This could be a first for the cm board- this is a combined report from 2 people who met on the cc board prior to their cruise- met on board and decided to combine reports
You will note 2 different type styles – each one representing a different writer.
Prior to boarding ship:
Lougee1043 left Portland, Oregon on wed 3/17 on a red eye to Orlando, Florida and then a car ride to our sons new home in palm bay to spend a few days with them and the new grandson- who gave us his cold which we didn’t discover til after we boarded.
My turn! Here goes nothing or something, take your pick. RandyK47 and Mrs. K (aka Carey) traveled to Ft Lauderdale on Saturday, 20 March. We stayed at the Westin as arranged by HAL. Luckily Carey is a member of Westin’s preferred visitor club and we were upgraded to a suite for the evening. Smart lady. No wonder I married her! Not a bad way to start a cruise. Might add that the Westin is a bit out of the way and we prefer Pier 66 but HAL actually handled the transfer quite well so no real complaints there.
Lougee1043: We were at the terminal about 11:00 after turning our rental car in – there were about 100 people lined up outside when we got there- met 2 other couples from the cc board before we even got into the building –doors opened at 11:30 and we processed through without incident – it is really helpful if you did your immigration questionnaire on –line ----we had an s class cabin so there was no line in getting our documents for boarding – they now take your pix at that time and it is part of the mag strip on the back of your room key. Were allowed to board almost immediately --- because of the new early boarding procedure there were no escorts to the cabins – I thought that the S class pax would at least be escorted to the Neptune lounge but that didn’t happen either – thanks for the hal web site we did know where is was and we proceeded there – met up with one of the couples we met outside and had some snacks before going up to the lido for lunch- then it was back to the cabin for a little leisure time prior to lifeboat drill and unpacking –
RandyK47: We left the Westin about 1:30 PM on the HAL provided transportation. Bus arrived at the terminal at about 2:00 PM. Agree with Lougee1043….have all your documents filled out and HAL will get you on the ship quite quickly. Interestingly we got called to Window 21 which was the day of the sailing, it is my birthday, and our wedding anniversary. All good omens! Check in went quickly and we were on the ship by 2:15 PM and escorted to SS6060. We took a few minutes to look around the cabin and within 15 minutes our steward showed up with our luggage. We unpacked, relaxed and waited for the boat drill.
Lougee1043: We were on the Rotterdam deck S7061 and it was an absolutely perfect location –a few feet from the midships elevators and even closer to the Neptune lounge. According to the Brochures the s cabins on the vista ships are smaller then the ones on the S class ships. Actually liked this layout a little better ---the bathroom in our cabin was to the right of the entryway as you come in the door-not through a doorway along side the bed as was on out last cruise- bathroom was more private ---dressing area did not have a sink in it but that didn’t seem important---double sinks and the Jacuzzi/tub/shower—in addition there was another shower stall that I used once but it was claustrophobic in size – similar to a toilet on the airplane
RandyK47: Our cabin was on the Upper Verandah deck almost amidships. Elevators were close enough but not right on top of us. Maybe by the luck of the draw or maybe by it’s placement we found the cabin to be very quiet and rarely heard our neighbors on either side or passage traffic. This was our first time in an SS category cabin. Prior cruises were in mini-suites or full suites. My best estimate is that an SS is a third again as large as a mini-suite and very well arranged. The bathroom is nice with double vanities, a Jacuzzi tub, and a shower. By the way, the shower is a bit of a waste…about the size of a phone booth and not all that comfortable to shower in. Drop the soap in there and you’re backing your bare backside half way across the bathroom to pick it up. After one try each we both switched to showering in the tub which worked just fine.
Lougee1043: Didn’t eat very often in the lido because of jans not feeling well and what was available across the hall in the Neptune
RandyK43: Carey and I ate breakfast most morning and lunch a couple of times in the Lido. Took a little time to figure out the several stations but once we did it wasn’t all that hard to find what we wanted. Only a couple of times were we faced with long lines so getting what we wanted was not a problem. Seems they’d picked up the service in the Lido from previous cruises based on what I’ve read here but generally we had no problem finding a table. One thing…coffee….hard to get refills from the servers and not very good! Oh well….can’t have everything
Lougee1043: As usual with some people not attending which tends to delay the whole procedure.
RandyK47: About the same as Lougee1043. We were missing one or two couples but they eventually showed up and we got through it. Just one of those cruise things you’ve got to do.
Sail a way party:
Lougee1043: Great weather and all couples that had met on the internet showed up for face to face intros and that was nice because we kept running into each other on the ship or ashore
RandyK47: Sail away party with Lougee1043 and all the others was great. Fantastic sunset as we cleared the harbor and really started the adventure. Should add that Lougee and I had become pretty good email “friends” over the past month or so and joked about what would happen if we liked one another but the ladies didn’t get along. Would have hated to start the cruise with a divorce! J Actually, the ladies hit it right off and chatted a lot during the cruise.
Lougee1043: No first nite escorts to our tables a steward at the entry kept saying odd numbered table to the left and even numbered tables the right- after blundering around for a few minutes – the big white numbered signs that used to appear on the tables have been replaced with small triangular signs that you cant see unless you are standing right in front of it- we asked a waiter and preceded to lead us off in the wrong direction but a captain came to his rescue and we finally ended up at our table –very nice tablemates – 2 men from boston and a newly wed couple--------service the first nite was extremely slow and we found out that all of our cc couples felt the same way and that included the pinnacle—comment was also made of the lack of warmth from the European staff and after a week with them in the Neptune lounge I had to agree . / mentioned to our captain harry about the service and he assured us that it wouldn’t happen again – he checked on us several times a nite and the service improved after that our waiter was rachman and the wine steward was richardo– we were seated at table 69 – most of the tables at the windows were tables for 8 and most of the 6s were inside that circle – the dress up nites were tues-wed-thur- thought that was a little strange because the last day was a sea day and as I recall that was generally the last formal nite
RandyK47: Geez…you’d swear Lougee and I were on the same cruise…wait we were! Yep…no escort. Luckily we had table 71 which is a table for eight in the center and we found it quite quickly. Might note that Lougee and Jan were right next door at table 69. We also had great tables mates who turned into real friends over the next week. Two couples from Canada and a couple from Wisconsin. Ah service….I remember service…from a previous cruise, not this one. Drinks were hard to get, never got a chance for a second, and one night we arrived to find our wine already on the table and opened…..good thing we both wanted the beef dish that night or a good red wine would have been wasted. The food was generally good. A couple of the salads over the week had what my wife called “tired lettuce” but all in all not bad. Never did learn the names of our waiter, busboy or wine steward….didn’t see them enough. And for the first time on HAL I only briefly talked to only one of the senior staff in the dining room. At best I’d rate the service as uneven…sometimes acceptable, sometimes slow. Not at all what we expected or had experienced before on HAL.