We went a day early and stayed at the Best Western Oakland Park in Ft Lauderdale. It was Ok for the night- nothing fancy but pool area looked good and it was clean. We really just slept here- the Ale House about 2 blocks away was very good for supper. We also received free shuttle from airport and to the ship-although different employees I spoke with differed on whether it was free.
On to the ship 3/8/13- Friday- bit slow to board but enjoyed chatting with other vacationers. Was pleasantly surprised to find our room ready and our bags delivered.
First stop was their private island-always a highlight for me (I do love HAL-sailed with them many times)
Stopped in Aruba- spent a week there previously so just did a bit of shopping. Then on to Curacao- hired a driver at the pier for a tour along with some other people- was $25 per person and covered the liqueur factory- caves- tour within the city- etc
Next stop was thru 3 locks at the canal -HAL open some extra areas to enjoy the full view while we enjoyed coffee and panama rolls-worth getting up for!
We had booked a tour with HAL as that was the only way they would allow you off - took tender to meet buses and we were off on a "monkey watch" - it was fun but we ended up pretty wet from the splash over of the boat- the sandwich provided for lunch was forgettable at best.
Next stop was port o limon- again we booked through HAL for the aerial tram in the rain forest. It was a 2 hour bus ride each way but our guide was so informative about his country that the time passed quickly.
All in all it was a great trip- met some nice people saw some great sights. We were not impressed with the on board talent other than a comic they had that was great! And an illusionist-- there was a great singer guitarist in the Crow's Nest that we enjoyed often--Charlie Jourdan. Their production shows were just ok-
Disembarkation was a bit rough due to customs sending only 2 people for all to see- eventually they sent a couple more but we were about an hour behind scheduled leaving.
As usual the food and service were superb!