Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: September 14th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Mediterranean
My wife and my in-laws went on the this cruise from the 14th to the 28th. 10 stops including the starting and finishing locations as well as Paris, Rome, Turkey and Barcelona.
Overall the cruise was great - specifically the cruise ship was in excellent condition, the staff was very friendly and helpful especially the dining room staff. The food was good - good taste, good variety, sizable portions. The port stops were excellent which was the main reason we took this cruise. Mostly good things to say...Overall I would give the whole trip and the cruise ship experience a 9 out of 10.
The negative points I have our on some of Holland America's pricing. The excursions are quite over-priced compared to doing it yourself (just go ashore and take the local tours or get 4 people and rent a taxi). I can only assume that is because it is profit margins on top of profit margins...everybody wants their slice. The drinks are not terribly priced but also not great pricing either...you could run up a large bill quite quickly....however, the biggest rip-off was the internet facilities...not so much do to their per minute price which was high but you are on open water in the middle of the sea so... (50 cents a minute if you get a package, 75 cents pay as you go) but I believe that they specifically setup the computers to get the most money out of you...for example, you can't open up multiple browsers, you can't use the computer to write your email offline, and they give you free access to the NY Times website but I swear they lower the bandwidth if you go to that site because it takes 4 times as long to open the page...so basically you give up..also you can't get any specific info on say stocks via the NY Times website. However, the charge that I couldn't believe was the "cruise email" account that they try to get you to use where they charge you $3.95 for each email you send! It is basically Yahoo mail which is free...I feel sorry for the people who are less inclined to the web who got suckered into that...Basically I highly recommended bringing a laptop if you have one because they do have wireless internet (same prices) and you can do all the things I mentioned above to save you money (work offline, download multiple pages and read offline etc.) I had a laptop so I was lucky...
So overall 9 out of 10 as the cruise was great..only negatives are the pricing, specifically the internet - just be aware of that...