This is our 6th cruise and 1st on Holland America. We are usually NCL cruisers. This is a great ship. Much smaller than some of the others and very well kept. The cabins are large and spacious compared to others. The food is just fantastic. Light years ahead of any other ship we have been on. Even in the buffet deck (Lido), it is always fresh and great tasting with lots of variety. The food in the main dining room was comparable to any restaurant. The food in Le Cirque was world class.
As far as value for money, it is also the best ship we have been on. Drinks are a very fair price, comparable to any bar on shore and they even let you take your own wine on board. The waiters do add an automatic tip of 15% to drinks which I am fine with and they don't bug you to give more. It has always bothered me on the other ships that they add 18% and then also expect "additional" tip. There is also a $12 per person per day automatic tipping on the rooms, which I think is fair for adults More
but personally, I think it is ridiculous for kids. $45+ a day in automatic tipping for a family is just too much. Usually I would complain and have the kids tips removed but I won at the casino, so I left it on.
The itinerary was great, apart from Grand Turk. We wanted to just wonder about but there is nothing to see there. So best you book an activity on that island.
Crew are very friendly and extremely patient, which you will understand why that was necessary when you read the next paragraph.
Now the bad news, and I suggest you skip this paragraph if you are older and easily offended. This is only my opinion. This ship appears to be targeted at the 60+ age group. Very few younger or even middle aged parents, few kids and very few activities for them. We are in our early 40s and have 2 kids and I have to admit that a lot of the time you feel like you are visiting grandma at the assisted living facility. The dining room looked like the early bird specials at Olive Garden. Some activities, like high tea and even early dinners were just downright depressing for us. Every elevator ride was with sweet old ladies that had to make idle chit chat with the kids. My wife and I went to the Spa hot pool / thermal suites, which costs $40 a person but I just could not bring myself to get in that water with the other occupants... I won't elaborate.
We were with other friends on the boat, so it was not too bad but for younger families or couples traveling alone, you would be hard pressed to find others your age to socialize with.
It really was a shame that it was such and old crowd because apart from that, it was great. However, for us personally, having now done NCL, Carnival (yuck!), Royal Carribean and Holland America... I would have to go with NCL in future and maybe come back to Holland American in 15-20 years. Less
Upper Promenade deck. Great rooms with large bathroom and spa bath. We booked the mini suite balcony and also the interior room directly across the passage for our kids. It worked out about $400 more for 2 rooms, rather than squeezing into 1 and was well worth it.