This was our first cruise, and we chose it mainly because of the choice of such varied destinations, and its 12 day length.Behind our thinking was the view that if we decided cruising really wasn't for us, we wouldn't be stuck on there for longer than 12 days We also got to see a little of France, Greece, Croatia, Sicily, and Italy. The choice proved to be just perfect.
Embarkation: This ran smooth, and the wait was not too long. But the disembarkation process impressed me the most. Everything in that aspect was great from the start.
Cabin:We chose the larger inside cabin mainly because of its size, and only an extra $150pp cost. It was a large inside, double that of the usual one, and even larger than the verandah. It was a great position in the centre of the ship, and very quiet. I suppose the only downside was no window, but we mainly only used it to shower and sleep. The bed was very comfy, and I like the fact you could adjust your air-conditioning to suit your own needs.
Dining: We chose "Open Seating"as we were there on our own, and it gave us a chance to meet and chat with the other guests.The meals in the main dining room were very nice. But my husband said my fruit crumble was much better. While I like the food, after 12 days I was hanging out for some home cooking. The service of the waiters was great. I would recommend the "Hi-Tea" in the main dining room each afternoon, only trouble is we were often on a tour or off shore. We chose the Lido several times for breakfast. This was great because it was buffet style, and you didn't have to wait for the waiter, which was beneficial when you had to get away early for a cruise. I like to get there early for lunch and dinner, otherwise it can get rather crowded. Some of the staff serving in the Lido weren't quite as friendly, but after hearing how some of the guests spoke to them, I can sometimes see why.
Entertainment: This was a hi-light for me especially, I looked forward to it every night in the Showroom.. Just loved Salavatore Hasard, and the quartet Cantare, with one or the tenors having an exceptional stand out voice. They all received standing ovations. My husband also found the comedian really tickled his funnybone. Also not to be missed was the violin and piano duo "Adagio", who we watch several times, my husband a violinist, really appreciated the skills
Shore Excursions: Can't comment on the Holland America organised ones, as we found them very expensive. Instead we chose Cruising Excursions,a private company that gave us 3 tours for the price of their one. Their excursions may be a little shorter in time, but we were very pleased. Also the transfer costs charged by Holland America were very steep. e.g. They charged $16 each way for a transfer to Corfu, a distance we walked in less than 15 minutes. We also chose to do the same returning from Dubrovnik, about a 45 minute walk, but we got to see sights along the way. We shared a taxi with another couple to get there at a cost of $5 a couple.
Service: This was overall excellent. The staff work long hours, 7 days a week, and do a fantastic job. My cabin attendants Adet and Ari were exceptional. The cleaning staff were constantly cleaning the ship. The biggest downside with the service is that you couldn't iron your clothes, and there was no facility provided. If aren't allowed to have one in your room, facilities need to be there. Of course they offer laundry and ironing service, but at a cost. Sometimes you have to wear your clean clothes creased.
Value: Please watch out for all the extra charges we found very high. They are constantly taking your photo,(I'm sure if they charged a lot less they would sell a lot more, How about a free first up photo when you get on board?)I chose a bottle of "Sparkling Water"on the 1st night that I thought was free. It tasted like soda water and was awful. $3.75 to send a postcard from Italy to Australia,( a lot when your sending several, try posting off shore) I'm sure they must charge handling fees.