We have cruised Holland America Line (HAL) on both the Ryndam (May 2013) and Statendam (June 2012) which are very nice ships with only 1260 passengers. A nice main dining room with very good four-coarse meals, well served, not rushed with two formal nights per week that are not at all 'stuffy' (the jacket doesn't need to be black and a tie is not obligatory, however some males did go 'the full Monty' with DJ's, with some ladies dressed for a Prom). The Italian 'Canaletto' restaurant had a fee attached which was not applicable on the Statendam in 2012 (cruise to Alaska) ...a minor disappointment.
We had an inside Main Deck cabin (698) at the very rear of the Ryndam that suffered from noise and vibration when docking ...again disappointing; last year (2012) we were on the same deck level (inside) but about ten cabins further forward and did not experience any noise or vibration ...maybe it's just a problem with the Ryndam? All on-board facilities are very good, the entertainment in the main theatre on the Ryndam was slightly better than the Statendam but otherwise both were good but not as good as the slightly larger (2200 passenger) NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) ships we have cruised with; also, NCL does not have formal dining nights.
We only paid for cruise excursions in St. Petersburg - the expense of a Visa and the uncertainty of language and travelling around in Russia prompted this decision - the evening Hermitage trip is the best way to see it - the only problem was that HAL gave us conflicting advise of how to pay for taking photographs; yes there is a separate charge, either US$ and Rubles. HAL could have resolved this by adding the photographic fee as a supplemental option to the excursion price or just have it added to our on-board account because, apparently, the fee we paid to the guides and signed for, is paid back to HAL. Therefore, the Rubles I bought in Tallinn was unnecessary and surprisingly confused the guide when collecting the money, as did the Euro that most people only had; the guide, apparently, was expecting to be paid in dollars ...Euro was accepted in Russian gift shops but it's probably best to use Credit card.
HAL should get this sorted out as most people on board were NOT American and therefore do not have the odd $5 loose-change to pay for taking pictures. However, for this cruise you will need Euro in Germany, Estonia and Finland, and Swedish Krona, Danish Krone and, of course, GB Pound (£) in the UK. All in all the Holland America Baltic Cruise is a great cruise and a little exhausting if you take full advantage of the time in port. Also, see our Port and Cabin surveys