We chose Holland America because it is known to have a slightly older clientele as we are not into the 'party scene' and the proposed itinerary looked interesting.
I must point out that we were not able to complete the whole trip due to an urgent medical situation back home, but did spend 8 glorious days on board.
We flew to Sydney on the day of embarkation and we were on board and in our cabin within 20 minutes of arriving at the terminal. We were very happy with our cabin, it was set up beautifully with plenty of storage space and we were unpacked and ready to explore within 30 minutes.
Leaving Sydney was great! We just squeezed under the bridge and as we looked back over the city and opera house the sun was setting behind it all. Before we knew it we were out of the heads and into the night. The ocean was kind to us with very little swell and we settled in for our cruise.
The crew: we had wonderful room stewards, Matt and Arbie, who did a fabulous job each day. Staff around the ship were always smiling, polite and attentive without being intrusive. A few of the Lido staff asked my name and greeted me each time I wandered by, a really nice touch.
The ship: We found all parts that we visited to be in very good condition. Everything in our cabin worked, all lifts were functioning, the crew were always cleaning or polishing and the fit out was tasteful and stylish. We experienced very little vibration while underway and the only annoying noise were people dragging around their balcony furniture in the suites above us..
Dining: we had selected as you wish dining and enjoyed three evenings with interesting table guests. The remainder of our meals were taken in the Lido and again we were able to mix with a variety of passengers, all with interesting stories.
Food: the day is based around food, and what food it was. Very tasty, plenty of choices, fresh and well presented. I cannot imagine there wasn't something for everyone. From breakfast, lunch, Lido grill bar, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.....made walking the promenade deck essential!
Ports of call: having been to Hamilton Island before we were not expecting much but used the tenders anyway. The tender process was a little slow but once underway was well executed. Cairns would have been better if a whole day could have been spent instead of arriving at lunch and leaving 24 hours later. The main attraction of Cairns is the visit to the outer reef but a whole day is needed for this. Unfortunately there was no time to have this experience. We did the half day Green Island tour with semi-submersible and glass bottom boat tours, this was enjoyable and we saw a lot of the local reef and marine life.
As we had many sea days the local cruising was relaxing, great weather though very humid the more north we travelled. We had two Reef Pilots on board who piloted the ship through the reef and who provided commentary as we went along. The only negative to this was he didn't speak properly into the microphone and the volume kept fading away.
When we contacted the front office of our requirement to disembark they were helpful, provided follow up phone calls and assisted us right to the moment we stepped on shore.
We will cruise again, definitely with HAL,