This my 89th cruise and my 8th Holland America cruise. Departure was Sunday, March 27, 2011. Parking at port of Tampa garage was 98 dollars for 7 nights. Valet parking at the pier was 115 plus tip so not like the other review here. Party of 3 friends in 2 cabins: C318 and C320. These category C rooms are supposedly the highest of regular outside cabins on board but they are misrepresented! I don't care what Holland America says but any room on the Lower Promenade deck on the Ryndam and her 3 sisters has an obstructed view! Passengers are constantly walking around the deck, some try to look in even though the glass is tinted. They are noisy when people are walking by your room. We had to keep the curtains tightly drawn most of the time , even at night, as they don't turn off the fluorescent lights on the lower promenade deck outside. Our cabin (320) had a problem with the air conditioning (could not get cool enough for us) and they tried to fix it twice. By the last day it finally got under 76 degrees in our room. I always bring a power strip and portable fans or we would have really been over-heated in our room. That was really the only negative aspect of an otherwise perfect cruise. Incredible weather, no rain, smooth seas, unobtrusive polite service from the entire staff we encountered and better than average cuisine in both the Lido buffet and the Rembrandt Dining Room.
We choose anytime dining but wound up at 730 every night (with a reservation) at table 304 on the main floor. Our waiter and assistant were delightful. One member of our party is disabled and they did everything possible to make his meals a delight (including cutting up all his food). As 2 star Mariner repeaters we took advantage of the sit-down lunch on embarkation day even though our cabins were ready for occupancy when we boarded at 12:30 PM. We also had a delightful time at the Mariners lunch in the main dining room on the last day of the cruise. We never felt the need to eat at the Pinnacle a la carte room as the regular food was very good most of the time. We also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails at the sports themed bar next door to the casino every evening and had the same server all the time.
We have all been to these ports ( Key West, Belize City, Mahogany Bay (Roatan), and Playa Maya) many times so no shore excursions were purchased. We walked Duval street in Key West and got some sundries at the Walgreens as we docked at the Mallory Pier at the end of US 1. In Belize you must tender so we just did the tourist village at the pier and took advantage of the American -owned pharmacy there for low price Generic meds and no prescription needed! In Roatan we did the new tourist village at the pier and rode the chair lift out to the private beach and enjoyed a cocktail at the bar there. In Playa Maya we , again, just toured the tourist shops at the port and sat at the beachfront and watched the Dolphin encounter option for over an hour.
There were mostly seniors on board which is typical for Holland America. They take care of us so well! There were also a few young couples and families with children on spring break but I must say all the children we saw or encountered were very well-behaved ( not like on Carnival or Royal Caribbean where they run all over the ship and disturb everyone).
Disembarkation upon our return to Tampa was painless. After a leisurely breakfast in the dining room we went back to our cabins and waited for the ship to be cleared and then got off easily . Our luggage was all there and a porter took us out to the curb through an expedited customs line. I left my companions with the luggage, claimed the car and we were out of the port and on the road home by 9:05 am!
We will definitely do Holland America again in the near future and recommend it to those more mature passengers who also enjoy a very calm relaxing trip with a staff that appreciates us. BTW, the daily program of events had more than enough selections to keep you busy if you enjoy that type of vacation as well. We met "Mama Lou" who has over 8000 days on Holland America cruises and she was a true delight! Obviously, they are doing something right!