This was our (DH and I) first cruise, but it will certainly not be our last!
Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. It probably took us 15 minutes to check-in and get to our stateroom. It probably took only another 15 minutes during disembarkation from leaving our stateroom to getting through customs, getting our luggage and getting into our taxi. We were at our early flight with lots of time to spare. Our taxi driver said they really have gotten streamlined recently.
Food was okay, not great in my opinion (but I have pretty high standards). Considering the number of people they're cooking for, I was satisfied with the quality - and a few things were very good. Portion sizes were small, which I preferred so I had room for all the courses. The guys at our table were ordering double appetizers and double entrees, and the servers were happy to bring them. DH and I did not get a chance to try the Pinnacle Grill. Casual dining food was good, I just don't personally care for buffets. Coffee was also not very good in my opinion. I ordered the free cappuccino in the dining room whenever I was able.
Entertainment was very good. Two nights of song/dance, one night of a classical pianist (which we skipped), and one night of a magician. There were often movies with free popcorn. We were on this cruise with a medical conference so we were in classes when we would have been able to enjoy the culinary center and/or other onboard activities, so I can't comment any more about those aspects of the cruise. Also, DH and I have no kids, so no review on Club HAL or the Loft.
Our stateroom was very adequate, and larger than we had expected. It was a little cramped around the bathroom/closet area while getting ready in the morning or at night, but I can't imagine them being able to reasonably make it any bigger - and it was certainly manageable. There was more than enough space for unpacking in the bathroom and nightstands. There was limited drawer space, but ample closet space. We were very impressed with what was on TV - there were movies, sports, news and I think I saw some cartoons while I was channel surfing. We also brought some DVDs in a CD case for the in-room DVD player. Room service was very good, as well.
Shore excursions were very good. We had an incident leaving Sitka. The anchor motor broke so we were delayed in leaving by about 30 minutes, and then dragged 36,000 pounds of anchor for about an additional 2 hours. This put us into Ketchikan late, missing our excursion. We were automatically reimbursed for the tour we had been scheduled for, and rebooked something else by ourselves. No problems.
DH and I were most impressed with the exceptional service. The crew is wonderful!!!! I cannot say enough about them.
Overall, with the exception of food (B-) I would give Holland America Lines an A. DH and I definitely look forward to cruising with them again.