I have cruised on several cruise lines but never on HAL until this time. I must say I was disappointed in the quality of the experience.
First, I had heard and read that Holland America caters to an older crowd but PLEEAAAZZZEEEE! I have never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs and canes in my life. I am no spring chicken (50+) but we were definitely on the younger end of the age spectrum. I have nothing against seniors cruising and having a wonderful vacation, but clearly the line ignores the needs of any "younger" group as far as entertainment goes. The shows in the theatre were Lawrence Welk-y at best. There were a couple of attempts: the pub crawl one night attracted a younger crowd, and I did hear dance music on deck a couple of times. But overall the activities were a snooze and cut off very early, especially for those of us with late dinner seatings.
Good variety of entertainment included the guitarist up in the Crows' Nest who was very talented; the piano bar was fun, and the string quartet seemed very good although you could never get a seat in the area they were in to sit and listen. I also noticed the group that WAS there was NOT drinking; not good for the revenue end of things!
Cabin was very nice - appreciated the bathtub/shower. Our cabin stewards were great and very responsive to our requests and service was prompt and good. We were aft on deck 4 and our balcony was deeper than those above us or in the center portion of the ship which was nice and allowed for chairs with ottomans etc. Our port side cabin provided us excellent views of all ports coming in - a special surprise!
Food was inconsistent. Eating in the Pinnicle Grill one night was NOT WORTH the extra price. The same menu was offered on the second formal night in the dining room. If we had known that we obviously would have skipped the extra-pay restaurant. The ambiance was nice but the service was no better and quite impersonal, I thought. Our waiter and assistant waiter in the dining room were very good and became quite friendly as we went through the week.
We appreciated not having constant announcements for frivilous games or art auctions or etc. but there's a fine line between not bothering people and just not communicating. The cruise director was not visible except at the shows (which we stopped going to after the third one) and once or twice on deck by the pool. All in all the staff and officers were non-existent. The crew did not seem happy; they did not smile unless smiled at and were very quiet; don't know whether something was going on on this ship (the view of my travel companion) or whether its just a general decline in service.
I would not travel on HAL again until I'm at least 75!