I chose this short cruise to introduce a 'newb' to cruising. It was intended to give her a taste of cruising.......more than a one day overnight repositioning. By the time you add airfare to SF, and cost to get home as well as port fee's and taxes that matched the cabin charge.....it all add's up to a 'not cheap' cruise.......it's something to consider---cost to value.
Arrived in SF to find an 'annual coast guard' inspection underway. The ship had been sailing out of Ft Laurderdale all winter so this wasn't a back to the USA deal......but it delayed getting on board, and then delays getting documents signed caused the departure at 5 pm to be closer to 6:30....... For those that have visited SF going under the Golden Gate bridge is a highlight........unfortunately the ebb tide and delays due to the inspection made a mess of the first night transit.
The food in the MDR was less edible than anything I had experienced before. Very few choices for anyone with dietary needs. (GF) We were told more than once that there weren't choices because things cost too much in SF so they had not restocked the ship for the jaunt back to Vancouver. They were simply 'out' of things that they should have had. I believe this was accurate........and further degraded the experience. On the last day we had some good food! While that's nice to see they can produce good entree's.......it's all the more upsetting that they DID NOT, until the last meal.
The Captain stated that they have 5 motors/engines on the ship but only need 4. A good thing since he also said the 5th one was not working during our trip. So you spend all day with the coast guard and go out to sea with less than a fully functional ship? I don't care that you only need 4........I'd bet you NEED that 5th one if anything happens to #'s 1-4. We faced Beaufort 10 conditions at sea.............hmmmm, plugging along as best we could with the knowledge that she was not fully rigged.
Parts of the ship were extremely cold (Crows Nest, Lido, etc)..........like they had failed to turn off the air conditioning from a more tropical zone (Panama Canal). Thruster and docking procedures took forever---which everyone knows is not a pleasant experience for anyone. I have never listened to so much noise and vibrations as well as the inching of the ship into port or docking or leaving port. So, yet more time was 'lost' with these processes. After docking an hour (or more) late in Victoria--after arriving on time, they 'forgot' to tell folks the ship was cleared for people to get off.
During the Captain's talk he made a comment about other captains when a question was asked about an Alaska route. Basically stating that he would not endanger a ship as if other captains had done so when traveling last summer. Very unprofessional given the route in question (Grenville Channel) is a route available to smaller cruise ships and it is a known route to Alaska. This was just plain unprofessional.........if he'll never sail that route, fine, but it's on my list of things to do and sorry I missed the opportunity last year...... I suspect it is not a preplanned route and dependent on tides/condition on the water........for the Captains that have chosen it. Thank you to them........the guests had a rare experience these days!
Staff were good overall. Room stewards were great, MDR first night was very slow and not sure if that was new crew or ??? Next two nights we ended up at a different table and service was great. Too bad the food cannot match the service on board!
While I have sailed HAL over 5 times, I think this may be the end of our relationship. It's not worth it to have problems with food and the ship. This is not a one off as the last HAL experience 3 years ago had similar issues on the Zaandam. So two strikes are now seen.......dare we try for three or cut our losses and move on. There are other cruise experiences that have been better than HAL' s with Carnival..........it's easier to remember the good ol' days and move on then throw good money after bad...........