This was our 14th cruise and first and probably last on Holland America. We have been on 12 Princess Cruises and one Royal Caribbean. This cruise ended up being the most boring of any of the past cruises we have taken. We were very fortunate that this cruise was port intensive since we felt that there were very few activities on the ship otherwise. I have never seen so many people reading and just sitting and relaxing. I am in my late 50's and was one of the youngest passengers on the ship. The ships dancers and singers were some of the best we have seen, but we did not care for the other entertainment. The night the pianist played many people walked out of the Main Stage and the magician was very predictable. The cruise director was great it's a shame there isn't more for him to do. We had a SS category room with 389sg.feet with large bathroom and guest room and a great balcony. However the shower leaked water on the floor unless you were very careful and the tub would never drain completely. Our room steward was excellent. The food in the main dining room was average at best and portion sizes were quite small. The beef was probably the best, but seemed to get tougher as the cruise went on. The deserts were good, but also very small. The service was good. The Lido was quite good. They seemed to have the same food every day, but did have a huge selection. Even free ice cream which I love. The grill by the pool served great hamburgers and turkey burgers. The pizza by the back pool was also pretty tasty. Room service was not as I expected. It would arrive on time, but cold food was warm and hot or warm food was cold.
The pools are nice, but with only 2 I would expect will become very crowded when in the Caribbean with a full number of passengers. The mid ships pool also has an area for private cabanas for a price when they really need the whole area for lounge chairs for everyone. There is also the RETREAT upstairs looking down on the pool, so there will be quite a few passengers laying in the sun quite a distance from any pool. The Casino even though nice is the one of the smallest I have seen on any ship. We were fortunate to be the first cruise to make all our ports. We were a day in front the storm Kyle, so our port days were usually sunny and time at sea very calm. For the most part we really enjoyed all the ports with the exception of Saguenay where we felt there was very little to see. Quebec City was quite nice, but our City Tour used the cities buses which I felt was really poor for a cruise line that is rated as high as Holland America. Royal Caribbean even used tour buses. This made it very difficult to hear our tour guide on the bus as he was competing with the buses engine.
Embarkation and disembarkation were great; fast and easy. We took Via Rail from Quebec to Montreal and had a great train trip. The seats were very comfortable and we were able to see great fall foliage.
To sum up. I felt the service on this ship was outstanding. Our room was very comfortable and was a great place to relax and unwind after being in port. The reason I prefer Princess is the mix of passengers ages, the activities seem to less sedate and the ships are larger. I guess I like ships over 100,000 tons better. The public rooms are larger, the dining rooms smaller and there are more pools for the number of passengers.