Had our first HAL cruise on the Statendam in September. It was a disaster! Decided to try one more since it was the date and itinerary we wanted and my aunt loves the line (she's 85). At first brush, this was a far superior ship to the one we took to Alaska. While old, it was in good shape and seemed to be well maintained. The embarkation process was quick and efficient. We were on within 20 minutes of arriving at the dock. Room was larger than the Carnival ship we sailed to California on though it did not seem to have as much storage. As the trip progressed however, we found that the thermostat was non-functional. Room was hot at night and cooled off in early morning hours. The DVD player took three maintenance visits to fix and the room CREAKED. Honestly, any movement of the ship caused it to pop and groan like an old house. My wife woke up several nights convinced someone was in the room. We like an inside cabin because we sleep late and like the darkness. No sleeping here! At 6 AM every morning something started banging on the other side of the wall.
The food was good but not memorable. The dishes were sometimes not what was described on the menu (roasted potatoes instead of mashed, Israeli couscous in a Moroccan couscous salad, etc.). Coffee had grounds in it most nights. And forget getting a second cup.
Ordered a movie pack one night. Got the soft drinks and popcorn immediately. Three hours later called about the dvd and was informed the steward could not deliver it as our do not disturb sign was up. If it was, how did we get our snacks? Took 4 calls and 11 hours one the last night to get a bottle of Tequila that was taken from us after a shore excursion. That said, most of the staff were excellent. Entertainment was top notch. Just get to the showroom an hour before the show or you'll hear not see it.
The fitness area was just weird. There were plenty of exercise machines for this age group though all but two of the stationary bike were on permanent reserve for classes. The men's changing area had a door to the thermal spa area. Nice touch until a confused older lady wandered out of the spa area looking for coffee. Luckily, they provide robes as I was going from the changing room to the showers at the time. After repeatedly telling her this was the men's locker room, I gave up and sent her to the Lido buffet for coffee. A few days latter, I heard what appeared to be a female voice directing a new patron around. I had locked the changing room door because of the previous incident so she could not open it (though she tried) to show him the facilities. The lockers had a towel and robe in each and sometimes a pair of small shower clogs (2 out of 9 days).
Disembarkation was a mess but I'm sure that was due to the norovirus outbreak on board. On that, the Captain and crew did an outstanding job containing it. I truly cannot fault them in any way.
Holland America is a line designed for elderly passengers. Most were in there 70's and 80's. I'm sure they loved it (as does my aunt) and I'm sure in another 15 years or so, so will I. But at present, I'm only 64 and think I'll stick with the other options (Carnival and Princess come to mind).