This was our 16th cruise but first time on a Holland America cruise. We tried it because we were able to get a great price on a verandah stateroom. This was one of our best cruises we have ever taken. Not only was the service and food excellent throughout the ship, but we sometimes felt like we were the only ones on the ship. There were plenty of quiet spaces. We never had trouble finding deck chairs or a space in the hot tub or pool. That made the cruise very enjoyable and relaxing.
We rented a cabana in the retreat for the week and it was one of the best decisions we could have made. It became our special spot for the week and we made sure we were there everyday around 3:30 for champagne and chocolate strawberries. We would enjoy the shade of the cabana itself or lie out on the open deck on one of the comfortable lounge chairs.
Our stateroom was well designed with a shower tub combination that kept the floor in the bathroom dry. There were drawers under the bed for storage. The closets had plenty of space to hand up our clothes. There was even a DVD player in our verandah. The beds had flexible reading lights on each side. Our stateroom was on the Navigation deck in the aft and was in a good location to easily get to the upper decks.
The singer and dancers in the Main Stage were excellent and delivered three outstanding shows. Also good was an acrobatic show and a juggler routine. We were not impressed with the comedian that they had on our cruise though. Overall there were fewer entertainment activities than we have had on some of our cruises. We would probably have like to see more live entertainment around the pools during the day and more activities in the late evening.
Our only negative about the ship is the design of the buffet. During peak times it became very crowded and it was sometimes difficult to find a table. But on the plus side, the buffet did offer many freshly made options including made to order omelets and made to order toasted sandwiches.
The service was excellent throughout the ship, with the staff always smiling and acknowledging the passengers. Holland America is definitely changing for the better and we plan on cruising with them in the future.