Just returned from a 12 night Barcelona to Venice cruise. Second time on HAL. There will definitely be a third.
Embarked in Barcelona, fantastic city, will definitely return there. Embarkation speedy as we arrived mid-afternoon, avoiding the rush.
Verandah cabin Deck 6(for 3) adequate size, although quite cramped when the sofa was made into a bed each evening. Bathroom with a small bath and overhead shower, decent size.
3 formal nights on our 12 night cruise, although HAL website advertised it as 2 formal nights.
Dined in Manhattan Dining Room and Lido. Food choice very good in both. Service a little slow in Manhattan, especially if sharing a large table. Dinner could take up to 2 hours which is why we dined in the Lido a few times, just so that we could enjoy the evening entertainment around the ship. We didn't use the other restaurants but heard that they were excellent.
Entertainment good. OK, the shows weren't always the most exciting but everyone cruising on HAL knows that by now. The entertainment staff do a very good job but it would be nice to see some professional performers brought on board occasionally. Even Thomsons do that and they are nowhere near as good as HAL.
The Piano Bar was always packed and enjoyable, probably the most popular bar.
The Crow's Nest was always quiet and deserted whenever we passed through, usually quite late in the evening. It's probably busier when Chris, the guitarist, plays his sets.
Northern Lights Disco was never very busy but played good music.
The Casino was always busy and people seemed to be enjoying themselves.
A smattering of people listened to Adagio Strings each evening. It's a shame it's in a lounge with "through-traffic" as some people just carry on chatting in loud voices, somewhat spoiling it for the people who are sitting quietly listening to the classical music. Not very respectful to the musicians, either, who do a wonderful job.
Not much entertainment out on deck, which was a shame. The stage is there for the band, Shanthi and the Hal Cats, but I can only recall seeing them two or three times in the afternoon. Nothing else going on around the Lido pool for sail-away.
Many other bars and areas we never had the time to use.
Lido pool always crowded, as on all cruise lines, with limited seating around it. However, always loads of space to sit on deck in other areas of the ship, even on the "at sea" days. I mainly sat out on our verandah and suppose that, as this ship has an abundance of verandahs, most people sat out on theirs, hence the space around the ship.
Cabanas seem to take up quite a lot of space. Most people I spoke to not in favour of the cabanas.
My husband used the gym a few times, said it was very good.
Ports of Call. We just mooched around by ourselves in many of the ports, deciding not to do the long trips, especially to Rome and Florence. Livorno was surprisingly quite nice, although the graffiti spoiled it a bit. We only walked from the port to the train station in Naples, going to Pompeii by ourselves. Cheap, easy and quick. Highly recommended. Naples a shock, filthy and crumbling but never felt threatened. I did leave all of my jewellery on the ship though, just in case! We had a private shared tour in Sicily with "Sicily with Mario", booked directly. What a lovely man, we had a great day with him and felt sad to leave at the end of it. My husband did the ship's tour to the Corinth Canal in Npfalion, he said it was very good. My daughter and I went shopping. My husband took a local train to Olympia in Katakalon. Very simple and cheap. The train is right there in the town, when you walk off the ship. My daughter and I ... went shopping! Also visited a little music museum and took the "noddy" train around the town and out into the countryside. Then lunch on the quayside in a local taverna. Very enjoyable. Corfu Town was surprisingly beautiful and a definite "must go there on holiday" for us. Dubrovnik was very beautiful too, we took a glass bottom boat trip (but no marine life to see!) and then the cable car to the top of the mountain to take in the fabulous views. Definitely worth it. All very do-able by yourself, no need to take tours. HAL provide a regular bus service to the town, very cheap. Last port, Venice. A magical, unforgettable experience, arriving in Venice by ship.
Disembarkation. We were in the last group of people leaving the ship, independently at 9.30 a.m. This gave me the opportunity to have a peek at the suites near my stateroom (Upper Verandah Deck 6). Wow, I'd like one of those next cruise! Walked from the ship to the People Mover (not particularly easy in the heat and with heavy cases) then bought the 1 Euro ticket to Piazza del Roma (just a couple of minutes away). Then we walked to our nearby hotel for an extra night's stay before flying back to UK.
My daughter missed "our" ship so much that we took a water bus ride past it that evening just to say a final farewell. Then as our plane took off at 5.30 p.m. on Friday evening, we looked down and saw the magnificent Niew Amsterdam sailing out of Venice on the next leg of her journey.
Our thanks go to ....
Our lovely Cabin Stewards, Helmi and Frank. They looked after all our needs with a smile and made us smile every evening when we arrived back in our stateroom to a different "towel" animal.
Donny Tan, Manhattan Dining Room, always had time for a chat whilst allocating our table and always managed to seat us with very nice, interesting people.
Scott and Katie in the Teen Club. Our 13 year old daughter had a fabulous time with them and made countless new friends.
Dave, Cruise Director, for giving us an early morning alarm call each day (lol!).
Everybody from Front Desk staff to the waiters to the young men who greeted us with a cold towel and a glass of lemonade upon our return to the ship every afternoon were lovely.