If you're a little worried about some of the previous negative reviews of this ship, don't be - we just returned from a 33 day Hawaii & South Pacific cruise and it was with a doubt the best cruise we've been on. Captain Rik Krombeen and Hotel Manager Robert Versteeg were informative, approachable and obviously had their act together when it comes to running a happy and efficient ship. Over 33 days we got to know a large number of folks and every one of them were more than pleased about the condition of the ship. The problems associated with the refit have been apparently remedied and the crew seemed to be in sync and happy. Every single crew member we passed by offered a smile and a greeting.
Even though most people would still prefer an aft pool to the retreat wading pool that's back there now, everyone seemed to enjoy the other aspects of the retreat - the convenient bar, the Slice (which serves up some pretty good pizza, not the rubbery stuff like before), and the big screen on the ships' aft. During the day there was no bothersome sound - only sea life videos. On a few occasions there were evening movies or concerts shown. The ones we saw were well-attended and well liked by all - on this cruise the NCAA final was shown outside on the big screen much to the delight of the many passengers who attended. In fairness to the wading pool, several people used it and enjoyed it during the hot days in the South Pacific, but those I spoke with would still have prefered the pool.
Since the previous cruise on this ship experienced a period of Code Red, embarkation was delayed by an hour or so while staff deep-cleaned the ship. Although a few precautionary measures were still employed when we boarded they were lifted within 48 hours. The ship remained healthy enough for the rest of this long cruise so that no more restrictions needed to be applied. Because of the anti-viral and anti-bacterial chemicals that were used to wash the handrails they were a little sticky. By the time our cruise was over though, every single one of them had been scraped down to the bare wood and varnished by this hardworking crew.
The food was great, entertainment fair, service unbeatable and a great overall value. For those of you like warm weather, relaxing sea days and swimming in clear blue lagoons; don't miss this cruise - it will take your breath away. Good job HAL.