We woke up Christmas morning to a e-mail from Delta informing us our 1:20 pm flight had been canceled. Even though it was 38 degrees and the sun was shining AND we were headed south. I still do not understand why! Since we were all packed and ready we loaded the SUV and made our way to Ft. Lauderdale, an 11 hour trip. Had we booked our flight the same day as the cruise we would not have made it in time to board at Ft. Lauderdale. Important tip, book your flight a day in advance and spend the night at a motel close to the port.
We arrived at the port around 11 am. Somewhat of a line but the process was very organized and we were on board by 11:30. We made it to the Lido for lunch and then off to our cabin at 1 pm. Our cabin had a veranda which we always enjoy. Our cabin was exactly the same as the one we had last year on the Eurodam. We always have room service breakfast on our veranda.
We prepared for the muster drill which is greatly improved, no life jackets required and no roll call! We read all the information concerning ports of calls. I immediately noticed we were not going to the ports originally thought. We were going to Belize City, which we went to last year in place of Turks. We were somewhat disappointed and immediately booked a snorkel excursion before it filled up.
Our itinerary changed several times during the course of the cruise. We were not able to stop at Half Moon Cay, Turks or Costa Maya due to weather. The seas were rather rough until we made it around Cuba. The ports we did make were very nice even though we went there last year. Key West was our final port replacing Costa Maya. HAL gave each passenger a $50.00 credit a max of $100.00 per cabin for all the changes plus refunded port charges for the ports we were unable to make.
The food on board was excellent, Tamarind and Pinnacle were both excellent. Service was first class equal to any 5 star. Dining room food was very good with a nice variety, service was exceptional all the time. Lido was very good with many choices, lines were sometimes long due to people not knowing what they wanted. Several people were very inconsiderate and rude, mostly foreigners and seemed like a simple thank you was not in their vocabulary.
I must add this concerning the entertainment. We attended every show because they were all awesome. Great shows with lots of superior talent. The male singers were the very best! If there was any negative it would be the spa, way over priced almost 25% higher than at home and they automatically add 20% service charge no matter how good the service. I prefer to make that decision and will tip accordingly. We will probably not take any more holiday cruise due to the number of children on board. Way to many, they took over all the pools and hot tubs even though one was reserved for adults only. Parents seemed to allow their children to run rampant all over the ship. Most had no manners at all probably because their parents have no manners. Over all it was a fabulous cruise as all of our HAL cruises have been.
Disembarkation was painless we we off the ship and on our way home by 7:30 am. We did the express disembarkation and handled our own luggage. Took all of 10 minutes to make our way to our vehicle.We will continue using HAL forever!