We chose this cruise because our 45th anniversary would be celebrated while onboard, as well as the fact that we live close to the cruise port and would not have to fly prior to or after the cruise. We had the HIA package and booked our specialty dinners prior to sailing, as well as booking our shore excursions before sailing so we were ensured of them not selling out before we got onboard. I also phoned HAL prior to sailing to enquire about upgrading our drink package to the premium drink package. When I checked the website, the difference between the packages was $5 per person, per day for the 17 day cruise. If we tried to book the premium package on the website, it would have charged the full price, even though we had the signature package already. HAL told me that I could not upgrade with them, but would have to wait until we were onboard to upgrade it. I was concerned that the price would change once we were onboard, but she assured me that it would not. When we embarked, we went straight to the beverage concierge to upgrade the package and was told that it was $10 per person, per day. She said that it was out of her control, so we declined to upgrade. I was not happy about this as I had done my due diligence ahead of time, to no avail. We just paid the difference in price for the beverages consumed over $11 which worked out fine. We had booked directly with HAL to obtain our specific cabin that we wanted which was not offered on the Costco website, which is where we usually book our cruises. Cabin is a V category which means a different layout than most. Our balcony cabin was sideways, instead of the usual width layout. It had a spectacular balcony, the length of our cabin. It also had a window as well as the door to the balcony. Would definitely book this type of cabin again. A few days into our cruise, we had a phone call from the Head Dining Steward that our reservation for the Pinnacle Grill (which we had booked for our anniversary) was going to be the Chef's table, which was a different menu and was $95 per person extra and that we couldn't use our Pinnacle Grill dining credit that night. That was frustrating as we now had to change our plans for our anniversary. We went to Pinnacle Grill a day prior to our anniversary and went to Canaletto for our anniversary instead. Both were delicious, but they could have blocked the date off, so we knew it was a special dinner on that day. The only true negative with this ship, is that they allow smoking in the casino. It permeated the common spaces and stopped us from playing in the casino too much. We did play some slots, but would have spent more time in the casino if it was smoke free. In this day and age, smoking should be in one place outside. I will definitely be choosing our next cruise, if possible, on a ship that doesn't allow smoking in the casino.
We did a 6.5 hour excursion in Astoria which took us down the Oregon coast to Cannon Beach and Tillamook Creamery which was a wonderful experience. We also did the Volcanoes National Park and Taste of the Big Island in Hilo, which also, was an amazing experience. Actually got to walk through a lava tube and saw steam vents and overlooked the crater.
All in all, we had a great cruise and are looking forward to another one. Unfortunately, we are 4 days short to become 4 star mariners, so will need to book a 4 day cruise now :)