I booked my sister and I on this cruise about a year ahead. It was a special treat to her as a gift from me and she had never been on a cruise before. We booked a best available outside cabin. I found out that we received a partial upgrade up to a D. However, I found out that dinner companions who had booked an inside cabin and had never sailed on HAL were upgraded to a lanai stateroom. Since I had booked long before them, and have sailed on HAL six times before, I was not happy.
Embarkation was extremely fast. However, trying to get lunch in the Lido was almost impossible due to the long lines and lack of table space. There was a Norvovirus outbreak on the cruise prior to ours, which meant everything needed to be served, and there was not adequate staff to do that.
The new lanai staterooms have changed the teak lounger policy. One of my favorite things on HAL was reading in a teak lounger. The lanai rooms have two loungers reserved for each stateroom, and there are no loungers available with any view other than the solid metal part of the ship, and this is assuming you can find some that are not broken.
Service in the dining room was appalling. Service was so slow some nights we could not go to the show. I could not get a second glass of water for four days. We never got bread or butter for two days. The waiter and assistant waiter never introduced themselves for three days. They were rude and slow to our entire table the first three days. Any little request which previously on HAL had never been a problem was a huge obstacle for them. The maitre d never ever came by. I have never been on a cruise where he did not introduce himself on the first day, let alone the entire cruise. Food was acceptable, but there was much less variety of food than in the past, especially seafood. The crew member who hands out dinner mints, dates, and ginger is a thing of the past.
The singing and dancing troupe were fairly amateurish. There were only two dancers, and both of them were women, so there was no cool couples dances. A couple of the singers were dreadful. Two nights there was no big show in the theater. I was extremely disappointed in the entertainment.
The cabin had no refrigerator. It was well located, but had huge air conditioning issues. I woke up dripping in sweat every night.
One of the reasons I booked this cruise was that you got four days and three nights in Hamilton. The schedule stated we would leave Hamilton at 2 on the last day. That day, the itinerary was changed so that we were scheduled to leave at 12, and had to be on board by 11. That mean you could not go to the beach . Had this been announced even the day before, I would have changed my plans.
I booked a 75 minute massage at the spa. I showed up 10 minutes early, and waited for an hour for my therapist. When I got my massage, it was only for 50 minutes.
The ship is getting pretty dingy and run down. I guess with the lower passenger volume, the entertainment budget is cut, so the entertainment is much below what I had seen on previous HAL ships.
The food is the Lido was not the same quality or variety it has been on prior HAL cruises. I have always loved HAL for the special touches of elegance, better food, and better service than other ships. That was sorely lacking on the ship. I can only compare this cruise to the previous cruise I took on Celebrity, and Celebrity comes out way ahead. I have always been a loyal HAL customer, but I am not sure I will sail on HAL again. I wrote to the line, and they gave me a few comps for a future cruise, but not what they should have. This was not a special cruise for me or my sister.