That was our second cruise with Holland America, out of tens of cruises with 10+ cruise companies over the last 20 years or so. First Holland America cruise was aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was a pleasant experience. We choosed this second one based upon our prior experience and because we wanted a cruise back home, from US, along South America's Pacific coast - the 34-day San Diego to Rio cruise.
Embarkation process was straightforward. Ok, as suite guests, we had a dedicated line, but the ordinary line was also empty by the time we arrived at San Diego Cruise Terminal.
Stateroom condition, on the other hand, wasn't that good. The deck that runs along the windows was dirty and greasy. TV remote was greasy, as well, so that we had to point it to the steward and ask him for a thorough cleaning. Cereal remnants under the bed and chocolate behind the curtains were also not very nice findings.
Dining was an experience that swung between heaven and hell. We had most of our meals at the Main Dining Room, with excellent service. We had most of our breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market, with the most terrible experience of all cruises. Apart from a very few attendants and their managers, Lido crew was the worse ever. Most of the times we could see managers doing attendants' chores, like cleaning tables and serving drinks. I guess this is not what managers are for.
Entertainment and Activities are a little more of the same - the fabulous ship's dancers and singers, comedians, performers, lecturers, movies - one will always find something to enjoy.
Port and Shore Excursions staff does a very good job. Some flaws here and there but, in the end, things worked fine. I still cannot understand why cruise companies insist in choosing ports like Puerto Chiapas or Huatulco (MX), with absolutely NO activity one could do on his own - options were to stay on board or to join a ship excursion.
We expected far more than this.
We have been cruising aboard Suites over the last years, so it's easy to compare them. We had been in a Neptune Suite, aboard the Maasdam, years ago, and it was exactly like this one, aboard the Zaandam... years later. What I mean is: these suites are largely outdated - furniture is old, decoration is poor and - oh my God - they still feature a 22-inch flat screen TV !!!! Seriously, I cannot imagine what's the point in keeping a so small screen TV in a suite that is, at least, twice the size of a standard stateroom.
This stateroom now features an espresso machine, complimentary. The tray with machine, cups and capsules lies on a side table, by the entrance... where there's no power outlet to plug it !!! Guests must relocate the espresso machine to the bar counter and route the power cord to an outlet at the vanity desk. Very clever.
Another feature is a Bose Mini Soundlink bluetooth speaker, located by the bed table. It's not the best place to install it, for it's close to the wall that divides the adjoining stateroom. Of course, guests can always remove the speaker from the charging dock and put it elsewhere...
But the worse is yet to come.
If you are the kind of person who loves to sleep 'till late - specially on sea days - or likes to take a nap in the afternoon, DON'T BUY THIS STATEROOM ! Suites 7020 and it's adjoining suites lie just beneath the Lido Deck, between Lido Market Dishwasher Station and Portboard Pool Towel Station. We had to cope with the strong noise of heavy service carts, running back and forth, from 5:00AM until late, all day long, all cruise long. Of course we knew that this suite was just below Lido Deck. What we didn't know was that Holland America simply don't care about that - they do nothing at all to solve this long running problem. Shame.