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My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the mega-ship vibe. We chose the Oosterdam western cruise this year. Have not been on the Oosterdam previously but have been on Zuiderdam and most classes of HAL ships over the years. For the first time we were disappointed in HAL. We were on the March 2 sailing. We splurged for a Neptune Suite. Embarkation was a breeze. It was probably 15 minutes from Lyft ride to boarding the ship. The ship itself was impeccable. Our suite was in perfect condition. Here is a list of our disappointments: 1. Food - we had fixed dining 2nd seating. As always the service was great. I have always defended HAL's food quality over the years - but not this time. Examples included a pepper pot soup that consisted of over cooked bits of yesterdays short ribs covered by a dilute beef broth. A cat fish fillet that you could find in your Krogers frozen food section in a box and the fillet part of my "surf and turf" was an embarrassment - must have 3 oz and a hamburger patty would have been more flavorful. 2. $10 surcharge - My wife wanted the veal chop the night of the surf and turf but asked for a lobster tail to go with it. We were charged $10 for an "extra entree". Really? Felt like a slap in the face. 3. Promenade deck - we enjoy our walks around the deck. 90% of the time it was closed off for some maintenance such that you could not circle it completely. 4. Food - back to food: no chilled soups, no smoke fish, no baked Alaska. HAL food seems to be becoming very homogenized and bland 5. Shore excursions: overpriced as usual. The one we took in MoBay included being jammed into a small minibus to the point where I had to sit on a jump seat for an hour. The advertised 4 hour trip to a plantation house took us 6 hours. 6. Ports of call: why do they stop at Montego Bay anyway? Absolutely nothing to do there that did not involve and excursion. Cayman was cancelled. Cozumel - tourist trap. 7. Entertainment: there was no mainstage entertainment the first night out. No production shows. On the plus side, the crew and waitstaff were as friendly and gracious as always. The ship was in impeccable condition. The Lincoln Center shows and BB King were excellent. The America's Test Kitchen was great HAL seems to be getting rid of the things that made them different. With declining food quality and never ending surcharges, we are thinking about doing something different next year rather than a HAL cruise. And we are sad about that.

HAL starting to disappoint

Oosterdam Cruise Review by CruiseRQA

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the mega-ship vibe.

We chose the Oosterdam western cruise this year. Have not been on the Oosterdam previously but have been on Zuiderdam and most classes of HAL ships over the years.

For the first time we were disappointed in HAL. We were on the March 2 sailing. We splurged for a Neptune Suite. Embarkation was a breeze. It was probably 15 minutes from Lyft ride to boarding the ship.

The ship itself was impeccable. Our suite was in perfect condition.

Here is a list of our disappointments:

1. Food - we had fixed dining 2nd seating. As always the service was great. I have always defended HAL's food quality over the years - but not this time. Examples included a pepper pot soup that consisted of over cooked bits of yesterdays short ribs covered by a dilute beef broth. A cat fish fillet that you could find in your Krogers frozen food section in a box and the fillet part of my "surf and turf" was an embarrassment - must have 3 oz and a hamburger patty would have been more flavorful.

2. $10 surcharge - My wife wanted the veal chop the night of the surf and turf but asked for a lobster tail to go with it. We were charged $10 for an "extra entree". Really? Felt like a slap in the face.

3. Promenade deck - we enjoy our walks around the deck. 90% of the time it was closed off for some maintenance such that you could not circle it completely.

4. Food - back to food: no chilled soups, no smoke fish, no baked Alaska. HAL food seems to be becoming very homogenized and bland

5. Shore excursions: overpriced as usual. The one we took in MoBay included being jammed into a small minibus to the point where I had to sit on a jump seat for an hour. The advertised 4 hour trip to a plantation house took us 6 hours.

6. Ports of call: why do they stop at Montego Bay anyway? Absolutely nothing to do there that did not involve and excursion. Cayman was cancelled. Cozumel - tourist trap.

7. Entertainment: there was no mainstage entertainment the first night out. No production shows.

On the plus side, the crew and waitstaff were as friendly and gracious as always. The ship was in impeccable condition. The Lincoln Center shows and BB King were excellent. The America's Test Kitchen was great

HAL seems to be getting rid of the things that made them different. With declining food quality and never ending surcharges, we are thinking about doing something different next year rather than a HAL cruise. And we are sad about that.
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