We do an annual late winter cruise every year. We've traveled mainly on HAL, and have been pleased with the smaller ships and good service. This year we did the full transit of the Panama Canal, leaving from San Diego.
We splurged this year on a Neptune suite. We have had one in the past, and really enjoy the bigger room, but especially the larger balcony. They are twice the size of the Vista suite. The extra perks of the Neptune Lounge and the Concierge service is excellent. We met quite a few other Neptune suite passengers, and had many interesting conversations. The room steward was top notch. Always had ice, coffee and fresh fruit. Laundry service was top notch and was always ready by the next day.
Embarkation was very smooth. Neptune passengers go through the same embarkation as the 4 star Mariners. There is virtually no line. For tender ports, there is no need to go for disembarkation passes. You simply hold up your room key, and you're put on the next tender. Unfortunately, there is no priority disembarkation after the cruise.
The balcony is huge, and the reason we went with this type of room. We spend a lot of time on the balcony. The inside is spacious. The bathroom only has a single sink, but that's all we have at home. I would prefer an individual shower, instead of one inside the tub. The only down part of the room.
We stopped by for the barbecue. The beach was packed, as there were 2 ships in port. Went back to the ship early.
We booked a local tour before we went. The locals had a big production complete with band and dancers. I didn't go into the local town, but it looked to be okay.
We stayed in port. Its a small port and not a whole lot to do. There was a town close by, but we chose to stay by the ship.
We flew in the day before the cruise. We stayed at the Bristol. Its a remodeled hotel and on the edge of the Gaslight district.