I am a veteran cruiser, and as a family, my parents and I have spent the past few holidays on various cruises. They are 3 star Mariners with Holland America and just shy of four star status. This was my third - and favorite - Holland America cruise thus far. Previously I've cruised with them aboard the Zuiderdam; this was their second cruise aboard the Statendam (but their first since its upgrade last year) and they have also cruised aboard the Volendam, the Veendam, Oosterdam and Westerdam.
I found this cruise particularly enjoyable because of the ships size. There really is a difference between 1200 and 1900 passengers on a full ship. Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze, I never encountered a line or a sense of crowding - even on days at sea when looking for a deck chair by the pool. This is a bit of a contrast with previous cruises on the Zuiderdam. It is a very nice ship, but I truly appreciated the smaller size. With older parents, only two elevator shafts versus three, meant shorter walks across the ship. I LOVED the newer, up to date decor in the Crow's Nest ... a quiet retreat any time of day, except when a trivia game or such had been scheduled. Dennis, one of the attendants in the Crows Nest, was the best! By the first day out of San Diego, he knew our names, preferences, and treated us as though we were his only customers.
As a designer (my land job!), I found the flow of the outdoor areas worked better with the aft pool on a separate deck from the midships pool. My dad's only complaint was the removal of the bar with stools at the aft pool - it has been replaced with a window where you can order drinks.
I was in 690 on Main Deck. I was very satisfied with this cabin. I was traveling in the cabin independently, so the spaciousness may have been due to the fact I wasn't sharing with anyone! I was most impressed with all of the storage. There are four closets, a desk with drawers and two night stands. This cabin had a very comfy sofa which can be used for a third passenger - there is also a drop down bunk which can accommodate a fourth so all of the storage is actually due to the fact this cabin can sleep four in a squeeze! In an effort to be eco friendly and use less energy, you should know there is only ONE outlet for the ENTIRE cabin...at the end we saw power strips were available upon request. We are going on another cruise this summer and will pack one - by the time we charge cameras, batteries, etc. - one outlet just doesn't do it! HAL also no longer passes out individual soaps/shampoos etc. - each shower/tub is equipped with dispensers that are filled daily. Its actually a wise decision. This cabin was also near a small aft deck - technically crew only - but there are passenger stairs that go up to the promenade so no one was ever told they could not exit onto the aft. Its a small, quiet area which I used as a quick exit up to the Promenade and to get cell phone service when in port! It is near the aft elevators which give you easy access to the library/dining room on 7/8 and the pool on 10/lido buffet on 11.