May 2016 - Westerdam to Alaska - Inside Passage
The check-in process should have been a clue as to the expected services from Holland Cruise Lines. I waited in a long line to get to another long line to board the ship. While in line, I listened to several passengers’ conversations about what they were going to eat after boarding the ship; I thought the food was going to be excellent. After starving through all the long lines, I found my traveling companion. We went to our cabin, called the front desk with concerns and went to the Lido Restaurant. We were happy to learn that roast beef was being served. After waiting in another long line we were told we had to wait for more roast beef. After waiting 15 minutes, another passenger asked a cook how much longer we had to wait for the roast beef. He was told, “they ran out of roast beef.” We decided to try the Italian Restaurant until we were informed that they “ran out of pasta.”
For breakfast I decided to have an omelet and asked for shelled eggs. Several cooks told us that they did not have shelled eggs, only powdered eggs. I found it hard to believe that a cruise ship did not provide shelled eggs for its passengers and thought the problem was that of a language barrier. I went to customer service, asked to speak to the director of the ship and was told a manager was available. After insisting to speak to the ship director, John, the culinary director introduced himself. I asked him about my concerns with the Lido Restaurant “running” out of roast beef, the specialty Iranian Restaurant “running” out of pasta on day one, and asked why the ship did not provide shelled eggs for its passengers. I was flabbergasted when he stated, “We didn’t expect so many people to eat as soon as they boarded. We have a lot of first-time cruisers.” He went on to say that the ship had shelled eggs and he would speak to the cooks.
The next morning, I asked for an omelet and was told that the ship did not have shelled eggs. I spoke to the manager who also informed me that they did not have shelled eggs. I asked if I could purchase eggs at the next port, bring them onto the ship and to have the cook prepare them. I was informed that I could not bring eggs onto the ship. While walking back to the table, John approached me and asked if I was able to get the shelled eggs. I explained to him what happened, we walked back to the same manager, and, to my surprise, he brought out shelled eggs. Later in the week, one of the workers told me that it cost too much to make eggs “from chickens,” and they were told not to put them where the “passengers could see them because they would want them instead of the powdered eggs.”
Later in the week the Lido Restaurant severed lamb, which was either raw or overcooked. The lamb was so tough it was difficult to cut and impossible to swallow . . . another main meal salad. We ate in the Vista Restaurant a couple of nights, which was better than the Lido Restaurant, but not by much, my travel companion had roast beef and vomited several times later in the evening. The food was not impressive, especially not as advertised. I wish someone would teach Holland Cruise Lines the meaning of taking a vacation and having a stress-free meal. While dining in the Lido Restaurant restaurant, several cruise line workers were walking the aisle chanting “bloody Mary, wine, drinks.” I was appalled when the waiter in the Vista Restaurant told use that if we wanted filtered sparkling water we had to pay extra—I guess the water in the pitcher was toilet water. Unfortunately, I, and several other passenger s, found that the best food on the ship was at the, one-day, Alaska bake and the Asian section (steamed vegetables, noodles and chicken). Holland advertised that we were to have fruit in our cabin. The steward asked us to fill out a form checking which fruit we wanted. I checked a green and red apple and two oranges. The steward left a note stating that they had the two apples, but only had one orange. The food was definitely not the only problem.
We arrived to our first port Juneau, Alaska three hours late. There was little to no direction as to where to disembark, most disembarking information was from word of mouth. Because my traveling companion had to take medication at a certain time, we were unable to go on our planned excursion. After waiting hours to disembark, just as we were all lined up to disembark; the cruise director announced that we were not allowed to leave the ship with water or fruits. Many passengers purchased water on the ship to take with them. They had to get out of line and go back to their cabins. It is noteworthy that Holland Cruise Line set up a booth with water for purchase right before our cards were scanned to leave the ship. We were scheduled to arrive in Victoria, British Columbia from 6:00 p.m. – 11:15p.m. We were cleared to disembark at 7:25 p.m.
Upper management was nowhere to be found until several complaints were made about the long lines and slow service. It appeared that most of the crewmembers were in training, as most were clueless and spoke little English. Holland advertised a passenger ratio of 2 to1, but I’m sure there were not talking about the Holland ms Westerdam for our cruise. In the dining areas, we were told not to help ourselves to water or juice as the attendants would serve us, but several passengers literally had to stand up and wave their hands in order to get their attention. The Lido Restaurant cooking area was small, dirty and workers had to turn sideways to pass each other. In order to contact ones cabin Stewart, we had to call the front office and they relayed the information to the Stewarts, often with incorrect information. The bathroom sinks and the bathroom shower drains drained slowly, allowing water to back up. The shower had mold in it. On day four, we noticed that the A/C in the cabin was sporadic, and during some hours off. The view from the balcony cabin was viewed through a small window and a glass door—blocking most of the view was a wall with shelves that held wine glasses. Most mid-ship balcony cabins have sliding glass door, which provides a better view of the ocean, not the room. Nearly all cruise lines state important announcement in the cabins, not Holland. We had to open our door every time we heard loud voices. Sometimes we opened it when we heard several passengers talking in the hallway, as we didn’t know if the voices were from an announcement.
Worst of all, the cabin hallways reeked with a fecal odor. While at sea, the captain announced that there was a fire in a cabin. It would have been less stressful for Holland’s passengers if he had stated that it was a training drill. Such drills are normally completed while the paying passengers are at port—not during the time we pay to relax.
We took this cruise attempting to decide if Holland would be suitable for our world cruise. The entire cruise, accommodations and services were awful. My traveling companion became ill after eating the roast beef in the Vista Restaurant. The time off work and the price we paid for the "cruise" was not at all worth it.