Recently all 38 member of my family went on a Mexican Riviera Cruise on Holland America for 7 days and I am here to let you in on a few details they don't share with you.
We all imagined a luxury cruise, sleeping in while gently rocked into slumber, with fabulous food and entertainment. No sleeping in folks! That cruise director bellows from the intercom bright and early to tell you about all the exciting activities he has planned for you. He sounds like a clown pretending to be a cruise director. His activities are just as laughable. "Visit our famous shops on board" and "Come enjoy a dip in our pool" were essentially the entertainment.
Seriously…. a piano bar, karaoke which lasts an hour each day, and a wine tasting were the highlights for the entire cruise. BTW…pool was closed most of the cruise and the wine tasting required being subjected to off-color jokes made by a wine steward. Sorry…I don't care which wine you give your girlfriend so her tongue would be numb. Who told him that is funny?
When everyone in our party that ate fish got physically ill after eating seafood on the ship…many confined to our cabins in quarantine until cleared by the medical staff…we later realized that we were not the only ones who had gotten sick. Being in quarantine those details had escaped us—-as well as everyone else who had been ill…until we began to hear others complain. There were a lot of sick people there. It was not an isolated event.
The explanation we were given was this: "The cruise line is forced to buy only frozen fish so we have no control over bad fish." Perhaps there is a language issue because this is not an explanation in my opinion. The "lobster" they served was not even a real lobster—it was a cousin of lobsters. They served only the tail in hopes nobody would realize this. Pretty sure that sushi is supposed to be served chilled. Perhaps the health department should share that info with them. Food poison is NOT fun.
The morning I was released from quarantine I walked around the ship with new eyes. Suddenly the light fixtures hanging with wires sticking out everywhere did not seem so out of place. Nor did the torn wallpaper, ripped lampshades in the dining hall, glued rips in the carpet, and the list goes on and on. I still have nightmares about the mold in the shower. It took them three days to come unplug the toilet which was plugged up when we first boarded the ship. Thank God my husband had found a hanger and had fixed it himself! Can you imagine any place where three days with no toilet would be okay?
I began to ask others on the cruise about their experiences on the ship. One couple had taken the same cruise three years ago and they were not shy about their complaints. They said that three years ago there was REAL entertainment on board. Apparently the food has suffered during that three years as well. Many people who had been on other cruises made statements that cannot be shared here. Explicatives abounded. I finally quit asking people what they thought about the cruise because it became depressing. A cruise is expensive.
When my husband surprised me with a gift of a manicure/pedicure in the ship salon I was excited…until I got back to my room and put my reading glasses on to check out my nails and was then horrified. I have had better manicures from my 12 year old daughter. So…I went back up there to the salon on board the ship to complain. They of course offered to have the same lady redo them. I sat thru another manicure (1 hour) and put my glasses on to check them out and believe it—-they were even worse! Ridiculous.
I demanded a refund and they of course said they would remove the charges. Guess what—-they didn't. I wish I could show you what TWO manicures costing $145 each looks like. You would be astonished. Now home from the cruise, my own manicure lady shook her head and said "This is the worst thing I have ever seen!" And I believe her.
While on the ship I went to the main desk to complain and this was the response from the Holland Cruise official: "I am sorry about the horrible job the salon did on your nails. They are indeed horrible but unfortunately the salon staff is from a contracted vendor and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it." Hmmm….I don't consider that service do you?
Service….let's talk about service. Room service has no idea at all where to find mustard. Being a confirmed condiment addict—-mustard is simply necessary, just as ketchup is….but don't even hope they will find it and bring it with your order. Of course….room service typically takes at least an hour and don't even hope it will be slightly warm when you get it. I only spent 7 days on that ship and I know exactly where the mustard is in every dining place on board and I even shared that information with the fellow who continued to bring my hamburger without any mustard. He still did not manage to ever find it.
Now I am at home going over my final bill. Yes there are FOUR charges for manicures—but Holland America says it isn't their problem. It does not matter that I only had TWO really REALLY bad manicures. They simply do not care.
When telling them I would NEVER EVER go on another one of their cruises this is what Holland America had to say: "I understand you are not pleased but you need to realize that my superiors really do not care. For every person who says they will never go on another cruise with Holland America, there are 20 more people just waiting to go. When enough Americans decide they do not want to cruise with us we will then just move our ships to China. Lots of people in China want to go on a cruise."
At this point I said, "Go quickly to China. I plan to tell everyone exactly how Holland America views service." I plan to tell anyone who will listen. American's typically listen when someone tells them they won't get their money's worth. I think China will surprise them even more.
Was there anything nice to say? They were fast as lightening when cleaning up after a drunk lady vomited all over our doorway. The steward was suprised to discover he had taken her to the wrong room. I gave him my ship map. Let's hope he studies it before you go on a cruise.