I'm a destination cruiser without brand loyalty, so I don't go on board to recreate Titanic, I go for the ports. I stayed in San Diego a couple of days before the cruise.
Embarkation: Not terribly difficult, but signs and information would have been nice. We had to wait in a rather large open area, arranged into holding cells, so to speak. At least we could sit down, but it was rather warm and stuffy. Once out of the holding cells (enclosed areas with benches, the lines moved quickly. I would suggest that there be a luggage drop closer to the entrance from Pacific Highway and more signs!
Room: I had stateroom 6160, which was the last stateroom on the port side aft before the corner suite. So I could look aft without a lot of heads and hands over the balconies. I liked how private the balconies were. Not much to do about it now, but the balconies need more drains. I had standing water on parts of the lower area by the rail, but there was no drain on my More
balcony, I assume a neighbors. Also, there is a crack (so they can open the balcony separators) but can't that be covered with a piece of rubber on the non-hinge side? The room was adequate. No bathtub as it is one of those that doesn't have it.
Service in room: Good but spotty. The room stewards (I think they had a huge territory) did an adequate job, and accustomed themselves to my schedule as one would expect. There was a bowl for fruit. Oranges showed up irregularly, and were slow to be replaced even though I ate them whenever they showed up. My $100 onboard credit did not show up but neither did my $105 laundry charge (unlimited). I should add the unlimited is probably not economical, as it takes two days to cycle through laundry. I would have done better (sorta) to go by the bag.
Food: I am not a formal diner so you will have to look elsewhere for reviews. I did not like the fact that the Lido had almost no buffet elements, but was instead a service line, (except for small things like breads and desserts). Maybe people want that, but I did not like it. No self service even for drinks for the first 48 hours. And look, they need work on their training. There is no reason to use trays to block off the breads until 6:30, I'm an early riser. The final morning, I removed the trays and just took what I wanted, and I was not the only one. I didn't have time to play games. I only drank (not much) in the Crow's Nest, barstaff there seemed intelligent and willing.
Ship: Seemed well-arranged. I like the separation into a group of shops/restaurants etc well down in the ship and also at the top, with staterooms between. Too many of the shipboard games like shuffleboard were in walking areas, making them impossible to play.
Room service: Ignore the menu, just ask for what you want. However, you may get strange things like unasked for fish with my breakfast with my bacon.
Ports: Unimpressive. Too many of the ports seemed to wind up being places where you can buy overpriced junk or drink overpriced drinks or use the internet at several dollars an half hour. Now, there's elements of that everywhere, but it seemed set up to ensure HAL would get a piece of everything including the taxi fares. I think Puerto Quetzel, the Guatemala stop was the extreme example of this. At least in Nicaragua you could walk into the town.
Disembarkation: We got no guidance for the final day, no word about whether restaurants would be open, etc. I liked the luggage direct service and thought it was reasonably priced. Slightly late disembarking, no problem, but announcements would have been nice. A better arrangement for the taxi line outside would have been good so that people didn't have to walk through the line to get a taxi.
Passengers: Very old, at 48 the woman in charge of the kid center kept eyeing me for lack of actual children (I think I saw one teenage girl). I do not want to be harsh on my fellow passengers, but I did not have an intelligent conversation in two weeks. Now, I am vulnerable to comeback on that, as I was part of each such conversation, but believe me, it was not me!
Activities: Just a couple of things. I played the trivia. I did not like the fact that the final trivia question in both games the final names was to give names/personal information for crew members like the local Julie and Isaac (please forgive me, I am bad with names for people I have known for years!) That seemed unnecessarily smarmy. Anyway, I am out of time. I may add more later. I am trying Princess last year, I did not particularly like HAL. Maybe I will in 20 years? Less
Westerdam Cruises to the Panama Canal & Central America
Port taxi ride from downtown. Ship seemed to dock at the (distant) mooring to make for an easier departure, but left more passengers further away from the Wal Mart and so forth. I'm talking a half mile further, walking. The next stops were unimpressive,
Panama City is always nice, I took the Canal Experience. May I ask, though why Panama cannot build a cruise ship dock on the Pacific side?