This was a 24 day cruise sailing out of Barcelona with stops in Italy (Florence/Pisa, Rome, Naples and Messina), Greece (Nafplion, Katakolon, Corfu), Croatia (Dubrovnik) and Venice - then from Venice to Montenegro (Kotor), Greece (Athens, Mykonos and Sardina), Turkey (Istanbul and Kusadasi) and finally back to Venice. This was our first cruise with HAL - we have previously sailed on other cruises with Princess, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Line. We picked HAL and this ship because we had never been to the Mediterranean and this itinerary was perfect for our needs. We decided to spend 3 days in Barcelona with a pre cruise excursion arranged through HAL. This was excellent and covered a lot of ground for 3 days including a city tour and a day trip to a winery and Montserrat.
The 4Th day we boarded the ship. Embarkation was fast and efficient. Our stateroom was nice - lots of storage. The room stewards were attentive and if we asked for anything it was quickly provided. There was a terrible smell in the hallways by the elevator, however by the second part of our cruise the smell disappeared. Don't know what the staff did but it was gone.
The ship is quite nice however it is not as nice as some of the other cruise lines we have sailed with. There are 2 pools on this ship - very small By one of the pools there are lots of cabanas which were never used - this is just wasted space. The other pool is for adults only but again there is not seating area around the pool - consequently we ended going up to one of the other decks. There were too many formal nights - everyone complained about this - especially when the preinformation provided stated there would be 4 - there were 6. We opted for open seating in the Main Dining Room. The meals were good but sometimes the service was a little erratic - some nights good other nights terrible. We booked the Pinnacle for dinner one night - this was excellent and we really enjoyed the steak. We also tried the Tamarind - only because the ship gave us a complimentary dinner. We are not into Asian food but we were pleasantly surprised - it is very good. We did the buffet for breakfast and lunch (when we were on the ship). Very crowed and was so-so. We did do dinner in there one night as we had an evening excursion - terrible -I'm glad we didn't make a habit of going there. We did a evening excursion in Istanbul - when we got back only one side of the buffet was open and the line-ups were horrendous - why close up to 3/4 of the buffet when they knew people were coming back late from this excursion would want dinner. We opted to go for a pizza outside to avoid the line ups. The shops on this ship were not the best seemed to be a lot of high end items - not too many people were buying. On other cruise ships they have a store where you can buy miscellaneous items like Kleenex, cold pills, etc. - there was just a small little hole in the wall with not much. We took the shore excursions offered by HAL in most of the ports (except for Corfu which we did on our own) - I did find charging a fee for the shuttle bus was a very expensive (in Corfu and Dubrovnik) - these should be free of charge. I have reported on the shore excursions separately. Even though they are expensive at least you don't have to worry about being late getting back to the ship.