This was my children's first cruise. They had a good time, but we had some issues as well.
Embarkation: It was raining outside and it would have been nice to have more porters outside to help with our luggage. Once inside everything was smooth. We boarded about 11:30 and headed to the Lido. It was easy to get a table. Our rooms were ready about 12:30.
The room stewards need more time to clean between cruises. Our steward had 29 rooms to clean and it was quite evident in our room. There were fingerprints from a little person on the door to the balcony and closet glass. The wall next to the balcony had crayon drawings on it. We found items from the last cruise in the closet. The fingerprints were never gone even when we asked our room steward directly.
We had a problem with our toilet. It did not flush. We had this issue for 5 of the 7 days. It would work 2 or 3 times and then stop. It surprised our room steward one day by flushing while he was making the beds. It had a mind of its own. We got used to it by about day 3. They finally got the problem fixed 2 days before the cruise was done.
We ordered room service each morning so the kids could eat while we were getting ready. On the 5th day I went to hand my son juice and the entire top ring of the glass about a 1/2 inch down was covered with some kind of brown slime that looked like it was dried on. I showed it to the front desk and they were appalled just as I was. At dinner we had the dining room supervisor come to our table to talk about it. Needless to say after that we did not order room service. We had two of the same type of glasses in the Lido the next day. I think they had a dishwasher program.
Other than the toilet, the cleanliness of our room and the dirty glasses we had a good time. Our dining room waiter was superb. He paid every attention to detail and was great with my boys. We ate in the main dining room 6 of the 7 nights. Our wine steward even showed my boys a few magic tricks.
We took the kids on a tour of the ship, which was nice to know where everything was as this was my first cruise on HAL.
Both my boys enjoyed the kids program. My 5 year old even choose to go to the kids program over going swimming one afternoon. Club HAL staff were professional, but had a great time working with the kids.
Make sure if you are traveling with children choose the early dinner as the kids program runs from 9-11:30 am, 1-4 pm and 7-10pm while you are at sea and 9am to 4pm and 7-10pm when you are at port. They did different things each night such as a camp out, scavenger hunt, and pirate party in the kids program and in the tween program they did survivor one night, detective hunts, dance parties and more. They always wanted to go to the evening programs which gave you time to do some things on your own.
The afternoons were great on the Lido pool, but it was hard to find a clean table. The staff did not clean off the tables and it was hard to find someone to clean them for you. I usually just took the dishes and put them on another dirty table. The Mexican food that they served by the pool was very good.
The magic show is a must see and I wished my 10 year old would have come to the show. However, the kids program that night appealed more to him. They did do a matinee show but the night one was by far better. I could have taken both of my children to all the shows. The singers are good but they need to expand and not play the same beat at each show.
Make sure to take advantage of the Windows programs they offer. They had great camera classes and ones that taught you editing and making movies using free windows software.