I was eagerly waiting for cruise day. Living in the Norfolk area and always wanting to take a HAL cruise this seemed to be a perfect combination. Cruise day was April 3 and we arrived at the pier at 2:30pm. We were processed and in our room by 3:00. Our luggage arrived very shortly thereafter. So far, so good.
The room was probably one of the nicest I have had. Clean, bright and lots of storage. Sahri, our room steward was outstanding. Never seen, but everything done while we were gone. That was the end of the good things!
I realize that this was Spring Break, but I never expected 300+ children on a 10 day cruise on a line with a reputation of usually having older cruisers. HAL obviously did not expect this either and their Staff decided to take the 10 days off themselves! The Staff I encountered were usually deep in conversation with one another and if you saw them alone, their eyes were downcast to avoid any conversation. There were not enough activities for the children and consequently they took over the ship. RUNNING and SCREAMING at all hours of the day and night. Both pools were taken over by the children, including those in diapers. I lost my desire to use the pool.
I was not aware of the changes to our schedule until I got to my room. They were not, in my opinion, positive changes. Almost no time in San Juan, one of the most interesting ports. Too much time in Antigua, a nasty place! It was not until Day 9 that the Captain bothered to make an announcement regarding the changes. For all the wonderful things I had always heard about HAL I saw none of them on this cruise. Very rarely did I see any assistance given to the elderly with their trays in the Lido.
In many ports the gangway was at an extreme angle and once again no assistance given to those who could have used a helping hand. There seemed to be an abundance of servers ready to get a drink for you at the pool; however, any debris on the ground or on tables remained for hours. I guess you could say I was not very impressed with HAL and you know that sometimes you only have one time to make a first impression. I cannot help but feel that I booked a cruise on HAL and got Carnival. I will return to Celebrity in the future.