This was our first cruise with Holland America and was chosen because the itinerary and dates fitted well with a vacation already planned in SW Florida. Our travel agent and others had suggested Holland America was comparable to Celebrity, with whom we have cruised most often. On the basis of this 1 trip on Ryndam, it certainly was not.
Embarkation was reasonably satisfactory, although significantly delayed by a US Coastguard inspection of the ship..
We had a Verandah Cabin, 107, and this was fine as regards size, layout and general facilities. Although showing signs of wear and tear, as is the whole ship, it was kept clean by the cabin stewards. We were unhappy however that the towels were often badly worn and discoloured, and sheets and pillowcases sometimes stained. Previously we have only encountered similar standards in modest hotels in India.
Dining was variable. On the whole the "self-service" restaurant was good for breakfast and lunch, although there were often longish waits, even for simple things like coffee. The lack of trays means you have to make several trips between the serving area and your table to have a meal.
The formal restaurant, Rotterdam, was worse. Service was poor, and at times so was the food. It was often difficult to reconcile what arrived on your plate with the description on the menu! It is also the first time I have been told that there was no point in asking for any specific cheeses from the list, because the kitchen would just send out whatever they had at the time.
We did not have wine or drinks with every meal, but when we did want them this was a slow and difficult process as one wine waiter appeared to be covering about 40 tables.
Consistently, it was the standard of service that let this cruise down. Everywhere there seemed to be too few people for the amount of work, and this was made much worse by the fact that many of the staff, although friendly, were clearly hopelessly unskilled and inefficient. (Worryingly, this was all too apparent at the emergency boat drill - I have never seen such a shambles.)
On the plus side, the library was good and the computing/photography classes were excellent.
Entertainment was on the whole pretty good for a ship of this size.
Finally, it was clear that there was a remarkably high number of old and infirm passengers. I am not sure if this is just a consequence of starting in Florida, or if HAL routinely attracts a more geriatric clientele.