Last month I embarked upon my very first cruise with Holland America. I had high hopes and great expectations because of their tagline of ‘A Signature of Excellence’ and it’s safe ­­to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The ship I sailed on, MS Ryndam, was more traditional in style than many of the ships I’ve sailed on recently, the majority of which have been Royal Caribbean ships.

It didn’t have a wide open atrium expanding over several decks, but I didn’t miss that one bit. I loved the more traditional feel of the ship, especially the retro black and white pictures of past Holland America ships in the corridors leading to the staterooms. A small touch, but something I truly enjoyed.

The Beauty of Holland America

And that seems to have been the beauty of Holland America – the small touches which make all the difference to an experience. Having been used to sailing with Royal Caribbean and P&O in recent years, I found there were many so called ‘extras’ provided on Holland America which I wasn’t expecting, but really enjoyed.

Small things like free room service 24/7, the choice of having DVD’s delivered to your stateroom on request, bigger staterooms, never feeling like the ship was crowded (despite it being almost at capacity), and Elemis products in the bathrooms made my cruise all the better.

Fantastic Food Choices

The food on-board was delicious, and the menu was not at all repetitive during our cruise. There was plenty of choice and a wide variety of different foods, something which has been severely lacking in my recent experience.

The speciality restaurant on-board, The Pinnacle Grill, was great value (there is a small charge per person) and the food was delicious. Sadly we couldn’t get a reservation until the last night of our cruise, or we’d definitely have dined there more than once.

The itinerary was great too – beginning in one of my favourite cities, Barcelona, before stopping off in billionaire’s playground, Monaco. Then it was onto the Italian Riviera and Santa Margherita before our next Italian stop in Civitavecchia, the port city for Rome.

Cagliari on the island of Sardinia was next, before our final stop of the 7 day cruise- Palermo, Sicily. Santa Margherita was definitely my favourite port of call. The coastline of the Italian Riviera is stunning and it gave me the opportunity to visit Portofino, as well as exploring Santa Margherita itself.

The beautiful, traditional style ship, combined with an exciting itinerary and the extra touches, made this a truly memorable first cruise with Holland America. I certainly hope it won’t be the last!

Thanks Emma