Although we have enjoyed multiple cruises with the other mainstream lines, this was our first with Holland America.
Embarkation was interesting!!! As I passed through the electronic security screen, I set off the alarm. Before I could remove my watch, (which caused a similar reaction at the airport), I was hustled over to the side and groped in a most intrusive manner by a wannabe prison guard. The cruise lines need to do a better job of screening their “rent-a-cops.” The one I encountered certainly skipped more than a few of H.A.L.’s “Service Excellence” program classes. I wasn’t sure whether I was going on a cruise or being incarcerated.
Once on board things improved considerably. We found a most accommodating staff and crew who were always courteous and eager to help. Even chance encounters in the corridors were always greeted with a; “good day - how are you to-day?”
We ate all but one dinner in the dining room and were again especially pleased with the level of service. The quality of the food was pretty well standard cruise line fare. About on par with a mid-priced restaurant in Canada or the U.S. Our one venture into a H.A.L. specialty dining venue was to the Caneletto Italian themed restaurant. The meal was O.K. and we would probably go back if we sail with H.A.L. again, but it was nothing spectacular. Usually breakfast and lunch were eaten in the Lido Buffet. Again, a typical cruise line buffet, with a wide selection and decent quality. I tried several items from the poolside grill, (hot dogs, hamburgs, fries, etc.), but something about the flavor put me off, although many people seemed to be enjoying the various items offered.
The entertainment in the main theatre varied from excellent, to adequate. The comedian and the illusionist were excellent and their shows played to a full house. The B.B, King Blues Band’s talent and enthusiastic performance had many of us dancing in the aisles. The H.A.L. resident singers and dancers were O.K. However, these entertainers just did not seem able “connect” with me. I don’t know if it was the selection of musical numbers, or the presentation, but I wouldn’t pay to see these shows ashore.
Despite the comments by earlier reviewers, the A/C and the toilet in our stateroom functioned well. HOWEVER, we had three days of COLD showers before someone repaired the water mixing valve in our shower. Following the repairs(?), one had to be extremely precise when making any adjustments. It took very little movement of the temperature control valve handle to go from “ice cubes” to “steam”. The other disappointment was the broken desk chair in our stateroom. It was promptly removed, but we went without a chair for four days.
The public areas were all well maintained, with very little sign of wear and tear. My only complaint would be the temperature maintained in some of these rooms. For example, the Crows Nest on deck 10, with it’s panoramic view would have been a great place to spend an afternoon reading, or an evening enjoying a drink with friends. However, the temperature was set so low that I had to leave after 15 - 20 minutes.
Would we sail Holland America again? At his point the “jury is still out”.