We arrived on Ft Lauderdale on Sat 10/14 we stayed at the Ramada near the port. Our room was OK, we booked through an internet discount site. The room was fine but the entire hotel kinda smelled musty. We ate in the hotel dining room it was expensive for what we got but fine since we took the free shuttle from the airport and we had no car to go elsewhere-note this hotel is not close to anything for walking to, But the shuttle driver took us to the store to pick up some diet soda to take along with us to the ship we did tip him although he did not charge us, we though that that was very nice for them to do. We took the free shuttle to the port as well.There wa alot of pre and post cruise people staying there. They also have a free breakfast buffet in the morning that was fine as well.
On 10/15 We arrived via the free port shuttle from the hotel to board the ship at 12:00 noon, there was a huge line out the door of the terminal, that being said we actually arrived on board at a little after 1:00pm. Everything moved along in a well organized fashion. We went directly to the Lido to eat lunch it was packed but we were able to get a seat pretty quickly. At about 1:30 they announced that all the rooms were ready, we got our bags by 4:00pm. Our cabin number was 8101 it is a balcony cabin on the navigation deck closest to the rear of the ship. We were two feet from the elevator which we only used to return from deck 3 to our room. The room was much bigger than we anticipated with nice sized balcony with two chairs a foot rest and a table. The bathroom had a tub and shower and the soap, shampoo and such was by Elemis. We had a seating area next to the bed and room was equipped with lovely bathrobes for our use.
We had the 8:30 seating for dinner. We sat a a table for 6 with 3 couples no kids. In fact there was a very small number of kids on board that week . We got on very well with our table mates and loved the dinner conversation and in fact met up with them during other times too. We picked late seating so we would not have to rush on port days which was perfect for that but eating that late was hard since we rarely left the dining room before 10:00pm. The food was fabulous presented gorgeously and everything we ate was the perfect temp. Our table steward was a man a few words and was somewhat slow with the service, but other than that it was perfect. We did eat in the pinnacle grill on Monday 10/16 which was the 1st formal night. The food was adequate and the service was impeccable, but honestly the food in the dining room was so good I would not bother with the pinnacle grill in the future. We did purchase a wine package and the head wine steward Bearnie was great as was all of his staff. We attend one of the wine tastings and it was very informative and the wines were all high end. The Lido is hands down the best buffet on any cruise ship we have been on. We ate breakfast and lunch there every day, there were many stations that prepared the food to your specification both for breakfast and lunch every thing was very good tasting.
We did use the spa a couple of times we had a couples massage that cost $290.00 for a little over an hour of massage and facial. Did not think it was worth the money. But it was a soft sell on products and once we said no thanks they did not pursue it. I had pick three package and picked hand, foot massage and and a scalp and hair treatment. the scalp and hair treatment ended up being a scalp massage but I still felt it was better and more worth the price. My husband has a neck and shoulder massage because he got a stiff neck that cost $59.00 because we got a 25% discount due to using the spa before. Not sure I would use the spa in the future due to cost and not really feeing the value for the dollar.
Grand Turk was beautiful, sunny and our tour guide was awesome, we took the power snorkeling, it was fun, and the snorkeling was excellent I did not want to come out of the water!
Tortola was rainy most of the day and our Bath excursion was cancelled due to an oil spill in the area and the rain which was disappointing. Not much shopping there either.
St. Maarten it rained 1/2 the day, we were going to go to Orient Beach (we have been there before) but we skipped it due to rainy weather and shopped til we dropped in St. Maarten. Very good prices on jewelry, liquor and linens.
Half Moon Cay was so nice, the water was beautiful and the sun was shinning, we did rent a clam shell and I an glad we did since it was HOT and it was good to have a place to get out of the sun. We snorkeled near the out cropping of the island and saw alot of fish near the rocks. The sand is like white powder and the water is crystal blue. Our ship and the Amsterdam were there on the same day and it seemed they were not prepared for the amount of people they had, we waited to eat at the BBQ til 1:00 and they were running out of fruit, and were out of ice and and diet soda! Many people were really ticked about that. Half Moon Cay is the best island I have every been to, there were plenty of things to do whenever you wanted to do they offered from horse back riding to deep sea fishing.
The crowd on the ship was older but we were able to find people in our age range of 40-45. The ship never seemed crowed even in the Lido or at the pool. Late night there weren't many people milling around but the ships casino was always hoping. We loved most of the casino staff they were very friendly esp Nico and Donna. The cruise director Steve Gayda, was great he had a good personality and was always smiling and was most of his staff. Our cabin steward kept forgetting to bring an extra towel and I had to call to get it every day, but other than that he was fine, albeit not horribly friendly. The show room was nice, they had good movies in the Queens lounge, and also in the Queens lounge they has culinary demonstrations which were very good. Afternoon tea was also great they had scones and clotted cream which was very tasty. The sports bar is next to the casino it was always smokey and they did not show any American Football which was a huge disappointment for my husband. The Sports is satellite ESPN but still no football with the exception of college games on Sat.
This was our first HAL cruise and we were very impressed with the ship the food and the ships staff. We would go back again with HAL!