We have taken Mediterranean cruises before, but have never been to Spain or Portugal so were looking for an itinerary that focused on these countries. HAL's 14 day Spain and Portugal Explorer itinerary seemed perfect.
Arrival: We arrived very early in the morning in Rotterdam on Sep 15 after an overnight flight from Canada. The port was chaotic and nobody seemed to know where we needed or could go simply to wait it out until they were ready for us to board. We were sent to a restaurant 2 blocks away that was closed and had to come back, all the while with luggage in tow. The embarkation was also chaotic and disorganized once they did start boarding.
Itinerary Change: The first day (at sea), the Captain announced there was a pilot's strike in Portugal and that they were monitoring the situation. It ended up that HAL canceled all 3 ports in Portugal as a result of the strike and replaced them with Alicante (Spain), Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and Cherbourg (France). This was an extreme disappointment as none of these ports interested us. The first 2 have a reputation as beach centric college kid party towns and I had never heard of Cherbourg but it seemed to be close to Mont St-Michel yet they didn't offer an excursion there and later I was told there wasn't enough time to get there and back before the ship's 2PM departure. HAL offered nothing to passengers for compensation to this. They gave us a complimentary glass of champagne at dinner one night. I don't drink so this was not appreciated. The change in itinerary also meant initially that we would not have the opportunity to see the Alhambra, one of the highlights of this cruise. They subsequently changed their minds about this, but we ended up having to get up at 4AM if we wanted to have breakfast and departed at 6AM for Grenada. Again, no apology or compensation was offered and the same outrageously high price of $195 per person still applied for the tour.
Good space (170 Sq Ft), no fridge / mini-bar, cabin filled with toxic fumes twice.
We visited the Alhambra in Grenada which was wonderful. The guide told us about each room and we never felt rushed at any point.