This was our 4th time on this class of ship and each time I fall in love all over again. The ship is small enough that you can navigate well, elevators go to most floors (forward ones go higher) and basically three floors is where everything is located. My review will be formatted a bit different but I wanted to touch on some things that do not seem to be addressed in other reviews.
Collector's Voyage: There are perks to this such as invites to lunches and cocktail parties and even a Pinnacle dinner. Two seven day segments were combined to make this a collector’s cruise so we were able to enjoy these extra perks. The first day we were given a list of the entertainment and movies so we could plan accordingly.
My opinion of ships condition: VERY GOOD! The ship’s hull was being repainted on our voyage although it did not appear it needed it. The lower promenade was constantly being worked on with grinding, repainting and such. They will occasionally block the area so you cannot walk by, but that would be for just a short period. Please note if your cabin is on the lower promenade you may be subject to some noise during the day due to ongoing maintenance. The carpeting on the stairs and around the elevators appeared to be new.
Our Cabin: We opted for a main deck quad cabin aft. Even with four of us (two teens) there was plenty of space to unpack all our stuff and there is more than one closet (we each had one). HAL hangers take up a lot of room in the closet, so you may want to bring some plastic or wire hangers from home. Not a ton of drawer space but the closets are dual purpose with shelves for folded clothes and can be lowered to create more hanging space. There is only one electrical outlet in the room so you may want to bring an extender, with one we were able to charge two things at a time. I found collapsible boxes at Walgreens and they were great for storing phones, cords, cameras and such. We were even able to put one in the window sill since it is deep. The beds have deep storage underneath and we were able to store three large suitcases and a large duffle bag.
Cabin Steward: You will get in a “groove” with your stewards so they know the best time to clean the room in the morning and for turn down service at night. The kids slept later, so our room was not cleaned until 12-1, when we left the room we would always put the “Service Please” card in the door when we left the room. We kept the room very tidy with nothing laying around that had to be cleaned around or picked up, these folks work hard enough and the least we can do is pick up after ourselves (which we do at home anyway).
Cabin layout: If you are in a quad with four, have the main bed separated for the duration of your cruise. The fourth bed lowers from the ceiling and will be directly above one of the lower beds. If you keep the beds together, it will be difficult for the person on that side to get out of bed easily without bumping your head. Also having the beds separated, you can easily get to the window to view wildlife outside.
TV: Lots of stations, scroll with the remote and you can find the station guide. The day after the movie in shown in the theater it will play on the TV. There is also a DVD player in the room. Select from the booklet and go to the front desk to check out(have some alternatives, just in case).
Bathroom: Okay the ship is older and they do their best to keep it in top condition but the tile is pink (as someone else pointed out) and may be a bit outdated. If having a totally updated cabin/bathroom you will need to do your research and most likely sail a newer vessel. They do their best to keep the caulk looking good, but with so much moisture in the bathroom it may not be perfect. There is one corner medicine cabinet that two could easily share and there is a shelf below the sink. We also used more collapsible drawers to contain the toiletries. There is a body wash, shampoo and conditioner dispenser in the shower. The hair dryer in the bathroom is useless, so don't even try! I think these must have been standard in the design at the time. You will find a dryer in the top drawer of the desk. It is a 1600 watt dryer with a 220 plug. This was convenient since there is one 220 outlet and do not have to unplug the charging phone to use the dryer! We did note a sewer smell on occasion in the bathroom, I just plugged the drain in the bathtub and sink and that took care of it.
Laundry: Great value for 4 at $49.00 for each leg of the voyage. Laundry by the bag is $20.00 and would have been fine for just two of us. There are coin operated laundries on the ship at $2.00 per load but the time I peeked in, it was a party! I've noticed the same on other HAL and Princess ships, there are always a lot of people wanting to use the machines. We choose not to try and compete for the machines and just pay. Bring a stain pre-treater if you are going to be in a wet climate or have kids! The mud stains DD's boyfriends sweatshirt did not come out in the laundry. The whites were not great (dingy) and we rewashed all the whites when we got home.
Dining: We had open dining the first segment and fixed the second. Something happened on HAL's side as we should have had fixed the entire time, but we made it work. We were able to make reservations for each night at the same table (not the first night… crazy!!!) all in all it worked out. They switched us to fixed seating for the second leg which we did not know about ahead of time but received a card in our mail slot. We found the dining room food to be very good, no complaints from any of us. If someone does not like something just order another dish. You will never go hungry on a cruise ship.
Lido-With the exception of the first 48 hours you are able to self- serve certain sections of the Lido. All the main dishes are served to you just tell the staff what you would like and they will hand a plate to you.
Terrace Grill- You can get burgers, hotdogs and fries at the window. Full Mexican spread is in hot trays as well as pizza.
Pinnacle Grill- We ate there once which was very enjoyable and a nice change from the dining room, both in food quality and service. The portions are large, so bring your appetite!
Canaletto: We also ate here once, food was okay. We had reservations and they did not have a table for us. A group of the HAL dancers/singers were dining in there at the time and they all got up at once and left and voila, there was our table. They must have a problem with no-shows here and allowed the HAL staff to dine earlier and would be allowed to stay longer for dessert (they were done with dinner) if the next group did not show up. I felt bad for them they were asked to leave.
Explorations Café- A pay for coffee bar but you can also get soft drinks there. I did notice that they will deliver to your room between certain hours. Snacks displayed in case free of charge.
Room Service: We only used room service twice for Bar Service; we did bring dollar bills to tip.
Library: Plenty of hardback books to check out but also has a lending library for paperbacks. You do not have to check out the paperbacks with the librarian.
Entertainment: We normally do not go the the production shows since they seem to be "cheesy" but we did enjoy the HAL singers and dancers production of Rockin Roadhouse and Northern Lights. Quite a bit of thought and creativity has been put into the sets and costumes and made for a better show. We lucked out with Joel Mason's tribute to Elton John on the second leg, we've seen him twice before and enjoyed his show very much. I wish he had been able to perform his Eagles tribute, maybe next time...The comedian and magician were good as well.
Stores: Small stores but has a little bit of everything and the normal “sidewalk sales”.
Shore Excursions: We pre-booked online prior to embarking. Scroll through HAL’s shore excursions (through your booking #) to see what is available for your sailing. I personally would not want to wait to hear what the shore excursion department offers, it’s the same as what’s online. Book air excursions early!
Smoking: We are not smokers and there were very few smokers on each sailing. After walking through the Casino I stopped at the Casino Bar (where a no smoking sign is displayed) and asked if the Casino was non- smoking. The bartender told me there is a small section in the Casino for smoking but I never saw an ashtray or anyone smoking for that matter. I know one side of the aft pool area is smoking and signs are displayed.
Nickel & Diming: I never felt pushed or even asked more than once (water) to buy anything. I knew about the water being sold in the dining room (pretty container) but the dining room water is good. Hot chocolate in the Lido is free of charge but not when you get it in the pretty cup on the Lower Promenade deck in Glacier Bay. We bought the water in the room and then refilled the bottles from the bathroom sink. THE WATER IS GOOD!
Embarkation/Debarkation: We arrived at Canada Place at 11:00am walked right to check in (no wait) and were seated for a short-time but we were on the ship by 12:30pm. No complaints here. When we left the ship, our color was called right on time and we were off the ship, luggage in hand and waiting for our HAL sponsored transfer within 30 minutes. There were two ships in that morning (as well when we left) but all of it is organized chaos. There is plenty of staff for direction if you get confused.
Once again we are happy cruisers and cannot wait until our next HAL voyage!