This was our first Holland America cruise (we've done Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival), and was the smallest ship we'd been on (1200 passengers vs 3000 or so). Holland America has become my line of choice. We much preferred the smaller ship. The crew was consistently cheerful, polite, responsive(even when we encountered them on their free days on shore). The housekeeping was outstanding. The food very good. The Library unequaled--we spent a lot of time there. The live music options throughout the ship were varied and all outstanding quality. We found ourselves listening to the classical and semi-classical most often, in the library lounge. But there were plenty of up-beat options. Probably most enjoyable were the people we met--they tended to be middle aged and up, interesting, generally well traveled, fun to be with. , from a variety of countries--Holland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada. On both legs of our cruise we had great dining mates.
The ship's shore excursions tended to get a be repetitive, especially in the Norway fjords. One would have sufficed, instead of three. However we most enjoyed our TJ Travel private and semi-private tours in Berlin and in St. Petersburg. They were very organized, got us inside the palaces before the lines, flexible, fed us wonderful food, knowledgeable, good English. those three days with TJ travel were the highlights of our shore excursions.