This was our 8th cruise with HAL and the 34th in total. The ship has been refurbished recently and this is quite nice. The new MIX lounge is very pleasant.
The itinerary was very appealing, from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal with a lot of ports of call and unfortunately 3 tender ports. The weather was still very cold at that time of the year in the north of Quebec, we saw snow in Sept-Iles. We think the repositioning should take place later but that's the case with a lot of repositioning cruises. Anyway we choose it and we don't complain about the weather.
The tender service is a different thing. We arrive in Newport, RI, at 11:00AM and the tender service for Independent Guests began only at 12:30PM. We collect our tender ticket at 12:00PM but we're called only at 2:15PM. The guests who book excursions were the only one to disembark for 1 hour & 30 minutes. During all the waiting time, Independent Guests -ready to go- were waiting with their coat on in the lounges. No one anticipated a 2 hour 15 minutes waiting.
But the worst of all was the nearly 13 days and an half norovirus alert. To try to avoid norovirus, each HAL's cruise begin with 48 hours during when you are served in the buffet and you can't access the drinks machines. You have to ask the waiters for food and drinks. During our cruise, this 48 hours last nearly 13 days and an half with a few hours of break. During this "red code" they canceled everything which made HAL different: no buffets on the Lido deck, no Dessert Extravaganza, no hot tubes, no terrace grill, no chocolate snacks in the evening, no library, no laundry, ... Very oddly the casino stayed open.
We are so disappointed and so sorry that we didn't get the services that we should have. And furthermore we had nearly no information, we never knew how many people were really ill. When I asked a supervisor in the Dining room, he told me that only 4 persons were ill. Does that mean that HAL installed a red code for 4 people ? Why do they keep everything secret, we could be more comprehensive if we knew the truth. We accept the measures taken to prevent any further contamination and we accepted to wash our hands all the time but we're sure they could have organised a lot of things if they really wanted to do it. It's probably much easier to cancel everything.
Our feeling about this cruise is disappointment. We wanted to book a 28 days Hawaii-French Polynesia but we didn't.