We usually travel on HAL in either their S, SA, SB or SC category. This time, we did not want to spend over $4,000 so we booked an inside cabin. This was done simply due to the fact that we do not spend much time in the cabin, and figured we could spend the majority of the savings on board the ship.
RESERVATIONS AGENTS: Two weeks after we booked our cruise, we saw that the price of our cabin had gone down by $100 per person. So I called the 800 number to ask if there were a different cabin I might have. Once I stated that the cost of an ocean view cabin was the same price as my inside cabin, the reservation agent said: "if you called about a refund, you can forget it". i stated that I wasn't looking for a refund, but I would like to speak with her supervisor. The supervisor came on the line and offered me a cabin with a fully obstructed view, which I accepted. The week of our departure, we received an email asking if we would like a veranda cabin for an up charge of $49.00 per person. I looked on line and saw that the price we had paid ($699 per person) was the price of the veranda cabin. So once again I called HAL and told them that the veranda was now the same price that I had paid for an inside cabin. The agent very calmly stated: "This will be a short conversation...we have one veranda cabin left, do you want it or not?" We accepted the cabin, paying more than we should have, but I wasn't going t have two rude people ruin my vacation. FOR THESE REASONS, I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL CRUISE HAL AGAIN..
EMBARKATION: check-in and embarkation took less than 30 minutes. It was well organized, and the lines flowed smoothly. You are left on your own to find your cabin, but that is an easy thing to do.
CABIN: When we opened the door to cabin 5021, our luggage was on the bed ready to be unpacked. The cabin was approximately 350sf and was more than adequate for two adults. Within two minutes, our cabin steward Ray knocked on the door to introduce himself and ask if we needed anything. we asked for an ashtray and additional hangers. Within minutes, they appeared! The closet space and additional storage held all of our clothes with room to spare.
VISTA RESTAURANT:What can I say! HAL, by far, has some of the best menus I have seen on a cruise line. There are adequate selections to satisfy any taste, and the staff doesn't have a problem if you order a second lobster tail. Their response is always:"certainly".
CANELETTO: Some of the best veal I have tasted anywhere. I am Italian, I know good veal. One night I told the waiter that my wife and I couldn't decide... Should we have the veal, the penne ala vodka or the risotto with truffles? The waiter solved this dilemma by bringing us all three to taste.
LIDO RESTAURANT: Standard buffet fare. Good quality, well presented and plentiful.
ENTERTAINMENT: Nightly, in one of the lounges is a group called Adagio Strings, comprised of three violinists and one cellist. Don't miss this group. Besides that, the Vista Lounge entertainment, was standard cruise fare; singers, dancers, a comedian and an illusionist. All were good, and provided one hour of solid entertainment.
I did not use the the services of the casino or spa, so I can't comment.
PORTS OF CALL: The only shore excursion we took was on Dominica. That was the accessible rain forest and waterfall. Great tour, but beware! The water at the falls is very cold. We did not get off the ship, with the exception of Half Moon Cay. As always, a great day at one of the best beaches in the world to me.
OBSERVATIONS THAT BOTHERED ME:
1. On deck 9, they were advertising teeth whitening on a placard that measured 4 feet by 7 feet as soon as you got off the forward elevator by the spa.
2. On sea days, there were tables set up by the mid ship pool with reduced priced articles from the gift shop. This cheapened the aura of the ship.
3. On formal nights, I saw people wearing tee shirts being served in the main restaurant. One couple came in wearing floral shirts and Hawaiian leis. They told the staff that this was formal in Hawaii. They were seated and served.
BIG TURN-OFF: HAL includes $11.50 per person, per day to your account for gratuities. This, essentially pays for the wait staff as they receive only $50.00 per month as a salary. The majority of their income is in the form of the surcharge. If you desire, you can have the surcharge removed from your account. Then you can tip who you want, the amount you want.
CONCLUSION: HAL, in my mind, still gives your the greatest bang for the buck. I have been on many cruses with HAL, on many ships and have always enjoyed the overall experience.