We had booked this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never done the Eastern Caribbean having done mostly western and Bahamas. While researching this cruise HAL had a sale that allowed the 3rd and 4th passengers to go for free. So we took advantage of this and brought my son (25) and his wife with us. We have been on about 16 cruises, spread over CCL, NCL, and RCL but had never cruised HAL before. In a word we are now "spoiled" and will find it hard to go back to the other lines. The level of service, the attention to detail and the other cruisers made this a much more enjoyable trip.
Cabin: we had a veranda cabin with 4 adults. Now you would think that would be crowded. But it really was not that bad. I will warn you that the upper bed comes down over the head of the main bed and can be a little close for some. We solved this by not using the upper bed. My son and his wife both slept on the sofa bed. Which is supposed to only be a single, but seemed a little bigger than a single. A side note: we did the unlimited laundry for $49 (great value) and that kept us from having piles of dirty cloths around.
Cabana: If you are on a ship that has cabanas (lido/ retreat) and you have not yet reserved one, run to your phone and reserve one. You will not regret it. We had a Lido cabana and could not believe how much we enjoyed it for the price. We never had a problem with having 4 people in a Lido cabana. As a matter of fact, our stewards (who were great) brought us a third chair without being asked. The amount of time that all 4 of us were there was very small, as someone was always coming or going. Sitting in the cabana ordering lunch and enjoying the afternoon treats; well it just makes you feel like a king. They (the cabana stewards) went out of their way to find things they could do for us. I gave them a small tip at the beginning of the cruise and a nice tip at the end, it was well worth it.
Vibrations: The vibrations on the ship, I feel are being over reported. I think we have all read so much about it that we are sensitized to it and are looking for it. It really is not a problem.
Entertainment: The entertainment is very much a personal preference thing. My wife, who likes those kinds of shows, loved it. I thought that some of the shows were much better than others, so I would not lump them all together as good or bad. I would have liked more variety. The Dream Park show is much better than the show they have on the 2nd night (do not recall the name). I am afraid that many people go to the welcome show and the 2nd night show then give up. The shows later in the week are better by far.
Food: Here again it is very subjective. The MDR food was good, but nothing was over the top great. The Tamarind on the other hand was exceptional. After going there on the 3rd night we decided to go back 2 more times. One warning, if you order something on the "Fire" menu and they ask you if you want it extra hot, well they take you seriously and you better have a fire extinguisher handy. The Tai beef salad is not to be missed.
Casino: If you are a slots player I have bad news. The slots are tight. My wife plays a lot on every cruise we take and she said that based on her experience they may be the tightest at sea. Just an opinion, hope you have better luck. My son and I both played BJ and had a great time. They have a "normal" (not fun21) $5 table that was fun, however it tends to draw in the people who have no idea how to play. We gave up and moved to the adult ($10) table. The casino also stays open as long as there are people. We never had a problem with them closing early.
Ports: Grand Turk and HMC are great beach days. Not a real fan of San Juan or St. Thomas. In San Juan we did the Bacardi rum factory tour on our own. It was ok but not really a factory tour and probable not worth the 4 hours we spent. If I had it to do over I would have spent the time going to the historical forts instead. In St. Thomas we took the skyride up to Paradise point. Very nice to see, but again not worth the time and money. This is one port were I think you need to book an excursion in order to enjoy it.
Although the average age may be a little higher on the line (we are 50 and 44) that is not a problem and in fact makes for a better overall experience. If I have to give up drunken 20 somethings roaming the halls in the middle of the night, well that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. My son and daughter-in-law are 20 somethings and they had a great time and cannot wait to back on HAL.
Great cruise, loved the ship, didn't love the ports.