You know, everyone has here own experiences as you mentioned, so here is mine. On the old Westerdam, we had the finest service you could imagine. Loved the magradome,and, it did rain, and it was used. Had a fun themed cruise, but the ship was old by then,and looked it.
FF to 2005, we went on the Zuiderdam, very pretty ship, loved the Pinnacle Grille, had service issues in the DR, with waiters and busboys at odds with each other. The placement of our table w/banquettes in the raised portion of the DR, created terrible service, in this way too crowded area. The waiter was not at fault with design flaw.
We were on this cruise with dyed in the wool HAL fans, who, were quite surprised with these issues. What surprised me the most, was how the ship became a ghost ship at night. Now, we are not party people, but wanted lots more then what we experienced as far as night life.
For me, the only way I would book again, is if we had a Cruisemate group cruise, then, I know I would have built in friends and fun. I want to book a cruise, with a bit more upbeat attitude. I sailed them twice, and now I know, it's bit too quiet for us. I know I may be in the minority, but that's my story,and I'm sticking to it.