My DH and I are 45 yrs. old and traveled with our DDs 10 and 12. This is our 5th cruise , first on HAL (DDs have been on 2 Disney cruises). We went to Alaska on Carnival and S. Caribb on Chandris. We flew to Ft. Myers as we couldn't get into Ft. Laud. and stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites. It is a wonderful hotel. The staff couldn't have been nicer and more attentive. My kids weren't in the door yet and they were offered fresh cookies. The desk attendant gave us directions for dinner, remembered to ask us about it later, and always asked if we needed anything. The room was big, clean and very quiet. The hotel is set back in a wooded area and quite peaceful. We had the whole pool and hot tub to ourselves and the pool was Warm! The only negative was the slippery tub. I fell and hurt my wrist so be careful. We rented a Budget car at the airport and drove 2 hrs. to the terminal. Car was fine, but it took the Budget Van 1 hr. to bring DH back. At about 12:50 we went through embarkation. It was smooth; we were in the Lido approx. 15 mins. later. It was very crowded and hard to go to all the stations then get drinks especially without trays.
The rooms were opened about 2:30 . We were very happy to see our inside 6071 wasn't a closet. It was quite roomy and had the Best storage ever. We had 3 closets and ended up with an empty shelf. There are lg. drawers at the foot of the bed and luggage slides under the bed. As promised, the beds are very comfy. My DD wanted to take her sofa bed home. The only downside to the room was the pull down bed is over the queen. We much prefer it over the sofa. It was so low my poor DH whacked his head a number of times. The bathroom has a shower and again lots of storage. There are 3 shelves in the cabinet and a lg. shelf under the sink. (I walked by several outside rms. and Sys and the only difference appeared to be the balcony.)
We met, Harmoko, our cabin steward and he was wonderful. I asked for ice the first day, and after he saw me make an icepack, he had one in the cabin every day. It was very thoughtful. He always greeted us in the hall and we wanted for nothing.
We had early fixed seating at a table for 4. Antonius andKomang were our waiters and they were likewise wonderful. We asked for milk which took forever and they apologized a dozen times. Each night after that it was on the table. We enjoyed the cappuccino and it too was brought each night. When Antonius saw us outside the second day, he greeted us by first name. Komang was working in the Lido one lunch and came over to talk to us about his home. We thank those 3 hard working gentlemen for all they did. The food was okay. I loved the cold soups and the lamb was fabulous. Some nights it was hard to find something to order, though. What I had was usually good, but not enough variety. My kids felt the same. The desserts were particularly uninspiring. While our waiters were very good, it seemed to take a long time between courses( maybe the kitchen?). We never had dinner in another rest., but had all our lunches in the Lido. My Dh enjoyed the Asian and other stations. I liked the pizza , but the other Italian wasn't so good. My kids liked the pasta with sauces. The taco and burger place were tasty. After several blah bkfsts. In the Lido, we tried the dining room. The coffee and OJ are much better there. We enjoyed the special pancakes, French toast and eggs as well. It does take awhile , tho. I would beg HAL to bring back trays. It's bad enough for adults, but with kids!!
Day 2 was at Half Moon Cay. What a beautiful island! The weather was great and the beach even nicer. I would have to say it's even a bit better than Disney's Castaway. The water is a lil clearer and the sand softer. Now that's saying something because my DH isn't a beach guy and he thought Castaway was paradise! We played in the water all day so I can't comment on excursions. The BBQ was okay.
This was the first time we met, Courtney, the kid's counselor from club HAL. She was building sand castles for an hour. We were surprised that this was all that was offered to the kids all day. Sadly, the news got much worse. She stated she was the only counselor for the week and the hours were cut to 8-10PM for club HAL. We didn't realize it till later, but it also meant she had the3-17 yr. olds herself. Later we would learn that meant instead of our girls being in the 10-12 grp they would be in the 3-12 yr. olds! I have no idea what the 13-17s did. Our girls are pretty willing to play with most, but there were some very young spoiled kids that made the club less than enjoyable.(We saw them with a DVD on the Vista DR table!) I thought it completely inappropriate that the age groups were mixed. The counselor would send the older kids on scavenger hunts so she could stay in the club with the others. I saw boys running up the stairs and couldn't believe no one was watching them. Only to find out they were on the hunt and so were our girls. They were really running all over the ship with no adult!! We were furious. We do not allow our kids to be unsupervised. I have read folks upset over kids on HAL running around and assumed it was the parents fault. Perhaps they should check if they were in club HAL! We also were told there was no sign up for the club on port days even though HAL literature clearly says there is. My DH even saw it posted on the ship.(Not that I would've been comfortable leaving the girls after the lack of supervision). My other complaint(yes there are more) was that they watched movies during each club. One day Cortney said the name of the movie while I was there and several girls said they had seen it and asked if they could finish their beads. My DD also wanted to and it seemed reasonable. Cortney said ,no, that everyone was going to be on one side of the room watching the movie. Now if 100% of the kids didn't want to watch the movie, why not do something else? I found that the activities on the club paper were much more fun than what actually happened.
Day 3 was at Grand Turk. It was very nice not to tender. We had booked the Horseback ride and swim. Be advised the bus is not airconditioned as stated and it is hot. The island is in ruins after the hurricane so if you are not in the water, I would skip it. The horseride guides were very nice and gave us a history lesson while on land. We were disappointed that the water portion which was awesome was so short. I think they were running behind because we were picked up late at the dock. We swam in the pool in town later. That felt great. There are a few shops in the pier center.
Day 4 was a sea day and we had the Cruise Critic M&G. It was a very nice setting in the Crow's Nest with a great group of people. Wes, graciously brought chocolate and champagne for everyone. Bob, was our hard working host who welcomed my unexpected kids as the club ended at 11AM. Truly everyone was very kind to our children even in the dining room.
Day 5 was to be in Grand Cayman, but was missed due to high waves and wind. I was glad to have another sea day , but felt sorry for those parents who had booked the spa thinking their kids would have club HAL(NOT). Now that we had the sea day the club was opened 2-4PM and you guessed it, they watched a movie. We decided to visit the lounge on deck 10 and enjoy the gorgeous view. The girls were thrilled to get a hot chocolate and play games with us. DH and I also found this to be a lovely place to read. How nice to have a room full of books and games and a view of the ocean.
Day6 was in Costa Maya. We were the first ship back after a Hurricane devastated the port and nearby fishing town. I had read Majahual was a relaxing town with beautiful beaches. We planned to hang out on the beach and give the locals some business for lunch. Well, things have changed. Now instead of a taxi you are crammed into vans for $4/ person that don't leave till full. We were shocked by the destruction and poor conditions of the town. We tried to walk down the street in front of the beach which was in slightly better shape. It is an understatement to say the residents were aggressively trying to sell anything. I understand they have waited a long time for tourists and need money, but it is not where you want to relax on vacation. We were accosted by a man who wanted us to pet his 4ft. iguana even when we said no many times. The store fronts are lined up one against the other and people are yelling at you with every step. One is still talking and the next is grabbing your arm telling you to come to their restaurant/business. We did meet two nice men that were grateful and polite when we bought jewelry, but most were rude when we tried to politely decline their wares. We did want massages and had expected the $20 /45 mins. we'd read about. We were quoted $1/min and there was no shade. Eventually we got massages from two ladies who use their store. They were okay. They tried hard and were polite. My DH had a coke from a can which was terrible. We were scared to purchase any other food or drink. We got a cab back for $2/person and this driver tried to speak English and was pleasant. I would advise staying at the pier stores unless you are going in the water.
This was Halloween and the dining room was decorated. Many were dressed in costume and our kids were excited to go to the club where they were to make costumes and have a party. HAL did a much better job with a party for the adults. Once again the kids had a movie. They did not make costumes , have any candy, or do much to celebrate. The kids were so disappointed as were we. How much would it take to give them each a little bag of candy or make a treat?
Day 7 was another sea day. As was day 6, the water was choppy. My kids and I were a little seasick. We played a few games and hung out. That night was to be a pajama party pillow fight in clubHAL. Well, Cortney said the kids were too wound up in the afternoon and they wouldn't do the pillow fight. I was sooooo tired of the "oh, no not this week" attitude of the club. Most of what was written on the kids' activity sheets was akin to housing lists in the newspaper. It's not even close to what it sounds like. She has these kids for 2hrs./day and they watch movies!
On Sunday morning we had a late departure, and ordered room service. The kids loved it. It was on time and presented well. We had silent disembarkation; what a wonderful thing! I felt sorry for the steward, but how great for us to relax in the cabin and walk off the ship with no crowd. We found our luggage in 5 mins. and proceeded thru customs. I give HAL high marks for that.
The only show we went to was the Amazing 88s. It was entertaining. We went to Dj Dave's music contests each night at 8. Can't comment on other entertainment. In summary, an adult could have a relaxing week on a beautiful ship. I think the service is better than other cruises. The food is slightly better than Disney. However, I WOULD NOT take kids onboard. The kid's program was a joke. We were pleasantly surprised at how the other cruisers treated the kids. The folks at the three tables around us in the dining room asked if the kids were enjoying it and commented that they behaved well. I was pleased that they reinforced how important good manners are. Thanks to all who went out of your way to welcome them. I'm happy to answer specific questions on the main board.