Took my first cruise ever and it was aboard the MS Eurodam. I was part of the National Review group so part of the cruise was attending seminars/sessions, as well as dining with guest speakers, night owl sessions, informal gatherings in the Crow's Nest and so on. I found that National Review part very informative, as well as the fact of being able to socialize with the speakers a real plus(Mark Steyn was fantastic).
I reserved a oceanview with private verandah and was very impressed. The bed was comfortable and for me, being a big person, the cabin had plenty of room. The TV carried Fox News, always a plus in my book.
Dining? A mixed bag in my opinion. The main dining room offered prime rib the first night and it was excellent. Most of the diners raved about it. It was a disappointment that it was not offered again the rest of the cruise. I found the service to be very good and they were always right there when you needed something. The food was good, but the portions on a lot of the nights was very small. Again I attribute that to being a big person and just used to having bigger portions. The lido was hit and miss. I thought breakfast was good for the most part but they do need to do a better job with the eggs. Scrambled in my opinion means well done, NOT runny. The last night of the cruise they had duck a la orange on the buffet and that was quite good. One big complaint though? The coffee. Needs significant improvement in my opinion and that was echoed by many of my fellow cruisers.
It does seem things close up very early on the ship. Usually by midnight everything was closing. I know Holland America caters to an older crowd so that could be the reason, but I was surprised to see things close up so early. One night they were pulling down the curtains on the buffet at around 9:30. Rather early for a cruise ship in my opinion but maybe that is the norm for HAL.
The spa was very good in my opinion. I reserved an aroma stone massage and enjoyed it very much. I remarked to the therapist to "just wake me up when we arrive at Half Moon Cay." Which was another 24 hours away at the time ;
I enjoyed their private island, Half Moon Cay a lot. Reserved a cabana and took some fellow National Review guests with me. Really had a good time. A minor complaint: When they brought the snacks and drinks they brought no diet coke. Promised me they would return with some but never showed up again. It's not a big complaint, just more annoying than anything. If you request diet coke then you should expect them to bring it. Not returning again with it was probably the most bothersome part about it.
Overall I had a good time for my first cruise. Would I cruise with HAL again? Possibly. I am trying out a couple of other cruise lines to see which is the best one and I think whoever I select will be the one I stick with, I don't like to jump around much. So overall this cruise? I would say a B+