Since we live fairly close to San Diego, we don't have the hassle factor of air travel to and from the cruise. We arrived at the port around 11:00 AM, and were greeted by "Sherry", a wonderful person at the pier who coordinates the "wheelchair assist" passengers. HAL's embarkation and disembarkation for mobility impaired passengers is so far & away above the other cruise lines we have used. Very organized. We arrived in our cabin around 11:45, dropped our hand luggage and proceeded to the Main Dining Room for the Mariner's embarkation luncheon. We tend to avoid the Lido buffet just because we like to be seated and served our meals. Our cabin was a category A, Vista Suite, deck 10. It was a tad smaller than we had anticipated, especially the veranda, but there was plenty of closet/drawer/shelf space for everything we had brought. Bathroom was OK, there was a "bubble tub", which makes the tub wall fairly high to get into it, but we had requested a small step stool and it was in place when we arrived. The ship staff all went out of their way to assist us, so many happy greetings, and we always felt welcome anywhere we were on the ship. This is a smaller, older ship which is our preference - doesn't take so long to get from one place to another and it never felt crowded. It's decor reflects the Dutch sailing history - many interesting paintings, sculpture, etc. So many of the newer ships are decorated like Las Vegas on steroids. Not very soothing to us. The entertainment was mostly good - we liked the classical violin/piano duo (used to be the Adagio String Trio), Went to listen to them after most every dinner. There were 2 production shows, the one titiled "Encore" was fabulous, one of the best we have seen on any cruise. Also a "Piano Man" who was really good, we missed the comedian. The dining experience was very good. We had the early fixed seating, always get it whenever possible. It is so nice to have a waitstaff who knows our preferences by the second day and call us by name. Of all the different dishes we ordered, there was not one that we didn't like. We try to order unusual food that we don't have at home. There was a varied menu each day, temperature of food was hot or cold as appropriate, and very well presented. We ordered room service breakfast each day, again very well done. There was a long list of activities in each daily program, if one wished it was possible to be busy every hour of the day/night. We tend to like the relaxation that comes with a cruise - to do nothing at all is a luxury. We only got off the ship at one port - Mazatlan. This cruise line has only started calling there within the last month. We remarked at how clean the pier area was, so many local tourist information volunteers to asssist us, and that the town looked a lot cleaner than years ago. Overall a great time on a great classic ship.
We just wanted to see how Mazatlan had changed from when we were there 10 or so years ago. We wanted to have lunch at a restaurant we knew, and it was listed in the HAL information about the port. We did appreciate that they had a restaurant listing in each port information page. We went to the El Shrimp Bucket restaurant - taxi both ways. The hotels and sea-side restaurants were busy all along the street. It was cleaner than we remembered. There was a nice selection of shops just outside the pier that had just about anything you wanted to purchase as a souvenier.