First a little background. this is the eight cruise my wife and I have been on, 4th with Holland America. Unlike in the past this was a family get together cruise. We are in our 50's and were joined by my parents, children, brother and all the kids ranging from 2-6.
As we live in Florida embarkation was easy and in typical HAL tradition extremely smooth. We arrived at the port around 10:30a, parked the car and were sitting in the dining room enjoying lunch before noon. By 2p we were dropping our carry on in our cabin and setting out to explore the ship. As we,ve cruised before I know what to expect from a cabin and these were probably a little above average. Ample storage room and a bathroom with both a shower and tub made it more than adequate. One recommendation would be that they put a light over the closet. Constantly had to feel my way around. Cabin steward introduced himself, asked what we needed and proceeded to do an exceptional job all week.
Let's address the positives first: Food-I've never been disappointed in the food on Holland America and this was no exception. Taste, variety and presentation were beyond reproach.Whether it be the Lido, Dining Room or Specialty Restaurants dining was a pleasure and wonderful experience. Had read past reviews that complained about the service but I saw none of that. The HAL staff remained attentive and always served with a smile. Still wonder how they are always so happy considering the routine and hours they work.
Ship- Clean and spotless. From cabins to public rooms one could feel at home in any. Ports- were fine but ports are not a major issue with us. We cruise for the sailing experience and look at the stops as just a diversion. Must say that Half Moon remains the nicest Private Island that we have seen among the cruise lines we have been on. Not sure I want to use the word negative but areas that can be improved.
Activities- Holland is striving to create a younger image and they have a ways to go to accomplish that. This was Thanksgiving week and if any week would call for it this one begged for more activities for a younger audience. While I may not always participate I do enjoy watching the activities around the pool and here there were few.Also,Shane the Cruise director seemed to be a one man show. He was the entire social staff and might of been able to do more if he had help.
Entertainment- New theatre is beautiful and chairs very comfy, yet schedule is made for those at early seating and they seem to roll in the sidewalk after 10p. We always take late seating and enjoy dropping by one of the bars for a drink before dinner planning to go to the late show which traditionally has begun around 10:30p. On Eurodam the schedule is 7p and 9p. Do not understand why the show cannot be scheduled after late seating. Other than the casino there was nothing planned. On other HAL ship the Crows Nest had a live band that played late. On Eurodam it had a piano player and a very small crowd.
Here is the one thing that had us angry and annoyed. We had checked both the literature and the web site and both stated that babysitting would be available. Remember, this was Thanksgiving week and they should have anticipated the need. It was next to impossible to get one. We found out that sitters are available on a volunteer basis and not guaranteed. This alone has convinced me that Holland america will never be a family cruise line. This is the consistency I speak of. You always get what you expect with HAL. A traditional cruise with great food on a lovely ship. There is nothing wrong with that. For my wife and I that may be what we seek at times. A relaxing trip where we can get away from it all. HAL is great when it comes to that, just not for those who are young or simply young at heart.