Even though the ship is older, the small size and quiet elegance made up for it for us. I heard complaints about it being too cold for many passengers. Our cabin 105 was directly above the Showroom at Sea (stage). In our closet it was like being in the showroom, so getting to sleep before 11:00 was not possible. The day rehearsals were not too bad, unless we were trying to nap, but 5 nights the new singers and dancers who boarded in Amsterdam were rehearsing from 12:30am to 2:30 am, which was unacceptable. It wasn't until the third complaint to the front desk that they stopped. The first time I complained we were told that there was nothing scheduled in the showroom. Did they think I was crazy?
Our other issue is with the cruise line's policy on smoking in the cabins and on balconies. Our neighbors were both smoking some really nasty cigars that made using the balcony impossible, unless I wanted to have an asthma attack. The smoke and smell permeated the air system and made our room almost unbearable at times. Not a good policy, in my opinion. Why pay for a verandah when you can't use it???
The entertainment was OK. We usually don't go to the production shows and most jugglers, ventriloquists and comedians are all the same. The real exception on this cruise was the Celtic Tenors. Outstanding!
Trivia was fun and good prizes. Arts and crafts are provided by the cruise line and hosted by a member of the cruise staff. Good crafts but for a 35 day cruise there were 4 choices, so many repeats. I still kind of like the independents who bring their own supplies on, more variety.
Shore excursions were pricy, but they didn't put a tremendous amount of pressure on you to buy and didn't make an issue of scaring independent travelers with the warning, if you don't make it back to the ship on time, we will leave you behind unless you are on a ship's tour!! In fact, they had a travel guide who gave us independents plenty of good info about the ports. His presentation style was a bit hard to handle after the first 10 minutes (he is not a public speaker), but was willing to get any info requested.
Food was fabulous and service was good, not outstanding though.
The lack of enrichment lectures and activities was most disappointing. There were so many interesting things to learn about in the Baltic and Arctic regions, it was a missed opportunity. Our last cruise on Holland was a themed cruise and had top notch speakers. I was surprised that there were none on this cruise. They have a lifestyist, which I am not completely sure what that is. The lectures given by the fellow on the first 21 day segment I didn't attend as I thought it was another spa come on, get a free treatment and end up buying $400. worth of products you didn't want because of the pressure. After he was gone, I heard that he was very knowledgeable. The lady who replaced him I heard was a waste of time.
Internet use on board is a very expensive waste of time and source of frustration, but the internet manager was very helpful and reinstated our minutes when the problem was extreme. The cost, slow service and frustration caused us to do our internet business in ports. There were times that I felt as though the ship was just an expensive way from getting from on internet sight in this port to the next internet sight in the next port!!!
All in all, the ports were great, the ship very nice, food fantastic and we will sail will Holland America again, but hope that they change their smoking policy to exclude smoking in rooms and on verandahs and attend to customer problems the first time they are presented. No one likes to feel as though they are constant complainers. The first request should be enough.