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Old August 4th, 2012, 09:52 AM
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Default HAL ships / staff - what is your experience?

I've read a lot of reviews, but they are not 100% consistent, which is to be expected I guess. I am considering HAL for an Alaska cruise, attracted by a smaller size and some other things, but I have seen some (2012) reviews that are fairly consistent:

1. HAL ship is worn out, rust, etc. I saw this a lot about one ship in particular (Zaandam?). Are the ships worn out? Is that one in particular?

2. Complaints about HAL staff: not able to keep up with room maintenance duties (like cleaning) or "not my job" attitudes.


I'm thinking of writing to HAL for a response, but want to get your feedback.

Thanks!
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Old August 4th, 2012, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by longbeach1 View Post
I've read a lot of reviews, but they are not 100% consistent, which is to be expected I guess. I am considering HAL for an Alaska cruise, attracted by a smaller size and some other things, but I have seen some (2012) reviews that are fairly consistent:

1. HAL ship is worn out, rust, etc. I saw this a lot about one ship in particular (Zaandam?). Are the ships worn out? Is that one in particular?

2. Complaints about HAL staff: not able to keep up with room maintenance duties (like cleaning) or "not my job" attitudes.


I'm thinking of writing to HAL for a response, but want to get your feedback.

Thanks!
Our first HAL cruise was to Alaska in 2008 on the Volendam .The ship was great .We had such a nice experience that we booked the Zuiderdam to go to the Panama Canal . Another great ship .We've since been on 2 more HAL cruises ,both times on the Veendam .
The cabin stewards were wonderful ,food in the MDR and a specialty restaurant was excellent .
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Old August 4th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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I would reccomend that you keep well away from the Ryndam, the ship, service levels, attitude and foow quality were awful at best.

I understand that the rest of the fleet are far superior, but this ship and it's crew need to be retired from service as soon as possible.

Alan.
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Old August 4th, 2012, 02:22 PM
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Are booking for this year LB1?

HAL is the Alaska specialists.

I sailed the Zuiderdam last year and it was great. Leaving next month with a group on the Statendam. I know we'll have a fantastic cruise!
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Old August 4th, 2012, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kandajones View Post
I would reccomend that you keep well away from the Ryndam, the ship, service levels, attitude and foow quality were awful at best.

I understand that the rest of the fleet are far superior, but this ship and it's crew need to be retired from service as soon as possible.

Alan.
I sailed the Ryndam in Alaska - loved the cruise - did not like the ship.

The good news, for you, is that the Ryndam has been dumped on Europe

Annie
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Old August 4th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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Default HAL ships / staff

Thanks, everyone for your feedback!

Snoozeman: I am probably not booking Alaska or anything long for this year. I will need to accumulate some vacation time, but who knows? How late is "too late" for Alaska - I see repositioning trips in September in various places, so I wonder if Alaska more or less shuts down then. I should really look at schedules, huh?

In the shortish term I am looking at Alaska and possibly a 3 day repositioning cruise to see how I like "at sea" days.
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Old August 4th, 2012, 07:43 PM
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Thumbs up HAL

HAL is one of our favorite lines.

We have never had a problem with any of their ships. Of course there is wear and tear in public areas, especially when the ship is due to go in drydock soon. But the cabins are normally in good repair and spotless.

The staff is universally friendly and helpful. The cabin stewards do a wonderful job. The dining room staff tries hard but they are dealing with some cultural differences (the servers are Indonesian) and a language barrier. The headwaiters supervise them closely.

As on every cruise line we have ever been on, the Purser's Desk (Front Desk, Passenger Service Desk) is the weak spot. I have almost never gotten any decent service from any Junior Assistant Purser for anything more complicated than handing me a form or selling stamps. The only thing to do is ask for a "real" Purser (with stripes on her shoulder), and then you can usually get something done.

I would highly recommend HAL, especially for Alaska. You can check several different HAL ships and also a cruise tour to Alaska at the page in our signature below.

Have a GREAT cruise!
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Old August 7th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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I spoke to HAL re: Zaandam. She is going into dry dock in January, so maybe the "worn out" complaints from 2012 will be moot. Thanks to everyone for their information.
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Old August 8th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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We just sailed on the Zaandam to Alaska. Loved the cruise, but was not impressed with the ship or service. While we had some exceptional servers, I did not feel that the majority of them were very friendly or efficient.
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Old August 9th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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wonder what happened? We cruised the Ryndam 10 day Mexico and it was fabulous from ship to food to crew! We are picky and it was fabulous. Much better than the Noordam But loved the 30 day cruise on the Westerdam and it was amazing.

Booked for 30 days on Prisendam-Black Sea and Holy Lands leaving Barcelona Sept 17 and so look fwd to this raved about ship. Need cabin mate!

I have traveled the world both for business and pleasure usually 5 star hotels and first class, and I live in a VERY top area of the SF Bay Area-soooo I am a serious foodie and demand quality.
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Old August 10th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Talking Quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by shantihhh View Post
I live in a VERY top area of the SF Bay Area-soooo I am a serious foodie and demand quality.
Well --

We live close to the SF Bay Area and traveling there is a special treat for us. We can talk for days about what restaurants we will enjoy when in the Bay Area. It is unquestionably some of the highest quality eating in the world.

We also love HAL and think the food aboard is always very good. It is up to the highest standards for a cruise ship.

But -- compare HAL food, even in the Pinnacle Grill, to the best in the SF Bay Area? Not really.

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Old August 18th, 2012, 09:42 PM
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We've found Holland America to be one of our favorites. However, we wish they sailed out of more ports, like Port Canaveral or Boston, and then we would visit them more.
As it is, we take other cruiselines sometimes simply for the convenience.
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Old August 23rd, 2012, 12:01 AM
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Actually my late husband and I were fabulous home chefs, I still am. Our kids also! Son-in-law is from former Yugoslavia, in restaurant industry and his mom was a chef in Croatia and Kosovo at huge hotels.

I have to look at the food from a this is great considering. I prefer ethnic cuisines and we often had the crew serve us their Indonesian fare!
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Old August 23rd, 2012, 12:05 AM
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Very few sail from SF either. No problem we just hop a plane to San Diego, Miami etc. I leave for a cruise out of Barcelona that ends 30 days later in Rome. Can't see a problem if flying to meet the cruise ship. Actually gives an excuse to explore other places.
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Old August 23rd, 2012, 12:52 PM
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Thumbs up Bami Goreng

Quote:
Originally Posted by shantihhh View Post
... I prefer ethnic cuisines and we often had the crew serve us their Indonesian fare!
We enjoy the Bami Goreng that HAL usually has on the menu one night. But it is a "sanitized" version.

Many years ago, our first cruise on HAL, it was on the menu and we ordered it. It was quite spicy and we were enjoying it, but we noticed our waiter hovering around. Finally he asked us, "Is it OK?" We said that we loved it. He replied, "Usually I have to take it back and bring something else because it is too hot!"

These days if you order the Indonesian food from the MDR menu it will not be too hot ... but it is good.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 11:24 AM
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We went on an HAL 2 week Caribbean Cruise in '09. Where do I even begin? First off, you should know that we are not "impossible to please" people, and don't get derailed by the occasional snafu. Also, the itinerary was what attracted us to this cruise in the first place.
The quality of the food ranged from very good to "what the hell were you thinking?" Honestly, more than fifty percent of the meals were very mediocre... limp, stale salads, mealy, sour tomatoes, etc. The meats were overcooked and dry. The dining room staff disappeared for 30 minutes at a time. This was in the dining room. In the Lido buffet line, the food was actually a little better than in the dining room, but the servers were surly, and would do things like hide the whipped cream when they ran low, and give you a hard time when you asked politely for some.
The room was tired and the carpeting was dirty. The room stewards literally did not know how to make a bed - I'm not kidding, they just laid the bottom sheet sideways across the bed so that it puddled on the floor on both sides, and there was 18 inches of bare mattress at the head and the foot of the bed! This went on for the whole two weeks! They didn't give us any new soap and toiletries until we ran out and asked for more. The cupboard doors and drawers were loose and kept sliding open and slamming shut when the ship rolled, so we bought a roll of duct tape on our first port of call and strted taping everything shut at night... oh, and when we first entered our cabin and turned on the light, the switchplate fell off on the floor,so we ended up duct taping that on, too. By the end of two weeks our cabin had duct tape all over the place, and no effort to fix anything was made by the stewards.
On one port of call, the ship idled in port for an hour before leaving, and the ventilation sucked in deisel fumes that were so strong we couldn't stay in the room. We called for help, and almost an hour later one guy showed up, looked around and said he couldn't smell anything! I was getting ready to sleep on the sofa in the library, but at around 11:30 p.m. it cleared enough to sleep in our room.
We wanted to go on many of the advertised ship excursions, but most of them were cancelled because of under/non- enrollment. The average age of the passengers on that cruise was much older than we are, and we are in our sixties, so that explains the lack of interest in excursions, but still... I feel that if you are paying that much, they should live up to their advertised activities.
The previous year we had gone on a 12 day cruise with celebrity, and it was PERFECT! The only reason we tried HAL was the itinerary and that we wanted a slightly longer cruise - boy, what a mistake! We have heard good things about Royal Caribbean also, and we did a trip with Princess that was good. Read more reviews to find out if HAL has mended their ways, but my advice, from our experience, is to choose another line.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 01:21 PM
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I always suggest HAL to Alaska - they've been doing it longer than anyone else, so they have most experience. They are also the only cruise line who owns all the lodges & hotels you stay in when doing a cruisetour. While other cruise lines own their own lodges, they lease space at hotels where they stay.

I would also suggest Princess as a very close second.

HAL & Princess are the only two who own their own lodges in Denali and both are very nice.

We've sailed both many times and love both of them.

But keep in mind that what one person loves, another will hate.

We were once on a cruise with 2 other couples - all of us are travel agents and we probably have over 150 cruises between us, so we all have alot of experience. All 6 of us thought this particular ship was one of the worse we had been on. The ship was in dire need of refurbishment and the food left alot to be desired. Yet we read a review written by someone who was on the same cruise and he said he had been on 50 cruises and this was the best cruise he had ever been on. Needless to say, we all had a good laugh about that one!

A year later, the 6 of us went on the same ship again and had a completely different experience. The ship had gone through refurbishment, so it was very nice, and the crew had changed, resulting in an overall much better experience.

Also, people are more apt to write about a cruise when they have a bad experience than when they have a good experience - just the way people are. As Lee Iaccoca said in his book, when a person is happy with their purchase they'll tell 3 to 5 people, but when they're unhappy, they'll tell 8 to 10 people. Of course this was before the internet, so you can multiply those numbers by tens of thousands, but you get the picture. As the saying goes, misery loves company. So take the negatives and divide them by 1/3 and take the positives and multiply them by 3 - this would probably provide a more realistic idea of reality.

So the bottom line is to do your research, talk to your Cruise Specialist, make an informed decision based on what you think is best for you, and then enjoy your cruise.

We just got off the HAL Noordam after doing a 10-night cruise to the So. Carib before Christmas and it was absolutely wonderful. The ship, food, and staff was everything we wanted and everything we have come to expect from HAL. But I'm sure there were some who had complaints for one reason or another.

Pete
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Old July 12th, 2013, 05:05 PM
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I went to Alaska on the Westerdam in 2010, it was awesome!!! The ship was beautiful and the trip was wonderful. The staff was very attentive and the food was delicious. I like that there is always food available -- I'm a nibbler. I agree with the other poster, there are some of the older ships that you probably would not enjoy, but just check before you book to know the age of the ship (that's with any cruise line) and you should be ok.
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Old November 30th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Recent years have without a doubt seen a decline in quality at Holland America Line.
When the new vistas were being introduced and the S and R class were still in good condition, Holland America Line had it right!

The S and R class are still great ships, but are desperately in need of a major, major, major REFIT. Some of the S class are a disgrace and look worse externally then some low end cruise ships in the Med. There were rumours that the S class were up for sale, but without a doubt something needs to be done.

As the ships get older, the more issues with pipework etc result in flooded cabins and decks which end up smelling awful. Rattles and knocks start to appear and the crew struggle to keep up with the outstanding issues. As the crew find the ship harder work, more difficult to keep up with and worse passenger ratings you end up with an unhappy team and inevitably the good guys get the better ships and the less experienced guys end up on the old ones. New Captains, Staff Captains, Hotel Manager, F&B Managers, Guest Relations Managers etc cut their teeth on the old ships and its all a vicious cycle.
The Rotterdam is my favourite ship of all time, but recently its looking so tired. I also am upset because of the extra decks on the back and the awful looking gym/spa extension at the front on the R class...

HAL needs a serious cash injection into the ships and need to bring up their manning levels back to where they were before the cutbacks during the recession. Surely they are profit? Surely there is a future.
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Old November 30th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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We've been on 11 cruise lines and while I agree that there has been a decline in Holland America over the last many years, it's no more than any other cruise line, in fact, in some regard their decline is not as much as many cruise lines. We were on the Noordam last year for a 10-night So. Caribbean cruise and on the Eurodam for a 12-night Baltic cruise. Both were excellent. The food was very good as always, the staff was wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed them both for different reasons.

I do agree with the Rotterdam being our favorite HAL ship - it's wonderfully classic ship more in the old-style than the modern ships.

But I would still give HAL higher ratings than most cruise lines because they still offer an excellent cruising experience without the high cost of a luxury cruise.

Pete
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