This was our very first cruise so perhaps our expectations were not aligned with reality. Read my review and you decide.
The embarkation process was smooth and fast. We got on-board just after noon. We visited our room and since our luggage had not yet arrived, we went for lunch. The lunch was great! The room (inside cabin right above the "showroom at sea") was clean except the bathroom smelled of urine.
Our cabin attendant was always very friendly and the room was always clean.
We purchased the 5 bottle Navigator Wine Package since the Head Wine Stewards presentation led us to understand that we could draw from this package anywhere on board except the lido deck (buffet deck) and any bottle not consumed before the end of the cruise could be taken with us.
We quickly found out that asking for a glass of wine from our already purchased package at any of the bars was a huge deal. The waiters were reluctant to take the time to walk to the main dining room deck as they had other customer to serve with in the bar. If the wine steward had told us this from the start, we would have decided for a smaller wine package - but that would have reduced Holland America's sales.
We ate at the Pinnacle Grill on our first night. The food, and service were absolutely flawless
The first port of call was half-moon cay. The beach was perfect, the lunch was acceptable, and we really enjoyed the day.
In Grand Cayman, our second tender port, we purchased an excursion - Swimming with Stingrays. We had a great time. We returned to the ship for a late lunch on the Lido deck.. The food at the buffet was always good.
Cozumel Mexico was our 3rd port of call. This was where we were excited cross off an item on our "Bucket list" - visiting some Mayan ruins. We purchased an 8 hour excursion that was advertised as a morning in Tulum, a traditional Mexican lunch, and an afternoon at the beach. What they failed to disclose was that there was over 5.5 hours on a ferry or a bus. The total duration of the tour of Tulum was 45 minutes! Even speed walking, we were only able to skim thru half of the ruins. Lunch and beach took another were acceptable (for under 2 hours). We spent $250 dollars on an excursion, and we ran over Mayan ground but we cannot cross it off of our bucket list. This terrible disappointment could have been avoided if Holland America had been honest and transparent about this excursion - but this would reduced Holland America's sales.
Our cabin was located above the showroom at sea. During the evenings, the noise from the show was quite loud in the room. We accepted this inconvenience without complaint as we had selected a low cost cabin, the shows ended at a reasonable time, and we were never in our room during the shows. On our second from the last night, noise from the Showroom at Sea woke my wife and I from a deep sleep - it was past midnight. I got dressed and made my way to the source of the noise. Dave, the cruise director, was leading a practice of the Xmas show. I complained about the noise and was told "Very sorry! We are practicing and it should be over in about 30 minutes." I was shocked by this answer. Please consider the statement carefully. If a passenger went into the ship's captains bedroom and woke him from a deep sleep by practicing the trumpet and gave him the same excuse - would the Captain find the excuse acceptable and wait patiently till the practice was finished. If I went outside of your cabin to practice, and gave you that excuse, would you find it acceptable?? Upon my return to my cabin, I called guest services and they gave me the same excuse...they offered no solutions or appeasements only "wait - it should be over soon". Why would Holland America "CHOOSE" to practice at 12:30 am and then tell complaining passengers to just live with it till it stops. The Showroom at sea is empty most late morning and afternoons!
Our final port of call was Key West Florida. At this port we purchased a hop-on hop-off trolley tour. It was acceptable.
Holland America on board entrainment was good. The featured show was Recycled Percussion of America's got talent fame third runner-up on this show. The most fun was with Greg and the piano bar. Greg was probably the best piano entertainer we have seen.
Disembarkation was long and boring. The final insult on this cruise was the destruction of one of our suitcases. Went we put the bags outside our room in the evening, all of the bags were fine. When we collected our bags on the dock, all of the bags had been gone thru (our valuables were in a carry-on we kept with us) and the metal handle on one bag was ripped out.
Our first cruise was soured by issues totally under the control of Holland America. A little honestly, transparency, care, and attention to its guests could have made this cruise fabulous. Our next cruise will not be on Holland America.