The cabin was fine and for the most part the food was ok, not exceptional. They ran out of steak and chicken by the fifth night so the people we dined with didn't eat a main course as there was nothing to their liking on the menu. The area captain was rude when they asked about having steak and said the maitre d' was too busy to talk to them. When they finally got to talk to the maitre d', he basically said, that's tough. He wouldn't go to the Pinnacle and get a steak for them. The buffet ran out of tuna fish and sliced turkey by about the fifth day.
We ate in the Pinnacle one night and it was terrific, worth every dime (sorry, I mean $20). Even the Pinnacle ran out of Porterhouse steak (one of their signature items) around mid-week. The Pinnacle has the same menu every night. We probably would have eaten there again if the menu had changed.
The ship is beautiful but I wouldn't rate it 5 stars. It might be 3.5 or so. This was our fourth HAL cruise and the service has really deteriorated, especially since they were taken over by Carnival. Many people joked that the line has been "Carnivalized." They now charge for everything. The classes in the gym are $11 each. Additionally, in order to use the spa's steam room (the only one on board) and the hydropool, there was a $25 per day fee. When we got on board, passengers had already pre-booked all massages for the sea days, and there was a 3-4 hour line at the spa for sign-ups before we even sailed. When we had to go to the lifevest drill, we simply lost our place in line.
The biggest problem we had with the ship had to do with an emergency health care experience we became part of. After dinner one night, my wife and I found a young man (15) on the steps outside the dining room having seizures. I called his parents and the ship's 9=1=1. The mother and the ship's nurse both arrived 25 minutes later. We did our best to make the boy comfortable but if this had been a heart attack, those extra minutes could have been the difference between life and death. Fortunately, the boy was taken to the infirmary, medicated and was fine. I went to the front desk and asked to have the Hotel Manager call me. Two days later, when I hadn't yet heard from him (Stan Kuppens), I intentionally attended the Mariner's reception so I could get his attention. I gave him my cabin number and told him I was very disappointed that I hadn't heard from him. He called about 5 p.m. that day and I met with him for about 45 minutes. He took notes but at no point did he thank me (or my wife) for helping the young man. A "thank you" would have been appreciated.
The other serious problem we had was a sewage smell in the hallways in the fore of the ship, especially when in port. I discussed that with the Hotel Manager and was told that it was a design flaw of the Vision ships when the wind in port was blowing in a certain direction. Many passengers were discussing it.
Most of the entertainment was terrible until the last few nights. One couple did a juggling act and we were embarrassed for them. Alfreda Girard (singer) and Leo Ward (illusionist) were excellent and they were repeated on the final night of the cruise. The comedian was OK during his regular show and excellent at his adult show. The ship's cast was just OK, certainly not "Broadway Caliber" as the promotions read.
The documents we received showed that this cruise would have three formal nights (including New Year's Eve) but there were only two and no explanation. That was fine with us but some women may have gone out of their way to purchase and bring three formal outfits.
Despite these problems and weather that did not cooperate, we had a restful vacation. We have cruised on other 4 and 5 star lines and prefer them to HAL. We will probably not return to HAL.