Embarkation: smoothest one I've ever had. From the time I stepped into the cruise terminal until the time I was sitting poolside was about 20 minutes. And boarding was at 1pm, I was poolside around 12:30, so they let us on early. Things went downhill after this promising start.
Instead of leaving at 5pm, we left at 7pm in the pitch dark because of mysterious "engine testing". I have cruised a lot and several times during the cruise I felt weird things I had never felt before. A couple times it was like we had hit something and everything in the room shook for about 10 seconds. This wasn't like we hit a wave. It was like we hit something then there was a violent hard jerky motion back and forth. Like the ship suddenly reversed then went forward again.
Condition of room: large black scuff marks on 2 walls. Black grease stains on a pillow case that remained there the whole 10-day cruise. The shower was the worst: black mold/mildew on the grouting, tiles, bath mat, and shower liner. I realize it might cost a lot to redo the whole shower, but they can't afford a new $5 shower liner? If you are over 6 feet tall you won't be able to sit on the toilet the normal way as your knees bash into the bathtub. You will have to sit sideways on it. No idea if they plan to remedy this in the retrofit.
Speaking of the shower...it seemed to have a mind of it's own as far as the temperature goes. Hint to Holland America: since most of your cruisers are American you might want to put the temperature number in Fahrenheit so someone doesn't see "30" and think its 30F and then crank it up to 80c and scald themselves to death. Anyway I put it at 30c and it would changes constantly during my 5 minute shower. It would go from fine to freezing cold to scalding hot back to freezing cold etc. The sink water would also do this causing me to burn my hands once while washing them.
"The Statendam smell": To those who haven't heard of the legendary smell let me describe it to you in two words: raw sewage. This would mainly hit you outside. While walking around the teak deck of the lower promenade, exiting the diagonal glass doors by the forward elevators heading out to the sun deck, and especially during disembarkation on deck 5 when they opened the gangway doors. Such a putrid raw sewage smell filled that whole area. What a way to say goodbye to your "treasured guests"!
Speaking of guests I don't want to say there were a lot of old people on this cruise...but I felt like I spent 10 days in a retirement home. Scooters, electric wheelchairs, and walkers everywhere. I walked by an old guy at night with his head hanging back and his mouth wide open and I seriously thought he was dead. I was going to hold a mirror under his nose. Every night right before showtime in the Van Gogh Lounge I would hear the unmistakable "beep beep beep" of a trash truck backing up. Yep, it was a guy putting his scooter in reverse. One scooter stayed permanently parked by an elevator charging. The ship was dead by 9pm. Even 7pm was too late for some people. I would go to the 7pm shows and the Van Gogh Lounge would hardly have anybody in it. I felt bad for the performers. I'm used to the show lounges being full on ships and this one was never even half full. Even the cruise director would make jokes saying "So how many of you party animals went to the Crows Nest last night and hung out with DJ Matt?" then rolled her eyes as no one applauded.
Cabin Service: Several times, well the majority of the time, my cabin still wasn't made up by Noon. This is despite me having the "service needed" card in the door for hours.
Other service: I'm not sure if there is a problem with them understanding English, or just a drop in quality, but several times the Indonesian crew just ignored my requests. I went to a table in the Lido and it had no silverware. I got up and told the guy by the water station. he asked "Where you sit?" I pointed to where I was sitting (just 3 feet from him). I then saw him do NOTHING to get me silverware. He didn't tell anyone and didn't go get any. He just continued doing what he was doing. I had to go find someone else to assist me. This kind of thing happened more than is acceptable from a cruise line that prides itself on it's "5 star diamond service".
Food: Look, cruise ships buy food in bulk like hospitals or cafeterias. I like to call it "industrial food". It's not going to win any awards, but it's edible (most of it anyway).
Condition of ship: The escalator from deck 5 to deck 6 never worked the entire cruise. Fountain in the atrium worked only the first day I believe, and not even fully worked then. It sort of just dribbled from a couple spots, so we didn't get to see it in it's full glory as was intended.
Unexpected Problems: Well there were many on my shore excursions that you will read, but here's some others: We had a "Gastro-Intestinal illness" outbreak (Norovirus?) where the salad bar was closed, salt and pepper shakers were removed from tables, a lot of the passengers and crew were isolated to their rooms, and the Lido buffet restaurant became a non-buffet restaurant where you had to ask for everything from a spoon to a glass of water to packs of salt. So many of the crew were knocked out of commission that relatives of the crew started working in the lido and even other types of crew members who clearly weren't "restaurant ready".
A man knocked on my cabin door at 9am two days before arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale. He shouts thru the door "Maintenance!". I open it and he just says "Grouting". OK. I guess there's no need to go into details about what you need to do, how long it will take, etc. as I am a psychic and fully understand everything just from "Grouting!". This couldn't wait until I check out? So I wave him in and leave. I come back and he has wrecked my bathroom. Ceramic chips everywhere. I can't go barefoot until it is cleaned up. And of course this is a day I couldn't even get my room cleaned until 1pm - and that is after I had to complain to the front desk about it. The guy even thru one of my towels in the trash can. I told the front desk I don't want to be blamed for that!
I booked my cruise thru a well known cruise internet site. I was supposed to get a $25 onboard ship credit from Holland America. When I received my preliminary stateroom bill under the door the night before leaving it did not show this credit. I went to the front desk that night and they said they know nothing about this, even though I showed them the printed email I brought with me just in case something like this happened. It clearly said they were supposed to give me a $25 credit. The front desk clerk was rude and said "Time is of the essence and we need 24 hours time to do this but you have to straighten it out with that agency first, not us". I have to straighten it out with them??? I'm not the one disputing the credit, Holland America is. They should straighten it out. And how can I straighten it out? I am in the middle of the ocean. If I call them it will be more than $25 just for the long call. Needless to say I never got the credit and that's another strike against Holland America in the service department.