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ROTTERDAM First Time Cruising - Penthouse Suite

Discussion in 'Holland America Line' started by MARKandROGER, Jun 9, 2003.

  1. MARKandROGER

    MARKandROGER Guest

    Hi eveyrone, :):):):)

    We are back from the Holland America Rotterdam ship, sailing from New York to Montreal, and here are our comments.

    Though it was foggy and rainy, the cruise was a wonderful ezperience. There was good and there was bad.

    I got sick the second night, and received the Doctor's needle to get me through the night. The third night, I met a passanger that told me of a cocktail which works. I used it and I was fine from that time on. The cocktail was a combination of the sea sick pills, Zantac tablet and 1000 milligrams of Ginger. It worked like a charm. The Zantac took care of the queezy stomach, the 1000 milligrams of Ginger (you can buy it from a health store works on nausea. It is the combination that works like a charm.

    The Pinnical Grill was fabulous and worth the 20.00 per person (we ate there four times) in the twelve days. The dining room staff were very nice, and the food was okay. The service and food in the Pinnical was what I have been told Holland America used to be like in the dining room.

    In general, we heard a lot of grumbling from suite passangers that the "service" and small extras have been cut. Our opinion was that we expected a little more polish and service in having the Penthouse. There were no extras to speak of. Our cabin stewart had no personallity and was not pro active in making our stay special. He just did his job. I expected more. Small things like, our flowers were not changed, even though they were dying and looking sad.

    Our cabin had problems, the sliding doors whilstled when closed, the air conditioining worked, but no heat, and the dimmer switches int he living room were broken. These are items that the cabin stewart should have known about when the last passangers left. It shows me that Holland America is not on top of their staff and are not chekcing the details in the suite.

    I understand that Holland America has now terminated the second conceriege in the Neptune lounge, so from now on there is only one person there. The concierge, Chantal was fabulous, the best employee of Holland America. Holland America would do well to learn from Chantal about service and make her the offical standard of their cabin staff.

    Just in closing, to explain our disappointment in Holland America it is based on the fact that we paid 8000 US per person for the Penthouse. If we had paid 1000 to 2000 per person, I would be very happy with Holland America, we would be getting GREAT VALUE FOR OUR MONEY.but we werent we were paying top prices and got boiler plate service., The S suites paid about 3,000 to 4,000 per person, and the feedback I got was they did not get the value for their money either.

    All in all, I would say that Holland America is a fabulous GENERAL CRUISING experience. If you want something extra, it may not be the right cruise line.

    We WILL CRUISE AGAIN, but before we book Holland America, we will check with you fabulous cruisers to find out what the status quo is on the Holland America ships, and if it has slipped we will look at other lines which offer a little more. If they improve , we will sail Holland America again.

    To go on record, even after all my negative comments, cruising was a lot of fun, we met great people (Jim and Maxine included) (Tom we never did find you with your T-Shirt on board). (our table mates were fabulous)

    Mark

    PS. Just a note, the last night I left the OPINON CARD filled out with Roger's opinion card not yet finished, and they both disappeared when we got back to the cabin. I wonder if the Cabin Steward found it read it and found that I had given him a low 7, and it mysteriously disappeared??? The cabin stewart was NOT FRIENDLY the last day, I guess the 120.00 tip was not enough for medicore service, or he did not like what Is said. I guess I will never know for sure.
     
  2. tomc

    tomc Guest

    Mark --

    I heard you got real sick and was hoping it would not spoil your view of cruising.

    As for the comment cards, I always supplement them with a written letter to headquarters. You might think about doing that. Be specific in what you found lacking, as well as what you found delightful. Make sure you mention that your opinion card was taken; YOU should be the people who hand it in, unless the stewards usually do this for you.
     
  3. peaches

    peaches Guest

    Mark-
    Thanks for the review! I really was anxious to hear how it went.

    A few questions- what special suite 'events' did they have? In April we had 3- a buffet luncheon and 2 cocktail parties (not exactly open bar- choice of champagne or orange juice only). I wonder if there will be a cutback there also. They used to have a dinner, too, but that's gone.

    Did you only have the 1 concierge or is that happening in the future? If you had 2, was Gigi the asst.? The Neptune will not be able to offer suite passengers the high level of service it does now w/ only one concierge.

    I want to re-read your comments again, but your negatives certainly sound valid. Of course the heat should work and I couldn't even find all the light switches in the PH, so don't know if the dimmer worked or not, but it should have. What suite were you in- we had the Rembrandt. What was the flooring on your verandah? We had dirty grungy stained outdoor carpet and it was awful. We thought they were getting ready to replace the teak flooring since this is what the regular suites had, but this carpet we had was a disgrace.

    I will say your disappointments do not totally surprise me I had felt all along that you had the expectation, through no fault of your own, of a level of special service in the PH that was not going to be met. I don't mean that as a criticism of you and Roger at all, just that I could read in your posts what you thought it was going to be like and I knew it wasn't going to be quite that. You get the benefit of the larger suite with the PH, but other than that the amenities and service is the same as the S suites. I think you expected something much more personalized. It may be that you would enjoy Celebrity butler service and I sure would look at Radisson and Crystal if I were you.

    I am in the minority, I know, but I agree with your assessment of the dining room and have stated it before on these boards. We also were disappointed. 'Never going hungry' of course is true, but that's not enough for a line that wants to be at the upper end.

    Anyway, glad you had the positives that you did and that you liked cruising!

    Peaches
     
  4. sage

    sage Guest

    Mark,

    I'm so glad that you and Roger liked the overall cruise experience, but you have me a bit worried about the PS. How was the bathroom, and was there plenty of closet space? It sounds like they are cutting back on several things, a second Concierge included. We are still looking forward to our trip in December, and hopefully they will have the problems fixed by then. We are currently deciding on a Silversea cruise for next year. I guess as the times change, one has to constantly look to find the valued traditions of the ses. Thank you again for your posting.
     
  5. Mark
    I am sorry to hear about your problems, as Tom said you should follow up with a letter to HAL, just to make sure they know how you feel. We have had only one bad room steward, and that was because he could not speak or understand English all that well.
    I am glad that the Pinnacle Grill was good, sorry to hear that food was only OK in the dining room. Did you get to try out the Lido for lunch, or have breakfast on your Balcony?
    We always write HAL a letter when we are done with our cruise, good or bad or both, also to let them know who was outstanding and who was not.
    I hope this will not sour you to much on cruising, and maybe one day we will see each other on that same ship.

    Barry
     
  6. MARKandROGER

    MARKandROGER Guest

    PEACHES,
    There was only one suite lunch in the Ocean Bar. It was actually kind of fun. Casual and I do feel sorry for the Captain and the rest of the crew, who don't really want to be there in the first place. :)

    We still had two conceirges, but with the completion of our cruise, it goes to one.

    We were in PH7002 (Nuez?) The veranda floor was nice with a pastic molded floor, actually quite nice. No teak decking, except on the walls and the furniture. The verhanda was NICE. There was no carpet on the deck.

    SAGE
    The bathroom and closet area is magnificant. Large, lots of drawers, closet space, three sinks and a bathtub that was a pleasure.

    The Penthouse is nice, large spacious and well appointed. Only the service and the little extras are missing. But that is true for the whole ship, so don't worry, enjoy.

    BARRY
    We had breakfast in the King's room every morning. Due to weather conditions, breakfast on the verahnda was only a fantasy.

    I intend to write Holland America, not to complain, but to make sure that they hear that if they intend to be a middle of the road cruise liner, they are doing a magnificant job. If they are trying to charge for suites, they better consider giving something more than just the floor space.

    We intend to cruise again, we have learned a lot, and would in the future investigage what the dollar buys in accomodation and services on the cruise line and weigh if it we are getting enough value for our $. I am one of those who doesn't mind paying when I get what I should, only don't charge me and give me less than i deserve.

    I hope this answers all questions, again, I would like to state, we loved cruising, thanks to everyone for your pointers and help. We really hope that Holland America (or Carnival) chooses to upscale, instead of downscale and give those extra couple of dollars of extras.

    By the way, being our first cruise, Holland America did not give us one of the famous Mariner tiles. I though that was pretty cheap, considering the cabin we chose.

    :)
    Mark
     
  7. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Hi Mark....Sorry you were not as pleased as you might have been. But glad you seem to enjoy your cruise in many ways.

    A Mariner Tile is presented to Mariners. It has nothing to do with your accomodation or how much money you paid. A Mariner is a repeat cruiser on HAL. Why would you think it "pretty cheap" you didn't get one as this was your first HAL cruise and, therefore, you were not yet Mariners? I am sure you were not invited to the Mariners Party, either. ..You should not have been.

    Suite Lunch in the Ocean Bar? Do you mean Crowsnest? Perhaps your cruise was the first time they held it in Ocean Bar, but they never have in the past.
     
  8. peaches

    peaches Guest

    I also wondered about the suite luncheon being in the Ocean Bar and not the Crow's Nest. Did you have the 2 cocktail parties, too? I suspected that the PH verandah flooring we had was being renovated, so glad to hear your's was better, though we had beautiful Caribbean weather to enjoy on the balcony as a trade-off.

    We were very happy with the service in the suites (especially after having cruised non-suite), so I am really not sure what you expected specifically. I can't imagine what else HAL could have done for us that wasn't taken care of with the suite/concierge amenities, but would love to have you share what your expectations were re cabin service, etc. that weren't met.
     
  9. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    peaches...I have no admit I am puzzled as well. We have never cruised in the PH...have cruised about 35 times in the "S" and cannot imagine a single thing we could have required/wanted that was not provided.

    Our Stewards (or Concierges) have arranged cocktail parties, had luggage repaired for us, shoes shined and a repair to a Gucci loafer for my husband tended to, flowers, candy, balloons, reservations, excursions, suggestions and arrangements for shore activities, they've offered to pack our luggage for us,. They've handled business faxes for my husband; delivered Fed Ex envelopes/packages and competently assisted him with other business activities my husband required. When a Steward once entered the room to deliver our laundry, he saw my husband on the veranda, obviously, working on business papers ,and expressed his unhappiness he had to be working while on vacation. He then returned with a cup of coffee and a dish of fruit for him to enjoy while working.

    One darling steward checked on me with concern when I had a nasty bug on one cruise in Europe,. When I asked for a glass of juice, he brought a silver pitcher of juice (with a lovely bud vase on the silver tray), arranged for his friends to descend upon our suite en masse so they could clean it and change the bed etc with the least inconvenience to me. Bundled me in blankets on the couch while they quickly went about their tasks. He insisted my husband go to the dining room and that he would be available if I needed anything. I don't recall my mother ever spoiling me as much :)

    On turnaround days of our back-to-backs , when they are indeed very busy, they always provide for us as though they had nothing else to do.

    Of course, some stewards throughout our many cruises have had "more personality" or interacted with us on different levels but that have all been accessible and eager/willing to please. I am at a loss to think of a single thing that has not been tended to for us. What more is there to be seeking?

    I supposed we all have different expectations/perceptions.



    Post Edited (06-10-03 10:27)
     
  10. thulewx

    thulewx Guest

    I was on the Zuiderdam and in the PH for two weeks, back-to-back. Now, there are some differences since it was a charter. For instance my charter company decided to not opt for some standard extras, such as corsage/boutonieres for formal night, suites cocktail parties/luncheon, tiles... but I still felt that it was lacking a little. Laundry service was delivered back late 3 times, not all laundry came back together - had to ask for it, no instructions on how to operate various things in the PH (jacuzzi's, audio/video systems). The Zuiderdam PH had some glaring omissions, too - no light dimmers at all, poorly set up and incorrectly functioning video in the bedroom, no bedside-reading lamps, very weird verandah door handles (almost impossible to tell if they were locked, unless you really pulled on them).
    And as far as I could tell, no difference in amenities between S and PH suites. One would think one would get some sort of extras, such as a bottle of your favored booze or free sodas/water in the suite, a visit by the captain or hotel manager to see if all is well, or a private lunch with either. I chatted with Nick Burger a couple times and don't think he had any idea if I was in the PH or an inside cabin. It speaks well of him. though, that he treats all equally, in public. When I had a little cocktail party, the bar manager, Mark Dirk Zeller and his assistant DID come by to see if all was well. Burger didn't.
    I hate to sound like I'm whining.
    The steward, Herudiante, was great, and was tipped over $150 + a small gift - he did his job well. I'm a low maintenance person from his perspective. I never ordered room service, never had an ensuite dinner, no big raucous parties, picked up after myself, and frequently told him no service was necessary.
    The Neptune lounge people also did their job well, but weren't used too much by me.
    The only service that was way over the top came from Mark Zeller, even when he didn't know I was in the penthouse. He'll be a superb Hotel Manager, if he wants to follow his late father's footsteps.
    It's just that, like Mark&Roger, I felt that, for $16,000, I should have gotten more, somehow, than a larger cabin. I see both sides of the issue about the tiles (don't really want one) - If you haven't sailed with them before, you don't get one, BUT, if I'm paying the equivalent to 10 cruises, inside cabin, double occupancy, a tile would be a nice gesture.
    Now I'll get off my pity-pot... ;-)
     
  11. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Excellent post, Thule. I see your points.
     
  12. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Something to think about.


    Now, let's see......$16,000 for back -to-backs in PS. Clearly a lot of money.

    For us, it's 35 cruises in an "S" suite.....whoa....I don't think I even want to think about how much money that adds up to. Had we not gone, we'd be far richer in money....But we fele we are far richer for having gone.

    Wonder what we should expect :? for having spent so much money with HAL during the span of not that many years? Where does it start for "over and above" that people should expect? Where does it end?

    Just something to think about???


    What is really interesting, Thule, is to compare what we received on Ocean Princess (the cruise on which you and I met) when we were in the Largest Suite for back to backs. We HAD ABSOLUTELY NO AMENITY WHATSOEVER.......I truly mean zero, nada, zip, nothing..... We never met the Hotel Manager in two weeks, if there even was one??? Captain pranced by us one formal evening when he exited the glass elevator (alone) and my husband and I (finely dressed) waited to enter. We said good evening and had the displeasure of him looking down his ugly nose at us. Gee, we had been in his largest suite for almost a full two weeks at that point.

    No included laundry service; no delux towels, no cocktail party, no priority tender passes, no suite dinner, no suite lunch, no flowers, no personalized stationery, no Times at Sea, no USA delivered to our cabin on port days, no concierge service, no Neptune Lounge.......Shall I go on? Nothing!!!!

    So, IMO, HAL really is providing much more than others who claim to be five star.
    (and we adore Hotel Manager Nick Burger....he has been incredibly wonderful to us in our many cruises with him and think him The Best).



    Post Edited (06-10-03 13:27)
     
  13. tomc

    tomc Guest

    I think I know what the problem is.

    Keep in mind that this is not a criticism, this is not blaming, this is not a put-down. I think it's the answer.

    AFAIK, Mark and Roger have an antique store and are real good at what they do. My own experience with people like this is: (a) They know what's good and what isn't. (b) They can see flaws that we don't, or don't think about. (c) They have reasonably high expectations about value received for money paid.

    I think that if anyone is going to pay $8k - $10k for a cabin, there are certain things that should be done. Many of them will be small, but it's the small things that make the difference between a good antique and one that's flawed. A scheduled visit by the captain would be a nice touch -- five or ten minutes, in and out, "how are you, how are you enjoying the trip, I'll send a bottle of wine up." A little perk here, a little perk there.

    I'm down in steerage, getting exactly what I paid for: An inside share with whoever HAL sticks in there with me. No perks expected, none given.

    Little things, as singer Kitty Kallen put it, mean a lot.
     
  14. MARKandROGER

    MARKandROGER Guest

    Thanks Tom,

    Well put.
    We expect everyone to be treated properly and with respect, regardless of their cabin.
    That was the succes of my business, no matter who came in the door, they were all treated well.

    However there is a relationship between the object and the price. The more you pay, the more you should expect to get in value. As I have said Holland America gives great value for the 1,000 to 2,000 range. No question. Where I feel that Holland America is missing the boat is when they want to charge big bucks for Suites and not deliver the little things that make a difference. What I heard from passangers in the S suites, they felt as repeat cruisers Holland America was slipping and not giving them the little extras they expect.

    thulewx you make the point that you were not shown how to operate anything, either were we. No one checked in to see how we were doing, it appeared no one really cared. It felt like the crew did their thing, but it was not personal at all. When I check into a hotel for 1,000 to 1,500 per night the little details are looked after, why not on a ship?

    As for the tile, I should explain, I was told by our tablemates, who have cruised before, that a few months ago, everyone on the ship got such a tile, whether they were Mariners or not. I am not sure if this is true, but it is on that basis I made the statement that we didn't. It is a small thing, they are all small things, which add up to A WONDERFUL SUITE EXPERIENCE. Lack of small things, make for a FLAT EXPERIENCE.

    Having been in business I learned that customers come back when they feel good and feel they got VALUE for their money. I think Carinval and Holland America have missed that point when it comes to the suites and the prices they charge. I believe their cutbacks are foolish when you are talking 6,000 to 8,000 for a S suite, or 12,000 to 18,000 for a PS suite. My impression is that Holland America was tops before we cruised, and have cut back in the last months.

    I would like to stress that I am VERY GLAD that we took the cruise, no regrets that we booked the Penthouse, BUT will find a cruise line which gives us a little more value, and doesn't leave us feeling empty.

    :)
    Mark
    (cruise convert)
     
  15. Deb Mumaw

    Deb Mumaw Guest

    Mark & Roger, we felt the same way about our HAL cruise. Somehow they just didn't live up to their reputation. I think you would probably be happier with the true premium lines mentioned above. For us, we can't afford those lines right now but we are going back to RCCL. It does not have the reputation HAL does but we have always had better service with them than we did in a suite on HAL. So many times when we asked for something they replied "I can't do that!" It was all small stuff also but they wouldn't budge. I think you will find just what you are looking for if you take the next step up...and please, let the rest of us live vicariously through you, write all about it when you get back. Thanks for taking the time to make your comments, they are truly appreciated.
     
  16. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Mark,

    As you may--or may not--know, I'm a travel agent, and my specialty is the luxury/upscale market.

    There are a number of very fine cruise lines that fit the category, but trust me when I say that, in most cases (granted, not always), what Holland America charges for their Suites and Penthouse Suites is very modest compared to some other lines. Their Suites (@ approx. 563 sq.ft. including verandah) are considerably larger than suites on other luxury cruise lines, and the same can be said of the Penthouse Suites @ 1126 sq.ft. - especially on the S and R-Class ships (Statendam/Maasdam/Ryndam/Veendam, Rotterdam/Amsterdam and Volendam/Zaandam). I think you'll be hard put to find another line that will give you more without paying more.

    Yes, there ARE outstanding cruise lines offering a luxury product which I wouldn't hesitate one second to recommend, but you'll pay more $$ for that product.
     
  17. linon1968

    linon1968 Guest

    Excellent review, for that kind of money, I will try Silversea next time ! We were in Celebrity Royal Suite several times. we felt pampered and loved the butler service.



    Post Edited (06-10-03 18:04)
     
  18. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    We were in Celebrity Royal Suite three times......IMO, we receive far, far more from HAL "S" than we ever received in the very lovely, very comfortable Royal Suite. It was a gorgeous room....but we did not receive very much in service. Our stewards in HAL's "S" provide such personal attention in comparison. Everyone's experience may be different, but ours was nothing outstanding. Nothing bad about it; just not terrific.
     
  19. SueClark

    SueClark Guest

    Mark and Roger - Thank you for your review. We haven't had a penthouse, but get S suites (and similar on other lines).

    from your review:"Just in closing, to explain our disappointment in Holland America it is based on the fact that we paid 8000 US per person for the Penthouse. If we had paid 1000 to 2000 per person, I would be very happy with Holland America, we would be getting GREAT VALUE FOR OUR MONEY.but we werent we were paying top prices and got boiler plate service., The S suites paid about 3,000 to 4,000 per person, and the feedback I got was they did not get the value for their money either.

    All in all, I would say that Holland America is a fabulous GENERAL CRUISING experience. If you want something extra, it may not be the right cruise line".


    I agree completely - I don't have the years of sailing HAL that people like Sail7 , but I have also seen the service slipping. When we pay top dollar for one of the top suites on a premium line, I expect "top dollar service."

    Sue
     
  20. MARKandROGER

    MARKandROGER Guest

    I have the feeling that a large number of people agree with me, that when you pay high $, you should receive high service.

    Not having other cruises to compare with, I can only walk away with the feeling that we paid high and were left FLAT in experience.

    I hope someone in Holland America reads these message boards, because the message seems clear, "IF YOU WANT TO CHARGE, GIVE THE SERVICE, IF YOU WANT TO GIVE BOILER PLATE SERVICE DON'T CHARGE A PREMIUM".

    For us, As it stands with Holland America as the price standard I would rather pay more and get the service, or pay a lot less and be satisified that it is boiler plate service. I understand Seabourn and Crystal are good lines for us to consider.

    Thanks everyone
    Mark
     

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