Pros: The nora virus - if you like that sorta thing ...
Cons: Nora virus outbreak - what else can be said?
This review is based on the fact that our cruise with Holland America scheduled for 12/30/05 1/7/06 aboard Ms. Zuiderdam was abruptly cut short due to an outbreak of illnesses among passengers and crew members. We later found this to likely be the Nora virus per reports published on the CDCs website, and our direct interaction with the CDC to file reports and receive details on the situation. 155 passengers and 50+ crew were reported ill; mind you this is probably only half the actual count from what we saw on board.
This Holland America cruise was supposed to be special, both a yearend and year-opening vacation. My fiance and I set out to relax from our stresses and celebrate the many successes of 2005; a typical vacation motive. Terri spent almost a year planning this trip, selecting the best ports for excursions and online evaluations for multiple cruise lines for what ship has the best features and reputation. We were both looking forward to this trip immensely and it was to be the first of many cruises together.
We could never, in our wildest imagination of potential problems, foresee what was in store for us. I could have forgotten, overlooked and forgiven the majority of events, even being sick. I was very upset to finding out, after the fact, that the Zuiderdam had a health issue on the sailing immediately prior to ours.
This information is detailed on various websites such as www.cruisejunkie.com. The Holland America medical staff withheld these known relevant details when I originally began to feel ill. The medical staff had a preconception of what the illness was and did not offer any reference to this in their diagnoses of my situation; continuously stating we had nothing to worry about meanwhile quarantining us in our cabin. We were then trapped in our cabin, the crew was falling ill and services were taking 3-4 hours to get a meal or anything brought to the room.
The ship not only failed to provide a healthy environment, and an appropriate service level for such a prestigious cruise line the actions of the crew of Ms. Zuiderdam in fact put us at health risk and hindered our ability to invoke our travel insurance and return home safely to seek our own medical care.
We planned disembark on 1/2/06 given medical issues. The ship refused to provide medical documentation, and in fact blatantly turned away direct requests for details from our trip insurance provider.
The crew then hindered our ability to return home in a safe and timely manner by making false claims pertaining to available flights and tickets that would be held for us at the airport. At this time we were left in St. Thomas without the flights held per Ms. Zuiderdams guest relations manager Gary, that triggered our overall discontent.
We disembarked from the vessel after being assured that arrangements had been made to secure the resources necessary for my return home; shortly thereafter, we found that no such arrangements had been made. Now stranded in St. Thomas without a hotel or a flight; we then made our own arrangements with out of pocket expenses over $2,500 to return home. The trip insurance later covered these expenses under protest. (Here Ill ask what does someone due without the ability to call corporate travel and say get me out of here! and the finances to float the expenses ? this could put people in real trouble.) Gary and his staff failed us in several ways. It is my belief that no matter how strained a situation may be, a guest relations manager should act professional and not leave guests stranded and without appropriate resources to disembark. We didnt ask them to pay for the tickets, just to help us book flights they failed and they lied.
The entanglement once we returned home turned into a legal battle as we immediately disputed all charges on our credit cards. The credit cards (thank you Cabalas Visa & Chase) upheld our disputes and reversed the charges. Of course Holland America then began making efforts to collect on their bills we refused and poised to file suit against them. The arrogance of this company attempting to continue collections after all this is amazing; there was absolutely no chance we would ever compensate them for a miserable trip.
Meanwhile the trip insurance company objected quite profusely to the cost of the last minute plane tickets and accommodations. They did in the end pay all charges including our cell phone expenses once we got so fed up our lawyer got involved.
It took over a year to resolve all the issues and insure there was no damage to our credit ratings as a result of this trip.
Unless you wish to get sick, get quarantined, be stranded, denied basic information and proper medical care then be expected to foot the bill saying Thank you sir may I have another dont go on this ship.
Well certainly never cruise again and would never recommend it to anyone. This sounds like an exaggeration, its not I could go on a rant about this for 20 pages to cover all the details of what went wrong on this trip. This trip went bad, got worse, and dragged on for over a year to clean up the mess. Just check out www.cruisejunkie.com and youll find we are not the only ones that have been through situations like this on cruise ships. We only wish we had seen that website and were really educated about what can happen before we booked this trip.