We booked a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal for October 12-26 on a Perx Interline vacation site. The ship was HAL Stadandam. First thing we noticed was how high the tub side was and when we tried to call down to ask about it--our phone didn't work. 3 days later they finally fixed the phone (software issue)..Our room was very warm and when that was investigated they cleaned the filter and it didn't get better, so we couldn't sleep. Finally, got a fan which helped but just circulated hot air..I have back issues and the bed was very uncomfortable so housekeeping put an "eggcrate" on it which helped some. Tub issue was dangerous and since all rooms had the same thing--nothing could be done. We were deluged with flyers for jewelry every single day--
Also, the incredible noises above our heads starting at 4 am up till midnight. We never had peace and quiet...the kitchen was above our heads...we heard trays, rolling wheels and on one afternoon 4 hours of them replacing a dishwasher and made so much noise even our neighbors came out and complained to the stewards.
First formal night in the dining room, we were seated at 7pm gave our orders and waited 37 minutes for our drinks, salads, soup...finally got our dinners at 830 and they were cold...I sent mine back but the rest of our table (7 others) were so hungry they ate them cold. I was offered a drink to comp my inconvenience..TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE...after complaining to front desk, we were assigned a specific table with a waiter just for us and we were in and out every night within 1 hour.
On the 4th night, when I laid down on the bed my pillow was wet and I heard leaking....the ceiling was dripping all along the whole head of our bed and when we called down, maintenance came up and started unscrewing the slats in the ceiling and noticed more water coming down. This all happened at 10:30pm so we were offered a temporary move to another room for the night. I asked why we couldn't just move..period and they said they couldn't allow it. So we stayed in our room, slept at the foot of the bed and they fixed the leak the next day while we were on an excursion. We got a bottle of wine for our "inconvenience".
The first formal night we had pictures taken and intended on buying some but the portrait costs were ridiculous....$39.95 per sheet....we thought on the last day when so many pictures were not being purchased by LOTS OF CRUISERS, they would offer a better deal (RCCL and CARNIVAL DID), but no they didn't so many, many pics where left behind to be destroyed.
The excursions were short and expensive and sometimes, dangerous even though because of my back pain, we booked trips billed as easy, relaxing..We had the worst one in Puerta Vallerta where all 16 of us complained and only got a $10 credit for a terrible guide. We did find out from the tour desk that the girl got fired. We should have all gotten refunds for the rip off. It was called City, Shopping and Beach and we stayed on 3 streets only and they were all jewelry stores we were taken to..
This trip was 99 % elderly and disabled people...we were extremely bored since there were really no "young" activities...things like, bingo, photoshop classes, trivia, JEWELRY education classes, golf chipping into water, and tai chi was all that was offered.
A few of the shows in the evening were ok but most were boring...presentations about the excursions were also lackluster and monotonal...not excitement....
The food was mediocre at best...breakfasts were the same thing everyday...and dinners were better but not enough variety.....very bland..
The hot tubs were not hot until halfway through the cruise when someone must have complained louder than I did, since I told the front desk about it on the second day.
Tables not cleaned in many areas and I noticed by the pool that by one of our favorite sitting spots that a napkin that was on the floor next to the window was there for the next two days...
Too many shops selling liquor, jewelry and clothing and only a small amount of snacks, meds, etc...and absolutely no selection for eating other than dining room, buffet, or Pinnacle Grill....just a small burger stand by pool....
We were comped for only $50 for all the inconveniences we endured which was ridiculous since from day one, things were going terribly wrong,
We talked to many of our neighbors and there were many other problems that they had endured different from ours, for instance, one cabin's toilet overflowed every day. When the couple complained they were told they could move but since they had their disabled parents next door they would have had to be separated from them. They decided to stay in the room instead of being away from them.
This ship is a disaster and needed to be taken out of commission and refurbished long ago; many crew members apologizing for all the problems or delivering bottles of wine to comp people is not the answer. I understand it is in drydock starting in Jan2013 till June2013 for repairs...it's about time. But it does not change the fact that our money was wasted on a terrible experience with HAL.