Never cruised with Holland America (HA) before so flying halfway around the world (from England) for a 4 week cruise a gamble but generally we were happy with the cruise. We would feed back direct to HA as they said they would send an email for feedback on our return home rather than give us a paper one as they want to reduce the amount of paper they use. This is clearly a joke as every day we had mail to our cabin with special spa offers, deals in the on board shops which all went straight into the bin.
The ship could do with some updating; some of the carpets on the stairways are very worn, some elevators did not work for the whole cruise; the sunbeds by the aft swimming pool all need replacement. Little things generally but gave a poor first impression. Everywhere very clean throughout the ship although we must say that when the bar staff remove empty glasses they should clean the tables - did not see this too often.
Staff very friendly; like most cruise lines mainly Philippines and Indonesians but generally seemed very happy in their work and very pleasant.
Shore time a little strange; when we were in bigger cities we had much less time on shore than when we were in smaller places with less to do. We realise that it probably costs HA more to dock in a big harbour than a small one but we had less time in Auckland and Wellington (NZ) than we felt reasonable especially as we had relatively short distances to travel for the next days port.
Excursions and alcoholic drinks on HA seemed to be more expensive than other cruise lines we have used and some of the shore excursions were frankly almost robbery. A lot of the beers on the bar price lists were not stocked even when we left Sydney where presumably huge amounts of provisions were loaded. We were told they run out of Australian beers because there were so many Australians on board..... wow lots of Australians on board a ship where the cruise starts and finishes in Australia... what a surprise!! Surely which ever idiot orders provisions would realise this especially when the Ozzie beers sold were so much better than the American beers on offer.
As ever (like other cruise ships) the coffee in the buffet and restaurant was weak and virtually tasteless but surprise... if you pay extra and go to the café on deck 10 you can get a much better coffee. Surely decent coffee should be included in the price?
On board entertainment probably the best of any cruise we have been on with a number of entertainers flown in for a couple of days or so to do their acts. The in house entertainment staff much like other cruises; sequins and average.
We would cruise with HA again and would recommend them over Princess cruises.
Last comment really applies to (nearly) all cruises. When I stay in a hotel I never find a surcharge to my room to pay the people who work in the kitchen, laundry etc but HA add a nightly fee which they say 'forms an important part of the staff remuneration'. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place and not advertise the price of a cruise then add a nightly charge to pay their staff. It would never be tolerated in a hotel so why do people tolerate it on a cruise? The people in the kitchens, laundry etc probably work no harder than a hotel. I am not saying they don't work hard or don't deserve a decent wage but...
PAY YOUR STAFF A DECENT WAGE AND STOP THE NIGHTLY SURCHARGES.