This was our fifth cruise with HAL, so we had no surprises that we experienced. Our itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Aruba, Curaco, Panama (not going through the canal, but in and out of the Atlantic side) and Costa Rica. It was a 10 day cruise.
Check in was easy, and pleasant. We were able to have lunch on board, and since our cabins were not ready yet, we walked around the ship to get oriented to it.
Our cabin was facing the stern, which initially sounded pretty "blah," but it was very comfortable and gave us a new perspective of where we were! We only had to walk down two flights of stairs to the dining room which was convenient.
The ship holds about 1,900 passengers, and is very comfortable. We had an older crowd on board, since it was a longer cruise, and we opted to eat upstairs on the Lido Deck at the buffet, since the food was basically the same as the main restaurant downstairs, and the dress upstairs was more casual.
In terms of destinations, we had been to the Half Moon Cay before, and took advantage of the beach and did a waaverunner tour, which was fun. We had been to Aruba and Curaco before, and elected not to take any tours there, but walked around town and did some minor shopping. The prices in Aruba on watches were very attractive, and I ended up with a Tag costing about 42% less then in the US. The store was Little Switzerland which we've shopped in many times before (not on the "recommended" list that the cruise line talks about).
We had a lecturer on board who lived in Panama, and talked about the history of the Canal, which was a real educaation. We arrived in Panama around 5:30 AM and everyone was up on deck for the arrival. There's very tasty Panama rolls for breakfast that were served, along with hot chocolate, which hit the spot. To see the GE tugs pull ships through the locks is certainly amazing. We had about three feet of clearence on both sides of the locks, but it all went very smoothly, and it was just fascinating to watch it from our stateroom.
Costa Rica was tropical. We opted to take an off-road trip, which was a lot of fun. We rode in a huge GMC van that held 50 or so passengers, and the trip was fascinating. The driver and host did a great job, and answered any and all questions that were thrown at them. The scenery was beautiful, and even though we were in a rain forest, it didn't rain during our trip. We had a stop half-way through the trip, and it was very enjoyable for everyone.
We love cruising for many reasons, and met some very nice friends from Canada who played Trivia with us. The service is still very good, and the entire trip was "low key" in that nightlife was pretty minimal, but certainly adequate. The staff is there to serve and please the customers, and I feel that once agin they've achieved their goal.