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New to Holland America? This is for you...AKA "HAL For Dummies"

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Every cruise line has its own standards, styles, techniques, idiosyncrasies, traditions and other characteristics that are unique. It has been suggested that we set up a sticky thread for folks who are new to Holland America but not necessarily new cruisers. Contributions by folks who have sailed on other lines as well as on HAL would be appreciated.

 

This thread is not intended to replace individual threads discussing specific issues. Rather it is intended to point out things that might be helpful to those who are cruising on Holland America for the first time.

 

My favorite user manuals for computers and associated software are the "Dummies" series, so that's the title I chose for this thread.

 

By the way, thus is not intended to replace the HAL Facts thread which has a different purpose.

 

Here's a thread on the First Time Cruisers board that may give you some ideas...but make sure your posts are specific to HAL. "I wish I knew before..."

Edited by Host Walt

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To add to kazu's post above, embarkation day lunch in the Main Dining Room is generally served from 12pm until 1pm for those who have at least 1 prior cruise on any CCL cruise line. There are times when it might be further restricted or altogether canceled, so check upon boarding.

 

HAL allows (encourages) you stay in your cabin until your disembarkation color and number is called on disembarkation morning.

 

You can order room service on disembarkation morning.

 

Nice features not seen on other lines we've cruised.

 

Thanks, Walt, for the helpful sticky!

Edited by 0bnxshs

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If you have to go to the Lido Buffet for lunch (we usually go to the MDR for the Mariner embarkation lunch) it is busy, so be sure to select a table first, if there are two of you you can take it in turns to go get your food.

 

Room service lunch is not usually available on embarkation day as all hands are on deck! (delivering baggage).

 

Also be sure to catch the wine/beer steward as he comes by during lunch that day - you can buy beverage cards at that time.

 

If you do not have a balcony, the aft Lido is a great place for sailaway.

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My suggestion for "Dummies":

 

MS Eurodam & Nieuw Amsterdam - The GRAND TOUR of SIGNATURE class - Pics and Video is your handbook, textbook, culinary book, tutorial for beginners and complete pictorial guide to the most exciting HAL ships - the Eurodam and the Nieuw Amsterdam.

 

Click here to take your video cruise on the Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam.

 

Enjoy!

Edited by cruisetrail

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1. You are not limited to ordering just off of the room service menu. You can order almost anything from the main dining room menu through room service and have it delivered to your cabin.

 

2. On the room service menu, you can write in additional items that are served at breakfast throughout the ship and they will bring them to you.

 

3. The Hotel Service Charge covers all your tipping whilst on board. There is no need to provide additional tips. If you wish to tip extra, I recommend that you increase your Hotel Service Charge.

 

4. HAL passengers love to line up. They enjoy lining up to get on the ship and lining up to get off the ship. Whenever you arrive in a port, passengers will start lining up early to get off the ship. Just wait until about 30 minutes after arriving in port and you can easily walk directly off the ship.

 

5. Bring a small table cloth if you plan to dine on your balcony. It will elevate the experience even more.

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You can get a copy of your onboard account statement any time, from the Front Desk (or from the Neptune Concierge if you are in a NS or PS).

 

If you want to minimize what you owe when you leave the ship, you can buy onboard credits in advance through the HAL website.

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HAL ships have the Lido in Code Orange for the first 48 hours. You can not help yourself to anything in the Lido -- not even water, coffee, etc.

This is done to help prevent germs from spreading -- i.e. -- Noro Virus.

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Walt,this is a great idea for those of us like me who will be new to HAL.We started cruising on Disney in 2012,and will be taking our 4th cruise with them next month.We did CCL in Jan. and just didn't like the ship.We love what DCL offers,service,dining,itineraries,etc,but have always wanted to try HAL ever since we saw the Westerdam next to the Freedom in Grand Turk in January.We were impressed with the care,and cleanliness of the ship.Disney also takes very good care of their ships,has a 3 restaurant rotational dining,etc. HAL also has a great thing going with this Explore 4 deal,plus its costing us much less,and 2 of the ports we wanted are included in one sailing!We do get good Florida sailings with DCL,and they have onboard booking where you pay 10% down,and depending on cruise length 100-200$ onboard credit which does not include specials.

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HAL ships have the Lido in Code Orange for the first 48 hours. You can not help yourself to anything in the Lido -- not even water, coffee, etc.

This is done to help prevent germs from spreading -- i.e. -- Noro Virus.

 

Is there any sanitation process offered?Disney offers wipes before you enter the dining room?I'm assuming you must ask for drinks then?

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Is there any sanitation process offered?Disney offers wipes before you enter the dining room?I'm assuming you must ask for drinks then?

 

There are sanitizer dispensers all over the ship, and when you enter the dining room or buffet there is a crew member with one too.

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If you are new to the Vista Class get your map and explore the ship.

 

You only need to explore the first three floors and the top two floors.

 

The crow nest and Internet cafe are on floor ten and you need to go to the forward elevator to get there or climb the forward stair case.

 

On floor nine is the spa, pools, and lido buffet.

 

One floor one, two and three are shops, bars, front desk, dining rooms and show rooms.

 

Once you get the lay of the land, the fun can begin.:D

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<snip>

 

You can bring all the soda and water you want on board. At embarkation or at any port. Don't feel you have to bring it all on at your embarkation port.

 

Wine - HAL allows one bottle of wine (max 750 ml) per person to be brought on board at embarkation at no charge. Any other wine brought on board whether it be at embarkation or at a port is subject to the corkage fee of $18, whether you drink the wine in your cabin or a public place.

<snip>

 

OK, I see the unlimited water/soda, and I see the 1 bottle per passenger for wine, but what are the rules about beer?:confused:

Edited by capncarp

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Some more food tips:

On the first night after embarkation, there is always prime rib on the menu.

If you order Room Service after 5:30, you can order anything from the MDR menu in addition to items on the Room-Service-Only menu. (You can check the menu which is posted outside of the MDR daily).

Edited by Lizzie68

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OK, I see the unlimited water/soda, and I see the 1 bottle per passenger for wine, but what are the rules about beer?:confused:

 

Unfortunately, you cannot take your own beer on board. Only wine (750 ml bottle per passenger), and unlimited water and soda/pop (for now - I think that will be the next thing to be limited).

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I'm not sure if it's been mentioned here, but trays are no longer provided in the Lido.

 

Select your table - in the Lido, at the SeaView Pool or Lido Pool - and then go through the food line.

 

Signature and Vista class ships have a larger Lido than the smaller ships...but the same selection.

 

Sometimes at the late night buffet in the Lido (starting at 10 PM), HAL's signature pea soup is available. Also many other light (and not so light) bites....

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Mid afternoon, the Terrace Grill (or newly revised Dive In) at the Lido Pool serves nachos accompanied by guacamole, salsa, cheese sauce, and other goodies.

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Neptune and Pinnacle suites get complimentary laundry service. If you are not in one of those, the unlimited laundry is a good deal IMHO. $7/day/cabin in North America for each day of the cruise. So for a 7 day cruise $49, a 10 day cruise $70.... There is also "stuff a bag" where you can send out a bag of laundry for $20 (N. America, not sure about the cost in other areas).

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Neptune and Pinnacle suites get complimentary laundry service. If you are not in one of those, the unlimited laundry is a good deal IMHO. $7/day/cabin in North America for each day of the cruise. So for a 7 day cruise $49, a 10 day cruise $70.... There is also "stuff a bag" where you can send out a bag of laundry for $20 (N. America, not sure about the cost in other areas).

 

If you know, what is the current "turn around" time? Last time we used their laundry they wanted the dirty laundry (piece work, not the unlimited deal or the stuff a bag) by 8:30am and promised delivery back to the room by 6:00pm the next afternoon.

 

The daily deal is a great idea because it really cuts down on luggage and is much nicer than washing your stuff in the bathroom sink.

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I'm not sure if it's been mentioned here, but trays are no longer provided in the Lido.

 

Select your table - in the Lido, at the SeaView Pool or Lido Pool - and then go through the food line.

 

Signature and Vista class ships have a larger Lido than the smaller ships...but the same selection.

 

Sometimes at the late night buffet in the Lido (starting at 10 PM), HAL's signature pea soup is available. Also many other light (and not so light) bites....

 

We also noticed that there are no trays in the Lido

 

So we hid a tray from room service in our closet, took it with us to the Lido and brought our food back to our room to eat on the veranda.:o

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If you know, what is the current "turn around" time? Last time we used their laundry they wanted the dirty laundry (piece work, not the unlimited deal or the stuff a bag) by 8:30am and promised delivery back to the room by 6:00pm the next afternoon.

 

The daily deal is a great idea because it really cuts down on luggage and is much nicer than washing your stuff in the bathroom sink.

 

Ours has always been about 24 hours. We've never had a time limit, but I use the bag and leave it on the bed and the room steward picks it up next time he is in. Everything comes back sometime the next day.

 

One tip - keep the pink copy of the laundry sheet so you can check what comes back.

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If you know, what is the current "turn around" time? Last time we used their laundry they wanted the dirty laundry (piece work, not the unlimited deal or the stuff a bag) by 8:30am and promised delivery back to the room by 6:00pm the next afternoon.

 

The daily deal is a great idea because it really cuts down on luggage and is much nicer than washing your stuff in the bathroom sink.

 

I used the "stuff a bag" on one cruise and the "unlimited" on another. The shortest turn around was same day with "turn down" service. The longest was two days (out on Monday morning, back on Wednesday with "turn down" service). I say "turn down" service because the laundry came back very late in the afternoon while I was out to dinner.

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If you know, what is the current "turn around" time? Last time we used their laundry they wanted the dirty laundry (piece work, not the unlimited deal or the stuff a bag) by 8:30am and promised delivery back to the room by 6:00pm the next afternoon.

 

The daily deal is a great idea because it really cuts down on luggage and is much nicer than washing your stuff in the bathroom sink.

 

I think they say 48 hr turnaround, don't quote me though :D We've gotten ours back 24 to 36 hours after sending it. It has never taken 48 houts.

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HAL also has a great thing going with this Explore 4 deal,plus its costing us much less,and 2 of the ports we wanted are included in one sailing!We do get good Florida sailings with DCL,and they have onboard booking where you pay 10% down,and depending on cruise length 100-200$ onboard credit which does not include specials.

 

If you book a future cruise on board, the deposits are reduced, depending on the length of the cruise, and you will probably get some OBC. If you don't have a specific future cruise in mind, you can also buy a future cruise credit (FCC) at the same reduced rates, and apply it to your cruise of choice at a later date. Or, when you get home from your cruise, you may receive a "welcome home" email offering you some on board credit on your next cruise if you book within a certain time.

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1. You are not limited to ordering just off of the room service menu. You can order almost anything from the main dining room menu through room service and have it delivered to your cabin.

2. On the room service menu, you can write in additional items that are served at breakfast throughout the ship and they will bring them to you.

3. The Hotel Service Charge covers all your tipping whilst on board. There is no need to provide additional tips. If you wish to tip extra, I recommend that you increase your Hotel Service Charge.

4. HAL passengers love to line up. They enjoy lining up to get on the ship and lining up to get off the ship. Whenever you arrive in a port, passengers will start lining up early to get off the ship. Just wait until about 30 minutes after arriving in port and you can easily walk directly off the ship.

5. Bring a small table cloth if you plan to dine on your balcony. It will elevate the experience even more.

 

I'm new to HAL. So please forgive the silly question but is room service free?

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I think they say 48 hr turnaround, don't quote me though :D We've gotten ours back 24 to 36 hours after sending it. It has never taken 48 houts.

 

Sounds like an underpromise/over deliver approach to customer service...which is a good thing.

 

Thanks.

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I'm new to HAL. So please forgive the silly question but is room service free?

 

It is free and 24/7 with just a call.

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It is free and 24/7 with just a call.

 

As stated before. Room service is free

 

Also as stated before you can order anything off the MDR menu if you call for your meals between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. This is also free.

 

It will be delivered to your room at the time you choose between 5:30 and 9:00), but you must order your meal in the first half hour the dining room is open for the evening meal (5:30-6:00)

 

If you wish to see the MDR menu before supper/dining time.

 

Go to the dining room captain any time during the day and ask for a complimentary copy of that days menu. They will be happy to provide you with a souvenir copy.

 

If you are in a Neptune Suite a copy of the next nights menu is left in your room as part of the turn down service.;)

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Do ocean view rooms on the Amsterdam have fridges in them? My husband needs one for his meds.

 

No they don't but you can rent a cooler for about $3.00 a day.. That's what our Friends do..Ask your Travel Agent to set it up or call Reservations & ask to be transferred to Ships Services..Sorry I don't have their direct Number..

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In post Number 6, it was recommended to increase the Hotel service charge if you receive exceptional service & really wish to give an additional tip/thanks to someone..

 

We do not do it this way...On our many cruises we've found there are some special people who have gone over & above for us...We give them cash in an envelope with a Thank you note for taking care of us.. In addition we also mention their names on the evaluation e-mail which HAL will send you after your cruise, asking for your comments..

 

Bear in mind if you increase the Service charge, not only your immediate Stewards will receive the additional cash.. All those behind the scenes will also share in it, as you can't specify it for one person..When you leave the Hotel Service charge on your tab any extra cash given to your stewards is theirs to keep & does not have to be shared...

Edited by serendipity1499

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I'm new to HAL. So please forgive the silly question but is room service free?

 

Room service is free but we always give a few dollars tip depending on what the steward delivers.. Obviously for a a full meal we give more.. BTW they are always prompt, or even a bit early so if you want to give them a few dollars, put it in your pocket as they deliver & rush out to do other deliveries..

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What a great thread! We are cruising HAL for the first time in October . We are seasoned cruisers but of course, every line is different.

HAL for Dummies, I love it :)

Sue

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>SNIP<

 

The daily deal is a great idea because it really cuts down on luggage and is much nicer than washing your stuff in the bathroom sink.

 

Every cabin I've been in has a pull-out clothes line in the shower or tub. So if you do decide to wash items in the sink, you can use the line to hang them to dry. (Just another tip :) not a judgment on washing things in the sink.)

 

Also, the smaller ships have self-serve laundry. Last time I used one it was $2 for a load of washing, and $1 for a load of drying.

 

(I am starting to sound laundry-obsessed. I'll try to get that under control :D )

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Do ocean view rooms on the Amsterdam have fridges in them? My husband needs one for his meds.

 

Gloria - HAL does NOT recommend that you keep meds in the fridge in your room as they do not guarantee the temperatures. A regular ocean view room does not have a fridge but you can rent one - but I recommend against that.

 

I also travel with temperature sensitive meds and always have them stored the medical facility as they monitor the temps of the fridges. I just put them into a zip bag, add my name and cabin number to the bag and they store them. Also do the same to the freezer packs and they will put those in the freezer for me so it is ready to go when it is time to disembark. The medical facility opens at 8 am on most days and stays open until about 6-7 each evening, with an hour break for lunch. Have asked the staff if they could open early one day as we had a 1st off tour to the pyramids and one of the nurses opened up at 7 for me to get my meds.

 

Please reconsider keeping your meds in the room fridge as we have had soda freeze in 1 fridge - it was a mess!

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Hi,

 

 

Thanks for your reply. I have now ruled out renting a fridge. I will tell my husband about your idea. I'm sure that will work fine. I appreciate the information. Gloria

 

Gloria - HAL does NOT recommend that you keep meds in the fridge in your room as they do not guarantee the temperatures. A regular ocean view room does not have a fridge but you can rent one - but I recommend against that.

 

I also travel with temperature sensitive meds and always have them stored the medical facility as they monitor the temps of the fridges. I just put them into a zip bag, add my name and cabin number to the bag and they store them. Also do the same to the freezer packs and they will put those in the freezer for me so it is ready to go when it is time to disembark. The medical facility opens at 8 am on most days and stays open until about 6-7 each evening, with an hour break for lunch. Have asked the staff if they could open early one day as we had a 1st off tour to the pyramids and one of the nurses opened up at 7 for me to get my meds.

 

Please reconsider keeping your meds in the room fridge as we have had soda freeze in 1 fridge - it was a mess!

 

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Complimentary hors d’oeuvres are served during evening hours in the lounges upon request. These are different than the Starters in the Main Dining Room. We love to go to the Crow’s Nest, listen to the music and have hors d’oeuvres before dinner. Complimentary cold appetizers and freshly-made snack bars are also available throughout the day in the Explorations Café. In the Daily Program, there’s usually a listing for A Little Something, offering the Pinnacle Grill's appetizer for that evening (while there’s a charge for the beverages offered, in my experience you can request only the appetizer, which is complimentary. I get them to go).

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Is the Lido open for a casual dinner? I've not cruised HAL before but am looking at a port-intensive cruise for next year. I'd like a casual dining option for the evenings that I'm worn out from the day ashore.

 

And, if this is an option, please tell me about it. Buffet? Salad bar? Types of food, etc.

 

Thank you!

Edited by Beach4me

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Is the Lido open for a casual dinner? I've not cruised HAL before but am looking at a port-intensive cruise for next year. I'd like a casual dining option for the evenings that I'm worn out from the day ashore.

 

And, if this is an option, please tell me about it. Buffet? Salad bar? Types of food, etc.

 

Thank you!

 

Yes it is, with pretty much the same food as in the MDR, plus lots of other choices. Excellent salad bar, too. There are different stations, depending on what your preference is.

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Do ocean view rooms on the Amsterdam have fridges in them? My husband needs one for his meds.

 

Can't speak re the Amsterdam, but we were quite upset not to have refrigerators on the Veendam this month, nor did they have any to rent. We had to leave my husband's insulin pens in the Medical Office.

 

There was a refrigerator in our Prinsendam cabin last year, also ocean view.

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