This was our first cruise with Holland America and we would go with them again. Since I am a positive person I will start with the good which falls into two categories. The entertainment falls into Bad and the plumbing was downright Ugly.
Service - We have cruised many times before and have never experienced the level of service we received in both the dining room and the buffet. Our waiters, Edi and Andres, on the 3rd floor Vista were excellent. We ordered kosher and vegetarian which led to a lot of extra work on their part which they did graciously and efficiently. In the buffet we were fortunate to meet a waiter Ametz who always insisted on getting us our food and bringing it to us with coffee. One day I got a phone call that I needed to take while in the buffet and Ametz happened to be standing there and he watched our things so I could go out on deck and take the call. The buffet is actually a mix of served from the counter and self-serve food which I thought worked very well. We loved the poached egg counter in the morning and especially Tessa whose smile and greeting warmed our day. The room steward, Koko was fabulous - we joked that two more weeks and he finally would have had us organized.
Itinerary - We enjoyed all the ports though weren't particularly impressed with Aruba. In Curacao we went to the Synagogue which was very interesting since we happened to be there on the Sabbath. The highlight was the Panama Canal day. I highly recommend getting up early and going out on the bow to witness the approach and the transit through the locks. We then took the excursion that transferred us to a ferry to go through the locks to the Pacific. There were logistical issues including a bus breakdown but I highly recommend that excursion to get the feel of the Canal and I mean that literally since we actually have pictures touching the walls. In Costa Rica we went with the ship to the Tyutec Hacienda and thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the lunch. They demonstrated processing macadamia nuts, coffee and sugar cane. Again a highly recommended excursion.
The Ship - the ship itself is "tired" at best - seats and carpets are clearly worn and need replacement. The gym equipment is limited and quite aged. There are only two ellipticals which creaked when they worked and had torn arms. This was all manageable but the "ugly" issue was that there is a serious plumbing problem on board. We joked that since we had opted out of Dining When You Wish we had opted into Flushing when they Wish. Almost everyday for a few hours, the toilets would not flush. We had to go to another floor to use the facilities, sometimes in the middle of the night. At first, the guest relations staff was not the least responsive let alone proactive. Ultimately, I demanded to speak to the Supervisor who did arrange financial compensation BUT be warned - we could not flush the toilet when we were disembarking. This effected many cabins and so is something to be wary of. The hotel manager said "it's a problem in the section" but was not the least bit responsive which was definitely dissappointing.
Entertainment - This was very mixed. I do not expect Broadway style entertainment but the comedian one night, Barnaby, spent at least 10 minutes trying to throw a match over his head to light a cigarette. Why any ship would allow this kind of fire hazard, is beyond me. However, he was not entertaining. There was one good comedian, Jeff Neace. The production shows lacked production values and paled in comparison to those we've seen on NCL, RCCL or even Princess. This is an area which I say is "bad" and desperately should be addressed.