Let me start by saying that this was our tenth cruise on Holland America since the 1980's. The first was on the S.S.Rotterdam, the Grand Dame of the line. We have experienced a series of changes on the line that have not been for the better since the turn of the millennium. Now to this cruise:
Embarkation - We arrived at noon and were on the ship relatively quickly.The terminal staff were very good and expedited our boarding without difficulty.
We boarded to find that the cabins would be available at 1:30 so we made our way to the Lido and proceeded to a light lunch followed by a self tour of the ship. Of course we were dragging our hand luggage with us. We decided to "sneak" up to our cabin. There we found our steward who let us put leave our two bags in the cabin.
Stateroom - We had gotten a veranda guarantee and were updated to category VA on deck 7 forward. The layout was nice except it has no drawer space. Everything lays out on shelves in the closets. Well, there are a couple of tiny drawers in the night stands. My wife's big peeve is that the desk where she puts on her makeup & does her hair has no drawers. All her stuff had to sit on the desktop. The veranda furnishings were two different chairs, a tiny table & a footstool. It was not a comfortable layout for room-service on the veranda.
Dining Staff - We had 8:00PM dining. The waiter and the assistant were good, not great. Service was very slow, to the point that we missed the four times.Wed had to finally skip dessert and coffee to make the 10PM shows. The staff is too thin for the number of people they have to serve.
The last night in the dining room reninded me of the Carnival Cruises. The staff was parading, banging salad bowls, waving napkins, and tossing vegetables. This is not what one expects of Holland America. I am not an old fuddy duddy but if I wanted the antics of the large mass market cruise lines I would have gone on a different cruise line.
Food - The food in the Lido was very good. Not as much can be said for the dining room. I had ordered medium-rare steaks. They were so thin that they were medium to medium- well by the they were served. One meal my wife ordered veal and it came raw. The last meal we had surf & turf. The lobster was excellent the beef was just so-so.
Pools - The main pool and spas very nice. The chaises are padded and there are plenty of towels. However, they need supervision out there. This was a week where the kids were out of school and they ran the place. The aft adult pool area was a nice area except the chaises were not padded and the soot fom the stacks blew around.
Entertainment - We did not get to see much as noted above. We did see Joel Mason who was pretty good. The side venues such as the Adagio Strings were very good.