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Posted (edited)

I worked on HAL ships for many years. After the current President arrived, we had endless meetings on how HAL - now completely Carnivalized - could slowly and gently get rid of the older regular crowd that spent so little money onboard, and at the same time appeal to a newer, younger, free-spending demographic. This had to be accomplished gently, so that the older crowd did not realize they were no longer desirable, and so would desert the cruise line slowly. At the same time, HAL would slowly introduce new concepts that would appeal to a younger crowd, who would gradually replace the defecting oldsters. All of this had to be done with a careful eye to protecting profits and reducing costs during the entire process.

 

Very sneaky, but thinking about all those meetings and looking at the current state of HAL, they appear to be quite successful in their scheme. It will take a bit longer to complete, but their bottom line appears to be holding steady while slowly convincing the old crowd to look and book elsewhere.

This year, for the first time in decades, the average age of a HAL cruiser has dropped.

 

Personally, I do not see anything positive in these developments.

Edited by Donald

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23 minutes ago, Donald said:

I worked on HAL ships for many years. After the current President arrived, we had endless meetings on how HAL - now completely Carnivalized - could slowly and gently get rid of the older regular crowd that spent so little money onboard, and at the same time appeal to a newer, younger, free-spending demographic. This had to be accomplished gently, so that the older crowd did not realize they were no longer desirable, and so would desert the cruise line slowly. At the same time, HAL would slowly introduce new concepts that would appeal to a younger crowd, who would gradually replace the defecting oldsters. All of this had to be done with a careful eye to protecting profits and reducing costs during the entire process.

 

Very sneaky, but thinking about all those meetings and looking at the current state of HAL, they appear to be quite successful in their scheme. It will take a bit longer to complete, but their bottom line appears to be holding steady while slowly convincing the old crowd to look and book elsewhere.

This year, for the first time in decades, the average age of a HAL cruiser has dropped.

 

Personally, I do not see anything positive in these developments.

Thanks Donald. Very interesting and it definitely fits the evolving pattern we've seen on the 11 HAL cruises we've been on these past 7 years. I'm glad we were able to accommodate their corporate desires as we have pretty much moved over to X and Princess. Hope it works out for them, especially when it comes to those longer 21+ day cruises.

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Posted (edited)

I was never really big into the production shows -- I tended to prefer to go back to my balcony after dinner and enjoy a glass of wine.

 

With that said, on Celebrity I made an effort to go to the shows -- they were/are top tier quality.

 

I'll actually be trying HAL for the first time in December on the Nieuw Statendam.  I enjoyed the piano bar on RCCL and loved the jazz/blues group in the atrium on the Royal Princess -- so I'm looking forward to seeing how HAL's new focus on small venue entertainment pans out on my cruise.

 

For reference I'm in my earlier 40's and my spouse late 30's.  

Edited by bamelin

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The music venues are miles above the production shows in quality.  It also gives them maximum flexibility in changing programming because it's a lot easier to have musicians learn new music than it is to re-tool a production show that relies on sets, lights, costumes, etc.  The production shows are rarely any good to begin with and then you get stuck with the same show on each ship for many years because it's expensive to change them out.  I think the music walk concept is very innovative and will not be surprised if it's copied by other lines.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The strategy has been  very obvious to me for quite some time. You only have to look at the ships they are selling and the ships that they are building.  And the ships that they are keeping in the interim, spending as little money as possible and squeezing every last dime of revenue and profit from them until such time as the new fleet comes on board.

Edited by iancal

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20 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Hope it works out for them, especially when it comes to those longer 21+ day cruises.

 

Now, that’s a good point.  Who exactly is going to go on those other than people who have the time? 

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21 hours ago, Donald said:

I worked on HAL ships for many years. After the current President arrived, we had endless meetings on how HAL - now completely Carnivalized - could slowly and gently get rid of the older regular crowd that spent so little money onboard, and at the same time appeal to a newer, younger, free-spending demographic. This had to be accomplished gently, so that the older crowd did not realize they were no longer desirable, and so would desert the cruise line slowly. At the same time, HAL would slowly introduce new concepts that would appeal to a younger crowd, who would gradually replace the defecting oldsters. All of this had to be done with a careful eye to protecting profits and reducing costs during the entire process.

 

Very sneaky, but thinking about all those meetings and looking at the current state of HAL, they appear to be quite successful in their scheme. It will take a bit longer to complete, but their bottom line appears to be holding steady while slowly convincing the old crowd to look and book elsewhere.

This year, for the first time in decades, the average age of a HAL cruiser has dropped.

 

Personally, I do not see anything positive in these developments.

Thanks for that sad but true info, but why is Arnold's wife (president Carnival) always on the world cruise (Amsterdam)..

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21 hours ago, Donald said:

I worked on HAL ships for many years. After the current President arrived, we had endless meetings on how HAL - now completely Carnivalized - could slowly and gently get rid of the older regular crowd that spent so little money onboard, and at the same time appeal to a newer, younger, free-spending demographic. This had to be accomplished gently, so that the older crowd did not realize they were no longer desirable, and so would desert the cruise line slowly. At the same time, HAL would slowly introduce new concepts that would appeal to a younger crowd, who would gradually replace the defecting oldsters. All of this had to be done with a careful eye to protecting profits and reducing costs during the entire process.

 

Very sneaky, but thinking about all those meetings and looking at the current state of HAL, they appear to be quite successful in their scheme. It will take a bit longer to complete, but their bottom line appears to be holding steady while slowly convincing the old crowd to look and book elsewhere.

This year, for the first time in decades, the average age of a HAL cruiser has dropped.

 

Personally, I do not see anything positive in these developments.

 

Carnival has plenty of brands to cater to the young ones to compete with RCL (AIDA, Carnival itself, Costa, some more). Are HAL ships sailing at a loss without a younger demographic? There's still a market for the very mature, maybe less profitable, guests who can't afford Seabourn. If I'm right, every TA sends them to HAL as they somehow got specialized in older guests. If even HAL also aims at the younger cruisers, it may look good in the books for HAL itself, CCL as a whole is just losing customers.

 

Not sure if that's why you don't like it either.

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On 8/22/2019 at 8:59 PM, Ken the cruiser said:

Thanks Donald. Very interesting and it definitely fits the evolving pattern we've seen on the 11 HAL cruises we've been on these past 7 years. I'm glad we were able to accommodate their corporate desires as we have pretty much moved over to X and Princess. Hope it works out for them, especially when it comes to those longer 21+ day cruises.

HAL has certainly been able to lower the average age of their passenger mix;  but just who they will attract to replace the oldsters remains to be seen.  Every age group can be split into two markets:  the fairly affluent who are willing and able to spend money, and the frugal who seek bargains out of necessity.  HAL’s more affluent older demographic will continue to depart for lines which offer what they used to find attractive about HAL.

 

The less affluent elders will stick with HAL - and continue to not contribute to on-board spending revenue.

 

The affluent younger market, possessing dollars , making them the only segment of the “youth market” able to afford the time off necessary for the long interesting itineraries , which are HAL’s last competitive advantage, (and feet) with which they can vote, are not that likely to gain any feeling of loyalty towards HAL once they see it as simply an entertainment-lacking competitor of other lines - been outshone even by Carnival’s Princess, which is most similar to HAL. How many of them will stick around to earn five stars?

 

The younger less affluent market will not have any sense of loyalty for any line which can be under-sold, so if  they see Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL offering more for comparable fares they  will hardly become a valuable core market.

 

I sadly feel that HAL’s only future of distinction is likely to be as a business school case study:  showing what happens to an enterprise when it gives up its almost unique competitive advantage which gave it a real niche, and joins a crowded mass market where low price is the only attraction.

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I know this is simple minded, but we like to laugh when we're on a cruise and we like to go to "stupid" interactive game shows. Princess has a CD with 6 assistants, all comedians in their own right, whose main mission is to make you laugh, smile and just feel happy while you're on your cruise. Celebrity has a CD and 3-4 assistants whose main goal is to make sure you're having fun all of the time.

 

For example and this is just one, there are no real prizes for winning at trivia on either Princess or Celebrity. Heck, you can score your own answers if you like. It's all about having fun and letting the "little kid" inside of you out to have fun again. In a nutshell, that's what's missing on the HAL cruises we've been on the last couple of years. They have one CD, who now wears a gray uniform and isn't allowed to tell jokes, with one assistant who usually conducts trivia. Sure, there's bingo, cooking demos, computer classes (which never change), various music venues and a wide variety of vendor-sponsored activities. But where can you go to laugh and have fun? IMHO that's what's missing on a HAL cruise for us.

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Posted (edited)

The zombie question is resurrected again. What is HAL's future?  Everyone wants to think that it's what THEY like best about HAL that makes the line unique and should be maintained.

 

I have no idea what HAL's future market will be, but one thing is guaranteed and it is this: the new cruisers will be younger* as time marches on. And from what I can see, as cruise passengers move from Senior to Boomer to Gen X to Millennial, younger cruisers will want connectivity, personalized and hands-on activities, interesting culinary opportunities ("foodie" tours are one of the fastest growing types of tours in most cities and tourist destinations) and places to take photos for that Instagrammable moment.

 

I suspect things that they won't care about include libraries, hot hors d'ouvres, a nightclub atmosphere in the Crow's Nest, production shows, and Catskills-type comedians and magicians. What younger Boomers, Gen Xers and Y'ers seem to like on other ships I've cruised on include a hopping martini bar, special culinary experiences (e.g., shop with the chef tours, chef's table, cooking classes), photography tours, etc. Some will still be very fit and will want cycling classes or whatever the hot exercise fad is. Entertainment is also something that is bound to change over time based on popularity (remember when Blue Man Group was big and Cirque du Soleil had their big run...? Ice rinks anyone? Glass shows?) . 

 

For my money, the "smart" cruise line would build spaces that are flexible and adaptable to many different types of entertainment, including some hands-on ones. HAL has gone all in on music venues; Princess' new ships have a dedicated space for all of their game shows/trivia events. 

 

*Speaking in absolute terms. As in, they will have been born later than the current HAL demographic. 

Edited by cruisemom42

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It will be interesting to see what Virgin Voyages comes up with.  They are targeting a younger demographic.

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12 hours ago, epanchenko said:

It will be interesting to see what Virgin Voyages comes up with.  They are targeting a younger demographic.

Not just younger, but they are targeting a currently non-cruising under 40 demographic.

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We prefer sailing on  the newest HAL ships  because of the variety of entertainment  .Our Koningsdam cruise last  March in the Caribbean by far  the best for over all entertainment .Thus ,we booked a  18 day Hawaii cruise for Nov 3 ,2020   .We expect a lot of Hawaiian music & instruments  on this cruise going toward Hawaii from San Diego✌️

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Posted (edited)

I'm gen X and cruise a lot.  I've sailed with Princess and Celebrity as well as RCCL and Carnival.

 

I didn't like Carnival at all -- felt crowded everywhere.  The staterooms were ok and the price was cheap so I'm actually sailing with them again in December a cheapie 4 day cruise before I get on the Nieuw Statendam for 7 nights.  With that said I knew what I was getting into booking the Carnival cruise and made sure to get a balcony so I can chill on the balcony -- the only spot on a Carnival cruise where I feel you get privacy.  In the end it was cheaper for me to do a cheapie 4 night Carnival cruise than to get a hotel and food for 4 nights in Lauderdale or Miami.

 

I have never really cared about the production shows (although on Celebrity they were very good) -- much prefer hanging out in a lounge watching a comedian, a piano bar, or a dancing venue with live music.  More important than all of that to me though is the food quality in all complimentary venues -- buffet and MDR.  That and space ratio on board.   My biggest peeve with Carnival was how crowded the cruises feel and the obviously high guest to staff ratio.  I like Princess as although the entertainment I found blah, the atrium area is nice, and food is decent.  With Celebrity I disliked the feeling of being enclosed (no big open spaces similar to Princess) -- but they did have great production shows and fabulous food.  I felt the buffet on Celebrity though closed down to early and late night eat options were blah.

 

Not sure what to expect on my HAL cruise on the Statendam.  I've heard the food is really good (some people say better than Princess and Celebrity).  I think I'm going to like the small space venues -- wife and I will really enjoy BB Blues as well as the piano bar.   Videos I've seen of the buffet it the food looks very good so I'm also excited about that. 

 

Thinking about it I will say that the diversity of small entertainment options was certainly attractive to me in making my booking -- I also liked the itinerary which is focused on beaches and ports that you don't really have to spend a lot of money (Caribbean, Turks Caicos, Half Moon Cay, Amber Cove and Key West).

 

Really interested to see how HAL compares to Princess and Celebrity.  Truth be told, even average age, Princess and Celebrity seemed to trend older, although I'm heading into the older territory now.  Over the last 10 years my wife and I were usually on the younger side of those on board -- to be fair we've always done 10 - 17 night cruises so it's to be expected that we'd be on the young side.  We never cared about the demographics as for us it was all about upscale leisure and having time to connect with each other.

 

We have a 1 year old now so I suspect in a few more years I'll have to start going back to RCCL and Norwegian.  Not my favorite lines but that's life.  We've always preferred ships that are quieter with great food and some decent small venue entertainment in the evening. 

 

 

 

  

Edited by bamelin

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Posted (edited)

Just to add to my thoughts,

 

When I sailed with Carnival they did some things really nice -- big rooms, comfy beds, nice toiletries for example at ridiculously low prices.  The MDR service seemed the same as any other line.  Where they seemed to cut corners was the staff ratios, the entertainment and stuffing the ships to the gills with people.  I HATED the lines everywhere.  It was a mission to get a table in the buffet and good luck finding staff to bring a drink.

 

When I researched HAL I had that sort of vibe (but in different areas -- the same mentality though of cutting back in some areas while maintaining or increasing in others) -- more money is being put in certain areas that cost the line less money (smaller production shows for example), building up small venues where you don't need as much staff.  With that said, some of the areas they are focusing on are areas that are important to me -- complimentary good food, more contemporary music venues for example.  They do seem to be maintaining staff to guest ratios and not stuffing the ships full of people so as to maintain decent space ratios too.  Those are all things important to me --

 

One of my personal tests of a cruise line is what I call the fresh egg/omelette test.  In the morning if I have to wait more than 5 minutes in a line to get a fresh cooked egg or omelette, that's a huge negative for me -- not enough staff.  I gather that's not an issue on HAL so I'm happy about that!

Edited by bamelin

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17 minutes ago, bamelin said:

One of my personal tests of a cruise line is what I call the fresh egg/omelette test.  In the morning if I have to wait more than 5 minutes in a line to get a fresh cooked egg or omelette, that's a huge negative for me -- not enough staff.  I gather that's not an issue on HAL so I'm happy about that!

The omelette line can get long, even though there are usually 2 cooking (but if you go around to the other side of the Lido, that omelette line may be shorter so check that one too).  In any case, there have been times I'm sure I waited more than 5 minutes.  But the omelettes on HAL ships are worth it IMO --- much, much better than on Celebrity.  It's my favorite breakfast on a cruise.  I've just learned to get something else if I'm in a hurry.  🙂  

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On 8/23/2019 at 3:43 PM, AmazedByCruising said:

 

Carnival has plenty of brands to cater to the young ones to compete with RCL (AIDA, Carnival itself, Costa, some more). Are HAL ships sailing at a loss without a younger demographic? There's still a market for the very mature, maybe less profitable, guests who can't afford Seabourn. If I'm right, every TA sends them to HAL as they somehow got specialized in older guests. If even HAL also aims at the younger cruisers, it may look good in the books for HAL itself, CCL as a whole is just losing customers.

 

Not sure if that's why you don't like it either.

HAL is running into the small ship economics problem.  With the age of their fleet and the per passenger cost of construction. They will still be in a ship size niche smaller than the other mainstream lines.  Of course they will be in the 2500-2600 while the other lines are mostly in the 3000 + range. Celebrity will be the closest competitor in ship size, though they have gone in for the tiered class system for suites.

 

As their existing small ships age out of the next 10 years you will probably the smaller ships doing the longer routes and the larger newer ships doing the 7-14 routes that is the core of their competitions business. The future of the longer routes will probably depend on their ability to fill the 2500 passenger ships on those routes once their smaller ships are gone.

 

Until the smaller ships are gone in 10 years HAL will have a bit of a split personality with the smaller ships with fewer venues compared with the larger ships with several venues. Each will have its supporters and detractors.

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56 minutes ago, npcl said:

Until the smaller ships are gone in 10 years HAL will have a bit of a split personality with the smaller ships with fewer venues compared with the larger ships with several venues. Each will have its supporters and detractors.

 

 

I think that can be said about a lot of cruise lines.  RCI, Princess, Carnival, NCL....they all have very big differences between their smaller ships and their larger ships.  Heck Celebrity's ships range from 16 passengers to 3600 passengers. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Aquahound said:

 

 

I think that can be said about a lot of cruise lines.  RCI, Princess, Carnival, NCL....they all have very big differences between their smaller ships and their larger ships.  Heck Celebrity's ships range from 16 passengers to 3600 passengers. 

However, the real small ships that Celebrity has are clearly expedition ships and not easily confused with their mainstream ships.  From what I have seen with Celebrity they have a much better match when it comes to venues with their S and M class then HAL does with their ships.  Plus Celebrity large investments in remodeling their older ships would seem to try and create a common brand between their older ships and edge. HAL doesn't seem to be doing anything close with their smaller ships.

 

As far as Princess goes, with the exception of Pacific, most venues and activities are  pretty common. Largely because HAL tends to specific function rooms like Lincoln Center, BB King/kitchen, etc. Whereas Princess tends to have more common multi-use space. On the new ships like the Royal most of the items schedule for Princess Live, is done on the older ships in Explorers Lounge that is located in the same place. 

Edited by npcl

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On 8/21/2019 at 7:10 PM, Cruising-along said:

DH and I are late 60's and early 70's and we've never cared for the piano bar. Can't quite see the draw of it.  So it isn't for all of us over 60-somethings 😉  

Give us BB King and the newer rock room and Billboard.  

 

On 8/21/2019 at 7:10 PM, Cruising-along said:

DH and I are late 60's and early 70's and we've never cared for the piano bar. Can't quite see the draw of it.  So it isn't for all of us over 60-somethings 😉  

Give us BB King and the newer rock room and Billboard.  

I have been on several HAL cruises with a piano bar.  The place was packed every night and would be the last bar closing down at night.  Might not be your thing, but this 65 year old loves it. 

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19 hours ago, JPH814 said:

 

I have been on several HAL cruises with a piano bar.  The place was packed every night and would be the last bar closing down at night.  Might not be your thing, but this 65 year old loves it. 

I know I’m in the minority, but that’s just my opinion. It’s good  that there are choices!

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On 7/31/2019 at 3:04 PM, qoap24 said:

We went on the NS to Norway and I would say the entertainment was REALLY light. The only show was a comedian. And he was HORRIBLE. We spend most evenings in our cabin or on balcony because we aren't interested in listening to bands play. 

Have we made a terrible mistake booking a HAL cruise? Last time we were on HAL was about 18 years ago when we began cruising. We have cruised on 6 mass market cruise lines and have settled on NCL and Royal Caribbean as the two main lines we choose to cruise.

 

After 50 cruises, we still look forward to the production shows or the magician or the comedian or what ever show is offered in the main show room. We go to the show then to dinner. We booked the HAL cruise on the Amsterdam for the itinerary but at the time we had no idea the showroom was not in use for shows in the evening. In all 50 cruises we have done, every ship had entertainment in the evening in the main showroom.

 

Why has HAL stopped offering this entertainment? Not happy about finding out about the lack of entertainment in the main showroom.

Edited by coffeebean

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On 8/21/2019 at 11:57 PM, DougK said:

 

And here's an example of the terminology problem. By "entertainment," I'm guessing you mean on the main stage. But I'm willing to bet there was plenty of what I'd include in the category of "entertainment" in other venues on the ship, particularly various types of music.

Agree....the term entertainment does include all the smaller venues that feature live music. Having said that, RCCL and NCL (the lines we frequent) have music in smaller venues in several rooms on their ships. And......they continue to have production shows, Broadway shows, comedians, magicians and jugglers their main show rooms. RCCL also continues to have ice shows in addition to all the other entertainment shows I've listed. We will not be cruising HAL in the future.

 

 

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6 hours ago, coffeebean said:

Have we made a terrible mistake booking a HAL cruise? Last time we were on HAL was about 18 years ago when we began cruising. We have cruised on 6 mass market cruise lines and have settled on NCL and Royal Caribbean as the two main lines we choose to cruise.

 

After 50 cruises, we still look forward to the production shows or the magician or the comedian or what ever show is offered in the main show room. We go to the show then to dinner. We booked the HAL cruise on the Amsterdam for the itinerary but at the time we had no idea the showroom was not in use for shows in the evening. In all 50 cruises we have done, every ship had entertainment in the evening in the main showroom.

 

Why has HAL stopped offering this entertainment? Not happy about finding out about the lack of entertainment in the main showroom.

At least on the Oosterdam, they had a dance company, a comedian, or a magician most nights in the main showroom.  They don't have resident production shows that consist of their own employees like the other lines you are used to.

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