We sailed on a back to back (7+7=14 days) cruise to the Caribbean with Holland America's Westerdam in March & April 2009. All in all it was a very pleasant ship and crew, and the food and entertainment and service were all up to spec. We rated the cruise a 8-9 on a scale of 10 in our evaluation, so we can recommend it to most anyone.
Would we sail again ? Probably not. Stay tuned for the 'why not' after you read our profile to determine if our comments could apply to you too. We are a married couple from the Netherlands, in our late 40's, have no children, do annual cruises in the Caribbean of between 10-14 days, enjoy the better class lines like HAL and Celebrity, and enjoy our cruises for the food, the variety of destinations, the relaxation during sea days.
We will not sail on a similar cruise with Holland America again, not because of anything disappointing with the ship or crew but rather with our fellow passengers. Two things in particular struck us this time around: 1) the abundance of children (even after Spring Break !) jumping in the stair cases, monopolizing the Lido pool, pushing elevator buttons, going on endless scavenger hunts, etc. Don't get me wrong: kids do kid stuff and indeed they should, but I am not sure I want to be part of it. But now that HAL seems to be aiming more for the business of families who obviously bring more kids, I am not sure that HAL continues to be my cruise line of choice. 2) part of the charm of a cruise (we think) is some dressing up for dinner. Nothing over the top, but a smoking an a formal night and lack of shorts during 'regular' night seems reasonable to ask. We were somewhat disappointed that a large minority of our fellow passengers decided otherwise. Obviously, this is entirely their privilege, but again, I am not sure I want to be part of that. If I can go through the trouble to bring a tuxedo all the way from Europe, than what is stopping the 'locals' ?
I think we learned from this experience that: 1) we have to even more try to avoid US holidays 2) shorter (7 day) cruises apparently attract more casual passengers 3) we prefer cruise lines that do not have kids programs or aim for families.
Again, we enjoyed our cruise for all the things that make a cruise worthwhile and have fond memories of the crew, the ship itself, the ports, etc, but will take a different cruise (line ?) next year.