This was our second HAL cruise, first time on the Oosterdam. Embarkation was very fast and really well organized. HAL has its act together. Our obstructed oceanview cabin on Deck 4 amidships left ample space above the lifeboat. The safety drill was held an hour before sailaway. Names and cabin numbers were called and marked off lists. Almost everybody paid attention to instructions.
We found the food in the MDR excellent, compared to our 16 cruises on many other cruise lines. Even going for low-fat, low-cholesterol was easy and delicious. Early fixed seating being so popular, the dining room was crowded and quite noisy. The tables are very close together.
We sailed into a howling storm with 35 ft waves right the first night and a lot of people got very sea sick. We were happy to be on a lower deck amidships and rode it out with our usual SeaBands and ginger pills. The first 24 hours the dining room was sparsely populated.
We found food and service to be excellent. The 3 times we ate in the Pinnacle Grill were truly superb, exquisite, you name the adjective. We never ate in the Lido except for one breakfast before an early shore excursion.
HAL's beds are luxurious compared to other lines'. We slept wonderfully well. We spent a lot of time in our cabin reading, especially on "rocky" days. The ship was not as overly air-conditioned as some, but our cabin was cozier.
We'd hoped on lots of dance practice but that did not happen, either because it was a struggle to stay upright or the dance floors being used for other things and thus full of chairs. But we enjoyed the Neptunes, who switched from the "golden oldies" to our more up-tempo favorites once they got to know us.
We found the ship to be spotless and very elegant in a subdued and classy way. The crew and staff were wonderful and genuinely friendly.
A couple of the shore excursions were very disappointing but I've sent in a review about them separately.
Disembarkation on April 15 was the fastest and best organized we have ever experienced! We were off the ship in 10 minutes after our color and number were called, and that included customs! We're very impressed with HAL and the Oosterdam. Our favorite ship so far.