Very Bad HAL Maintenance.....or is it just me?

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#21
Centerville, Ohio, USA
8,757 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Originally posted by AtlantaCruiser72
Having sailed on ships built from many different shipyards I have always felt that the Fincantieri built ships seem to be built to a lesser overall quality that the ones that are built in Finland, Germany (and to a lesser extent France). The fit and finish just doesn't seem to be of the same standard.

That said ALL ships will eventually suffer from worn seals around windows, plumbing woes, aircon issues, etc, but it seems the Italian built ships are more prone than some others - just my opinion
I am in agreement with much of your post. I have not sailed on enough ships that have been built in shipyards other than Italy, so I cannot make a reasonable judgement as to the quality of construction or materials used.

I sailed on the Veendam during her second year of service. She was built by Fincanteri. The caulking around the edges of the bathtub in my stateroom needed repair, and was, repaired during my cruise. Hmm, I thought. Odd, for such a new vessel.
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52 cruises: 31 Holland America, 4 Princess, 4 Carnival, 3 Pacific Far East Line, 2 Cunard, 2 Royal Viking Line, 1 each: Celebrity Cruises, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Sitmar, American Hawaii, Home Lines
#23
New Brunswick
41,586 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by SilvertoGold
Wow! In April we saw very few problems on this ship. One of our best cruises on HAL It amazes us how this happens all at once.
We sailed on Rotterdam from late March until the end of April and saw none of this either. Maybe one bucket for one day and a fan for two days after? That was it.

I don't doubt Hank's report at all but am shocked at the sudden change.
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#24
5,851 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by kazu
We sailed on Rotterdam from late March until the end of April and saw none of this either. Maybe one bucket for one day and a fan for two days after? That was it.

I don't doubt Hank's report at all but am shocked at the sudden change.

As to the Lido leaking : good weather on one cruise, a lot of rain on the OP's cruise. Not uncommon to have that roof leak; have seen this happen before. A difficult problem to fix unless the problem is very evident.

I really think if I paid what it takes to sail the VOV, I would expect a very high standard, so I can understand the OP's viewpoint. However, the pricing for this cruise appears to be based on supply and very high demand, not on high standards of maintenance or of anything else. It appears to be just another HAL cruise and much of what the OP details is now quite standard on HAL.
#25
Exactly where I want to be
7,018 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
As expected, some came out with the "I was on it and I didn't see any issue, it's a fine ship, it was a fantastic cruise, HAL idas great" yada yada.

Hank - I'm sorry you had a poor hard product on your long cruise. Even the friendly, hard-working, smile-even-when-I-don't-want-to crew can only do so much to ease the pain of seeing so many things wrong. That you have such status and are well thought of here made some loathe to say "it wasn't so."

I hope you have smooth sailing with both a great crew AND great hard product the next time.
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#26
Maine
11,499 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Let me start off by saying that I also do not take Hank's observations lightly, and while I cannot comment on HAL's maintenance policies or budgets directly, or to some of the observations, let me shed some possible mitigating factors into some of the problems.

Having worked on another cruise ship from about the same time period as the Rotterdam's building, our ship was built with plastic potable water piping, that used an electric resistance coil in the fittings to melt the fittings and pipe together, in sort of a plastic welding method, rather than threading or other means of joining pipe. At the time, this was cutting edge technology, and was vaunted as the end all and be all of shipboard water piping. However, ships of this building period (late 1990's) were among the first to receive this product, and there was no real long term data on how it performed in a shipboard environment. Leaks were present almost from the start, and repairs made as needed. Within about 10 years, the amounts of leaks and repairs were seriously impacting revenue due to cabins taken out of inventory for repair and compensations given to guests. It was decided to remove as much of the piping as possible, and upgrade to a newer plastic welded piping product. The ship would take one entire deck of cabins out of inventory, and the piping was removed and renewed over a week's cruise. Then the next deck was taken out of inventory, and so on. The cost of having the contractors onboard for months, and the loss of revenue from the cabins on that deck, and any compensation for moving booked passengers was considered less costly than taking the ship out of service completely for the 3-4 weeks it would have taken to do the job in a shipyard. Even then, there were areas that could not be accessed and replaced, predominately in the overhead of the main galley, without dismantling the entire galley to get to it.

"Forensics" on the removed pipe showed that there were two very distinct patterns of welding of the fittings, and research showed that there were two contractors involved in the initial installation, so we suspect that one firm was not doing the welding correctly. All this is to say, that "maintenance" may not be the problem with water pipes, and that the Rotterdam may be getting to the point where the miles of water piping around the ship (we estimated on our ship, a bit bigger than Rotterdam, that we renewed over 15 kilometers of piping) will need to be renewed wholesale, and that this may have been a growing problem that has now reached epic proportions, or it may have been a sort of "sudden" failure of the piping system. Either way, you don't go into a wholesale renewal of piping throughout the ship unless the cost/benefit ratio warrants it. Would you tear out all the piping in your house just because it is x amount of years old?

As for the windows, this is a particularly painful point for me. These windows, all tempered safety glass are special ordered, and then they must be installed by certified glazers to validate the warranty. The problem comes with the requirement that contractors on ships have massive insurance bonds, due to the historical danger of working on ships, and most glazing companies do not have this, so they must subcontract to a marine repair firm, who then adds their mark-up to the job. These windows are also pretty tricky to deal with for crew, as I've had an errant paint chipper shatter a number of bridge windows just from getting too close to the glass.

As I say, none of the above necessarily excuses not addressing problems in a timely fashion, but it does show that sometimes it is not a "maintenance" issue but rather a manufacturing defect or life span issue.

And while leaking plumbing and cracked and leaking windows are legitimate concerns for passengers, as this is the front of the house, know that the class societies that inspect the vessels annually check the maintenance records for the major systems and safety equipment onboard, and while the hotel may be aging gracelessly, the ship continues to be maintained. Hank alluded to this, and I know he knows the difference. I agree that a service industry should do its utmost to provide top service, and that minor inconveniences and poor appearances should be remedied.
#27
Texas
183 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Originally posted by chengkp75
Let me start off by saying that I also do not take Hank's observations lightly, and while I cannot comment on HAL's maintenance policies or budgets directly, or to some of the observations, let me shed some possible mitigating factors into some of the problems.

Having worked on another cruise ship from about the same time period as the Rotterdam's building, our ship was built with plastic potable water piping, that used an electric resistance coil in the fittings to melt the fittings and pipe together, in sort of a plastic welding method, rather than threading or other means of joining pipe. At the time, this was cutting edge technology, and was vaunted as the end all and be all of shipboard water piping. However, ships of this building period (late 1990's) were among the first to receive this product, and there was no real long term data on how it performed in a shipboard environment. Leaks were present almost from the start, and repairs made as needed. Within about 10 years, the amounts of leaks and repairs were seriously impacting revenue due to cabins taken out of inventory for repair and compensations given to guests. It was decided to remove as much of the piping as possible, and upgrade to a newer plastic welded piping product. The ship would take one entire deck of cabins out of inventory, and the piping was removed and renewed over a week's cruise. Then the next deck was taken out of inventory, and so on. The cost of having the contractors onboard for months, and the loss of revenue from the cabins on that deck, and any compensation for moving booked passengers was considered less costly than taking the ship out of service completely for the 3-4 weeks it would have taken to do the job in a shipyard. Even then, there were areas that could not be accessed and replaced, predominately in the overhead of the main galley, without dismantling the entire galley to get to it.

"Forensics" on the removed pipe showed that there were two very distinct patterns of welding of the fittings, and research showed that there were two contractors involved in the initial installation, so we suspect that one firm was not doing the welding correctly. All this is to say, that "maintenance" may not be the problem with water pipes, and that the Rotterdam may be getting to the point where the miles of water piping around the ship (we estimated on our ship, a bit bigger than Rotterdam, that we renewed over 15 kilometers of piping) will need to be renewed wholesale, and that this may have been a growing problem that has now reached epic proportions, or it may have been a sort of "sudden" failure of the piping system. Either way, you don't go into a wholesale renewal of piping throughout the ship unless the cost/benefit ratio warrants it. Would you tear out all the piping in your house just because it is x amount of years old?

As for the windows, this is a particularly painful point for me. These windows, all tempered safety glass are special ordered, and then they must be installed by certified glazers to validate the warranty. The problem comes with the requirement that contractors on ships have massive insurance bonds, due to the historical danger of working on ships, and most glazing companies do not have this, so they must subcontract to a marine repair firm, who then adds their mark-up to the job. These windows are also pretty tricky to deal with for crew, as I've had an errant paint chipper shatter a number of bridge windows just from getting too close to the glass.

As I say, none of the above necessarily excuses not addressing problems in a timely fashion, but it does show that sometimes it is not a "maintenance" issue but rather a manufacturing defect or life span issue.

And while leaking plumbing and cracked and leaking windows are legitimate concerns for passengers, as this is the front of the house, know that the class societies that inspect the vessels annually check the maintenance records for the major systems and safety equipment onboard, and while the hotel may be aging gracelessly, the ship continues to be maintained. Hank alluded to this, and I know he knows the difference. I agree that a service industry should do its utmost to provide top service, and that minor inconveniences and poor appearances should be remedied.

That is all just fine and dandy but if you are a guest with mold allergies and spend a full week in bed because of the excessive mold you might have a different view of the problem. As a business person I can tell you unequivocally that the customer does not care about the nuts and bolts, they paid for a product and they expect to receive that product. The guests on the VOV paid dearly for that product and did not receive the product they paid for. This ship should never have been used in its current condition. The leaks were the elephant in the room but there were a host of other maintenance problems including ventilation and electrical.

Yes, CCL has a budget but so do I
#28
Victoria Harbour, ON
2,613 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Ships are like your house as they get older they need more TLC. I think one of the problems is that they do not take it out of service long enough to really get down & fix all the problems. The ship is not making money if it's sitting in dry dock. Take the time & do it right the first time which will pay off in the long run. I have also been on ships with flooded cabins, A/C not working, smell of sewage. Any or all these problems if they happen to you make for bad memories.
Allan
#29
Texas
183 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
I am afraid that you guys are being far too gracious. Now if HAL had advertised the ship as a leaky, moldy scow then the potential customer can make a decision. But to only find out after you are sailing away on a 38 day voyage is not optimal. It cost me a lot of time to make the money to pay them so they should take the time to insure that my experience is as advertised. Poor CCL not wanting to keep the ship in dry dock long enough to repair - boo hoo, I feel for them (tiny violins here). As I stated much earlier: if this is the state of the cruise industry then I will find another way to travel. No one would accept this from a hotel chain.
#30
2,836 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Originally posted by Mary229
I am afraid that you guys are being far too gracious. Now if HAL had advertised the ship as a leaky, moldy scow then the potential customer can make a decision. But to only find out after you are sailing away on a 38 day voyage is not optimal. It cost me a lot of time to make the money to pay them so they should take the time to insure that my experience is as advertised. Poor CCL not wanting to keep the ship in dry dock long enough to repair - boo hoo, I feel for them (tiny violins here). As I stated much earlier: if this is the state of the cruise industry then I will find another way to travel. No one would accept this from a hotel chain.
Very well said.
These are not new problems. Because Mr, Hiltner is well respected some loyalists don't call him a liar but they feign surprise at what "just happened".
I would die a million deaths of embarrassment if I recommended this ship (or its aging sisters) to anyone.

This is not the state of the cruise industry. Vote with your feet and try other lines. We sail even more often than we used to and greatly enjoy our experiences.
#31
Tucson, AZ
3,765 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
I find that chengkp75's posts on all threads posted to are very illuminating and educational and always look forward to his comments. That said I also find it unsatisfactory that passengers have to live with such reports as the OPs.
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#32
792 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Thank you for taking the time to educate us on the probable root cause of the problems. Very interesting Of course the bottom line is no one cares what the cause is if their cabin leaks - they just want it fixed. Really they want it to have never happened at all.
Originally posted by chengkp75
Let me start off by saying that I also do not take Hank's observations lightly, and while I cannot comment on HAL's maintenance policies or budgets directly, or to some of the observations, let me shed some possible mitigating factors into some of the problems.

Having worked on another cruise ship from about the same time period as the Rotterdam's building, our ship was built with plastic potable water piping, that used an electric resistance coil in the fittings to melt the fittings and pipe together, in sort of a plastic welding method, rather than threading or other means of joining pipe. At the time, this was cutting edge technology, and was vaunted as the end all and be all of shipboard water piping. However, ships of this building period (late 1990's) were among the first to receive this product, and there was no real long term data on how it performed in a shipboard environment. Leaks were present almost from the start, and repairs made as needed. Within about 10 years, the amounts of leaks and repairs were seriously impacting revenue due to cabins taken out of inventory for repair and compensations given to guests. It was decided to remove as much of the piping as possible, and upgrade to a newer plastic welded piping product. The ship would take one entire deck of cabins out of inventory, and the piping was removed and renewed over a week's cruise. Then the next deck was taken out of inventory, and so on. The cost of having the contractors onboard for months, and the loss of revenue from the cabins on that deck, and any compensation for moving booked passengers was considered less costly than taking the ship out of service completely for the 3-4 weeks it would have taken to do the job in a shipyard. Even then, there were areas that could not be accessed and replaced, predominately in the overhead of the main galley, without dismantling the entire galley to get to it.

"Forensics" on the removed pipe showed that there were two very distinct patterns of welding of the fittings, and research showed that there were two contractors involved in the initial installation, so we suspect that one firm was not doing the welding correctly. All this is to say, that "maintenance" may not be the problem with water pipes, and that the Rotterdam may be getting to the point where the miles of water piping around the ship (we estimated on our ship, a bit bigger than Rotterdam, that we renewed over 15 kilometers of piping) will need to be renewed wholesale, and that this may have been a growing problem that has now reached epic proportions, or it may have been a sort of "sudden" failure of the piping system. Either way, you don't go into a wholesale renewal of piping throughout the ship unless the cost/benefit ratio warrants it. Would you tear out all the piping in your house just because it is x amount of years old?

As for the windows, this is a particularly painful point for me. These windows, all tempered safety glass are special ordered, and then they must be installed by certified glazers to validate the warranty. The problem comes with the requirement that contractors on ships have massive insurance bonds, due to the historical danger of working on ships, and most glazing companies do not have this, so they must subcontract to a marine repair firm, who then adds their mark-up to the job. These windows are also pretty tricky to deal with for crew, as I've had an errant paint chipper shatter a number of bridge windows just from getting too close to the glass.

As I say, none of the above necessarily excuses not addressing problems in a timely fashion, but it does show that sometimes it is not a "maintenance" issue but rather a manufacturing defect or life span issue.

And while leaking plumbing and cracked and leaking windows are legitimate concerns for passengers, as this is the front of the house, know that the class societies that inspect the vessels annually check the maintenance records for the major systems and safety equipment onboard, and while the hotel may be aging gracelessly, the ship continues to be maintained. Hank alluded to this, and I know he knows the difference. I agree that a service industry should do its utmost to provide top service, and that minor inconveniences and poor appearances should be remedied.
#33
Michigan
128 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
I too am just back from the Voyage of the Vikings, and I can confirm the description of all the leaks around the ship. The big leak in the Lido by the pasta station almost blocked the aisle. It was disconcerting that it kept recurring every time it rained. The Crow's Nest reeked of mildew. Half the windows had towels laid at the bottom to soak up leaks. The Beverage Manager said that this would be dealt with in the drydock. Particularly surprising was the water bubbling up through the planking on both sides of the Lido aft deck -- but better that it came up rather than down into the cabins underneath.
#34
11,925 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
CHPURSERS's comments were right on.

Besides not wanting he possibility of plumbing issues or no air, i am extremely allergic to mould. The last place that I can sleep is in a room with mould. I would rather sleep on an open deck.

What this does is rule out HAL's older ships. We like HAL, it fits our demographic, but HAL always looses is it comes down to an older HAL ship and another cruise line.

I call it cheating the customer.
#35
Connecticut
12,172 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
I suppose I have just been fortunate in not experiencing major maintenance problems on HAL - and having those minor ones experienced promptly and competently addressed.

Newer ships - with perhaps better maintenance programs (say, on Royal Caribbean or NCL) might be preferable -- except for the factors those brands represent which cannot, to my satisfaction, be addressed
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#36
3,724 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Thanks for the report, Hank. I have seen drip catching buckets on HAL so often that I thought the practice was industry wide. It always surprises me that a ship built to float on water can not keep rain water from leaking in. Personally, I find the buckets kind of amusing, it's like seeing a car bumper held on by duct tape. You have to shake your head when you see the same leak and the same bucket day after day after day.
#37
Texas
183 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Originally posted by whogo
Thanks for the report, Hank. I have seen drip catching buckets on HAL so often that I thought the practice was industry wide. It always surprises me that a ship built to float on water can not keep rain water from leaking in. Personally, I find the buckets kind of amusing, it's like seeing a car bumper held on by duct tape. You have to shake your head when you see the same leak and the same bucket day after day after day.

That and what about that rain water washing in bird droppings or any other microbial contamination from the roof. They harp on the customers to wash their hands but have no concern about dirty water dripping in an eating facility.
#38
Connecticut USA
291 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Reality check.....

You all want ships to "be new", but you DONT want to pay the fare's associated with new ships. Sure, other lines have new ships... But the only way they can fund these new builds is to either A) Make them so big they get economies of scale, or B) Charge a much higher price per cabin...

You all rave about HAL's "small ships", and reasonable prices compared to the premium lines... THIS is the downside to this!
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#39
Texas
183 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Originally posted by FredT
Reality check.....

You all want ships to "be new", but you DONT want to pay the fare's associated with new ships. Sure, other lines have new ships... But the only way they can fund these new builds is to either A) Make them so big they get economies of scale, or B) Charge a much higher price per cabin...

You all rave about HAL's "small ships", and reasonable prices compared to the premium lines... THIS is the downside to this!
The VOV is not a budget cruise by anyone's standard. No one signs up for unhealthy conditions regardless
#40
Belfast, Northern Ireland
659 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
I too found the Rotterdam to be in dire need of some maintenance last time I sailed her. Rusty window frames, cracks in the dining room glazing, frayed carpets etc ... Sad to hear things have not improved.
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12-22-2013 Rotterdam