If our experience is any indication, everything you've heard about the service on Holland America is 100% true. The staff of this ship was constantly pleasant, punctual and perfectionist. Management must be doing something very right to have such a dedicated, loyal workforce.
We are major foodies, so this was a major factor in our decision. Word has it that aside from the Luxury class ships, this is about as good as it gets. We were quite satisfied. Not blown away, but again, we have high standards, and pride ourselves on knowing all the best hidden gems in our locale, so to say we were happy is a solid recommendation for most.
The main dining room provides excellent options for pretty much every meal, all beautifully presented and served with an authentic smile.
Lido's buffet options were relatively impressive, and their nearly all-day access was great for an anytime snack.
The only premium dining area we visited was Tamarind, and it was exquisite. They served an exciting blend of what seemed to be a blend of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese style cuisine that went above and beyond our expectations.
The pizza stand, open on the back deck until half past midnight, was -- well, it wasn't amazing, but midnight pizza is great in any form as far as I'm concerned.
Being our first cruise, I'm not sure the level of quality I should expect for shipboard entertainment, but overall this was probably our least favorite part of the cruise. We enjoyed attending the events for the sake of novelty, but the talent level just didn't seem to befit our excellent experience. I do realize, however, that much of this may be a subjective call. We were much younger than most on the cruise (28 vs primarily a boomer/retiree audience) so it's possible we just weren't the target for these shows. In exception were the smaller "game show" events in the Lounge, which were pretty funny at times, and the on-going commentary from the Cruise Director "JT" - his sense of humor was welcomed and enjoyed throughout the trip, and seemed very accessible to any audience.
My laptop battery is dying as I write this, so I will attempt to come back and finish another time. LOVED this trip though -- definitely recommended!!!