We spent a few nights in Rome before boarding, followed by staying overnight in the port at Hotel Traiano in Civitavecchia which worked out well as included a free shuttle transfer to the port. It was very easy to get to the port from Rome using train which cost only €5 each and the trains were very frequent. Easy even with luggage. Unfortunately there was no taxis at the port train station when we arrived so we had to walk quite a way to check into our hotel.
We arrived at the embarkation area at around 1130 and were on board the ship by about 1215. Embarkation was relatively efficient. We were able to go straight to our cabin. We had an inside cabin. It was comparable to an inside cabin we had previously. There was plenty of space under the beds for storage. Lots of wardrobe space. The only thing I would comment was there was no drawers just shelves for storage. There was a good quality hair dryer provided along with elemis toiletries including shower cap, a bar of soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. The whole cabin was incredibly clean. The cabin stewards were very impressive. Nightly towel animals were made. Dressing gowns were provided in the room. Beach towels for port usage were provided which were large and of a high quality. A Holland America tote bag was provided. Nightly chocolates were provided. Information on ports was provided in advance including maps and tips of what to do and see. Each day a daily activity leaflet was provided which was comprehensive.
The ship operated a "no touch" environment for the first 48 hours where the staff passed everything to you in the Lido. We thought this was a good idea to stop the spread of infection.
We thought the staff on board this ship were all very friendly and well trained and felt more at ease than on our previous cruise.
In terms of restaurants we at in both the Vista dining room for dinner and the Lido for breakfast and lunch. We also used room service.
The Lido was very good for breakfast. There was a lot of choices - a lot of American style breakfasts, along with Dutch and continental. The staff were friendly and after a few days remembered what you had previously ordered. For lunch there was an Asian section, Italian section, salads and hot section. Occasionally sushi was served which was average. My feedback on the salad would be that it was too heavily coated in dressing. There was also a Mexican food stand near the pool outside which served nice tacos and tortillas. There was also a burger bar which seemed popular.
We had open dining yet usually made reservations. I would recommend doing this in the dining room itself on the previous evening (you could book up to two days in advance). We tried to ring a few times but found the process was always quite hard work. We always managed to get a table for two. In terms of food it was normally a 4 course meal with bread. Tap water was available for free. My view on the wine was it was quite expensive for the quality. We often took cocktails in from the bar as we found these nicer than the wine or other options available in the dining room. We both enjoyed the food but found it wasn't quite as nice as the previous cruise we had been on. Very big portions. As we sat in a different table each night we experience quite a few different waiters. We did find there was quite a difference between wherever we sat in terms of service which was unexpected.
Room service was very good arriving within about 30-45 mins. The only feedback would be it always arrived on a gigantic tray which would have been ok in a suite room but was too large for our room it could barely fit through our door!
In terms of facilities. We used the pools and jacuzzis quite regularly. Apart from one really hot day at sea they were relatively quiet. We found the back sea view pool was often quite dirty and left a feedback form at reception part way through the cruise asking them to clean the pool but not sure if they did. When going underwater you could see tea bags and receipts. Both pools were always heated and very warm. The jacuzzis were of a good quality. My partner used the gym and said it was of good quality. We plated table tennis. We made use of the library. We picked up a ship newspaper on occasion from reception which were available in different languages and for different countries. There was a film shown in the queens lounge on most days and you could borrow DVDs for free from reception. We attended two shows with the noordam dancers and singers and I was actually very impressed with the quality of the production. We attended a couple of quizzes. We also attended a what to do in port talk by location guide that was very good because it didn't sell shore excursions instead was focused on useful information for people that didn't necessarily want to go on organised tours. We used a few different bars, service was sometimes slow but they never tried to sell to you too much. There were numerous shops on board but we didn't buy anything.
The ship had a lot of Americans, Canadians and Dutch people and smaller numbers of English, Spanish and Italian guests. We felt it was quite targeted towards the American guests more than other nationalities.
We were unable to go to Tunisia which was due to visa problems. This was really annoying for us as one of the reasons we picked this itinerary. An alternative port was arranged of Olbia in Sardinia. We were unable to go to Corsicia due to bad seas. The med was definitely rougher than we expected and some people suffered with sea sickness.
Overall we very much enjoyed our stay and for the price we paid at the last minute it was a real bargain. We would consider holland america again.