We are a couple in our mid to late 40s and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own 100 CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted immediately to our account. Our Mexican Riviera and Hawaii B2B cruise on 11/05/2011 and 11/12/2011 cruise was wonderful. The start of the first leg of our B2B cruise was delayed by one day due to medical emergencies of passengers on the cruise prior to ours. HAL informed us and credited our account $150/pp, which was great for us as we toured and spent an extra day in San Diego. HAL also gave us a 25% rebate on our next HAL cruise which will amount to almost $700. We flew in to San Diego the day before our cruise was supposed to start. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception and breakfast. It is nicely located a few blocks away from the cruise pier and relatively close to all amenities. Post cruise we stayed at the Holiday Inn that is located just across the street from the pier.
The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in San Diego is relatively small. Our room #1836 was wonderful. An aft balcony room, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, adequate and somewhat quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained.
We found the service and dining onboard to be 5 stars. The dining room stewards and wine stewards were a highlight of the cruise. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle with mixed feelings about the experience. With great service and menus in the MDR our first experience in the Pinnacle left us wondering why we bothered. The second experience was a Cellar Masters Dinner and it was wonderful.
We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. This was one of the reasons we booked on the Oosterdam.
We were always in the gym daily. But found the facility small and overcrowded. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog.
The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends that we met at a well attended and organized meeting. The cruise director attended our CC meeting and made a point to talk to everyone. He offered his assistance should anyone have any special requests during the cruise.
In Puerto Vallarta we used the ships excursion. The "Outdoor Adventure Tour" with zip lines, rappelling, donkey ride and speed boat was simply "Funtastic". The extra stop at the Tequila "factory" for taste testing was great.
The stop in Cabo San Lucas was disappointing as we were stood up by the private tour we booked through "bestontravelnetwork dot com". We toured the town on our own and visited the beach, but weren't impressed.
Had the pleasure of going on a private tour in Hilo with cruise critic friends and Ainatours dot com. We stopped by Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and a few other places of interest. The last stop was at OneKahaKaha Beach Park which was very close to the pier for some good snorkelling.
We rented a black Ford Mustang convertible through Thrifty Blue Chip in Oahu then proceeded to explore the eastern side of the island and the north shore. In the evening we walked through downtown Honolulu discovering the historical sites. It was a wonderful day.
The open door helicopter tour was fantastic that we had the pleasure to do with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours in Nawilwili, Kauai. It is a must do for sure. The rest of the day we played in the surf at the nearby beach.
The ship excursion of Catamarans, sail and snorkel in Lahainia, Maui was not very impressive and expensive. The town is full of little shops and very touristy if you like that kind of thing.
The quick stop in Ensenada was fun. We took the shuttle into town and bargained for souvenirs.
Summary - We loved this cruise. The reason we booked this cruise was to relax and enjoy the many sea days. The extra amenities of the Thermal Suite made for a really wonderful vacation. The great service from the Maitre d', to the wait staff, room stewards, to all of the staff members, really made for a pleasant experience. On several occasions the cruise director personally wanted to know if there was anything that he might be able to do to make the cruise a wonderful experience, also there were comment cards in our room on several occasions. Our only complaints are with the bad behaviour and rudeness from some of the "entitled" guests.