Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: October 25th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
From the moment we boarded the ship we were underwhelmed. The decor is bland, the food was blah, the service was not up to usual HAL standards. Our waiter barely spoke to anyone at our table, he continually messed up orders and was borderline surly except for the last night when he brightened up obviously hoping for a tip. We have mixed feelings about our cabin steward. He kept the cabin spotless and replenished soaps, shampoos etc. every other day but we never saw him. He was invisible- he never even introduced himself on the day of boarding. We were in the 2nd highest cabin category- deluxe verandah suites and were impressed with the size and amenities of the cabin- it even had a Jacuzzi tub.
I liked the smaller size of the ship but there were few activities provided other than those costing money such as art auctions, bingo etc. The selections in the shops were not as good as on previous cruises and other ships of both HAL and other lines. The Cruise Director had a warped sense of humor and seemed to think it was funny to run down the aisle during the bingo jackpot yelling "bingo" or to get on the loudspeaker by the pool and tell everyone to come running to see the whales only to say" oops sorry- that was a whale of a tale".
The menu selections were too repetitive and the salad bars on the Lido deck were pathetic- offering mainly lettuce, tomatoes and some eggs. It was not replenished frequently enough and was not at all appetizing. Except for the last night's comedian, the entertainment was of a poor quality and not worth going to. The best things about the cruise were the casino staff who were friendly and actually rooting for us to win and the shore excursion staff who were very knowledgeable, friendly and most importantly helpful.
The excursions offered in Belize and Guatemala were excellent and anyone going on this cruise should take the all day shore excursion in Guatemala that combine a visit to the ruins and a cruise on the lake. Fascinating and fun. We had a Mayan guide who gave us great insight into the Mayan culture. In Belize we toured the city and went to the zoo and saw some fascinating animals. Both countries offered excellent insight into the local culture.
I wouldn't say we had a bad cruise- it just wasn't a good cruise. It did not live up to my expectations based on previous HAL cruises. It was bad enough to make us decide to try another cruise line for the next cruise.