After having sailed the Mediterranean last year we wanted to explore a part of the world that would be oh so unique. With HAL doing away with the South Pacific cruises of the last 3 years we decided to book this one. Having booked our flight from Vancouver to Buenos Aires through HAL's Flight Ease everything went smooth even the very tight connection in DFW. Sleepy eyed the next morning we arrived on time and made our way to the Baggage claim, where we were met with HAL greeters. Being disabled I was placed in a wheelchair and made it to the exit point of the terminal. Our guide unfortunately left my wife and I behind on the way to bus. When we found out where the bus was it was long gone. I was not impressed. Found another HAL guide outside the terminal to help out and had to wait 30 - 40 mins for the next one. Once on board the bus it didn't take long to get to cruise terminal, but is where the fun began. We were among the first persons here except for the previous bus and were told to sit towards the rear of the terminal away from the in route to ship processing. We were not given a process number but told to wait until we were notified to line up for pre process. Other groups after us we noticed were given number cards and seated adjacent to the processing gate. My wife went over and queried what was going on. She was told by staff that it was for 4 and 5 star priority guests but upon asking one of the people seated there this was their first cruise as well as others my wife again asked what was going on and told the rep that what she her was not correct. After that she went away came back with another rep with processing numbers and started handing them out to our group but after the later arriving guests already had the lower numbers. once we got started it went pretty well. A staff member found me a wheelchair and assisted us through the process, up the elevator and onto the ship. Luckily our cabin was on the Dolphin Deck which was where the embark ramp was. Into our room and then off to the front desk by 1240 pm and then the Dining Room which didn't open until 1 pm. Was seated and recognized dining staff from previous cruises what a reunion. Had a great lunch and some catch up conversation.
It didn't take long to find that the food quality has declined with our first dinner in the dining room (Deck 4 open seating). Our initial dining staff didn't seem very motivated to go back to the galley and make things better. The next evening we moved to another table with different waiter and assistant. Oh did we hit the jack pot. Sony and Yoga were absolutely incredible. They made every dining experience after that beyond reproach. Our wine steward was very good as we like our wine and made some great recommendations for wine selections within the wine packages of South America and the HAL wine list . Nelson, our Maitre' D and Syariff the Dining Room Manager treated us so well. Most breakfasts and lunches when applicable were taken in the Lido Market. I met two wonderful Omellet chefs Rona and Micheal(JR), made to order delicious. Varied fresh fruit was mostly available and if you didn't see it don't be afraid to ask. Great salad and sushi bars. Enjoyed the food quality and taste at the Dive In, great burgers and fries with curry ketchup. All the staff were so gracious and helpful.
Our cabin seemed so small maybe it was my memory but our room sure seemed small. Didn't like the in cabin safe where you had to use only on shipboard card or credit card etc to operate the safe. Sure made it inconvenient at times. Why not have them same as other ships within a push button code set. Beds seem be have seen better days time for a replace as well as the sofa. TVs are antiquated, terrible resolution and immovable. It would be nice also that every time we are in port that they give the windows a scrub so you can see half ass clearly out of them.
Ship's Captain, Chris Turner was excellent thank you for the Cape Horn and El Brujo Glacier experience. His senior staff were very good. All of our cruise directors Mark, Mario and Jordan were very personable and professional. Other persons of note were the Local Location Specialist, Ryan Baird was exceptional. What a wonderful asset to have on board. Also the wonderful lecturers we had on board Dr Stephen Sloan on World Affairs and how these affected the areas we were travelling through and Dr Christofferson on Marine biology of varied Marine species relative to areas we were visiting.
Evening stage shows were OK but didn't "wow" us. We miss the HAL Cats, instead we get "The Band" but unfortunately they don't play that often and for a short period of time. Not too lively.
As always the Ship's Shore excursions as usual over promise, over charge and under deliver. We did take two with the ship because we couldn't find english speaking guides on private tours. As a rule we check out our own with online help when we can get Wifi on shore for a private tour. If you can find another couple to join you all the better. Four in a group is the most economical.
Overall the food could be better, the room as well, but the Staff was incredible especially our dining staff they are in a class of their own. Our cabin staff of Widodo and Bashari thanks guys for all you do, and who could forget the wonderful Front Office staff headed by Rencel Recto, Guest Relations Officer. Captain Turner you were great, hope to sail with you again, before you retire.
Seemed small needs a facelift, bed needs replacement, along with sofa. More power outlets or USB ports especially at the bedside would be great. Maybe during refit?? Also change the in cabin safes to a push button code versus the card swipe swipe type. Regularly clean the outside of the windows so we can see properly out out them.
It was great to see the penguins up close. Excursion was so short could have used another hour for the price.View All 37 Gentoo Penguins in Bluff Cove Reviews
First stop was to a botanical garden and exotic birds. Most of the flowers were gone
had some macaws, parakeet and others in small enclosures with all these fellow tourists running shooting pictures of anything. Next stop, lunch and a quick self guided tour of the butterfly enclosure. Then off to the coffee plantation. no coffee beans left in the fields. a very crowded tour of the Doka estates and still operating 96 yr old water driven coffee processing mill. Quick stop in a town built in the crater of a ancient volcano then off to some rip off shopping store for some quick shopping then back to the ship.View All 38 Coffee Plantation Reviews