This was my 10th cruise, and 2nd on HAL. I had done the Statendam 7 years earlier to Alaska, and was a bit concerned for activities and Nightlife as any 23 year old would be. This was not a problem in the least.
Embarkation: We arrived around 11am and got in line and was on the ship in about twenty minutes, the cabins were not ready so I went to the front office to sign up for my cooking class later in the week and get a hole punched into my card so I could put it on my cruise critic lanyard. We then went up to the lido for lunch and swung by the Pinnacle Grill to learn they would be open for lunch Wed and Thus, we choose Wed and made reservations, our cabin was ready by 1:30 and went in to check it out. The room was nice size with a nice size tub, flat screen TV and dvd player. The Verandah was also nice with 3 chairs for all of use to sit on. Me and dad went up and got a margarita and joined the 'Ship's Tour' which was lead by Event Staff member Matt.. Matt was great, informative and funny. We strolled down to our Muster Drill station and sent dad back to grab life jackets and were wearing them and prepared 15 min ahead of schedule, as were several others.
Cabin: Joko was our steward, he was nice and the room was always clean, and we saw him in the halls several times. 5 stars for Joko and his friendly attitude and towel animals!
Overall Entertainment: Our Event Staff was made up of Cruise Director Jason, Matt, Scott, Party Planner Veronica, and DJ Mike. I saw these guys everywhere from the disco dancing with everyone to Mixology and Cooking classes to handing out tender tix. They were friendly to everyone and always had smiles.
Day Entertainment: Everyday there were sports games and Trivia none of which I got to myself, on sea days there was Mixology classes for 10 dollars a person and you got 3 drinks, the recipes and were shown how to mix them along with some brief history of the different alcohol's, I loved the classes. There was also pool games hosted by Mike and Matt, they were nice it looked like those who participated had fun. Movies were shown in Queen's Lounge daily. Free Cooking Demos were held, and the 29 dollar private Cooking Classes, a Max of 12 people, though it was only 8 in mine, you cooked 3 things with Pinnacle Grill Chef Philip got some really good tips, an apron and bottle of water to wash the food down with. Philip was also very nice, I ran into him later that day in the elevator and he kindly asked me how I enjoyed the class. There was tea everyday from 3 to 4pm. We did tea on the first day, and on both sea days as the first sea day is the Royal Dutch, and 2nd is Indonesian tea which was nice. The adult only pools I never saw kids at, and on sea days the DJ was there for a couple hours with music.
Night Entertainment: I saw both Broadway shows, the dancers and singers were very talented and the choreography was well done. I did not see the Elton John show, but mom and dad said it was good. The Joel Mason farewell with friends show was OK, my real complaint is that anyone with kids was not told beforehand in either the paper or by announcement that this would include a good bit of 'adult humor' you may not want little ones exposed to. Now, Karaoke, I must say I've never been on a ship were this was as packed out by people watching as this one was. I did the preliminary one, but choose not to participate in the actual superstar competition, though I did watch round one. The singers were good, and the audience clapped everyone. The Piano bars had some good music playing at night and the Disco was always going with music, lights and fog.
Ports of Call: Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Grand Cayman.
Half Moon Cay- This private Island was nice, not my favorite, I think Disney has it on private Islands, but this one was nice, needed a but more shade, a nice beach day.
Grand Turk: There's not much here, we did the hop on, hop off, don't waste your money. There's a lighthouse which you can't actually go into, just walk up too, the Prison, and a salt factory. It was too hot, so we only got off to see the lighthouse. If you don't Snorkel or Dive, plan on using the beach at the front near the dock or go to Margaritaville, which has a nice pool and music.
Grand Cayman: This was my 3rd time, and frankly, I wish the cruse lines would started using some of the other Cayman Islands as this stop is always crowded... 5 cruise ships Freedom, Voyages, a Celebrity and Carnival and us. over 12,000 tourists. We shopped and then did Margaritaville, this one has a slide with the pool.
Food: The Lido has a nice selection for breakfast and lunch, a deli, salads, sushi and Italian along with other stuff. The Dinning room was also nice. We had Nono and Syam and they were nice. We did Pinnacle Grill for lunch and the food was excellent, the crab cakes were the best. I did not have a meal I did not like.
Drinks: Glacier Drop, Raspberry Seabreeze and South Seas Aviator I highly recommend.
Crew: On the first sea day we had our CC Meet and Greet, the Hotel Manager and Captain Henk Keijer showed up, the Captain was nice, talked with us for about 20 minutes and took some pics, I also show him a few other times and he said hi. Jason Venner was our cruise director, he will be joining the Veendam soon, he was great! I would go on another ship with him as the cruise director. Alvin was the bartender who did the Mixology classes, he was funny and very informative and answered questions good.
Disembarkation: Smooth and fast, and Jason was there giving us his smile and a heartfelt good-bye and come back soon.
Overall: A wonderful cruise and I would do HAL again.
Feel free to e-mail me any questions.