Holland America reinstated this itinerary after a lapse of some 3-4 years, which I was very pleased to see as I had always wanted to do this itinerary, On the whole, I enjoyed the cruise, but nothing in life is perfect, and unfortunately, there were some issues with this cruise.
1. Code Red,
This went into effect during the last days of the prior cruise, as apparently a particularly nasty form of the Noro virus got on board. HAL's staff and crew generally went to great lengths to provide as much of a germ free ship as possible. Crew with hand sanitizers were stationed at the entrance to the Lido deck, the Pinnacle Grill and the main dining room (standard procedure). Additionally, people with hand sanitizer were stationed in the atrium, a main thoroughfare on the upper promenade deck, to catch passengers as they went by. There was restricted access to the library books: you could look, but not touch. If you wanted a particular book, you had to sign up for it on a list, and a staff member would pull the book for you. There was a schedule posted of the times during the day when the books would be pulled. Elevator walls were washed down at night, and I believe I saw cabin stewards washing down the cabin doors as well. Wipes were provided in the computer area for those using the public computers to access the internet to wipe down the keyboards and mouse (also standard procedure). Self service, normally suspended for the first two days of a cruise, was suspended for the first half of the cruise. What I found surprising., however, was that absolutely no precautions were being taken in the casino. There were no wipes provided for wiping down the slot machines, nor was there anyone with hand sanitizer at the entrances to the casino. I spoke to the Front Desk about this, and was told by the lady working there that someone would check. She asked me for my cabin number. I was never contacted. (I also stayed out of the casino until the code red was lifted, approximately half way through the cruise, and even after it was lifted made fewer visits than I normally would.)
2. Le Cirque
Holland America presented its version of this famous restaurant once during the cruise, using the Pinnacle Grill. There is an extra $39.00 charge for this. I decided to treat myself, and unfortunately, was very disappointed. The choices were limited and fairly bland. I would have been better off, spending less money and going to the Pinnacle Grill.
This was my 20th cruise with Holland America, and I enjoyed it; however, I do see some changes in the cruise line that are not for the better. There was a time when a complaint such as the one I registered about the lack of precautions in the casino would have produced two results: something would have been done in the casino and I would have been called back. Neither one of those occurred. When I returned home, I expressed my concerns about this in a letter to Holland America. Again, I am still waiting for a response.
I haven't given up on HAL. I enjoy their itineraries, and they have a fantastic staff. I will do a 21st cruise with them.