After a week in Peru visiting Machu Picchu we flew to Santiago and took the local bus (which is easy and inexpensive) to the port. We had cruised with HAL before on a Panama Canal trip, so even on a different ship, we felt comfortable. We had an inside stateroom, but on the Navigation Deck, it felt like more. We do not spend much time in the cabin, so we prefer to put the money elsewhere. Our steward was excellent, and we had no plumbing or AC issues that some report on this ship.
We were very fortunate to have mostly smooth sailing, even around the cape, as it is known for rough seas at times. The smaller ports were nothing special, but the cities made up for them. Our only hitch was an eight hour delay leaving Buenos Aires due to some dispute with the authorities, we were told. Some passengers lost their flights, but we left the next day, and only had to give up some tour time in Rio. We arranged all of our tours independently, and they were fine. We never heard anyone on the ship tours say they liked them or felt they were a good value.
We tend to avoid the crowds in the Buffet and eat all meals in the dining room or Pinnacle Grill. Food and service are much better in the latter and worth the extra cost. We were on anytime dining, and never had to wait for a table. I felt the food was above average, most of the time, but it got to be somewhat bland the last few days, possible because we were tired and ready to go home.
Entertainment was mixed. The Halcats were great, as were many of the solo performers, like the guitarist. We found that with the production shows, the female singers, and the dancers were fine, but only one male singer was quite good, but the others would make a quick exit on American Idol.
Holland America is great for a cost conscious way to travel with consistent accommodations and food. We cruised on Oceania last year, and food and service are definitely superior, but may not be worth the extra expense.