We flew in from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale on the day before the cruise. The flight was on time and we got our luggage quickly. We had a room at the Marriott Spring Hills in Dania Beach and it was very nice. They have transportation to and from the airport and to the port the next day. When we checked in, they asked at that time if we wanted the shuttle the next day and put us on a list for the proper ship and said to be in the lobby about 11:45 for the 12:15 shuttle. Since check out was at noon, that was great. Both from the airport and then from the hotel to the ship they had a van or small bus with a trailer pulled behind for the luggage. That made it nice. The room was great, the beds comfortable, and everything was clean. I would definitely stay there again without hesitation.
We got to the ship about 12:30 and since we had a suite, check in was a breeze. We walked on and were directed to the Lido for the buffet lunch. It was crowded but we were able to find a table. Lunch was good but we had a big breakfast at the hotel so were not very hungry. We got to the room about 1:30.
We had the back corner SB suite, cabin 7142, which is on the port side with a huge wrap around balcony that went the length of the cabin down the side. Most of the time we could get out of the sun or wind on the back or the side. This made it nice. The cabin above us could see down on the outer part of the back deck but it was not bad and as we ended up having fellow CC members above us, I enjoyed chatting with them when they were out on their balcony. The room is not as wide as an SA suite but it has more closet space and that was wonderful. This suite also gave us use of the Neptune Lounge and both Gelo and Janee were wonderful concierges. Janee told me early that they were our front desk and they did handle all types of things for us when necessary. That was an incredible perk.
The ship is clean and they are constantly working on something. Hand sanitizer was offered anywhere and everywhere. But I am not fond of the overall decor. The cabin was done in a deep burnt orange with purple highlights. The carpet in the halls is a busy dark blue pattern and the elevators in the back are a bright orange on the inside. Just too much orange for my taste. Also they had some of the funkiest chairs on our deck, Number 7 the Rotterdam, but as one woman with us in the elevator commented, she could tell when she got to the right floor by the weird chairs. But for a week, I could live with it.
My only real complaint was our dining situation. I had requested early fixed seating and felt lucky to get it based on the comments from others on these boards. But they must have had an overload because they put us on the floor with As You Wish dining and every night that we ate there, we had to bull our way to the door through others that thought that we were waiting in line. We could tell that a few tables around us were just like us but most were changing every night. By putting us on that floor they also gave us 5:30 instead of 5:45 seating AND said that if we were more than 15 minutes late, we lost our table. One night just getting though the door made us that late. But the food was good and we had a nice couple with us that we enjoyed so it made up for that. The waiters were just OK and mixed some part of the order up most nights but quickly corrected it. That was nothing major. I was very disappointed however in that on no night was Escargot was offered. This is something that I cannot get at home and it was sorely missed. The man at our table also felt the same as I did.
We ate two nights at the Pinnacle Grill. Outstanding is all that I can say. Both nights we went with another couple that we had meet on the roll call prior to sailing and there was no rushing at all. The total meal took 3 hours one night and 2 1/2 the other night. I never could eat all that they brought.
We both went on this cruise to read and relax and that was what we did. We had the pass for the full week to the hydropool and used it several times. However, it was hotter than when I was on the Oosterdam and it was too hot to stay in very long. Not good in my book. Also as not surprise to anyone I am sure, the chair hogs were ever present. They would park their stuff on one of the 6 lounge chairs by the pool then go to the ceramic lounges in another room and stay forever. Just not nice at all. Again one of the few complaints that I had was the prices in the spa. I am used to the high prices but I needed to get my nails done before I left the ship. I got a fill in which is only $15 local and they charged me $45 but then had the nerve to charge another $19 to polish my nails. I left that as a complaint on the form they give you at the end of the cruise.
Neither one of use went to the shows so I cannot speak to that. I did go to the casino some but it is just not a great one. I am used to the ones on RCCL and they have triple the slots and many more tables. But that is just for fun so I played some, just not as much as I might have on another ship. I do not like to play Black Jack one on one and many times that would have been my only option. I left when it was like that.
We had a cabana on Half Moon Cay. But due to having to return to FLL the first night for a passenger that boarded a week after surgery bleeding and said nothing until after dinner, we did not get to Half Moon Cay until 3 hours late. They did not do the barbeque and we got only about 3 hours in the cabana versus the 6 that we would have normally had. They started stripping the stuff out after we were only there 1 1/2 hours and I complained as did others that I talked to. We were refunded 40% of our cost but it was just not a great visit.
We did the Ultimate Snorkel on Grand Turk and that was good. It was through HAL and they took us to two places. Fairly good. Then Grand Cayman closed the port due to high seas and turned away all ships that day. There were at least 3 others besides us. Sad but the way it goes there. We had two sea days due to that before we got to Costa Maya. But the high seas were with us the rest of the week. They posted 12 foot waves but I personally have been across the Atlantic and I felt that they were higher. We rocked and rolled all the way back the last full day to FLL.
Disembarkation was great and is the best thing about HAL. We had room service and walked off the ship about 8:30. Our bags were easy to find and we were at the airport in one hour from leaving our room to sitting at the gate for our flight.
In summary, it was good but not great cruise just due to the seas. People were nice and I enjoyed meeting those that I had been chatting with the last few months. I would definitely cruise on HAL again.