Living in Florida, we have the wonderful advantage of taking a last minute cruise, from 4-5 different cruise terminals, without the headache ( or expense) of flying. Yippee !!!
We had been watching the HAL Panama Canal Cruise and when the price dropped this spring..we booked an outside cabin and we were upgraded to another outside.
The CREW was outstanding! They not only were especially friendly, saying hello and good morning and good evening at every turn.... they were always easy to find.
Our room was in fine shape and clean. I found the Lido deck crews, especially Mari-Ann helpful and funny. You NEVER had to search for service.
Half Moon Cay was GORGEOUS. If you get to the beach EARLY, as recommended, you will find plenty of chaise lounges and lots of tree shade. We were very disappointed to find the " shells" shade tops combined with lounges were all sold out a couple of weeks before. BUT our early arrival got us perfect trees and lounges..NO CHARGE !!The Beach is GORGEOUS, CLEAN,..the water fabulous and lots of great huge swim floats in shallow enough water to be used by anyone. No Charge!!
Aruba & Curacao we took a local tour bus right from the pier.. one for $20 PP, the other for $15 PP. They were great and showed us enough of the island to get an idea of what it offered.
I think both were about 2 hours. Enough time for us to then wander around town on our own to shop or cafe stop. The Iguana Cafe in Curacao had wifi and we were able to log on our " NOOK' to collect and send email for free.. !! Nice !!
Panama Canal was very interesting. We had done a Canal Du Midi trip ourselves before and had an idea what the locks might look like. We were happy to just cross to the Lake. gave us enough of the lock experience with spending hours looking at locks.
Our excursion was $99 PP and a bus traveled 1 1/2 hours to another part of the canal where we got into shaded flat boats holding about 16-20 people and a guide. We wound our way around smaller inlets to see ( to our delight) white face monkeys and sloths and a huge Iguana..... The monkeys came right on the bow of the boat to eat a gift of banana and grapes. bring some !!
Costa Rica we took the Ariel Tram excursion for $ 124. PP. That also had a 1 1/2 hour bus trip to the rainforest's. It's a nice way to get the overall look at a new environment. certainly not a rich country... but not shacks... just small stucco homes, some nest, some not. It was Easter Good Friday so many school children were in the many rivers swimming or picnicking with their families.
The last 2 days were sea days. I think the trip would have been fantastic if they could have planned another HALF MOON CAY day on the way back. Instead we just enjoyed our NOOK readers, which were loaded at home and enjoyed the smooth seas on the side decks.
My only and biggest complaint ( on most ships) is the music. I've always thought they should create a position for someone to walk around all public areas and gauge the social temperature. LOOK AROUND.... is the average age 70??? Then why are you playing a mix of rap and VERY LOUD music???? Do you think we listen to that at home??? Even the speakers on the NICE steel drums were TOO MUCH. I love music....really!! Just background music.
If you wanted to sit with others and people watch and read some there were no QUIET AREAS to do that in. Also there are NEVER ENOUGH DECK CHAIRS in shaded areas....never. Several fellow cruises were always dragging chairs and tables to the shaded area. Doesn't anyone in charge see this??
The food in the main " anytime dining" was fine. Always a nice selection. The Canaletto dining room was very nice. A FREE option for dining. RSV required. I think a more extensive menu is in order. We went there 3 nights....not just for different food, but to escape the formal night with the jacket/tie requirement. I enjoyed the Chicken Marsala and the Limoncello deserts.YUMMY !!!
All and all... a good trip for the money. Met lots of nice people and would take another HAL anytime.. !! We were home in Venice by noon !!