We arrived in FLL the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. We have stayed in FLL 4 times before but not at this hotel and I must say it was our best pre-cruise stay. I booked this hotel with the Hilton MVP rate that I found out about on Cruise Critic. We arrived around 1:00pm and after a short wait in line we were told by the check in clerk that they had a very nice room reserved for us on the 12th floor where we could see the cruise ships. She took our cell phone number and said we would be called when room was available. We checked our luggage with the bellman and received claim checks for them and even shown where they were being placed for easier reclaiming. We then left for our usual pre-cruise clam chowder at Kelly's Landing and before we finished our lunch received the call that room was ready. The managers reception was crowded but with 3 bar tenders the line moved fast. Breakfast the next morning for us at 6:30 was very quiet, a good variety of hot and cold foods provided. Great location for Publix and Total Wine!
We arrived at the port early and the process was fast and we were in boarding group 2 sitting upstairs when the rain storm came in, so happy we missed being out in that! We went straight to our room to leave our bags. My husband had ordered a vase of assorted roses for me and they were there waiting and very nice. We were up to the Lido before the crowds, first time for us with the 48 hours of no self service. I thought it worked rather well but others seemed to be clueless and were constantly reaching for plates and stuff they were not supposed to touch. Our bags were in our room, after lunch and for the first time ever, we were fully unpacked before lifeboat drill and CC sailaway meet. Our SY cabin 6104 was clean and everything appeared to be working. It was in a great location close to aft elevators and not too far from midships elevators. We had no noise problems. As the days went by, our room kept getting colder and colder and the thermostat did nothing to help. If we wanted to take photos from the veranda like sunset, Panama canal we had to place our camera out on the veranda to heat up cause the lenses steamed as soon as they hit the warm air. Workers came 2 days and changed fuses and thermostat, said heater part did not work and finally ended up just doing something to reduce air flow so we got less cold air blowing out in the room. It was better than being hot but really a super cold (and I like cold) we never expected.
We had a great table for 6 in the MDR early seating. Food was okay but cost cutting measures noted compared to other HAL cruises. We had to resort to the always available menu more than on previous cruises. The Master Chef dinner was actually one of the better offerings, much to our surprise. Service was just okay, our table seemed to be of the least concern to our servers. Breakfast in the Lido was fine with a good selection. Lunch was okay also but noticed lower cost cuts of meat for Bistro and no asparagus except 1 stalk in a medley. We ate in the Pinnacle one night and it was very mediocre, shrimp cocktail limp and not chilled, lobster chewy, only great thing was the chocolate souffle.
We went to most of the shows, really enjoyed Jeff and Indie and Island Magic, even purchased their CD which I am listening to as I type this. We enjoyed the karaoke shows and would have done some of the activities in Northern Lights except it was just to smokey for us. We used Bags Direct with Southwest and were very pleased with it. We received our tags and boarding passes the day before and were off the ship,in a cab and to the airport and thru security by 8:00am. Our flight was not until 1:20 pm so it was a long wait. We could have paid more to switch to an earlier flight but we were told we would have to wait for our bags to arrive at the original time, 5:45 so it really was not worth it, since we live 2 hours away from the airport.
Over all, a nice relaxing cruise, just way too chilly in the room!