This was our second Holland America Cruise. The first was on the Noordam in 2006 when it was also new. We had to cancel the maiden voyage on the Eurodam in July so when I saw it was coming to NYC I rebooked for a cruise one way to Quebec City. The ports were interesting and I was really looking forward to again going on a new ship. The embarkation process was fast and simple (as was the disembarkation in Quebec). We have been on many cruises, but I think HAL has the best procedures for getting on and off the ship, including for shore excursions. When we needed service at the front desk, we never had a problem. There was always a smiling face to help (especially Angeli). The only real problem was one excursion in Saint John. HAL doesn't arrange their own shore trips. I guess you could say they outsource it, so when there is a problem they refer you to the excursion desk. This problem was handled very well and resolved within a few days. We were set up for "As You Wish" dining. What they are doing is the upper level of the Rembrandt dining room (which is the main dining room) is where those who have assigned seating go. The lower level is reserved for as you wish. With this plan you can get a reservation for 5:30, 5:45, 8:00, or 8:15. Anything in between is for walk-ins. We found it best to make the 8:00 reservation. We were traveling with another couple and were able to reserve the same table for each evening that we ate in that dining room. We did that because we really liked our wait staff at that table Nur and Bernardo. We also ate in the Pinnacle Grill on 2 different evenings. The food and service was outstanding. And we had lunch on our last day at the Tamarind, which is Asian fusion. Before going on this trip I had read about it and found that they have cabanas both at the Lido pool(which has a sliding roof) and at the adult pool. The rental price was only $30 on port days and $50 on sea days. When I got on the ship I reserved a cabana at the Lido for sea day. I thought this was a good idea since we were traveling north and I wasn't sure how the weather would be so if it was nasty out the roof would be closed and we could still enjoy the cabana. This was a great idea. When you arrive at your cabana you have a large bowl of fruit, 2 bottles of water, skin spritzers, towels and robes. AND your own steward who, when you decide, will bring you lunch. There were curtains to give you privacy and shades to block the sun if needed. This was a great way to relax. We had to miss our port of call to Prince Edward Island because of Hurricane Hanna coming up the coast causing high winds, so that meant 2 sea days back to back, so having this cabana on the scheduled sea day was worth it. Speaking of relaxation, the Greenhouse Spa is beautiful with very good services. They are always having specials, especially on port days. The cabins are lovely. We had good service, very clean and well appointed. The veranda category is a little small but I think it depends on the level. The Deluxe S categories are bigger. The entertainment was excellent. The HAL singers and dancers put on wonderful shows. There was also a great pianist one evening, and a very, very funny comedian another couple of nights. Our ports were beautiful and the weather was mostly good. Aside from the disruption from Hurricane Hanna the rest of the days were beautiful. I also found that the lectures and activities on board were very diverse and interesting. And although I didn't get to the computer classes, on this ship they were free. That's a plus because last year when we travelled on Princess they charged for a digital workshop. They had demonstrations in their Culinary Arts Center which were great. I think that about wraps it up. We really enjoyed our trip. The age of the passengers is older, just a few children, but that could have been because of the time of year since school just started up again, or the itinerary. It certainly didn't affect us.
We changed cabins from a VE cat. to an SY cat. We were able to get this upgrade because the SY was a handicapped cabin at the very front of the ship which no one else wanted. My husband loved the size of the room. The bathroom was set up for wheelchair access which fortunately we don't need but it was fine. The stabilizers were terrific so even though we were way front most of the time it was smooth sailing. And since we were the first ones up front the cabin was very quiet.