Embarkation in Vancouver was fast and smooth. I was told it might be different the next day when four ships would be in port, rather than just this one.
The vaguely Art Deco décor of the ship's public areas was lovely, and everything was always clean and fresh. The stair landings and corridors displayed beautiful art and sculptures, and there were many historic pictures and maps associated with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam and with the history of the Holland America line. I noticed that the painting crew made sure there was never a spot of rust anywhere. The top level EXC lounge was very comfortable and had electronic maps of the ports we visited. My oceanview cabin was perfect in every way. The food was a little too fancy for my taste, but I don't cruise to eat anyway.
The entertainment in the Mainstage theater was generally only fair, but that is a personal opinion, and I truly enjoyed the a capella male quartet. As is typical on cruise ships, the shows were over-amplified. The backdrop of the theater stage is a giant digitized TV screen, which made for dramatic and surprising lighting effects. The room for the pianists and violinists, which is called “Lincoln Center Stage,” was a good venue, and so well-attended that I sometimes did not get a seat. The fitness center, unlike on some cruises, was quiet enough that I could read my electronic book while on the treadmill. The cruise director was very accommodating to those of us who played cards. She gave us two of the meeting rooms and made sure we had cards and water to drink.
The lecturer, an articulate man with wide-ranging interests, gave well-researched talks along with excellent visuals. I looked in on and enjoyed the charming and capable woman in the America's Test Kitchen cooking shows.
I had a fine time revisiting San Francisco and San Diego. In Puerto Vallarta I took the city bus, which goes right from the cruise ship terminal to downtown. The other ports were of only marginal interest to me. Even so, I enjoyed them all, including Huatulco [walked to La Crucecita], Puerto Chiapas [shuttle bus to Tapachula], Puerto Caldera [private tour of national park, mountain top restaurant, and river cruise], and Aruba [private tour, submarine excursion]. The passage through the Panama canal was great, and the interpretive talks were excellent. In Fort Lauderdale I opted for the excursion that included an Everglades airboat ride, which was fun and informative, and an airport transfer. It worked out wonderfully.
There is a broad tourist corridor to the village of La Crucecita.
The village is within easy walking distance. It seemed rather impoverished.
We went to the national park and fed bananas to the white-faced monkeys. Then we went to a hilltop retreat with views across the rain forests to the ocean. Then on a river cruise with crocodiles, birds, and mangroves.View All 35 Mangrove River Tour Reviews
The submarine was interesting. I also booked a tour independently, which was excellent.View All 65 Submarine Reviews
The city bus goes right pass the cruise terminal to downtown.
I just went to the park around the cruise ship terminal. It was nice.
Visited with old friends.