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About iceman93

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Redondo Beach, CA
  • Interests
    Disney stuff, Texas Hold 'Em poker, wine, fine food, DJ'ing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Disney Cruise Line
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    we love them all

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  1. The info on the HAL blog was fairly clear, but unfortunately there has not been consistent messaging from HAL reps, the website, the Cruise Atlas, etc. Given that they dorked up the Oosterdam sailings so badly (and, as reported by a CruiseCritic member who was actually on the sailing, it had NOTHING to do with high demand for the arcade which therefore calls the blog post's credibility into question), and they haven't put forth a clear and consistent position since, it's simply not worth the risk to me (and apparently at least one other cruiser who cancelled today for the same reason).
  2. Interesting data point: when I called to cancel the person on the other end of the phone was quite gracious. She went over all the details (to make sure she was cancelling the right cruise, I suppose) and even joked that for what we were paying for the cruise we should just buy our own ship! Exaggeration, of course, but then she asked if I minded saying why were cancelling. I explained that there have been some changes to the kids' programs on board and so HAL no longer worked for our family. She told me I was her second caller this morning who had cancelled a cruise for that reason, and then she asked if she could ask me a few more questions because she wanted to "run this up the flagpole". I told her that the shift away from Club HAL, starting with the Maasdam, was troubling and that there's been a lot of confusion about the upcoming video game arcade and whether it will be a supplement to or a replacement for traditional Club HAL activities. She hadn't heard that there was no Club HAL on the Maasdam or that the arcade concept was rolling out (not surprising, I suppose, but my impression is that in the past HAL reps were more knowledgeable about their product), and asked to put me on hold. I told her that if she could confirm, and send to me in writing, that there would be the equivalent of Club HAL activities, counselors, etc. on my sailing that I would happily keep the booking. She put me on hold for about fifteen minutes and then came back with the bad news: she spoke with several different supervisors and managers, none of whom gave her the same answer as to the future of children's programming on HAL ships. She said she understood then why I was confused and disappointed, and she processed the cancellation.
  3. Well, I just cancelled next summer's cruise and decided to get our deposits back rather than transfer them to another future booking. I'm not liking the direction HAL is going regarding children's programming, so we'll just choose other vacation options for now. Maybe once my youngest is out of the house, my wife and I will start sailing HAL again, but that's at least 12 years away. I'm not trying to get anyone else to change their travel choices or to start a debate about kids on nice cruises, but I am saddened by this. My wife and I started sailing HAL amost 25 years ago, when we were young and childless. We fell in love with the elegant experience, and have rolled with the punches as things have changed over time--some for the better and some for the worse. Then when we started having kids, they also enjoyed the HAL experience, part of which was their enjoyment of Club HAL. On our last cruise we had some issues with the Club HAL staff, particularly the director who was a fairly nasty person (I wrote a letter to HAL about this and got a boilerplate reply). But our littlest one still looked forward to future Club HAL experiences. We originally booked a 14-day Alaska cruise on the Maasdam, but then found out that ship was dedicated to "EXC voyages" and so no children's programming would be provided at all. Okay, kind of disappointing, but we switched to another sailing in Europe. Now there's been all this drama lately regarding the video arcade and whether it will augment or replace Club HAL. People seem to keep getting different answers from corporate, none of which includes a clear answer. We got our Cruise Atlas in the mail last week, and it does not mention Club HAL at all. There was a page with vague language about "a variety of supervised children's activities", which did not fill me with confidence. What, specifically, would be offered on our sailing? I wrote an e-mail to HAL a month ago and never got a response. So this family of two adult 4-star mariners, and two kids (3-star and 2-star mariners themselves) are going to take our business elsewhere. We book PS cabins, so it's not a small chunk of change. HAL is of course free to do whatever they want, and perhaps they will be more profitable by shifting away from the family market. But my fear is that the vagueness and uncertainty in this area is like the rest of the line--corporately there seems to be no strong vision for what HAL is or should be. I used to get it--elegant, traditional cruising with wonderful itineraries, fantastic staff, good food, and enough on-board activities to keep one busy while still allowing plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy amazing ports of call. What is HAL today, and tomorrow? I don't know, but not the cruise line for my family, unfortunately.
  4. Although it seems even HAL itself doesn't know what they're doing. This website (https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/onboard-activities/cruise-activities/club-hal.html) has conflicting information. Near the top it says Club HAL is offered on board all ships except for ms Maasdam. then just below it says Club HAL® Youth Program is offered on the following ships Eurodam Koningsdam Maasdam Nieuw Amsterdam Nieuw Statendam Noordam Rotterdam Veendam Westerdam Zaandam Zuiderdam Notice that it lists the Maasdam but not the Oosterdam...
  5. That response is VERY concerning, Tapi. I filled my wife in about this thread and these discussions. She's about ready to cancel our Veendam cruise next summer just because we can't be sure Club HAL will still be around--it's a big deal to our elementary school-aged daughter, and the reason we already switched away from the Maasdam. We're both 4* Mariners; our high-school aged daughter is 3*. The Veendam cruise alone is $60k. It seems like a bad business decision to alienate us as future customers, but if their decision is that they don't really want families on board, then we'll vacation elsewhere.
  6. In another thread someone posted that the Nieuw Amsterdam was the next ship to get Club HAL replaced with High Score. I haven't seen that info posted anywhere else; is it corroborated? The HAL website only talks about the Oosterdam; nothing about "coming soon to the rest of the fleet" or anything like that.
  7. Have you considered Disney Cruise Line? It seems to check all the boxes and then some...
  8. You summed it up very well, iancal. I had booked the PS on the Maasdam for a 14-day Alaska cruise next summer, but when HAL sent a note saying it would be a special "EXC voyage" with no Club HAL (and then subsequently updated the website to say there would no longer be Club HAL on the Maasdam at all), I was able to change my plans. We're currently booked in the PS on the Veendam for a 14-day European cruise next summer for a not insubstantial chunk of change. If HAL gets rid of Club HAL, I'll be disappointed and will just stop sailing them. But if I were to find out after boarding, as the OP did, that the Club HAL I was promised (and that, like the OP, is part of the reason for booking HAL in the first place) was gone and replaced with a far inferior option, I would be incensed.
  9. Agreed, oaktreerb. In fact, it seems like her entire litany of complaints are the kinds of non-problems that make cruise lines numb to serious complaint letters.
  10. I have no input on HAL, but agree with you that what X is doing is outrageous (especially if not disclosed in advance, before booking).
  11. This was quite a few years ago, but we took my daughter on a Norway fjords cruise when she was 16 months old. HAL was fantastic. The story that sticks out in my mind was that we had ordered many items in advance like diapers, formula, baby food, etc. For whatever reason, they forgot to load the diapers when we embarked at Copenhagen. Our first port was a couple of days later in Bergen; luckily we had enough diapers with us to last until then but we had certainly expressed our dissatisfaction with guest services. Anyway, we found out that the Guest Services Manager himself went into town at Bergen and bought enough diapers to get us through the rest of the 2-week cruise. In short, this is the kind of customer service that has kept me loyal to HAL over all these years. Things that seem like good, old-fashioned customer service but that are far from the norm in today's day and age.
  12. I totally agree that different passengers have different priorities. To some, a major benefit of booking a high-class cabin is the VIP treatment or little extras above and beyond. HAL offers some of that, but apparently not as much as some other lines. The other cruise line I've sailed most recently, Disney, also offers relatively little in terms of repeat cruisers perks (much to the chagrin of some loyalists). But their ships continue to sail full, at quite a premium price, so obviously they don't have to sweeten the pot to get people to keep coming back. If HAL is pricing their suites higher than competitive lines, and at the same time not offering as many perks for booking them, I think that's just more evidence that they've decided (and the marketplace has agreed) they don't need to entice suite bookings like other lines apparently have to. And I'm not faulting anyone for priorities different from mine. But I do have to question complaining that HAL doesn't do something another line does--if that other line is a better match for someone's priorities then they should happily sail that other line!
  13. I can't speak to Celebrity or RCCL, but don't feel HAL has to include any extra "perks" to encourage suite bookings. I've booked those cabins for decades, way back to before there was a Neptune Lounge or much else to speak of other than a nice, large cabin. If the other lines have to dangle enticements to get people to book suites, maybe that says more about the undesirability of the overall experience on those lines than it does about HAL. And I feel the same way when people complain about the lack of cruise loyalty perks on HAL. The benefit to sailing HAL a lot is that you get to experience the wonderful HAL product a lot--they obviously don't have to offer a lot of gimmicks or perks to encourage repeat business. Maybe other lines do.
  14. The following just popped up on my Facebook feed, since I am "friends" with HAL: "We’ve got some news to share! Tune in to our Facebook LIVE tomorrow at 8:30AM Pacific Time for all the exciting updates." Anyone have an idea what it is?
  15. Whether or not any of us would call the Rotterdam the flagship, the fact is that HAL calls it that (along with the Amsterdam), which should imply that it is held to the highest standards in the fleet. And I, too, have noticed dirty windows on my most recent HAL cruise. In the past, I remember deck staff cleaning exterior windows at every port stop--last time I didn't see any evidence of that.
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