BACKGROUND- My husband and I have been on seven cruises in the last eight years. The last four have been on Holland America, usually in Deluxe Veranda Suites. After sailing on three other cruise lines, we preferred Holland. This last cruise was spur of the moment and we were not able to upgrade.
EMBARKATION - This was overall good. Hotel arrangements and transfers went smoothly, despite arrival in a downpour and Spring Break.
DINING - Holland has new Open Seating Dining, which we did not like. The servers seem a bit disorganized and diners really do not get to know the wait staff. Comments from some of our waiters revealed that they are not pleased with the new plan. When we arrived on board at about 1:30 PM, the Lido was low on food and we had to wait for the salad bar to be replenished. The food, overall, was not as good as we have had in the past. Spa - Prices have increased since our last cruise and the spa did not seem as busy. We usually make use of some of the services but only had a minimal special on this cruise.
CABIN- Our cabin was clean and well-kept by our cabin steward. We definitely prefer the Deluxe Veranda Suites, however.
ITINERARY- This was the greatest disappointment of all. Grand Turk is barren and depressing. The Cruise Center is nice with good shopping and Margaritaville pool and beach. However, we were hoping to visit some of the more developed areas that are pictured in the brochures. This destination was obviously created only to benefit the Carnival lines, which includes Holland. We were also very disappointed with our shore excursions on Tortola and St. Maarten. They were a total waste of time and money.
DISEMBARKATION - Something must be done about the transfers back to the airport. The bus takes you back to the airport, unloads your luggage, dumps the passengers out and leaves before luggage has been retrieved by the people on the bus. One of our suitcases was not taken out of the bus and we had a terrible time tracing it. There were no Holland reps in the airport so a Carnival representative found that it was returned on the bus to the Cruise Terminal. Meanwhile, we waited an hour and a half for it to be brought to the airport. The Carnival rep was very helpful but Holland needs to make sure that their transfer service is more attentive to luggage and passengers. OVERALL- We had a less than perfect trip but will try Holland again in September.