We are not what i call seasoned cruisers but we know what we like, we have been on 7 cruises, 4 with Royal Caribbean, 1 with NCL, and now 2 with Holland America.
Firstly, embarkation in Rio was very chaotic, with the previous cruisers coming off of the ship all sitting on the steps where the taxis drop you off. The previous cruisers refused to budge, so we had to overhead our 50lb suitcases up the stairs we no clear direction of where to go once we got there, no HA staff or porters in sight, after aimlessly walking for about 5 to 10 minutes we found some porters. When we got inside the cruise terminal (with no air conditioning)we lined up to finish the process, we had a very inexperienced girl check us in, where they take our passport and your Brazilian landing card (don't chuck those it'll cost you $200). They keep your passport for the duration of the cruise, which we were kinda nervous about but was no problem.
You can't serve yourself food for the first 48hrs which caused some long line-ups, but not too bad, food was standard cruise-fare, not as much selection as RCI or NCL but tasty enough. Dining staff were very good, they remembered our names after just one service. We never ate at the Pinnacle. Coffee was atrocious, but you could buy the tasty stuff at a kiosk downstairs.
Now the entertainment was a double edged sword. The guitar player at Mix was excellent, as was the piano bar guy. The nightly shows were good but there was no real variety, out of 16 nights there was just 1 night that wasn't a musical of some kind. So while the shows were good they got tedious. there was the usual Broadway type musicals, there was Pianist who played twice that wasn't really our thing, neither was Fabio Zini the guitarist, Andy Bunger was good he showed so much enthusiasm playing his 7 or 8 different instruments. Ezker Emperanza was a magician in our only not musical night, he was cheesy but a welcome respite from the constant musicals. They showed Evita in the theatre on one of the Buenos Aires nights, that was massacred by a blown speaker in the culinary institute, unbearable to sit through 2 hours of scratching. Carlos Mendoza the Entertainment director was OK but sickeningly over-enthusiastic, that made everything he said sound ungenuine.
The ship was stood up quite well, nothing looking too worn, the staff do an excellent job of keeping it up, the layout was a little frustrating on the 7th floor with the dining room being cut-off from the rest of the floor having to go down or up to get to it.
We had excellent weather for every port except the Falkland Islands which had to be skipped due to unfavorable conditions. We had the opportunity to book a penguin tour in Punta Arenas though which turned out to be marvelous. The Cape Horn was cold but was very cool to be at the end of the world, the ship gives you little certificates to say you made it there. The Amalie Glacier was pretty but if you had ever seen the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska, this one is tiny. Overall it was an ok experience, if you bring a book and can entertain yourself, unless you love musicals :)