January 2017 - Noordam to South Pacific - Australia
This was very misrepresented in the website and available information from the cruise line. It was only "back to back cruises" not a separate all in one cruise. entertainment and activities were mostly repeated the second two weeks (which were slim pickings even the first two weeks). Everyone had to disembark in Sydney and could not get back on the boat until time for new passengers to board. Would have been good to understand all of this before deciding to book this cruise.
Destination was unbelievable! Did almost all private prearranged tours and really saw New Zealand. 10 days of port calls there! First time on Holland America. Best a embarkment, allowed on early and went straight to rooms! Excellent disembarkment also. Very nice staff. Staterooms have a lot of storage space. Beds and linen amazingly comfortable. Free room service wonderful, but could have had increased selection of items. Buffet eating with staff serving made utilizing this area much nicer and safer (decreased germs from passengers!), so much more comfortable utilizing this option than on many other cruise lines. Loved Explorers' Lounge area, except puzzles and may items were old and missing pieces. All need to be thrown out and new ones bought. Excellent Microsoft classes and teacher! Added more new computers after trip completed, but not enough and not enough space for these popular classes. Culinary Center was beautiful, but most times was empty and not well utilized. Salad bar and pasta bar were excellent, but terrible pizza and premade Italian dishes. Many of foods in buffet area were not warm when served. Salmon was always great, as well as shrimp.
Ship is old and staterooms not completely updated and our balcony had several large rusty holes in it that were not even covered with rugs to protect us (we had to ask for this). Pictures very old and not worth looking in stateroom area and halls.
Entertainment was very poor. I love entertainment on cruises and not much by cruises' performance staff and only one act that was great one night. Only showed movies in theater during port days while docked! Stateroom TV's and system were antique and very poor reception on top of that. Menu was also antique and slowly scrolled three hr span, but you had to watch time spans already completed and next day before getting to your time, then info screen then start all over and you were so bored you blinked and missed the time you were looking for! This was really disappointing.
Activity choices were slim pickings! Except for the occasional item in the Culinary Arts Center, local related program and Microsoft classes there was nothing much going on activity wise on the ship! Most of my time spent walking on the outside walking deck (did help me eat too much and keep the same weight though!).
Vegetarian menu was nice to order from. Should have had menus more easily available, as well as ordering options improved for days did not eat the night before in the dinning room. Also, "Dive in" eating area by pool should have other vegetarian choice such as regular vegetable burger, not just mushroom burger and grilled cheese would be nice.
Signature Suites were very misrepresented online. Often read about "Suites" and thought this referred to all suites, but only was for non-Signature suites. Extra space and separate tub & shower were great. No concierge ,no pillow menu or choices and not much else.
Food and choices were very nice the first few days, but declined as cruise continued. Much smaller portions and presented as two course meals, though you can order a three course meal or whatever you want. Quantity was good for me, but many who have more of appetites or binge on cruises will be surprised compared to other cruise lines. Not many standard choice that are available every day. Thank goodness the salmon was good and I could eat it. One of the few entrees available most days, but on gala nights/ special occasion nights, the menu was had even less choices and the daily items were not available. Invited to many special occasion lunches/ meals but expected to eat provided meal, even if on a special diet. No one cared to even try to eat dietary needs these days. Many days after the first week, I was tired of the vegetarian choices and had nothing I could eat on the regular menu and they did not care enough to fix something for me as always do on other cruise lines. Desert choices were slim, especially on gala nights (which is good for the waistline, but not what I expect on a cruise. Only once got a real piece of regular cheesecake which is so unusual and most of their ice cream is not worth the calories to me with most days having only vanilla, chocolate and strawberry plus sometimes one other choice. ( which is very unusual from what I am used to when sailing!). Not many vegetables served and in the dining room it was only like a garnishment (except potatoes & rice were always available).
Never had so many of the staff being fairly close to the start of their contract. Tried to be helpful, but not aware of many things when asked. Always nice, but just did not display that "at your service/ cruise ship" attitude I am used to..