Embarkation was a breeze; arrived at terminal before 11:30 a.m. and was on board by noon. The cabin was available by 1:00 p.m. We had an ocean view cabin on deck 1. It was clean, comfortable and well maintained. The only problem (toilet failed to flush one morning) was taken care of promptly. Being on the lower deck does have some drawbacks when it comes to accessing the public areas. We got a lot of exercise going up and down stairs. This is something to consider, especially if you have mobility problems.
This was our seventh cruise (fifth on Holland America), but our first Hawaiian cruise so we were a bit unsure about open ocean travel and sea conditions to be encountered. However, the seas were relatively mild except for the second day out and the ship was quite stable even on that rough and windy day; no significant problems and no seasickness. The first couple of days were cool, but the temperature warmed nicely as we got farther south toward Hawaii.
This was the oldest cruise clientele that we've ever encountered. We heard that the average age was 70. There were more walkers, wheelchairs and scooters on this cruise than any we've been on. We saw a grand total of two young children. If you want a quiet cruise, this is the one. Being at the younger end of the senior citizen spectrum, we still found this one to our liking, in spite of the slow traffic flow caused by the effects of age.
The ship was reasonably well maintained and the staff was friendly and helpful. Entertainment was good; we enjoyed Marty Brill (comedian), Dr. Justin Miller (guitar musician), Annie Francis (Australian singer) and Maske (Australian string trio).
Dining in the Rotterdam Dining Room was excellent and the wait staff did a great job. The Pinnacle Grill was superb, and worth the $20 cover-charge. The Canaletto Restaurant was not great; we'd highly recommend the Rotterdam Dining Room over the Canaletto. The Lido tended to get a bit crowded at times, but the food was very good and the layout worked reasonably well. The Lido coffee was not as good as the dining room coffee. We used room service very little, but it was timely and very good when we did use it. The ship still allows smoking in some bar and casino areas. So if you hate cigarette and cigar smoke as much as we do, be forewarned.
The gym was often crowded and some machines needed maintenance and repair. Two of the seven treadmills were out of service. Also a couple of the other machines were out of service. This area is obviously not a high revenue producer and could use more attention. The jogging track on deck 10 often proved a better option than the treadmills.
The ports were Hilo, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, and Lahaina (Ensenada was a quick 3-hour mandatory stop on the return trip). We took tours in Hilo and Honolulu. The Pele volcano tour in Hilo was very good and the Pearl Harbor tour in Honolulu was excellent. We rented a car on Kauai and drove to see Waimea Canyon and visited a coffee plantation. Renting a car on Kauai was a good way to go. On Maui we rented a private limousine and had a good personalized tour. Personal favorites were Kauai and Maui.
This 14-day cruise had 9 sea days. If you go stir crazy on sea days this may not be the cruise for you. If you like leisurely days at sea, this is a great way to go. The ship had enough daily activities planned to break the monotony. The library was very nice as was the Explorations Cafe area. We could always get a great coffee drink and grab a book or magazine to read.
Overall this was an excellent cruise on a great ship with a fine staff. We'd definitely consider doing it again if the price was right.