We have cruised HAL in a number of locations but really wanted to try one of their smaller ships. We also were very interested in the EXC program and the itinerary around Japan. As always HAL knows what its doing-embarkation, disembarkation were fine. The captain did an excellent job of avoiding (as much as he could) typhoons which caused him to shorten our time in the last port. The lectures/talks were good. Dr. Kam was excellent and covered a variety of topics related to Japanese culture, art, customs. He explained much about Japanese society, habits and norms.
The ship is a bit 'tired' and needs some renovation especially in the cabins. There were scratches/mars all along the baseboards, there was a crack in the sink, a dent in the tub and signs of rust/wear in many places. Wallpaper was beginning to peel. Public spaces seemed to be okay but cabins not so much.
HAL personnel were friendly,helpful and efficient (except when they got to chatting with customers and ignored other customers). Entertainment-the jazz quartet was very good; the piano/violin not quite as good and the other singer in the lounge was pretty bad although he attracted a large following.
As indicated above, the size of the cabin was fine; nice to have the veranda and lots of storage space-that never seems to be an issue with HAL. But the overall condition of the cabin was 'tired' and in need of refreshing. Fix the baseboards, the wallpaper, the dents/cracks in the bathroom, carpet could use updating.