Shore excursions – we didn’t do any but we liked the way the Shore excursion Manager gave a talk about each of the excursions giving passengers an overview of what they should expect and their activity level and as I said before their port information book was lovely and very professionally put together. Interesting thing about ports... once we arrive they make a point of not making any disembarking announcements unless there is change... This meant that people would start to gather around the gangway even before the lines are tied.... I think just one announcement to let everyone know when the gangway is open would work really well.
Entertainment - This was pretty good on ships standards.... The theatre is more of a showroom so there were tables on the dance floor, a couple of rows of bench type lounges radiate behind them, then padded chairs forming the back rows. Upstairs the bench seating is a little uncomfortable as the backs are low so you feel like you are waiting for a bus, not watching a show. Viewing is actually better downstairs. The production shows were more like Stage Shows that told a story as opposed to Princess whose show are based on a theme. We didn’t see a lot of the entertainment as our cruise was very port intensive and we were either back late or very tired..
They had activities to fill in your day like Computer Classes in the purpose built workshop and cooking classes and demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Centre which also doubles for the movie theatre and venue for talks and lectures.
Disembarkation - So easy there is nothing to write really. It works the same as all other companies and basically we just walked off at our allocated time... no customs just grabbed our bags and ran.
Overall thoughts.... we liked our Holland America experience and would sail with them again if the right cruise was on offer. We would miss our Princess perks though. They also have a loyalty plan with some pretty good onboard discounts. When I compare Princess and Holland America I would say that they are on par as they both have their really good points and both have their bad points. If Holland America can improve its service level then they would really shine. Then again with all these beverage cards given out to American Cruisers as benefits to book, you can see why they slow down the drinks serving process.