We booked this cruise at the last minute, 3 days before sailing.
We arrived at the port a little before noon. Embarkation was pretty quick and painless, we were on board within twenty minutes and the cabins were ready so we went straight there to deposit our carry on.
The cabin was ok, closet space was adequate but there was very little drawer space. Small balcony with two chairs, a small table and a footstool, at least I think it was a footstool.
We left the cabin to explore the ship, which didn't take very long. Overall impression of the ship was that it looked a little dated, a little neglected, dark and drab.
Next stop was the Lido for a light lunch. For the first 48hours, passengers are not allowed to serve themselves, this is to try to prevent illness, not sure if this is successful or not, it certainly meant that it took longer to be served. The seating area is somewhat small, consequently finding a seat was a real problem. I will come back to this later. The food was quite good, I think we had a salad and dessert but I can't remember exactly what.
It was a beautiful day for Sail away, and we stayed on deck for quite a while until the ship entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then we headed back to our cabin to unpack and get ready for dinner.
In general I thought the food was quite good, especially the appetizers and soups. We did have a bad experience in the dining room on the first night, however I will not comment about that here yet as we will be contacting HAL about it. Suffice to say please be extra vigilant if you have allergies.
I am sad to report that service on this ship did not meet our expectations. This was especially true of room service. On the occasions we tried to call room service, we were often waiting for ten - fifteen minutes for someone to pick up the phone, then waited an hour for food or drinks to be delivered, we only ever ordered drinks or a snack, soup on one occasion so it wasn't even meals that we were waiting that long for. I ordered tea one evening, they brought hot water and tea bags but no cups. We heard this same complaint from others on the ship. Vista servers did a little better, but the service just did not come up to the standards of other ships we have sailed on.
Woeful. We went to the show on the first night and we ended up leaving before the end, it was very amateur and we have seen better at our local high school. there was and Illusionist on one night and he was good, but the rest of the entertainment was a big let down.
As the entertainment was so bad, we decided to rent a DVD from the Front Desk one night, we selected the DVD, took it back to our room only to find the DVD player was not working.
We did not use the casino as it was just too smoky and the bars around the casino were also smoky(from cigarette smoke drifting in from the casino).
The photographers were good, taking time to pose people and they seemed to pay attention to detail, unfortunately the photographs are very pricey, much more expensive than other ships we have sailed on.
Speaking of expensive, wine on the ship is vastly overpriced, we normally buy a bottle to have with dinner every night, not on this ship, not at those prices. No I don;t mind paying a little more for drinks on board, I understand that is where ships make money (at least that is what I have been told), but there is a limit.
The ports were great, Alaska is beautiful, I hope to return, but it will not be with HAL.
Very disappointed overall with this ship, crew and cruise line.