My husband and I and my brother and sister-in-law arrived in Tampa the day before embarkation to drop the kids off at my parent's house in Tampa.
My dad drove us to the terminal on Sunday. We arrived around 11:00am. Registration went smoothly. We were on the ship and having lunch by 1:00pm. Soon after lunch the announcement was made that the rooms were ready. We booked 2 side-by-side verandah suites on the Navigation deck. The room was a nice size with a good size verandah. The rooms were just steps away from the Navigation deck pool which was nice. We had plenty of storage in the room and all our suitcases fit under the bed. We used the room safe with no problems but be aware that many people used their room key to lock/unlock their safe and then couldn't get back in the safe when their magnetic strip on the room key got demagnetized. This happened to my brother and the locksmith had to come and drill open his safe. It's best to use a driver's license or other credit card.
The life-boat drill went well except for having to wait for some passengers that didn't show up on time.
We ate dinner in the dining room every night. We had late seating. Our waiter, Gandhi, and his assistant, Ian, were the best. They remembered everything we liked after the 1st night. They even had Chef Rudy make us a special "Snickers pie" one evening. They were both always smiling and happy. The service was great. We were done with dinner by 9:00 or 9:15 every night.
Breakfast and lunch in the lido was fantastic. I enjoyed the made-to-order omelettes and others loved the choices for Eggs Benedict. At lunch, the asian food is great and the made to order sandwiches were a big hit.
After dinner we usually hung out at the casino bar. The bartenders, Mikee and Pepito, were fantastic. Honestly, Mikee oughta be doing the magic show in the Ruben's Lounge. He kept us entertained for hours!!! On the last night of our cruise, Mikee and Pepito presented us with handmade gifts that were just beautiful.
My husband and I had great luck at the casino. He won the Texas hold-em tournament and I hit big on the slots. We had lots of fun. The casino staff was also great. The new us by name the 1st night.
We also frequented the Ocean Bar before dinner for drinks. It is a lovely place to relax and have pre-dinner drinks and hors dourves.
My brother attended the Origami class and really enjoyed it. He's still folding origami almost a month later.
We typically hung out by the Navigation deck pool. The TV kept saying the water temp was 82 degrees but it felt way colder then that. We never used the Lido pool. There seemed to always be plenty of lounge chairs and good drink service at the pool.
We attended the magic show and the comedian show in Ruben's Lounge. We also went to one show with the Veendam singers and dancers but left half way through. It was not so good. Just one complaint about Ruben's Lounge, it's very hard to see especially if you sit on the upper level. The seats are not tiered enough.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We had a time of 9-9:15. We went down at 9:00 and honestly were outside waiting for our ride at 9:10.
I loved this cruise. Yes, the majority of people were over 60, at least, but a blast to talk to and very nice. There were very few kids which was great because we were there for a break from kids. There was never a line for anything. The ship is great and will be even better after dry-dock next month. I would cruise HAL again and the Veendam if for nothing else but the crew. They were all fantastic.!!!!