Driving to San Diego from S. Utah was no problem and we stayed with friends there before we embarked. Getting dropped off and getting onto the ship was very easy and went quickly. We always keep our bags with us to avoid any loss/misplacing problems, so we were in our cabin with all our belongings in under an hour. On to the Lido for lunch! We picked an inside cabin and were placed on Main Deck Forward...was very convenient to Lounge and just needed to remember that the Dining Rooms were all in the back. Wonderful cabin service with no issues...always cleaned when we were out and were never in our way. Took care of our few requests with no problem.
Ship Info: Seems she needs an overhaul in some areas; we never had any problems, other than being prepared for hot and cold in your Stateroom, a few late arrivals at ports, which wasn't too disastrous, and one major problem of steam pipes (water) bursting on Deck 4, flooding several cabins severely, a few burn injuries, and we think they got off the ship in Cartagena. Don't know how many it really affected. Not good.
Ports: Had a variety of big and small. Huatulco (wa-tul-co)and Puerto Chipas,Mex; Puerto Quetazal, Guatm.; and Corinto, Nicaragua were small, and the locals were very happy to see a ship pull in. There was the usual offerings of water/bus tour options and the smallest port, Chiapas, you had to drive pretty far to find something of interest. We were actually docked in their marina. Puerto Quetzal's trip to Antiqua was interesting. Corinto was very small, but the town had Lots of personality with local shopping and a festival atmosphere with American music playing and Rio-like dancing figures as we came into the town. Even though it was very hot and humid, we enjoyed this small town, Took about 10 mins (or less)to walk to the town. Staying under 2 hrs. is about all a body can stand, heat-wise. In Panama City, we had a successful local tour with 3 other couples, taking in the city, Miraflores Locks, and the Old Town. Worth the $20 each. There was a large variety of tours offered by the ship, but they do add up. The Canal speaks for itself; lots of information generated before, during and after the crossing. Cartegena was an eye-opener with beautiful skyline of white skyscrapers and a big city of 1 million. Was the Hottest port; 85% humidity, so beware of that. Also a place where many made taxi hook-ups with no problem.
We enjoyed the As You Wish Dining, since we met many people each evening; since this ship began in Vancouver, it was 75% Canadian, and was interesting to hear their views. Four formal nights were included; but since you changed tables each night, no worries about changing your fancy clothes! Food/Lido Deck all very good. Now the Lido has just about everything that is being served in the Formal Dining, with tablecloths, so that is great. Entertainment was more sophisticated; little opera/traditional singer, great piano, a Celtic violin combo....no r-or X-rated comics...one comic who was clean & joked about the old people on the ship...the Ships Dance troupe was Very Good and had several good numbers. Which is the Only thing we have as a negative....because this is a longer cruise and HAL is not kid-friendly (was one 2-yr old and 3 teens on board), had Many elderly folks...The ship closed up by 10pm...and the poor DJ and Band were playing to 10-20 late-nighters...So that cuts down on the Nightlife fun. Activities: They have a super library, computer, puzzle, reading area in Explorations Lounge. Cooking demos were interesting; lots of digital computer classes, Book Club, all the normal stuff, good workout/steam bath, etc...but you have to like to read to get through the down times. We arrived about an hour late to Ft. Lauderdale; and am sure many were sweating making their flights. So be sure you don't get one too early... Disembarking went per usual....slow, but nothing major. In summary, I would recommend this cruise to see some different ports; don't expect much in the wild & crazy bar dept...there isn't one. But for a pleasant, low-key cruise, it was good. (and just hope your water pipes don't burst)
ps..most of our ports are not listed in the provided list.