In September 2011 my wife and I boarded the Holland America ship Noordam for a 10 day cruise to Greece. This was our 19th cruise but our first on a Holland America ship. We had been upgraded to a suite and were happy about the spacious accommodations. In fact, on the first day we were talking about becoming regular Holland America cruisers.
On either the second or third day, we began to notice the smell of sewage in our room and in the passageway outside our room. It seemed to get worse as time went on. I began to make sure that the bathroom door was closed at all times thinking that the smell was coming from there. It did not help and I became nauseous from the smell. I called the room steward and he said the smell was coming from the AC unit and he would notify engineering. Engineering came and said that they would notify housekeeping.
The oder seemed to go away for a day and then came back as bad as ever. Once again, I called to complain. Some people came to investigate but I got no relief from the problem. I was only able to tolerate being in the room by using a chair to hold the door open to the veranda. On the last day, before we docked, the odor went away.
We took a land tour and sat at a table with another couple that were on our ship. We all said we were having a nice time on the cruise until I said that I had only one problem: "the smell in our room." With that, the man went into a rant about how awful the smell was in his room and that he would never go on another Holland America cruse. I asked if he had complained and he said no. I told him that I had and it did no good.
I know that there is a tendency to blame the cruise staff for these problems and I want to say that I place no blame on any of the crew. In fact, at all times, they were friendly, courteous and respectful. Clearly, the blame for our terrible experience rests on top management for allowing such conditions to continue.