My wife and I decided on a last minute cruise at Christmas time, and had a great deal on the December 23rd sailing of the msNoordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to FLL and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza, only one mile from both the airoprt and the port. We booked a guarantted cat VH stateroom and were upgraded to a cat VD stateroom (4053) and loved it. I had read some discouraging reviews about how the HAL had slipped in terms of service, but thankfully we did not find that the case at all. We had sailed on the msVeendam in 2003 and 2004 and this trip was every bit as good as our last expereiences, which we both rated 9 out of 10. The service, the food and the people we met during the cruise all made for wonderful memories that we will cherish for years to come.
We visited the Bahamas (Half Moon Cay) and it was the most beautiful beach we have ever been to. We walked the beach, took a swim and enjoyed the fabulous barbeque; all of it at no cost. The next day we were at sea (Christmas day) and theere was plenty of holiday spirit throughout the ship. The next day we were in port at Falmouth, Jamaica and the market square was nice but we felt very uncomfortable outsidet the gated village area (the locals are way too aggressive and most everyone we spoke to found that to be the case). The rest of the cruise was spent visiting the Cayman Islands (Georgetown, Grand Cayman) and Key West, FL and we enjoyed our coach tours around the various points of interest.
The entertainment on board was first class except for the lead singer of one of the bands, but the highlight was the BB King tribute band whom were terrific and that we saw their show on three different nights.
I love sailing on HAL and believe they offer the best in class of any mid-sized cruise liner. 1915 passengers and a crew of 800 suits me and my wife just fine, and despite what you hear, there are folks of every age on board although it is an older versius younger crowd that you will likely find on board.