I can honestly say that of all the cruises we have taken this cruise is one of the two worst cruises we have taken and we will never again sail on Holland America.
The activities were minimal and not at all interesting - napkin folding, picture frames and sail boats in origami classes, to name a few of the hohum activities. On the two occasions they offered WII bowling, there were so many people who showed up we each had very few turns. The movies they showed were very old. Lizabeth, the activities director, has a staff of 7 yet they couldn't come up with anything interesting - kept on blaming Seattle. Every day Lizabeth went on the loudspeaker bragging about the "exciting activities in store" - raving about bingo, slot tournaments, port information - saying these were just highlights of the many things to do. I wanted to ask her how she could say that with a straight face. Lew, the authority on the ports spoke in such a monotone and was so boring that the first lecture I went to I fell asleep.
We crossed the Equator. Exciting event for first time Equator crossing passengers, right? Well, HAL didn't think so. We all gathered and saw a ridiculous display of a few crew members being chastised and then covered with foam and thrown in the pool. Woo hoo, how exciting!!!! Not. We were not acknowledged - not even with a champagne. toast. They didn't even have the crossing the Equator tee shirts which they had in a window. They were going to get then after we disembarked. Makes as much sense as the rest of the cruise.
People who returned to the ship from Lima, Peru brought the Norovirus and we were operating under the virus condition for 2 weeks. Most of the crew told us the usual was 3 days and they were surprised it lasted so long as less than 1% were stricken.
We had no air conditioning in our cabin and after numerous attempts to fix it they finally gave us a fan.
Our friends next door had plumbing problems with the toilet overflowing on the last day. What a horrible stinking and disgusting mess that was. Our friends reported flushing problems daily and each time they were told that was the first they heard of it. The plumbers were trying to clear the toilet lines at around 1:30 to 2:00 am on at least 3 occasions. Since we were next door you can imagine the unsettling experience of being awakened in the middle of the night to the sounds of roto rooters, so loud that the cabin shook.
People are allowed to smoke in their cabins and we had a cigar smoker near us. My husband was badly affected by the cigar fumes and had a sinus infection for 3 weeks.
They charge $2 daily for a refrigerator so if you have to refrigerate medication you need to put it in the medical department.
There are no trays in the buffet area. No water carafes in the room.
The perks for Mariners are so minor that they didn't even bother offering them. This cruise was treated as two 15 day cruises when it was convenient for HAL, and as one cruise when it was convenient for HAL. We should have received Shareholders credit for two cruises but HAL treated the cruise as one even though this was two separate 15 day cruises.
The ports were, by and large, mostly poor Mexican and South American ports with not much to see. The ship's excursions were expensive and not good at all. For instance, an 11:30 am Catamaran open bar sailing around the bay excursion turned into a 9:00 am excursion fully packed with people in life jackets sitting shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. Very unpleasant and very uncomfortable. The reason for the overcrowding was the vendor wanted to fill the 11:30 excursion with another cruise ship in port so instead of HAL having two excursions everyone was crowded into one. By the way, people were notified by a note in the cabin the night before when they didn't have an opportunity to cancel since the excursion desk was already closed.