Just got back from a HAL cruise on the Maasdam out of Norfolk to Antigua, San Juan, St. Martin, and U.S.V.I.
I am a great fan of HAL (6 cruises so far with them - 54 days) but......
1.) Don't expect the ship to EVER be on time. We left 2 hours late (after waiting in the cold), shortened out time at every port, and arrived back to Norfolk 6 hours late. I understand from the staff that this is not usual.
2.) Nautucus (which is the lauch pier) is not set up for cruise ships so I would not recommend rushing to get on board. They queue you up all over the place and you stand for ever.
3.) The North Atlantic is rough. Having my own boat in Lake St. Clair (near Detroit) I had no problem with this but on the way back we experienced 25 foot swells and let me say the ship was rocking!!!! Sneeze guards in the Lido cracked, wine glass were knocked over at dinner, and I have never seen so many black eyes on the ship.
4.) The cleanliness and attentiveness I have come to expect from HAL was lacking on this ship. I am not entirely sure what the problem is but I think the new tipping policy has soemthing to do with it. I must say our wine steward (Rohario I think) was great - and quite a hot body as well!
5) Two shows were cancelled due to the weather.
On the positive side I still had a great time and the food was the best I have ever experienced on HAL.