This was our 7th cruise overall and our 2nd on Holland America. Our first HAL cruise was the Mexican Riviera on the Oosterdam. We were so looking forward to returning to HAL but were sorely disappointed in this cruise.
First of all, the ship itself is decorated very dark and in shades of orange and brown...very 70's!!! The atrium is only 2 levels...not grand...and is decorated with what looks like an upside down iceberg with colored lightbulbs in it. Not an inviting atrium at all. The décor of this ship made it look like it was 20 years old instead of 5 or 6. There are many small bar areas along the port and starboard side corridors...most of which were usually empty. I suggest that these areas could have put to better use.
The stateroom was OK. We had a Verandah on the 8th level. We were supposed to be upgraded to a Signature Suite but due to a SNAFU with our Cruise Consultant, we didn't get it and HAL staff didn't really care. Guess they figured they had our money already!! I did like the fact it had a real bath tub, albeit small. The closet area is extremely dark and made it difficult to see what you were getting.
The food was HORRIBLE, in my opinion!! The menu choices were pathetic. Extremely disappointed in the food choices, presentation, and taste. The breakfasts in the dining room were OK, but lunch, dinner, and snacks were sadly lacking. The burgers at the "Dive In" were tasteless. Waaaaaay too much beef on the menu. They need to offer more seafood and chicken dishes. The desserts were extremely easy to pass up, including the ice cream bar as it was always a soupy consistency.
The staff was very attentive and pleasant. We gave our cabin steward a "tip" in the beginning of the cruise with a request to please refresh our ice bucket at least 3 Xs a day. He did, except for one day. We really enjoyed "Happy Hour" in The Crow's Nest. The internet charges are too much, but probably all cruise lines do that.
Also, be aware that if you are going to St. Thomas, HAL does NOT dock in town at the original dock. They dock 2 miles out of town and one must take a cab to town at a cost of about $28.00 RT for 2 people. The cab dropped us off in a residential area where we were immediately accosted by an agent for a Time Share/Vacation program...GRRRRRR Never did find the old downtown area.
We were so impressed with HAL after our 1st cruise with them but this cruise just didn't measure up. Thinking Cruise #8 will be back to Princess or maybe we'll try Royal Caribbean.