Embarkation went very smoothly. Once on board we had a very relaxing sit down lunch in the main dining room. By the time we were finished our bags had been delivered to our cabin and I began the unpacking ritual.
Our cruise director, J.C., was conspicuously absent from the welcoming show in the theater the first night of the cruise. The DJ Seth filled in for the cruise director but never mentioned why J.C. was not there. Following the welcoming show we were lucky enough to be in an elevator with a staff member who told us that J.C. had fallen down a staircase after the life boat drill and had injured his leg. We heard later that he had been removed from the ship in San Juan. The next day the comedian, Julie Barr, took over the cruise director's duties. She did an excellent job. I was told she had been a former cruise director. I found her charming, funny and very similar to the comedy styling of Lisa Lamponeli. I found out later that she had worked with Lisa in New York when she first started out in comedy. I think they rubbed off on each other. The next day we heard that cruisers were getting sick with norovirus. Isolation procedures were implemented and then we heard the DJ Seth was now sick followed by Julie Barr. The ship crew were really having to pull together to keep the cruisers healthy. They had to hand us all our food, utensils, salt, sugar etc. for the whole cruise. Cleaning procedures were implemented to make sure the ship was spotless.
Despite all of the above problems we had a wonderful time. Entertainment was excellent. Our favorite was the piano bar where Mike Sara performed. Food was outstanding especially the lobster and the turkey. The Tamarind Restaurant was a delightful treat. We had lunch there and felt like we were treated like royalty. The waitresses were dressed in asian style clothing, the room was beautifully decorated in asian style and the tables were set with very unique place settings. The food was outstanding and the service excellent.
One of the acts we were looking forward to seeing was the magician Jeff Peterson and his dog Indy. Unfortunately because of the Norovirus we were not able to play with Indi as we had on other cruises. Jeff is very talented. We had seen him on previous cruises and found his act well done but almost exactly the same material that we had already seen in the past.
The weather was not particularly nice. Not too sunny and pretty windy. The ship , however was very smooth and I never saw anyone become sea sick, The interior of the ship is beautiful and every day I would spot another beautiful piece of art that I had not noticed.
The ship had a lovely computer expert, Molly, who gave classes in Windows 7 and 8. She was very helpful and had so much patience with the older cruisers that had many questions. She even did a class on how to use your digital camera. Handouts were given before each class which made it easy to follow.
The ship had an in door theater for movies. Pop corn was served nightly to add to the experience. DVD's were also available in your cabins to be viewed at no charge. They have a huge library offering comedy, drama, action and romance. Trivia happened at least once or twice a day and was always fun. We always meet some very bright cruisers at trivia. The prizes are not much to write home about. Don't understand why HAL has such cheap prizes. A free drink would be nice but instead they give out crappy Eurodam pins.
We were surprised that the ship charged passengers for treatment of the norovirus. The prices were ridiculous. One cruise critics medical bill was close to $700 dollars. Pills were around $9 for one imodium pill. No good will gestures here. It would seem that cruise ship administration would want passengers with norovirus to seek medical help, but with the prices many did not come forward and thereby probably spread the disease. We were on an NCL cruise a few years ago that had a norovirus outbreak and they put up signs announcing there would be no charge to treat cases of norovirus. Now that was a good idea!!!
Disembarkation went smoothly. I will really miss our cabin steward (Ono). He took such good care of us.