I have just returned recently from a 17 night cruise on HAL's Ryndam, cruising from Rio De Janeiro to Valparaiso. It was my first cruise with HAL, and 5th cruise overall. We have taken 3 lengthy cruises with Princess and one other with Carnival.
I would like to start out by saying that I am not posting this just to whine and moan and to bash HAL, as there were many enjoyable aspects of our cruise, most especially the itenerary. However, I suppose we had set our expectations too high. We had heard from friends and others how wonderful the service is on HAL and most people told us they were a cut above Princess in that department, but we certainly didn't find that to be the case. Quite to the contrary.
For starters, we had by far, the meanest grumpiest cabin steward I have ever experienced on board any ship. He was one of the older cabin stewards. From day one, we explained to him that we were very low maintenance cruisers and that on sea days we like to sleep in late and that it wasn't necessary to clean our room if we were in bed sleeping in, but he insisted on barging in every morning and would give us mean looks and make us feel guilty that we were still in the room, as he wanted to clean it despite what we had told him. We would pass him in the hallways and he wouldn't even say hello to us. It was quite incredible! We asked him for wine glasses one night as we were going to open a bottle of wine in our cabin and he said he "didn't have any" and that he would have to "go upstairs and look for some" if he had time. On Princess, if the cabin steward saw a bottle of wine on the vanity, we would always have fresh glasses waiting for us in the room upon our return. It's the little things.
The food on this ship was very average. I cannot honestly say that I had one meal in the Rotterdam Dining room that was memorable. It was just ok. The desserts were very good though, as was the service given to us by our assistant waiter Vindi, whom was much better than our head waiter.
I take that back, there was one memorable evening in the dining room. It was the night that the wine steward came to our table and proceeded to quote scriptures out of the bible regarding drinking in moderation. We ordered two bottles of wine for the six of us and I don't know if he felt like we were over-indulging but he actually pulled out a pocket sized bible from his jacket and started reading from it and then showed all of us the passages referring to wine comsumption. I honestly could not believe my eyes! Talk about ruining the mood! I thought about ordering two more bottles just to see if we would then be exorcized!
The other strange thing about dining on this ship is that the food served in the lido buffet at dinner was the exact same thing they were serving in the dining room, so if you didn't like the choices being served in the dining room and wanted an alternative, you were out of luck as it was the same food at the Lido. And the Lido buffet would shut down at 8:30pm so if you wanted anything to eat past then, you were pretty much out of luck as the room service offerings for late night eating were the absolute worst I have ever seen. It was either cold roast beef sandwich or cold Turkey sandwich. Nothing else! One night we asked for pickles with our cold sandwiches and we were told they didn't have any on board the ship!!! It was almost comical. I was embarrassed for them!
The biggest disappointment came from the bar and lounge service staff. It was almost impossible to get a drink on this ship! From the nearly nonexistent drink service to the absolutely horrible service we received at the Crows Nest Lounge after dinner, it was all terrible. We enjoy having cocktails in the afternoon hours while lounging by the aft pool. Not once were we ever offered drinks by any wait staff, even though there was an open bar back there. We always had to get it ourselves. At nights at the Crows Nest, the service was again, non existant. There were usually two waiters working there and they would never approach us and offer us drinks. We always had to walk over to the bar and get it ourselves, while the waiters would just stare at us. It was odd to say the least but bordering on obnoxious. I am a very good tipper and these two clowns missed out on 17 nights worth of decent tips. Most nights, we were given dirty looks by the waiters and bartenders just for showing up! I guess it meant that they had to stay at work a little longer and being that we were usually the only ones up past midnight, they didn't like that idea.
Another odd thing on this cruise was their wine tastings. They would conduct them at 11:00am. Who want's to drink wine at 11:00am? You would think that they would do this later in the afternoon, but what do I know?
Again, I hope I am not sounding like a complete whiner, as we still had a great time despite the service downfalls. We had all read and heard so much about the quality of service on HAL, and how it was so much better than most lines, but in our case, it truely was not. I have had MUCH better service on all of the Princess cruises I've taken.
Now to what I did enjoy about the cruise, apart from the itinerary.
The cabins were great! Very spacious and comfortable and very quiet. We never heard a peep from our neighbors, although we were surrounded on both sides by family and friends as there were six of us in our group. We also enjoyed the port lecturer Graham. He was very knowledgeable about all the ports and had a great since of humor. We also enjoyed dining at the Pinnacle Grill, even though they served garlic butter to me instead of whipped cream with my chocolate volcano dessert. (That's a whole 'nuther story!) The shows and entertainment were also quite good on most nights.
If anyone from HAL should read this, I would suggest you send many of your public contact employees back to service training as it was really lacking on this cruise. I can't say that I will never cruise with HAL again, but if given a choice between Princess and HAL, I'll gladly take Princess.
Kirk in Hawaii
I am so sorry to hear about your experience on the Ryndam, it sounds almost impossible to believe that you were describing a HAL ship!
I'm sure you mentioned some of these things on your questionnaire? Have you contacted your travel agent? If you haven't, I would sugget that you do. He or she will certainly let HAL know of your exeprience and you just may end up with some kind of deep discount for another HAL cruise. No one, I mean no one should be treated like the way you were by your cabin steward. Friends of ours who have sailed on 12 HAL cruises mentioned to their travel agent that their cabin steward didn't make their bed one or two mornings and HAL gave them an upgrade for their next cruise. At the very least, you should get something like that after the way that your trip went.
I'm in shock about what you said about the Bar service! We NEVER had that problem on the Zuiderdam, and that's a new ship with a newer crew!
After sailing on several other lines and hearing that HAL was the pinnicle of quality cruising, I had a similiar experience in Zaandam.
The ship is beautifully constructed. Our service was good, not outstanding, but acceptable. The food was acceptable, but not what we were lead to believe was the norm.
We were among the last to eat in the Marco Polo restaurant, which except for a quiet place to eat, was nothing exceptional. It is being changed into a pay extra steak house.
Main problem was the fact that three weeks before sailing the prices were literally cut in half. The ship was full of people who overwise would have sailed on a casino cruise and thought it was the trip of a lifetime.
Afraid being a Carnival ship is beginning to show, no matter where you look.
Your review makes make reconsider doing my first HAL cruise in August on the Amsterdam. Maybe I should stick with Celebrity because I have always had an excellent cruise on all the ships that they sail.
I think you need to chill out a bit. I have been on over 30 cruises. Some have been better than others. I have also traveled the world and never encountered in such a short span of time, the negative problems you experienced. By no means am I saying you are a "pain." What I am saying is that staff should be treated with respect. Perhaps your demeanor evoked a negative response from the cabin steward. As far as 11am wine tasting. Well..it seems a little early but so what...don't go. For every complaint you had, there were people who would state the exact opposite. All of us spend heard earned money to vacation and when I travel, I tend to spend more than average. I also tend to be more tolerant. Perhaps if you did likewise, you would brighten your day and those around you.
Look for things to complain about and you will find it. Look for things to put a smile on your face and a smile you shall have. Hope your next vacation is better for you.
All the best!
David, I think this is the exception to the rule. I'm on the Amsterdam on June 21 and wouldn't change for the world, eventhough we just got of the Star Princess and had our best cruise ever, out of fourteen. The Star Princess does an identical Alaska itinerary to the Amsterdam, but I wouldn't change.
H.A.L. almost always does just as well as Celebrity, in my book, and most times better.
Not sure who you are telling to chill. Not sure you know what it means. It is a bit dated.
In my opinion, cruising and cruisers are not what they used to be. The elegance of both have slipped away. It is now marketing for the masses.
As for service, I'm amazed that it has maintained the same high standard throughout the industry. Food may be slipping, entertainment might not be what you expected, but the service continues, even though it is lost on the majority who sail today.
HAL in particular, without a tipping policy, amazes me. I doubt if more than half of the herd that packed Zaandam on our cruise rewarded either their cabin or table server. As one doofus at the next table loudly attested "If they don't tell me what to tip, I sure as hell ain't going to tip anything". I usually leave more than industry standard if the service is good, and far I've been made to feel I'm something special.
The cruise industry has brilliantly pegged its market and efficiently serves the masses, who keep them very weathy, even if they did overbuild.
Will be interesting to see how the market adjusts to an uncertain economy and too many staterooms. Have a feeling some ships will be laid up for awhile and it will be the masses who will be staying home.
As for hiring a private yacht, don't have to as long as there is Raddison.
Take a look at Oceania for next year, I think they may have what you are looking for, and what HAL is starting to lose. I know that they are new, but will be starting in July and I think you will be hearing great things about them. http://www.oceaniacruises.com/
" I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. "
Sounds like you just had bad luck to me. Last year I sailed on the HAL Maasdam and could find very little wrong. I liked it so much that, this year, I am booked on her sister Statendam going to Alaska.
We are about to take our 37th cruise with HAL. We have NEVER experienced the things of which you speak. If you are not happy with the staff,you must report them to
the head housekeeper or the dining room maitre'd and they will be OFF the ship at the
next port. Better luck next time. Could it be that you are a chronic complainer? If you
don't have a good time on a cruise, it's your fault.
"Could it be that you are a chronic complainer? If you
don't have a good time on a cruise, it's your fault."
To that comment I will say to you, could it be that you don't read well? If you had read my report, you will see that I said we all had a GREAT time on the cruise DESPITE the service downfalls. My comments regarding the cruise were merely comments. Statements of fact, posted here for others to see. I would never let others bad service and bad behavior stop me from enjoying myself on vacation. Nor will I let comments like yours and other staunch defenders of HAL stop me from posting information on this forum, if it will enlighten others.
When I pay thousands of dollars on a vacation, I don't expect to...
A) Be preached to at dinner.
B) Be scolded by my cabin steward for sleeping in late.
C) Be forced to fetch my own drinks from the bar while wait staff stand around doing nothing.
I hardly think I'm being unreasonable, and I didn't just make all of this up just for the sake of complaining about something.
Lastly, I will agree with your last sentence. If we didn't enjoy ourselves on a month long trip to South America because of a few people with bad attitudes, then yes, it is our fault, but again, I will repeat, WE DID ENJOY OURSELVES!
Though we loved our recent Rotterdam cruise we, too, were disappointed with the number of passengers who wore a golf shirt on informal and even formal nights in the dining room and the number of passengers walking around the public rooms in shorts and even tank shirts in the evenings. It is not what we had expected. on HAL. I asked the Captain when we had dinner with him about enforcement of the dress code. He just shook his head and said, "We are not allowed to do anything about it. It is very upsetting and not my idea of a proper cruise atmosphere, but I can't do anything about it.." . Looks like the bean counters are running all areas of cruising now and don't want to offend any passengers. They don't seem to understand that they are offending some passengers and sending them to more premium cruise lines.
Hal ship line doesn't try to push drinks by the pool, like some other lines. That is one think I like about the HAL line. They are not tring to sell drinks all the time and yelling about them. To me that is a GOOD thing.
I don't doubt that this happened to you, but I think my recent experience is more typical of HAL, based on the forums at various sites I've read. I got back from a cruise on the Veendam last weekend and I was telling everyone that HAL certainly deserved it's reputation for excellent service.
My room steward introduced himself on the first afternoon and we had cordial relations the whole cruise. I slept late several days and took naps most days, but never was bothered by Cadmono, and he kept everything as neat as if I hadn't been there all day.
In the dining room, I became acquainted with all the staff I had contact with and was on a first name basis with four of them. The service was as attentive as in most excellent restaurants. On the last day, those four brought me a cake and said it was for my birthday, even though they knew it wasn't.
In the lounges, where I spent most of the cruise, I had very, very attentive service. One waitress made origami figures for me and I rarely finished a beverage before being asked if I needed a refill.
Even though tipping is not necessary, I thought the service was of such a high quality that I ended up tipping seven people at the very end of the cruise (and ran out of cash before a couple of lesser lights got theirs). The only problem I had with anyone on board was with a very rude food and beverage manager.
Thank you for your post. The service that you received on your recent cruise was what we expected to receive on ours, and sadly, it just wasn't there. I am very easy to please and have had excellent service on all of my previous cruises. Before taking this cruise, we had read all of the message boards on various websites and concluded that HAL was a cut above most others. The only explanation I can come up with as to why we were treated the way we were is that we were by far the youngest people on the ship (we are late 20's and mid 30's) and perhaps they weren't use to seeing younger people on such a long cruise.
Throughout our cruise, we were approached daily by other passengers asking us if we were the,entertainment, dancers, cast, crew, etc. It got pretty old after awhile but didn't really bother us. We laughed it off.
I will hopefully have many more cruises to take in my lifetime and hope to try some other lines in the future. I will write this one off as abnormal, and maybe someday we'll give them another try.
Re your cabin steward - think we started out with the same fellow on Rotterdam V1 - we too like to sleep late and advised him of our wishes re early mornings. Twice in a row he waltzed in and was reprimanded - next morning, same thing - Front Desk was our first stop - problem solved - don't know where he was sent but we never saw him again.
Complaints/comments on the last day questionnaire solve nothing. They may be noted and acted upon but the problem solving lies with the Hotel Manager and he's available at the Front Desk - he can and if at all possible will resolve the matter.
I do think you were unfortunate on your cruise - such treatment is not the norm - we've spent closed to 500 days at sea with HAL - that you could rise above it and enjoy yourselves says much for you!
Sad to say, all this price-cutting-discounting is encouraging, enabling some very rude, crude and unrefined people into the cruise market.
Suki - the Hotel Manager is not available at the Front Desk. He has his own office on the Lower Promenade, right outside the Atrium, and if I have any problems, which have been very rare, I speak to him there.
Please don't be offended by this, but after reading your post, I simply could NOT ignore it by not responding. You said.................
"were disappointed with the number of passengers who wore a golf shirt on informal and even formal nights in the dining room and the number of passengers walking around the public rooms in shorts and even tank shirts in the evenings."
"They don't seem to understand that they are offending some passengers and sending them to more premium cruise lines"
WHAT??????? THAT IS ONE OF THE DUMBEST, PICKIEST THINGS I'VE READ ON THESE BOARDS!! If you expect me and others to believe that because other passengers are not dressed properly can be offending to other passengers, then there's something wrong with you. Who cares what other people are wearing? The whole idea of a vacation is to relax and do whatever you want. That inlcudes what clothes you feel like wearing. When we were on the Zuiderdam in February, there were several people who did not wear jackets/suits on the formal/informal evenings, but none of us were "offended". We just figured those people didn't want to dress up and went about having a good time.
"hey!!, wait a minute you!! Its after 5pm, you cant walk around this ship in shorts and a tank top!! The fashion police have to ensure that other passengers are not disappointed by your choice of clothes!!! Go back to your cabin and dress accordingly!!"
SOUNDS STUPID DOESN'T IT?? That's the tone/impression of your message.
We'll be sailing on the Zaandam soon and I can only hope that we don't run into people who can be so easily and stupidly "offended" by such a non issue as what clothes other passengers decide to wear when they are on THEIR vacation. We'll have other things on our minds, like having a good time? meeting other fun people? you know, stuff people do on vacation.
It's the cruise line that sets the dress for the evening, not I. Why do the ships make such a point of designating the dress for each night, not only in the 'Know Before You Go' booklet but in every daily bulletin describing the activities for each day? Read the many many posts on this topic here and on other cruise boards and you will see that the large majority of experienced cruisers feel the way I do and do not agree with your opinion. You are evidently what another poster on the Cruise Critic board called a 'Bubba" cruiser, so calling me dumb and stupid only shows your ignorance and lack of appreciation for cruising, not mine.
Yes Peaches, you're right, my ignorance and lack of appreciation for the 8 cruises I've been on have been wasted by skinning rabbitts on deck and huntin for some old possum for dinner. Yup, me and my "bubba" friends just love cruzing on them fancy boats and pay top dollar to stay in them fancy sweets so we can have all our frends have fun with us.
Boy, I must have come close to the mark to garner such a nasty reply to my post. Yes, the cruise ships make a point of letting passengers know about the dress policy for dinner and they hope that everyone will abide to their requests but if others don't, it shouldn't be an issue to others. And as far as other posts regarding this issue, I don't recall anyone using the a word like "offended". That sounds rather imperious, doesn't it? Your words sound like something straight out the those snobby,snotty, blue blood country clubs and doesn't change the fact that if someone is actually going to say that they feel "offended" by such a silly, un-important thing like that, then fine, you have the right to feel that way. But stupid is as stupid does.
"WHAT??????? THAT IS ONE OF THE DUMBEST, PICKIEST THINGS I'VE READ ON THESE BOARDS!! If you expect me and others to believe that because other passengers are not dressed properly can be offending to other passengers, then there's something wrong with you. Who cares what other people are wearing? The whole idea of a vacation is to relax and do whatever you want. That inlcudes what clothes you feel like wearing."
You'll, musin be frms me part of the wood.
Because I hope that laying out naked getting a suntan, will not bother you to much when you come to use the pool. I don't like to follow the rules, and do not care who sees me.
I hope this will not OFFEND anyone, I am not bothering you and making you look at me.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
Post Edited (04-23-03 12:37)
" I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. "
My biggest disappointment with the Ryndam was not the food, which was mediocre at best, but the overall cleanliness and maintenance of our suite. We took the suite because we were taking the San Diego to Rio 34 day cruise and wanted a little extra room. We had sailed on the Ryndam two years earlier and had been very pleased but on this trip I couldn't believe how much the ship had deteriorated. Painting of the verandah had been started at one time but was not completed. The furnishings and the carpet were filthy. The mirrored closet doors had broken latches and slammed continously as the ship moved. Maintenance finally fixed that little problem with a nail and a short piece of wood making the kind of latch we used to have on the little house out back. Overall it appeared that the company was trying to run things on the cheap. There was a shortage of staff for everything although I must say the ones I did meet were all pretty good with the odd exception.
I did book the Prinsendam for the Hong Kong-San Francisco cruise this month but fortunately SARS put an end to that. When we cancelled I was informed by the head of a travel agency that if I thought the Ryndam was run down I would have really been shocked by the condition of the Prinsendam. <g>