I was very particular about booking our second cruise and did lots of research and this is what I came up with after cruising on the HAL for the last 7 days:
HAL terminated the port to Mazatlan..good thing
Told us 2 days in Cabo but ended up 2 days in Puerto Vallarte. Was disappointed in the change in itinerary since did not like Puerto Vallarte as much as Cabo. Many military and police around but we always felt safe on the ports. We did not do any of the excursions but went to downtown in PV and then did jet skiing in Cabo,the teens enjoyed both. Very many vendors in town and on beach, crowded with spring breakers as well but festive.
On the HAL itself, excellent cruise for the family or over 50 crowd. The teens were a bit bored, very limited teen program. The pool was a real disappointment as they only had one for the kids and was no larger than a motel 6 pool. The other pool was for adults only. The spa can not be accessed unless over 18 or part of teen spa program.
The SS8048 Cabin we were in was spacious but very noisy. I asked our TA if being uder pool we would hear noise, they said no. This is untrue, you can hear everything, you can hear chairs moving, kids running, drinks clinking, all hours of the day. Do not stay below pool area, I will be writing Expedia Travel to let them know of my dismay regarding this suite.
But the best thing on the HAL by far is the service, bar none, the staff is excellent, attentive and warm. The food is also very good but limited. Only three restaraunts inclusive, the Lido Terrace has limited food service times or rotate the same type of food all day, pizza, ice cream, burger etc. No sodas but plenty of Juice.
The entertainment was good but sometimes advisable to let families know some of the humor was a bit adult or inappropriate. The casino was fine, a casino. The movie theater was small, only 30 people could fit in the theater. There were cute programs like name that tune or family BINGO, but I felt they could expand on the daily programs since we were at sea 4 out of the 7 days.
The standouts in service are Andi (Undeee)pronounced in his language, a waiter in the Vista Dining Room and Erwin the chef in the Lido Terrace. They were wonderful and made the cruise a wonderful experience.
I think the HAL is great for an older demographic and is clean, well attended and great food, but we will most likely choose a Carnival or Disney Cruise to spend that kind of money next time.