December 2015 - Westerdam to Caribbean - Eastern
Holland America does as good as possible in training it’s crew to be great! The people are always helpful, courteous, and wonderful in how they treat the passengers. So, the crew was terrific. The problem is that in an effort to compete on cost with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, HAL has reduced the amount of help particularly in the dining room and it is obvious!! They have reduced the number of options on the menu and when they have a gala evening when they expect the dining room to be full, they reduce it even further so that it is more like a ‘banquet’ menu than ‘elegant’ dining. Every night, it took us 10 minutes from the time we sat down until we got a wine waiter to come to the table and at least twice, that was only 10 minutes because we yelled across the room to get one to come to us. Yes, we were on board on a busy week but even when there were few people in the dining room, the situation was the same -- not enough help - not just on wine but generally the service was terrible!
In the room, you get a card which tells you to call down for anything that you need but no one answers the call!! It was faster to go downstairs and wait in line at the desk to get an answer or to get help than to call on the phone. We checked that twice with my wife calling on the phone and my going down from deck 8 to deck 1 and returning to the room with the answer before they answered the phone. Again, probably a cut back on help!
I must say that they seemed to do a great job with the young people on board. They had programs for them and they were kept busy and the old folks among us (including us) were never bothered.
The only place that I did not see a cutback in help was in the Casino. Plenty of help and with the great Holland American training, they were a pleasure.
Holland America used to distinguish itself in their class by having elegant dining and great entertainment. The huge mega ships have taken the entertainment crown away and in their effort to cut costs, it seems that Holland America is giving up on the dining experience.
Will I try again? Maybe - but since price is the answer, that is what I will be looking for. If it is a higher price than one of the Royal Caribbean’s mega ships, I’m not sure what my decision will be.