Westerdam

Sailing Date: 2012-08-3

Itinerary: Alaska

Lovely Holland America cruise through amazing locations absolutely RUINED by a single onboard jewelry purchase.

Food was hit or miss, mostly mediocre.

Cabin was very nice

Cheesy entertainment, but the shows were good.

What they don't tell you when you buy duty-free jewelry aboard a Holland America cruise ship anything over $800 gets reported to Customs by the Cruise Ship. If you purchased more than $800 in jewelry you will receive a notice in your cabin the night before you disembark letting you know that you are REQUIRED to attend a meeting with Customs agents the morning of disembarkation.

If you purchased more than $800 in jewelry you are noted in the ship's system as a Customs hold so you are not allowed to disembark the ship until Customs releases your name with the cruise ship.

Customs requires all passengers be held onboard the ship until those who made jewelry purchases over $800 are questioned one at a time by Customs agents.

Communication between the ship and Customs agents is so bad that even AFTER you have met with and been released by the Customs agent with no additional customs fees required, there is a high-probability that the ship will refuse to allow you to disembark.

What should be an easy disembarkation following a wonderful cruise can turn into a bureaucratic nightmare.

I know all of this because it happened to me on the Holland America WESTERDAM in August 2012. It was not an exception, this happens on every cruise of Holland America WESTERDAM the Holland America jewelry store employees know it and all ship personnel know it. But, they don't tell you because they know what a nightmare it is and don't want you to reconsider buying their jewelry onboard. In fact, they keep the jewelry store open until midnight the night before disembarkation. Go check it out you'll see people desperately trying to return jewelry because they just learned buying jewelry on a Holland America ship requires a one-on-one Customs meeting before they can disembark.

I promise you buying jewelry onboard a Holland America cruise ship, it is not worth it. Buy the jewelry in port. It truly was a frustrating experience and quite embarrassing as thousands of people are trying to disembark and because the Customs agent and ship are not communicating, the disembarkation line is held up because your name is on their Customs list. It truly ruined my experience on that Holland America cruise ship, especially because Holland America knew this would happen and could have prepared me and every other passenger instead of catching us off-guard less than 12 hours before departure. I will never buy jewelry aboard a cruise ship again and I will definitely NEVER cruise Holland America again.

I actually had a great time on this cruise right up until the point I made a jewelry purchase on-board, the diamond fell out while I was still on board. When I tried to return the ring, I was persuaded by the jewelry store employees to keep it because I could have it repaired in my hometown for free. He lied. When I got home I was told I had to mail it away for repair and to expect for it to take 3-4 MONTHS before I got it back. When I asked to just return, I was told returns are not allowed AFTER you disembark the ship. I had to make multiple calls and involve multiple customer service reps including the jewelry store manager and national Holland America customer service before they agreed to allow me to return the ring. It has not been two months since I disembarked the ship, they have the ring back and Holland America still has my money.

Holland America has yet to return my money for a ring I wore 3 days before it fell apart because they lied to me to save their sale. I had heard such amazing thing about Holland America. Such a major disappointment to be treated this way -- BEWARE this is how Holland America treats their customers AFTER they have your money.

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