November 2014 - Westerdam to Caribbean - Eastern
This was our third HAL cruise, first in the Caribbean. Previously we sailed in 2007 on the Oosterdam in the Pacific Northwest and in 2008 on the Nordam to the Mediterranean.
The quality of the food on our previous HAL cruises was significantly better. While the food wasn't bad, per se, it was definitely average. Lunch at the Lido was too repetitive day after day. Breakfast was better. We loved the portion sizes in the main dining room! Very reasonable and not overwhelming and wasteful. I was impressed.
I found the entertainment to be of better quality. We had a lot of fun several nights in the piano bar and also enjoyed the BB King club. We heard that people loved Dancing with the Stars, but we were not interested in it. Trivia rounds were fun and well done. Marriage game (think Newlywed Game) was fun too.
We had a verandah room, 8017. It was super quiet and the bed was very, very comfortable.
The crowd was definitely in the early retiree range. If you're under 50, don't expect to find peers on the ship.
Half Moon Cay was beautiful. The beach and swimming area are quite nice. We were happy with renting a "clam," and it appeared that the more expensive cabanas were not worth the significant fee. Plenty of bathrooms, which was nice. We felt nickeled and dimed, however, which was a bit of a shadow on an otherwise great day. The beverage card, for which we paid $45 a day, was not accepted on Half Moon Cay, which was just ridiculous. The normal ship cards were accepted by simply writing down your name and room number, and there was no reason they couldn't do so for the beverage cards too. There were also very high prices for the catamaran, snorkel gear, and other equipment. It was very off-putting.
I had a so-so facial on embarkation day, but the spa staff was so aggressive afterwards with selling the products, I was horrified. They wasted 45 minutes of my time trying to browbeat me into purchasing expensive products.
The ship overall was similar in quality to the Oosterdam and Noordam. Clean, well maintained, relatively easy to navigate.