We really liked this cruise. We had a cabin with a balcony and hardly used it. The weather was bad at times so it was often wet. There was salt all over the balcony. If we went out there, we tracked gritty salt back to the floor of our room. We had a balcony in Alaska without this problem because the sea is calm on the inside passage. The water is rougher across the sea and churns salt into the air. I'm not sure I'd book another balcony room.
The food was great in the Lido cafe. Wide range of foods for all meals and everything was delicious. The dining room had a poor selection of main entree food and we hardly ate there. Plus, the service was very slow. The traditional Thanksgiving Day meal was anything but. I wondered if the turkey came out of a can. There were no mashed potatoes and no yams. The sweet potatoes were pale in color and consisted of 2-3 small thin slices. I don't think the chefs understand that Thanksgiving Day is a pig out for Americans. The servings were tiny and it is the first time I ever had only a spoonful of dressing. I will have to make up for it at Christmas time. :)
Room service was great and food was hot. The Pinnacle Grill was absolutely the finest restaurant I've ever dined in. It will cost you $25 a person but it is worth it.
We are wine snobs from Hades so we brought a case of our own fine wines. Thanks to Holland for allowing us to do that. The corkage fee of $18 was acceptable to us and we gladly paid it. But please don't increase the fee.
A word about the coffee: I've been a coffee drinker since age 10. I could not drink the coffee on this ship. It gave me stomach ache. Waaaay, to strong for my taste buds. I even tried diluting it with hot water, It still gave me a stomach ache. I had to drink hot tea. I am just as fussy about my coffee as I am my wine. :)
The cocktails served at the bars were wonderful and refreshing. Great job, bartenders. :)
Our cabin beds were the best comfort you can get. As good as home. There was plenty of storage space for our clothes and we were quite comfortable there.
We found the ship to be uncrowded. We did not experience the lines talked about in other posts.
The ship is spotlessly clean. The staff works very hard at attacking germs and bacteria so that folks don't get sick.
We really liked the Crow's Nest and spent lots of time in the library. The Internet service is pricey but works well.
I bought a VIP pass to the hydro pool spa. It was great and I used it daily. When the sea was rough I would use the showers in the nearby lounge so that I didn't risk falling out of the bathtub in our cabin.
The shore excursions were good. We liked going to the volcanoes and walking the lave tube on the Big Island. In my opinion, Holland should add Kona as a port and drop Honolulu. Who wants to travel that distance to go to a crowded place like Los Angeles with a beach? I could hardly wait to get back on the ship.
Getting into see the 8:00 pm show was difficult. Finding a seat was next to impossible. Bingo was great fun. The photographers took great photos, pricey but worth it.
The shopping on the boat was better than on the shore. The have good deals on watches and jewelry. I found shopping on shore to consist of a lot of overpriced cheap stuff and I bought very little. However, in Hilo, just off the boat ramp are local artists who make jewelry and crafts. They had some nice things so you may want to buy from them. I did not see stuff like theirs anywhere else.
We purchased the unlimited laundry service for the cruise and did a load about every other day. This really cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to bring. I wish my laundry at home turned out as good as theirs. I don't know how they do it but their service is the greatest and well worth the $100.
The staff is friendly and happy. They were a joy and we really liked them. Very responsive to our needs and always available to help.
In other cruises we that we have taken, we have felt tipped to death. Besides the daily cabin charge and 15% drink tip they wanted extra tip money for everybody and everything. This cruise is NOT like that. We paid the daily room charge, drink tip (which is automatic) and that is it. However, we did leave some extra for our cabin guys because they worked so hard to make our trip delightful. It was our choice to do so and was not expected. Holland America does a good job this way. Of course, they have other pleasant ways to get you to part with your money. :)
I had to use the Infirmary once for a minor problem and the MD and nurses were fantastic. They are attentive, knowledgeable and polite. The prices there are comparable to home so be prepared to pay that kind of fee if you have to use it.
Embarkation was a breeze and well organized. Disembarkation less so. They need 5-6 staff members to manage the crowds, lines and bottle necks in disembarkation process.
Overall, I recommend this cruise and I will certainly travel with Holland America again. In fact, I am already shopping for my next cruise with them.