The first thing we noticed about HAL was how much it has changed in the 10 years since we travelled with them ....and not for the better. Our paper, cut out labels and the long wait for the HAL transfer from the airport to the ship were just the start!
We had travelled on Princedom when it was with Seabourn Sun and remembered a lovely ship. To be fair our balcony cabin was well laid out and comfortable; we were really pleased with it - the size, furnishings and good balcony size were all great. The inside of Prinsendam is generally good, but externally the ship is in a very poor condition. A lot of people commented on this from the external staircases constantly out of use, lower promonade deck out of use and ripped sunbed mattresses. The need for maintenance work externally was evident everywhere. Internally, one of the four elevators was out of action for a number of days, causing some upset to passengers less able to walk around.
The ship is due to go in to dry dock in January - I'd say this is way overdue. If Carnival/HAL take on older ships they need to ensure that they invest more in maintenance - it shouldn't be evident to passengers how little maintenance work has been carried out. However, in dry dock extra cabins are to be added to deck 8, taking up some valuable outside space.
This was the first cruise I'd been on where the lido waiters on duty were also the window cleaners!
The lido was popular but the food limited - little salad choices, mainly meat dishes, few vegetarian options. Staff were texting and answering mobile telephones whilst passengers were waiting for assistance - again the first time I'd seen this. Myself and others had to return food due to finding hair in it!
The service in the restaurant was very inconsistent - wrong orders, undercooked dishes, forgotten orders. The "any time dining" next to tables with fixed seatings didn't work and I think this is what led to the inconsistent service. The waiters were having to deal with tables on both dining styles at the same time. This really let the service down.
The Entertainment Director was a likeable man but the constant calls to bingo were very irritating.
The itinerary was fantastic - Istanbul was a real highlight as was Batumi in Georgia and Sevastapol in Ukraine. Socchi in Russia wasn't great - a lot of passengers got refunds on tours here.
We travelled with friends and this together with the itinerary and our comfortable cabin saved the cruise from being poor. We really hope that HAL takes notice of the passenger feedback forms. HAL aren't inexpensive, they promote themselves as a luxury product, but we certainly did't feel that we'd really got value for money.
We definately will not be travelling with HAL again.