this was our 4th cruise with HAL our first on the Westerdam, staying at the recommended hotel the evening before we though this would be the easy way for embarkation, instead it was confusing and the women organising the transfers etc. were unhelpful and rude and more interested in the larger groups travelling together than us as a couple, however eventually we did board the transfers and then the ship but sadly too late for the mariners lunch, our luggage arrived promptly and the cabin although smaller than what we had had on the Ryndam was in a nice position and very clean and comfortable although we had requested a sharps disposal unit which never did arrive! our cabin steward there to greet us and there was always fresh fruit and ice daily, really couldn't have asked for better service.
we chose to eat mainly at the Lido and the food there was of good quality and plenty of selections, the snack bar near the pool made really good hamburgers and we often settled for those for lunch, we enjoyed room service for breakfast a few time and that was excellent always on time and everything correct with our order, we did eat in the main restaurant but found the Lido more to our liking.
we took an optional tour at every port visited and found most of them excellent, these I had booked on line before we left, however I must say the girls at the excursion counter really were not very helpful and in fact we found them to be very rude, and uncaring especially as the cruise neared it's end, it was as though Oh well this cruise is over we don't need to see to your needs. The main person here actually ignored my wife when she was standing there waiting for service at 9am actually lent over in front of my wife and switched off the screen that said the counter opened at 9 and walked away when asking a passing crew member what was the time they would open she was told Oh the girls have gone for breakfast come back at 10 not really good enough!!
the mariners brunch middle of the cruise was very ordinary with limited menu selections and service very poor, no gifts, and no explanations, a lot of loyal cruisers not very pleased with this off handed treatment.
The entertainment was another disappointment, while the main shows were good they were always on late , on previous cruises they always had a 6 30 show which I think suited the age groups that are the main cruises on these ships, found all the activities all very repetitive, the movies ok but again the times were not really suitable and it was easier for us to watch them next day in our room!
The shops also on this ship had the same old stock as on our first cruise 6 years ago, same bags, bangles, watch sets T shirts and caps, nothing at al different and the super sales on the lido deck again the same old same old, surely it's time for the buyers for these store to buy some new and different merchandise.
We will do another cruise but will look at other cruise companies to compare, our previous cruises with HAL were so good that we had never even thought of cruising with any other company but after 18 days of the same old same old I think it's time for a change.
Also found the compulsory tipping as well as the 15% surcharge on the bar bills a bit over the top, we paid top dollar for our cruise and with the added expense of the long flight to and from Australia and before and after cruise accommodation I think it is time that all expenses be included in the fare price, while I think the crew on this crew were (mostly) excellent the added expense is very hard on the holiday budget.