To put this in context, my wife and I (in our mid 60's but still very active) have been on 10 cruises including one European River cruise (Viking). We have used Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, and Princess. I would rate this ... Read More
To put this in context, my wife and I (in our mid 60's but still very active) have been on 10 cruises including one European River cruise (Viking). We have used Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, and Princess. I would rate this cruise line as best overall (so far) I'll explain, try to keep it concise and try to keep it as objective as possible.
Embarkation- we had completed the pre-check in and once we arrived the boarding process was a breeze. We did not stand in line, period. We simply walked up to the check in counter, presented our passport, received our room key and instructions and walked onto the ship.
I'll also comment on the disembarkation before moving on to the cruise. The disembarkation too was a breeze. We were able to remain in our stateroom until our color/number was called. We simply followed the signs to get off, gathered our luggage which had been placed in sections that matched our color/ number, walked through customs (no wait) walked off the ship, got on the bus and departed. There was no herding us like cattle into a holding pen, having us wait several minutes, even hours to depart. We were even served full breakfast, not simply a continental breakfast (like we needed to eat again-LOL).
The ship- This will be the low part of the cruise, however it is not bad. It was the smallest ship we had been on (excluding the River cruise) and quite likely the oldest. The layout seemed odd and a little getting used too. For example, on deck 9 -right side you could not walk the length of the ship from back to front and go directly into the exercise room. You had to cross over to the left to enter. Also, there seemed to be limited access (number of decks) to the outside (perimeter) to walk around the ship therefore it felt a little restricted. Last, the front desk was on deck one where others were on like deck four. None of these were a big deal, just took a little getting used.
The other negative to us (alert- here comes the subjective) they seemed to always be selling you something. Examples- I went to a session in the expertise room that presented itself as a place for information on ways to eliminate knee pain, back pain, hip pain, etc., you get the picture (remember I'm in my mid sixties so these things are important)-LOL. It ended up being a "sell job for "Goodfeet" which I had never heard of but was/is is legit. The other was what they referred to as a "loyality program" which seemed to be a decent deal but it just shows their effort to "sell" you something. Of course there are the shops, the photos, etc., but that was expected.
Now for the best, and I'll keep it short. The food was the best -bar none. Service was the best, the bed was the best I have slept on, on a cruise ship. The pillows were excellent, the ship was clean (I did observe some uncleanliness on deck nine toward the end of the cruise). The staff was very accommodating -let me explain. My wife purchased the non alcohol beverage package on day one. She quickly realized that she would not get full value so she asked if she could cancel the deal. They were gracious and pro-rated the refund without question. The excursions were about what you would experience on other cruise lines. Most reviews rate this ship's passengers as "older" in age and we found that to be true. So, if you are looking for a party boat, try Carnival -I'm just sayin. In describing the crowd on HAL I heard the term "stuffy" but I would not consider it stuffy, but rather mature -nuff said. Entertainment while different than the party boat atmosphere was very high quality. Again not high energy but it had a more classical feel than the other ones mentioned above. That is a good thing not a negative.
In summary, HAL gave us quality and value more than the other cruise lines we have been on. And yes HAL, if you are reading this I will and already have recommended you to friends, families, etc. Keep up the good work. To all other cruisers, give them a try if you fit the demographics and aren't looking for a party boat. Read Less