Our family spent spring break on board the Ryndam. My husband, my 11 year old son, my 9 year old son and I met our two friends and their 8 and 5 year old sons in Tampa. It was our family's 6th cruise (previous cruises have been on Royal Caribbean, Costa and HAL) and our friends' first cruise.
We flew in the night before and stayed at a Hampton Inn. It was just fine, and most importantly we used HHonors points to pay for it. The morning of the cruise we walked to the local drug store, loaded up on sun screen and bought 2 bottles of wine. We then checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to the port. We arrived shortly before 1:00, which was the time designated for check in. There was zero wait; we walked right on in.
The ship was classic HAL. It's small enough that it was very negotiable, and even the kids could quickly navigate about the ship. It was going into dry dock when our cruise ended, and I won't lie - there were a few worn areas on bannisters, the backboards on the baskets on the basketball court were broken,etc. Everything was extremely clean. HAL's classic touches always thrill me -- the antiques, the orchids and other flowers.
In regards to activities, there were several Dancing with the Stars options, twice daily trivia, cooking and computer classes. We attended the mixology and beer tasting classes which were great fun. We spent a fair amount of time at the pool, on the tennis court, and on the basketball court with the kids and also played ping pong.
Service was excellent, as I have come to expect on HAL. Our room steward, the bartenders, and the wait staff were great. There was even one member of the main dining room wait staff who was retiring after our cruise after 35 years on HAL!
We picked this cruise because of the stop in Guatemala with the shore excursion to Tikkal. It was a wonderful day and an incredible experience. It was far superior of an experience to anything I've done near Mexico City or Cancun. The ruins were awesome, the tour guide was great, and I really felt that we really "got the feel of" Guatemala from that day. It ended with a bang. Due to fog, the plane back to the port was delayed, and the ship was waiting for us. From the airport to the port, therefore, our bus was given a police escort with sirens and M16! This excursion we booked through HAL, and I was pleased with it.
In Roatan, we independently booked with Little French Keys (google it). It was a fabulous tiny island with a great beach, a wonderful platform 15 feet in the air from which we jumped into the ocean, kayaks, sand volleyball, and included the best lunch we had - lobster, fish, chicken, steak --incredible.
Our stops in Costa Maya and Key West were fine. In Key West, the boys found a massive banyon tree, and spent in excess of an hour playing in and climbing on it. Otherwise, we walked about and had a drink. In Costa Maya, we went to a nice beach, but I will admit that I found the vendors to be oppressive.
We always get interior rooms. We're not in the rooms much, and the boys sleep better in a darker room. It was fine. We had the parents in flanking rooms and the four boys in a third room in the middle. They were nicely decorated and clean, although there was one small stain on the curtain behind our bed. They had fresh fruit in the room which the boys really liked. The boys loved their nightly chocolates and towel animals!
Dining seemed better than ever. We took the kids to the Lido buffet at 6:45 and fed them dinner and then took them to Club HAL at 7:00 when it opened. After dropping them off, we adults went to the main dining room. The food was incredible. One of our friends had given up meat for Lent, and she always had great seafood or vegetarian options. The desserts were awesome. They were more than willing to bring double entrees or desserts. The only thing I missed was the dessert extravaganza by the Lido Pool that they used to have on prior cruises.
Club HAL was great for the 4, 8 and 9 year old boys. The 8 and 9 year olds especially couldn't wait for Club HAL to open, and didn't want to miss a moment of the programming! Our almost 12 year old felt a little old for the activities, and he would have liked to have seen more kids his age on the cruise. There is a game area that he went to, but he would have liked to have been able to go between the Club HAL programming and the independent gaming area without having a parent sign him in and out.
The one show we went to was very good, and kid appropriate as well.
Disembarkation was fine as well.