My husband and I recently returned from a 10 day cruise aboard the Noordam, our first cruise with Holland America. Our cruise left from Ft. Lauderdale and visited St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. We were considering a similar cruise on Royal Caribbean and Princess but took this cruise because Holland America was offering a verandah suite guarantee for the cost of a regular outside cabin.
I have to say that Holland America delivered a wonderful 10 days for a very reasonable price. This ship is the size we prefer, around 85,000 tons with less than 2000 passengers. The new mega-liners are not appealing to us. The ship is in excellent condition and both the common areas and the cabins were spotless. We hardly ever saw our cabin stewards but our they took excellent care of the room throughout our voyage.
We enjoyed many of the lounges, the shops and the gym during our stay. The shows were consistently of high quality, as were the daily activities that were offered for passengers staying on board. We left the ship in each port and were sorry we missed some of them!
The food was the best we've had on any previous cruise. I cannot say anything negative about the quality of the food anywhere onboard. We had breakfast a couple of times in the main dining room, a few times at the Lido buffet, and also had room service deliver breakfast one day. Most of our lunches were at the buffet. We originally planned to have a couple of special dinners at the Pinnacle Grill but enjoyed the food in the main dining room so much that we never did. We were also very lucky to have wonderful table-mates. Our waiter, bus boy and wine steward were extremely efficient, professional and friendly, though we did occasionally have to wait a little while till the wine steward could get to us. Important note: you can bring wine, beer and bottled water on board for consumption in your cabin!
As with other cruise lines, the land tours are expensive and not as satisfying as some excursions you can arrange on your own with local tour companies or a private cab driver. We had a wonderful tour in St. Lucia with a local company called Cosol Tours. In Barbados, you can try Glory Tours. We had a wonderful private taxi driver named Emerson Clarke, whose name appeared in many reviews of Barbados.
We certainly will cruise with Holland America again. An excellent choice for an "older" crowd, of which we are members. Most of the people onboard were from 50-70 years old. There were some younger people and also a few families, but the majority of the passengers were in the age group mentioned. Holland America seems to do a great job with people with disabilities. There were many people in wheel chairs, scooters and using walkers.