This was our 3rd cruise on Holland, Alaska, Mexican Rivera, and now Caribbean. Two of the cruises I rate as poor and one (Alaska) very good.
Pre Cruise Hotel:
Arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day ahead of the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near the cruise port. Hotel offered shuttle service to/from the airport at no charge. Room was adequate with free WI FI both in the room and common areas. Upon check in I was presented with a Priority Club Members welcome gift consisting of a snack, newspaper, 2 bottles of water and hotel and information about the surrounding area. Hotel is close to the cruise port and many restaurants, shops, Rx, and a Publix where you can purchase some wine. Highly recommend this hotel and advise one to sign up for the Priority Club for future benefits. In fact recommend you sign up for any hotel chains member programs.
Upon arrival and after retrieving our baggage I contacted the hotel via the free phone in the baggage claim area. The shuttle driver arrived in about 20-30 minutes and promptly (excluding traffic congestion) delivered us to the hotel. Check in time is 3:00 PM but we arrived prior to that and were immediately checked in. A morning breakfast is furnished at no charge and is more than a continental breakfast with all you desire to eat an a selection of juices, breads, yogurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, hot and cold cereal and coffee, milk and tea. Shuttle service was available for a fee with 3 departure times. We opted for the 10:30 time, and sped off to the port.
Upon arrival at the port our luggage was handed off to a porter with the exception of a small carryon. Check in was swift and then we headed off to the waiting area. We waited about 30-40 minutes before boarding just prior to noon. We immediately went to our stateroom to drop off our carryon tote and headed to the Lido deck for lunch.
Stateroom: We normally choose an inboard stateroom and did so this time. Since we only spend time in the cabin to sleep, shower and change clothes an interior is normally adequate, especially when cruising in warm weather as we spend our days outside on the various decks. Our cabin was not assigned to us until about a week prior to the cruise and we were able to print our Holland luggage tags pre cruise, and attach them at the hotel prior to boarding the shuttle. The cabin 6015 was not as depicted on the website and was one of the smallest cabins in our 12 prior cruises. It was adequate but we found ourselves constantly getting in each others way when going to/from the bathroom or to the closets. A plus on the cabin was that it was very easy to find from day one, and close to the forward elevators.
Stateroom Service: We met our cabin steward shortly after embarkation and our visit to the Lido restaurant. He introduced himself and provided a business card with his contact information. I requested two wine glasses and a bucket of ice to chill our wine. Neither of these was delivered until the 2nd day. The cabin had a small refrigerator so I emptied it and placed our wine to chill. Bathrobes were not furnished until day 3. Towels were large and adequate as were the bathroom supply of shampoo, conditioner and soap. Negative was how long it took to make up the cabin. This was not accomplished until early afternoon unless we requested by placing a request card in the door entrance lock.
The size of the ship made it easy to find your way around without feeling like being in a maze. Maybe because we had a forward cabin we only had one option (aft) upon exiting an elevator. We would travel to the deck of choice and head aft to find anything and everything we needed (restaurants MDR and Lido) bars, library, purser desk etc. There was always an ample supply of clean beach towels and more than enough deck chairs on all areas except the immediate pool area. The ship was clean and well maintained with a few of the canvas awnings on the aft Lido deck and forward deck 10 that were torn or missing.
Service/food: Lido and bars. The service met expectations with the bar servers and food servers in the Lido restaurant being very friendly and not pushing one to buy drinks. The food was for the most part adequate providing numerous selections. Two concerns: Asian food line: We enjoy sushi and it was not always at the Asian line. One day it was and another it was located by the cheese and fruit area. Lack of consistency was an inconvenience. Lido pool area Mexican buffet offered the same selections daily including salsa but no chips. If you wanted chips with the salsa you had to break up taco shells.
Service/food: MDR: service and menu in the main dining room 2nd seating was subpar compared to other cruise lines and cruises. On day one our table of six made several requests for the week: A pre dinner plate of cheese and crackers, iced tea with dinner and coffee post dinner. The cheese plate was delivered 4 times and without crackers. Iced tea was sporadic and had to be requested as was the coffee. All table mates made the same comments about the menu selections: "I am having a difficult time finding something or I feel I am choosing the best of the worst items." We never once saw a wine steward during the entire cruise. One evening we experienced a long delay and shortage in food service. Per the matre d' this was due to the captain's reception. One would think that Holland should be better prepared as this was not the inaugural cruise for this ship.
Disembarkation: This was very smooth with baggage tags supplied and an adequate number of customs stations to process departing passengers. Shuttle to the airport was again timely delivering us to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight home.