This was our first cruise, and overall it was a wonderful experience because of the breathtaking scenery, the outstanding service, and the yummy food. However, we were unprepared for the degree of seasickness we both experienced. So, a lot of the cruise ended up being a blur, as we were drowsy and woozy from the Dramamine we had to keep taking.
Two nights were rough, but one night--the evening of Day 5, as the boat sailed south after our day in Sitka--was absolute hell. The boat was tossing to and fro so violently, we abruptly had to leave dinner in the dining room and attempt to get to our cabin to lie down. This was no small task, as we stumbled and lurched all over the hallways, clutching the railings for dear life. Fortunately, we found some discreetly placed containers of vomit bags near the elevators. (We would fill 3 of them by night's end.)
The location of our cabin (8012) didn't help; we found out later that a cabin on a low deck, most toward the center of the boat, would have the least motion. If this is true, then we were seriously out of luck--our cabin was nearly the most forward, and on the highest cabin deck.
The cabin itself was lovely; however. We didn't mind at all that it was a small, interior room. It was private and quiet, clean, and had tons of closet space. I was afraid we might feel claustrophobic, but we didn't at all. The bed was very comfortable; we had no problems sleeping. The bathroom had plenty of space, and the shower was spacious enough, had a detachable showerhead, and high-quality shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in convenient dispensers.
One problem we noticed with the room, however, would occur in the afternoons and early evenings (we took a lot of daytime naps because of the Dramamine)--there would suddenly be a very strong odor of some kind of chemical--it smelled like turpentine--that would fill the entire cabin and linger for hours. We smelled it all over the boat at various times and guessed it to be a cleaner or polish of some kind.
Our toilet clogged one night for no apparent reason, but we called it in, and the repairman promptly came and fixed it. No problems after that. He was also quite helpful and showed us how to make our shower water hotter--the shower knobs were odd, and we hadn't realized that you could turn them counter-clockwise 360 degrees to get more hot water (still no idea what the red button is for).
Our room stewards, Komang and Gede, were terrific. I can recall only a couple instances during the entire cruise that we did not see Komang somewhere on our hallway, joyfully calling out greetings to us by name. When we left to go to breakfast, we'd return to the room less than an hour later and find they had slipped in Ninja-style and cleaned already.
We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck because the views were amazing and the food was terrific. We probably gained a good 30 lbs between the two of us during the cruise! The Lido breakfast was my favorite. I loved the eggs cooked to order, the amazing breakfast potatoes, and the delicious, fresh waffles with fruit compote of your choice. Also, the coffee was outstanding!! I drank their decaf coffee all day and evening because it was so good--hey, I'm from Seattle, and I know coffee--I still can't believe it was decaf; it was just. so. good.
One complaint about the Lido that I should mention--FOOD ALLERGY SUFFERERS, TAKE NOTE--it was difficult to be certain about potential allergens in the Lido food offerings. In the Vista dining room, they bend over backwards to accommodate any food allergies you might have, but not so in the Lido.
I am fatally allergic to nuts. One afternoon, during a quiet time when the Lido crowds had cleared out, my husband ordered a chocolate ice-cream cone for me. After a few bites of it, I crunched into a walnut. Turns out it was Rocky Road ice cream! My husband went back to the ice-cream lady and she explained, "Sometimes we have 'specialty chocolate' flavors, so when you order 'chocolate,' that is what you get." Wow. That could've ended really badly. At the very least, THE LIDO REALLY NEEDS TO PUT ALLERGEN LABELS ON ITS FOOD.
We ate a handful of times in the Vista dining room for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner. The food was always great, and again, they took great care of me and my food allergies; but the meals were too slow-paced for us. One night, our dinner lasted well over 2.5 hours. Many people would like that, but it was just too long for us to be sitting in the same chairs. Also, set on the tail end of the boat, we experienced a great deal of motion in the dining room. Given our seasickness, this was not an ideal way to enjoy a meal.
We didn't take advantage of as many shipboard activities as we would've liked, but we did enjoy Trivia in the Crow's Nest Lounge every day with Cruise-Director Drew. We won 3 times, and have lovely Oosterdam and Holland America pins to show for it. Drew made it fun; our only complaint was that there were never enough trivia questions. :-)
Overall, we did have a wonderful time and enjoyed Holland America immensely. My husband and I are mature 42-year olds, so we fit in well with the majority of our fellow passengers. We wanted to avoid any semblance of loud, drunken partygoer types, rowdy children, packs of teenagers, college students, etc. Holland America was perfect for us, as mostly everyone was our age and beyond. Very quiet and relaxing.
We will definitely cruise with Holland America again--but next time, we'll be more proactive with motion-sickness remedies!