We are veteran cruisers but this was our first cruise on HAL. The cruise was ok--not our best cruise. HAL was ok-after reading many reviews by experienced HAL cruisers we feel that HALl is very over rated for the price they charge. We booked an SB wrap around aft suite and were disappointed with the suite and amenities when compared to suites that we usually book on NCL (more later). The biggest advantage for us on this cruise was not having to fly anywhere to cruise since we live in the San Diego area. Since there is a Hawaiian Ports board--this review contains no information on the ports we visited.
Embarkation: smooth--as expected for a deluxe suite passenger.
Debarkation: OK--customs check for foreign nationals delayed debarkation as expected--why does San Diego continue to operate like this???
Service was excellent.
--Our dining room waiter after the second night was one of the best we have ever had. We had open seating--the first two nights service More
was 0k but table location was terrible--in real noisy area with a lot of foot traffic. I had used the concierge in the Neptune lounge to make these reservations and asked for quite table --but later was told the concierge can not guarantee tables so I had to speak with the MDR Head manager and once I did we had a 4 top for two every night in the same location with a nice window and a wonderful waiter. We are use to the concierge making sure the table is what is requested like on NCL.
Neptune Lounge/concierge service: we found the service here to be excellent--the concierge arranged a wonderful cocktail party in Lahaina sail away on our extra large balcony which turned out to be a real success with about 30 people. The ship provided hot and cold appetizers including some special items we requested..to our surprise the Hotel Director attended.
The one thing we missed was our own super coffee machine (with sxpresso, cappuccino, and tea} like what is available in NCL suites.
Suite steward was excellent and met every request---the laundry loss some of our items--not a big deal the steward looked for the items for a week.
Bar service and lido service was also excellent.
--MDR food was IMOP excellent well above NCL MDR food. The Lido buffet was also better than NCL and excellent for breakfast and lunch--we never had dinner there. Just a note the bread pudding is un-remarkable--for the life of me I do not know why all the hype over it--
Also the MDR had prime rib three times and it was really good with the normal au jus.
Loved the eggs benedict station in the Lido--this is a great buffet item.
The Hawaiian BBQ held on the aft lido deck during the Honolulu stop at night was IMOP one of the highlights of the cruise--the sunset was beautiful--the buffet with real sucking whole baby pigs, bbq chicken and ribs and everything else was great HAL gets five stars for this.
Pinnacle Grill--a real disappointment--nowhere near the menu or quality as Cagenys on NCL. Service was very slow. We also tried the Pinnacle at breakfast on two occasions (the first two days) the service was very, very slow -2 hours on both days-- we never went there again for breakfast--I actually spoke with the Hotel Director about this.
Our dinner at Pinnacle was very unremarkable--the surf and turf was not seasoned well and the lamp chops were very small and not well seasoned. Desserts were below average--our experience with the food and especially the service caused us to cancel the Le Critque dinner.
Cannellto was unremarkable--barely average for an Italian eatery.
Deserts on the ship were average --the Pinnacle Grill deserts were very unremarkable for an up sell restaurant.
Entertainment: HAL needs some work here--the only show we thought was at the NCL level was the Joe Mason show--everything else supar---the lack of dance pop band was really apparent on the ship--there was really no dancing any where--the forward observation Lounge never had a dance band at night such as pop band or something, This was really bad for a 14 day cruise with a cross section of age groups--we are in our early sixties and still enjoy dancing, Basically by 10;30pm the ship was dead. So IMOP if you are looking for entertainment do not expect too much on HAL.
Day time activities limited to cooking classes, trivia, Hawaiian culture/history lectures (very, very good), movies (theater very small--HAL needs to show the movies in the Show lounge--I am sure they could find the appropriate times ).
We were in a SB deluxe suite aft wrap around--we found the suite out dated-
Furniture old and very outdated--suite was clean--one sink faucet was broken and need to be repaired--water flow in bathtub was very,very slow and was fixed upon request. The TV in the room are very small compared to TVs in NCL suites--no coffee machine---no drawers to store items --everything has shelves which you store items like socks etc.--not very well designed.
No real flowers delivered to suite as advertised--asked the concierge several times about this. Slippers were delivered after request--so real amenities in bathroom like on NCL--no shower caps etc. IMOP suite was below the quality of NCL suites and suite amenities also way below NCL.
Balcony furniture was in bad repair---table needed to sanded and stained--furniture pads ripped etc.
Dress code: the formal dress code is way over stated on this board--we saw many slacks and shirts no ties on formal nights--no real gowns on women=---smart causal wAs just casual amd in many cases we thought some of the passengers where sloppy in their dress at all times-- we saw some things like bathrobes in the buffet--people picking therr teeth with their dinner forks in the MDR-- that made us laugh after reading some the threads on this board about how classy HAL is.
Will we cruise on HAL again--probably--will we book a deluxe suite on HA
maybe on a new ship or if they improve their amenities for suite guests. IMOP NCL still has the best suites and suite amenities in the cruise industry.