This 4-day reposition down the Western US coast was the least satisfying HAL cruise we've ever taken.
The atmosphere aboard was truly uninspired. In fact, it seemed as if this short sailing was a Blow Off. The entire crew seemed distracted and disengaged, unlike most crews we've had on other HAL ships. Were they exhausted from the just-finished Alaska season? Were they focused on making the transition to the up-coming winter season? Was there some sort of on-going, behind-the-scenes crisis disturbing the crew? Who knows, but the passengers aboard between Vancouver and San Diego were clearly not their top priority.
The food, in terms of both variety and quality, was sub-par. The entertainment offered was sub-par. The service was somewhat slow, and certainly lacked HAL's usual personal warmth. There were no special events for the Mariners aboard, no Officers' Reception for all passengers, no Good Morning Oosterdam sessions. This cruise seemed like a real strip-down operation.
And the disembarkation process, which is the last chance HAL has to leave passengers with positive impressions, was terribly mishandled, then botched, by an inept Cruise Director who lacks the required skills for clear communication, organized process management, and successful crowd control.
Even when we fairly grant that a 4-day transitional sailing has to be full of tough, unusual problems, this dis-spirited, disappointing cruise should cause HAL's management some real concern.
On the positive side, the ship was clean and in good repair.