Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was very slow.  It took ten minutes to get an iced tea and I always had to ask for refills.  The dining room stewards were working the tails off but there were not enough of them.  It appears that HAL is trying to save money on labor costs.  The Lido buffet served the exact same food as the dining room...so we ate at the buffet often.  The service was better and faster.  The Pinnacle Grill served the "premium" food...but at an extra cost.  I remember the days of cruising when we ate the premium food every night in the dining room (no extra cost) and the buffets served various foods around the clock.  It appears that HAL is trying to cut costs on food service as well.        The toilets on the ship worked only part time.  I made numerous calls to guest services and finally got someone to answer the phone on the fourth attempt.  They said they were doing tank repairs.  The toilet issues lasted the duration of the cruise.  I called the dining room to cancel a  5:15 dinner reservation (again numerous attempts) and no one answered the phone...ever.  I called guest services (they answered the phone on the first attempt) and they informed the dining room telephone line "closes" after 4pm.  No recording...no answer machine...no automatic call forwarding...simply rings and rings with no answer.       The gym was nice but the air conditioning seemed weak...it was very hot up there.  The gym was adequately equiped and had a nice view.     Room service was so so...I ordered breakfast every morning with coffee. On one occasion they forgot to bring cream for my coffee.  I called room service and they informed me that I had to actually order cream.  I thought it would be automatically included with a coffee order.  They advised me they would bring cream right away...it never showed up.   The next day's breakfast (I saw there actually was a check box for cream on the order form) came much earlier than it was supposed to.  The room service steward seem upset that it took me extra time to wake up, put on clothes, get dressed, and answer the door.  I asked him to remove a tray from last night's burger and he frowned and sighed with disgust as he took the tray. Another employee got upset with me because I couldnt understand his broken english.     Now to disembarkation....we were told we could wait in our rooms or a lounge until our scheduled time to leave the ship.  Our scheduled disembarkation time was 9:00 am.  We had breakfast and went back to the room at 8:30 to wait.  We are sitting on the bed waiting and we see a door open on our PRIVATE balcony and a HAL employee steps on to our balcony and looks into our stateroom.  I guess its a good thing we weren't changing clothes or something other.  I couldn't believe HAL couldn't wait until all passengers left the ship before they started invading private balconies. After this we decided to leave our room and wait in a lounge. Disembarkation went smoothly and quickly.  I'm not sure I would sail with HAL again...it appears they are cutting costs too much.  Service and food quality suffered a huge decline from from the past.  We spoke with other passengers and they noticed the decline in quality and service as well.

Alaska get away

Zaandam Cruise Review by notpicky

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2009
  • Destination: Alaska
     Embarkation was easy and fast. My wife and I booked a verandah suite.  Overall the cruise to Alaska was OK...but not as good as previous cruises with HAL.  The food was bland, the portions were very small,  and the service was very slow.  It took ten minutes to get an iced tea and I always had to ask for refills.  The dining room stewards were working the tails off but there were not enough of them.  It appears that HAL is trying to save money on labor costs.  The Lido buffet served the exact same food as the dining room...so we ate at the buffet often.  The service was better and faster.  The Pinnacle Grill served the "premium" food...but at an extra cost.  I remember the days of cruising when we ate the premium food every night in the dining room (no extra cost) and the buffets served various foods around the clock.  It appears that HAL is trying to cut costs on food service as well.        The toilets on the ship worked only part time.  I made numerous calls to guest services and finally got someone to answer the phone on the fourth attempt.  They said they were doing tank repairs.  The toilet issues lasted the duration of the cruise.  I called the dining room to cancel a  5:15 dinner reservation (again numerous attempts) and no one answered the phone...ever.  I called guest services (they answered the phone on the first attempt) and they informed the dining room telephone line "closes" after 4pm.  No recording...no answer machine...no automatic call forwarding...simply rings and rings with no answer.       The gym was nice but the air conditioning seemed weak...it was very hot up there.  The gym was adequately equiped and had a nice view.     Room service was so so...I ordered breakfast every morning with coffee. On one occasion they forgot to bring cream for my coffee.  I called room service and they informed me that I had to actually order cream.  I thought it would be automatically included with a coffee order.  They advised me they would bring cream right away...it never showed up.   The next day's breakfast (I saw there actually was a check box for cream on the order form) came much earlier than it was supposed to.  The room service steward seem upset that it took me extra time to wake up, put on clothes, get dressed, and answer the door.  I asked him to remove a tray from last night's burger and he frowned and sighed with disgust as he took the tray. Another employee got upset with me because I couldnt understand his broken english.     Now to disembarkation....we were told we could wait in our rooms or a lounge until our scheduled time to leave the ship.  Our scheduled disembarkation time was 9:00 am.  We had breakfast and went back to the room at 8:30 to wait.  We are sitting on the bed waiting and we see a door open on our PRIVATE balcony and a HAL employee steps on to our balcony and looks into our stateroom.  I guess its a good thing we weren't changing clothes or something other.  I couldn't believe HAL couldn't wait until all passengers left the ship before they started invading private balconies. After this we decided to leave our room and wait in a lounge. Disembarkation went smoothly and quickly.  I'm not sure I would sail with HAL again...it appears they are cutting costs too much.  Service and food quality suffered a huge decline from from the past.  We spoke with other passengers and they noticed the decline in quality and service as well.
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