Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: March 26th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Our family of four (two parents, two daughters ages 20 and 7) traveled on this cruise ship for spring break. We have traveled on Holland America before (Westerdam) and were extremely pleased with the upgrades to the ship and amenities offered. Mind you, this ship was christened in 2000, but it has recently undergone significant improvements. The beds, linens, robes all were wonderful and added a level of elegance to our trip. I will try to break this up by categories: ship; service; food; ports for your consideration. The ship is small to medium by today's standards and that makes it easier to get around and maneuver between venues. We had two Larger Outside Cabins (Category DD I think) that adjoined. They were located at the front or the ship and offered an obstructed view from our windows. The reason for this was because we were on the lower promenade deck and this is no different than if you were on the first floor of a motel/hotel and people could walk by your room. This floor is used by the 'walkers' as four times around equals one mile. I did this every morning. The cabins are furnished with two twin beds or one queen depending on your needs; two night stands; ship radio; remote controls for lights/tv; small table and couch; desk with chair; make up mirror; hair dryer; tv and dvd player; plenty of closet and drawer space for clothing, luggage, etc. The bathroom included a tub/shower and medicine cabinet and storage space for toiletries, etc. The Lido deck was five floors up from us that had the ship's two pools (one inside and one outside) and Lido Restaurant.
The indoor pool has a retractable
roof which could be closed or opened depending on weather, wind, etc. The two
hot tubs were also located at this pool. The indoor pool tended to be where the
children hung out. The one major problem with this is that they tended to be in
hot tub all the time. It is my opinion that children should be restricted to
using the hot tubs or not be allowed to use them at all. Actually, it is a
health hazardd for small children. We didn't really complain about this as it
was Easter Break and the ship had a record number of children on board. The
fifth floor (it's name escapes me at the moment) is where the dining rooms is;
nightclub; exploration's lounge and numerous other places to grab a drink and
listen to various music. The ship did not disappoint on this level! Numerous
musical venues took place on this floor and were wonderful. The Explorations
Lounge is a great enhancement to the ship...this is where you can connect to the
internet; listen to music; read or just relax! We all enjoyed this room during
our week. A word to the wise, if you read that their are internet hot spots on
board and you can bring along your wireless laptop for convenience. You can, but
you need to purchase internet access while on ship. This is sold in bulk minutes
with a minimal access charge. If you must be connected, it is reasonable and
saves on phone call charges. My husband and older daughter would use the
individual sound chairs and stereo systems to enjoy their own individual music
selections while my younger daughter and I played one of many board games. I
can't say enough about the ship and its amenities except they are all wonderful
and too many to mention here, i.e. wine bar, art gallery/auction, shops on
board, etc. You will not be disappointed.
The service was wonderful from the cabin steward to the waiters, bartenders, etc. All treated us politely and efficiently which is such a welcome thing these days. They really exhibited a true pleasure in making us happy. I had the pleasure of using the spa and the not so pleasant pleasure of using the health center while on the ship and both were staffed with professionals and handled my needs perfectly. The health center is welcome addition and very well equipped. Staff and crew were great!
The food quality was very good and something we think has improved greatly since our last cruise six years ago. We ate quite a bit from the room service menu on that one due to the poor selections available in the dining room. However, this time that was not the case. Each night's dinner included numerous choices of unique gourmet selections in addition to alternative choices for those watching carbs, fat intake and sugar intake. This was great for our dinner companion who had diabetes. We ate dinner four nights in the formal dining room (1st early seating at 5:45) which I recommend as the later seating tend to get backed up way into the night due to the staff really doesn't rush those of us enjoying our dinner to move out. The other nights we ate light from the pool bar which served hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, grilled chicken and full taco bar or from the Lido Restaurant which served a healthy buffet every night. You could still get room service meals and snacks 24 hours a day, if you wanted. Coffee, tea (hot & cold) and purified water is available on the Lido Deck 24 hours a day. There are numerous bars and lounges around the ship that make getting anything to drink very easy.
Our itinerary included Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay and Half Moon Cay (Bahamas) two of which were accessible by docking at pier; two had to anchor offshore and use tenders. Unfortunately, we experienced water conditions that were not favorable for a number of tours which were cancelled and made the tendering into port more difficult. During these trying times, the crew and staff of the excursion desk worked hard to satisfy everyone as best they could. The private island spot on Half Moon Cay is heavenly and welcomed after the week of cruising. It is a gorgeous resort and no words can describe the tranquility and serene surroundings on the island. We had a private cabana for the short time we were there (only disappointment) which was great! It came equipped with lounge chairs with little misters, stocked refrigerators and snacks for the day...well worth it. But a note to travelers, book early as they sell out quick. One a final note, Grand Cayman is still recovering from the hurricanes last fall, which left them devasted in some parts of the island. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the island and its recovery efforts.
For those of you cruisers with children, be sure to sign them up for the Club Hal activities (up to age 17) as soon as you get on board. They will be grateful you did. Our daughter loved every minute and thoroughly enjoyed her time there. They have plenty of crafts, activities, etc. to keep them busy. The older crowd has a fully equipped video center with plenty of game boys and play stations for all! In addition to their own sun deck and Jacuzzi. I can't wait until our next cruise and would strongly recommend the Holland America line!