First time HAL cruise, overall very good and just what we expected. Both in our 60's, looking for an older cruise. This had 427 children due to Spring break and all well taken care of by crew and separate pool. Check in easy, boarding started at 12:00 and took us to 12:50 to get our group number called. All rooms ready as we entered the ship, baggage was in the room, so went down to main dining room for lunch as Mariners, arrived at 1:10 and were told lunch only went to 1:00 and Lido buffet was still open. They started serving lunch at 11:30(posted in materials) but boarding did not begin until 12:00, maybe for suites only. Hard to get there on such a short time frame, maybe add the half hour to the back of the hour. They should look into this, but no big thing.
Food in Lido was cruise fare buffet, but tasty, Great area for foods of the world that changed countries and areas daily. For first 48 hours staff served the food to avoid illness, not a problem at all. Due to norovirus in Grand Turk, stop was canceled and we slowly floated to San Juan(2 sea days), where we arrived early and had more time, about 6 hours longer. Virus had hit about 2 weeks earlier, and evidently was not cleaned up enough to HAL satisfaction. Captain apologized for changes. Food in main dining room good, meals were of good portion size, not overwhelming with quantity. Good selection every night, served hot. Wine steward available every night. Cabin staff very friendly and efficient, cabin cleaned and prepared early, nicely done.
On board activities the usual, and well run on sea days. Bingo, shopping, brain teasers, trivia, during the day. Shows the usual high energy productions, had good magician/comedian and his dog one night, had new blues band that played most every night in culinary arts center, but did one night on main staqe and brought the house down, should keep them on board.
Did not do any excursions but visited San Juan and St. Thomas on our own. did rent a clamshell on Half Moon Cay to stay out of the sun when we wanted to, Very confused on this, reservation says go to sports hut to confirm, nothing on the Cay is labeled sports hut, only water sports center. No reservations noted on the clamshells themselves, people who were there earlier just moved into them without reservations. Took a while to find a staff member on the beach and she started checking if the occupants had reservations and moved people out if they did not to provide us with one. But the situation was settled easily, though HAL should look into this.
Disembarking was confused and late. Again HAL should look into this. We were Blue #1 to get off, scheduled at 8:45-9:00, They started on time but quickly fell behind. We went down at 9:30, after having several other colors and higher numbers called. Asked a staff member if we had missed blue 1 and she directed us to a line that she was forming. We exited the boat, at9:50, never having heard blue 1 called, Made our fight with time to spare, but seems that HAL has a problem moving large amounts of people, maybe should contact Disney and see how they do it.
Over all a very good time, will surely sail with them again.