Overall great cruise, with many nice ports of call, friendly ship which never felt crowded or rushed, small enough to get to know many other people, great crew, and despite its small size and less offerings than bigger ships, there was plenty to do.
5 out of 5
Very fast and very smooth, much better than any other I have experienced, including with Holland America
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Holland America is famous for good food in the main dining room, and on this point this cruise was lacking. Some of the main dining room food was absolutely superb, but some was way below the usual Holland America standard. On the other hand, the Lido food was really above average for most Lido food and for Holland America (the salad bar was SUPERB, as were many other Lido choices). The ship had many (at least 15) outstanding wine (and beer!) tasting events, which were superb, with a huge variety of quality wines from Australia and New Zealand, nice appetizers, and quality discussions about the wines from the ship's cellar master. Where else can you sample 15 varieties (full glasses if you liked them) with great appetizers and discussion of the wines by the cellar master for under $20 a person? This added great value to the food and drink experience for practically no cost. Many of the featured wines were superb. There was a special 6 course meal with 6 different specially paired wines chosen by the cellar master at the Pinnacle grill one evening that was an absolutely superb experience (cost about $50 a person).
5 out of 5
This is not a restaurant but a specialty coffee venue with a library with many tables by windows, very open, stocked with books and games (we played cribbage and several other games we brought and Yahtzee that the ship had), has computers to use, which is very relaxing. The coffe drinks were superb and cost only $2-3 (not a bad price!).
3 out of 5
Although compared to lines like Royal Carribean, Holland America's entertainment and activities may seem very meager, but we enjoyed ourselves without ever being bored. The fitness center was very, very good, and we were always able to use any of the relatively new, axtensive, and well maintained equipment without waiting or being rushed. The trainer gave me tips regarding my injured shoulder by coming up to me and asking if I needed anything without any promting on my part. The shows and entertainment we saw were all good (although the seating is somewhat limited). Holland America has a new feature involving Americas Test Kitchen which was very, very good. One of the Americas Test Kitchen staff is on the ship and gives live cooking demonstrations and explanations in a small theater with a huge kitchen with cameras and TV screens so you can see overhead views when needed, and they have handouts regarding things such as going over the details of understanding buying peppers, and cards with the recipes that they show. Everyone we talked to who went thought they were all superb. Walking on the promenade deck outside around the ship on the teak wood deck was great exercise and a fun way to get walking in without being on a treadmill or cross trainer (and really fun when it is windy outside!). Holland America has hundreds of movies on CD that you can check out for 24 hours and watch on your stateroom TV, including many very recent movies, so if we had time we didn't know what to do with, we watched a good movie. We never asked for a movie that wasn't available!
3 out of 5
The shows and entertainment we saw were all good , although the seating is somewhat limited, and the choice is much less than on bigger ships
No children on cruise
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
As usual, Holland America has superb service, superior to other cruise lines in its price range. No one can beat the graciousness and warmth of Holland America's Indonesian crew.
4 out of 5
Very clean and well maintained for a ship that is over 25 years old (I cruised on this ship in Europe in 1995!). The ship is still vey elegant. The only annoyance in the ship design is that the 7th deck is interrupted for walking bewteen the bow and stern so you have to go up or down one flor and come back if you are going from one end of the ship to the other on this deck.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Nice cabin, great bathroom, very comfortable, very small TV for watching the CDs as discussed above. Always kept immaculate by staff. Plenty of closet and other space. Size was perfect.
If you want a smaller ship where you can get to know people on your cruise this is a great ship! Talk to people and you will make many new friends! I have been on many cruises and got to know people, but this ship is really one of the easiest to get to know other passengers. You will always find someone you have an affinity for, no matter who you are!
We did a non-ship sponsored group tour of Rotorua, with a group of about 10 people. Very, very good tour, Great driver/tour guide. Great scenary. Great experience at Mauri culture center. Can't be missed
Superb excursion through the ship. Great city, took the monorail up the hill from downtown, then a bus to the outskirts of town in a park with superb views of the town, then visited the nationally museum which is very nice and very new. Evene my wife liked it and she doesn't like museums. We went to a store and bought a bottle of New Zealand wine as a gift for a friend.
We did a non-ship sponsored group tour with about 8 people which was superb. Dunedin was our personal favorite of all the places we saw in New Zealand. The town and area are gorgeous. The University is very nice with some great buildings. The coast is unbelievably spectacular, with very nice beaches (and I lived in Florida for a few years).
We did a non-ship sponsored group tour with 8 people of the Yarra wine region with wine tasting and great lunch included and included visit to the regions zoo, which was a modern open concept zoo with only Australian animals in their native habit. Vey nice.
We did a ship sponsored excursion that went to a spectacular cave and then a rehabiltation center for Australian animals with a huge variety of animals. Saw the Tasmanian devil up closeDrove through some gorgeous areas of Tasmania.
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