Posted September 14th, 2017, 07:11 AM
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.