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Billthekid

No Joy in Mudville - Part 2

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"I didn't see anything about the entertainment onboard addressed in the HAL letter, on our last cruise on the Oosterdam the entertainment was almost pathetic except for BB Kings and Lincoln Center. Billboard had the worst singers I've ever heard while on a cruise ship, shows in the Mainstage were pretty bad, I've had enough of the Planet Earth show."

 

I have to disagree with this statement somewhat.  I literally just came off the Oosterdam on Sunday.  Just for context I am 39 years old from NYC, where I can find entertainment any night of the week, and have only been on two other cruises, one so long ago I can't remember anything about it, and Celebrity Equinox last year. 

 

I do agree that showing a movie that you can watch in your stateroom in the Main Stage is not acceptable.  I thought the dance shows, especially the first one, were excellent, the first one probably the best cruise ship show I have ever seen.    BB Kings I did not care for because of the configuration of the venue, I thought it was too loud for the space, but the singers seemed fine.  I attended many Lincoln Center and Billboard Onboard shows.  Lincoln Center were excellent, Billboard were pretty good except the one guy kept repeating artists and songs too much for my taste.  I wish there was a nightclub type of place, but from reading this board ahead of time, I knew there wouldn't be...  

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7 hours ago, TAD2005 said:

There's no free lunch (or breakfast or dinner).   Every product or service that you consume on the ship costs the cruise line money.  If those services or product are bundled into the cruise fare, it goes up for everybody, and every guest doesn't use all of those products or services.   To keep prices competitive, most products and services are not bundled, but ala-carte.   .....   I am happy the way HAL is marketing their product.

 

Maybe the buffet should be changed into an Automat. Put nickels in and just purchase what you want.

 

And maybe the dining room dinners should be priced ala-carte. If I do not want both a soup and a salad, why must both be included in my fare?

 

Some hotel chains now give extra loyalty points if you skip daily maid service. Maybe on HAL you could get to the next star status level faster if you skipped having the cabin serviced twice every day.

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3 hours ago, npcl said:

Which Germans? 

 

The ones who bought Prinsendam.

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Having sailed on HAL since 1996, we have seen a lot of changes.  Some have been for the good and some for the not good.  All things change in life.  We can not have things stay the same.  We may not agree with this changing world, but that is life.

 

OP -- if you don't like the changes, find another venue for your vacations.

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1 hour ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

All things change in life.  We can not have things stay the same.  We may not agree with this changing world, but that is life.

Such early morning wisdom.  Doesn’t just apply to changes in cruise industry, my workplace also communicates this to employees who have a hard time with change.  

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Cutbacks in services and products are NOT FEATURES.  Poor food often, crowded MDR, waiting for a table in a line, watching movies in the main theater and so much more is not for me at all. The ships and crew are too nice for this kind of treatment.

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Posted (edited)

We've been on 6 or 7 HAL cruises.  We like the product.  Our next HAL cruise is in 20 days.  There are a lot of cruise lines and ships to choose from.  Nothing stays the same and like any business, the cruise lines make adjustments to stay competitive.  I like not having to pay for many items that I do not use in order to keep the base fare reasonable.

I don't even think about what has been in the past compared to what is presented today.  Like the HAL response letter says, they feel they are addressing the majority of their guests so until a majority complains about the lack of something that was offered in the past, best enjoy the cruise as is or move on to another cruise line. I know this sounds like me cheer leading for HAL but I won't go on certain cruise lines and their ships because their product does not appeal to me. I think the OP's opinion may not agree with many of HAL's current customers.

Edited by Diver2014

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Mosaic said:

Cutbacks in services and products are NOT FEATURES.  Poor food often, crowded MDR, waiting for a table in a line, watching movies in the main theater and so much more is not for me at all. The ships and crew are too nice for this kind of treatment.

 

As I said above, this is not happening ONLY on HAL.  Mass market lines are under great pressure to keep fares low. Spend any amount of time on any of the mass market lines cruise forums here and you will hear the same laments. Food isn't as good, there are fewer servers and cabin attendants, fewer 'flourishes' if you will, and more upsells.  (It's interesting that everyone claims not to like upsells or 'nickel and diming' -- and yet, they want things unbundled and only to pay for what they want. A bit hypocritical -- can't have it both ways....)

 

Princess is removing actual furniture from cabins in a misguided effort to either save cleaning/replacement costs or to not-so-subtly ensure that people don't spend too much time sitting in their cabins when they could be out spending money onboard. Celebrity gets complaints about the cost of their specialty dining and drinks. Heck, even HAL attempted to roll out a surcharge in the MDR for ordering more than one entree.  It's getting ugly out there now that most of the 'low hanging fruit' has been harvested. 

 

Some lines are trying for a more 'tiered' or 'class' experience. Depending on your initial outlay and cabin category, you have a more or less "inclusive" experience. I have to say I am not a fan of THAT approach.

 

We should all, as smart consumers, do our research with open eyes and decide what suits us. Trying to bring back HAL's golden days is an exercise in futility and surely must decrease the enjoyment from what should be a happy vacation.  Someone upthread mentioned that there is  not much separating HAL from the masses -- I'd say that HAL is a mass market line and has been for some time. BUT her itineraries differentiate her from her close competitors, IMO. Not quite the same thing. Compare what HAL currently offers against her competitors and decide what's best for you. 

 

The OP mentions things no longer offered or no longer included, but fails to make mention of the fact that the real cost of cruises has not increased substantially in many years. It is unsustainable to think that the line can continue to provide the same experience (at an increasingly greater cost to them) to passengers under such conditions. I personally do not agree with this philosophy (e.g., keeping the base rate low), but again, HAL has limited room to maneuver. They are not a 'niche' line with a single small ship or three to fill. They currently have in excess of 25,000 berths to fill (at stated full capacity) at any given time. 

Edited by cruisemom42

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My wife and I are four-star Mariners. Our most recent HAL cruise was a 30-night San Diego-Lima-San Diego Inca Explorers sailing earlier this year on the Volendam. It was a great cruise for a lot of reasons, but not because of the ship itself. The Volendam's A/C was largely dysfunctional for the entire cruise: too warm in some areas of the ship, too cold (freezing, actually) in others. And the pre-dinner atmosphere in the Ocean Bar (we always do late seating, whatever ship or cruise line we're on) was dismal: a far cry from what the typical Ocean Bar used to be like. There were times we were the only guests sitting at the bar at 7:30PM. Yes, there were live musicians---good ones, in fact---but virtually no one ever danced.

 

By contrast, we just got off the Queen Mary 2 after a 21-night sailing. The QM2 is only a few years newer than the Volendam but is in far better condition. More importantly, the overall ambiance, musical entertainment, and level of guest energy was infinitely higher than on any HAL cruise we have taken, for roughly the same per-day price. (Technically, we had a signature suite on the Volendam, but it was only slightly bigger than our balcony on the QM2). There was live music everywhere and seemingly all night long---sometimes in six different venues simultaneously---and the dance floors were packed until midnight or sometimes later. To get a seat at our favorite bar we had to get there about an hour before our dinner time. We probably wound up drinking more than we should have, but we had great fun every night at the bar talking to our interesting and well-traveled fellow-guests.

 

I'm not suggesting that the QM2 is a perfect alternative to HAL loyalists seeking a return to "better times." The dress code may be too formal for some (they really do enforce it). The fixed dining times may be too late for some (second seating is 8:30PM). The ship is big---over 2,600 guests (although it feels smaller because of its extremely high "space ratio"). And American and Canadian guests are in a distinct minority (I'd estimate that 70% of the guests on our sailing were Brits, and 10% Germans, Swiss, French, and other Europeans---something we liked a lot, but not everyone would). But for a certain kind of frustrated HAL loyalist, the QM2 may be the alternative you're looking for.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, jimdee3636 said:

My wife and I are four-star Mariners. Our most recent HAL cruise was a 30-night San Diego-Lima-San Diego Inca Explorers sailing earlier this year on the Volendam. It was a great cruise for a lot of reasons, but not because of the ship itself. The Volendam's A/C was largely dysfunctional for the entire cruise: too warm in some areas of the ship, too cold (freezing, actually) in others. And the pre-dinner atmosphere in the Ocean Bar (we always do late seating, whatever ship or cruise line we're on) was dismal: a far cry from what the typical Ocean Bar used to be like. There were times we were the only guests sitting at the bar at 7:30PM. Yes, there were live musicians---good ones, in fact---but virtually no one ever danced.

 

By contrast, we just got off the Queen Mary 2 after a 21-night sailing. The QM2 is only a few years newer than the Volendam but is in far better condition. More importantly, the overall ambiance, musical entertainment, and level of guest energy was infinitely higher than on any HAL cruise we have taken, for roughly the same per-day price. (Technically, we had a signature suite on the Volendam, but it was only slightly bigger than our balcony on the QM2). There was live music everywhere and seemingly all night long---sometimes in six different venues simultaneously---and the dance floors were packed until midnight or sometimes later. To get a seat at our favorite bar we had to get there about an hour before our dinner time. We probably wound up drinking more than we should have, but we had great fun every night at the bar talking to our interesting and well-traveled fellow-guests.

 

I'm not suggesting that the QM2 is a perfect alternative to HAL loyalists seeking a return to "better times." The dress code may be too formal for some (they really do enforce it). The fixed dining times may be too late for some (second seating is 8:30PM). The ship is big---over 2,600 guests (although it feels smaller because of its extremely high "space ratio"). And American and Canadian guests are in a distinct minority (I'd estimate that 70% of the guests on our sailing were Brits, and 10% Germans, Swiss, French, and other Europeans---something we liked a lot, but not everyone would). But for a certain kind of frustrated HAL loyalist, the QM2 may be the alternative you're looking for.

 

you hit the nail on the head,,, could not have been put any  plainer or better    It is what it is 🥴

 

Carol

Edited by CJcruzer

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Posted (edited)

If you are living in the past or trying to re-live the past then you are missing out on the present and on the future. 

Edited by iancal

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We’ve also sailed on the Queen Mary 2 and it was an absolutely awesome experience!! If anyone wants to experience what cruising could be or used to be then Cunard ships may be your perfect fit . 

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11 hours ago, KirkNC said:

 

The ones who bought Prinsendam.

Phoenix Risen is more of an overall travel company, that also does ocean cruises as well as river cruises. Their price structure seems to be more expensive on a per day basis than HAL, though they do include table wine at meals, and I expect that their price structure would include tax and fees.  They do not have a set service charge, but they do say tipping is not obligatory but is appreciated.

 

They started using chartered Russian ships and considered the acquisition of a ship from P&O a couple of years back to be a step up.

 

While they are apparently making it with smaller, older ships.  They have also had some significant breakdowns of some of their ships.

 

Also not clear how a HAL passenger would find the Phoenix Reisen experience.

 

What is not easy to find is a good idea of customer service.  About the only thing I can find in the way of description is:

 

Phoenix Reisen offers a low-key, laid-back cruise experience, which fits well with the middle-aged to retired German demographic that it targets.

 

As one would expect, Phoenix Reisen is a traditional German cruise line for the slightly older cruise passenger, looking for an affordable, paired-down, traditional cruise experience.

Its marketed exclusively to the German market, so there are few if any international passengers, and with no kids’ facilities and no kids program, its rare to see any young families.

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

Having sailed on HAL since 1996, we have seen a lot of changes.  Some have been for the good and some for the not good.  All things change in life.  We can not have things stay the same.  We may not agree with this changing world, but that is life.

 

OP -- if you don't like the changes, find another venue for your vacations.

My sentiments exactly. I know Cruise Critic is a venue for complaint, but it gets old after a while.........

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1 hour ago, Tennessee Titan said:

My sentiments exactly. I know Cruise Critic is a venue for complaint, but it gets old after a while.........

Two things.  A) Holland could reinstate many of the things they took away,  or B) Would the last person finding another venue,  please shut off the lights.

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4 minutes ago, Billthekid said:

Two things.  A) Holland could reinstate many of the things they took away,  or B) Would the last person finding another venue,  please shut off the lights.

Don't hold your breath for A/ or B/........

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We are 5 stars on HAL and continue to find that they hit our sweet spot of price/service/size and amenities.    I like their ala carte pricing - I am happy with the value I receive.   

 

I tried Seabourn and Crystal within the last year or so and they were VERY nice.    I did a price comparison of Crystal and HAL - if you buy the all you can drink package,  buy WIFI and more special dinners, you will get pretty close to Crystal on some sailings.   For those who want all exclusive - those ships are available.  

 

Same with Seabourn.   Nice small ship - all inclusive  (wifi extra) 

 

We heard Orlando say at one of our talks - if you want Seabourn sized ships - be prepared for Seabourn pricing.  

 

We also sailed on QM2 and for those who want old school formal nights then QM2 is your baby,    Everyone should take a westbound crossing at least once and experience the old school dress codes and sailing into NYC at dawn.  And as Kirk stated - they do enforce the dress codes - and the dress code is throughout the ship (except for their version of the Lido and Crows nest) after 6 PM.   If you want big bands and dancing - QM2 can't be beat.

 

One big thing with Crystal and Seabourn - no lines for anything -  But I like the service on HAL better on an individual level.    BTW - no photographer on Seabourn

 

There are lots of choices in the cruise industry and the perks I get as a 5 star aren't enough to keep me on HAL exclusively.   Like many others, I shop itinerary first and then start comparing options.   

 

 

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We sailed on the Queen Victoria and enjoyed the beautiful ships, wonderful two story spiral stair cased library and amazing tea with a harpist.   

We found the MDR food  lacking in comparison to HAL, although the buffet was great.  We think the Class system and separate grills  dining room adversely affects the MDR.  I have never been asked where my cabin is on HAL, but was routinely asked if we were in the Grills. Just not comfortable with that,  but did enjoy the Stilton.   

The dress code is a little much as it is the whole ship, men must wear a jacket every evening, even to go to a show.

so pros and cons.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/26/2019 at 5:15 AM, Krazy Kruizers said:

Having sailed on HAL since 1996, we have seen a lot of changes.  Some have been for the good and some for the not good.  All things change in life.  We can not have things stay the same.  We may not agree with this changing world, but that is life.

 

OP -- if you don't like the changes, find another venue for your vacations.

I have to agree. We have been sailing on HAL since 2005 and seen some changes, the biggest is the relaxed dress code and end of "Formal" nights, which delights us 100%. The end of armature quality Broadway type production shows  is something we never enjoyed and do not miss. We do not care about a dancing venue either. We enjoy a good comedian or magician. The Pricing of our first HAL cruise in 2005 is almost the same today for the same itinerary, so you know HAL has made changes to be profitable and keep pricing competitive. Our Noordam cruise last month was fantastic and the services and food we wanted was as good as it was back in 2005. We have sailed on X and NCL in the last 10 years and while both were good, however, neither of them were the quality of service and food we enjoyed last month on the Noordam.

 

I think the changes that HAL is doing to the Crows Nest is a mistake and the Noordam will lose theirs in the refurb in October. This was the only pre-dinner bar that still served hot and cold appetizers with happy hour on the Noordam. Will this keep us from future HAL cruises? No, is the answer.

 

I am retiring the end of this week and we are fortunate that we planned very well for retirement and we intend to spend the next years doing a lot of traveling and cruising. We are booked on a Viking Ocean cruise next year and we will be comparing that experience with past HAL cruises. 

 

 

Edited by terrydtx

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Posted (edited)

The bottom line is that no cruise line gets better over time; they only get worse.  We booked our first cruise on Oceania for what we think will be a step of from the mainstream lines.  But, the same "O ain't what it used to be"  threads are on their board as well. 

 

We started with Royal Caribbean in 1991 and have seen the downhill trend.  We moved to cruising more on Celebrity, but the same thing happened there.  The good news is that we have many choices and, with some research, good pricing and itineraries can be found.  It's still fun for us!

Edited by ricka47

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8 hours ago, bennybear said:

We sailed on the Queen Victoria and enjoyed the beautiful ships, wonderful two story spiral stair cased library and amazing tea with a harpist.   

We found the MDR food  lacking in comparison to HAL, although the buffet was great.  We think the Class system and separate grills  dining room adversely affects the MDR.  I have never been asked where my cabin is on HAL, but was routinely asked if we were in the Grills. Just not comfortable with that,  but did enjoy the Stilton.   

The dress code is a little much as it is the whole ship, men must wear a jacket every evening, even to go to a show.

so pros and cons.

 

I'm surprised you were asked if you were in the Grills. That doesn't usually happen. And I don't see why the grills adversely affect the MDR. It isn't like we're all paying the same price and they're getting better food. Grills cost a LOT more (which is why I rarely sail in the Grills), so they're paying for their extra space and upscaled food. 

 

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2 hours ago, terrydtx said:

I am retiring the end of this week

Congrats on pulling the plug Terry, I still have about 10 months to go. 

We are also pondering a shift away from HAL due (mostly) to the whole way that Carnival Corp. has handled their environmental messes but also (in part) to shifting values (ours and HAL's). I've been looking at several alternate lines discussion boards here on CC and each seems to have the: "...boy, remember the good old days..." threads. For the most part Cynthia and I have enjoyed cruising with HAL but mostly it is about getting out of the box rather than what brand of chocolate is on the pillow at night.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

I'm surprised you were asked if you were in the Grills. That doesn't usually happen. And I don't see why the grills adversely affect the MDR. It isn't like we're all paying the same price and they're getting better food. Grills cost a LOT more (which is why I rarely sail in the Grills), so they're paying for their extra space and upscaled food. 

 

 

We too were surprised to be asked on several occasions by other passengers.  Never been asked on HAL.  

I just don’t like the class system which seemed evident on Cunard.  I understand they pay a lot more.  We have sailed in everything up to and including a Neptune suite on HAL,   And as everyone eats in the same dining room IMO the food was better for it.  I was frankly surprised by how uninspiring the food  was on Cunard.   Now with HAL that appears also to be changing with Club Orange is who knows how it will unfold.  

Edited by bennybear

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2 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

I'm surprised you were asked if you were in the Grills. That doesn't usually happen. And I don't see why the grills adversely affect the MDR. It isn't like we're all paying the same price and they're getting better food. Grills cost a LOT more (which is why I rarely sail in the Grills), so they're paying for their extra space and upscaled food. 

 

2 reasons why it can impact the MDR.

 

1. The cruise line needs to show a difference in quality for the difference in cost. The greater the difference the more they can point to the increased value.  If the food in the MDR was great little difference.  So while the tendency has been to improve the food in the higher end venues, it has also resulted in cheapening the standard MDR.

 

2. A cruise lines  over all food budget is exactly that.  If they spend more on one area, there is a tendency to cut costs in another. The food costs across the major cruise line companies is pretty consistent and if you look at financial filings over the years as companies have gone to more of a tier system (adding the higher end specialty dining, and the various tiers) the over food budgets have tended to remain pretty fixed in the cost per passenger per day.  That means that the savings are coming from somewhere (usually MDR and buffet).

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Have to agree that it's simply a fact of cruise economics that HAL will not bring back the level of service or the quality of the experience from 20 or even 10 years ago.

We love Oceania, but they priced themselves out of our market years ago. Now we pick the cruise first and foremost based on ports of call; secondly price and thirdly the size of the ship. Have only been on a 3,000-plus pax ship once. and don;t care to do it again.

So HAL is attractive to us, Celebrity and Princess less so. I would love to have the more personalized HAL of the smaller ship 20 years ago But it isn't gonna happen. So, you cruise when you can and get the best deal that fits your interests and budget. 

A lesser experience than the past is still better, IMO, than sitting at home.

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