Cruising during the pandemic is challenging to put it mildly. First off the 48 hour prior mandatory testing is hard to find. I contacted HAL for suggestions and after checking she said I was in luck. They had same day testing at two ports...Ft. Lauderdale and San Diego which was perfect for our 17 day Hawaii cruise. I prepaid for 2 ($100 each). When were arrived to embarkation we found that HAL was testing the entire ship. Guest services worked to get our money refunded. Embarkation was smooth and took about 45 mins. Sadly there were a few people who tested positive. The ship had about 1600 passengers of 2600 max. The ship was very clean and our cabin was very nice. While all cruises have their bumps overall the 17 days were pretty amazing. Our ports were reordered and Avalon (Santa Catalina) was substituted for one of the Hawaii stops. Three days in the entire ship was re-tested and sadly again several more passengers didn't "pass" and had to go in quarantine. The food was good in both the main dining room and lido. The only special restaurant we did was Tamarind (2 times) and it was excellent. We also did lunch at Pinnacle and it was also very good. We had cruised on this ship in November for a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise and we were very underwhelmed. I don't know what happened, but HAL really got their act together! Obviously they have only brought back their crew superstars because every crew member we encountered was outstanding. Small example. One night at diner we overheard a guest comment that the bread basket (which by the way are back...in November we were served 1 piece when we sat down) didn't have bread sticks.No, the waiter said those are only available in the lido. Fast forward five minutes and he was back with a plate of bread sticks for the guest. There was some repetition of appetizers and entrees (even though this was a 17 day cruise) which I think could have been avoided. There were 3 gala nights and on one we did have lobster !! Burgers on deck were awesome.
Entertainment was good. There was a singer who was pretty good and a comedian (not so hot) but on the way back from Hawaii we had a group called the Jersey Tenors and a Magician Ruben Vilagrande who were excellent. The also had an astronomer Ted who did stargazing on the darkened top deck at night and gave talks during the day. They also had some local Hawaiian entertainers one night. The one movie night on the deck we went to was Back to the Future ,but unfortunately the words didn't sinc to the picture and we left. Good snacks (including Chicken Wings ) and they were FREE (I'm talking to you Carnival!)
Covid-19 procedures were enforced and mask compliance was good part in fact to the elderly age of most of the passengers. Every crew person wore a mask (even the guy outside on the scaffold cleaning the windows all by himself.) We received new KN95 masks through out the cruise and were politely reminded if we got up from dining and forgot to put one on.