This was our 9th cruise with HAL and it never ceases to amaze me the criticisms I read. Not sure what everyone's expectations are, but for us a vacation is for relaxation, learning, experiencing and meeting new people: recharging the batteries. And cruises are great value in terms of putting together food, travel, hotel, entertainment etc.
These last five or six cruises we have booked a Neptune suite and perhaps that makes the difference, I can't say. But we always feel like we are in our second home when we come aboard. Considering over 2k people, the embarkation is amazingly rapid and friendly. Getting into the room early is a plus.
We loved being in Canada and seeing the change in seasons, coming from California where we have hot and less hot and maybe rainy, seeing all four is wonderful. The ports were generally good (Pt Canaveral is one to be skipped as is Baie Como where there is no "there" there. A $10 school bus ride will prove that! Other ports were just beautiful. Loved Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport. We did a mix of HAL excursions and others we found on our own for less cost. But in general we loved the ports.
Food...don't understand. We go to some of the best restaurants in the world and have traveled around the world. The MDR service was terrific, the waitstaff wonderful and the dinners were just right. We had fish most every night and one was better than the next. I always have fruit for dessert and skip the pastry but my wife enjoys them. The dining room steward was kind and friendly the whole trip. But perhaps "please" and "thank you" on the part of passengers goes a long way.
Room stewards, spectacular. Neptune Lounge, nothing like it. Especially Imka. Perhaps the suite experience is different. I understand it costs much more but the perks do add to the overall cruise experience. And the coffee in the Neptune: whole bean machine which grinds for each cup...doesn't get better than that...cappuccino is best on the ship. Tamarind is the best hands down. Pinnacle Grill = another great meal, great service, pretty room. Lido is incredible with the Asian food being my favorite at lunch and fresh made Paninni Sandwiches for my wife. We skipped Caneletto this time around. This was our second time on Eurodam. Our first was the maiden voyage year and the ship is a bit worn prematurely I think but not so much that it looked bad. Just a detail here and there.
BB King....wow, what a great show! Went in each night for some great entertainment. Easily best on any cruise. Singalong bar: Diane Fast was just super. Main shows, not so much. Special pianist onboard was just awful. Ventriloquist, worse than awful. Ron Purpora, very good! The dancers in the productions were outstanding,the singers were just okay. It's all by rote and it's souless. Go to BB King and hear songs how they SHOULD be sung. The dancers though were committed, strong and just great.
What does that leave? The endless sales promotions, art sales, $10 today only junk sales, overpriced mediocre massages....par for cruises. I am just blind to them I guess. And the ships photog...wow, what nerve for a photo. In this age of digital cameras and inexpensive printers....maybe they need to charge so much because they waste so many photos that people will not pay for. The hard sell liquor push around the pool is getting a bit more moderated, not to pushy as in the past.
Would we sail HAL again? We are going to New Zealand and Australia on Oosterdam in February. I guess that is the answer.