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About LoveHAL

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    San Antonio, TX
  • Interests
    Theater, Historic Preservation, Classical Music
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Any cruise with more at sea days than in port.

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  1. My wife and I returned home yesterday from the MS Zaandam's South America/Antarctica 22-day cruise. I usually not all that impressed with HAL's mainstage evening entertainment, often finding it dull. BUT, on this cruise, I found the guest entertainers, a variety of singers, dancers, musician, comedian, juggler, and magician were fun and quite entertaining. As an aside, many of the entertainers were from South America. In my opinion, they were far and away the best that I have ever seen on HAL. Again, my opinion only, the Cast Shows were the same old same old... a group of talented singers and dancers that had to deal with less than imaginative choreography and song selection. Of course, the small stage doesn't give much room for the dancers to move around much. There were only four of these shows, so there were plenty of evenings to really enjoy, and I did. The band in the Ocean Bar was quite good, but the BIG win was the Piano Bar, featuring JAMM. He is amazing. He did share that, when the ship went into dry dock in the near future, The Mix/Piano Bar would be enlarged and go to the Billboard on Board style of two pianos (in the few times I have seen the concept, it was mostly "fixed sets" of music and not as much interaction with the audience. The Explorer's Lounge Adagio classical group of Violin and Piano were not the best duo we have heard on the "smaller ships", and certainly no where near the enjoyment of the Lincoln Center Stage groups my wife and I have heard on the larger ships. The number of people that seemed to attend the performances seemed to be far from "Standing Room Only". All of the above is just one person's opinion. But I departed the cruise with a very positive feeling about the post-dinner hours on board the Zaandam.
  2. Just off the Zaandam's South America/Antarctica 22-day adventure. The Orange Party was held on one of the final evenings of the cruise at 10 pm. Band, dancing, officers etc. About half way thru the cruise the gift shop started offering Orange Party Tee Shirts, Hats, and a few other items. Most were offered at 2 for $20. The event is fun and it seemed that everyone in attendance had a wonderful time. While it isn't necessary to wear orange, why not "get in with the party" and dance. The late night start is probably set (10pm) to permit late seating passengers to have dinner, catch the show in the show room, and then move directly to the Orange Party.
  3. Or, you could order the drink (s) at a bar and bring them up to your cabin verandah.
  4. Hard to believe it has been a year since the Premier Cruise. It was an exceptional experience. Have already booked passage on the Ryndam's Premier cruise. Have no idea of itinerary nor pricing, but want to be part of the excitement of a new ship. Happy Birthday Nieuw Statendam! May you continue to have smooth sailings and happy passengers and crew.
  5. My opinion; the luncheon really this isn't a big deal, BUT it is a Mariner Perk. There usually is a greeter at the dining room entrance, and I have seen times where they check the invitation. I always bring mine with me. So, letting your guests know about the perk for Mariners shows them HAL does value it's Mariners. It just might encourage them to return for another HAL cruise.
  6. $359 (just over $50 a day) for a 7-day cruise and you are looking for On-Board Credit or a cabin upgrade because of missing Half Moon Cay? Wow.
  7. FYI, I booked space on the Ryndam's inaugural voyage on May 14, 2019 thru my personal cruise consultant at HAL using a previously purchased Future Cruise Deposit. At the time, no price, cabin assignment, specific date (but know it is May, 2021) nor itinerary. The previous Ryndam was our first HAL cruise (2002) and we were on the Premier Voyage of the Nieuw Statendam. So I knew that we had to apart of the special cruise of this Ryndam. We do know that the itinerary will be Western Europe, but are looking forward to learning about the length and ports of this "Maiden Voyage". The point being, to the best of my knowledge, HAL has been taking "reservations" on the Ryndam's maiden voyage for some time.
  8. Well, the title that got your attention! I started cruising when I was 17 years old, realizing how fortunate I was to have this wonderful experience. In 2002 I discovered Holland America on a 7-day Alaska cruise. Since then, HAL has been my exclusive cruise company (35-cruises, five star mariner). Why? A quality product for a reasonable price. I have always started every cruise with a positive attitude, and realized that not everything can be perfect. Regardless what we do in life, things can go wrong. Gosh darn, they don't want to give me TWO main courses for dinner. The prices on drinks have gone up. They no longer provide this or that. The ships are showing wear, or I hate the larger ships. Soon after my first HAL cruise I discovered Cruise Critic. It was a place to share information and, meet people prior to the cruise , and on occasion, save some money on private excursions. Roll Calls have been a wonderful resource for me. BUT, it seems that over the past few years, Cruise Critic has turned into a place where many people have become so negative about seemingly everything HAL management does. In my opinion, the enjoyment and benefit of this Forum has declined significantly. Sure, not everything is perfect, but there are a number of Cruise Critic members that seemingly NEVER have anything positive to say. You know who you/they are..... "Orlando is trying to ruin the company"; "HAL is nickel and diming us"; "They are taking away....."; How can I sneak on alcohol or will HAL carry on my cases of waters/soda? At the end of the cruise, why doesn't HAL pay me back in cash the on-board credit that they didn't buy, but that HAL as given to them? , and so many other things. The irony is that they seem to continue to cruise with HAL (how else would they know what is going on now?). They continue to look for the cheapest fare (nothing wrong there), but still expect all the things they got in the "good old days". My question is, if it is so bad, why complain so much? Why not just spend your travel dollars elsewhere? Or, is it just fun to complain?
  9. Not sure which ship you booked for 7/14 Alaska, but looking at HAL website today, there are two ships sailing that date out of Vancouver. Pricing for inside guarantee is either $325 or $345 per person (plus fees/taxes) or just about $50 per person per day. At that price, I certainly can understand providing free gratuities of $14.50 per day (bringing your daily cost for lodging/food/and other available services down to around $35 per day. It seems like you got a great deal on a last minute booking. Enjoy the deal, keeping in mind that HAL is a company that, to stay in business, does have to make a profit. Something to learn from the experience, book with a HAL agent or TA rather than on-line. This way you get to talk to someone and confirm what you think you have. You also get a name of someone if there is a problem.
  10. Pertaining to gratuities, the above answer is incorrect. While I do not know about casino credits, On-Board Credits can certainly can be used for Hotel Service Charges (gratuities).
  11. Could it be that people are tired about reading how much is missing from HAL? Could it be that people are tired about seeing the same topics/questions and answers repeated? When preparing for a vacation (a wonderful cruise) I always keep in mind how lucky I am. It amazes me to see how many people look for all the bad things. It turns people (myself included) off. I see more and more of that on Cruise Critic. Shouldn't we just consider ourselves lucky that we can take a vacation? By the way, on the Wdam's Trans-Atlantic crossing (April 28th) there are currently 158 names on our roll-call. I am expecting one heck of a turn out for the Meet and Greet that I am coordinating. It is true, sea days equal a more active roll-call because many people like to share activities (book groups, cabin crawls, card games, tours). Having said that, I grow weary reading all of the negative posts and attitudes. Often I mumble to myself, "if HAL is so bad and/or isn't like it use to be, why don't they move on to another cruise line?" Sorry for the venting -
  12. Boy, all of this discussion and fret about what "one person said". On 34 cruises I have never had a problem having an open bottle of wine sent from the Main Dining Room to another restaurant. This was certainly not the case on the Nieuw Statendam in December, 2018. In fact, on the NS I asked our wine steward to send an open bottle to the Pinnacle Grill for the next night. Once in the PG the wine steward said he couldn't find the half bottle and rather than wait for the bottle to be located in the Main Dining Room, and delivered a full bottle to us instead. Pretty amazing service. On the other Beverage Card issue. A few days into the Nieuw Statendam voyage, we received a written notice that the Beverage Card would no longer be valid and that the remaining value would be transferred as a credit on our account. If unused by the end of the cruise, we would receive a refund of the balance. Never told if this was a one-time glitch on the NS (it was the Premier Voyage and the cards were not on-board upon boarding.) A notice saying they would be delivered at the first port - and were and they worked for a couple of days. -- As an aside, the two beverage cards we had were actually obtained via our HAL Visa Card points program. So it was a wonderful deal.
  13. Depends on the ship. On the Nieuw Statendam, they share the space with the BB King group. So, on the Premiere Voyage there were three sets a day (with some days off) and they were all in the early evening or the late afternoon. They were always finished by 8 p.m. so room could be reset for the evening entertainment.
  14. My wife and I were on the Premiere Voyage. The music walk entertainment in all rooms was amazing - suitable and enjoyed by ALL ages on board. There were two shows in the World Stage presented by the Step One Dance Company. The World Stage (Humanity & Steps) was full, and the shows were top of the line (and I love live theater and have not been impressed with HAL's Cast Shows in the past). The other guest performers were fair to average. The Music Walk was jumping till midnight each night of the 14-day cruise. Add to that the Lincoln Center Stage classical music mid-day and early evening and there was certainly plenty to do every evening. The problem was deciding which room to go to. The Nieuw Statendam (and I suspect the Koningsdam) are game changers for HAL. For those that like lots of evening activity, I would stay away for the older/smaller ships and book cruises on the Vista Class (ie: Zuiderdam/Westerdam) and newer. Certainly HAL is no longer is a cruise company for only older folks that shut down at 10 pm. By the way, I am 72 years old. To answer the original question, in my opinion I think the original poster will have a have a very enjoyable time on the Nieuw Statendam. As an after thought, I am amazed at how many Cruise Critic posters that have never been on a particular ship or class of ships (ie Pinnacle) make statements about how the new ship WILL be. It seems to me that HAL is making changes to appeal to all ages of passengers, and in my opinion, that is a very good thing to assure that HAL will be in existence for years to come.
  15. Have no idea where this comment comes from. I was on the ship and found it to be quite open, with plenty of space to enjoy the ocean.
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