We have travelled with HAL 8 times, however our last experience did not live up to our previous experiences. Notwithstanding the outstanding Indonesian and Filipino crew (without whom the cruise line would sink into mediocrity), our dealings with the front-office staff was less than helpful. We had been assured before sailing that the cabin we had selected was large enough for 3 people, this was most definitely not the case. We had paid for a balcony, and after the 3rd bed was set up, it was impossible to access the balcony. My wife injured her foot the first and only time she tried, and I managed to reach it once, When I went to the front office to see if more adequate accomodations could be found, the immediate answer was "Well, you got what you paid for". In trying to negotiate a solution with them the clerk told me "If we find something more adequate, you will have to pay extra...". I was flabbergasted and realized that talking to her further would be pointless. So, we stayed and 'got used to' our room. For the first 5 days, we did not receive the housecoats HAL always provides, the newspaper digests delivered every morning, or the fresh fruit which we had always received on previous trips.
Clearly, the bean-counters attempts to cut costs showed up in annoying ways. When we reached our berth in Spanish ports, we were stunned to discover that we had to pay for a shuttle to take us from the ship to the shore. It was a small expense, yet frustrating nonetheless. In Malaga when we tried to return to the ship, the shuttle operator attempted to fill every seat on the bus before leaving, which meant that we waited 25 minutes in a hot bus. I asked if I could re-use the ticket to return to shore and was told we would have to spend another 6 Euros if we wanted to return. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Is it too much to ask that the cruise line get us to shore instead of the pier?
The condition of the ship was also less than ideal. The carpets had a mouldy smell to which my wife reacted, and had to take her emergency asthma inhaler. From time to time, there was also a smell of fuel, again my wife reacted to it. It was clear that the effort to cut costs was evident in the less limited food choices at dinner than had been the case on previous cruises. At least once, there had been King Crab on the menu. This time the restaurant manager informed us that it would no longer be available due to the expense. The shore excursions have become exorbitantly priced, there was nothing priced under $120. The observation deck was also closed for the last 3 days of our cruise (a place that we usually go to read and/or get quiet time).
The cabin had been sold to us as adequate for 3 people. It wasn't. The cabin steward was very helpful. I use a CPAP machine and the fact that there is only one outlet required that we use 2 extension cords which was a tripping hazard.