My Thoughts on Holland America

I’ll preface this by stating that I’m a frequent cruiser.. We met many people that were cruising for their first time, and they enjoyed their experience with Holland. We typically cruise on Carnival or Royal Carribean. Despite all the crap that people give us about going on Carnival, it remains our favorite cruise line. But Holland America has quite a reputation for their Alaskan Cruises, so the wife decided to give them a shot. We knew going in that it’s a much older crowd, but that wasn’t an issue for us.

How would I describe this cruise? Frustrating. Chaotic. Disorganized. NEVER AGAIN!

I really don’t understand what happened.. Checking in at the cruise terminal took over an hour. I have NEVER waited that long before to check in. My blood was boiling by the time I got on the ship. We arrived in Seattle at 11am, but it was 2:30pm before we stepped foot on the cruise boat.

We went to get some lunch, where we ended up waiting 25 minutes for a HOT DOG! This station is a total mess, and completely mismanaged. This “area” also handles pizza and tacos, and those stations were no better. The cooks were agonizingly slow.. 30+ people in line, and they insist on toasting each hot dog bun on the grill, even though the hot dogs themselves are already cooked! How about you ask the people if they want them toasted or not? Most of us were HUNGRY, and couldn’t care less about it.

Dinner was another nightmare. The concept of open seating seemed great – You can eat dinner whenever you want. But the staff that served us were all over the place, and service was dismal. It was strange that the people with assigned seating raved about how excellent their service was. Could the open seating staff be less qualified than the others? Could they be less motivated because of how open seating affects their tipping situation?

In any event, it was a mess. One night, we were seated, and we never got a waiter! 20+ minutes later, we got a “manager” to take our order himself. Ironically, this happened another morning, where we were seated, our drink order was taken, and then we NEVER saw our waiter again. How does that happen TWICE in one week?!

And then there’s the food.. Eggs Benedict is always my breakfast of choice. Unfortunately, theirs hollandaise sauce was awful! Then there’s the issue with dessert, which consistantly sucked. 7 days of Baked Alaksans (yuck!), along with a bunch of other unimaginative selections. One night, I got the chocolate mouse. I can’t even describe how small it was, barely bigger than a THIMBLE! WTF?!

What really irritated me is that there’s basically no food available after 8pm, except for room service. The pizza / burger / hot dog station closed at 5pm, the ice cream station closed at 8pm, and everything else was already closed. We came back from Victoria at 9:30pm, hungry and cold. I went up to the cafe to get a hot chocolate to warm up, only to find them closed!

Carnival has food available 24 hours a day, and plenty of it.

Getting off the ship in Juneau was another “experience”. Imagine 1400 people standing in the stairwells for 55 MINUTES trying to get off the boat (after we arrived in port over an hour late), while two idiots hold up the line because they want you to use hand sanitizer before you debark. Getting back on the ship wasn’t much better.

One other “quirk” – The boat doesn’t get normal television stations. The only two stations you get are CNN and ESPN. No CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, etc. A real bitch when it’s finale week. The only cruise I went on without network TV was on a Carnival boat back in 1997. Bizarre.

The day we came back to Seattle, there were more issues with debarkation (which was delayed over 90 minutes). We’re fighting to get off the boat so we don’t miss our flight, the front desk OKs us to do so, and these 70 year old women at the baggage area tell us we can’t leave, and that we have “plenty of time”. A manager finally gets our baggage, and we make a mad dash for the airport.

We arrived at our gate 20 minutes before our plane left!

(It may have been sooner if we hadn’t been dropped off on the complete opposite end of the terminal.. Why ask what airline we’re going on if you’re going to ignore that fact anyway?)

What a week.. 🙁

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