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Billthekid

No joy in mudville or on HAL cruises

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Posted (edited)

Very interesting thread and lots of inciteful comments. Re HLitner's post above, my wife and I are also 5 star on HAL. Yet lately we have branched out. We used to book a Neptune on HAL. On Seabourn, we book a verandah suite and, as Hank accurately writes, once one "does the math", Seabourn with its inclusive approach can be less expensive. Yet not to exclusively channel Oscar Wilde ("a cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing") , in addition to favourable pricing, the Seabourn experience was really quite positive--especially our second SB cruise.

 

For cruises beginning our ending in far-away destinations, Regent, with its included air-fare (biz class when flying overseas) can make sense. We did our first Regent cruise last May and thoroughly enjoyed it--while we always liked the food on HAL, and liked it better on Seabourn, on Regent, we were truly blown away by the quality. To be fair, however, it is "ala minute" cooking for a far smaller crowd. The entertainment was also great, as was the general atmosphere and service. Regent also includes Shore X (there are a few optional-pay ones but most included). For a Caribbean cruise included shore excursions are not important. Yet when off to an exotic location, it is a bonus.

 

When we add up what we would normally spend on HAL (even with the discount) on Shore X, dinners, drinks, wine, and other sundry items, as compared with a higher per diem yet far more inclusive approach on Regent and Seabourn, those two lines just currently seem to be a better fit for us. We do have a HAL cruise booked for next year, but given all the ongoing cut-backs of the experience we enjoyed, I suspect we will cancel it and book something else on one of the other two lines. We have fond memories of HAL, and hope to return at some point.   

 

Nice that there are choices out there for all. Yet, if one is flexible, one can get lucky and find "deals" on the higher end lines that make them worth a try.

Edited by ON cruiser
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1 hour ago, Av8rix said:

Seriously?  Which line(s) give you the option of no liquor, shorex, air, etc?  I would DEFINITELY be interested.

 

Ummm... all of them if you choose so. 😏

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1 hour ago, Av8rix said:

Seriously?  Which line(s) give you the option of no liquor, shorex, air, etc?  I would DEFINITELY be interested.  IMO HAL is becoming indistinguishable from Celebrity or Princess.

 

Not an expert in all of them, but Oceania will give you a price without OLife (which includes certain perks like a number of included excursions, drinks, and shore excursions or gratuities or a combination of both) and without air. That's the bare bones cost I quoted above. Plus I am still receiving a reasonable amount of OBC and Oceania includes free internet and at least several chances to dine in their specialty restaurants.

 

Almost any of the luxury lines that include airfare will also quote you a price without it. 

 

Crystal does not include excursions, but does include most drinks.

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2 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Not an expert in all of them, but Oceania will give you a price without OLife (which includes certain perks like a number of included excursions, drinks, and shore excursions or gratuities or a combination of both) and without air. That's the bare bones cost I quoted above. Plus I am still receiving a reasonable amount of OBC and Oceania includes free internet and at least several chances to dine in their specialty restaurants.

 

Almost any of the luxury lines that include airfare will also quote you a price without it. 

 

Crystal does not include excursions, but does include most drinks.

Thank you!  This is GOOD information!  And I've heard that the food on O is wonderful, close to the top in the industry!  But I can't really justify "luxury".  I will have to be content with "premium" like O or Azamara.  Thanks again!

 

Y'know, I've only been on HAL for 9 years, considerably fewer years than many on this forum.  But the line no longer resembles the HAL even I once knew in the relatively fewer years that I've been aboard.  It is losing the things that set it apart from the others, even the small things like the Yum Yum Man chiming us into fixed seating and (as Himself rightly stated), the wonderful chilled soups that you could count on each evening in the MDR. 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Av8rix said:

Seriously?  Which line(s) give you the option of no liquor, shorex, air, etc?  I would DEFINITELY be interested.  IMO HAL is becoming indistinguishable from Celebrity or Princess.

I believe Dan is referring to Oceania's "Cruise Only" fare rather than the OLife fare also advertised on their web page. I don't know about HAL becoming indistinguishable from Celebrity and Princess. With Princess having 6 assistant CDs and Celebrity having 3 assistant CDs, most of which are all natural comedians in the own right, full blown evening shows and professional lectures offered on sea days, there is still a lot of fun to be had on those two lines. With HAL not so much anymore, especially with only 1 assistant CD.

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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12 hours ago, Av8rix said:

Seriously?  Which line(s) give you the option of no liquor, shorex, air, etc?  I would DEFINITELY be interested.  IMO HAL is becoming indistinguishable from Celebrity or Princess.

Oceania...  It is the ala carte version of Regent, and actually better cuisine......  On many cruises booked via a good travel agent you also get  gratuities paid too !         I recently took a 12 day SF-Vancouver- Alaska cruise, for $186.pp/pd  inside cabin + got 200 OBC and Prepaid gratuities

Plus all coffee, soft drinks, waters,  no charge  as well as no charge for all the specialty  restaurants! too. Lobster served in every restaurant , every day, even the pool grill... NO charge !   

   A 7 day  west coast cruise LA-LA   was going for $171.pp/pd

I loved HAL  but discovered some time back  it was becoming an up-scale version of Carnival.. There are some serious good value lines out there

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11 hours ago, Ken the cruiser said:

I believe Dan is referring to Oceania's "Cruise Only" fare rather than the OLife fare also advertised on their web page. I don't know about HAL becoming indistinguishable from Celebrity and Princess. With Princess having 6 assistant CDs and Celebrity having 3 assistant CDs, most of which are all natural comedians in the own right, full blown evening shows and professional lectures offered on sea days, there is still a lot of fun to be had on those two lines. With HAL not so much anymore, especially with only 1 assistant CD.

We keep wondering (and have posted) our question about "where is HAL going?"  Consider that HAL has really cut back on CD staff (and related free activities) and also eliminated production shows (at least for the moment).  All their mass market competitors still have more activities, CD staff, and production shows (sometimes accompanied by real bands).  It is almost like HAL is encouraging their customers to simply go to bed after dinner (even if they prefer to dine at 5:30).  While this might fit the personal culture of many older HAL customers it is not a formula that is going to attract many new cruisers (or keep lots of the long term fans).   Perhaps HAL is looking for some kind of new "cruise formula" that provides a good alternative...but at this time it seems like they are simply eliminating too many entertainment options without providing an acceptable alternative.  

 

Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the HAL cruise directors.  They are given little to work with and are still expected to satisfy most customers.  For those who do not want to spend their cruise life playing team trivia the options are really limited.  Even ballroom dancing on HAL has been pared back (or even eliminated on some cruises).  The cooking demos seem like a good idea, but then my personal chef (wife) has given up on most of those demos because she says they are generally just basic cooking demos of little interest to many accomplished cooks/chefs.  The BB King concept was a great idea but only exists on about half the HAL vessels.  Piano bars have disappeared, the wonderful Crow's Nest venues have been all but destroyed, libraries abandoned, classical quartets cut to duos, etc.  Oh my!  Sometimes I think that HAL is truly trying to live up to its reputation as a floating nursing home (perhaps assisted living center)...but with fewer options then found at many of those institutions :(.

 

Hank

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Your comments are right on.  Nothing to do during the day or night except attend sales pitches.  Getting real boring.  Maybe Hal will change but not holding breath.  River cruises may be the answer.  

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@Hawaiidan , you are on my list of people here I'd like to be stuck on an elevator with ;). 

 

Of course - better to be at one of the HAL bars with Wang Wangs* nearby,  but if I'm playing the "who would you want to be stuck on an elevator with" game...

 

* that's got to be the best name for a drink ever

Edited by SempreMare

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11 hours ago, Hlitner said:

We keep wondering (and have posted) our question about "where is HAL going?" ...  

The BB King concept was a great idea but only exists on about half the HAL vessels.  Piano bars have disappeared, the wonderful Crow's Nest venues have been all but destroyed, libraries abandoned, classical quartets cut to duos, etc.  Oh my!  Sometimes I think that HAL is truly trying to live up to its reputation as a floating nursing home (perhaps assisted living center)...but with fewer options then found at many of those institutions :(.

 

While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is very clear where HAL is going.  Having BB King, Billboard Onboard and the Rock Room all playing at the same time at night is not quite the same as a nursing home. The times, they are a'changin my friend 😉, whether we like it or not.  In trying to attract cruisers for many years ahead, some old traditions must unfortunately be dropped in favour of new traditions.  To quote one of the greatest hockey players of all times, Wayne Gretzky, "I do not skate to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck will be!"  And that is where HAL executives believe they are going, although I don't always have much faith in their beliefs.

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3 minutes ago, taxmantoo said:

While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is very clear where HAL is going.  Having BB King, Billboard Onboard and the Rock Room all playing at the same time at night is not quite the same as a nursing home. The times, they are a'changin my friend 😉, whether we like it or not.  In trying to attract cruisers for many years ahead, some old traditions must unfortunately be dropped in favour of new traditions.  To quote one of the greatest hockey players of all times, Wayne Gretzky, "I do not skate to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck will be!"  And that is where HAL executives believe they are going, although I don't always have much faith in their beliefs.

Well put. 

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On 8/9/2019 at 6:17 PM, Hawaiidan said:

... 

 

 

0664423.jpg

Loved the photo.  I cruised on destroyers as well and got paid for it.  Of course, the entertainment was pretty shabby and you couldn't purchase a wine/liquor package but the food was pretty decent.     

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9 hours ago, SempreMare said:

@Hawaiidan , you are on my list of people here I'd like to be stuck on an elevator with ;). 

 

Of course - better to be at one of the HAL bars with Wang Wangs* nearby,  but if I'm playing the "who would you want to be stuck on an elevator with" game...

 

* that's got to be the best name for a drink ever

Ok....not sure how to react...  but I guess thanks...

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4 hours ago, doublebzz said:

Loved the photo.  I cruised on destroyers as well and got paid for it.  Of course, the entertainment was pretty shabby and you couldn't purchase a wine/liquor package but the food was pretty decent.     

Hey shipmate...turn 2......   entertainment.....  hey you ever get to Subic?/longopo.  Westpac?   USS Trathen  DD530. USS Vammen DE644m    The chow was excellent... shared table, Was a QM

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Posted (edited)
On 8/4/2019 at 4:38 PM, SJSULIBRARIAN said:

 

But HAL is taking away so much and adding what?

 

 

They are not charging    less  to  balance for  the numerous  cutbacks  🙄

 

I was on the ship for 14 days and never got a hot  hors d'ouerve in any lounge, despite asking for one each evening.  No excuse or reason offered    I didn't 'Need'  it but would have liked  a small bite.  I promise  I did  not go hungry and no  one starved me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

image.png

 

sail.noordam@gmail.com

Edited by sail7seas

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Wow-I just came back from the exact same ship and voyage on the Noordam (July 21-28)  to Alaska and had a fantastic time! It is true that the BB King Band wasn't playing the first night due to a band member's illness but Anna was singing in the Piano Bar (and has a great voice). This was my first cruise so I had no prior expectations which maybe the difference-but we had such an enjoyable experience. I loved listening to Lincoln Center in the evening  and found the rest of the entertainment just fine. Other than happy hour in the Crow's Nest and the library, where I found a great history book that I ended up reading (instead of the books on my kindle)  happily wrapped up in a blanket on a very comfortable lounge chair on the promenade-we really didn't need much else.

 

I was happy it was a quiet kind of ship-we loved walking the promenade for our exercise and only made it to the gym once.  There lots of quiet nooks to sit and read or chat if you were feeling sociable.  The food seemed fresh and I liked the afternoon ice cream although the special flavor of the day tended to run out, perhaps that is part of the cutbacks.  I found the food at dinner a bit bland but others I talked to didn't. My husband who is a vegetarian loved the selection and was happy to see that in addition to the  vegetarian options at dinner there was also a vegetarian menu to preorder from.  The food was fine and somedays pretty great, but I wasn't expecting gourmet meals as I figured they had to cater to so many people with different tastes and from different backgrounds.  I appreciated that they had so many different types of offerings in the buffet-surprised and happy to see Asian selections and fresh salads as well. Loved my made to order omelette in the morning and the regular coffee was stronger than I anticipated which I liked.

 

The highlight of the trip for my husband was glacier bay and we really appreciated the rangers who came on board as well as the cultural interpertor who not only spoke on the deck, but provided naration while we were at Margery Glacier and gave formal talks in a large inside venue.

 

I appreciated the wonderful staff and the length of time we had in Skagway and Juneau-12 hours-which made it possible to really explore the area and not feel rushed. I liked the ports we went to and chose the trip for the itinerary, days it sailed and affordability. Our cruise was very reasonable and less expensive than the 10 day independent tour we took afterwards (and enjoyed as well).

 

I liked the trip so much that I am already planning to take another. Thinking of South America and Antartica as a possibility in 2 years. I can sympathize that things have changed and there were cutbacks but I felt well cared for on the cruise and was pleasantly surprised-didn't expect to love it as much as I did. 

 

   

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What a refreshing review...we should remember that things change, but somethings stay the same. 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/11/2019 at 6:19 AM, taxmantoo said:

To quote one of the greatest hockey players of all times, Wayne Gretzky, "I do not skate to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck will be!" 

 

This is cornball to use this quote here.    Sorry.  

 

Try something from a Simon and Garfunkel song like Mrs. Robinson.

 

 

Edited by JRG

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, suralottie said:

Wow-I just came back from the exact same ship and voyage on the Noordam (July 21-28)  to Alaska and had a fantastic time! It is true that the BB King Band wasn't playing the first night due to a band member's illness but Anna was singing in the Piano Bar (and has a great voice). This was my first cruise so I had no prior expectations which maybe the difference-but we had such an enjoyable experience. I loved listening to Lincoln Center in the evening  and found the rest of the entertainment just fine. Other than happy hour in the Crow's Nest and the library, where I found a great history book that I ended up reading (instead of the books on my kindle)  happily wrapped up in a blanket on a very comfortable lounge chair on the promenade-we really didn't need much else.

 

I was happy it was a quiet kind of ship-we loved walking the promenade for our exercise and only made it to the gym once.  There lots of quiet nooks to sit and read or chat if you were feeling sociable.  The food seemed fresh and I liked the afternoon ice cream although the special flavor of the day tended to run out, perhaps that is part of the cutbacks.  I found the food at dinner a bit bland but others I talked to didn't. My husband who is a vegetarian loved the selection and was happy to see that in addition to the  vegetarian options at dinner there was also a vegetarian menu to preorder from.  The food was fine and somedays pretty great, but I wasn't expecting gourmet meals as I figured they had to cater to so many people with different tastes and from different backgrounds.  I appreciated that they had so many different types of offerings in the buffet-surprised and happy to see Asian selections and fresh salads as well. Loved my made to order omelette in the morning and the regular coffee was stronger than I anticipated which I liked.

 

The highlight of the trip for my husband was glacier bay and we really appreciated the rangers who came on board as well as the cultural interpertor who not only spoke on the deck, but provided naration while we were at Margery Glacier and gave formal talks in a large inside venue.

 

I appreciated the wonderful staff and the length of time we had in Skagway and Juneau-12 hours-which made it possible to really explore the area and not feel rushed. I liked the ports we went to and chose the trip for the itinerary, days it sailed and affordability. Our cruise was very reasonable and less expensive than the 10 day independent tour we took afterwards (and enjoyed as well).

 

I liked the trip so much that I am already planning to take another. Thinking of South America and Antartica as a possibility in 2 years. I can sympathize that things have changed and there were cutbacks but I felt well cared for on the cruise and was pleasantly surprised-didn't expect to love it as much as I did. 

 

   

You better check your timing....HAL  ships and others  except for specialty built expedition ships are going to be banned after 2020 in Antarctic waters.... Seriously.....    Better look at the next sailing you can get...it will probably be the last.      New laws and rules for 2021.... please check this  I may be off  but this is coming soon....

Edited by Hawaiidan

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11 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

You better check your timing....HAL  ships and others  except for specialty built expedition ships are going to be banned after 2020 in Antarctic waters.... Seriously.....    Better look at the next sailing you can get...it will probably be the last.      New laws and rules for 2021.... please check this  I may be off  but this is coming soon....

 

You are a bit off.  We are on a January 2021 sailing to Antarctica.

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1 minute ago, *Miss G* said:

 

You are a bit off.  We are on a January 2021 sailing to Antarctica.

 

2 minutes ago, *Miss G* said:

 

You are a bit off.  We are on a January 2021 sailing to Antarctica.

 

 

I am very sure you know  better  t han me BUT if that cruise means much to you, I  would suggest  verifying from time to time that   you  might  be   wise  to  think about moving  your  sail  date  to  January   2020?     Rules and plans   can change so quickly with  no  or little notice.     Better that than being disappointed. 

 

 

 

image.png.e3223f925d7e11031e65329d63796327.png

 

sail.noordam@gmail.om

 

 

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

You better check your timing....HAL  ships and others  except for specialty built expedition ships are going to be banned after 2020 in Antarctic waters.... Seriously.....    Better look at the next sailing you can get...it will probably be the last.      New laws and rules for 2021.... please check this  I may be off  but this is coming soon....

I believe the enforcement date for the Ice Class 6 requirements is Jan 1, 2022. We just booked a Jan 2021 Antarctica 16 day cruise on the Princess Coral.

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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1 hour ago, Hawaiidan said:

You better check your timing....HAL  ships and others  except for specialty built expedition ships are going to be banned after 2020 in Antarctic waters.... Seriously.....    Better look at the next sailing you can get...it will probably be the last.      New laws and rules for 2021.... please check this  I may be off  but this is coming soon....

 

Can you provide some link or information on this?

 

From everything I have read, large cruise ships are still allowed to cruise to Antarctica, but ships with more than 500 passengers are allowed to cruise only -- no passenger landings. 

 

The level of ice protection afforded by the hull of course dictates where ships can sail as well, but as far as I can tell that is not a requirement unique to Antarctica and it is for passenger safety anywhere there is likely to be ice.

 

Holland America is listed as a member and an operator within the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, btw. All members are committed to IAATO's mission of advocating and promoting the practice of safe, environmentally responsible private sector travel to the Antarctic.

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Posted (edited)

There is a HA forum thread entitled Voyage of the Vikings 2020, dated Oct 5, 2018. Go to post #16 and start reading from there for a more thorough discussion on this topic. Here is the link:

 

boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2593024-voyage-of-the-vikings-2020/?tab=comments#comment-55927838

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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1 hour ago, sail7seas said:

 

 

 

I am very sure you know  better  t han me BUT if that cruise means much to you, I  would suggest  verifying from time to time that   you  might  be   wise  to  think about moving  your  sail  date  to  January   2020?     Rules and plans   can change so quickly with  no  or little notice.     Better that than being disappointed. 

 

 

 

image.png.e3223f925d7e11031e65329d63796327.png

 

sail.noordam@gmail.om

 

 

 

Thank you Sail.  Yes, I will definitely keep my eye on it.  Unfortunately 2020 is out because I have a full travel schedule next year.  (Work-related)

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