We are back home, unfortunately, so thought I would write up a small review while things were fresh on my mind. I have been on at least a dozen cruises all over the world, and this was my 3rd time on Holland America.
We booked this cruise back in February and decided on this ship and itinerary mainly for the price, and itinerary. My best friend was turning 50 and we wanted to share it with her. This cruise was her pick. It probably would not have been mine. We visited Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao. I would have to say that Half Moon was my favorite stop.
We stayed at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper one night pre-cruise and it has become very shabby. They were very friendly, the room was fine, but best part is that it is right on the beach and EASY to get to the port. We left the hotel about 11:30 to ride to the port and check in was absolutely painless. We were on the ship within minutes. REALLY. There wasn't one single minute of a wait.
We purchased a great upgrade about 2 weeks before sailing to a SS suite. The room was the best space I have ever had. Some people warned me about staying under the Lido Bar area... we did not hear anything all week. The room is a fantastic room if you can get it at a good price. I would not pay more for a bigger room. They are almost identical to the other suites. Because I couldn't find much information about a SS Suite, I will make most of my review about the room. The closet space is amazing!!! There are 3 different closets. One held shelves and a safe. Below the safe there was a short hanging area. The other two closest were both hanging areas and there were also drop-down shelves if you wanted less long hanging room and more shelves. VERY cool! We packed 2 LARGE suitcases and 2 large, rolling garment bags. All of these were able to fit under the bed with no problem. There were also 2 large drawers under the foot of the bed. They made for excellent dirty clothes storage. There were 2 desk areas. One was under the window looking out to the balcony with an arm chair. No mirror at this desk though. There was a flat screen TV (I saw these in all rooms as we walked by) and a DVD player. People told me that SS suites did not get the free DVD benefit, but this is wrong... we were left a note saying that we had complimentary DVD check out any time we wanted. We did not use the benefit. The TV swiveled so that you could view it from the bed or the couch.
The bathroom was awesome! I wish we could afford this level of room all the time for this aspect alone. We left the "over the door storage thingy" at home and we had more than enough storage space. There are 2 medicine cabinets... 2 sinks...and a shelf that ran the whole length under the sinks... a full size tub and a small shower stall. The tub is a jetted tub, but we did not use this feature so can't comment on how it worked.
The negative thing about the room, and I find this on every ship, is the lighting. It is horrible. There is adequate light for reading in bed. You have to have all the lights on if you want to accomplish this. There is NO decent lighting at either desk. You have to put make-up on in the bathroom if you want to see anything. The desk with the mirror and the light is not good enough for anything except for, maybe, writing a letter. Who does this?
The balcony... WONDERFUL!!! That is the only thing I can say about it. We were traveling with our good friends, so we opened up the partitions and it was such a great space. We held happy hour in our cabin every night. We had two chairs and two ottomans... very comfortable for reading. We also had a dining table with 2 chairs. Like I said before, I wish we could afford this size of room every time for the bathroom and the balcony alone.
Sail-Away... I had read that many people had problems getting room service for sail away parties. We didn't have an issue at all. We ordered cheese and crackers for every person that was coming and also many wine glasses, buckets of ice, and all were delivered. They did a great job with this. We brought a case of wine on board and it was a great thing that HAL allows people to do this. We could have had hard liquor in the box also, they never even looked inside.
Now for the negative...
I do not want to offend anyone here, but choose to add this for information purposes alone. This was BY FAR the oldest clientele that I have ever cruises with. This would not be the best cruise line to pick if you are looking for a younger crowd. My husband is 52 and I am 39 and we definitely felt like the youngsters of the cruise. I have never in my life seen so much complaining on a cruise. We had a VERY fun table with lots of laughing and we were motioned several times by some old folks behind us to keep it down. We were NOT rowdy. Very very odd. The night club was empty each night. The piano bar, though, was terrific! I have NEVER seen so many scooters and wheel chairs. There was actually scooter parking in the dining room. Also, I have never seen so many older (OLD) people that are so incredible rude to the lido staff. Wanting them to wait on them hand and foot and yelling over others to get some help. One gentleman was airlifted in Half Moon Cay and my husband thought that with the looks of most of the cruisers, that they should have a helicopter standing by for many more. There was also an ambulance taking 2 older people off the ship once we docked in Fort Lauderdale. Many of the passengers were friendly, but most that we encountered were very rude, and demanding, and complained about almost everything.
The decor of the ship... Not that this matters to most, or to me for the most part, but this ship is TACKY! Some say it is classic looking but I just don't see it. The outside of the ship is a beauty. Very classic lines and beautiful. I LOVE the look of Holland ships. For me, this ends as soon as you walk in the door. Everything is purple and dark pink and teal. I don't know how to describe it but it all looks like the bought all the colors of vinyl that never sold. But, with that said, there are a few nice public spaces. I think the library is one of the best at sea. I like the honor system of Celebrity better. It is a pain to find someone to "check out" a book, but it still is a great space. The coffee bar is a nice touch to the library as well. BUT, be warned that it is still a syrup system. There is no REAL espresso machine. OK coffee, but I was disappointed that they don't have the real espresso machine.
Any Time Dining... We were supposed to have fixed late dining and we were moved the first night to the AYW dining floor but kept our same table, same time, and same wait staff. There was a group sailing and they messed up, but made right down stairs. This still has an impact because everything is so crazy down there. Everyone is eating at different times and coming and going and.... well... it just isn't the same. I only talked to one couple who like this dining and only because when they sail with HAL they like that they won't be seated with an ALL older table. Most people I ran into, hated this dining arrangement.
Food... Everyone is SOOOO different, so I will just say, for us, it was just OK. Desserts bad... but that was great for me.
All and all it was a good cruise. The thing that made it special for us were our friends that we traveled with, and our fantastic Cruise Critic group. We had happy hour every night and the people we met on the Roll Call, that came to happy hour every night, really made this cruise for us.
For us, I think we are done with Holland America. At least for now. No big complaints really... just isn't our age group just yet. I think we will stick to Royal Caribbean or Celebrity for now.