I had many personal problems but I can differ between my individual problems and the general condition on the ship.
There was a t-shirt available:
DAM good ship DAM good crew DAM good food DAM good shows DAM good cruise DAM good vacation
I will be very proud in the future to wear this t-shirt when I am going on other cruise lines.
DAM good ship
I was "mission control" of totally four cabins 3 VA and 1 VF (handicapped).
Without the handicapped cruise-mates I would say: I love this ship. But I need to learn that due to the high numbers of non-automatic swinging doors it was a nightmare for wheelchair-guests.
Nevertheless I did not have the impression that it was crowd and even in the Crow's Nest it was never a problem to find a seat to relax.
I liked very much the promenade.
I liked very much the spacious theater.
I liked very much our cabin - what I did not like too much was the different standards of the cabin stewards. We had three teams for the four cabins and it was surprising that there was no supervisor to check that things were missing (like fruit basket, "Do not disturb"-signs etc.). Although we claimed that the a/c blowed too much dust in our cabin: we had black cell phones and all were full of dust after the first night. But none came. The only thing I did not like in our cabin was the swinging door to our veranda.
DAM good crew
yes - you always have idiots but with those we mostly had to do (our stewards in the restaurants) we must it varies very much:
We had few who gave us a service we need to pay extra on other ships.
We had few who were obviously there because of the inauguration of a new ship: NIEUW AMSTERDAM. Any time you have new ship in your fleet be sure that you get some weaker crew members as all the bests of the bests are on the new ship to make it running and on all other ships you experience somehow a weaker service as the number of unexperienced crew members are higher.
We were afraid that our parents could adopt their cabin stewards as they did so much for them that we really were afraid that they will take us out of their last will and put them in.
Very disappointing was the ship's management: Never experienced before that you have a reception and no friendly word or handshake came from Captain, Cruise Director or Hotel Manager. By the way he was not willing to talk to guests as he was to busy to manage a department of 700 crew members. But I did not want to talk about a missing towel animal but a wheelchair we ordered and paid and it came after 4times claiming at the front desk and 8 hours after embarkation. We should put our wheelchair-cruise-mate into a chair in the Lido Cafe and let him wait there until the delivery of the wheelchair.
But I am glad: normally I do not need to talk to a Hotel Manager if he understands his business and run the hotel department excellent.
DAM good food:
Disappointing in the Lido Cafe - everytime we came there was no grilled lobster etc. I heared by rumors of my parents who loved the Lido Cafe that it should be good but we do not like buffet-restaurants so we did not visited them too much.
It was angry: the embarkation started late because of the mis-management of the charter company who did not book the buses right on time so the guests from the previous cruises could debark. So when we came onboard: the Vista Main Dining Room was already closed before the first guest came on board. The Hotel Manager rufused to be flexible to the schedule of the ship with the success that 400 guests wanted to have a the same time their breakfast in the Vista Main Dining Room as all of us wanted to go for our tours which started soon. But he refused to open the restaurant earlier.
The food we got was outstanding and it will be very hard for me to go back to other lines after the food experience. The Pinnacle Grill experience was 100.1% perfection of food and service. And Canaletto was wonderful.
Only things I did not like: Biscuit and Gravy and Scottish Eggs Benedicts were somehow disappointing.
Wonderful: the Hors d'oeuvre before dinner.
DAM good shows
I do not need Blue Man Group or any artists on ropes. So I love musicals, I love classic rocks and I love movie themes. I was perfect there. Only the volume in the theater was somehow too loud. If you were not hear impared - now you were and fit perfectly to the guest structure of HAL.
DAM good cruise
Although I had so many personal problems it was a great experience on Holland America. So we booked now 14 nights on ZAANDAM in Asia in 2012. I want more of them.
I loved when they opened the bow in the morning to have the scenic entries into the fjords with a cup of hot chocolate and some pastries.
There were so many good things and the bad things became so unimportant and far far away.
You need to know:
what they do well they do perfectly well... what they do bad they do perfectly bad...
So that's why we had all the desasters on board - especially you try to make it more perfect by booking your gifts and you it becomes now a never-ending-story and running gag to keep me booking HAL. One reason why I book 2012 again: they have now about 1 1/2 years time to get me the t-shirt I ordered and paid for more than one year on different ships...
The selection of the ports was perfect: we went from one highlight to the next. From all highlights the weakest came first and the strongest came last. No shore excursion booked on board due to language request and as we had a wheelchair with us. But all places were breathtaking.
DAM good vacation:
after all: if you did not enjoy your vacation and take all problems too serious you are the idiot. There were so many good moments on board.