A few unfortunate hiccups
Mr & Mrs Boyd | January 31, 2016 | Holland America Line
We are regular cruisers with most popular lines, Cunard being our current favourite. This ship listed as 5* by Bolsover so we expected something comparable if not better than Celebrity or Cunard, Our arrival was not matched with a welcome drink or a bottle of bubbly, in the stateroom, we realised that being an older ship it did not have a fridge and a non interactive TV that was also rather poorly positioned with a restricted view if you wanted to view from the left side of the bed, but we did have a large sofa to view from. Printed TV guide not available as to the various channel offerings, one had to take some time scrolling all channels and times of the days to try to find information that was on a continuous rotation that if you missed a bit you had to wait for its return so annoying. Attached was a DVD player with a booklet offering an extensive library of discs. Unfortunately this was troubled with dirty discs and lens which refused to play even a new original disc, the engineer who removed the player to get it working 3 times told us that the whole system of failings and its poor position were known and were due for an upgrade when the ship is due for refurbishment maybe next year?
No facility for making your own tea or coffee, wine glasses had to always be requested. As did the news-sheet, automatically done on some ships with the correct nationality for you, on this ship it had to be requested at reception, with all the other junk mail on the evening turn down with a few missed, or old news not the next day news with the next day activities deliveries were inefficient, not the slick service we had become accustomed to, epically as the TV news was mostly unavailable due to poor satellite reception.
The wardrobe had a hinge missing from one of the doors, and a shelf clip which should have enabled you to raise a shelf to one side so using the above hanging rail a brilliant concept of versatility if only it was repaired, we did mention this to the room steward on our arrival but no repair was carried out. A bath robe was provided but no slippers, or make-up pads, cotton buds, etc we have always been offered on Cunard. Elemis shampoo, shower cream, and body lotion always welcome.
Within a few days we were asked to be out of our cabin from quite early as they had carpet cleaning, OK but how would you like early morning paint scrapping and knocking, banging with hammers that was so loud and so annoying, that seemed to go on throughout our cruise, the outside of our window was chipped off and re painted, if only they had made clean the edges of black paint left on the glass, looked really messy.
Having our table booked for set seating and a number given on our key card we arrived on time waited to be seated on the first night, and waited 30 minuets, still standing they asked us to be seated while we continued to wait, my husband said we will return to our cabin and would they call us when they found our table, then we were then given a table, however not the number issued to us, seated with four others we observed utter chaos, so many mistakes poor delivery, and delays by seemingly untrained poorly supervised waiters, the description in H&A brochure for fine dining was so far removed from our experience, the delays in service resulted in us all missing the welcome show and the Captains address, the second night we were given another table still not our allocated one and once again very poor untrained skills were obvious and long delay in our dessert we all missed the second show, so when asked if everything was all right by a junior officer on leaving the dinning room we spilled the beans telling him of the really poor service the worst we had been given on any line. I was disappointed at missing the shows as the dance group were fantastic. We felt he was very concerned at our revelations the next night we were moved upstairs and with yet another set of dinner guests, we had good service still not the best that a 5* should deliver, coffee other than regular was subject to charge and petite fours not offered to the table, we never had permanent dinner companions with a table of 6 at 2nd sitting that had been requested and confirmed with our booking.
We were woken at 3am by loud knocking on stateroom door, room service that we did not order, on checking and removing fried onions with burgers which stunk our room for a while that had been sent to the wrong deck, we had difficulty getting back to sleep as it was dawn soon after as we were near St Petersburg, we both felt tired all of the next day, as at this point we had put clocks on losing an hours sleep anyway.
We went on very expensive organized excursions, (having been to the Baltic??s before we were very aware of the hike in prices, using the Russian visa as an excuse) our afternoon return was delayed, we were going to the evening Ballet tickets said formal dress, we rushed to wash change no time to have any food at all, on return to the ship we were thirsty and hungry we had had nothing since breakfast it was now 11.30pm no food of any description was available, most ships have cheese and crackers or salad or sandwiches some even light meals not a single biscuit in the Lido buffet, not impressed at all, so resorted to room service to be told cleaning was taking place and their would be a long delay an hour later we received a snack.
Shuttles mostly non existent or very expensive, for example we were berthed a very long way out from the city of Stockholm with nothing provided even though it was an overnight port!! Whilst Fred Olson was anchored in the bay right in town and N.C.L. had berthed in the slot near the ferries in town. A non euro country made taxi??s very expensive, we used the Hop on red buses but they finish early evening and can be slow and also expensive as a means of getting in and out, The dock area had nothing to offer at all.
To sum up, the ship was the oldest we have sailed on, but comfortable, kept clean everywhere by great staff. Lovely complete walk around deck, pictures and paintings along all corridors very nice wish all ships had this, not aware of any illness on board Good 3*
Nice to have an English Captain but unfortunately saw nothing of him. Dress code suggested for each evening unfortunately not enforced so ignored by many, making those who made the effort to dress formally feel out of place, sitting around others who looked like they hadn’t changed from the gym.
Several internet stations next to good library much better facilities than Azura and Ventura who have nothing in comparison and much larger ships but with very slow and costly connections so did not use, Good selection of Films in a lecture theatre room shown, The Hobbit, Skyfall and Le Miserable to name a few. Nice to find with repeated showings and large enough for everyone to have a seat. Popcorn bags prepared on a table, but why must they always be salty ugh? Have they no idea that toffee popcorn is delicious, sailing from Dover an attempt at English fare in the Lido Union flags draped around the buffet and the worst Fish and Chips we have ever, ever had, small slimy fish bits. Tiny French fries with no potato content left served with French beans or carrots as the veg option. English afternoon tea, scones the size of drafts discs with fake fluffy thin cream, no thick or good old clotted in sight and the nearest to English breakfast tea was an American brand that said it was what we all loved it was nothing like a good cuppa what a dreadful impression to give to the world of our tastes it was embarrassing nothing like good English food, other lines do much better What we did love and wish was adopted on other lines was watching the oranges being crushed in the machine at breakfast producing delicious fresh juice, so much nicer than any concentrate.
The retracting roof over the pool is something all ships should have as it made full use of the area during the day and evening time, despite various weather during the cruise, the area was comfortable to eat around, lounge some slept others read a book, listen to live music, at times it was partially closed to ward off the wind and let in the sun, especially appreciated when you only have only a costly spa pool to use in inclement weather.
Theatre needs updating less tables more seats greater gradient to avoid a head in front you that you can’t see above, but use of side screens to the stage was artistically used and enhanced shows which were very enjoyable The modern dance troupe of 8 small in numbers to the usual but great choreography and costumes they excelled one of the very best seen with good singers the last show was magical in every way. I hope they were trained in London, if in America take note Headliners P&O??s excellent dance troop you have competition..
Ryndam has guest laundries but you are charged you have to buy discs from reception it was well used on my deck 3 machines 3 dryers 1 Ironing board and a treat a table to fold your tumbled dried clothes on that??s pure luxury and a chair lots of baskets to transfer laundry it was busy, busy, every day, ships that don??t provide guest laundries are really avoiding a huge need, I would not travel any length of time without the availability, some ships are totally free to use even providing the powder, so think on P&O your adds promoting family friendly new ships seem short on laundries. However on this short 14 day cruise I avoided the cost with hospitality charges high gratuity on everything so did not use it or the Spa for the same reasons, thank Goodness not going on a world cruise with this line.
Would we go back with H&A on the Dam ships? First impressions were not good overall bit to American re food options, bit to money grabbing, this ship was not 5* Berlitz rated as 3*.
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