I am not a cruiser and have never had any great desire to take a cruise but I did want to see Alaska.
First the limitations of Cruising almost compelled me to choose Holland America and the room I choose but I doubt that I could have made a better choice.
Reasons for choosing HA Suite 23:
1. Travel the inside passage ( the views from the veranda were fantastic.)
2. Visit Glacier Bay (saw constant calving at Margarie Glacier)
3. Wanted a post cruise tour of the interior of Alaska - so one way trip ideal
4. Wanted a small ship but with enough to do to keep from being bored. At 1,250 est passengers the number of cruisers is about half of the other mainline ships.
4. My Wife smokes and HA Allows Smoking on Veranda most cruise line no do not. ( I do not like the smell of smoke but even if I sat on the veranda with her the movement of the ship dissipated the smoke so it was not a problem for me and certainly not for the adjoining suites.)
5. My wife has a laundry cleaning fetish the - deluxe cabin offers free laundry which she took advantage of every day.
6. My wife needs several cups of coffee in the morning to get started; the Neptune Lounge directly across from the room was god send. (We never needed to visit the main desk rather all was taken care of by the Neptune Lounge Attendant)
7. As we tend to keep separate hours, she up late, me up early, the spaciousness of the room allowed us to move about without disturbing each other.
My wife, who has never cruised before nor had any itch to see Alaska, was apprehensive about the trip especially the cruise part.
To summarize the trip, I should quote my wife after the vacation. "Let's do it again"
The room service was impeccable. If you needed anything, all you had to do was ask. The staff was never intrusive but always there to help. A different towel animal every day added to my wife's delight including a hanging monkey one day.
Prior to the trip, my wife, doubted she would dine much in the dining room (some reviews said meals take too long) and expected to have most dinners in the Lido. She found the service and food in the Rotterdam dining room so good that we had all but two dinners in the dining room. Those other two dinners were in the Pinnacle Grill, where the waitstaff was equally good and the meals even better. The Rotterdam dining room waitstaff was ready for any need but also provided a bit of whimsy with origami animal creations by the assistant waiter.
About the general quality of the ship. The entire staff on the ship bent over backwards to make you feel comfortable and respond to your requests. While there must be some wear and tear on the ship as it has not been in dry-dock for a while, it was not obvious to us except that there was some fogging on some windows as seals must have loosened. The ship was spic and span clean the entire cruise.
About the quality of the entertainment. We did not view any of the shows. But with a jazz trio in one venue, a classical quartet in another venue, a folk guitarist and piano player in a third venue and a DJ in a fourth venue; the need to attend a show was not important. The entertainers were all good, although the pianist tended to make every song requested sound like Elton John. The casino was not the loser spot I was led to expect and My wife (the gambler in the family) actually broke about even on the slots.
Excursions were all scheduled by me separately and therefore I can not review the quality of the excursions. However Holland America was good a describing each port and what to do at each.
If there are cruises better than this, I don't need to know.