This was a combination Christmas/New Year sailing that was not part of the regular schedule departing from Norfolk, Virginia. It was very overpriced, almost three times a normal priced cruise, even those at Christmas. Because of this, we expected some very special decorations, food etc. but saw none. The food was not as good as I was expecting with all the good choices coming on one night. The coffee was terrible at dinner but was better on the rest of the ship. We were unable to find late night coffee or much of anything else. We were expecting great service but did not receive it. Our waiter did not appear to understand English (the same problem we had with many of the other staff), had no personality and could not get our group's orders to the table at one time. On two occasions, two people received dinner when the rest of the group was finishing their dinners. This made us late for any entertainment as we had to wait for them to finish. Several couples in our group decided to eat from the buffet or room service rather than deal with this waiter. This prompted complaints on my part and finally we were assigned a new waiter who was better and more to our liking. Room service had only cheese and crackers as munchies. We are used to having drinks and snacks while dressing for dinner.
Our cabin was very small. We had an oceanview but the window was so cloudy that we has trouble seeing out of it. We wanted a balcony but they were not in our price range. There was no refrigerator and the TV was very dark. The beds were lumpy and uncomfortable. Cleanliness was sporadic. We were late departing as many of these cruises are. We were told it was weather related but we found out later that there had been engine trouble on the previous cruise which made them late and some cruises had engine trouble with lateness after ours. We could not go to the private island because we were running late. We were given a $100 credit for this. It was very upsetting because the some of the activities were only found on this one stop. The stores onboard had a very limited selection and the members of the group bought very little. The Purser's desk and Shore Excursion desk personnel were incapable of helping with any problems we had. They had an uncaring attitude. Again, I didn't think they understood English very well The entertainment was not up to standards of any cruise line and we left without seening the end of most shows. Two of our group were smokers and they were never notified where the smoking areas were. It was always not where they were at the time. The one good point I have to make was about the children's program. We had a six year old with us and he was always excitied about the activities. They were only scheduled for certain times, not all day and evening. I felt that because this was a cruise that was not on the regular schedule that the staff was brought in from other cruises and did not know hou to work together. Many of them told us this as an apology for the problems we had. This is an older ship that was long past due for a refurbishing. All of the upholstered furniture and carpeting was stained and getting shabby. I understand that there was a four day "wet dock" after we returned to pretty it up. If so, we should have seen a reduction in price. I have sailed many other cruise lines but this was the first Holland America ship. I was really looking forward to top notch service, food, entertainment etc. (for which HAL is known) but I was very dissapointed.