We arrived at the port at 11:00 and were able to enter immediately to have our wine checked and charged for one of them. We were boarded by 11:45 and made our way to our cabin to leave our carry on's and then to the dining room for lunch. When we returned from lunch all of our luggage was there so we were able to unpack everything before we went to the muster drill.
This cabin on our cruise was a VD Category. I believe this will become a VB category in May 2014. We loved this cabin because we had the double width balcony so we had plenty of room to stretch out. It was equipped with a lounger, 2 chairs, 1 ottoman and a small table. Being a lower deck, we had an excellent view of the mules working the Panama Canal and we could lean over the balcony railing to watch the changing water depth.
We received excellent service from our room stewards. They always seemed to know when we had vacated the room and we always came back to a clean fresh room. My request that we always have ice in the bucket was fulfilled 2x a day.
We had early dining (5:30) in the main dining room at our table for two. We were generally finished with our meal each evening by 6:30! We had wonderful service throughout the cruise and the food was always beautifully presented and tasted great. Our one bad dining experience was in the Pinnacle Grill. The service was sketchy, my filet was overcooked and we ended up leaving after waiting way too long for our coffee and dessert.
We enjoyed our ports of call. We had been to several of them before, but that was okay with us as you can never see enough in one day in port. The 2 that were new to us - Panama and Costa Rica - were absolutely fabulous. The Canal was very interesting as we entered into the locks at Gatun Lake and our tour to Panama City was instructional and entertaining. Costa Rica was so beautiful and we were able to spot lots of wildlife our our tour of the Tortuguero Canals and the Rainforest.
The condition of the ship was fine with us. I don't carry a magnifying glass to inspect the carpet or the furniture and everything seemed clean to us. Everywhere we went we were met with the smiling faces of the crew. Its what we love about being aboard a Holland America ship. We always feel welcomed and special.