This is our 4th trip with HAL as well we have taken 6 with Princess. One issue that we had was that after we had booked our cruise HAL changed two ports of call that we had not been to before which was a bit disappointing. We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam around 3ish and went straight on board and went to our room which was very quick and efficient process. The room was in great shape as well and then of course we had to go for the life boat drill. With so many people crowded on the decks it was hard to hear names/rooms being called out and some of the crew members were a bit impatient with some of the senior travelers who had a harder time hearing. I like Princess for that were you go to different rooms on the ship and you could at least be seated while they complete the drill.
Sail away was fine and a great band played on the aft deck which was nice. Drinks fine but expensive as usual.
First day at Half Moon Cay was great, beautiful island, and a great beach day. The baroque was okay but so many people which most people, thought was a bit disorganized. Left on time and headed for Jamaica. We took the tour to Dunn's River Falls and climbed the falls which was a great experience and fun to do. Made it safely to the top without cuts or bruises
We were then off to Caymen Islands however a low front arrived and the sea conditions were too rough to tender ashore which was very disappointing. We then reduced speed and headed to Cozumel, Mexico which was one of the replacement ports. Been there many times in the past so being a geocacher, I read about the Secret River near Playa De Carmen which we decided to do. This is one of the best excursions we have taken. I really recommend this for everyone, bit of physical activity involved as you climb into a cave and go down 60 feet in the caves which was fantastic. Back to Cozumel and spent some shopping before boarding ship.
Then back to Ft Lauderdale. The stateroom were great always cleaned on time, the cabin stewards were great. Very friendly, always greeted you most time by your name and cheerful. There were wonderful. Were were also very impressed with the dining and staff especially our waiter and assistant and as well as the wine steward. We were not impressed with the servers on the Lido cafeteria however as a group of them were not friendly at all and we felt that we were a bother to them as they had to serve us our meals. Also the layout of the Lido cafeteria is very unproductive and time consuming as well as you had to go to different stations to get parts of your meal such as salads in one area, some main entrees in different area and ethnic or specialty foods in other areas which meant you had to keep joining different line ups to get a complete meal. My wife is fairly small as well however when she requested some, I believe Chinese food the waiter told her she had enough on her plate and to move along. That was the straw that broke the camels back so when I completed the client questionnaire at the end of the first leg of our trip and handed it in to the front desk, we then went into the dinning room. Within a couple of minutes an officer came to our table and was most apologetic to us and wanted a report on our experience and bought us wine and could not apologize enough. We were impressed as to how fast they responded to our survey. Oh yeah also on the day we missed the Cayman Islands they put on a unplanned art action at the last minute to help entertain the passengers. The man that was heading it announced, which surprised us he stated his disappointment in the amount of people that attended the auction and at what was purchased due to the amount of effort his staff put in to put it on at the last moment. It did take us back a bit at his comments.
Back in Ft. Lauderdale we had the leave the ship for Customs and spent the day with our daughter in town before heading back on board again for the second leg of the trip. This all went smoothly as well as again we did not rejoin the ship till after 3 p.m. Stayed in the same room so this was not a problem but then came the same dreaded life boat drill again.
We did the sail away again and headed down to Grand Turk. On our way there we were informed that they have cancelled this port as well as they was a stomach flu on the Island and people coming back on different cruise ships were complaining of being sick so they closed the port to all ships until they figure out what the cause was. Again disappointing. So we headed down to the next port being Puerto Rico. We took the tour up to the Rain Forest which was a great trip with a hike of approx. 45 minutes or so. A bus ride across Puerto Rico showed us a bit of the country side as well. When we arrived back in San Juan we then walked around town which was interesting as well. Then we left port at headed to St Maarten's and only had just over a half day there. We took a tour to both sides of the Island which was great but we were not long enough in port to really enjoy this great Island. Oh well. We then headed back on board and left to Half Moon Cay again which was another great beach day. Back on board and back to Ft. Lauderdale.
We wish they they could of had an alternate port available that we could of gone to which would of been great when a port is not available for some reason. Other then the Lido cafeteria issues the only other problem we did not like was that they allowed smoking on the decks and in the staterooms. Sitting on our balcony, numerous times we had ashes blown on to us plus the smell of smoke constantly, especially in port. This is were Princess excels as they do not allow smoking in the rooms on on the balcony's.
The Casino staff were fantastic as well and most were very friendly as well. The gym was fantastic but very hot with no air conditioning on that was noticeable. Also recommend they get rid of the tents around the pools which people rent out as it reduces the area for people to relax and enjoy and cheapens the appearance. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and most things about it, however my wife states that we will be probably going back to Princess for our next cruises. Ship overall in great shape as well.