We greatly enjoyed this cruise; the food was good and everything was well organised. At no time did we feel that we were sharing the ship with 2,000 other passengers. Plenty of quiet places to sit and no shortage of sun-beds. Our cabin (sorry - stateroom) was a good size and the bed super-comfortable. There were queues in the self-service restaurant but this was a place best avoided anyway. The waiter-service restaurant was open for every meal, so why wait in a queue when someone with a smile will get it for you?
When I say "A very American cruise" I mean it as a compliment as well as a slight criticism. Everything worked well thanks to good management. Patti, the Cruise Director, was indefatigable but also slightly wearing. I longed for a more laid back approach with fewer superlatives. I thought that the interior design of the ship was spectacular but, in places, garish and slightly tasteless. Nice paintings but plaster and polystyrene statues in niches?
The standard of entertainment was mixed. The Song and Dance Troupe were very professional and the hydraulic platforms on the stage in the Vista Lounge (the theatre) were used to good effect. But why did this talented team only put on two full song and dance shows in ten days? The sound was far too loud during the Cuban pianist's act and he was truly awful anyway. The English comedian and the acrobatic duo were OK. The string trio could not play in tune.
Holland America shore excursions are very expensive, so avoid the hard sell from Patti and avoid them. Other reviewers have described how alternatives may be found. And the $11 per passenger per day service charge is very steep by European standards. We did not see it mentioned in any pre-cruise literature and we were not told that there was any option but to pay it. Patti as much as admitted that the crew rely on this service charge to supplement their wages. This is an unsatisfactory situation.
Drinks were very expensive and I was irked by the insistence that I have no alcohol in my stateroom except that provide in the mini bar by Holland America.
On the last evening of the cruise, the waiters were required to dance around waving napkins before placing them in our laps. They also sang half-heartedly. I felt that this was demeaning for them and added nothing to the diners' enjoyment.
Perhaps Holland America Line are not trying to cater for European travellers. There were very few of us on board. Our American, Australian and Canadian companions were great but, at times, a little noisy and exclusive. It is a cliche for the British to say that it was not possible to get a decent cup of tea, but it was true!
Having re-read the above, I realise that it is quite critical. That is not the overall impression I want to give. Let me finish where I started - we greatly enjoyed the cruise.
Our "totally obscured view" cabin was a good bargain and we could see over the top of the lifeboat. Quiet, roomy and with a very large, comfortable bed.