First, a bit of a disclaimer; my wife and I are retired airline employees and have travelled extensively but our last cruise was about 20 years ago. That being said, after our latest cruise with Holland America, we are now looking forward to our next cruise.
We loved the great communications we had from HAL and felt we were fully prepared for our cruise. The crew was friendly and exceptional, the food amazing, and the fact that the majority of the passenger population was in our age group (60+). We loved having the drink package as this made our vacation similar to all-inclusive resorts that we often travel to. HAL also had online availability to check your dining reservations, excursions and daily billing. Finally, we never had to wait in line at the dining room because of the smaller passenger capacity.
Shore excursions were more expensive via HAL than with our listing agency, but it seemed that it was easier to find the tours once in port if you booked with HAL.
A valued surprise for us was the availability of Catholic Mass on a daily basis. This alone would have put HAL high on our cruise list.
Perfect location for us. Lower deck usually means less movement. Close, but not across, from stairs/elevators made it easy to access other decks. Only 2 decks from dining area.
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Better weather would have made the experience more enjoyable.