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dan6681

What have I Gotten Myself Into?

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I was hoping for a nice quiet week in the Caribbean on HAL, so we booked the N Amsterdam sailing on the 11th of January.  I have just found out that this is the MercyMe, Christian Rock Band cruise, that this band puts on every year.  Now, I think it's great that these fans can get together and have a good time, but this is definitely not my cup of tea.  So my question here is, what can I do to minimize this disrupting my relaxation :-)?  Also,  it seems to me the cruise lines don't make it easy to find out about these partial group charters.  I suppose I can see why.  I would not have booked this cruise knowing what I know now.  Is there a comprehensive list to reference before booking me next cruise?  Themecruisefinder.com for example seems to be dependent upon an organization listing their cruise.

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If it’s any help to you a set of friends booked an Alaska cruise tour on NA a few years back and we’re on with Insight for Living (also set up through Inspiration Cruises). While they were on for only 4 days they were totally unaware of the big group.
Other people have had different experiences with cruise interruptions caused by big groups.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you both.  That is a very helpful list and experience!  Also, it seems like this group has most of their activities from 5:30p-7:30p, then they've booked out the Main Dining Room for 8:00p.  That is fine with me.  I like to eat around 6p, so I have waitlisted for early seating, and will check with the maitre d upon embarkation.  Any other tips?

Edited by dan6681

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WE were on a cruise a few years ago with a large group.  We really didn't notice them other than many times there would be large groups of people moving in the main areas, headed to some planned event.  The bartenders were actually exceptionally attentive, because many of the religious groups don't drink so the bar areas aren't as busy, and you can actually find a seat to listen to the piano player!  Just get your mind set that you are going to have a great cruise, and you will!  You probably won't even notice this group.  Bon Voyage!

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If you run into a situation where eating in the MDR is unpleasant, HAL has a service that few other cruise lines have. You can order a complete dinner off the MDR menu for that night, and have it delivered to your room. There is no extra charge for this.

You first check out that nights menu, then call the MDR in the afternoon and place your order. You can order anything off the menu including hors d'oeuvres and deserts. You tell them when you want it, and it always shows up on time.

We do this all the time, because we find it very pleasant to have dinner in our room, or if the weather is good, on our veranda.

Since we always have anytime dinning, this eliminates waiting around the MDR for a table for 2, and we can eat at any hour we feel like.

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That is a great point about the Bar areas VT!  Tom, do you know if you can have dinner brought to a Cabana if one has been rented for the cruise?

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10 minutes ago, dan6681 said:

That is a great point about the Bar areas VT!  Tom, do you know if you can have dinner brought to a Cabana if one has been rented for the cruise?

 

Service ends at 5:00 pm in The Retreat.  If you don’t mind an early meal you could request items from the open venues (Lido Market, Dive-In, NY Pizza) from your Stewards and they will bring them.

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Partial Charters can be very problematic for other guests due to reserved venues.  On my Zuiderdam Alaska cruise, there was a large religious group on board who had the Crows Nest Reserved every day at different hours.  As you can imagine, not being able to access the Crows Nest when cruising Alaska was very infuriating.   

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54 minutes ago, dan6681 said:

Tom, do you know if you can have dinner brought to a Cabana if one has been rented for the cruise?

I don't know, as I have never had a Cabana, and know little about them.

Miss G mentioned that Cabana services stop at 5:00 pm. But dinner from the MDR is delivered by room service, an entirely different entity. I would call and ask them if it could be delivered to a cabana and see what happens.

The delivery people like delivering dinner, because they usually get a much larger tip than usual.

I usually give them $5 for the trouble, but if they are willing to go to a cabana, it might be worth more than that.

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We had the same group with us on the Koningsdam a few years ago.  It was a very large group, and when they moved from one place to another around the ship it was quite noticeable as we pretty much had to stop and wait for them to pass so we could continue on. Other than that, the Crows Nest was closed once when our roll call group wanted to get together there and sometimes the main stage was closed too.  Now I check the thread mentioned earlier before booking a cruise.  It didn't ruin our cruise but it did have an impact on us.

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2 hours ago, Tom O. said:

If you run into a situation where eating in the MDR is unpleasant, HAL has a service that few other cruise lines have. You can order a complete dinner off the MDR menu for that night, and have it delivered to your room. There is no extra charge for this.

You first check out that nights menu, then call the MDR in the afternoon and place your order. You can order anything off the menu including hors d'oeuvres and deserts. You tell them when you want it, and it always shows up on time.

We do this all the time, because we find it very pleasant to have dinner in our room, or if the weather is good, on our veranda.

Since we always have anytime dinning, this eliminates waiting around the MDR for a table for 2, and we can eat at any hour we feel like.

 

 

TomO, thanks.  That's one of the finer tips I've learned here on CC.  I dislike eating in the MDR in the evenings  because of the noise levels. I wear hearing aids and even as high tech as they are, they amplify everything - including the background noise.  She Who Must Be Obeyed insists on eating in the MDR for dinner and we always get a table for two so that we can converse.  When I cruise solo, I'm happy in the buffet in the evenings, but your tip will give me another option on my next HAL cruise.

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6 minutes ago, SargassoPirate said:

 

 

TomO, thanks.  That's one of the finer tips I've learned here on CC.  I dislike eating in the MDR in the evenings  because of the noise levels. I wear hearing aids and even as high tech as they are, they amplify everything - including the background noise.  She Who Must Be Obeyed insists on eating in the MDR for dinner and we always get a table for two so that we can converse.  When I cruise solo, I'm happy in the buffet in the evenings, but your tip will give me another option on my next HAL cruise.

It is one of those unadvertised benefits. I have never seen information on this service written down anywhere on the HAL website or literature. I learned about it here on CC, just as you have. On our last two HAL cruises we had all our dinners brought to our room, except for a couple of trips to the Pinnacle Grill.

By the way, if you want to try a couple of items from the Pinnacle Grill in your room, there are some items on the room service menu. These are extra cost, of course, but they are cheaper than actually going to the Pinnacle Grill.

Also, if you like to have wine with your dinner, it would be wise to buy a bottle of your favorite wine for use in your stateroom

 

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2 hours ago, Tom O. said:

Miss G mentioned that Cabana services stop at 5:00 pm. But dinner from the MDR is delivered by room service, an entirely different entity. I would call and ask them if it could be delivered to a cabana and see what happens.

 

I guess what is inherent in the end-of-service for the Cabanas is that no one is available to clean up afterward.  (They make sure everything is cleaned up and packed away before they leave.  Can’t have items breaking and causing injury.) I agree that it doesn’t hurt to ask room service to see what they say.  An alternative is to contact Ship Services as they manage the Cabana pre-sales:

 

1-800-541-1576

hal_ship_services@ hollandamerica.com

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Posted (edited)

We know some people who were on the Nieuw Statendam  recently.  There was also a large group sailing on that cruise, and their large numbers prevented our friends from getting into the ATK as well as BB King's.   I was not on that cruise, and other CC posters on the same cruise never mentioned the problem, so perhaps they did not try those venues or were able to get seats.   IDK

Edited by Walfam

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From the looks of the prices for this cruise on their website- One can pretty much assume that these passengers have probably paid twice as much as any of us would for this cruise.  Groups can be difficult to deal with, but HAL has such a great reputation for excellent service, that I bet you won't even know they are on board!  They treat everyone like a special guest.  Just try to enjoy your vacation and don't sweat the small stuff!

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Posted (edited)

We'll have RoadScholars on our Zaandam cruise the end of May.  I doubt we'll  be able to tell them apart from everyone else, including my wife and me.  Since they schedule full activity days, they'll probably even be asleep before us.

Edited by Oregonpoppa
grammar

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1 hour ago, Oregonpoppa said:

We'll have RoadScholars on our Zaandam cruise the end of May.  I doubt we'll  be able to tell them apart from everyone else, including my wife and me.  Since they schedule full activity days, they'll probably even be asleep before us.

 

I've cruised with Road Scholars before.  They are a small group, probably only 30 - 50 people.  You probably won't even notice them.  Occasionally, they had a meeting/lecture in a venue, like the Wajang theatre, prior to a public event like Bingo.  We had to wait a wee bit for them to clear the theatre before entering.  Not a big deal at all.  Enjoy your cruise!

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We cruised the Caribbean with the same group last January on the Oosterdam.  I heard the group was about 900 strong.  They had the late seating in the MDR and wore large name tags.  Other than that, I didn't observe anything different other than the three port changes we had due to weather conditions. 🙁

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9 hours ago, I like vacation said:

We cruised the Caribbean with the same group last January on the Oosterdam.  I heard the group was about 900 strong.  They had the late seating in the MDR and wore large name tags.  Other than that, I didn't observe anything different other than the three port changes we had due to weather conditions. 🙁

We too were on this cruise.  We had no idea we were booked on with the MercyMe group until we arrived at the Terminal and saw the sea of matching shirts.  They had a lot of scheduled events throughout the day so they were occupied elsewhere much of the time - which made more room and more available services throughout the ship.  

And yes, the missed ports was a total bummer that cruise.  Mother nature showed no Mercy!

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