We generally prefer the smaller ships. Larger ships have a lot more entertainment and activities, are more modern, faster, with larger rooms, and are more stable, but you get lost in the maze of people and activities and the ships have to ferry passengers in instead of docking more often. The size of this ship seems just right.
One thing about Holland America, they don't do much wrong. Just about everyone will rate them at the top of cruise lines. Every crew member and the staff are always pleasant. When you rate them you really don't know what scale to use since dining experiences on any ship are generally excellent. So the best I can do is rate them against other cruises we have been on. Therefore, an average in dining experience is actually excellent since cruise ships generally are all excellent in this area.
What they do especially right.
The cruise director's staff attend events and excursions. I've noticed that the cruises with the most messed up excursions are the ones where no one from the ship is on the excursions.
Their is no smoking in the main lounge, at least on the lower floor. Smoke is not a problem anywhere on the ship.
The boat drill, which can be a real pain on some ships, is done very painlessly.
The purser's office has a great, helpful, multi-lingual staff.
The ship is on time everywhere.
Everything in the room worked.
What they could have done better.
They are under staffed in dining room. This is probably due to their "tipping is not required" policy. Everyone should know this is stupid, but I bet many do not tip, or tip very little. Probably due to this, the ship runs with one busboy for every two waiters. This just doesn't work well.
Hair dryers. They should be built in the room, not handed out upon request. They should also have enough of them! We had one for two rooms. Throughout ten days they never managed to get us another one.
The rooms do not have a refrigerator or safe in them, and the TV is very small. They do have locking drawers, however.
Holland's excursions are overpriced. Some trips are just a little too fast.
Exchanging currency is done by one person. Early in the cruise, the office isn't open enough. Later, even after the passengers know how bad the exchange rate is on the ship, they still get a long line at the exchange window that moves very slowly. It appears they are about 7% off the general exchange rate for both buy and sell plus add a charge for doing it. If you buy too much of one currency and exchange it back, you've lost almost 20% before you buy the next currency. Get your money before you come or exchange it in Rome. Perhaps in 2001 they'll be on the Eurodollar and solve much of the problem.