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This was my first cruise with HAL. The other members on CC had me worried about cruising with HAL with lots of negative comments. HAL turned out to have many things that they did well, but also lacked a little in certain areas. Read on...... EMBARKATION: Upon arriving at the port, the traffic was a bit hairy. Once you got out and got going it was ok, but the sign posted that said that tipping was not necessary was posted so that you would see it after the fact, but either way... The multiple cue lines were a decent idea, and the first cue line directing you to the appropriate station was all right, but kind of slowed down the flow of traffic. I found it amusing that the people who did web check in had to wait longer in line than those who didn't and they did web check in to save time. HA! We didn't have to wait long in line at all; 10 min tops. Then we were off and on our way to board. Because we arrived at 12 p.m. we were able to board directly without waiting for our number to be called. From the minute we made it through the metal detectors we experienced solicitor after solicitor. That was a bit much. On the other side of the doors from the metal detectors were spa people waiting for you, and then at the top of the escalator (mind you the spa people were at the bottom of the escalator) were wine stewards selling the wine packages and then next was the photographer taking pictures and selling the photo package. All of that made me think I was already on one of the islands. Once we made it across the gangway and had one foot on the ship someone was there asking my brother his age and giving him a CD holder with the daily programs for the week for CLUB HAL. This was a plus over Disney because their CD holder was of a nicer quality but was made incorrectly so you couldn't even use it. There was white glove service to the elevators upon entering the ship. Once in the Lido it was hard to find a seat, see the Ship Design section of my review for more info. Once again, as soon as we picked a table we were asked to buy a drink card. We did, we bought 3. As the day went by we were asked over and over again, even when just passing by the Olive Pit in the atrium. It was a bit much. Also funny, how they pushed them the first day, and then after that they didn't think it was so hot when you had one later on in the week. ROOMS: At about 1:30 p.m. there was an actual announcement that your room was ready for your enjoyment and to be checked out at your leisure. This was very nice, I have not experienced an actual announcement on other cruises, they just mentioned it as you got on that your room would be ready at a certain time. My room, because I was totally by myself, was just a Cat. N, so I was an inside stateroom, but it was a handicapped room so it was very spacious. The rest of my family had a Cat. SS suite on the corner aft of the ship where the ship widens. Their room was very nice and the verandah was unbelievable. Many of these positives come from the location of their room. Because of its location, both the room and the verandah were larger than a regular SS. My room, 1011, was way too large for just one person. The only complaint I have is that the doors did not have any weight to them (mostly so a handicapped person in a wheelchair wouldn't get caught by the door), but it caused them to not close unless actually pushed all the way shut. If the bathroom door was not closed it would swing back and forth, open and shut. Having the room furnished with a fresh basket of fruit was definitely a plus only HAL seems to provide, even at the Cat. N level. Also the HAL carry bag on the first night is great for the week and for identifying fellow passengers on land. I had friends in a regular verandah room, and that was extremely small. Also they had to put one night stand under the desk instead of putting the two in the middle. If they had put both nightstands between the beds one would have to crawl over the bed to get through the room. I had family in the fully obstructed view window rooms. The nice thing about these "windows" were that they were the size of sliding doors. The room was much more spacious than the verandah room my friends had. The set up of the verandah room was definitely lacking. FOOD/DINING: Ok....first the food itself. The consensus on the CC boards seemed to be that HAL really lacked in the food. My party of 14 found that this food was better than Carnival and even Disney. I thought their food was very good. I find on cruises that things look better than they taste, and I end up leaving half a plate of food because things didn't taste as planned. This was almost never the case. Very pleased. The dining room was all right. We are kind of sick of wasting 2 hours a night of our cruise sitting at dinner. We have had enough of it being such a drawn out process. Also we had a table of 8 and a table of 6 which makes it that much longer. Our waiter was very efficient and sweet. Our wine steward/drink waiter wasn't the brightest crayon in the box for sure. He had trouble getting our pops on a regular basis. I give them immense credit for the way they run Lido at night. We really enjoyed being able to go to the Lido and get the same food that is being served in the dining room, without having to wait 2 hours for it all to be served. ****Also the food was fresh in the Lido**** Rather than the food being made and sitting around waiting for waiters to come get it, the food was made right after you ordered it and brought to you, only a few feet away. I cannot even express how much we enjoyed their Lido dinner. We ended up there 3 nights. Another plus to the Lido was that you could see the food before you ordered it. This allowed you to mix and match parts of entrees. I would put the food as being one of HAL's strong suits. The dining room was definitely lacking.....again with the ships design....I did not like seeing people jogging and walking by and around the dining room on the Promenade deck. That was not so appetizing. ACTIVITIES: I'm used to having to choose between activities usually because there are so many. On HAL this was not the case. Not only were there very few activities throughout the day, but the activities that were going on were lacking. Their activities were limited to board games run by activities staff and Bingo. There weren't dancing lessons as many people talked about. There wasn't much of anything. ENTERTAINMENT: Carnival and Disney both have HAL beat single handedly. Their entertainment left something to be desired. Their cast was overly cheesy and not very entertaining and their comedians were funny, but like smirk at a joke funny, not laugh out loud until it hurts funny. I'm used to finding the latter on most ships. SPA: I did not have any spa treatments this trip. This is rare since I usually spend about $600 a trip in the spa. Maybe I just wasn't terribly inclined to be in their spa, unlike other ships. Also, see Ship Design review, you had to walk through part of the spa to get to the forward elevator on deck 9 and the gym was hard to locate because it was in the back of the spa. The hydrotherapy pool looked great though, never tried it. DEMOGRAPHICS: This seemed to be my key word on this ship. Yes, it was a much older group than I have ever seen before. This was good and bad. On the whole, the older crowd was very nice, if you got stuck behind them sometimes it was a bit rough. Because of this aging crowd HAL made some changes that were great. IE...Calling 92 to have your room service tray removed. IE....being able to stay in your room, or just leave your stuff in your room until you actually disembark. I must say that the latter was definitely a great perk. We had about 80 kids on our sailing, probably because it was so close to Christmas. There were probably about 30 singles on this cruise ranging from 18-35. Quite a few families were accompanying the 80 kids, but about 60% if not more of the ship was over the age of 55. This proved for an empty ship after 11 p.m. By 12 a.m. the casino was emptying out and the nightclub was not doing so great either. SHIP DESIGN: This I have mentioned, all in a negative manner, in all of my other posts. The CCers did get this right. The ship used up too much verandah space, making the public rooms very small. The layout definitely was lacking. The Lido had very limited seating and it was hard to find somewhere to sit on a regular basis unless you were there at an obscene time for the meal....like 2 p.m. for lunch. Also walking through the spa to get to the elevator on 9 forward and getting to the gym was a bit inconvenient. Having the gym in the spa is normal, yes, but it is usually much more visible. This was a bit of a maze to find it. Some say that HAL is trying to have a bigger ship but keep the smaller, cozy feel by using low ceilings and having rooms that you have to actually go in to see them. I found this to be a downfall. The atrium that was only 3 stories was sad. There isn't anything like having a 7+ story atrium and being able to see everything. That's just great, but instead of making the ship feel cozy it made it feel more like being in the mall, in a cramped store. The gift shop.....hahaha.....honestly worst layout for the gift shop ever. It had little nooks and crannies of stuff and it was like 5 stores that they built separately and then knocked down a wall in each of them to connect them and make them one. Very poor. Even worse was the gift shop staff, see STAFF for that review. The seating in the Vista Lounge was a bit annoying. A few chairs here and a bunch of couches everywhere. This provided for people to take up the room of 3 people by sitting in one seat. Also, since the couches curved on the ends the only person, if 3 were sitting on it, that was comfortable was the person in the middle. The people on the ends were sitting into a curve, very uncomfortable. The night club was designed so poorly that I noticed it from pictures I saw months before I went on the cruise. Right in the middle of the dance floor was a very large column. The casino was really tiny and when it got more than 30 people in it, it got very crowded. Same with the Northern Lights dance club. It didn't happen often, but when it did get more than 20 people on the floor, it was packed. Icing on the cake that sucked about this ship were the aft adult pool hot tubs. 3 adults, and I mean 3 adults that were skinny, couldn't even fit in the hot tub without being all over each other. The hot tubs in the Lido family pool were much larger, or at least one of them was. The family pool had 3 hot tubs, and the adult pool had 2. You were lucky to get 2 adults in the adult hot tubs. STAFF: The staff seemed to have an attitude that I have never experienced. Please note that there is staff and then there is crew. There is a difference. The staff acted like they were better than the guests and that we were on their turf. It was a bit of a shock to see the attitudes they had. CREW: The crew was great. Mostly Indonesian and mostly male they were all very sweet and genuine. The crew was always there to help the elderly or disabled to their destination whether it was the elevator, their room, their table. They were also always there to carry trays for the elderly or the young, like my brother. Their service was great and they were a very gracious group. Their crew show was a bit strange and brought a small crowd, but they tried their hearts out and meant well. I found it to be great, especially to do something like that after working the whole day long. DISEMBARKATION: HAL sure seemed to want to get rid of you. They did have a nice change in policy from other ships where you can stay in your room and leave your carry on stuff in the room until you actually disembark. That was nice, but they kept coming in your room to get it ready or check the mini bar so I know some people felt rushed. It seemed like they were ready to get rid of you. Even the TV stations weren't even working anymore.

Oosterdam - Western Caribbean

Oosterdam Cruise Review by Viva02

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2004
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
This was my first cruise with HAL. The other members on CC had me worried about cruising with HAL with lots of negative comments. HAL turned out to have many things that they did well, but also lacked a little in certain areas. Read on......
EMBARKATION: Upon arriving at the port, the traffic was a bit hairy. Once you got out and got going it was ok, but the sign posted that said that tipping was not necessary was posted so that you would see it after the fact, but either way...
The multiple cue lines were a decent idea, and the first cue line directing you to the appropriate station was all right, but kind of slowed down the flow of traffic. I found it amusing that the people who did web check in had to wait longer in line than those who didn't and they did web check in to save time. HA!
We didn't have to wait long in line at all; 10 min tops. Then we were off and on our way to board. Because we arrived at 12 p.m. we were able to board directly without waiting for our number to be called.
From the minute we made it through the metal detectors we experienced solicitor after solicitor. That was a bit much. On the other side of the doors from the metal detectors were spa people waiting for you, and then at the top of the escalator (mind you the spa people were at the bottom of the escalator) were wine stewards selling the wine packages and then next was the photographer taking pictures and selling the photo package. All of that made me think I was already on one of the islands.
Once we made it across the gangway and had one foot on the ship someone was there asking my brother his age and giving him a CD holder with the daily programs for the week for CLUB HAL. This was a plus over Disney because their CD holder was of a nicer quality but was made incorrectly so you couldn't even use it.
There was white glove service to the elevators upon entering the ship. Once in the Lido it was hard to find a seat, see the Ship Design section of my review for more info. Once again, as soon as we picked a table we were asked to buy a drink card. We did, we bought 3. As the day went by we were asked over and over again, even when just passing by the Olive Pit in the atrium. It was a bit much. Also funny, how they pushed them the first day, and then after that they didn't think it was so hot when you had one later on in the week.
ROOMS: At about 1:30 p.m. there was an actual announcement that your room was ready for your enjoyment and to be checked out at your leisure. This was very nice, I have not experienced an actual announcement on other cruises, they just mentioned it as you got on that your room would be ready at a certain time.
My room, because I was totally by myself, was just a Cat. N, so I was an inside stateroom, but it was a handicapped room so it was very spacious. The rest of my family had a Cat. SS suite on the corner aft of the ship where the ship widens. Their room was very nice and the verandah was unbelievable.
Many of these positives come from the location of their room. Because of its location, both the room and the verandah were larger than a regular SS. My room, 1011, was way too large for just one person. The only complaint I have is that the doors did not have any weight to them (mostly so a handicapped person in a wheelchair wouldn't get caught by the door), but it caused them to not close unless actually pushed all the way shut. If the bathroom door was not closed it would swing back and forth, open and shut.
Having the room furnished with a fresh basket of fruit was definitely a plus only HAL seems to provide, even at the Cat. N level. Also the HAL carry bag on the first night is great for the week and for identifying fellow passengers on land.
I had friends in a regular verandah room, and that was extremely small. Also they had to put one night stand under the desk instead of putting the two in the middle. If they had put both nightstands between the beds one would have to crawl over the bed to get through the room.
I had family in the fully obstructed view window rooms. The nice thing about these "windows" were that they were the size of sliding doors. The room was much more spacious than the verandah room my friends had. The set up of the verandah room was definitely lacking.
FOOD/DINING: Ok....first the food itself. The consensus on the CC boards seemed to be that HAL really lacked in the food. My party of 14 found that this food was better than Carnival and even Disney. I thought their food was very good. I find on cruises that things look better than they taste, and I end up leaving half a plate of food because things didn't taste as planned. This was almost never the case. Very pleased.
The dining room was all right. We are kind of sick of wasting 2 hours a night of our cruise sitting at dinner. We have had enough of it being such a drawn out process. Also we had a table of 8 and a table of 6 which makes it that much longer. Our waiter was very efficient and sweet. Our wine steward/drink waiter wasn't the brightest crayon in the box for sure. He had trouble getting our pops on a regular basis.
I give them immense credit for the way they run Lido at night. We really enjoyed being able to go to the Lido and get the same food that is being served in the dining room, without having to wait 2 hours for it all to be served. ****Also the food was fresh in the Lido**** Rather than the food being made and sitting around waiting for waiters to come get it, the food was made right after you ordered it and brought to you, only a few feet away. I cannot even express how much we enjoyed their Lido dinner. We ended up there 3 nights. Another plus to the Lido was that you could see the food before you ordered it. This allowed you to mix and match parts of entrees.
I would put the food as being one of HAL's strong suits. The dining room was definitely lacking.....again with the ships design....I did not like seeing people jogging and walking by and around the dining room on the Promenade deck. That was not so appetizing.
ACTIVITIES: I'm used to having to choose between activities usually because there are so many. On HAL this was not the case. Not only were there very few activities throughout the day, but the activities that were going on were lacking. Their activities were limited to board games run by activities staff and Bingo. There weren't dancing lessons as many people talked about. There wasn't much of anything.
ENTERTAINMENT: Carnival and Disney both have HAL beat single handedly. Their entertainment left something to be desired. Their cast was overly cheesy and not very entertaining and their comedians were funny, but like smirk at a joke funny, not laugh out loud until it hurts funny. I'm used to finding the latter on most ships.
SPA: I did not have any spa treatments this trip. This is rare since I usually spend about $600 a trip in the spa. Maybe I just wasn't terribly inclined to be in their spa, unlike other ships. Also, see Ship Design review, you had to walk through part of the spa to get to the forward elevator on deck 9 and the gym was hard to locate because it was in the back of the spa. The hydrotherapy pool looked great though, never tried it.
DEMOGRAPHICS: This seemed to be my key word on this ship. Yes, it was a much older group than I have ever seen before. This was good and bad. On the whole, the older crowd was very nice, if you got stuck behind them sometimes it was a bit rough. Because of this aging crowd HAL made some changes that were great. IE...Calling 92 to have your room service tray removed. IE....being able to stay in your room, or just leave your stuff in your room until you actually disembark. I must say that the latter was definitely a great perk.
We had about 80 kids on our sailing, probably because it was so close to Christmas. There were probably about 30 singles on this cruise ranging from 18-35. Quite a few families were accompanying the 80 kids, but about 60% if not more of the ship was over the age of 55.
This proved for an empty ship after 11 p.m. By 12 a.m. the casino was emptying out and the nightclub was not doing so great either.
SHIP DESIGN: This I have mentioned, all in a negative manner, in all of my other posts. The CCers did get this right. The ship used up too much verandah space, making the public rooms very small. The layout definitely was lacking.
The Lido had very limited seating and it was hard to find somewhere to sit on a regular basis unless you were there at an obscene time for the meal....like 2 p.m. for lunch. Also walking through the spa to get to the elevator on 9 forward and getting to the gym was a bit inconvenient. Having the gym in the spa is normal, yes, but it is usually much more visible. This was a bit of a maze to find it.
Some say that HAL is trying to have a bigger ship but keep the smaller, cozy feel by using low ceilings and having rooms that you have to actually go in to see them. I found this to be a downfall. The atrium that was only 3 stories was sad. There isn't anything like having a 7+ story atrium and being able to see everything. That's just great, but instead of making the ship feel cozy it made it feel more like being in the mall, in a cramped store.
The gift shop.....hahaha.....honestly worst layout for the gift shop ever. It had little nooks and crannies of stuff and it was like 5 stores that they built separately and then knocked down a wall in each of them to connect them and make them one. Very poor. Even worse was the gift shop staff, see STAFF for that review.
The seating in the Vista Lounge was a bit annoying. A few chairs here and a bunch of couches everywhere. This provided for people to take up the room of 3 people by sitting in one seat. Also, since the couches curved on the ends the only person, if 3 were sitting on it, that was comfortable was the person in the middle. The people on the ends were sitting into a curve, very uncomfortable.
The night club was designed so poorly that I noticed it from pictures I saw months before I went on the cruise. Right in the middle of the dance floor was a very large column.
The casino was really tiny and when it got more than 30 people in it, it got very crowded. Same with the Northern Lights dance club. It didn't happen often, but when it did get more than 20 people on the floor, it was packed.
Icing on the cake that sucked about this ship were the aft adult pool hot tubs. 3 adults, and I mean 3 adults that were skinny, couldn't even fit in the hot tub without being all over each other. The hot tubs in the Lido family pool were much larger, or at least one of them was. The family pool had 3 hot tubs, and the adult pool had 2. You were lucky to get 2 adults in the adult hot tubs.
STAFF: The staff seemed to have an attitude that I have never experienced. Please note that there is staff and then there is crew. There is a difference. The staff acted like they were better than the guests and that we were on their turf. It was a bit of a shock to see the attitudes they had.
CREW: The crew was great. Mostly Indonesian and mostly male they were all very sweet and genuine. The crew was always there to help the elderly or disabled to their destination whether it was the elevator, their room, their table. They were also always there to carry trays for the elderly or the young, like my brother. Their service was great and they were a very gracious group. Their crew show was a bit strange and brought a small crowd, but they tried their hearts out and meant well. I found it to be great, especially to do something like that after working the whole day long.
DISEMBARKATION: HAL sure seemed to want to get rid of you. They did have a nice change in policy from other ships where you can stay in your room and leave your carry on stuff in the room until you actually disembark. That was nice, but they kept coming in your room to get it ready or check the mini bar so I know some people felt rushed. It seemed like they were ready to get rid of you. Even the TV stations weren't even working anymore.
Viva02’s Full Rating Summary
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