This was a breeze. We'd spent the night at a local hotel that provided us with transportation to the port. We were there by 11 AM and walked in, were given a number and our health sheets to fill in. After a very short wait, (and not many other people there) we were allowed to finish process (carry on x-rayed, get ship's card, etc.) and board.
Comfortable, but I didn't feel that I made best use of the space. RC ships seem to have more and convenient cubbyholes for small items. My sister felt that they needed new mattresses and linens, but in our room, we were fine. Since we were in an outside, we didn't have a refrigerator this time, but didn't miss it. We think we sleep better with our bed perpendicular to the windows rather than parallel to the windows and doors as in suites. All in all, we were very pleased.
We ate in the main dining room about half the time. The food was excellent and we had good service. Our problem was that we had early dining (which we prefer) but kept getting back from excursions so late, that lunch wasn't done until close to 2 PM and we just weren't hungry at 5:45.
We ate one lunch and one dinner at the Pinnacle - dinner was fantastic! The truffles they serve after dinner should be for sale somewhere. Also had a dinner at Canaletto, which was done well.
The Lido for breakfast every day and some lunches there, others at the Grill by the pool. Hamburgers there tasted good, but were too messy after adding condiments. They served bratwurst as well as hot dogs. Soft serve ice cream was only available in early afternoon. Missed the self-serve soft serve that is available on RC.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
I am told that the entertainment was good. I heard lots of good things. I even bought the CD of one of the performers. But I spent every night until close in the Piano Bar listening to the best "piano man" (Mark Farris) I have ever heard. I am told that with the refurbishing in April, the Piano Bar will change. I hope it won't be too drastic.
There were lots of activities. Our group did a little of just about everything - cooking, trivia, port talks, dance classes, crafts, health talks. All were enjoyable. I was sorry that I had to miss some, but I had a conflict - shore excursion, lunch at Pinnacle, etc.
Glad the art auctions are gone!
FITNESS AND RECREATION
We bought the thermal suite package and my husband thinks it is well worth it and on all future cruises, wants to make sure we get one of the limited number of passes. He worked out in the gym everyday and took the tai chi classes which he loved.
Slow during peak hours, but if you were up at 5 AM, it was fast enough.
The dining room service was great. Out service in the Piano Bar was great. Our room stewards were wonderful! But around the pool, it seemed they were very quick to take away plates (you had to stop them if you weren't finished) but weren't as attentive/available if you wanted to get a drink. Perhaps they have been warned not to be overbearing or pushy. I wish they'd wandered around a bit more.
We were never hounded to have photos taken this trip. That was VERY nice! We did buy some, but didn't feel that they needed everyone to pose at every port.
There were problems with the printer and only a few photos were available until the last sea day when the machine was repaired and a mass of photos appeared! Not their fault but they should have posted a sign to let us know why the pictures weren't being posted.
Best time we've ever had a Half Moon Cay - took snorkeling excursion - highly recommend.
Tortola - went to Virgin Gorda and the Baths Might be the best excursion of the trip.
St. Barts, Martinique, Grenada - saw the island, checked those blocks. No need to return.
Barbados, ABC islands - enchanting as always. Need to do more snorkeling at ABC's.
Smooth! We used the direct ship service and once we placed our suitcases outside of our cabin, we didn't need to touch them again until we returned home. Easy transfer to the airport, although because of the way the service works, we were there for 4 hours before our flight out.
We love Holland America's smaller ships. We have sailed the Maasdam twice, the Ryndam, the Veendam, and have two more future cruises booked on Maasdam and Ryndam. I hope they can keep the smaller ships going!
I made contacts with some fellow passengers through CC message board Roll Call. This was the first time I'd done that. It made a world of difference just knowing some names before we went aboard. Spent many happy hours with some of the folks we met through CC Roll Call.
This was the friendliest cruise we've ever been on - crew, passengers, everyone was just great. We heard others also remark about the congeniality of this cruise.
It will be a hard cruise to top. But we are happily giving Holland America the chance to attempt just that!