Ruth and I have not been big cruise people. That’s why it has been an unusual year for us. We took our first major cruise ever this fall because we wanted to go through the Panama Canal, and picking a cruise seemed the best way to do it. Without knowing anything about it, we booked Holland America Line to do it. Last year we cruised around Cuba and stopped in 3 ports. Our final trip of this year will be a family cruise.
Cruiseline.com gets it right when it reviews Holland America. It rates it high for multigenerational family trips and older, seasonal travelers. Much older. Most of the passengers were retired couples from Canada since our cruise originated in Vancouver, BC. We joined them in San Diego. Many of the older passengers clearly found cruising a way of life and spent some of their time planning and booking their next Holland America cruise. Cruiseline.com’s 3 top lines are Bahamas Paradise Cruises, Carnival, and Celestyal. It says that Carnival “is a haven for party animals”. Ruth and I didn’t see any party animals under fifty on Holland America, but the food was generally above average and the activities were varied. Ruth especially liked the test kitchen where I will benefit from the many recipes she collected. The downside of this cruise was that our captain canceled 2 ports because the weather was iffy. This left us with 7 “at sea” days. Cruiseline.com gives Holland America its highest rating for service and staff. I tend to agree with this even though I did get a bit tired of disingenuous, programmed greetings every time we stepped outside our cabin.
One of the 2 ports cancelled was Costa Rica. We booked this particular Holland America cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam mainly because the stops on the way to the Panama Canal included Costa Rica. We have heard lots about this country and wanted to sample it. However, we will benefit from this unfortunate cancellation. We are now going to Costa Rica in January and will experience a lot more of the country than we would have seen via Holland America.
I was both pleased and surprised to find that there are so many opinions about cruise lines expressed on-line. U.S. News, for example, reports a lot about different cruise lines. For this year they say that, for the money, Royal Caribbean International is the best cruise line. For luxury they favor Crystal Cruises. For families, Disney. For couples they promote Seabourn. Holland America never makes U.S. News’ top 3 in any category.