I'd like to say something nice nicely, but if you care enough to read this, you should prefer the straight scoop.
The repositioning cruise departing Vancouver on September 7th was a real disappointment. I was traveling with 16 family members including the agents who accomplished the booking. Although we all have unique perceptions of the cruise experience, we all agree that the service and the entertainment were poor. An exception was the recent addition of singer / performer Clint Holmes (maybe there is hope of a turnaround). The food? It was ample, as usual, but average (at best).
It's hard to imagine that the passengers who are continuing have 27 days remaining as they journey towards Sydney, Australia. Mr. Holmes can only appear so many times. Maybe Holland America will take on some motivated new staff along the way, but this problem seems to be trickling down from the top. The captain was so poorly prepared to handle his simple public relations duties that he referred to San Francisco as the city that marks the border between Oregon and Washington.
For our family, this cruise offered us a chance to 'enjoy' a quick celebration of a 50th anniversary. We made the best of it, but it was a grin and bear it situation. As individuals and as a group we've cruised many times.
So let me finish by encouraging you to beware. This ship is an older ship, well maintained, but quaint and claustrophobic by modern standards. If you're looking for a first time experience, consider this ship for a short cruise of 3 to 7 nights. If you're at least a second timer, pass.
Hopefully Holland America has some better ships and better crews in service, but maybe you should read reviews on the rest of their ships before you plunk down any money.