Some background.This is my 7th cruise, 4th with my partner. I am a director at a 4 star hotel in Aspen so when I can get away I love to get completley away and get taken care of. This ship far surpassed my expectaions.
I have never wanted to book HAL before because all I ever heard was that is where the old people go to die. We are both 30 and as I mentioned like to get taken care of. I chose this ship for the price and the ports and that the ship was newer. We had just completed a voyage 6 months earlier on the Celebrity Solstice and loved the newer ships!
Any preconcieved notion I had about HAL was gone before we ever left port (yes the age range is still up there but we had a blast and dont like being with a ton of kids or the partiers you would find on Carnival)
We booked an SZ cabin to be assigned and were upgraded to an SA suite (which now means I can never go lower again as we were so spoiled) From the moment we arrived it was easy and flawless. we arrived to the pier at about 12pm. Check in for the suites had no line and we had all the paperwork done in less than 5 minutes! We boarded the ship and this is what amazed me. We were with a group of other people and one of the stewards noticed my partner carrying his gold room card (they give different colors for the different levels) he told us to come with him and put us in an elevator with some other guest that were told thier rooms were not ready yet as they had to go to the lido deck and have lunch to wait, but he did take us to our room since they have the suites ready early. We were on board and unpacked by 1pm!
The suites are AMAZING, a huge deck with 2 lounge chairs and a dining room table with 4 chairs. A sitting area with large couch in the the room along with a seperate dressing area. The bathroom had a large full shower/hotub and stand up shower. There was a ton of storage space that we did not even use all the closets and drawers. The suites also come with access to the Neptune lounge which is only available for suite guest. They have snacks, refrshments, a tv, cappacino maker and lounge space to just relax in. They also have two INCREDIABLE concierge, Lavern and Shelly who will do anything for you. It is a one stop shop to make dinner reservations, change excursions or even find out a recipie from something you liked. This was a huge help.
The ship is gorgeous and very clean. They sail we sailed full with 2104 people but you could never tell as this ship never felt crowded except for the buffets. I loved this ship because it reminds me of the old way of cruising. I like to think I have ADD and can never just sit still because I want to do everything but this ship has the great basics, a killer cool on the back of the ship (my favorite spot) as well as the indoor/outdoor pool, casino, spa and tons of food options. I liked not having a rockwall, ice skating ring and all that other nonsense I can do where I live. I felt like the ship was all ours at times. This was the only cruise out of 7 where I never had to worry about finding a lounge chair in the perfect spot.
Some must you should do:
Purchase the week pass to the garden relaxation room and private hot tub. we used this every day! They only sell a limited number of them and gave us daily access to a great mineral whirlpool bath and steam rooms with heated tile relaxtion chairs with great views. This was $200 per couple but worth it!
Spa: get the seaweed float massage wrap - incrediable
Private Cabana: get the private cabana on the 11th deck on a seaday. It only cost $75.00 but it is worth it and you are treated like a king. Myke is the server and he is amazing.
Food: was all great! Dine at the pinnacle grill and get the steak diane and cherries jubilee. Was one of the best meals ever. The do buffet service different on this ship, you never really serve yourself they do that for you which takes a little longer but is worth it.
For shore exursions in the Turks we did the oasis catamaran sailaway and snorkel. This was so much fun as you go to a barrier reef that drops 7000 feet. Be prepared to drink and have a great time when you are done. Our group ended up being the last ones on the boat!
San Juan we went to the Bacardi factory and had a late lunch in town. was fun then we did the Pub crawl on the boat which was really really fun.
St Thomas, we were supposed to go to the Baths and Virgin Gorda but the exusrion was cancelled from the company that does it so we did another champagne snorkling cataman to St. John and honeymoon beach. I would also recomend this!
Half Moon Cay the ships private island, they provide plenty of chairs and towels and we just layed out and played in the water
All in all this cruise and ship was the best service I have ever had. They remembered our named before we left port on the first day. The crew was more like a family than anything else. The ship was new, fun and beautiful. I am now a Holland America Junkie for life!