We got on the ship at 11:30, and embarkation was very smooth. The ship was showing its age a bit, with not a lot of bells and whistles, but we chose this cruise for its destinations. (It was a Baltic cruise.)
The staff was excellent, very attentive and friendly. The food was great. The entertainment was average. This was our first time sailing with Holland America, and the cruise was a bit more sedate than others we've been on, which suited us. (My husband and I are both 53 years old, and although there were some children and younger couples on board, many of the people on the ship were older than us.) We did not utilize the spa, the fitness center, or the specialty restaurants, so I can't comment on those. The piano bar was fun, and the band in the BB King Lounge was quite good. There was a great Happy Hour in the Crow's Nest bar on the top observation deck from 4:00-5:00 every day when they served one drink for regular price and the second drink for $1.00. The first day of our cruise, there was hardly anyone there; by the last few days, after more people heard about it, it was packed.
We did anytime dining, because the flexibility suits us. We had to wait a short amount of time (maybe 20 minutes) on 2 different days, but on the other days, we were seated right away. If we had been willing to sit with other people for dinner, I don't think there would be any wait, but we wanted to sit by ourselves most nights. We also walked on the muster deck (Deck 3) several times, and it was nice because we could walk all around the ship outside, which wasn't possible on the previous ships we've been on.
Our cabin was on the very back of the ship. Engine noise was not an issue, and it was nice for a Baltic cruise because there was no wind. (It might be nice in a warmer climate to have a room on the side of the ship in order to have a breeze.) Our balcony was completely covered, which was nice for protection from the rain and for privacy. The balcony rooms on the 4th and 3rd floors were only covered on the back halves, so we could see into them. Also, our balcony was about twice as deep as the balconies on the rooms on the sides of the ship, which made our room seem bigger. And we could see on both sides of the ship. We loved it back there!
We walked around all day on our own, and took a canal cruise out of Nyhavn. It was a beautiful city, and very fun to see.
We walked around on our own in Old Town. It was very easy to DIY. Highly recommended. Very charming. The walk up the 274 steps to the top of the St. Olav Church had a great view.
We got off the ship as quickly as possible and purchased a one-way ferry ticket for 55 kroner to the Vasa Museum. We arrived there right after 8:30, so it had just opened and there were not many people there yet. By the time we left at 11:15, it was packed. It was very smart to get there early. Also, we liked the Vasa Museum more than we thought we would; we would highly recommend it. Then, we bought another one-way ticket to Gamla Stan, or Old Town. (It would have cost about the same to buy a HOHO ferry ticket as it did for 2 one-way tickets.) Our friend took the walking tour recommended by Rick Steves in his "Northern European Cruise Ports" book (highly recommended book), and my husband and I just bummed around shopping and stopping at cafes. We all had a great time. However, we had read that we could walk back to our ship from Gamla Stan in 30 minutes, and it actually took 50 minutes at a fast pace, due to road construction. We were glad we had given ourselves a little extra time to return to our ship.
We took the free shuttle bus provided by HAL to the bus station. (This was the first time HAL had visited this port, and apparently not many other ships have been there yet, either, and the pier is not safe for a bunch of people to be walking on.) It cost 3.25 Euros for a bus ticket to Lubeck, and there was a really long line. Although the buses were supposed to come every 30 minutes, they sent a couple extra buses because of the large crowds. Still not everyone was able to get on the buses, so we walked 2 blocks to the train station. We purchased a one-way ticket to Lubeck for about the same amount of money as the bus ticket had been at the machine at the station. It was in many different languages, but was a bit slow. Because of this, many people were still standing in line waiting to purchase tickets when the train came. Some got on the train without purchasing tickets. Again, the locals haven't figured out all the logistics yet for cruise ships. It took us 20 minutes to arrive in Lubeck, compared to the 40 minutes it would have taken on the bus. Once we arrived, we walked around Lubeck's Old Town, which was charming. After a few hours, we purchased ferry tickets for 14 Euros each back to Travemunde. The ferry ride took 1 hour and 45 minutes and was narrated only in German. You could purchase food and drinks on the ferry, and the weather was beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The ferry sailed to the end of the promenade on our return to Travemunde, which was nice because it saved us from walking all the way there on our tired feet. When our ship sailed away from Travemunde, people lined the shore of the river all the way out to the Baltic, and they were all waving to us. I think they were thrilled to have us there.
We purchased an excursion through HAL called "Northern Islands of Gothenburg", which lasted for 6 1/2 hours and which cost just under $100 each. We visited a couple islands (our bus drove directly onto the ferry) that have fishing villages, and we had some free time to explore one of them. Then we went on a bus tour of Gothenburg, and then had some free time to explore Gothenburg on our own. The tour was okay, but not fantastic. This wasn't our favorite port, but it was chilly and rainy, which may have had something to do with it. Also, we stopped at a cafe for a snack and drink, and it was very expensive. This was probably the lowlight of our cruise.