We decided to take a quick 1 night cruise to Vancouver BC as part of an anniversary celebration. After checking with the HAL office in Seattle, we found we could board early, eat lunch and then relax on board before we set sail. Alas, it was not to be.
After scrambling to catch an early morning flight as planned, we were met by security officials at the terminal who said that boarding the ship had been postponed by the Coast Guard. After entering the terminal around 11am, we had to pay to have our luggage stored (adding more insult to injury). We were then directed to check in. As we checked in, we were told that we had been notified about this delay (we had not). A one page written explanation was provided to us. Apparently the ship had "gained weight" (don't we all in middle age?). This had been noted during the last time the ship was in dry dock. As part of licensing procedures, additional testing was needed. The incline test requires that there be no additional weight on board (translation - passengers, food and most of the crew). Engineering crew remained on board along with a few others, we were told.
Some informal networking while enduring the 5 hour wait with fellow passengers (and some HAL employees) revealed that this indeed was known fairly well in advance, but was never disclosed to us during the booking phase. With all the information the cruise lines have for each passenger (cell phone, email, etc), the bigger question remains of why they couldn't send a text or email advising of the delay as the airlines will often do.
Embarking procedures eventually occurred. The waiting was long and uncomfortable. Many people had to sit on the floor. The terminal reminded me and my husband of Ellis Island (but in reverse). HAL provided water and sympathy, as well as a free bus ride into/out of downtown Seattle to help pass the time. We were told to go get lunch (on our own), which we did. Once on board, the rest of the evening was rushed, with many services missing or incomplete. This experience was not what we had hoped for.
During our wait to disembark, we counted at least 5 different groups of staff who came into our room to check on various things (mini-bar, water, linens, bed, etc.). The room stewards came in and asked if they could make up the bed (no problem!), but instead left bundled linens on the bed,towels in the bathtub and left without further discussion. Our check out assignment time had been assigned the prior evening, so we were a little surprised (and annoyed) with all of the interruptions. We just gave up and left the ship early. We guess that is what they wanted, anyway.