We booked our flight and hotel ourselves and spend 3 days before cruising at the Embassysuites in Fort Lauderdale (had a rental car from Miami for 3 days). Those 3 days were real nice as a proloque for our cruise. Embassy suites very nice. We did not know what to expect as this was our first cruise, the check-in was very pleasant, we had to wait for abouth an hour (we were early). All went smooth, the welcoming was very friendly, lunch was fine (allthough we dont like really like buffets). After lunch we could enter our nice veranda suite (6056) wich was spottles and very welcoming.
The first 2/3 days we felt a bit unusual but once we got familiar with everthing we started really enjoying the whole thing. Bad thing was that there was some infectingdisease on board and they wanted us to wash hands all day at all possible places on the ship, library was closed etc. Unfortunite I am alergic to these chemical soaps thet want you to use all day so that was'nt to pleasant for me (It was like hayfeaver for me for the rest of the cruise), but I cant blame HAL for that.
Another disturbing matter was our winewaiter in the main restaurant, at first he said that no wine by the glass was sold in the restaurant, he offered a $ 50,00 bottle wich we declined. The second day he showd a short winemenu with expensive wines and finally at the third day he showed us the extensive winelist with all kinds of reasonable wines (also by the glass). We switched to another table with great service, had wine every evening, sometimes a bottle, sometimes just a glass. The dinners were (just as the breakfests and luncheons) very good. We had dinner at the Pinnacle grill twice, very, very good and pleasant. We liked the entertainment on board, nothing too wild, just nice. Having tea in the afternoon with scones etc. was great too.
The bars we we're having drinks at the ship, nice, nice, good service.
Always a pleasent spot to sit down and relax, swim, read a book etc.
All in all a pleasant cruise, we just booked our second one with HAL's Westerdam for september 07 2010 from Rotterdam to Athens (12 days) and really hope that that cruise will be as pleasant as the first one. Actually, we decided that this next experiense will be our guideline to make more cruises with HAL our not.