Extremely relaxing, loved the many areas of the ship we were able to sit and read, play cards, and enjoy the nice variety of piped in music. The pools were really nice and there was no fight to get a chair. They have no qualms with opening up unoccupied by saved by chair hogs recliners! We didn’t discover the Crow’s Nest on deck 11 until the last two days. We thought it was private for only certain guests in Club Orange ( apparently you pay to join and gets perks like priority seating in the dining room) or suite guests.
5 out of 5
Fastest we have ever gotten through security, check in, on board and in our READY stateroom by 12:30 pm!
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food was some of the best I’ve had compared to three other cruise lines. Their buffet is great because they are cooking a lot of the food fresh on site, and best of all, the staff serves up the food, so no questionably dirty hands of passengers are touching utensils or foods. Staff walk thru the dining areas of the buffet and provide beverages and refills. Makes for a lot less congestion.
I also like that all of their sodas are served in cans, not fountain drinks, so if you pay $3 for a soda, it’s not a small glass full of ice with a squirt of soda added.
4 out of 5
No roller coasters, rock climbing walls, etc. just two nice pool and six hot tubs. I wanted to go on a cruise, not go to an amusement park. This fit the bill nicely.
3 out of 5
Was a bit disappointed in lack of stage shows. There was one dance show that consisted of 6 dancers. The first night, one got injured so second performance was cancelled . Saw the second time they performed, and the third time they were to perform, it was cancelled due to lighting and stage set problems. Only three performances in 11 days. The comedian and impersonator comedian were both wonderful. The dueling piano guys at Billboards should have been put on the main stage to perform as they were the most talented group on the cruise. They drew the largest crowds, but there wasn’t enough room for people to sit, and they were in the lounge that was right next to the casino, so the noise and flashing lights from the machines was very annoying.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Holland hires and trains staff mainly from the Philippines. Everyone was so friendly and warm; there was none of the arrogance I have seen on other cruise ships with some of the staff.
5 out of 5
The ship was immaculate considering their last renovation was over 4 years ago. We loved the colors and overall decor of the ship as it created a quiet elegance that was so restful. Norwegian could learn from Holland that bright, neon, in your face colors are not conducive to a relaxing environment.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
I missed not having a window, but we went last minute and the only ocean view rooms were on deck one under the dining room and clubs. We slept great in the pitch dark. Our room was in the aft And during some rough seas one day, it was kind of noisy from crashing down thru the waves, but other than that, it was great. Lots of movies to chose from on the TV, able to see the NFL playoff games, and daily news. We had fresh fruit of our choice in our room each day, which was an excellent touch! The bed was also comfortable which is a rarity these days.plenty of closet and storage space. We couldn’t get our big suitcases under the bed, but our room steward lifted the bed up to put mine under and we put the other one in the closet. Two drawers under the beds gave us plenty of room to store things.
I will caution bringing banned items on board. I have always taken my small portable steamer on cruises and this is the first time I have had it confiscated. They take it seriously. I got it back at the end of the cruise. My advice is iron your clothes before you go and accept the fact that everyone will have some folding creases in their attire!
This is also the only cruise line that still allows you to bring bottled water and soft drinks on board. We loaded up a small suitcase with a case of water and some Dr. Pepper.
We went to a beach in the resort area. Gorgeous beach that is one of the top 10 rated beaches in the world in Trip Advisor. Clear water, warm, and very relaxing. Found out it costs $40 to rent a beach chair even for just a couple of hours, so we used our towels to lay on.
Our overall favorite port ever! The building colors are so appealing, loved the floating swing bridge and got to see it in action. No high sales pressure to come in their store and buy, buy, buy. We did a beach excursion to Blue Bay Resort. What a treat! Crystal clear water, FREE snorkeling equipment, float tubes, and lounge chairs. You do need water shoes and there is a lot of rocky limestone and corals getting into the water, then it is mostly all sand.
We walked around the terminal area and looked at all the birds there, visited the few shops they had. We elected not to go to town and it was over two miles to old town, and the ship discouraged us from walking. The port is ina huge shipping area, so while not pretty to look at, it was entertaining to watch shipping containers being loaded onto cargo ships.
BEST part of the entire cruise! Be prepared to be up at the crack of dawn if you want to see entry into the first lock. They bring a narrator on board who explains each step of the process. I recommend watching the two movies on the history of the Panama Canal in your room prior to arrival, and go to the onboard presentations as well. Just a warning, if you do not book a shore excursion, you CANNOT get off the ship when they tender excursion guest in Gatun Lake. You have to ride back onboard the ship through the first three locks to where they dock in Colon. There are a few shops in Colon within walking distance, but no shore excursions from Colon at all. The port itself is under a massive revamping, as is the entire area which has been neglected for years and over run by gangs and drug cartels. It is now in the process of a massive clean up, but it will take time and money, and patience.
We did the Agua Clara Locks and kayaking in Gatun Lake excursion. The photos of the kayaks on board the ship are very misleading. They are NOT closed cockpit kayaks, but rather, sit on top style kayaks and you are sitting in water the majority of the time. Wear your bathing suit and bring dry clothes to change into. They did provide a boat to carry your backpacks that followed our group in case there were any problems. We saw some sloths, a howler monkey, and some birds. Our guide, Joe, was extremely informative and entertaining. He gave us a lot of information about the transition of a Panama, the canal, the city of Colon, etc.
Not much here, no excursions. Lots of neglected crumbling building and poverty. It’s a city going through urban renewal, but it will take years. If they follow through, it has the potential to be a nice place to visit.
We had 8 foot swells from the east coming directly into this very open port. Sadly, it was not safe for us to stay at the dock as the gangplanks were lifting up and crashing down, and the ship was going to take a beating as well. The captain tied up initially, but determined it was too dangerous to allow us off, and not a good situation for the ship, so we left.
5 out of 5
Wow! Fastest, most EFFICIENT disembarkation in 13 cruises! Can Holland show the rest of them how it is done?
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