Mostly we have been P & O/Princess passengers but decided to give HAL a go after good reports from a mte. It was a good move.
Its very quickly obvious that HAl has a somewhat older demographic. After enduring numerous noisy sailaways where getting a drink is near impossible, I loved the fact that I could just walk up to a bar and immediately get served, and this occured right through the cruise. There were always people around but we never felt crowded.
Our cabin was spacious and had tons of wardrobe/drawer space plus a well laid out bathroom. Normally our 13yo son gets a dropdown pullman berth but here he got a sofabed which was far better. Everything was kept clean and enjoyed the nightly towel animals.
Food was good but not great. A lot of the dishes were very similar and only differentiated by the sauces and gravies. We eat dinner in the dining room and had early sitting. Despite being happy to have others join us this only occured twice so the rest of the cruise we had a big six seat table all to ourselves which was great. Had one dinner in the Pinnacle and was impressed. Room servie, though fairly limited, was prompt and tasty.
Found the entertainment rather limited and the trivia quizzes were about all I attended. These were strongly biased towards the US passengers, much to the annoyance of the Aussies and Kiwis who made up over half the complement. I always enjoy Piano bars but instead of a quiet place to go to listen to and occasional request tunes, this one is almost a show with the pianist having theme nights and audience participation. Not my cup of tea but loved by the oldies. I'm just not into 30s and 40s show tunes.
Full marks must go to their Teen Club as my boy went in there on the first day and was basically never seen again. Three months later almost the entire teen group on board are in regular Facebook contact and have tthe odd outing together.
For some bizarre reason the only indoor smoking bar is an open area in the middle of the ship. I am a smoker but recommend HAl move this to the rear of the ship and into an enclosed room. Surely the casino players can take a little walk when the need a smoke a the current location only serves to annoy the nonsmokers.
At the end of the day this was one of the best cruises I have been on and would happily do it again. The refit Volendam is about to have can only improve things.