First, Statendam last month had a dry dock makeover and is pristine. Recent reviews noting worn furnishings are now outdated. ENTIRE staff demonstrated a top level of individual and teamwork effort.
Airport pickup and boarding-clockwork- from plane landing to opening door to our cabin was one hour total.
This was our first voyage with Capt Frans Consen. He handled a fire situation on day 13, that proved to be a steam leak, keeping passengers calm and informed. Throughout the sailing, we saw him around the ship, visible and friendly. HAL will miss him.
Cabin stewards were unobtrusive, and provided immediate response to requests.
Dining Room service was perfection. Dining and wine stewards gave individual attention. They realized our party prefer leisurely dining, and matched our pace. MaitreD knew our names by day 3. Food was good to great. We debated Pinnacle, but skipped it this trip. NOTE- wine stewards seemed to need more help. Too many fussy passengers, with unfinished bottles, to shuttle around. Make passenger responsible for their wines after opening.
Port call in Hualtuco and Puerto Vallarte were stars, leaving me ready to return to Mexican Pacific coast. Panama canal was overwhelming, with commentary every step of the way. Overall, port stops were brief, and deserved longer stays. Costa Rica Bird Sanctuary/Mangrove excursion was well organized, the guide entertaining and informed.
The kitchen tour was a real treat. Capt showed up with Executive chef, and their banter was as much fun as the tour itself.
This version of HALCats did more than the usual covering standards, improvising, genuinely enjoyed playing good music together, and were added value.
Adagio was cut to piano and strings, from quartet. Bring back quartet.
Trivia Quiz competitions were BIG. Lot of fun, good way to meet fellow passengers.
Whales and sea lions off Cabos, dolphins off and on both Atlantic and Pacific.
THOUGHTS FOR HAL MANAGEMENT- Our party of was 2 couples in mid late fifties. As HAL's loyal cohort of passengers ages, it will be a challenge to pull in new, younger but mature travelers. Eg, excursions can go no faster than the slowest passenger in the group. My fellow passengers were 20-30 years older than folks pictured in the HAL brochures and adverts.