I have sailed HAL since the 1970's and have about 600 days with them. Although they have changed a bit with the times, they still retain many of the trappings of traditional cruising and especially their long time base of "retirees" who comprise the vast majority of their passengers. Some years ago, shortly after their purchase by Carnival, HAL attempted to appeal to families by adding Club HAL facilities to all their ships; however the response just was not there although these facilities and child care options are still available on all their ships except Prinsendam. It seems however that HAL has returned to their "roots" which is upper middle class retirees.
I arrived at the pier in Ft Lauderdale about 1030 am, walked thru Check in - all lines seems to have this process down pat, waited in their lounge a bit and by a fluke was the first passenger aboard, after wheelchairs, at 1130. On board rooms are ready on arrival for all and a special luncheon is available in the DR for More
all "repeaters". If HAL can have rooms ready for occupancy by 1130, and luggage delivered within an hour of "dropoff" Why can't other lines? On RCI rooms not ready until after 1 pm (sometimes 2 pm and later), and luggage frequently takes as much as 8 hours for delivery.
Eurodam, one of their two so called "Signature Class" ships - which are really Vista Class ships with 100 extra cabins crammed onto them - is beautiful in HAL's traditional style of nautical antiques, leather, polish, and many comfortable quiet spaces. In recent years however HAL, along with other lines e.g. Celebrity, have crammed extra cabins on almost all their ships. This leads not only to passenger crowding, dining congestion, pool area crowding, but also on their older ships has strained mechanical systems, eg a/c, water etc. On Eurodam (and Niew Amsterdam) they crammed an extra deck onto the ship to accommodate 200 extra pax on a hull designed for 1900, now has to carry 2100. This plus the diversion of deck space, especially around the covered pool area into revenue producing space for shopping and many "cabanas" (rented by the day etc.) materially impacts on space available for regular passengers and detracts from your cruise experience.
Food, service, cleanliness, friendliness, alternative restaurants etc. on Eurodam are all superb and in keeping with HAL's reputation of being #1 among the so called "Premium Lines", e.g. Cunard, Celebrity, Princess. A HAL characteristic has always been having a profusion of large, ornate, floral pieces in public area. They are beautiful, found in profusion, and are cared for by two full time florists aboard.
Another HAL characteristic - copied by many - is their beautiful Observation Lounge" high above the bridge. On Eurodam this also incorporates their Explorations Cafe, which consists of the Library, Internet Center, and Coffee Shop.
HAL has always, and certainly continues to do so on Eurodam - offer many musical groups offering music of all types (including ballroom dancing) in many venues; lovely production shows, a dedicated movie theatre offering "today's" films, etc.
My balcony stateroom however was a bit of a disappointment as it was so very like that on other lines e.g. bland decor, gray/black carpeting, small balcony,
etc. - just like other lines. On HAL they usually do better and at 200 sq ft. it was the same size as that found elsewhere.
Food - I usually eat in the Dining Room for as many meals as possible. On Eurodam tables are, thanks to those 200 extra pax, much closer together - even the Orchestra Balcony as been converted to tables. Food is excellent as is the fine service from their dedicated Indonesian service staff (many from Bali), accompanied by their friendly Filipino bar/wine staff. There are three "extra " restaurants on Eurodam and I ate at two - Tamarind and Pinnacle. Food in both was excellent and service even more superb.
We visited St Thomas and Grand Turk - nothing new there as both are "ruined" by too many thousand cruise visitors. Also a day at HAL's private island Half Moon Cay. I have been to all the cruise line "private islands" and this is by far the best for relaxing and enjoyment. As I walked about I was amazed at its order and cleanliness. Of course cleanliness and attention to detail have been HAL's hallmark for many years.
And so in summary - a great trip with an excellent, long established (over 135 years) cruise line. My sole problem is with their 'cabin cramming", but I also know that revenue is the bottom line, all lines are doing it, and so I will either adjust or cruise only on super luxury lines, e.g. Regent, Seaborne, Silver Sea which my budget will not allow. Until then I'll rely on HAL for a excellent, solid, cruise experience. Less