This was our 21st cruise and always love to go with HAL. The inside passage for Alaska was a great trip, great sites, saw whales, seals etc... Really enjoyed Alaska and would do it again. We love this ship and it was our first inside cabin but it was great, plenty of room, very pleasant and the room stewards were great. Not as much special touches in the room but did get a couple of cute towel animals and the kids liked that they used their stuffed animals to dress up the bed.
Some changes on the line, not all good, but still a pleasant trip. The new process to take your luggage and get your tickets for air was nice. Quick and easy to get on and go directly to your room.
Gambling - did not see one winner. Staff was not exceptionally friendly.
Dining room & wine steward were good, food was good.
Pinnacle Grill - still gorgeous though food is not the same quality and the service is rushed (though good), don't do the wine tasting! All glasses are set in front of you and you then have lots of empty glasses sitting there through dinner - many changes on the quality of food there and definitely rushed you through. Right after you are done they remove the dish and put the next down. The special dishes are changed and not much different from the dining room but you feel pushed right through... Went twice (prepaid for the second) and my daughter complained that she would have preferred the dining room as it was the same food basically and we could take our time. My elderly mother was horrified that they brought the wine tasting glasses, all at once but even though they were a small amount in each it looked awful, and then left the empty wine glasses. I had to ask they remove them! We tried to laugh but it was embarrassing! when we did it on our 17 day cruise they brought each one in a beautiful glass, explained about the wine and they were actually outstanding wines so a very good deal. They were then removed and another brought with the next course. There are two courses and desert now. The courses are smaller though adequate. The souffle is not the same but the creme brulee is still very nice.
Photos - the copier was broken. It took hours of standing to try to find the photos and then you had to purchase it on a disc. Same cost as before but when you buy the one for the photo with the album it costs more than before though you can't get the photos. The old package deal where you received the album with so many photos... is not there, just have to add more money. I saw people there on the morning of departure as they never got to the front of the line for days! It was a fiasco, though I did get the disk with all for $199 as I did not have the patience to stand in line anymore. Never saw them all until I came home as it was just such a hassle to stand for hours and got tired of missing activities... Many people left without purchasing a photo as they could not get to the front of the line as it too so long and they just wore out. Not as many opportunities to do photos on casual nights. The girls were disappointed as the also wanted some casual night photos...
The pool is great for this cruise as it is covered. The entertainment was good and there are some great singers and musicians on the ship etc... and it was fun to go and sit and listen, sing or dance. If you go, check out the musician (piano) player. Very good, lots of fun, and definitely worth spending an evening (or more) with! The comedian was very good.
I love HAL but did feel it was not the same quality as it had been in the past. You do not feel as pampered and though the stewards for the room and the dining staff are very pleasant it was not uncommon to have staff walk by you and ignore you. You used to have a good morning etc... from them. I think it may have been that this was our fist short cruise with HAL and the staff has so much to do but only a week so it never got to that friendly atmosphere. There were some that were unpleasant both in the photo area (though both gentlemen were very pleasant and the photos did turn out nicely). The desk staff was not exceptionally friendly and casino not exceptionally friendly.
It is nice though to have such a beautiful ship (our second time and one of our favorite), fewer passengers so that you get to know some of them and that makes such a nice trip so it was a positive experience. I think I would still take a HAL on a longer excursion and love the European cruises we have taken with them which were longer, but will consider another cruise line for a shorter one. We have taken some longer and shorter cruises on Celebrity and Princess and felt pampered on both, so I will have to think about it first... It was pleasant but a bit of a disappointment as the changes were pretty significant. You never felt pampered which we had before.
The girls did enjoy the teen center and of course the covered pool so that they could enjoy it even during the cold weather (though we had wonderful weather on this trip)! Take a jacket - you will still need it!
The Captain did keep us appraised of what was going on which was appreciated. The glacier was wonderful and the people who came on to tell us the story behind it, the nation, and the history was great! We are really glad we took this cruise and despite feeling there were some changes that were not good, still enjoyed our time on the ship.
Drinks are higher now, they have a coffee shop that is very reasonable and the young man was very civil/pleasant.
The coke cards for the teens was nice - some would let them have cherries and other not but it was reasonable and worth purchasing.
Got right into our room upon arrival and then departure was great with the new plan to be able to give them your luggage and they send it directly to the plane and you get your boarding passes. Note: be sure that you go to the desk when you get there, there were no seat assignments so you want to get there a little early and get seat assignments...
The mariner luncheon was nice but it was very different from before with the nice pins being given, and it has always felt more intimate but maybe it is because there were so many of us there...
Overall still a good cruise and worth doing!