This was our first cruise. We got attracted by recent initiatives by HAL to attract younger cruisers with children. While rates were pretty attractive at the low end, you simply could not book those because of the maximum capacity restrictions. So we had no other choice but to upgrade to more expensive categories at the booking stage, which were not bigger, but just had 'drop-down' bunk beds and extra life jackets. What a 'clever' way to attract families and have them pay for more expensive rooms in a category with "3rd/4th free guests. We traveled to Ft.Lauderdale a day before our cruise, which was always suggested by other more experienced cruisers on this website. Stayed at Hilton close to the port - very nice hotel, very convenient. Embarkation was fairly smooth, again have nothing to compare to, but seems like it was fairly organized. Stateroom issues: When we got to our room steward pulled down the bunk bed for one of the children, we realized the bunk bed was right above our heads above the main bed where my wife and I would sleep. We immediately realized that when we would try to get up during the day or in the middle of the night, we would hit our heads on the bunk bed just by trying to sit up on the bed. Of course, we could try to "roll out" of the bed (as suggested by HAL customer representative later on), but who remembers the "roll out technique" in the middle of the night, right? I understand you get what you paid for (even though we paid for the highest category in the Inside stateroom category), but shouldn't we expect at least reasonably safe conditions in every room? Next thing you know HAL will be offering "free ocean breeze upgrade" if you book a space on the deck. I wish HAL had pictures of their staterooms with bunk beds down so people can see if this configuration would work for them before booking a certain stateroom. Realizing that this configuration would be really unsafe and potentially harmful, I went to the front desk and asked to be moved to a cabin with a different configuration. We didn't really need an upgrade, just different configuration. While supervisor agreed with us that this configuration was not the best and potentially unsafe for our family of 4, the only option we were given is to pay additional $400 for an upgrade. The upgrade cabin was the same size, however this was an 'Oceanview' cabin and the configuration was such that kids bunk bed was not above our bed (which is much safer). That is the only option they had. My kids were so tired and hungry and we already left Ft.Lauderdale, so I had no option but to accept the upgrade (I would have done it even if they asked me to pay additional $1,000). We felt pretty much cornered in our decision. This was our vacation and I didn't want to spoil this family time we have planned for a while. Dining: We started going to Lido, however realizing that we could never eat together as a family as kids were always walking around and standing in lines for food. We decided to try Vista Dining Room. Even though we never had reservations, they would always find a table within 3 minutes - which was very nice. Food was relatively good there and wait staff always very friendly. We also went to the last night chef's special - it was very good and entertaining! We also tried Pinnacle Grill a couple of times - service was excellent, food on the other hand was so-so. Children's clubs were excellent idea to keep kids occupied. Once my older find out about Club HAL, she made a lot of good friends and we haven't really seen her during the day. Seems like she really enjoyed there. Staff & Service: Everyone was very nice and accommodative. Entertainment: You could always find staff to do, even though the choices were not great. Again, have nothing to compare to. Disembarkation was pretty smooth. Summary: This was our first cruise. While we had fun overall, the stateroom issues left a very bitter taste of the whole cruise. Contacting customer service after the cruise was over was useless. These people blindly follow their processes and procedures and have no understanding what customer service and loyalty means. HAL will never be able to attract family cruisers with this kind of approach. Then again, maybe they don't really want to....

End up disappointed by HAL cruise line

Noordam Cruise Review by cruisecritic88

Trip Details
This was our first cruise. We got attracted by recent initiatives by HAL to attract younger cruisers with children. While rates were pretty attractive at the low end, you simply could not book those because of the maximum capacity restrictions. So we had no other choice but to upgrade to more expensive categories at the booking stage, which were not bigger, but just had 'drop-down' bunk beds and extra life jackets. What a 'clever' way to attract families and have them pay for more expensive rooms in a category with "3rd/4th free guests. We traveled to Ft.Lauderdale a day before our cruise, which was always suggested by other more experienced cruisers on this website.
Stayed at Hilton close to the port - very nice hotel, very convenient.
Embarkation was fairly smooth, again have nothing to compare to, but seems like it was fairly organized.
Stateroom issues: When we got to our room steward pulled down the bunk bed for one of the children, we realized the bunk bed was right above our heads above the main bed where my wife and I would sleep. We immediately realized that when we would try to get up during the day or in the middle of the night, we would hit our heads on the bunk bed just by trying to sit up on the bed. Of course, we could try to "roll out" of the bed (as suggested by HAL customer representative later on), but who remembers the "roll out technique" in the middle of the night, right? I understand you get what you paid for (even though we paid for the highest category in the Inside stateroom category), but shouldn't we expect at least reasonably safe conditions in every room? Next thing you know HAL will be offering "free ocean breeze upgrade" if you book a space on the deck. I wish HAL had pictures of their staterooms with bunk beds down so people can see if this configuration would work for them before booking a certain stateroom. Realizing that this configuration would be really unsafe and potentially harmful, I went to the front desk and asked to be moved to a cabin with a different configuration. We didn't really need an upgrade, just different configuration. While supervisor agreed with us that this configuration was not the best and potentially unsafe for our family of 4, the only option we were given is to pay additional $400 for an upgrade. The upgrade cabin was the same size, however this was an 'Oceanview' cabin and the configuration was such that kids bunk bed was not above our bed (which is much safer). That is the only option they had. My kids were so tired and hungry and we already left Ft.Lauderdale, so I had no option but to accept the upgrade (I would have done it even if they asked me to pay additional $1,000). We felt pretty much cornered in our decision. This was our vacation and I didn't want to spoil this family time we have planned for a while.
Dining: We started going to Lido, however realizing that we could never eat together as a family as kids were always walking around and standing in lines for food. We decided to try Vista Dining Room. Even though we never had reservations, they would always find a table within 3 minutes - which was very nice. Food was relatively good there and wait staff always very friendly. We also went to the last night chef's special - it was very good and entertaining! We also tried Pinnacle Grill a couple of times - service was excellent, food on the other hand was so-so.
Children's clubs were excellent idea to keep kids occupied. Once my older find out about Club HAL, she made a lot of good friends and we haven't really seen her during the day. Seems like she really enjoyed there.
Staff & Service: Everyone was very nice and accommodative.
Entertainment: You could always find staff to do, even though the choices were not great. Again, have nothing to compare to.
Disembarkation was pretty smooth.
Summary: This was our first cruise. While we had fun overall, the stateroom issues left a very bitter taste of the whole cruise. Contacting customer service after the cruise was over was useless. These people blindly follow their processes and procedures and have no understanding what customer service and loyalty means. HAL will never be able to attract family cruisers with this kind of approach. Then again, maybe they don't really want to....
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