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  1. Like many others on this thread, we also enjoy a feeling of quiet elegance and sophistication on HAL. We particularly value the friendliness and professionalism of the predominantly Dutch, Philippino and Indonesian staff and crew. In addition, a wraparound promenade deck is essential to us, and most if not all HAL ships have one. We like the medium size of the ships and the by-and-large stunningly beautiful interiors. We enjoy the peaceful, relatively child-free environment on board, and the large cabins and balconies, with the exception, or so I’ve heard, of the balconies on the Koningsdam? We enjoy daily afternoon tea, and find the food in both the buffet and the dining room consistently excellent in terms of variety and quality. We very much value free room service, as well. We appreciate and consistently benefit from HAL’s Best Price Guarantee for excursions, which I conclude that the posters who lament HAL’s excursion pricing must be unfamiliar with. HAL will match any competitive excursion price for its ship excursions and offer the difference between the cheaper price and HAL’s price as onboard credit. It is a simple and attractive program we have often taken advantage of, allowing us to take HAL excursions at prices lower than HAL advertises. (Regarding the ship leaving behind any late passengers NOT on ship-sponsored excursions: as most cruisers know, not only HAL, but ALL cruise lines have this same policy.) We miss the strong emphasis on Dutch cruising traditions which we came to value on our HAL cruises in the 1980’s. We feel that some valuable traditions and therefore some consistency of ship culture have been sacrificed an effort to “modernize” and to attract, so far seemingly less than successfully, a younger cruising demographic. This has, to us, resulted in a shipboard culture that seems to not know exactly what it wants to be. We saw on our recent cruises how popular B B King‘s Blues Club was, but we ourselves could not enter the small venue due to the excessive volume of the music. This us why it surprises me when posters talk about how much they enjoy the quiet atmosphere on HAL but also love B B King’s. Overall, we still find HAL gives us the most overall enjoyment and value for our cruising dollar.
  2. Unconventional challenge — ugh, not again - it’s become SO conventional!!! And the Christmas theme did not improve it one bit, imo. That being said, I loved the top two designs: the basket/wrapping paper one for its originality...and the tailoring!!! How did he do that with wrapping paper???! — and the red petal dress for sheer impact and shapeliness. I feel they sent home the wrong designer. I thought Alan’s skirt, at least, was flattering and interesting, and the judges needed to keep in mind that it is not snowy and cold everywhere at Christmas, so a “bare” look is not entirely out of the question. Tyler’s look, imo, was nothing - no style, horrible shape, completely unwearable. Yet he stayed. I’m not happy.
  3. I have checked HAL’s website for evidence of email addresses for Ship Coordinators and found nothing. Can you tell me where these addresses can be found? Thanks!
  4. Thanks so much! We’ve been sailing with HAL for over a decade and never knew of that website! And that’s why I love Cruise Critic 😁
  5. This sounds like a great system! May I ask: 1. Where online can the dining room layout, with table numbers, be found? 2. How do I get access to any given HAL ship’s Coordinator? Thanks!
  6. It seems you and many others have found, as we have, that staff members’ willingness to accommodate passenger requests varies. This is why generally on these boards posters recommend developing a cordial relationship with particular staff members who seem accommodating, then, of course, tipping accordingly. 😁
  7. On our spring Oosterdam cruise, and last year’s Eurodam cruise, the policy for happy hour specials for beer/cider was that they did not have to be the same drink, but they had to be the same PRICE. Different servers may interpret the policy differently.
  8. When we were on Oosterdam in March 2019, there was an extra charge ($10 or $15, don’t remember) in the MDR for a second entree on Gala night only.
  9. My thoughts exactly - I think his win was basically ALL Christian. Now I am VERY curious to see whether Jamall revolutionizes his design methods after having success by letting go!
  10. As a viewer, I am not concerned about the "fairness" of the competition as long as the participants are fully informed about the rules. And they MUST be informed or Bravo would leave itself open to lawsuits, it seems to me. I am watching for the entertainment value, and Bravo is presenting the show for that purpose -- that is the business they are in. Regarding the "Street Looks" episode -- I guess I have no idea what "street wear" is -- don't folks wear anything and everything on the street? The designs were so "all over the place" that I still feel I have no idea what street wear is -- though of course I could Google the term to see if there is an agreed-upon definition in the fashion industry. So often on PR if the designers work with or are introduced to someone in the industry, they get a portfolio of their looks, which certainly would have helped me as well as Colombian and Syrian designers who had no clue what street wear is in the US. To some extent I agree with jklc123, since it seemed to me that for this particular challenge, Kovid's look, though bad, was at least finished and had a "story" behind it (even though the story really had nothing to do with the challenge). Jamall's "tea party" dress -- as Christian rightly described it -- had absolutely nothing to do with street style (or any style at all, IMO). His overly-philosophical "I'm going to create a luxurious Baroque-style dress to show what kind of life people like me could never have had in the past but now can" backstory resulted in an ugly, ill-fitting and unfinished mess! I really felt badly for him that though he chose a fabric everyone seemed to say was beautiful, he never, ever changed his plan about what to do with it -- even after Christian's straight-arrow critique. We'll see how long he lasts in the competition. But as long as I've watched PR (many, many seasons) there was always a bit of an inconsistency in the judging -- was elimination based on the specific look for that challenge, or on the potential the judges felt the designer had to do better in spite of one particular failure? In this case the judges seemed to have decided based on the latter. That being said, I was thrilled to see that whiny, self-centered little baby Kovid gone. I never cared for his designs or his personality, which seemed to be featured on every episode, while others -- Sonia, for example -- have been almost completely ignored. I am beginning to wonder if I should expect that the designer who gets the most camera time on each episode is the one who is going to be eliminated immediately, or soon... it seemed to happen in the first episode as well -- the elimination of Cavanagh Baker.
  11. I did not recommend, I suggested. You will have to take that up with the uniformed HAL employee who said we could use it.
  12. I am curious about when you have suffered long lines getting onboard HAL ships; this has never been our experience. For what it’s worth: in February we embarked from Ft. Lauderdale. After a quick check-in (no line whatsoever) we went to talke a seat to wait for our group number to be called to board. We realized there was an elevator directly in front of us, so we asked if we could use it. We were told yes, so we skipped waiting behind groups moving up the escalator, bypassed the line waiting to have their welcome aboard photo taken — we always avoid that — and were onboard in a flash. Maybe you could try that.
  13. Oooh, I really was not happy with the most recent episode - the Survival one. It seemed cruel to me to not only force the designers to sleep and work in 40 degree temperatures (lower at night!) with wind and rain, but to require the models to strip in the cold wind several times to be fitted, then walk the runway and stand freezing and shivering while the outfits were being critiqued and discussed. Horrible!!! I did not think the looks that met the survival challenge were attractive at all, and the attractive ones were completely non- survivable! Bad, bad episode, IMO.
  14. As I mentioned in my original post, we were told by crew members that the crew shows had been dropped from 7-night cruises but might still be available on longer ones. Really, though, crew members aren’t good sources of info about the reasons behind decisions nor about what may be happening on other ships, even ones they may recently have worked on, since policies change.
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