We chose this cruise because we were traveling with my elderly father. We knew Holland America typically caters activities and meals to the more mature crowd, so we thought it would be a good fit. My father enjoyed his cruise. But we had to work at it.
Starting with positives....
Holland America has disembarkation and customs down to a science. I would give this a high five star rating.
The concept of staff serving guests at the buffet line is genius.
Our cabin was pretty clean, after we asked the steward to come back and get the soap scum off the soap holder.
Mixology, martini tasting, and bar hop were the highlights of our cruise. No, we are not alcoholics.
This is the first cruise I have ever taken where I actually lost weight!
But there were problems.
-THE DINING ROOM SERVICE was very slow, and inaccurate. When we questioned the length of time we were waiting, or tried to get what we had ordered, we were told the kitchen was backed up. We tried three times, two dinners and a lunch, and gave up, eating the rest of our meals at the overcooked and tasteless buffet.
Dining room meals were always cold. FOOD ALLERGIES and dietary restrictions were totally ignored until Day 5 and a LOT of complaints to guest services.
My hubby printed a card in four languages stating I had a life threatening allergy to shrimp. Only shrimp. I pointed it out to every waiter, at every meal, and laid it on the table. Only the servers in the Lido seemed to pay attention and cater to our needs. My dad gained 14 pounds in three days due to the excess salt in the food. The evening of Day 5 on our 7 night cruise the cruise staff finally addressed these issues.
-there was NO WHEELCHAIR AT THE PORT for embarkation as promised. After a lengthy walk, we sat for literally two hours waiting for a wheelchair to assist us the rest of the way through the ship to our cabin. Hubby and I were discouraged from being on the elevators with my dad. We had to hike up the stairs with luggage in tow to leave elevator room for “those who really needed it”.
-there was NO PREBOARDING for Mariners as promised. We arrived at the port as directed at 11 am. It turns out it’s not ANY mariner status, as we were told on the phone, but only 3 star and above that get priority boarding. It’s the same for most every “mariner “ function on the cruise. 1 and 2 star mariners are only allowed to attend the luncheon at the end of the cruise. The port staff in Tampa was not helpful at all. They kept pointing to the stale cookies and water to pass our time.
-PORTS OF CALL. Even the cruise staff would caution about getting off the ship if you weren’t on an organized tour. Organized tours with “handicapped accessible “ options did not include getting from the ship to the tour, often a 10 minute walk. We were instructed to stay in the designated areas (aka shopping areas). Why did the ship even stop here?
-there’s NO MAINSTAGE ENTERTAINMENT. They put lounge caliber entertainment (A magician, a comedian, a pianist, and a doo whop a cappella group) on the main stage as “featured entertainment”. Movies shown were old. Classes were taught by untrained crew members.
-my fathers BATHROOM TRASH WAS NEVER EMPTIED during the 7 day cruise. Our hallway smelled like a sewer, but our room was ok. Obviously, Dad’s smelled. And, we may never stop teasing my dad about the ladies’ panties than ended up on his balcony on Day 4 that were never removed.
Throughout the ship there are raised “speed bumps” as we nicknamed them. Just enough height difference to trip an older person walking. Most public space chairs do not have armrests. I would not have noticed, until watching my father try to get in or out of a chair. For a ship that boasts catering to mature clientele, they might try to accommodate better in the public areas.
We had travelled on Holland America a decade ago. We were very disappointed with what we witnessed on this cruise.
ADVICE TO FUTURE TRAVELERS: bring a cane, and steady walking shoes. Keep expectations low.
Complimentary vitamin water. 3 bottles for 2 people on a 7 day cruise.
Tubs are old, but mostly maintained. Balcony nice, but if adjoining to others, there will be a bar about shin high to step over.
It’s easy to put luggage under bed, but be aware about 25% of space under bed is storage for crew and their needs for each cabin.
There’s a huge glass coffee table in the room that gets in the way of everything. It’s difficult to move.
Tour was average. I was disappointed that the "handicapped accessible" options did not include getting on or off the tour bus, and required a ten minute walk from the ship, making the tour not handicapped accessible as advertised.View All 256 Conch Train Tour Reviews
It was clean. We felt safe. We stayed in the shopping area and did not venture into town.
Locals were a bit pushy. It was raining outside, and leaking inside. The lengthy walk from the ship prohibited many from leaving the ship. Crew and website warnings kept us from wandering into the city. Prepare to barter hard.
Enjoyed bird men show. Liked bird sanctuary exhibit. Liked layout of the town to eat, relax, and be entertained. This stop was a great mix of culture and shopping and completed our trip. We did not venture out of the town, but felt safe enough if we had chosen to do so. The mega margarita was a fun break.