My husband and I cruised to Bermuda in July with my parents out of Boston. We traveled from Boston on the Fung Wah Bus lines (which is a trip in itself!!) which dumped us out in Chinatown around 11 am, where we immediately hailed a taxi to the cruise terminal. Total cost pp to get from Boston to the cruise terminal, about $20 pp.
The embarkation was remarkably smooth and fast. My parents are elderly and my dad has circulation problems in his feet, so I appreciated that it went so smoothly.
On board, I remembered that I had planned to pack my bathing suit separately so that I could swim while I waited for our luggage to arrive, but alas, I forgot! I don't think I ever saw the ship's pool quite so empty for the rest of the trip. Our first meal, the buffet at the Lido, was delightful. The smoked salmon was superb. I bought the drink card and discovered Mojitos. I forgot about work and all the briefs I had to write...
I purchased the thermal suite special for one week, and that was a disappointment compared to the thermal suite on the Westerdam, which I had cruised on in April. There is no thermal pool on the smaller HAL ships, just a hot tub. But I must admit I love the heated tile loungers. Luxurious.
Bermuda is lovely as ever. This was my fourth trip to the island, my third cruise, although the previous two were on NCL. In my humble opinion, HAL is a step-up from NCL, but honestly, I had fun on all three cruises. We chose HAL because I wanted to cruise out of NYC, which was memorable. I bawled like a baby going past the grand old dame with her torch and Ellis Island, where so many of my descendants first met this country. I also espied the tear drop memorial to 911--needed binoculars. All the bridges, too! The skyline, its all there. You must cruise out of NYC some time if you love cruising.
St. Georges is quiet these days, with NCL now docking at the dockyards. I still love the walk to St. Catherines and Tobacco Bay, and snorkeled there all day until I had to catch the last tender to the boat. The next morning it was exciting as we docked at Hamilton. My parents were helped off the boat first as they were going to the Bermuda Bridge Club to play there. The ship was very accommodating to their needs.
This was my first time having a Lanai cabin. Can I say I am totally spoiled by that class of cabin? If I ever have the option again for Lanai, I will take it! I loved it! I've had verandas before and in my (again, humble) opinion, the Lanai far outshines the verandas. You have your own reserved teak lounge, you are in the shade, the view is spectacular, and the world passes you by as you relax. We brought out the cribbage board, cracked open the wine or champagne you can bring on board HAL cruises without a charge (unless you want to enjoy it at dinner) had cheese and crackers, and just relaxed. Again, I repeat, I didn't think about a pressing issue or work the entire time.
Drawbacks? A few. The pool situation on the Veendam is not good. The pool is small and the retreat is a lousy idea and looked hideously unclean. The tiles are coming loose (I've read the same complaint from other cruisers). Simply put--you need at least two pools. One should be child-free, in my opinion.
Pluses--food was great, the Lido was surprisingly good! I think I ate guacamole for lunch every single day. We had dinner at the Lido and met a couple formerly from Brooklyn, now from PA and exchanged email addresses. They have over 300 days at sea on HAL and were very informative and interesting to talk to. That's the nice thing about cruising. When you slow down and take life easy, you never know who you will meet.
Entertainment was just so-so, but then, I'm not the kind of person who goes on a cruise for the entertainment. I signed my parents up for the cooking class and they loved it.
I will go back to Bermuda again this summer. If it is on HAL, it will be with a Lanai stateroom!
Have fun cruising, everyone, and remember that the best way to have a good time is to have the right state of mind--don't make mountains out of molehills, and you'll attract fun and happy people around you.