My wife and I booked this 12 night cruise because of the interesting itinerary. It was heavy on our much desired Adriatic coast, but also included great and/or new destinations for us such as Kotor, Montenegro, both Valletta and Gozo, Malta, Dubrovnik, Split, and Korcula, Croatia, and Slovenia. The cruise ended in Venice.
As stated, a great itinerary. However, our experience on board was far from satisfactory in several key areas ... and we have Holland America experience since 2007. We are 4-Star Mariners with 213 actual sea days on HAL as we write this review. Our ship, the MS Westerdam, is among the first of the HAL fleet to undergo an extensive renovation/modernization that will fit the new image for all their ships over the next couple of years. (1) The Library is gone. (2) The Ocean Bar dance floor is gone ... all carpet now. There is in fact only one dancing venue on the ship ... the B.B. King's Blues Club. That club is excellent if you like that kind of music ... we enjoyed it and danced to a great live band ... all terrific musicians. They played 5 out of 7 nights, as I recall, with 2 nights off per week and no other music/dance on those nights there. They did not start until about 8PM. However, for those that don't care for blues, there was no other dance venue. The Ocean Bar had a classical pianist ... excellent ... but don't expect to hear any popular numbers that you can dance to ... and that would be on carpet. So, the once great Ocean Bar with the cocktails and dancing to a trio or quartet is gone! (3) No Crow's Nest for dancing and music anymore. The entire Crow's Nest has been transformed into EXC, or Explorations Central. (4) Conventions and/or groups allowed to reserve and take over "common areas". On three evenings that we personally experienced, about half of the Ocean Bar, the part with the pianist, and where most of the chairs and tables are, was closed off to all guests except for the group/convention. Therefore, there was no seating for many guests. We were told by a couple of officers that "all HAL ships are now doing this". What next for a surprise? (5) Sick/extremely ill two times on board ... myself and several days later my wife. Each time that we were sick we only ate on board that day ... and late those nights we were vomiting, etc. in our stateroom (symptoms of food poisoning, but no proof). We spoke to the ship's medical officer/nurse. After 24 hours we were each mostly recovered, but it did ruin that day's ability to go ashore.
In general, over the past few years HAL is not what it used to be. Service in general has declined, sharp attention to detail is no longer present. The crew/staff for the most part are, in our opinion, over worked and too few. Many times one is left waiting. Where are the officers to supervise and see that the guests are taken care of in a timely manner? Lastly, we wrote and mailed a letter to the President of Holland America Line in early December, 2017, regarding our experience and suggestions for improvement (HAL has always said that they want to hear from we "Mariners") ... and we have never received a response. Apparently, they do not care how we, as loyal and good customers/guests/Mariners feel! That is our experience.
Very nice with a central location on the Main deck.
Torrential rain! Bus to old Mdina ... raining so hard no one could get off the bus ... water running down the street. Back in Valletta, still very heavy downpour ... some went off the bus, but we and others didn't ... some guests slipped and fell we were told. Should have been cancelled.