One of the quickest and smoothest that I have experienced after about 8 cruises. Further, the luggage was promptly delivered inside of our cabins and laid out on the bed on top of bed protectors.
Although, neither Bev nor I are not handicap we were assigned a handicap room, because that was the only one left near midship. The cabin did have a little bit more room than a standard veranda, but I found the cabin and veranda shaped oddly. I would not book a handicap room again, b/c the closet and hangars are wheel chair accessible, which required us to bend over to hang and retrieve our clothing. This can be a little awkward, especially at 6 ft. In addition, it was understood that if there was a need for a handicap room, we would have to surrender ours, and be given a comparable cabin or higher. This was a little too much uncertainly for us, similar to the guarantee business. I prefer to book early and simply know and settle into a location without any anxiety or doubt.
Other than the odd shape of the cabin, one of my biggest complaints is that we were unable to turn off the fan ventilation in the room. There was always a hum, despite my calls and complaint to the registration desk. I simply had to get use to a constant hum, even with the thermostat turned off. This is not good for light sleepers, which I am one. Even, my partner complained, who is not a light sleeper.
As for my next cruise, I already asked Celebrity about the quietness in their cabins, and they assured me that it can be individually controlled and the vents and hum could not be turned off completely.
Celebrity, here I come, because of their quiet cabins (as they told me) and their non-smoking policy. It is not nice or healthy to catch a whiff of smoke when you simply want to breathe the sea air from you balcony.
The MDR dining room Holland's America N. Amsterdam was pretty but the food and service was little inconsistent. The formal night was done well w/ the lobster. The deserts were lack luster. Princess showed more creativity.
However, the Pinnacle Restaurant was one of the dining highlights of the cruise because they shined in every aspect, decor, service, food quality, and desert. The waiters had food knowledge and cared whether you were pleased w/ your order, unlike one evening in the MDR, where the waiter actually told us everything is good. We talked to the Maitre'd and was moved for the other couple of nights. If they had rotated the menu, other than the Le Cirque, menu, we would have revisited Pinnacle.
Tamarind also held their own very well. Both are highly recommended. Yes, there is a charge to eat on a ship's specialty restaurant, but it is worth to do at least once on the mainstream cruises. We also dined at Cannelli and it was nice but not up to the standards of the other two specialty restaurants that we visited. The buffet and breakfast on the lido deck were consistently good, freshly squeezed oj, was very nice, w/ kudos to the salad and fruit bar. (blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.
The gym equipment was very modern and diverse. It was nicely laid out at the bow of the ship overlooking the sea. I worked out thoroughly 3 times, in seven days, which I try to do when I am home. Tip: I am even more diligent with working out when on a cruise because chances are you are having more calories than you usually are. We took a Tai Chai class that was okay.
Pool: The pool was nice but the whirlpool was rather small.
I did not use the spa, but that had some very attractive prices doing port days.
Half Moon Cay was simply beautiful, as many of the reviews stated. The beach was nice and pretty. The barbecue lunch was nice but a bit hectic and crowded. I have experienced a few beach barbecues that were more relaxed. They can change the logistics and traffic flow. The bike riding was very short on old, squeaky, heavy, and rusty bikes for maybe 2 miles round trip. I would not recommend it. The hike was a little better. However, for about 59.00 it was overpriced.
The horseback riding on Grand Cayman was nice as we walked along the edge of the water, while some riders were allowed to trot and gallop. The horses were ready to run and many of the trippers allowed their horse to trot or gallop and our leader promptly and severely reprimanded us. He was tight that one of us would get hurt. However, as vacationers, we took offense at his tone and harsh demeanor.
I complained to HAL about this, and the fact that we did not go into the water as promised. Kudos to them because they refunded me my excursion fee.
Grand Turks and Caicios excursion was another disappointment on a HAL excursion because were taken to a church, a souvenir shop, and a salt factory. Tip: I think Governors' Beach or going to another beach or Provivecales are better choices, by far. Overall, I have found Princess excursions to be much better.
Costa Maya, Mexico, We had enough of HAL's excursions and booked independently thought Native Choice to visit the Chacchobben Ruins. This experience was by far the better excursion because, the ruins were incredible and the guide David was very knowledgeable and share his insights into Mayan Civilization.
We witnessed about 3 or four ruin and archeological sites. After the sites, about 6 of us were whisked off in a van to some remote and long winding dirt road. At the end of the road, was a beautiful resort. Here, the host greeted us, gently, and graciously. (this was welcomed after the horseback riding experience) We were lead to an outdoor dining table overlooking a pretty blue lagoon and treated to a traditional Mexican meal of rice, beans and a chicken burrito/ juice and margaritas. Very nice, and gracious, especially when asked if whether we wanted another margarita.
After, our provisions we were invited to tour the grounds and the individual cabins. There were nice and functional. Then we went kayaking on the lagoon. Very nice. The ride is about one hour each way, but it is well worth the trip. I will be doing more excursions that are independent from now on. One nice thing is that they are smaller, more intimate, and more controlled.
The entertainment was fine the highlights were the 4 male singers, named Cantera, and the juggler comedian, Andy James was excellent. The other highlights were the Piano Bar, what was very personable as he took requests. The casino was very smoky, t he disco was quiet and often full of teens who they has to constantly ask for ID. The karaoke was fun in the beautiful Queens Lounge. The art auction was typical of cruise auctions serving the cheapest champagne they could find.
The steel band was nice, however, they did have the people dancing or involved on the sail away parties. Princess' bands had the people dancing, and not simply because the people are younger on a Princess Cruise. Here, I found the passengers to me mixed. Many of us would have danced and partied if inspired by the band. I though during the desert event near the pool they would kick it off but they were not even playing. Yes, I did miss Princess's champagne toasts, which really gets the party started. Please note, we are an active couple in our 50's who likes to dance from time to time, especially on vacation. Let's get the party started!! I have been warned and advised about Holland America being a little laid back, but I also believe you cater to the current cruisers, not your reputation. They could have struck up the band, at least once.
However, I did take a waltz, swing, and salsa class and they were full each time.
My partner had a nice time, although she does not think she would do HAL again because it was a low key environment. One reason is because they did not get the party started w/ the band or DJ's, or had a celebratory atmosphere on the sail away or desert parties. Again, Princess has a more dynamic atmosphere. As for me, I am looking to explore some other cruise lines to see what they have to offer. I am offering a 3 star rating b/c of the constant ventilation humming in the cabin, some indifferences in the MDR, below average excursions, and the missing wow factor, although the ship was nice and classy.
The highlights on this cruise were the specialty restaurants, the lay out and decor of the ship, some entertainment. The buffet breakfast and some lunches were very good. The weather was very nice, low 80's and sunshine every day, w/ very calm seas. Only one night, the last one, did we felt some motion in the ocean.
Areas that can use improvement are more consistency in the MDR, cabin vent noise, excursions, and energy level of the band and crew cruise director to let loose at least once, to have real sail away or theme parties. Compared to other cruises, this one was a more laid back experience.
This was my 1st HAL cruise. In short, did it meet my expectations? Not really. Would I do it again? Maybe. However, I love the new ships and with some wow factors.
This sailing was selected b/c of the inauguration season, and specifically for the itinerary. I love the new ships and the wow factors. Overall, I did expect a little more consistency from HAL.
Read entire member review.
Cabin 5015 was wonderfully roomy, attractive, and had tons of storage. Balcony beautiful but oddly one large, comfy chair and one small, not so comfy chair???? Bathtub and spacious bathroom. Hallway too dark. No plug in the bathroom. Convenient to the open bow deck which was opened for special sail-bys. Read entire member review.
Cabin 8025. A handicapped cabin. Extra large bathroom and balcony. Excellent view from the balcony located in the 'bend' of the ship. More square footage. Very comfortable bed. Read entire member review.
8059 was V-class Deluxe Veranda stateroom, Starboard, mid ship, high. Just below Lido deck (pool area I think). Room was well appointed, good lighting, and always clean. Storage was standard and expected (three closets with safe & shelving), remember pull-down shelves in back of closet. Don't forget the storage drawers under foot of bed. Not much counter-top space. Just small desk. Bring extension outlet strip if needed. Good sized bathroom, definitely acceptable, included bathtub! Great water pressure and always hot water. There was some subdued noise from the Lido deck above. Tables and chairs scraping, people walking, music on occasion. Veranda was notable, mostly subdued in room. Nothing to disturb sleep. Got to view most ports from room location. Close access to mid and aft elevators. Read entire member review.
Our cabin was spacious and had plenty of storage space. One thing to note is that the closets hanging spaces do not go all the way down. I had to fold the bottom of my dresses on the shelf below the hanging rack. We found that there was ample room to store all of our things including all of our diving equipment. Our cabin stewards were wonderful and our cabin was always cleaned by the time we returned in the early afternoon. The beds were so comfortable and we enjoyed the extra pillows that were on the bed. The only issue that we had with the cabin is that the air conditioner or heat is always on. You can control the temperature but the vent is above the bed and the fan is always on. We forgot about this after the first night, but if you are a light sleeper you may want to bring ear plugs. Read entire member review.
Cabin 8101 on Navigation Deck is a V-Verandah Cabin, Starboard side. It is located between the mid-ships and aft elevators and stairs - very convenient to everything and one deck below the Lido. We did not hear any noise at all from above and very little in the cabins on either side. The verandah was spacious - but they only put ONE comfortable chair and ottoman out there and the other chair was like a rattan dining arm chair-not comfortable at all. There was a tiny circular table. We didn't use it a lot for that reason. We asked for another chair and they couldn't find one - or so they said. The remainder of the cabin was great, bed very comfortable - we asked that they be split - lots of closet and storage space and there was a small tub in the bathroom which made showering very easy. The TV system was the worst we have ever seen with no information about channels or how to operate it. We only used it the last day to check our debarkation order. Otherwise it was useless to us. We loved the location and the size. Read entire member review.
Were assigned a handicap veranda cabin somewhat forward, in the unusual quick curve of the ship near the elevators and directly above the owner's suite. Our balcony was very long and pretty deep. It provided a port view from 300 degrees all the way back to 180 degrees. Very pretty and versatile. You could roller skate in the bathroom, but the cabin lacked sufficient closet and drawer space, and even though it sported a lot of square footage, had no sofa. Big enough for a cocktail party for 15 to 20 if you used the balcony. Read entire member review.
These cabins were rated but not individually reviewed; read the full cruise review for opinions on cabins and more.