Embarked from Vancouver's Canada Place. Very confusing entrance to building, very long walk to the ship. Disembark at Seward was very quick.
Ship: looks very worn in some places. Crew spent a lot of time polishing the bottoms of columns, stool pedestals, restaurant glassware, while Lido deck restaurants were very understaffed. Ship diagram signs signifying fore and aft, venue locations, etc were poorly placed, poorly designed (muted color), and thus difficult to read, resulting in crowds around them trying to figure out were things were and where to go. Suggestion: not sure why HAL couldn't have paper diagram maps at main desk, and in rooms and in library, as well as these hard to read ones. Suggestion: how about having the carpets in front of elevators having "fore" and "aft" designations woven into them (part of problem solved)! Two swimming pools were each too small. And the placement of the hot tubs was poor (too exposed to Dive-In tables). Also hot tub hours were too short (opened at 10:00, closed in early evening; hot tubs are best when it's cool, like in early morning and at night, not in the middle of the day, and who want's to expose their fat bellies to diners, anyway!). Also, the so-called maps they put in the cabins before each port are worthless as town maps. All they show it jewelry stores. Why can't they give us usable street maps that show locations of coffee shops, ice cream stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc? BTW: they had very nice bouquets of fresh flowers everywhere, which is kind of nice, but seems like a poor use of money when they seem to skimp on crew (more on this follows below)
Cabin: ours, with vestibule, on deck 5, was smaller than we've experienced with our other (NCL and RC) cabins. Toilets are too low to the ground, and with no grab bars (hard for me, with bad knees to sit down and get up, they were so low...how about installing ADA-sized toilets!). Also labels on the shampoo/conditioner/soap dispenser bottles had type too small to read, for someone who doesn't wear their eyeglasses while showering. HAL, how about a big S,C and BW on each bottle. Also the ship channel on the in-room TV has a static presentation. Takes forever for it to shift from one screen to another. And why does one screen reveal the hot tub and pool temperatures, when they never change? And why can't HAL include on those static screens the ship diagram. And in these modern times, why can't they make that channel interactive from the remote control device. Get with the times, HAL!
Dining: Big sore spot, for many reasons. Lido buffet restaurant food was poor, stations placed to close to one another, lines were too slow and long, seats and table insufficient, dining hours short, station staffing sparse and staff impolite, wording on menu signs too small to read until right on them (thus slowing down the line) and some not even there. When food and drink ran out it sometimes took 5 minutes to replenish items. Also, Dive-In Grill hours too short (and fries weren't as great as Cruise Critic review says). Vista restaurant food was better, a was it's staffing. Canalito Italian restaurant not very "Italian." Room service food reasonably good.
Entertainment: Pretty good. Main theater nicely designed. Side room for Lincoln Center entertainment open to corridor, so too noisy. But Lincoln Center chamber group was great!! I heard several people them their musicians they made the trip worthwhile for the. I second that opinion. Also comedian on main stage was excellent. Ships house singers/dancers were pretty good, though one of their night was hoky.
Room service: fine.
Ports and excursions: I can't remember which port was which, but I recall that the White Pass bus trip was a waste of time. Tundra tour was good. Rail to Denali was good. All tour guides were good. HAL hotels were pretty bad (old, lots of noise transmission between floors). The one in Fairbanks was a nice one. though, but it's wi-fi wasn't working, and staff said it hadn't been working for several days (they said Seattle office "was working on it"). I complained to front desk and they said "sorry." I said "sorry" wasn't good enough, that they had to compensate me. They gave me two free drink coupons. I said "not enough for two days without wi-fi." They then gave me two free meal coupons for their restaurant. Used just one. Meal was surprisingly good for a hotel restaurant.
SUMMARY: I think HAL cheaps-out and also has it's eyes closed to what it offers. Do HAL executives ever take their own cruises? Is their vision clouded by what they've designed for us? Why don't they hire some independent "mystery shoppers" to take cruises and turn in independent reviews. Bases on my one experience with HAL, I'll think twice before I use them again.
Ours, with a vestibule, was still smaller than we've experienced with our other lines (NCL and RC). Toilets are too low to the ground, and with no grab bars (hard for me, with bad knees to sit down and get up, they were so low...how about installing ADA-sized toilets!). Also labels on the shampoo/conditioner/soap dispenser bottles had type too small to read, for someone who doesn't wear their eyeglasses while showering. HAL, how about a big S, C and BW labels on the bottles. Also the ship channel on the in-room TV had a static presentation. Takes forever for it to shift from one screen to another. And why does one screen reveal the hot tub and pool temperatures, when they never change? And why can't HAL include on those static screens the ship diagram. And in these modern times, why can't they make that channel interactive from the remote control device. Get with the times, HAL!
Long walk to ship
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