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About iceman93

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Redondo Beach, CA
  • Interests
    Disney stuff, Texas Hold 'Em poker, wine, fine food, DJ'ing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Disney Cruise Line
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    we love them all

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274 profile views
  1. I have mixed feelings on improved suite perks. On the one hand, I used to book S and PS cabins back when all you got was a bigger cabin. And to me, that's still the main benefit. It's also frustrating that many of the benefits they've added for booking a suite are duplicated of things we get as multi-star Mariners. Finally, it does indeed reek of cheapness that they charge the same for drinks in the Neptune Lounge as they do anywhere else on the ship. So I guess I'd be okay with them stripping all additional benefits from suite bookings, but if they're going to offer benefits then I think they should truly be impressive, can't-get-elsewhere kinds of benefits.
  2. Yup, this would largely do it and is how I remember HAL being in the past (perhaps my memories are overly-romanticized, but I don't think so). Moving upmarket is a combination of hard and soft factors, and KirkNC summarized it well.
  3. My wife and I almost 50, but I don't think our desires for HAL have changed much since we first fell in love with the line when we first cruised them in our 20s. While we love modernization and new features, what appealed to us was the elegant-yet-not-stuffy on-board experience, the "classic" look of the ships (including that full promenade deck), the good (for banquet fare) food, the gracious customer service, and the interesting itineraries. HAL used to totally own that niche of the market, but over the years (decades) they've seemed to lose their vision, trying various things in misguided attempts to chase new customers. So I voted for moving a step above Princess and Celebrity, establishing that niche once again.
  4. I think the only thing Cunard is missing is the interesting itineraries, but when cruising starts up again my family may give them a shot anyway. Thanks for the tip!
  5. I completely agree! To survive, these brands will need to differentiate themselves somehow. Some will compete on lowest price, others on gee-whiz on-board experiences, etc. I *wish* HAL would position themselves as offering an elegant on-board experience with gracious service, interesting itineraries, good food, and classy entertainment. I don't think anyone else is filling that niche, and I believe in my heart that there's a market there. We can make all the stereotypical generational generalities we want, but it seems to me there are enough people of all age groups who would seek out and pay for that kind of cruise. But HAL needs to really embrace it, and make that their whole corporate vision and brand. They've spread themselves so thin over the past few years that no one (to include HAL executives) knows what the brand stands for. And I honestly don't see them surviving coronavirus if they don't latch onto a solid vision that they can focus on, and convince the buying public is worth choosing over any other line.
  6. I think the article was actually fairly well-written (and I can't say that about everything on that site). What he fails to mention, and this may just be my opinion, is that by discarding their smallest ships HAL seems to be intentionally snubbing their core clientele. Personally I think they would have better off re-flagging some of the new mega-ships to other brands under the CCL umbrella. Then they could have focused on exactly the kinds of journeys described in this article, even bragging about how their smaller ships put you in contact with fewer people therefore less COVID-19 risk (which, while not exactly accurate, is no more misleading than anything else we're all being told about the virus).
  7. The info on the HAL blog was fairly clear, but unfortunately there has not been consistent messaging from HAL reps, the website, the Cruise Atlas, etc. Given that they dorked up the Oosterdam sailings so badly (and, as reported by a CruiseCritic member who was actually on the sailing, it had NOTHING to do with high demand for the arcade which therefore calls the blog post's credibility into question), and they haven't put forth a clear and consistent position since, it's simply not worth the risk to me (and apparently at least one other cruiser who cancelled today for the same reason).
  8. Interesting data point: when I called to cancel the person on the other end of the phone was quite gracious. She went over all the details (to make sure she was cancelling the right cruise, I suppose) and even joked that for what we were paying for the cruise we should just buy our own ship! Exaggeration, of course, but then she asked if I minded saying why were cancelling. I explained that there have been some changes to the kids' programs on board and so HAL no longer worked for our family. She told me I was her second caller this morning who had cancelled a cruise for that reason, and then she asked if she could ask me a few more questions because she wanted to "run this up the flagpole". I told her that the shift away from Club HAL, starting with the Maasdam, was troubling and that there's been a lot of confusion about the upcoming video game arcade and whether it will be a supplement to or a replacement for traditional Club HAL activities. She hadn't heard that there was no Club HAL on the Maasdam or that the arcade concept was rolling out (not surprising, I suppose, but my impression is that in the past HAL reps were more knowledgeable about their product), and asked to put me on hold. I told her that if she could confirm, and send to me in writing, that there would be the equivalent of Club HAL activities, counselors, etc. on my sailing that I would happily keep the booking. She put me on hold for about fifteen minutes and then came back with the bad news: she spoke with several different supervisors and managers, none of whom gave her the same answer as to the future of children's programming on HAL ships. She said she understood then why I was confused and disappointed, and she processed the cancellation.
  9. Well, I just cancelled next summer's cruise and decided to get our deposits back rather than transfer them to another future booking. I'm not liking the direction HAL is going regarding children's programming, so we'll just choose other vacation options for now. Maybe once my youngest is out of the house, my wife and I will start sailing HAL again, but that's at least 12 years away. I'm not trying to get anyone else to change their travel choices or to start a debate about kids on nice cruises, but I am saddened by this. My wife and I started sailing HAL amost 25 years ago, when we were young and childless. We fell in love with the elegant experience, and have rolled with the punches as things have changed over time--some for the better and some for the worse. Then when we started having kids, they also enjoyed the HAL experience, part of which was their enjoyment of Club HAL. On our last cruise we had some issues with the Club HAL staff, particularly the director who was a fairly nasty person (I wrote a letter to HAL about this and got a boilerplate reply). But our littlest one still looked forward to future Club HAL experiences. We originally booked a 14-day Alaska cruise on the Maasdam, but then found out that ship was dedicated to "EXC voyages" and so no children's programming would be provided at all. Okay, kind of disappointing, but we switched to another sailing in Europe. Now there's been all this drama lately regarding the video arcade and whether it will augment or replace Club HAL. People seem to keep getting different answers from corporate, none of which includes a clear answer. We got our Cruise Atlas in the mail last week, and it does not mention Club HAL at all. There was a page with vague language about "a variety of supervised children's activities", which did not fill me with confidence. What, specifically, would be offered on our sailing? I wrote an e-mail to HAL a month ago and never got a response. So this family of two adult 4-star mariners, and two kids (3-star and 2-star mariners themselves) are going to take our business elsewhere. We book PS cabins, so it's not a small chunk of change. HAL is of course free to do whatever they want, and perhaps they will be more profitable by shifting away from the family market. But my fear is that the vagueness and uncertainty in this area is like the rest of the line--corporately there seems to be no strong vision for what HAL is or should be. I used to get it--elegant, traditional cruising with wonderful itineraries, fantastic staff, good food, and enough on-board activities to keep one busy while still allowing plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy amazing ports of call. What is HAL today, and tomorrow? I don't know, but not the cruise line for my family, unfortunately.
  10. Although it seems even HAL itself doesn't know what they're doing. This website (https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/onboard-activities/cruise-activities/club-hal.html) has conflicting information. Near the top it says Club HAL is offered on board all ships except for ms Maasdam. then just below it says Club HAL® Youth Program is offered on the following ships Eurodam Koningsdam Maasdam Nieuw Amsterdam Nieuw Statendam Noordam Rotterdam Veendam Westerdam Zaandam Zuiderdam Notice that it lists the Maasdam but not the Oosterdam...
  11. That response is VERY concerning, Tapi. I filled my wife in about this thread and these discussions. She's about ready to cancel our Veendam cruise next summer just because we can't be sure Club HAL will still be around--it's a big deal to our elementary school-aged daughter, and the reason we already switched away from the Maasdam. We're both 4* Mariners; our high-school aged daughter is 3*. The Veendam cruise alone is $60k. It seems like a bad business decision to alienate us as future customers, but if their decision is that they don't really want families on board, then we'll vacation elsewhere.
  12. In another thread someone posted that the Nieuw Amsterdam was the next ship to get Club HAL replaced with High Score. I haven't seen that info posted anywhere else; is it corroborated? The HAL website only talks about the Oosterdam; nothing about "coming soon to the rest of the fleet" or anything like that.
  13. Have you considered Disney Cruise Line? It seems to check all the boxes and then some...
  14. You summed it up very well, iancal. I had booked the PS on the Maasdam for a 14-day Alaska cruise next summer, but when HAL sent a note saying it would be a special "EXC voyage" with no Club HAL (and then subsequently updated the website to say there would no longer be Club HAL on the Maasdam at all), I was able to change my plans. We're currently booked in the PS on the Veendam for a 14-day European cruise next summer for a not insubstantial chunk of change. If HAL gets rid of Club HAL, I'll be disappointed and will just stop sailing them. But if I were to find out after boarding, as the OP did, that the Club HAL I was promised (and that, like the OP, is part of the reason for booking HAL in the first place) was gone and replaced with a far inferior option, I would be incensed.
  15. Agreed, oaktreerb. In fact, it seems like her entire litany of complaints are the kinds of non-problems that make cruise lines numb to serious complaint letters.
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