Having heard generally good reports about Holland America, we set off anticipating something that bit special, but sadly the reality did not measure up to what we had hoped for. The positives were that the crew were quite excellent and the food was as good as we've experienced on any ship. The negatives were:
Firstly what we felt to be a "tired" ship and ineed Veendam is heading for (much needed)refurbishment, although being apparently just 10 days in dock, it can't be much more than painting and decorating! Our stateroom also had a fridge on the floor as the built in fridge was broken. This remained on the floor for the whole trip and whilst we did receive compensation (after quite a bit of pushing), this really was not good enough and certainly not good enough for what was frankly an expensive cruise.
Secondly: the entertainment. We were told that the company's policy has been switched from "quantity to quality", where the reality was cost cutting. Floor shows with two dancers and four singers do not add up to quality shows and as another American passenger said to us: they'd seen better shows at high school events! Guest entertainers were relatively few and of mixed quality. The exception was the string quartet who were excellent.
Thirdly: on board activities, which by comparison with our experience on P&O were minimal and generally very disappointing. No guest speakers at all.
Wine and drinks prices: frankly outrageous and certainly truely outrageous given the qulity of most of the wines. Labels and varieties generally on sale for $8 to $10 were offered at 3 to 4 times those prices. You generall expect a 100% mark up: double to three times that is just not good enough. Interestingly too, the only crew members not up to scratch were some of those we encountered behind the bars. Not all, but certainly some.
Shore excursions:As with drinks, outrageously expensive
Overall: interestingly we spoke to several Holland America 'old hands' and many expressed the view that this was not up to their previous experiences. We were left with the feeling that Carnival are squeezing for more profit and we will certainly not cruise with Holland America again.