We were booked on the first leg of this voyage, 16 nights to Hawaii, roundtrip from Vancouver. We have done this itinerary three or four times, but previously with Princess.
We are fairly experienced cruisers. I think this was our 25th cruise, with various cruise lines. We have tried HAL before. I suspect the issues we had are specific to this ship, not to HAL generally.
Pros: The staff are wonderful and hard working. There were many older passengers and many of them had mobility devices. The staff would fold up their walkers for them and tuck them away and then magically reappear to set them back up for them and place them nearby. I have never seen such service.
The ship is older, but is in good shape, is attractive and clean at all times.
On our particular sailing, the sea conditions and weather were picture perfect. Our days in port in Hawaii were delightful, although for me personally, I didn't particularly benefit from the overnight stay in Honolulu, as the evening entertainment was almost nothing that night. So if you stayed on board, there was little to do.
The young classical music performers in the Lincoln Sound Stage were excellent, and their performances were incredibly popular. They need to move them to the Main Stage. The venue they have them play in, is way too small. People stood, lining the halls, as chairs quickly filled up.
Cons: My goodness they have cut back on the evening entertainment. They have six talented dancers, but no vocalists, so no Broadway style shows. The dancers did two or three shows in the 16 night sailing. Other evenings were devoted to a magician, a female singer and a man who sang and played the trumpet. The trumpet playing fellow introduced a familiar song but when he played it, it was unrecognizable. He had changed the musical arrangement so much, I couldn't tell what it was. Odd.
I have never had a problem with food on a cruise ship. Ever. By midway through the trip, they almost had a mutiny on their hands, people were so unhappy with the food. All the meat was overcooked. Selections were few and often odd: a pasta sauce with tuna in it. Macaroni and cheese with crab in it. Three nights in a row where the featured dinner item in the Buffet Restaurant was a slice of beef and Yorkshire pudding. I had it the first night, and other than being overcooked, it was ok, except my Yorkshire pudding was cold. But three nights in a row? There were very few vegetables available. My husband asked for double the veggies one night in the Dining Room. His plate arrived with two pieces of asparagus on it. I am not exaggerating. The menu one night in the buffet listed broccoli as the vegetable, but when you got there, the server said there was no broccoli, it had been replaced by asparagus, but the asparagus wasn't ready yet. Very strange on a ship where food is usually so amazing and also plentiful. My husband noted his eggs benedict had almost dangerously undercooked eggs one day, and did not eat them. The next day he asked the fellow at the egg station to cook the eggs much longer please...they were plated exactly as undercooked as the previous day, and so were also not edible. Very odd.
They really need to do something about the food.
We were in an Inside Cabin and as there were only two of us and we have experience unpacking in smaller cabin spaces, it was ok. But this was the smallest inside cabin we have ever seen. Very clean at all times, and an excellent cabin steward, so not really a complaint, just more of something to note, if considering booking an inside cabin.
We love this itinerary and will do it again, but this will be our last HAL cruise. Back to Princess we go.