Strongest recommendation to future cruisers: book the Rotterdam IMMEDIATELY if you’re looking for:
—LOUSY FOOD (except for the specialty dining rooms, which HAL surely is up-selling by downgrading everything and everywhere else). Dining room flavorless food is suited to senior living; much-touted “Dive-In” burgers are dry and flavorless.
—CREAKY SHIP which, in our case, included: 1) stinky sewage seeping into our suite from an adjoining pipe closet 2) leaking pipes above our verandah 3) a fire that resulted in an all-ship alarm awakening us in the middle of the night (reportedly TWO fires in the two weeks immediately preceding our trip.)
LOW-BROW SERVICE from a Neptune Suite concierge, a benefit for which we paid handsomely after enjoying excellent service on a prior HAL voyage. For $16K, she: refused to reverse bar charges for a rum-and-coke that was delivered as a gin-and-coke or an honor bar soda that wasn’t drunk; “apologized” for raw sewage in our suite with a cheap bottle of wine and a short, typed apology; and, assured us we would LOVE the next port of call literally moments before we learned that the port would be skipped due to bad weather.
All that, for $16K.
Speaking of bad weather, I am not blaming HAL for skipping five ports and replacing them with two alternative stops and three addl nights at sea or in port. Safety, as the captain told us, is #1.
On the other hand, going the extra mile to meet his passenger’s needs is, for the Rotterdam’s captain, priority #23. Addressing passenger‘s concerns about skipped ports of call and potential financial losses for missing independent tour arrangements, his advice? “You can buy one of our ship WiFi plans.” As if offering complimentary WiFi for a few hours would ruin his bottom line.
Speaking of bottom lines, here’s mine: The Rotterdam is doddering. Its service philosophy (excluding the loyal stewards and dining staff who are doing their best) is subpar. (But the America’s Test Kitchen live shows are phenomenal. Those ought to be offered every day.)
Something is rotten on the Rotterdam. And until someone does something about it, it’s Bon Voyage, Holland America!
Never book a cabin or suite on an aging ship next to a pipe room unless you are ok with your cabin smelling like sewage and disinfectant.