Although we had been on a total of 10 cruises, this was our first one on HAL. We looked forward to it because we had heard good thigs about HAL and were lead to believe that they were a cut above Celebrity, Princess and NCL. Unfortunately, we were disappointed.
We boarded the ship in New York City. I can only describe the boarding process as CAOS! Most of the problems appeared to be due to the longshoremen, not HAL. I will never commence another cruise in NYC.
Once on board, we found our luggage in our cabin. That is the fastest luggage delivery that we have seen on any line and HAL deserves Kudos.
The ship itself, although only 3 years old. was showing its age. The carpet was discolored in many places and wall paper was peeling from the wall.
The dining menu was good but not exceptional. We found the food to better on Celebrity. The waitstaff in the dining room were attentive, but did not provide the close attention that we have experienced on Celebrity, Princess and NCL; not to mention the extrodinary service we received on Seabourn.
The entertainment was Okay, but certainly not the big shows and variety provided on Celebrity, Princess or NCL.
The tender service to shore and back ranged from competent to dangerously incompetent. On one trip ashore, the tender driver pulled up next to the dock. The dock side crew members wanted the tender driver to move forward so that the tender exit would match the dock steps. They had difficulty getting the tender driver's attention, because he was busy texting. It wasn't until an old lady jabbed him with her umbrella, that the fellow paid attention to the dock side crew. When we were returning to the ship on a tender, it became obvious that one of the tender's engines was not working. While that made for a slow trip, it was not until we got to the ship that the real problem was unveiled. The tender driver was unable to manuver the tender alongside the ship with only one engine. After several attempts, a ship side crew member jumped onto the tender, releived the driver and was able to perform the necessary manuvers. When we started to get off of the tender it became apparent that there were two tenders off loading at the same time. This overwhelmed the crew that was registering the incoming passengers and resulted in a long wait on the gangway before reboarding.
The attitude of the crew members was generally friendly but detached. We didn't feel as welcome as we had on other lines. It was as if the crew was on the last leg of their contracts and couldn't wait to get off. Towards the end of the cruise, there seemed to be a lot of pressure on the crew members to encourage the passengers to give them a "9" on the passenger evaluations. One memberof our group was criticized by a room steward when she gave hom an "8."
We noted an almost constant vibration throughout the ship.
One highlight of the trip was an Indonesian Food Buffet next to the pool at lunch. The event wasn't "advertised" well. Only an announcement just minutes before over the PA system. It's curious why HAL, with a high percentage of Indonesians in the crew, doesn't take advantage of this and serve Indonesian food on the main menu as well. We heard many positive comments from other passengers about the Indonesian buffet.
We hit some rough weather at one point. The Captain said that the ship was capable of dealing with it. THe winds went to 70 mph and the seas to 8-10 meters, but the Captain was right. The ship did well. The crew deserves congratulations.
In short, the cruise was enjoyable; the ship needs to be refurbished and the the crew, particularly the tender drivers, need to be trained to do their jobs in a safe and competent manner. We would take HAL again, but hope that they improve.