CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Holland America Line Zaandam Eastern Caribbean April 2, 2005

Some back ground on us; we are in our very early 50's and cruise just about twice a year. We have cruise on HAL 11 times prior, Princess 9 times and Celebrity 2 times. This cruise was just suppose to be relaxing after the very hard winter we have had and we did accomplish this. The weather was fabulous except for the last day at Half Moon Cay it was cloudy and overcast, we watched the tenders going back and forth to the Island and they were really bouncing around. We have been to St. Thomas and Tortola several times so we did not do any excursions, just got off and walked around. We did buy a new Nikon D70 in St. Thomas for an excellent price and I bought a beautiful necklace with blue diamonds for a really great price. It was nice getting off and finding a little outside bar and being able to enjoy a real drink for a reasonable price.

We have always been very happy with the service and food on HAL but not this time. The food in the dining room was always cold, presentation was poor, always getting our orders mixed up (we were at a table for 8) and very slow in delivery. We always have a bottle of wine with dinner and every night we had to ask the Head waiter to send over the wine Stewart, our wine usually ended up on the table when they would just be serving our entrée. The deserts were okay except for the "plastic jello" (which is what our server called it) it seems to be flavorless. Drink prices were very high and they measured every drink a little less then a full shot and if you asked for a little more they would charge you double for the drink. Lido was not bad the food was well presented but there again the boys that worked behind the line seemed burnt out by the passengers. I ask for the fresh tomatoes, basil, spinach and a little garlic on the spaghetti noodles (which were sitting next to the spaghetti) and the server gave me a hard time. The server said "the tomatoes, basil and spinach are for the tortellini and I should have either the Mariner sauce or the Alfredo sauce". When I ask him please he did put it all together for me along with 2 full tablespoons of garlic on top, he was very put out by request. By the way they closed the Lido 5 minutes later (2:00 PM).

Now on to the poolside dining, the hamburgers and hot dogs were good but then again the server working the grill really wish he was some where else. The condiment bar for the hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and taco's were always empty, it took them a while to get them filled and then they would leave a mess were they had dump the food into the containers. I found hair in my taco one day, now that was interesting. What I found strange was that a few CEO's from Seattle were on board trying to correct the problems. At one point we did see them telling a Head waiter to get more staff out at the pool area, he was not happy.

The food at the Pinnacle was fabulous. Maybe HAL should charge more and serve the same type of food that they served in the Pinnacle. The only problem we had in the Pinnacle was when they tried to charge us $15.00 corkage fee for a bottle of wine that the ship had given us. When I told the Wine Stewart that the ship had given it too us and we had dropped it off the day before to be chilled he told me that "we will investigate this and let you know what we come up with", we also had a free meal in the Pinnacle compliments of the ship. I don't know maybe a lot of people make up stories regarding wine that they bring on but it really made me feel like I was trying to put something over them.

We also had arranged a Bridge tour from someone high up in Princess, when I went down to the desk to find out when the tour would be they did not believe me. I had a copy of the email so they took that and told me "we will investigate this a get back to you" I said that will be fine just return the email back to my cabin. The next day the email was delivered back to our cabin and we did not hear until the next day the tour was arranged. Again they made me feel like I was trying to pull something over them.

Our cabin Stewart was okay, not fantastic but okay. We always had to get our own ice, luckily we were right across were the ice machine was so hubby was able to go over and get our own, even with our room Stewart watching him. Our sheets on our bed were never changed the entire week, even in a hotel room they will change them at least twice in a week stay. The balcony floor was dirty, it was sticking like something had spilled on it and it had not been cleaned in a few weeks. I did ask for it to be washed but it never was. The showers were another story, one minute it was nice and hot and then the next it was very cold. The toilet seem to work some of the times, always took a long time to get someone to look at it. On our last day we could not get it to work at all. Other people we had talk to on this trip were very unhappy with the same items I have addressed here.

The shows were nothing great, the juggler needs to find a new job. Here again one of the CEO's from Seattle was on board to look over the entertainment. The casinos were very tight, I did spend a lot of money but never seem to really hit anything. The staff in the casino were really nice, there was only one dealer that was not a happy camper we called her "Iron Woman" she never smiled and was strictly business. It actually became funny whenever she would come to a table and start dealing everyone would leave.

As I said in the beginning we went on this trip to relax and defrost, we did accomplish this. The down side is, what is happening to the cruise industry and Holland America? We are set to do a another trip this November on the Westerdam and I have been reading some other reviews on this ship and they too seem to be along the same lines as this one is. So we are trying to decided whether to cancel our back to back on this ship and this line. It is sad that on our next trip we would be up to 100 days on HAL and now I do not think that will be happening. I have also forwarded this letter onto HAL headquarters, hopefully they may get back on track and we will be able to sail them again.


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