This was our second trip to Alaska -- the first being on Princess, so we were anxious to compare the two, as we enjoyed Princess very much.
We were a bit worried because it seemed to have rained for a couple of weeks before our sail, but we ended up with beautiful weather at every single port, even Ketchikan, where not one drop of rain fell! We even wore short sleeves in Juneau so our helicopter ride over the glaciers was money well spent!
Our cruise through Glacier Bay was one of the highlights of our trip. It was chilly, but we braved the chill and stood out on the bow for almost the entire time. The ship stopped in front of the glacier for a long time. We saw it calve two or three times. We returned to our room and sat on the balcony for the rest of the time, as our side of the ship faced the glacier.
Perhaps it was the time of year, but we saw a lot of whales from the ship, including a whale that breached right in front of the rail where we were standing!
The service was perfect. Every person working there who we interacted with was friendly and appeared to sincerely care that we were having a good time. Our room stewards were wonderful and a person who seemed to be the manager of the Lido never failed to stop by our table to ask how things were going.
The only slight irritation was the food service (not the actual food -- which was very acceptable). Although it was said that the food in the Lido would not be self serve for the first 48 hours, in reality, the hot food was never self serve (you could serve your own salads, drinks, breads and desserts). I would not have had a problem with being served, but it slowed the lines down to almost a crawl. The servers couldn't hear what people were saying, you ended up trying to point at what you wanted, they didn't know how much to serve. At one point, it seemed the line for pasta never moved and I gave up. There were large sections of the restaurant that were closed or limited at what seemed to me to be busy times. That didn't seem to be a problem at breakfast which always ended up to be a very relaxing way to start the day.
I've read reviews of how old and worn everything is. The ship did looked used, because it was, but I don't think anything looked so bad that it ruined the ambiance. I thought it was very pretty. Our room was always spotless, the bed was very comfortable (unlike Princess' beds which were very hard) and there was a lot of storage space in the three closets and under the bed.
We did spend $35 on the cruise DVD because we so enjoyed the one from the Princess cruise, but I would say DON'T waste the money. Although we were led to believe it was from our cruise, only a very small portion was. Most of it seemed to be recorded from a Mexican cruise! It didn't capture the uniqueness of our cruise at all. It was disappointing and a waste of money.
All in all, it was wonderful and we would certainly sail again on HAL!