My wife and I chose this 14 day cruise for two reasons. First, we always love a cruise vacation and we were interested in experiencing two 7 day back to back cruises.
We always fly to Ft. Lauderdale the day before the departure date. This takes the stress out of airline schedules, flight delays and lost luggage. It is also a relaxing beginning to the vacation.
Arrived at the Port Everglades just before 11:00AM. Check-in was very quick and easy. One interesting observation during this process. As you arrive at the terminal a HAL staff member gives you a plastic number, which is used to call groups of people go to the check-in counter. This keeps the process from being total chaos. We had number 6. When the number was called one gentleman turned in his tag and the HAL staff member politely returned it to him as his number was actually #9. One would think this to be a common mistake as #6 and #9 look the same if turned upside down. However, HAL has their corporate logo in the upper left hand corner. I just had to laugh because this gentleman had placed his thumb over the logo before handing it to the staff member. Guess everyone is just in a hurry to get on board. We went through the check-in process and were having lunch around the Lido pool in 15 minutes.
Requested early dining and a table for 6 and we got it. Dinner companions were great. Lots of great cruising stories and experiences were exchanged. Food was good, but not quite up to our previous cruise experience with HAL. This was our 9th cruise with HAL. First one was April 2000. Have seen many small changes from our first cruise adventure. The biggest observation was how long it took the wait staff to get us through appetizers, soup/salad, main course and then dessert. We usually just received our dessert and they were ringing the gong as a reminder it was time to leave. Based on our long time line with HAL, it isn't the wait staffs fault. It appears they have cut back on staff. Had breakfast and lunch at the Lido Restaurant or the main dining room and the food and service were very good. Hamburgers and hot dogs out by the pool were great!
Enjoyed the ports and our excursions. We always love our days at Half Moon Cay.
Smoking on the verandahs remains a problem. We don't smoke and understand those who smoke wanting to light up on their veranda. However, that smoke is a problem for those down wind. You have a right to enjoy the veranda you paid for but those of us who don't smoke also have a right to enjoy the veranda we paid for. Second hand smoke is a health hazard and should be dealt with.
The Captain was excellent. There was a medical emergency and the captain made the announcement that we were going to have to make an unexpected stop at St. Thomas so the passenger could get proper medical treatment. Due to this emergency we would probably arrive at Half Moon Cay later than scheduled. That night while sitting in the Neptune Lounge awaiting dinner, a group of 8 to 10 passengers were grumbling about the delay as they had missed Half Moon Cay the previous week due to weather. I can understand the disappointment but their grumbling sounded like the passenger with the medical emergency arranged their problem on purpose. What would they be saying if it was one of them with the medical emergency. Long story short, due to the captains professionalism, the ship arrived at St. Thomas, the passenger was taken off the ship and to the hospital and the ship was on it's way in EIGHT minutes. We made it to Half Moon Cay on schedule, the injured passenger was is stable condition the last report we heard. Oh, our cruise director made a "People Watching" announcement at the beginning of the next evening show about the grumbling. Shame on some folks.
Entertainment was great, especially, Hilby the skinny Germany juggling boy.
We are now planning our next HAL adventure for next year.