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jaguarstyper

HAL is starting to lose me

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..... I don't ever recall seeing the prices I have been seeing offered recently. As low as $349pp for 7 night Caribbean itinerary. But, it seems that HAL has had to do this in order to fill up the boat.

......

I will be on potentially my last HAL cruise in 5 more days. It just so happens to be the one that they have been offering the really low fares. What I am wondering is whether or not there will be even more cutbacks and reductions on this particular cruise due to the lower fares they were forced to collect. .....

 

It would be interesting to confirm how many cabins actually were sold at that low price or whether it was merely a marketing gimmick since some HAL ships have a very few cabins as a very low price mark, but they quickly get sold out and the actual cabins available are at the more standard costs.

 

It is perhaps premature to extrapolate so much of one's expectations about an upcoming cruise one's upcoming cruise based solely upon a marketing ad offer without actual facts.

 

I hope you have a wonderful time. HAL has not disappointed us at all in our past four years even though we have seen changes too, with as many for the better as some less so - like more silk flowers instead of real ones.

 

As long as the itineraries remain the best in the business for us and the special HAL staff courtesy level remains the same making HAL such a comfortable fit for us, we will just rock and roll with the rest of the variable details we also see from time to time.

 

We got lured into our first Crystal Cruise seeing a 50% off ad in the WSJ so we jumped on what we thought was a "bargain". Only later did we learn Crystal always uses this gimmick. Their "list price" is always twice their advertised "special price". I notice all ships do this - a brochure price and their "special price". Yet when we once called Oceania for the "special mailer price" for a TA, we were told those cabins had already been sold out. So for far less we found a HAL TA cruise for twice as long for the price of Oceania's non-existent special.

 

And I believe HAL has four "HH" (?) class rooms which are their bottom priced offering which is "truth in advertising" when they offer those, but only four people actually will get them while others get a visit from the upgrade fairy.

Edited by SwissMyst

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We found the hyper-service on Crystal ships cloying, intrusive, insincere and annoying. One of the first things we noticed on HAL ships was the service is discrete, unobtrusive, more do-it-yourself if this is what one wants, and genuinely delivered when actually in need. No, HAL service is not always perfect, but it is always serviceable. We did like Crystal's lovelier, refined decor though, but little else. HAL's current level of service suits us just fine.
I did one cruise on Seabourn and found their service to be incredible. Wait staff in the dining room seemed to anticipate your every thought and desire. The room steward was invisible, but the room was always (ALWAYS) immaculate. I swear he was hiding under the bed or behind the couch. If you asked for something, it was delivered, immediately, every single time, but most of the time, you didn't have to ask, they asked you. As soon as you sit down in the dining room you are asked if you would like a drink. Why, yes I would love one. Its there in less than a minute. Would you like a cup of coffee? Why, yes I would love one, OK, here it is, enjoy. Why can I not get a scotch on the rocks before dinner in the MDR on HAL? Why can't I get a cup of coffee in the MDR on HAL without asking for it three times? :confused:

 

Unfortunately, I cannot really afford to cruise on Seabourn as often as I want to cruise. So, I may have to limit the amount of cruising I do in the future.

Edited by jaguarstyper

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It would be interesting to confirm how many cabins actually were sold at that low price or whether it was merely a marketing gimmick since some HAL ships have a very few cabins as a very low price mark, but they quickly get sold out and the actual cabins available are at the more standard costs.

 

You keep saying this is a gimmick....oh trust me this is far from a gimmick. I think it is possible you do not understand how HAL now sells their guarantee flash cabins. I personally know of several that have taken advantage of this price. In the past I have gone into great detail explaining how their flash guarantee pricing works and in handing out the cabin assignments. HAL is probably the only line that you get a very good deal as far as cabin assignment when you purchase a Guarantee. You are not limited to that category that low price is classified in. I do however agree that many luxury lines advertise baisally a gimmick with the two for one and TA's have been complaining about that for a few years now.

Edited by LAFFNVEGAS

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.......

Unfortunately, I cannot really afford to cruise on Seabourn as often as I want to cruise. So, I may have to limit the amount of cruising I do in the future.

 

You nailed it. Our choice was to sail twice as much on HAL ships for the sacrifices in service levels on the more pricy brands. But even Crystal "slipped" between our two cruisings, so go figure. Which we actually preferred since they got our of our faces more this last time.

 

But there were still some shabbier service flaws on Crystal like the non-existent new "cheese concierge" and the fact that only he could offer the cheese menu so since he was in fact the maitre d' as well, as long as he was fawning over other passengers, no cheese was available after dinner. Is that flawless Crystal service for the extra premium cruising price? Don't think so.

 

Before the Crystal waiter could offer the cheese and serve it. So was bragging about having a "cheese concierge" a service upgrade or a service down-grade? Lesson learned: even the premium luxury cruise lines have their glitches and missteps.

 

And back to HAL, they have definitely upgraded the MDR cheese offerings in the past few years so no complaints in this department at all with this positive change in level of service.

Edited by SwissMyst

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If HAL gives me the same quality of service and product I received on my only other HAL cruise I will be very pleased. If I even get what I have received from Carnival in a more civil ambiance I will be pleased.

 

Older human beings have a tendency to be optimistic about the past (remembering the good old days) and younger ones the future, so I will take the warnings I have received here and see what the present holds. I may not remember or have experienced some of the little things others have but I might also appreciate and be delighted by some newer things.

 

These companies are in business to make profit but they also realize that they are a service industry and without good service they will no longer be needed. While I am certain that some things have gone forever I am also certain new things have come along that will make things easier or more enjoyable.

 

HAL has older ships and have already paid for them so they can afford to offer lower prices or give additional services than a lot of their competitors. If they are truly a service company worthy of survival I will see that, if not I will see that too and move on.

 

Statistically there will be some that have horrible experiences and some will have great ones and much is decided on how your attitude is. Like first love some of the excitement, glamor and newness of cruising will wear away. But like love, as your experiences mature you find comfort and reassurance with time and cruises.

 

The world is changing and if that change affects your assurance or your level of comfort, you will not be happy. I am going with an open mind and hopefully will fall in love with HAL all over again.

 

Familiarity does breed contempt and newness begets wonder. I am looking forward to the new HAL and hope that wonder is renewed next week.

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In the past I have gone into great detail explaining how their flash guarantee pricing works and in handing out the cabin assignments.

 

Hi, Lisa -- I would be very interested in learning more about this subject... would you be kind enough to please point me in the right direction so that I can read further details from your earlier postings about this? Many thanks for your assistance.

 

Mark

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..... I have read that the competition for cruiseline jobs is actually quite fierce and they are in very, very high demand. I have no doubt the staff cutbacks are financially driven and not resource driven.

 

Not sure where we can access that same information you got. Any links for the rest of us to follow?

 

Perhaps the competition for cruise line jobs now attracts those more on the lower end of job market skills these days, since the rapidly growing economies in the previous "third world" are now creating better jobs for people to stay at home.

 

Can anyone provide the typical personnel cost ratio to other operating in the cruise line business? In some businesses, personnel costs make up 80-85% of the costs -- which means services elsewhere would need to suffer if cruise prices remain the same or similar when adjusted to inflation.

 

Surely the increase in fuel and port costs has to be part of where the background cruise costs are going, even before it reaches the fuel costs surcharge levels.

 

To me it sounds more like prior cruisers really got a real bargain in both costs and full-level services. Today, I think we are getting a more realistic return on those same costs and services.

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i agree, jag, my thoughts EXACTLY, which is why i am getting out of that maasdam may cruise tomorrow. but you are so diplomatically superior to me at saying the same thing.

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Hi, Lisa -- I would be very interested in learning more about this subject... would you be kind enough to please point me in the right direction so that I can read further details from your earlier postings about this? Many thanks for your assistance.

 

Mark

Mark, I have spoke about it several times so it would be hard for me to find the various posts but this is basically how HAL works. I will give an example of Balcony Cabins. The highest price regular Deluxe Balcony is a category VA with the lowest price being VH with many balcony categories in between. The average consumer looks to buy the lowest price so the VH VE and VD cabins sell out quickly, after Final payment is due HAL starts to reduce their prices of the lower categories with in that balcony category even if they are sold out they offer guarantee cabins. At this point after final those that start looking at location and want a specific location start to look at pricing of the VB and VA see that they can actually purchase a Superior Verandah Guarantee for the same or many times less money than an actual VA or VB so why spend the money for a regular balcony when you can get far more? The consumer just move themselves up to that category leaving many open cabin in categories VA and VB. Because HAL waits til right before the sailing to assign cabins all to those who chose guarantees all that is remaining are the higher category cabins. This is totally different than other cruise lines do who assign quickly and give you basically the lowest when purchasing a Guarantee. There are two mind sets to this thinking. HAL has felt that if they gave you something higher that would entice you in the future to book that higher category cabin. While other lines like Carnival basically give you what you paid for.

I do believe for a time this worked for HAL but with the economy and the slow change of demographics of those cruising HAL, HAL has kind of backed themselves into a corner and have trained people how to buy a HAL cruise that is not profitable for HAL. Many cruise lines now offer their lowest price and extra amenities by booking very early and the price gradually goes up. Sadly more and more people who want to cruise HAL wait for their last minute bargains. Now HAL's other theory was that if they fill the ship even at the very bottom low price these people who spend far more money on board because they save so much on the cruise. On board spending is really what brings in profits for any cruise line. Unfortunately with current economic conditions for both North America and Europe cruisers bought cheap and continue to not spend on board. Actually the passenger who bought early and paid off their cruise at final is the one that has the extra cash to spend on board, the person who bought 3 weeks before the cruise, then had to buy hotel and air fare, is now broke and has to watch their pennies on board.

 

I do think that HAL has realized they need to make changes but I am not sure they know how to back themselves out of this corner. Of course this is all my theory but I see it from both sides of the fence so to speak and feel I have a good grasp of what is actually happening out there in cruise sales.

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but, wait, wait, vicocala. you pay for a cruise and are hoping the a/c and toilets work? is there something wrong with this?

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Not sure where we can access that same information you got. Any links for the rest of us to follow?
It was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years back. And, on my last cruise, I had a pretty long conversation with our cabin steward. He told me he lived in Bali, had a wife and small child and was college educated as a marine biologist. He said he will make more money in a single contract working on a HAL ship than he could make in over 5 years working anywhere in Indonesia in his field of study. He said everyone he knows back home is jealous of his position with HAL.

 

Again, I don't think its a resourcing issue.

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but, wait, wait, vicocala. you pay for a cruise and are hoping the a/c and toilets work? is there something wrong with this?

 

People also pay for cruises and hope for smooth seas and no pirate attacks too. And that they get to visit all ports advertised and there will be no rain every day. Ship travel is unique in making extra demands due the nature of the vehicle. So no, there is nothing wrong with vicocala's statement.

 

We all hope the same thing and 99% of the time we are 100% satisfied, but we leave on ships, any ships, knowing things can and will go wrong. Nature of this choice of travel IMHO. Pays your money and takes your chances and odds are one will have marvelous time, which is why HAL has such a high rate of return passengers. That is comforting to know. Heck, even Costa is sailing with full ships these days. Amazing, isn't it?

Edited by SwissMyst

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It was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years back. And, on my last cruise, I had a pretty long conversation with our cabin steward. He told me he lived in Bali, had a wife and small child and was college educated as a marine biologist. He said he will make more money in a single contract working on a HAL ship than he could make in over 5 years working anywhere in Indonesia in his field of study. He said everyone he knows back home is jealous of his position with HAL.

 

Again, I don't think its a resourcing issue.

 

Is this the WSJ article from five years ago? http://joshuaprager.com/wsj/articles/1997-07-03/index.php

 

What is the job market like in Bali is for marine biologists? Or anywhere for that matter? http://www.careers.govt.nz/default.aspx?id0=61103&id1=j80079

Edited by SwissMyst

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missing ports, bad weather have never been issues with me, nor will they be. pirate attacks notwithstanding, stateroom climate and functional showers and toilets seem to be in another realm from weather and ports. i've been hot/cold and squatted over hole in the floor in lots of places, but i would not expect it on a decent cruise ship. would you?

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..... i've been hot/cold and squatted over hole in the floor in lots of places, but i would not expect it on a decent cruise ship. would you?

 

No, I don't ....expect ... to do this. But I know things can happen so I ....expect .... to be resilient, should things like this happen. I am still struck by HAL's exceptionally high return passenger rate. They continue to do things right, regardless of the occasional and highly publicized less than 100% stellar experiences.

 

As well as MV Discovery's high passenger return rate and if there were ever a floating bucket of rusty bolts with poor A/C and plumbing, she was it. And loved to death for what she still had to offer. Stay Calm and Carry On kept us all happy onboard when ship invariably happens. And we chose to sail to places where we could have come under pirate attacks.

Edited by SwissMyst

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Is this the WSJ article from five years ago? http://joshuaprager.com/wsj/articles/1997-07-03/index.php

 

What is the job market like in Bali is for marine biologists? Or anywhere for that matter? http://www.careers.govt.nz/default.aspx?id0=61103&id1=j80079

 

I believe that might be the article I read, although it seemed to be a much longer article I remember. But anyway, I think this paragraph sums it up:

 

Cruise wages also compete favorably with foreign land-based salaries. The average per-capita-income in the Philippines is less than $1,000 a year, while an elementary school teacher in Romania earns just $70 a month. Thus foreign workers clambor for jobs aboard cruise ships that not only offer superior wages, but room and board and various benefits as well.

And I never suggested that Marine Biology was a field ripe with opportunities. Simply pointing out that our cabin steward was well educated.

 

Bottom line remains, people still want these jobs. And, they are probably getting even harder to get with the cruiselines cutting back on staffing.

 

As he was an excellent cabin steward, we left him an $80 tip over and above the service charge. I don't know how many other cabins left him tips, but I would guess more than just us.

Edited by jaguarstyper

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but this is basically how HAL works

 

Lisa -- Many thanks for the quick reply, and for the insights!

 

Mark

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I believe that might be the article I read, although it seemed to be a much longer article I remember. But anyway, I think this paragraph sums it up:

 

Cruise wages also compete favorably with foreign land-based salaries. The average per-capita-income in the Philippines is less than $1,000 a year, while an elementary school teacher in Romania earns just $70 a month. Thus foreign workers clambor for jobs aboard cruise ships that not only offer superior wages, but room and board and various benefits as well.

And I never suggested that Marine Biology was a field ripe with opportunities. Simply pointing out that our cabin steward was well educated.

 

Bottom line remains, people still want these jobs. And, they are probably getting even harder to get with the cruiselines cutting back on staffing.

 

As he was an excellent cabin steward, we left him an $80 tip over and above the service charge. I don't know how many other cabins left him tips, but I would guess more than just us.

 

Asian and Eastern block economies have rapidly advanced since 1997. And HAL did switch to their new shared "tipping" policy since then too. Maybe that changed perceptions about level of care - front-of the ship people are no longer scrambling to get those individually granted tips at the end of the cruise (that little envelope); they get them now anyway.

 

Though most still give those front of the ship people that "little envelope" too on top of the new across the board share of the new tipping policy. So did HAL's new tipping policy lead to the decline in perception of service. And will that change now that the front of the ship people know they can still earn that extra "little envelope" for that little extra edge of service?

 

You raise the interesting point about often highly educated professionals mainly from Eastern Block countries being reduced to working in servile positions on cruise ships - Crystal used a lot of them mainly because of their higher proficiencies in English. Yet this came across often in surly moments between crew and passenger who often were acting oafish and dismissive, while directing educational equals around the ship like colonial house boys. All in the flux of globalization and shifting social roles and sensibilities.

Edited by SwissMyst

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and vicocala, just what is the 'wonder' of the new trends on hal. name just one.

 

I'll let you know if I find any next week. One for me I have seen already is lower prices so I can have a larger cabin and hopefully cruise more often.

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but, wait, wait, vicocala. you pay for a cruise and are hoping the a/c and toilets work? is there something wrong with this?

 

Well, until I see for myself I can only go by what others have written. I haven't had an problems with either on any cruise I have taken. Temperature I can make adjustments to. So the A/C is hopefully not going to be a problem. If anything, I fear it will be to cold.

 

Toilets? I expect them to work. They better work or I will be knocking on the Captains door asking to use his.:)

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No, I don't ....expect ... to do this. But I know things can happen so I ....expect .... to be resilient, should things like this happen. I am still struck by HAL's exceptionally high return passenger rate. .

 

Probably more likely their clientele are old folk more set in their ways: Marketing people know old people (older than mid-40s apparently) are pretty set in their ways and are generally more loyal unlikely younger consumers who are more easily influenced. Hence why advertising budgets are aimed at the younger demographics.

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Probably more likely their clientele are old folk more set in their ways: Marketing people know old people (older than mid-40s apparently) are pretty set in their ways and are generally more loyal unlikely younger consumers who are more easily influenced. Hence why advertising budgets are aimed at the younger demographics.

 

I have no idea what you just said and I am still thinking I am offended by it!! :eek: God forbid you are an "old folk" someday. I am not geriatric and I am a repeat HAL customer and have been for 12 years (began cruising when I was in my early 30's).....AND I'm still young!!! I'll be young when I'm 92! :D

I'm not set in my ways, but I am not a grouchy grump, either! (shaking my head....:rolleyes:)

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Probably more likely their clientele are old folk more set in their ways: Marketing people know old people (older than mid-40s apparently) are pretty set in their ways and are generally more loyal unlikely younger consumers who are more easily influenced. Hence why advertising budgets are aimed at the younger demographics.

 

Did you notice they recently magnified some crows feet on the lovely HAL marketing model with the upswept blonde hair - she went from airbrush "young" to middle age classy, just in a session with Photoshop.

 

Maybe the breezy new HAL marketing image was turning off some of us old folks and unsettling our ways. :p

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I have no idea what you just said and I am still thinking I am offended by it!! God forbid you are an "old folk" someday. I am not geriatric and I am a repeat HAL customer and have been for 12 years (began cruising when I was in my early 30's).....AND I'm still young!!! I'll be young when I'm 92!

 

I'm not set in my ways, but I am not a grouchy grump, either! (shaking my head....)

 

Old folk = more set in their ways. Less likely to change their ways and/or try new things (including brands). Also less likely to be influenced by advertising. Once you get a loyal following, you can pretty much milk them until they're all gone. I'm one of the ones the advertisers have given up on who isn't influenced too much by ads (don't see them that much) but have absolutely no loyalty.

 

Did you notice they recently magnified some crows feet on the lovely HAL marketing model with the upswept blonde hair - she went from airbrush "young" to middle age classy, just in a session with Photoshop.

 

Maybe the breezy new HAL marketing image was turning off some of us old folks and unsettling our ways. :p

 

I always thought those models represent what the average HAL customer was 20 years ago. At least on repo cruises (average age on my recent one was rumoured to be 76 and I was almost at the very tail end of the demographic at 50 - beaten by a couple of statistical outliers some 20 years younger).

Edited by cruising cockroach

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