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ROTTERDAM First Time Cruising - Penthouse Suite

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

  1. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    I think perhaps the point here is you did not pay "top dollar". Top dollar is the Penthouse on Seabourn, Silversea, perhaps Crystal (?).....and the like.

    They are the top dollar cruiselines....and, as Maven stated, it will cost you alot more than what you paid. You should look into those companies.

    Good luck finding exactly what it is you desire.

    Post Edited (06-11-03 20:17)
  2. linon1968

    linon1968 Guest

    Mark, you are right, HAL is not the cruise line you are looking for, good luck on your next one!

    MARKandROGER Guest

    Your right.
  4. sage

    sage Guest


    We love HAL and are hoping to have a good time on our cruise in December, but from what your review stated, it sounds like they are cutting back on some of the things that we enjoyed most, such as the suite dinner. I was glad to hear that the bath and the closet were nice and large though. What did the fridge look like? Is it large enough for a bottle of the bubbly to be stored? You may want to look into Silversea Cruise Line as well. We are planning a May voyage on the Silver Whisper in a Silver Suite. The suite is not as large as the PS on the Rotterdam, but there will only be two of us this time. I'm so glad you enjoyed the cruise experience, and I hope that you will find just the right ship. And thanks for answering all my many questions.

    MARKandROGER Guest


    The fridge is huge and will accomodate at least 40 bottles of bubbly.
    The suite itself is wonderful, well accomodated and full of storage facilities.

    CD's in the suite, VIDEOS at the Neptune Lounge.
    The bed comfortable, the dining room well laid out.
    The layout of the suite excellent.
    You will love the suite itself.

    Our concerns are only to do with service, attention to detail, and maintenance that left us FLAT and feeling unimpressed. It felt like we were in a very large convention hotel with little or no personal touches.

    THANKS for the Silversea suggestion, I wil be talking to our agent shortly to see our options, as Seven Sails and ShipMaven suggested. Seabourn was also recommended to us very highly by one of our tablemates that have cruised many times, (including Holland America) and have the same expectations as us. They too were disappointed at the cutbacks on Holland America and will not be sailing Holland America in the future. They normally always have the Penthouse, but could not get it this time, so they took an S suite at the last minutre, as friends of theirs were booked on the cruise and they wanted to join them. Unfortunately both couples on our table, think the same about the experience, so we are not alone in our disappointment.

    Hope you enjoy your cruise, and enjoy the suite.

  6. sage

    sage Guest

    Thank you for the reassuring me about the physical layout of the PS. We are not only looking for room because of the four of us, but it would, and here is where I totally agree with you, be nice if the attention to details would be attended to as well. It is unthinkable that in one of your best accomodations that they would not make sure everything was in perfect working order, and as you said, come to see that your comfort and expectations were met. It is amazing to me how many things can be tossed by the wayside in a year's time. When we were aboard the Rotterdam the last time, we had the Concierge phone to see if the suite was comfortable and that everything was working well that first evening. They had the lovely suite dinner, and of course we had our favorite cabin steward from previous sailings who knew exactly what we liked and had it set up and ready after we returned from lunch the first afternoon. I'm sorry to hear of the cutbacks, but as I said, I'm glad you enjoyed the cruise experience. We also had checked out Seaborn, and we chose Silversea because the ship is a little larger and has an actual veranda. I understand that they too have had certain cutbacks, not serving Moet champange as the standard, but we will give them a try. As I said, I hope that you too will find the perfect ship, at least it should be fun trying. Thanks again for all your advice.
  7. thulewx

    thulewx Guest

    Hey, Mark&Roger - how about Radisson? Several of us are planning on a trip on the Paul Gaugin in Sept 04, to/from Tahiti. All the accounts I've seen indicate that Radisson is right up there with Silversea/Seabourn.
  8. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Although Radisson is receiving high marks, let me tell you my experience on Seven Seas Mariner - and, granted, this was a short, intro cruise for the public (not a travel agent cruise). I booked one of two Master Suites (the largest suites) for myself and friends (3 of us in 2 bedrooms). Lovely suite with WONDERFUL forward- and side-facing verandahs, but the quality of appointments came nowhere near matching the quality of that in HAL's Penthouse Suites. That's neither here nor there.

    There was a bottle of champagne sitting atop the entertainment center in the living room...and an empty ice bucket. No flowers in the suite, just personalized stationery. We called for ice...and waited...and waited...and waited. In the meantime, we placed the champagne bottle in the mini-fridge (no pantry as there is on HAL). Finally, after a few more calls, the harried Butler showed up, took one look at the champagne and snapped that we weren't supposed to have any. I said "Oh, reallllllly?!?" Then he backed water and said that, since it was there, we might as well keep it. Mind you, we weren't talking Dom Perignon or similar, but simply a regular French champagne. We did manage to get some ice.

    We wanted to reserve a table in their alternative restaurant (there were 5 of us travelling together) so I called the number for reservations. No answer. I left a message. No return call. Left another message. FINALLY received a return call with a very rude 'superior than thou' answer that there were no reservations available. I told him "you mean to tell me that the top suite on the ship can't make reservations?" I got a very flip NO. By that time, I was furious so I went storming below. As it turned out, the owners of the line had the other Master Suite and had reserved the entire restaurant. All the Maitre D' would have had to say was that the dining room had been so reserved and there would have been no problem, but don't give me the snooty lip that he gave me. My friends and I were full-paying guests.

    Walking through the shops, I felt like I was in Las Vegas with surly-looking guards (in suits, not uniforms) everywhere. Certainly not conducive to wanting to shop. The artwork throughout most of the ship consisted of the items for sale through the Art Auction. I surmise that most of this has been recitified (I have Clients who sail RSSC and love it), but I, personally, am hard put to set foot on one of their ships again. A letter of complaint got nowhere - I was so disgusted that I never pursued it.

    I receive fine service from other cruise lines and they receive my personal business.

    Post Edited (06-13-03 17:01)
  9. sage

    sage Guest


    Reading your comments regarding Radisson and your realm of knowledge, what do you think of Silversea and the Silver Suite? I value your opinion, and if HAL is the better ship and better service, we will rethink our plans on the Silver Whisper. Our plans now are for the May cruise from Monte Carlo to Rome. I know that I can count on you to say it like it is, and with so many rumors of cutbacks and the like on HAL, I'm, shall I say it, so confused. Thank you in advance.

  10. MARKandROGER

    MARKandROGER Guest


    If I am reading you right and other comments (along with my own experience) , the industry is slipping across the board when it comes to service and suites.

    The bench mark for standards has to be re-visited for the paying public.

    Just like FIRST class on the airlines. The days of real FIRST CLASS is gone, except on very few airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa. Everyone else's first class is far cry from the standard 20 years ago. But we live with it.


  11. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Sage - I've cruised on Silver Cloud, not on Silver Shadow, but when you speak of Silversea, Seabourn, Sea Dream (ex-Sea Goddess), you're talking ultra-deluxe (I've cruised with all three--well, Sea Goddess).

    That being said, the "small ship" experience is very different from what I refer to as a traditional-type ship such as Crystal, Holland America, etc. There are many who will only choose the small ships, there are those who only are happy on the traditional-sized ship, and there are those who are happy on both. There can be an air of snobbery at times.

    The small ship, by sheer dint of size, will offer fewer public venues - library is small, casino is very small, show room is small and the shows are not elaborate production shows - you'll have concert pianists, vocalists, etc. You won't find activities such as bingo, game shows, etc. I'm not saying this with any negative intent - I'm merely saying this because some don't care for the more subdued atmosphere, while others absolutely love it. My own personal advice is that satisfaction with comfortable accommodations is very important because there isn't as wide a choice of public rooms and lounges to retreat to as you'll find on the larger ships.

    I've not stayed in a Silver Suite, but they are beautiful. Fares, however, compared to HAL (since this is the HAL Forum) are considerably higher. The fares are all-inclusive--I'd say it's more a matter of convenience not having to sign a chit for cocktails, wines (except very premium wines) than actual savings. It would take a LOT of imbibing to make up the difference. :lol But service, cuisine, etc. are excellent, and you don't have the numbers of people on board as you have with many of the larger ships. You have open seating dining (some prefer that, others miss assigned seating - again, personal preference). Silversea, more often than not, will toss in added perks such as a pre-cruise hotel night, sometimes free economy air, sometimes a free special shore excursion.

    For the person who wants the amenities of the larger (traditional) ship combined with the elegance/service/cuisine of the ultra-deluxe smaller ships, then I recommend Crystal.

    IMHO, and as one who has been 'going to sea' for 53 years, I truly feel HAL gives tremendous value for money. However, if enough people feel that service is slipping or they are not receiving what they expected, then I would urge you to write a detailed letter to your TA and have him/her present it in your behalf to Holland America.

    Getting back to your last question, Sage, it is really unfair to try to compare HAL and Silversea - you're talking two totally different category ships.

    Post Edited (06-13-03 22:02)
  12. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest


    While I agree wholeheartedly that First Class air has, in general, slipped abysmally compared to the service we used to receive, I honestly cannot generalize that statement to cruise ships. I think you may have had an unfortunate experience with your Rotterdam cruise - such things happen from time to time (hopefully not too often). If you haven't already done so, you should write a letter detailing good and bad about your cruise, give it to your travel agent, and have him/her send it to Holland America along with his/her cover letter.

    As I'm sure you've seen from other notes I've contributed, I'm an "old salt" when it comes to ships, and have many, many years of experience. I was blessed to have grown up during the golden years of luxury crossings so I think I am qualified to make comparisons.

    I've received truly outstanding service and pampering in the Holland America penthouses - yes, I can point to some cruises that stand out more than others (I think all of us who've cruised a lot can do that even with our favorite cruise lines), but I've not had a BAD cruise in a penthouse. Yes, I've noticed some ups and downs in HAL's dining room food - but for every mediocre comment, I can find infinitely more praises. Of course, cuisine is personal - someone who loves spicey food and finds dishes that are mild will not be happy, just as the person who likes delicate flavors will balk at highly seasoned food. Trust me that I would not be spending the $$$ to opt for penthouse suites if I felt I wasn't receiving my money's worth!

    I love Crystal - and you may wish to try them in a Crystal Penthouse or Penthouse Suite (the Crystal Penthouse in Crystal Serenity, which debuts next month, even has its own private exercise room). Their service and cuisine are outstanding. I have yet to find any of my Clients dissatisfied with them. One of the Clients of the lady with whom I work tried Crystal, at my suggestion, a year ago. Since then, he had done two back-to-backs plus two segments of the world cruise, and has 2 more cruises already booked. But, in most instances, you will find a substantial difference in fare - as you will with the smaller-ship cruise lines such as Silversea, Seabourn, Sea Dream.

    Does the service one received 40-50 years ago still exist? Rarely. But can one still be pampered today? Definitely.

    Post Edited (06-13-03 22:04)
  13. sage

    sage Guest


    Thank you for your honest opinion and for pointing out details such as entertaiment and smaller public areas. I must admit that I was focusing on the features of the suite, the service and the all inclusive aspects of the product and had not seriously considered the entertainment and the public areas. And I offer my humble apology for asking you to compare apples and oranges. I think that I will do as you suggest and write my concerns about the cutbacks, or the appearance of cutbacks and see what kind of a response I receive. I do love the people that HAL attracts, as on our last cruise we met a lovely couple that we are cruising with this year. Perhaps we are all in a panic and are looking for things to complain about as the industry is trying to find ways to stay afloat financially in a very trouble times. Hopefully, the industry will regain its footing and things that passengers find appealing will once again appear. I must agree that HAL does provide a good product for the money, and I will certainly take in consideration the many valid points you mentioned. Again, thank you for your candid opinion and suggestions. I bow to your vast knowledge.

  14. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Sage - many thanks for your compliments. Unfortunately, people innocently are mis-matched when it comes to searching out their personal likes and dislikes on a ship, and booking them on a ship. Small ships are wonderful and offer many benefits and comforts, but they are not for the person who enjoys the activities of a larger ship.

    You'll be doing yourself and Holland America a favor to address your concerns to them. Best wishes!
  15. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    MaryAnn: It is such a joy to read your posts. Such vast experience so well expressed.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    BTW...First Class Air ....on a domestic flight ? Don't get me started!!! You'd think they'd be ashamed. We keep thinking it has gotten as bad as it can get, but they manage to keep lowering the standard more and more.

    Post Edited (06-13-03 21:32)
  16. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Thank you, Sail. You certainly have a wealth of experience as well.

    Well, I'm happy to point out one difference between first class and coach on flights between Phoenix and Los Angeles. In coach, you receive one bag of nuts or pretzels; in first class, two...sometimes!! On my recent first class flight from Vancouver to Phoenix, zippo. Nothing. Only beverages. Oh...I forgot about THE bag of mixed nuts. :(
  17. Suite_Gurl

    Suite_Gurl Guest


    I have been reading your posts and I have to tell you that we experienced a very dissapointing level of service in April on the Zaandam. We have previously had wonderful experiences on HAL cruises, but there has been a definate change. We cruised the eastern caribbean in Jan on the Zaandam and while it wasn't perfect, it was much more what we expected than we got on our cruise in April. While we have not been in the penthouse, we book S categories. On the April cruise, we did get priority boarding but from there it was a different experience! We didn't receive Champagne that was sent to us by someone. We didn't receive our invitations to the suite luncheon or the cocktail parties we usually get. We waited 15 minutes in the Marco Polo (for suite guests only) one morning before we got our coffee and another 15 before our order was taken, and there were only a few tables occupied. We had to call to get our tender passes sent to our room and several evenings our dinner menus didn't arrive until about 30 minutes before dinner. I know these may sound like small things to some, but these are the perks they advertise and are among the reasons we pay more for the room. We did notice that it was an almost entirely different crew than we had on the previous cruise and perhaps that accounted for alot of it, but as I read the various posts, I can't help but wonder if it is all across HAL. While I admit that having the extra space is nice, it isn't all about the square footage, it is about the service and how you are treated. We have friends cruising on the Maasdam soon, and we are anxious to hear how their cruise goes since we have cruised together before and know that their expectations are similiar to ours.
  18. sail7seas

    sail7seas Guest

    Marco Polo is the name of the alternaive restaurant aboard Zaandam. It may have already been changed to Pinnacle.

    Neptune Lounge is the name of the Suite passenger Lounge.
  19. ShipMaven

    ShipMaven Guest

    Sail - on Zaandam/Volendam, the full name for the Pinnacle Grill is "Pinnacle Grill at the Marco Polo", and on Rotterdam/Amsterdam, "Pinnacle Grill at the Odyssey". However, simply Pinnacle Grill OR Marco Polo OR Odyssey (as the case may be) will still get you to the correct restaurant! ;)
  20. Suite_Gurl

    Suite_Gurl Guest

    When we were on the Zaandam, the Kings Room was not used for breakfast for suite passengers, instead they designated the Marco Polo to be used for breakfast which is where we had the poor/slow service. There was not a Neptune Lounge on the Zaandam. I would guess that it would change after the next dry dock, but in April that is how it was being handled!

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