Overall it was a good cruise. Below are both Pros and Cons to this experience. This is our 9th cruise; the first one on Holland America
Others: Royal Caribbean; Princess; Celebrity and Costa.
Pros Excellent food Excellent Entertainment Wide variety of shore excursions Appropriately priced excursions Verandah on deck 7: tub -- giving a generous shower area Hair dryer provided in the stateroom Verandah furniture: 2 chairs; one generous ottoman VERY COMFORTABLE BED There is a movable drape to provide a darkened room and eliminate hallway lights from seeping throught the peep hole or the area surrounding the door. Low-key onboard sales. There was not the constant push to buy, buy, buy. We appreciated that. Low-key onboard photos as well. Onboard technology training -- nicely done!
Hydrotherapy Pool -- Pay an extra fee and you have access to this wonderful pool (mineral water -- no chlorine) -- also private access to steam, sauna and heated recliners. This is worth it! We chose this over an excursion on Half-moon Cay. Very wise choice for us.
Cons Room steward: did not provide standard fruit bowl until requested by us. The ship was somewhat rocky -- one of the first times I needed meds for motion sickness. This was actually the smallest ship we have sailed on the Caribbean. Open seating for dinner: the staff did not seem prepared; long wait the first 2 or 3 nights Seems like the level of staff/service was reduced/compromised Unable to adjust the height of the "cocktail" table in the stateroom; steward promised to have it repaired. Never repaired during our cruise; nor did we believe it would be Needed to request Breakfast in-room dining cards from steward after we returned from late dining. It should be in the room.
This was a holiday cruise -- very little was done for the actual holiday. Yes, there were decorations. Very nice. There was a "tree lighting" in the atrium -- rather small tree, but adequate. What was missing: something special. We have been spoiled by Royal Caribbean that offerred midnight buffets, singing (we did have singing in the Atrium on the Zuiderdam); on RC we had received a full set of RC luggage -- rolling carryon and a snack pack -- on HAL we received a canvas tote; it lacked pageantry. This is the what people seek on holiday cruises. They are charged a premium and should receive a premium. This ship seemed very understaffed, but the staff was polite and generally patient.
Inadequate communication: there was a fabulous dessert buffet -- no one knew about it! Therefore it was poorly attended.
Finally: Many of the permanent furniture and fixtures are showing wear. HAL needs to consider updating -- SOON.