My wife and I have planned our cruise to Alaska for several years. Originally it was a Double Denali! Well our checkbook convinced us to look at a more conservative plan.
The food? Well, it was better than Golden Corral. The ship? The emblems indicated the ship was either christened or re-furbed in 2000. It's time for another re-furb. Our room had a sewer smell, the stairway landings had fluid leaks (source unidentified) and there was an abundance of rust on the exterior edges surrounding the ship. Overall the condition of the ship would indicate 10+ years of heavy usage. The furniture and carpets showed lots of wear. The linens wear heavily worn.
I know that expectations can be easily dashed and ours were. We had visions of plush, decadence. A common mans chance at feeling like a king. Instead of the experience of grandeur we experienced an RV experience of a low degree. Another issue was an inconsistent method of communicating with the passengers. One the disembarking instructions for the port of call were announced via ships PA then others they only gave you instructions in the nightly flyers outside your room. Then the cruise director managed to make me feel like a nuisance when I asked what was going on with the tenders in Sitka.
Now let me tell you the good: The crew made us feel as if we had known each other for years. The dining room manage greeted us and escorted us to our table every meal. I felt that he genuinely took an interest in our well being. The wait staff while totally under staffed spoke and treated us with respect and courtesy. They never slacked off. Our room steward made sure our room was straightened every day and asked about the condition of my wife who was sea-sick most of the voyage. The small things helped overshadow the others. As I asked they provided a fresh bucket of ice every day at 4:00 PM. I was ecstatic over the towel creatures ( I know simple things for simple ... you know). We did our research and felt for our style Holland America was the best choice. We wanted a smaller ship, fewer children and our hope was that the food would be outstanding. The first two we got.
The ports of call were great. We found that we would have rather had more time on shore to explore Alaska vs the stinky old ship. So, we have come to the conclusion we are not "Cruise People".
On a more positive note: I recommend using Captain Jack and the Scania for a better than you can imagine whale watching in Juneau. Thank you Captain Jack. It was beyond our expectations.