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Billthekid

No Joy in Mudville - Part 2

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My wife and I tried HAL due to many of the changes, specifically the ending of smoking on the balcony, addition of BB Kings, relaxed dress code and the updated staterooms on the Vista & Signature Class ships (have not yet tried the Pinnacle Class). We especially like the Signature Suites now.

 

The wife & I are both 58 and we tried the Zuiderdam in 2004 to the Caribbean and then the Oosterdam in 2007 to Alaska. A combo of smoke, lousy entertainment and on the Alaska cruise literally being run over by people in their scooters kept us away for 10 years. During those 10 years we took 30 other cruises primarily on Princess & Celebrity. In 2017 we took a Christmas cruise on the Westerdam, 2018 went on the Nieuw Amsterdam & are returning to the NA in November. 

 

Celebrity Has got very pricy, and we have no desire to sail on their new ships. I really like the size/price of the Signature Suites along with the service and smaller passenger size

along with a reasonable sized balcony with comfortable furniture. I also like the lack of separating suite guests with separate dining rooms and deck areas. With a little luck we hope to have another 20 or 25 years of cruising and now HAL is an option, though I doubt we will sail on the smaller ships.

 

 

 

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After many cruises on varied lines from mass to premium to luxury - we have ended cruising except for TA's aboard QM2 and perhaps a few speciality cruises to the Canadian arctic etc. After a very disappointing Oceania voyage that did not resemble the advertising, we advised our TA to not alert us to any cruises.

 

People should be aware there are consumers leaving the cruise industry and replacing cruising with land tours and personalized tours with private car/driver/guide.  Our TA advised, that land tours combined with personalized tours via their concierge group, is by far the fast growing part of their business.  Many of her clients have indicated an intense frustration with cruising, a frustration that was not relieved by going up the food chain - my experience.

 

Cruising is becoming Vegas at sea and the link to the ocean is disappearing; the Edge is an example. The artificial karma of new builds is designed to part guests from their money. Also, the constant cutbacks combined with increased pricing is not acceptable.  It just hit me one day that cruising is fake.

 

Another key driver for ending cruising is the dismissive behavior of cruise lines and the fact this industry is much more unregulated versus land vacation alternatives. 

 

We completed in June a land tour of Austria and Switzerland with post trips to Paris and Hamburg where we picked up the QM2. The land tour was spectacular and so well organized. Ate the best local food. The hotels were first rate. Simply the best trip I have ever taken, because I reflected, it was real.

 

If one opens up the vacation frontier to consider something other than cruising - your enjoyment will expand and you will no longer worry about what HAL or any other cruise line is doing. If you get a cruise itch, check back to CC to see what is happening and then decide.

 

 

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In reference to land tours....the problem with a 2 week land tour is that you are checking in and out of multiple hotels  and getting in and out of  cars, buses, trains, etc.  The joy of cruising  is just that....the  cruising!!! I love just being on a ship and watching up on deck as we sail away  or when we pull into port.  Maybe it is the kid in me. 

On a 2 week cruise,  you unpack just once. And if you don't want to get off at a certain port ... you don't.

 

Also, I love the combination of port and sea days. So many choices available on what to do.

 

My option in the future is to upgrade to a luxury line...perhaps  Seabourn or Silver Sea  and chose a less expensive stateroom versus a suite on HAL.

 

The cruising bug is addictive.

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We enjoy both cruising and traveling on land. On land we do not use tour companies but rather plan our own itinerary to travel independent. Doing this allows us to be in charge of how often we switch hotels, keeps us away from busses (which is too much like ship  excursions, which we avoid), and allows us to experience areas and cultures at the pace we want. 

 I totally agree with cruisetheworld’s points about cruising. We steer clear of large ships with all the entrapments - too many people and offerings we have no interest in. While Cunard/Seaborne/Crystal  have their very strong following, the formal/dress requirements are not attractive to us. We enjoy Viking (again in Oct), and we are looking forward to HAL again in May. We feel grateful to be able to travel. If at the end it isn’t an experience we would want to repeat (Carnival) we don’t repeat. But yes. We enjoy cruising and are not ready to step away from it. 

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Leaving next week for six weeks in Europe.  Independent land travel.  This is the first time over numerous trips that we have not even bothered to shop for last minute Med cruises as we have frequently done in the past.   

 

 

 

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Best of both worlds several weeks  independent touring, then 23 days where I unpack once and travel at night😎

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I find my happy place is a combination of land and sea.  There is nothing quite like being on the water on a line you are happy with.  HAL is a nice fit for me.

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Posted (edited)

I know this is simple minded (but I'm 67 so bear with me), 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 IMHO 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 just have fun, even if only for 30-45 minutes?

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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4 hours ago, bennybear said:

Best of both worlds several weeks  independent touring, then 23 days where I unpack once and travel at night😎

 

4 hours ago, *Miss G* said:

I find my happy place is a combination of land and sea.  There is nothing quite like being on the water on a line you are happy with.  

 

Agree wholeheartedly with the above. Maybe crusing stays somewhat "fresh" for me because I have always tried to mix it up with land vacations and cruises interspersed?  Generally I take 2 land trips and one cruise annually, although occasionally I've flipped that for some special reason. And often the cruises are bookended by some time in the embarkation/disembarkation cities or countries.

 

Also I sail on multiple cruise lines. I think that helps keep things fresh for me, as I enjoy variety and am not particularly keen (like some are) to have everything the same cruise after cruise. I have to admit that I'm struggling a bit right now, though, with my go-to favorite ship under charter with Road Scholar for the next 2-3 years. Trying to find another good fit is challenging me....

 

I also think there are some people who really enjoy being on the water and some who don't have any particular affinity for it, but still will cruise for the food, entertainment, and/or ability to travel without having to change hotels, arrange transport, etc. For the latter group, cruising is easily replaceable. For the former group, not so much -- there is little that is as enjoyable as leaving a port for adventures unknown or watching the ocean flow by on a sea day.

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2 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

 

Agree wholeheartedly with the above. Maybe crusing stays somewhat "fresh" for me because I have always tried to mix it up with land vacations and cruises interspersed?  Generally I take 2 land trips and one cruise annually, although occasionally I've flipped that for some special reason. And often the cruises are bookended by some time in the embarkation/disembarkation cities or countries.

 

Also I sail on multiple cruise lines. I think that helps keep things fresh for me, as I enjoy variety and am not particularly keen (like some are) to have everything the same cruise after cruise. I have to admit that I'm struggling a bit right now, though, with my go-to favorite ship under charter with Road Scholar for the next 2-3 years. Trying to find another good fit is challenging me....

 

I also think there are some people who really enjoy being on the water and some who don't have any particular affinity for it, but still will cruise for the food, entertainment, and/or ability to travel without having to change hotels, arrange transport, etc. For the latter group, cruising is easily replaceable. For the former group, not so much -- there is little that is as enjoyable as leaving a port for adventures unknown or watching the ocean flow by on a sea day.

I’m USN retired and the opportunity to be back at sea is too good to pass up. A comfortable cabin with balcony is a vast improvement on those aircraft carriers that I was on😜

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On 8/28/2019 at 8:26 PM, cruisetheworld67 said:

In reference to land tours....the problem with a 2 week land tour is that you are checking in and out of multiple hotels  and getting in and out of  cars, buses, trains, etc.  [...]

 

I'm glad that you found a vacation that fits you so well, but I am not sure that is a fair characterization of land tours.

 

We often unpack once, in London or Paris or Budapest or Rome or Washington D.C., and take day trips as well as touring the abundant sites of interest in that locale.

 

Another thing I noticed when touring places like Chichen Itza (Mexico), the original Olympiad stadium in Greece, the Colosseum in Rome, and Thingvellir in Iceland is that we stay nearby, have a leisurely breakfast and start our tour when the site opens.  We are done and leaving in late morning as the weather gets much hotter (well not in Iceland), and the buses from the cruise ships are just arriving.  Yuk!  I would not want to be part of that hot and sweaty cattle call.  

 

And one of our land vacations involved riding bicycles from Harper's Ferry, West Virginia into Pittsburgh.  We totally set our own pace without cars or buses involved.  

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the cruises I have been on, and am looking forward to another.  There is no better way to see the Panama Canal or parts of Alaska.  But I'm not going to pretend that cruises are always the best way for me to vacation.  

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3 hours ago, Naismith said:

 

I'm glad that you found a vacation that fits you so well, but I am not sure that is a fair characterization of land tours.

 

We often unpack once, in London or Paris or Budapest or Rome or Washington D.C., and take day trips as well as touring the abundant sites of interest in that locale.

 

Another thing I noticed when touring places like Chichen Itza (Mexico), the original Olympiad stadium in Greece, the Colosseum in Rome, and Thingvellir in Iceland is that we stay nearby, have a leisurely breakfast and start our tour when the site opens.  We are done and leaving in late morning as the weather gets much hotter (well not in Iceland), and the buses from the cruise ships are just arriving.  Yuk!  I would not want to be part of that hot and sweaty cattle call.  

 

And one of our land vacations involved riding bicycles from Harper's Ferry, West Virginia into Pittsburgh.  We totally set our own pace without cars or buses involved.  

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the cruises I have been on, and am looking forward to another.  There is no better way to see the Panama Canal or parts of Alaska.  But I'm not going to pretend that cruises are always the best way for me to vacation.  

 

I think cruisetheworld was comparing cruising to organized "package" tours. These are like land cruises, going from place to place. But you stay in different hotels, which means a lot of luggage shuffling. Even when I've done a trip like this in my own car,  it requires organization so that I didn't have to unpack totally every time. As the family organizer and packer, I love the convenience of a cruise.

 

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For those who love to only unpack once and enjoy land tours, who enjoy complementary wine/beer with their meals, who enjoy reasonably pricing and small ships, river cruising just might be the answer.  We have done the Normandy, Rhine, Danube, Eastern Europe, and Mekong Rivers.  Want to do Africa some day.  Loved every one of them and the experience we had.  Always docked downtown and stepped off the boat.  Bicycles were available and unlimited wine/beer served with meals.  No formal nights, but County casual for dinner.  Entertainment is from the local groups and changes with each town you are docked.  Other nights crew humor shows, piano playing with dancing if desired.    And there is a lot of competition to keep prices down low.  Amenities are actually being added each trip.  Something to think about.

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On 8/25/2019 at 2:39 PM, cowmilker said:

I don't want the gratuities included in the price because I don't want to insure that. 

 

WOW.  Great point @cowmilker

 

I had not connected those dots before.

(I only recently started buying trip insurance for vacations.) 

 

Thank you.

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On 8/28/2019 at 11:25 AM, iancal said:

Leaving next week for six weeks in Europe.  Independent land travel.  This is the first time over numerous trips that we have not even bothered to shop for last minute Med cruises as we have frequently done in the past.   

 

 

 

We cruised the Med once on Princess for 12 days many years ago,  and  we decided to never  to do a cruise around Europe again.

How can one see Florence in one day or Venice, was our conclusion.  

We decided to do Alaska, Caribbean, Panama Canal etc. type of cruising.

 

Europe is special to me and I like to immerse myself in the culture for weeks. For example, I was in Edinburgh for the second time for ten days in June, that is how I roll.

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On 8/27/2019 at 5:54 PM, cwtravel said:

My wife and I tried HAL due to many of the changes, specifically the ending of smoking on the balcony, addition of BB Kings, relaxed dress code and the updated staterooms on the Vista & Signature Class ships (have not yet tried the Pinnacle Class). We especially like the Signature Suites now.

 

The wife & I are both 58 and we tried the Zuiderdam in 2004 to the Caribbean and then the Oosterdam in 2007 to Alaska. A combo of smoke, lousy entertainment and on the Alaska cruise literally being run over by people in their scooters kept us away for 10 years. During those 10 years we took 30 other cruises primarily on Princess & Celebrity. In 2017 we took a Christmas cruise on the Westerdam, 2018 went on the Nieuw Amsterdam & are returning to the NA in November. 

 

Celebrity Has got very pricy, and we have no desire to sail on their new ships. I really like the size/price of the Signature Suites along with the service and smaller passenger size

along with a reasonable sized balcony with comfortable furniture. I also like the lack of separating suite guests with separate dining rooms and deck areas. With a little luck we hope to have another 20 or 25 years of cruising and now HAL is an option, though I doubt we will sail on the smaller ships.

 

 

 

 

We have a somewhat similar story.  We had 14 years between HAL cruises.  In that time we were mostly on RCI or X with a few Disney ones thrown in.  But, we booked the NA last Thanksgiving and were pleasantly surprised. 

 

X is still our favorite mainstream line and we enjoy Aqua class.  But, as noted, X has really raised prices of late.  We're at a point now where we book based on best bang for the buck and that is what brought us to HAL last year and is bringing us back this year as well.

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1 hour ago, Judyrem said:

We cruised the Med once on Princess for 12 days many years ago,  and  we decided to never  to do a cruise around Europe again.

How can one see Florence in one day or Venice, was our conclusion.  

We decided to do Alaska, Caribbean, Panama Canal etc. type of cruising.

 

Europe is special to me and I like to immerse myself in the culture for weeks. For example, I was in Edinburgh for the second time for ten days in June, that is how I roll.

 

After reading travel boards for many years, I've come to understand that people travel for different reasons and have different comfort levels. Some would not likely ever see Europe if they did not take a cruise; it is a very easy way to at least get a taste of what is on offer. (And some, after what they think will be a 'one and done' cruise end up coming back again and again...)

 

While I tend to agree with you regarding time in Europe being a more authentic experience via land travel, I also just plain enjoy cruising, and in particular cruising in the Med. It takes nothing away from my land travels there. You've cited one of the most difficult ports to see successfully via a cruise -- Florence -- particularly due to its location far from the nearest port, Livorno. But for every Florence, there is a Mykonos where one can get a very good sense of the place in a day.

 

Also, I take the long view. I've been on nine or ten Med cruises and have made multiple stops in some places that are not as easy to get to on land tours (e.g., Valletta, Rhodes, Cyprus).  I've been able to see and do many things on succeeding visits. And even some of the bigger cities that are very convenient to ports can be experienced in small chunks over numerous visits.

 

I look at this as a another great avenue that complements my land travel. I still spend 2 of my 3 vacations annually on land travel, and have spent weeks upon weeks in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, the U.K., and Turkey. The last is one of my favorite countries and I don't know that I would have visited and become so enamored of it had I not first visited there on a cruise. Other countries I've come back to visit as a result of exposure via cruising include Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Portugal.

 

I think any kind of travel can be a broadening experience. However one rolls, as long as one has an open mind, is fine with me.

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55 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

After reading travel boards for many years, I've come to understand that people travel for different reasons and have different comfort levels. Some would not likely ever see Europe if they did not take a cruise; it is a very easy way to at least get a taste of what is on offer. (And some, after what they think will be a 'one and done' cruise end up coming back again and again...)

 

While I tend to agree with you regarding time in Europe being a more authentic experience via land travel, I also just plain enjoy cruising, and in particular cruising in the Med. It takes nothing away from my land travels there. You've cited one of the most difficult ports to see successfully via a cruise -- Florence -- particularly due to its location far from the nearest port, Livorno. But for every Florence, there is a Mykonos where one can get a very good sense of the place in a day.

 

Also, I take the long view. I've been on nine or ten Med cruises and have made multiple stops in some places that are not as easy to get to on land tours (e.g., Valletta, Rhodes, Cyprus).  I've been able to see and do many things on succeeding visits. And even some of the bigger cities that are very convenient to ports can be experienced in small chunks over numerous visits.

 

I look at this as a another great avenue that complements my land travel. I still spend 2 of my 3 vacations annually on land travel, and have spent weeks upon weeks in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, the U.K., and Turkey. The last is one of my favorite countries and I don't know that I would have visited and become so enamored of it had I not first visited there on a cruise. Other countries I've come back to visit as a result of exposure via cruising include Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Portugal.

 

I think any kind of travel can be a broadening experience. However one rolls, as long as one has an open mind, is fine with me.

Cruisemom:

Excellent points! This coming April, my wife and I will be spending two weeks of independent travel in the Azores. Although I had always been curious about what the Azores might be like, it wasn't until we took a transatlantic cruise on the Prinsendam that we actually got to go there. We were there only one day (in Horta), but it was enough to whet our appetites for more. I can think of other places we were introduced to through cruises and then returned to for extended land stays (Lisbon, Amsterdam, St. John's Newfoundland, Lima Peru...). We still cruise---we're going on short cruises next month and in December---but after about 25 cruises we've been to most of the places we've truly wanted to see. From this point on, anything longer than two weeks is going to be an independent land-based trip.

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Cruisemom makes some excellent points about the pros and cons of cruising in a location-rich area such as Europe.  Back in June, we were on Prinsendam's final voyage for HAL.  That allowed us to visit ports such as Honningsvag, Narvik, and Tromso that would have been much more difficult to reach on a land tour.

 

But that may have been our last cruise in Europe because we are very concerned about the ecological damage cruise ships do.  We thoroughly enjoyed sailing in and out of the Bay of Kotor ten years ago.  These days, with 450 ships bringing more than half a million passengers, the Bay is an ecological disaster waiting to happen, especially when Montenegro (not an EU country) has lax environmental protections.  We hate to see the Adriatic coast go the way of the Caribbean and Southeast Alaska.  We think it best not to participate in this degradation.

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We have been at the point now for about 10+ years that the ship is the destination, we have been everywhere that was on our bucket list. Because we hate to fly but live in Florida we just take Caribbean cruises out of FLL, Miami and Tampa, the line that we get the best deal from at the time we want to go gets our business. Our 62nd cruise is coming up on the Nieuw Amsterdam on Nov. 30. and which the price was right.

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