We went on an HAL 2 week Caribbean Cruise in '09. Where do I even begin? First off, you should know that we are not "impossible to please" people, and don't get derailed by the occasional snafu. Also, the itinerary was what attracted us to this cruise in the first place.
The quality of the food ranged from very good to "what the hell were you thinking?" Honestly, more than fifty percent of the meals were very mediocre... limp, stale salads, mealy, sour tomatoes, etc. The meats were overcooked and dry. The dining room staff disappeared for 30 minutes at a time. This was in the dining room. In the Lido buffet line, the food was actually a little better than in the dining room, but the servers were surly, and would do things like hide the whipped cream when they ran low, and give you a hard time when you asked politely for some.
The room was tired and the carpeting was dirty. The room stewards literally did not know how to make a bed - I'm not kidding, they just laid the bottom sheet sideways across the bed so that it puddled on the floor on both sides, and there was 18 inches of bare mattress at the head and the foot of the bed! This went on for the whole two weeks! They didn't give us any new soap and toiletries until we ran out and asked for more. The cupboard doors and drawers were loose and kept sliding open and slamming shut when the ship rolled, so we bought a roll of duct tape on our first port of call and strted taping everything shut at night... oh, and when we first entered our cabin and turned on the light, the switchplate fell off on the floor,so we ended up duct taping that on, too. By the end of two weeks our cabin had duct tape all over the place, and no effort to fix anything was made by the stewards.
On one port of call, the ship idled in port for an hour before leaving, and the ventilation sucked in deisel fumes that were so strong we couldn't stay in the room. We called for help, and almost an hour later one guy showed up, looked around and said he couldn't smell anything! I was getting ready to sleep on the sofa in the library, but at around 11:30 p.m. it cleared enough to sleep in our room.
We wanted to go on many of the advertised ship excursions, but most of them were cancelled because of under/non- enrollment. The average age of the passengers on that cruise was much older than we are, and we are in our sixties, so that explains the lack of interest in excursions, but still... I feel that if you are paying that much, they should live up to their advertised activities.
The previous year we had gone on a 12 day cruise with celebrity, and it was PERFECT! The only reason we tried HAL was the itinerary and that we wanted a slightly longer cruise - boy, what a mistake! We have heard good things about Royal Caribbean also, and we did a trip with Princess that was good. Read more reviews to find out if HAL has mended their ways, but my advice, from our experience, is to choose another line.