We have 145 nights sailing on HAL but this cruise line has changed a lot and this will be our last cruise on them. First the PROS: the food is still very good; staff works hard to take care of the passengers; balcony cabins were adequate; embarking and disembarking went smoothly; our wine package was good; room service was very good THE CONS: the staff overall seems understaffed & overworked; wine stewards no longer exist in the dining room; the decor in the dining room & the ship in general is average/not elegant; but the worst & most disappointing aspect was the entertainment on the World Stage. There were no singers, other than the occasional performer from the Music Walk. There is no full live orchestra and when performers from the Music Walk did perform it was to recorded music or a combination of live and recorded. Costuming was almost non-existent as was genuine choreography. We saw a lot of posturing, posing and rolling on the floor and the dancers were asked to carry the whole show on two occasions which they really could not do. The lighting and projections on the World Stage walls were occasionally well used but that does not make up for bad performances. The 2 comedians on different nights were the worst; we only went the first night and we were appalled at the vulgarity and insulting behavior that was considered "entertainment"; it was certainly not funny at all. We heard from other passengers that the 2nd comedian was even worse. There were 2 exceptions to the poor/dreadful entertainment. The Mid-Atlantic Men were good. And the Christmas Eve program of lovely Christmas carols played by the Lincoln Center group and the 3 choirs (Indonesian, Filipino and International) who sang were quite good. One final complaint: there are 2 swimming pools on this ship, but smoking is allowed at the one in the rear deck which prevented non-smokers from being able to swim or even sit out there. The smoke was pervasive.
Yes we are older and this cruise confirmed for us two things: HAL has moved on to serve a different younger generation and it appears they have cut their entertainment budget to the bone to make up for their lost revenue during Covid. We will not choose to sail them again and we heard this same opinion often expressed by other people in our age group.
Our forward balcony cabin was fine but quite far from the dining room. My husband's back flared up on this trip & we were not able to get to the dining room every night. Our cabin stewards did an excellent job.
This created port in the jungle of the Dominican Republic is very well done. There are huge pools, one exclusively for children I think, ziplining, shops & restaurants and a Sky Bar overlooking it all.
There is a long pier here but there are free (but tips appreciated) tuk tuk bicycle shuttles. The port area is nice and even has a lovely beach area. However, I took a tour from the ship since I had never been here before and there is nothing to see on this island. It is very poor with tourism their only industry. There are large salt pools throughout the island which are not worked anymore and donkeys wandering about. I think our tour guide said that diving is the real attraction here and probably so, since there is nothing else here that is appealing.