I want to start by saying that although I am a cruising newbie I am an experienced traveller of sorts from North America to South America to Europe to Africa...from first world to developing I have seen a lot that has made me laugh,cry and sleep in my clothes on the sheets. The one thing that I can count on is no matter how little rainfall a place has had before I arrive it will have some while I am there. Sorry to my fellow passengers.....
We decided to take a family cruise and booked with HAL because my parents have sailed with them before and have been completely satisfied with their cruises. Now I get what people say about HAL having an older demographic, I get that but truthfully- I'm 42,I work. A Lot. I don't want to hear drunk idiots at 2am, I don't want to race 30 year olds to the pool loungers, I don't want a cruise half filled with kids,I'm not single and looking to hook up, I want to relax and have a sense of decorum. HAL gave us all of that.
I researched cruising on this site and came armed with power cords, duct tape, baggies, wipes and a crap load of other things that I never needed. Granted I don't have a CPAP machine or any other 'special'needs.
Spotless. Yes, I read the comments about the carpeting being dirty and I spotted it in the foyers near the elevators but darn it who would pick mustard yellow and expect it to stand up to that kind of traffic? It certainly was vacummed and cleaned constantly as were the elevators and any area of the ship that you would touch. I'd be waaaay more worried about the interac machine you just used-no one cleans them. 5/5 for HAL in the cleanliness and hygiene.Wiping, sweeping, cleaning,vacuuming it never stopped. I also greatly appreciated the SILENCE. No annoying paging or unecessary announcements. I'm not ADS, I want to relax!
Outstanding. I have nothing more to say. 5/5
Again I vacation to relax and wind down so the show and nightlife are not a priority for me although the one night I made the comedian he was Welsh and fabulous.The piano bar is also wildly popular but is a closed crowd-when they saw us and our age they basically laughed us out of the place...until the pub crawl-what a night-I lost the next day because we had such a great time with the staff and the other passengers. Ages from 23-75 and we took our revenge on the piano bar that night!So sorry....
The ports and excursions:
We spent $1000 each on excurions through HAL and never had a bad one. Maybe it is just me but I want to book a sure thing on my vacation and being a first timer I did't want the unknown or to be left behind so it was money well spent. Having said that I fully get that if you have seen a port a couple of times then branching out and taking an excursion not offered by the line is a great choice.The tours we took were all top notch.
We never did get to Livorno due to the weather but the 5 ships in Rome that day cancelled as well. What we later found out is that they circled the Med on the off chance they could get in and then cancelled while we sailed to Sardinia and had an amazing day. I'll get to Tuscany some day but most likely will never be back to Sardinia so it was a lemons to lemonade day.
We chose anytime dining and never had a problem getting a table and the ship was full. Typically our time of choice when port excursions allowed was 6:30pm. Mind you we always sent my younger and very good looking sister down to secure a choice time. Do I feel bad about that? Nope...again back to using that demographic thing to our advatage. Tamarind-amazing, best steak ever. Lido for lunch excellent,tastes of the world-outstanding. Breakfast, eggs bennie-oh yeah.MDR-always hot and good, never a dud, plating and spicing excellent- I never felt I was dining in a place catered to a geriatric palate just a discerning one.
So without hesitation I can fully recommend HAL and this ship based on my expectations and my needs. A clean ship, a sure thing, discerning tastes, quiet passengers, outstanding food, fantastic crew, relaxing atmosphere.
Very civilized. Based on this we have booked The Eurodam in Feb for the Caribbean and are looking at Northern Europe in 2014.