Cruising on Holland America Line is a huge pain in the ass

I’m trying to put together a cruise for my mother and I. She’s 80, and not the most athletic, and this is kind of a special treat, so I’m trying to arrange a nice room with an easy itinerary.

I’ve chosen to cruise on Holland America Line because that is the line my parents took to come to Canada – I think in 1953?

The cruise route we’re doing is a one-way northbound out of Vancouver, going up to Anchorage, Alaska.

If you want a room with a balcony for your mother to sit on, it turns out that Holland America refuses to just give you what you want, and forces you to take decisions you’re not interested in.

You can:

  1. Veranda rooms are only available to people who choose to take a cruise tour, that is a cruise followed by a tour. If you want to do an independent car rental to go look at the things you’re interested in, forget it – Holland America wants to drag you all over the state on a tour bus.
  2. If you don’t want to do that, you could take a non-veranda room, and put your name on a waiting list, and pay for an upgrade if a room becomes available. Then you are not forced to take the tour.

At some point before the cruise departs the rooms are taken off of this crappy forced-choice arrangement and you can just get a room with an open-air view.

This set of forced choices doesn’t end there. To cruise, you have to fly, and if you want to fly on flights Holland America arranges for you, you won’t find out which airline, and which schedule, you’re going to be on. So you might get a respectable Air Canada/Westjet flight in the afternoon, or a 2am redeye on a cramped Air Transat.

What do you suppose the chance is I’ll take my mother to an airport at 3am? And how happy would I be giving Air Transat my money, something I resolve to never do after they fucked me in Paris? Screw you, Holland America.

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