We were among the lucky few who were able to take the 2007 World Voyage on Holland America's Amsterdam. We embarked at Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 15. Embarkation was painless though lengthy. During the hour or so it took to board, the ship provided free juices and sodas and had seats at strategic locations for those who need to rest. We would recommend arriving about 2PM to board. By that time there is virtually no line.
Pre-embarkation was more trouble. Holland America did not do a good job with the details prior to leaving. Apparently they were installing new computer and phone systems. It took more than seven frustrating hours to pay for the cruise via phone and then our credit card was charged five times for the cost. It was also very frustrating trying to book excursions on line.. We ended up booking many excursions on our own with non-ship agencies.
Holland America sent no information on shot requirements or visa requirements until we called and asked 40 days prior to departure, just in time to complete the requirements. Some passengers could not embark with us because they had not been informed about the required visas. They flew to Easter Island to board about 14 days into the voyage.
Once on board the cruise was flawless. We had perfect weather for 102 of the 105 days. The dining room and cabin staffs were outstanding: patient, polite, and always smiling. Considering some of the picky passengers their behavior very notable. The training and HR departments of Holland America are commended for selecting and training such high quality personnel.
As is typical, meals were served in the formal dining room or in the Lido. Sandwich and pizza stations were open during the day at the covered pool. The food was superb. Lots of expensive dishes were served, veal, lamb chops, venison, etc. There was always a choice of 10 entrees and choices of appetizers, soups, and deserts.
There was entertainment every night. On a cruise this long, the entertainment was surprisingly varied and consistently high quality. Unusual entertainments include the playing of a 144 string hammered dulcimer, xylophones, banjos, theramin, and even Hawaiian music played on a bagpipe. You had to be there to understand!
Though we had the least expensive category of cabin, the cabin was spacious with a couch and four closets. Plenty of room for practical packers was available in the closets.
Sanitary standards were strict. Stewards stood at the entrances to the dining room with hand sanitizers for us to use prior to entering the dining room. In each public restroom, towelettes were to be used when opening the door when exiting. This was in addition to admonishments to wash hands. At the first indication of a virus, passengers were quarantined in their cabins for two or three days. They were reimbursed $150 a day for this. Consequently, there was no outbreak of viral illnesses.
We did get to see an exciting medical evacuation at sea, 200 miles off the coast of Australia. The critically ill passenger was taken to a hospital in Australia. After a lengthy recovery, she rejoined the ship.
With 65 sea days in a 105 day voyage, we got to know other passengers quite well. Almost all were easy to get along with, well educated, interested in the world about them and retired. Plenty of activities and lectures kept those who wanted stay busy occupied. The gym and spa were very well equipped. They were well used but never crowded.
If one wanted to sit and relax, plenty of spaces were available for that; the outdoor pool, the covered pool, the very large and well stocked library, the theater, and a number of lounges. Often walking through the ship, we wondered where everyone was. So many public spaces dispersed the passengers.
After a flawless on board experience we were welcomed back to the real world on April 30th with a two hour wait for a porter to get our baggage and shopping additions though customs and to transportation to the airport. It was an orderly process but verrrry long. This time there were no chairs or refreshments provided. That's another on shore irritant Holland America might be able to exert some influence over.
So, if you have the time and money, consider a world voyage. It was exciting, educational, relaxing, and never boring.