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We have been loyal Oceania passengers for many years. We looked for a winter Caribbean cruise to our liking. We preferred a maximum of 10 nights, because after that the novelty starts to wear off. And we don't like to leave our pet cat for extended periods of time. Oceania's winter trips were skewed towards longer voyages. Friends had recommended HAL, and this itinerary had a great balance of beautiful islands and the right number of sea days. (We sailed for 10 nights; the last 3 were a separate Oprah fan cruise.) We had followed the maiden voyage of this ship via the LIVE reports on Cruise Critic. The photos and narrative filled us with anticipation. We had not been on a "new" ship in many years. Once onboard, we were awed by the beautiful decor, furniture, and art. Usually I yawn when reading about onboard art, but we were impressed by many of the paintings and sculptures. The cabin was very comfortable and importantly, there was more than ample storage space. Our only complaint is that there was a charge for the bottled water replenished in the cabin, about $5.00 per bottle. And no pitchers of regular water was available. We ate most dinners in the MDR. (The menus of the specialty restaurants were not appealing to us.) The dinners were among the BEST in any MDR we experienced on any cruise line! And having 3 courses was just right. We were accustomed to 5 course Oceania meals, which sometimes seemed too much and too long. I liked that each dinner included a special regional entree, which I relished more than once. And it was a good sign that I never had the need to select from the 'everyday" menu. There was so many enticing dishes to choose from. When we are up early enough, it is always a pleasure to have breakfast in the MDR. And HAL had a wonderful selection of menu items. It was especially pleasing that there was more than one type of French Toast, and egg dished like huevos rancheros. My only negative is that the croissants were not as fluffy and delicate as the ones on Oceania. The outdoor NY Deli and Pizza served up tasty sandwiches and made to order pizzas. The system where you were given a pager for picking up your order was very efficient. The entertainment was a nice alternative to the production shows we were accustomed to on Oceania. All the venues were conveniently on the same deck in a central location. The Billboard club had a talented married piano player / singer duo, who told interesting anecdotes between songs. The B.B. King lounge had one of the most talented band with vocalists that I have heard on any ship. As a fan of classic rock, the Rolling Stone venue was pitch perfect, though I wish the volume was at a lower decibel level. There were also two shows with very funny comedians. No need to say much on the ports, as this was a beach vacation for us. Suffice to say we found many beautiful beaches to visit via taxi, with chairs and umbrellas available for rental. I would note a shortcoming in that we liked having a daily newsletter that listed public transportation availability, distance to points of interest, and estimated fares - which Oceania provided. One more point is that our last cruise was trying Viking Sea, which was more expensive and generally inferior to this HAL experience. All in all, we loved our HAL cruise and the many friendly passengers we met at our shared dinner tables. And we will be on this ship again in June, which we look forward to with great anticipation!

Expatriates From Oceania Find Joy in First HAL Cruise!

Nieuw Statendam Cruise Review by harryw

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
We have been loyal Oceania passengers for many years. We looked for a winter Caribbean cruise to our liking. We preferred a maximum of 10 nights, because after that the novelty starts to wear off. And we don't like to leave our pet cat for extended periods of time.

Oceania's winter trips were skewed towards longer voyages. Friends had recommended HAL, and this itinerary had a great balance of beautiful islands and the right number of sea days. (We sailed for 10 nights; the last 3 were a separate Oprah fan cruise.)

We had followed the maiden voyage of this ship via the LIVE reports on Cruise Critic. The photos and narrative filled us with anticipation. We had not been on a "new" ship in many years. Once onboard, we were awed by the beautiful decor, furniture, and art. Usually I yawn when reading about onboard art, but we were impressed by many of the paintings and sculptures.

The cabin was very comfortable and importantly, there was more than ample storage space. Our only complaint is that there was a charge for the bottled water replenished in the cabin, about $5.00 per bottle. And no pitchers of regular water was available.

We ate most dinners in the MDR. (The menus of the specialty restaurants were not appealing to us.) The dinners were among the BEST in any MDR we experienced on any cruise line! And having 3 courses was just right. We were accustomed to 5 course Oceania meals, which sometimes seemed too much and too long.

I liked that each dinner included a special regional entree, which I relished more than once. And it was a good sign that I never had the need to select from the 'everyday" menu. There was so many enticing dishes to choose from.

When we are up early enough, it is always a pleasure to have breakfast in the MDR. And HAL had a wonderful selection of menu items. It was especially pleasing that there was more than one type of French Toast, and egg dished like huevos rancheros.

My only negative is that the croissants were not as fluffy and delicate as the ones on Oceania.

The outdoor NY Deli and Pizza served up tasty sandwiches and made to order pizzas. The system where you were given a pager for picking up your order was very efficient.

The entertainment was a nice alternative to the production shows we were accustomed to on Oceania. All the venues were conveniently on the same deck in a central location. The Billboard club had a talented married piano player / singer duo, who told interesting anecdotes between songs. The B.B. King lounge had one of the most talented band with vocalists that I have heard on any ship. As a fan of classic rock, the Rolling Stone venue was pitch perfect, though I wish the volume was at a lower decibel level.

There were also two shows with very funny comedians.

No need to say much on the ports, as this was a beach vacation for us. Suffice to say we found many beautiful beaches to visit via taxi, with chairs and umbrellas available for rental.

I would note a shortcoming in that we liked having a daily newsletter that listed public transportation availability, distance to points of interest, and estimated fares - which Oceania provided.

One more point is that our last cruise was trying Viking Sea, which was more expensive and generally inferior to this HAL experience.

All in all, we loved our HAL cruise and the many friendly passengers we met at our shared dinner tables. And we will be on this ship again in June, which we look forward to with great anticipation!
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