Overnight you have fallen from one of the top cruise lines to the bottom.
Who cares about the million dollar program of upgrading bed sheets and building a cooking demo unit when the major areas of interest to passengers, food and social programs have been seriously downgraded?
While the new library is a knockout with comfortable chairs, individual stereo music units, a huge selection of the latest books and games, and an internet café, it is placed next to the casino where the sound of the slot machines is sure to disturb.
While there were a few high spots, in general the dishes in the dining room were mediocre. Most of the dishes were served lukewarm and in most of the cases they were misrepresented or bastardized versions of what they claimed to be. This was in contrast to HALís sister cruise line the so-called "budget" Carnival line which gets everything right the first time.
While ingredients were reduced in quality, it is my belief that execution was equally at fault. Mediocre production in the kitchen. Is a stronger executive chef needed?
The desserts are disgraceful. They are of the quality of a cheap all you can eat buffet on land. Just a mixture of endless variations of sponge cake, and imitation mousse and toppings. In fact much of the baked goods seem to be wholly or partially outsourced. There was little variety.
The Lido was a scandal. Messy, dirty, empty dishes, and undermanned. The so-called Chocolate Grand Buffet(?) on the next-to-last night was so unpopular that people were deserting the area as quickly as they could glance at the offerings.
By the way, a written complaint to the guest services manager went unanswered.
Very few activities. A very small social staff .Very few announcements on the PA system and the " improved"(?) daily activities program was hard to follow. Thus we missed the cooking demonstrations. Perhaps they repeated the demos on stateroom TV but we never received a TV guide to what was playing on TV. We also never received the schedule of in-cabin TV movies so missed many good first run films.
For reasons I will never understand the captain decided to view the lovely fjords of the Saguenay River from 6-8 AM. Surely the schedule could have been advanced to a more reasonable hour like 8-10 AM.
Most passengers went to the Lido Buffet to view the fjords. Even though breakfast was ready at 6.30 AM, the staff refused to begin service until the scheduled opening of 7.30 AM . We could only stare at the food for 1-1/2 hours.
While there were some good things such as the library, entertainment, friendly staff and cabin size, as a veteran of 40+ cruises, HAL sinks to the bottom of my list.
Poor value. Never again with HAL.