We joined long time HAL cruisers on back to back Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale. Being winter, we flew down a day early in case we had delays in transit. We stayed at the Hyatt near the port and were delighted in the facility. They run buses to the port every hour starting at 10 AM. Be warned that they have an $8/PP charge for this service which we were not informed of in advance.
Checking in was VERY well organized. We had selected our deluxe level A stateroom and were happy to be given keys immediately. We went to lunch and, by the time we finished and took a stroll of the ship to get our bearings, our luggage was outside our door. HAL allows wine to be brought aboard but hard liquor will be stored until your debarkation. We were greeted by Augus and Wu, our cabin attendants. I will say that the very best parts of the trip surrounded the service we got from these two intelligent, humorous extremely hard workers from Indonesia. Every morning we went for breakfast and by the time we got back, the room was made up and the ice bucket filled. The evening "turndown" included chocolates, fresh ice and a towel designed as a gorilla, crab, starfish, etc. 14 days produced 14 characters. No request was denied and the response was immediate. We loved these guys.
The first week of the cruise took us to Puerto Rica, Grand Turk, St. Maartan and a stop at HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. The second week took us to Half Moon Cat, and the ABC islands. We only had 1 1/2 days of rain. The remaining days were delightful.
The food was evenly great, regardless of venue. They have an upscale Pinnacle Restaurant which costs an additional $25/PP. We ate their twice. Highly recommended. We did have a problem with seating. We made reservations at the same time as friends who joined us. We called HAL's 800 number. We requested 6:30 seating at a table for 4 in the lower main dining room. When we got e-mailed confirmation, we had been assigned to the 5:30 seating in the upper venue and our friends were at a table for 6 at 7:45. No amount of calling could correct the problem. When we got to the ship, I went directly to the Maitre De and relayed our problem. His 6:30 seating was filled. He promised to arrange a seating that we requested during the second week and managed to guarantee 5:30 seating at a table for 4 during the first week. We ate at a different table each night.
Our friends are very frequent HAL customers and talked us into trying the line. They portrayed an environment laid back seniors. Unfortunately, HAL had offered these cruises to families with small children at a reduced rate with the children at no charge. The four of us are seniors and were told that the ship had a large family pool midships and an adult only area aft. For 10 days of the cruise we could avoid the mayhem of children being children. On Wednesday, several families "found" the adult pool and brought a dozen small children to our pool, including babies in diapers. I spoke to everyone I could think of to get the families back to their own pool. Nobody would help. The 4 of us retreated to the library for the final 4 days. What a revolting situation!
In addition, when we arrived at dinner the second week, we found our table for four surrounded on both sides by families. There were 3 children at one table and a small child and baby at the other. As is usually the case, the children finished quickly and, as the adults held a conversation, the children at the first table got very loud, trying to get their parents' attention. Finally, the children started wandering around between the tables. At the second table, the baby began crying and apparently was inconsolable. One of my friends spoke to the first table but the parents did nothing. We finally had to move to another table, but had to go to the upper dining room.
HAL is apparently trying to expand their market to include young families so be warned. I notice that Royal Caribbean has gone the other way, setting up an adult only area called the Solarium.