I have been on many cruises, and have always enjoyed them. This was the first time I took a cruise which left from San Diego. Since San Diego is my home, I didn't have to travel to get to the embarkation port. I thought this would make everything easy, but that was not the case. I had a serious problem with a missing piece of luggage, which I will discuss later on in this review. The embarkation itself was OK, although it took a very long time.
Our stateroom, which had a verandah, was quite pleasant. The only problem was that we hardly slept the first night because some pictures which were attached to the wall kept banging. We had them removed the next day, and all was well.
The ship was nice. I especially liked the Promenade deck which was good for taking walks. I did not partake of any spa activities.
Dinners were adequate, but not special. The Pinnacle Grill, for which you pay something extra, did provide an excellent dinner, and I would recommend that. (However, on previous cruises I have taken, the food in the dining room was excellent, without paying extra.) For our lunches, we went to the Lido buffet. Again, the food wasn't spectacular, but there was a lot of variety, and it was fine for a light lunch. For breakfast, we ordered room service using the card on the door at night. It generally came on time in the morning, and was OK.
The shipboard activities were good. I particularly liked the demonstrations/discussions about the animal towel folding, ice carving, and digital cameras.
The entertainment was pretty good. We especially liked the piano bar, the comedian, and the Elton John impersonator.
We didn't go on any shore excursions. This was partly because the time in ports was considerably shorter than it was supposed to be because of the broken azipod which caused the ship to travel slower than it should. (This problem was described in an earlier review by someone else.)
The service relative to the cabin was good. The room was always clean, and the fresh fruit was replenished.
However, the service provided by guest relations regarding my missing suitcase was abominable. Here's what happened: My husband and I watched a porter (hired by a company which was hired by HA) put our 4 properly-labeled suitcases on a cart to be brought to the Oosterdam. By some fluke, one of my suitcases ended up on another ship! (This happened to at least one other person on the same cruise.) After many days, HA found out where my suitcase was, but they couldn't be sure when I'd get it back. The ship's administrators could only repeat We're sorry, and sounded arrogant and insincere. I had to buy some essential clothing items in Mazatlan. These same officials told me that they couldn't pay me back, but that Seattle headquarters had been contacted. They said that Seattle would decide about compensation on a case by case basis, and that it would depend on the number of days I was without my suitcase.
After 4 days of aggravation, I got a letter from the manager of guest relations on the ship offering a small shipboard credit as a gesture of goodwill. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling much goodwill towards the staff. On day 5 (on a 7-day cruise) my case was returned, in a somewhat damaged condition, and with some items missing. On the last day of the trip, I was told that HA wouldn't pay anything to cover my financial outlay. (The total amount was only $300.)
I have been fighting HA ever since, including sending a letter to the CEO of the company. It was just turned over to the original person who said that nothing would be done. I have only been able to speak to 2 subordinates. They told me that the goodwill credit I received was all that HA would pay for a suitcase whose misplacement they were responsible for. When I reminded them that the ship's management told me that the goodwill credit was separate from compensation for what I spent, they said that those people had made a mistake, and HA wasn't going to take responsibility for what they said, even though I have it in writing. This attitude is unconscionable. (Some people might say that the ship's management lied to me, as several other critics on this web site have noted.)
It was bad enough that I was missing clothing I had carefully selected for the cruise, but what made it worse was the arrogant and uncaring attitude of the ship's management, and then the lack of courtesy of the Seattle administrators who didn't return phone messages or letters.
The disembarkment went smoothly. I liked that you could relax in your cabin until your group was called. We were even able to find our suitcases relatively easily. The problem happened the night before. When we went back to our cabin to finish packing and then relax, we found that our card keys no longer worked. Repeated visits to the front desk to get the keys fixed didn't help. We ended up standing in the hallway for an hour until guest relations found someone who had an actual metal key which unlocked the door.
In summary, even though I was particularly upset due to the lack of help from guest relations, other people I spoke with were also disappointed in this particular cruise. In general, things on this cruise were adequate, but not special. I will certainly never cruise on a Holland America ship again.