CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Holland America Line Oosterdam Alaska May 8, 2004

I am not new to cruising. However, Holland America is the worst by far.

Although the M.S. Oosterdam is a beautiful ship with lovely, public areas and beautiful staterooms (I had a superior suite.) You might as well sail on a barge with a staff of the local McDonalds.

My trip on the M.S. Oosterdam was my first and last cruise with Holland America. I feel as if I was lied to about the service and that Holland America misrepresents their product. They are not a "premium" cruise line unless you consider being ignored, ran into and "self service" an upscale elegant experience.

The rooms are nicely appointed (probably the nicest of any cruise I'd been on) complete with a minibar in the room. However, the minibar is never restocked. I like having bottled water, and so I drank it the first day of the cruise and I guess it was unreasonable to expect the water to be replaced (even though I am being charged for it.)

Like other cruise lines the M.S. Oosterdam offers room service. However if you ever need to call them be prepared for your call to immediately to go into a queue, in which your call will go unanswered for 30 minutes. I guess the think that made me the most upset about the 3 times this happened was that I was calling for water that should have been replaced anyways.

Your room will be clean upon check-in, but do not expect any of the extras that you get on other cruise lines. The cabin steward will only make the bed and change the towels in your room and at his convenience. Unlike with other cruise line if you leave a jacket out, it will not get hung up it will just be moved out of the steward's way.

Holland America does not want you ironing in your stateroom for safety reasons so if you need something pressed you just need to call the cabin steward and they will come get it, well at least that is the idea. The same idea is true for shoeshine as well. However, on the occasions that I called my cabin steward he would not show up for four hours and then he would let me know in no uncertain terms what an inconvenience it was. Because of the cabin steward, I did not have my shoes to wear with my tuxedo on the first formal night, as I had requested that they be shined at 9AM, by 1PM when they were not picked up I had to call again and they were not returned until the next day.

On the first day of my cruise I had notified the cabin steward that the robes were missing from my room, by the time I was leaving the ship, no robes had ever been replaced in my stateroom.

In my stateroom the temperature would vary drastically so I had to take two blankets from one of the decks because I couldn't get the cabin steward to bring me any additional blankets. Adjustments of the thermostat could not control the huge swings in cabin temperature. Each night I would need to replace the blankets myself. Once again unlike other cruise lines the cabin steward would not replace the blankets even though he found them on the bed each morning.

On the last day of the cruise the cabin steward cam bursting into my room at 6:30 AM unannounced to make up the room, although this was not the first time this had happened, this time I happened to still be asleep and was startled.

I guess that each stateroom is supposed to have a bowel of fruit in them. This is news to me since; I never saw one in my room. Also a recent article I read states that on the first formal night corsages and boutonnières will be delivered to your room. I wouldn't wait around for them to show up, as the cruise will be over before they ever do.

A helpful guide of where things are located on the ship was delivered to my stateroom on the last night of the cruise, obviously of little use by then.

Outside of my cabin the service was not any better. I have never had such a difficult time in getting served drinks in my life. The cocktail servers would ignore you completely or take your drink order and then disappear for 20-30 minutes. This shocked me considering how most other cruise lines your offered drinks continually.

Holland America offers an afternoon tea, however you'd better bring your own hot water and eat a large lunch before going. Although tradition is to serve petit fores and finger sandwiches at tea, you will be lucky if the attendants even acknowledge your presence. I sat horrified as guests where getting up going to the service stations and were getting there own hot water, because non was being offered by the crew. Let me clarify that tea is served in the DINING ROOM not in a self-serve restaurant.

Unlike on ALL other cruise lines the staff will not acknowledge you in the halls. Even on budget lines like Carnival ships the staff is polite and courteous and will acknowledge you and offer a friendly "hello" or "Good Evening". On Holland America the only greeting your liable to get is when the staff runs into you because you're in their way, or as they step in front of you in the Lido restaurant so they can get some food. On the Oosterdam the crew eats in the Lido restaurant. I guess they are in a hurry so they can get back to ignoring you.

I purchased fountain drink cards before boarding the ship. I would not recommend them as my nephew, was ignored by the wait staff and would was once again notified in no uncertain terms that they were too busy to get him any beverages.

I was HORRIFIED at the service on the ship and so I notified the onboard guest relation's manager, who sent a $10 bottle of wine to my room. Considering my room was $3,200, my mothers cabin was $2,600 I ordered $700 in flowers, onboard credit for my family, toy packs for my nephew, prepaid for spa packages, and champagne and wine before I even got on the ship I had spent $6,500 for a seven day cruise. I was fine with this as I was promised an elegant cruise with superior service. All of the Holland America Literature leads you to believe that they are a premium cruise line. I know I certainly paid a premium price however the level of service was on par with a Denny's.

However I guess what added the most insult to the overall injury was when I spoke to customer relation's manger and wrote a letter to Holland America telling them about my experience and they told me that the service is better on some of their other ships because they are smaller. See, according to Holland America these new "Vista" class ships the Westerdam, Ooosterdam, etc. carry more passengers than their older ships, so if you want a better cruise experience you should take one of those ships.

My letter Holland America received a response of thanks for the information, but everyone else on your ship rated the cruise great! See you again sometime! I have a better idea for Holland America, why don't I just take another cruise line altogether?

Buyer beware on this ship you will pay premium price for a substandard level of service. Unless they are giving this cruise away your money is better spent on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity.

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