This was our first cruise on Holland America, and most certainly the last. Actually, our cruise on Koningsdam was the first one we wished to end. We were prepared that the passenger would be a bit older but still it managed to surprise us. Occasionally we felt that we were lost in a retirement home´s summer trip. In a way it was nice to feel yourself too young even in the age of 50+ but it is not what we are looking for. By the way, we have never got so much paper in the stateroom. There was a continuous stream of advertisement and announcement in the cabin. Good that they had a double bin with a locker saying “paper. I hope they really do recycle it because we threw mostly away straight away.
We were most disappointed with the entertainment. Were just were nothing for us. The main stage had no production shows, or even just a bigger show. There was a pianist, a mediocre magician, a boring male singer, another singer that sang a strange mix of songs from Julie Andrews ending with Europe´s the Final Countdown. The BBC earth was just some nice videos with classical music concert. The music walk had either classical music (with big signs SILENCE) or very loud rock. Only a bit enjoyable was the two pianists but their selection and speaks were very American so even they stayed a bit distant to us.
The main dining was a beeber (pager) show. Actually, we have never seen on any cruise so much beebers than in HAL. In any time dining (or whatever they call it) was a chaos every day. We managed to get a table once in 13 days cruise without waiting 15 to 20 minutes. The man on the door was totally nonchalant and unfriendly to the passengers and the crew. The waiter taking you to your table could not mostly find it although walking with the map in hand. It was like sitting in a railway station. We had once a bit quieter table by the rear windows but otherwise it was very restless. You could feel the floor tumble when the army of waiters run to the kitchen and back. The poor waiters were like machines even when talking to you because they were so stressed. The quality of the food was better than on most of the cruise lines, but the atmosphere made it impossible to enjoy it.
The Dutch coffee was a peculiar invention. They served coffee, apple cake and pea soup. The special coffees were very milky and it felt that nobody else have never ever before ordered a coffee latte with double shot expresso. It was also strange that they had no table service, while otherwise it felt that HAL had more crew than many other major cruise line. The Dutch Cafe made us miss so much the Celebritys Cafe Al Baccio.
Speciality restaurant Pinnacle Grill was good and as always on the cruises, had quieter atmosphere than the main restaurant. FIrst time tea waiter was really good, but second time rather poor (De Librije 3 Michelin star dinner was held only once and was a bit too much for the poor waiter). In the Tamarin the service was good, but the food did not quite convince us. The Italian Canaletto is actually a part of the buffet and it felt like it. Practical for the breakfast and lunch but in the evening it felt cheap.
The buffet was almost always full in the breakfast and in the lunch time. It was not easy to find a table. All the food was served in the station and you could not take it yourself. This of course cause some queues, which was a problem while there was no clearly marked place for a queue. The service went still quite good. Mostly they gave you too much food and a lot of food was thrown away which we did not like. As we knew the idea, we were waiting at least some nice and beautiful portion in the lunch time, but it all ended in the plate the same smash as you get from the normal buffet taking it yourself.
The Dive in with burgers and New York deli with pizza by the pool were nice because the portion were fresh made for you. You just needed to get them by yourself when the beeber went on. By the way, why the beebers needed to be so loud? Especially in the evenings it was almost humiliating walking to the restaurant while by the time the beeber got even louder and started to yell to you “return to the restaurant, your portion is ready”.
The good thing with elderly passenger was that it was extremely easy to find a deck chair on any time. We have never seen so much vacant chairs.
The ship was in good condition and the cabin was always perfectly cleaned.
There is probably nothing really wrong in the Holland America. The concept just was not for us and we will not be back, at least before we are 80+.