Boarding was very efficient and luggage handling very good. The Ship is somewhat dated looking. Probably needs a facelift because you felt you were stuck in the Nineties. If you are a young person, this line's demographic is probably not for you. Many, many older, financially comfortable, very conservative crowd. Lots of little scooters and wheelchairs. Also, there is a very large Dutch component on board with little sniping wars between the Dutch passengers and those from other European countries. One angry older woman was telling everyone, "All I hear is Dutch." But there was a lot of griping among this crowd. Their expectations and demands are high and their capacity for fun is very limited. They want what they want when they want it and you better not get in their way or they will run over you with their scooters.
The big problem on this cruise was illness. I expected to see the plague flag flying. Staff was sketchy and often untrained in areas because so many crew members were sick. Among passengers, Gastrointestinal Illness was a serious problem. Guests with it were quarantined, but many did not comply. One guy told us that "this quarantine stuff isn't so bad. I come to the dining room and eat and then head back to my cabin."
You could not move much of anywhere on the ship without being hit with hand sanitizer. They made a really concerted effort to control the spread, but it was a buzz-kill to constantly worry about illness and hand sanitizer. We lived moment to moment being scared of getting sick. We were with a large group (>70) and more than half got sick. When we got back to Rotterdam, the local crews were coming in all masked and gloved with cleaning equipment.
There are changes with this line and I am wondering if that's because Carnival bought them. The quality is not there that I used to see in Holland America.
Food and dining were the big changes for me. Food quality was NOT as good as in the past. Items would arrive missing key ingredients (ex: Salmon Salad minus the salmon). Service was so slow that many times they were gonging to tell us it was time to go and we hadn't had dessert yet. We felt we were getting the signal eat up and get out. The Lido restaurant often had so many stations closed that it was hard to collect the items for your meal. Especially at breakfast. And since the Gastrointestinal Illness was so bad, service in the Lido slowed way down due to no self-service at all. Everything had to be put on your plate. Don't touch anything was the clear message. I understand this was to try to curb the spread of illness and protect the passengers, but it got old really fast.
Tender service was excellent. Good crews and when we tendered at Edinburgh, the water was downright scary. They did a great job getting us safely back to the ship.
Getting off the ship at ports and at the end of the cruise was simply fabulous. They are so good at what they do. We arranged for transport from the ship to the airport and it was fast, easy, clear as to what to do, and we really admired that.
I have liked this line very much in the past, but with their price point, their age profile, and the food, I am looking for a new cruise line home. Yeah, I am older, but I am not dead yet.