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

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39 minutes ago, iwingy said:

Hello everyone! Thank you for your invaluable advice and answering so many questions. I've read through the last two dozen pages and have picked up a lot of very practical advice and suggestions. I really appreciate it.

 

I do have a question, and it is a more conceptual/philosophical one, I guess. We have not done a sea/ocean cruise in three years, and one and only time on HAL was in May 2012 on Eurodam, so almost seven years ago. We are going on Rotterdam in 4 weeks.

 

In your opinion, what has fundamentally changed in that time, and what can we expect in terms of differences with our first HAL experience? Eurodam was lovely and definitely stood out in culinary experience (as probably top 2, a tie with Aida for us). It was lacking in service, but seemed to be a fluke based on other reviews at the time. Overall, HAL was a wonderful fit in terms of ambiance and demographics. Although, we were in our mid 20-ies in 2012, so not quite the target audience, I guess.

 

Thank you in advance for any thoughts!

 

I think you will be happy on the Rotterdam.  I found the crew excellent when we were on board.

 

OMG what's changed in 7 years?  I'll try and let others chime in.

 

You can only bring on one bottle of wine per person (of legal age for our cruise).  You can bring on more but they will be subject to corkage fee of $18.  

 

You can still bring on all the water, soda, etc (anything non alcoholic that you want)

 

You can bring on both on embarkation day or in ports - in ports corkage fee applies for the wine.

 

Specialty coffees in the MDR now have a fee where they used to be free.

 

Barring any significant circustamstances (inspections, etc.) your room will be ready when you board.

 

Rotterdam has no aft pool. More of a wading pool with loungers but there are still great aft views.  (HAL stopped that mistake 😉 )

 

Don't worry about words on the libraries - the library on the Rotterdam is gorgeous.  Very comfy chairs and great selections.  Fortunately, the R class hasn't been affected by some of the library changes.  No librarian, but you don't need one.

 

If you like violin and piano, there is a duet playing "Adagio".  In the old days it was a quartet - now a duet, but if you get some talented ones (and we did have on the Rotterdam) they are truly enjoyable.

 

Crew to passenger ratio on this ship is higher than the bigger ones. We had great service.  I hope you do too.

 

 

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What has most changed iwingy? Smoking policy . The last few years have been huge restriction on where smoking is allowed . Works for me.

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, faerievert said:

The biggest change is no more bringing on unlimited wine. Now it's $18/bottle with only one free bottle per person. There seems to be fewer staff now, but since you're moving to a smaller ship, that might be less noticeable. Portions are smaller, but you can ask for seconds if you want more. Bread/rolls at the table are mostly only by request. Internet is now sold at a daily rate instead of per minute. Formal (gala) nights continue to become, on average, less formal. No more giant chocolate buffet (there's still special chocolate treats served on board certain nights). Less big band/ballroom dancing. Photo department is more digital. Drink prices have gone up (but hasn't everything?). Activities on board have more sponsored tie-in endorsements (BB Kings, Billboard, America's Test Kitchen, Oprah, etc.). Libraries are smaller and no more librarians. Oh, and one more big one... no more smoking on private balconies on any HAL ship! Rotterdam still has smoking in the casino and designated public outdoor areas.

 

We also sailed HAL in our 20's and were the youngest ones on the ship our first HAL cruise! I'd much rather cruise with retirees than families.

faerievert - thank you for such a detailed reply! Many of these seem to be industry trends, which I am not a fan of (I love the formality of classic cruising...) but I love cruising more than dressing up lol, so will cruise even if the MDR dress code becomes shorts and t-shirts!

 

It's an interesting choice by HAL for co-branded entertainment. I'm rather fond of Postmodern Jukebox, it will be interesting to see if it is present on the Rotterdam and what the quality is like.

 

We were the youngest onboard indeed, but unlike Princess, where there are many Eastern European crew (which is our background), we were not mistaken for crew on HAL, so we liked that 🙂 This time we are actually traveling as a family with our 2.5 y.o., so it will be an interesting experience... we are booked on a transatlantic on the Veendam in August, and this is kind of a test run for us!

 

Thanks again for the very valuable info!

Edited by iwingy

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27 minutes ago, kazu said:

 

I think you will be happy on the Rotterdam.  I found the crew excellent when we were on board.

 

OMG what's changed in 7 years?  I'll try and let others chime in.

 

You can only bring on one bottle of wine per person (of legal age for our cruise).  You can bring on more but they will be subject to corkage fee of $18.  

 

You can still bring on all the water, soda, etc (anything non alcoholic that you want)

 

You can bring on both on embarkation day or in ports - in ports corkage fee applies for the wine.

 

Specialty coffees in the MDR now have a fee where they used to be free.

 

Barring any significant circustamstances (inspections, etc.) your room will be ready when you board.

 

Rotterdam has no aft pool. More of a wading pool with loungers but there are still great aft views.  (HAL stopped that mistake 😉 )

 

Don't worry about words on the libraries - the library on the Rotterdam is gorgeous.  Very comfy chairs and great selections.  Fortunately, the R class hasn't been affected by some of the library changes.  No librarian, but you don't need one.

 

If you like violin and piano, there is a duet playing "Adagio".  In the old days it was a quartet - now a duet, but if you get some talented ones (and we did have on the Rotterdam) they are truly enjoyable.

 

Crew to passenger ratio on this ship is higher than the bigger ones. We had great service.  I hope you do too.

 

 

 

kazu, thank you! This is a very informative summary. Of all the changes, I think I will miss free specialty coffee in the MDR the most... and the limit on free wine from shore, but the corkage fee still sounds like an ok deal vs buying wine onboard. 

 

Duly noted about the library and the aft pool. Aft pool is probably our favorite place on any ship, but since it is adult only on most lines, it is less relevant now as we are traveling with our little one. Same goes for shows, we used to be big on night entertainment, now it is 8:30 pm bedtime 🙂

 

We have missed cruising so much, I am sure we will love any ship at this point, but I am especially looking forward to the Rotterdam. It looks like like an old-time classic sea beauty, and this is exactly the type of cruising we are into. My husband and I are not fans of massive ships and non-nautically themed entertainment when we cruise.  Thank you again for taking the time to reply in such detail, it is greatly appreciated!

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28 minutes ago, richstowe said:

What has most changed iwingy? Smoking policy . The last few years have been huge restriction on where smoking is allowed . Works for me.

 

This is such a welcome change for me! I hope to experience non-smoking ships in my lifetime 🙂

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I cannot resist the opportunity to speak of a "change" that  happened with HAL I believe within the last 7 years.  Sadly, it is not (yet?) offered on all HAL ships.  It was the absolute highlight of every day during our cruise on the Eurodam in October 2018.  That was the wonderful concerts of the program, Lincoln Center Stage.  Absolutely lovely!!  That alone may be what brings us back to cruise with HAL again.

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12 hours ago, iwingy said:

...I am sure we will love any ship at this point, but I am especially looking forward to the Rotterdam. It looks like like an old-time classic sea beauty...

It is. Rotterdam is the flagship of the fleet, and is in the tradition of HAL ships that came before her.

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2 hours ago, RuthC said:

It is. Rotterdam is the flagship of the fleet, and is in the tradition of HAL ships that came before her.

Isn't the Koningsdam now the HAL flagship ?

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54 minutes ago, richstowe said:

Isn't the Koningsdam now the HAL flagship ?

 

Not to my knowledge.  Rotterdam and Amsterdam still carry the title.

Koningsdam was called the newest flagship on a  cruise news article when they did their report but I think that was just referencing the new ship.  I haven't seen anything on the HAL site or the HAL blog referencing the King as the flag ship.  

 

Certainly the Rotterdam and Amsterdam, named for the key cities have carried the title well 😉 

 

 

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2 hours ago, richstowe said:

Isn't the Koningsdam now the HAL flagship ?

No. She never was.
As I understand it, some lines refer to their newest ship as the flagship of the fleet, but not Holland America. Even if they did, the Nieuw Statendam would be the flagship now, not the Koningsdam.

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1 hour ago, kazu said:

 

Not to my knowledge.  Rotterdam and Amsterdam still carry the title.

Koningsdam was called the newest flagship on a  cruise news article when they did their report but I think that was just referencing the new ship.  I haven't seen anything on the HAL site or the HAL blog referencing the King as the flag ship.  

 

Certainly the Rotterdam and Amsterdam, named for the key cities have carried the title well 😉 

 

 

Shame on me ! I should never have doubted you . :classic_blush:

I Googled and read Koningsdam was now the flagship . 

That's what you get when you trust the internet instead of Ruth and Zazu .

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8 minutes ago, richstowe said:

Shame on me ! I should never have doubted you . :classic_blush:

I Googled and read Koningsdam was now the flagship . 

That's what you get when you trust the internet instead of Ruth and Zazu .

 

No worries 😉 

 

I was on the Rotterdam last year (Koningsdam was out by then) and she was still the flagship and deservedly so.  Service was the best I have seen next to the Prinsendam and that, for me, says a lot. 😉 

 

Great crew.  Wonderful service and I always love her art on board.

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On 11/27/2018 at 11:37 PM, Haboob said:

I take Trulicity and do it on Saturday morning each week, of course our cruise is Sunday to Sunday so I have to take it with me.  It does say it can remain unrefrigerated but I think it will be better if I take it to the Med Center fridge.  I don't want to bring by box it comes in so I wonder if the label on the front will be enough?

Thanks guys, this is an incredible thread, I read the first few pages and then started at page 82 and through to the end!

 

HAL will store refrigerated meds in the Medical Center for free -- they would *really* rather do that than worry

about having a passenger at sea with spoiled meds due to freezing or overtemp in an unmonitored refrigerator.

 

That being said, insulin is now comes in a stable-at-room-temp-for-7-weeks-after-opening variety.

 

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On 12/24/2018 at 6:45 AM, *Miss G* said:

 

Ohhh.  Thanks for posting the list, Crew News.  I now understand the confusion.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a form with the prices on it.  I apologize for adding to the confusion @ToXS.

 

We were just on Koningsdam last month and submitted a bag of laundry. We were advised to check each item on the list just so we would have a record in case something was missing. We checked the box for “Laundry by the Bag” and was charged only $20. Was returned the next day in perfect condition; shirts and tops on hangers and the rest folded beautifully. This will become a regular practice for us on longer cruises.

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32 minutes ago, Maggie North said:

 

We were just on Koningsdam last month and submitted a bag of laundry. We were advised to check each item on the list just so we would have a record in case something was missing. We checked the box for “Laundry by the Bag” and was charged only $20. Was returned the next day in perfect condition; shirts and tops on hangers and the rest folded beautifully. This will become a regular practice for us on longer cruises.

 

On all the cruises I have been on - on HAL- the room steward always checks to make sure you filled in the amounts. I made that mistake on my first 'laundry by the bag'. "But it is a bag price" [me]   Steward - "The laundry still wants a count of what and how many you sent out and you will want it when it comes back - to compare." [paraphrased].

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I'm not sure this is to right place to ask this question. I just booked a cruise on the Nieuw Statendam for next month.  This will be our third cruise and the second  on HAL. We were on the Oosterdam last month and took advantage of the unlimited laundry for $49 for the 7 day voyage.  Does the N. Statendam offer the same laundry service?  I can pack light if I know the laundry is available.  Also, any experience in the Vista Suites - size of room/balcony/storage would be helpful. ( we are on deck 5)

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Two pages back someone posted a photo of the laundry sheet...you can select by the bag ($20) or unlimited ($7/day if I remember correctly). We used the service by the bag last month and it worked beautifully. I'm packing light from now on!

 

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29 minutes ago, Cajuntraveler said:

We were on the Oosterdam last month and took advantage of the unlimited laundry for $49 for the 7 day voyage.  Does the N. Statendam offer the same laundry service? 

Every HAL ship has the by-the-bag and unlimited laundry service. You can also have the service on a by-the-piece price, but it's not worth the money.

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We sailed on the Premier voyage of the NS and it definitely has the laundry which we used 4 times. 

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Hope this is going in the right part of this forum.  I had seen posts about the laundry and just ran across one of our laundry list receipts.  We use the "stuff a bag for $20" option and get pretty competitive with ourselves as to how much we can get in there & still close the top.  This receipt was our best to date--we stuffed 1pr. jeans, 2 blouses, 7 polo shirts, 10 prs. of underwear, 1 bra, 1 hankie, 6 prs of socks, 1 pr. of pants, 3 prs. of walking shorts & 1 sweatshirt in that bag!  "Roll tightly & push hard"  🙂  

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1 hour ago, Cajuntraveler said:

I'm not sure this is to right place to ask this question. I just booked a cruise on the Nieuw Statendam for next month.  This will be our third cruise and the second  on HAL. We were on the Oosterdam last month and took advantage of the unlimited laundry for $49 for the 7 day voyage.  Does the N. Statendam offer the same laundry service?  I can pack light if I know the laundry is available.  Also, any experience in the Vista Suites - size of room/balcony/storage would be helpful. ( we are on deck 5)

Don't forget, some ships have self-service laundry.  But of course, the $20/bag or $49 for 7 days is *very* hard to beat.  We did the $20/bag one day and everything came back beautifully pressed/hung/folded.

 

We were on Oosterdam one month ago in a Vista suite and loved it.  bigger than expected, wonderful bed, plenty of storage, and COLD a/c.  only complaint was...wait there weren't any complaints.  there are three lockers, plus there are a couple drawers at the base of the bed (that we didn't discover until next-to-last day).

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Thank you JeanieCM and ChillEdog - great info.  We will definitely pack light and use the laundry.  We were very pleased with the laundry service on the Oosterdam.  I doubt that I can get that much stuff in the $20 bag, but I'll try ;).

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It is incredible how much you can stuff in a laundry bag!!  We just spent a month on Holland America's Prinsendam, and we honed our stuffing skills!  We stuffed the little things first deep down in the corners and bottom of the bag, then like JeanieCM, we rolled everything else very tightly and stuffed, stuffed, stuffed!!!  The laundry services were excellent and everything came back either folded or on hangars (whatever you specify), all with laundry tags with your specific number--neatly in a basket with tissue paper or on hangars in a HA garment bag.  One day I had someone's pink t-shirt on a hangar (all my items had been returned), so I brought it to the front desk.  That evening, our room steward came to us, with a message from the laundry manager, wanting to make sure all of my items were returned!!  And they asked the next day, too!  Excellent service!  

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On 12/25/2018 at 8:20 PM, ski ww said:

Just to clarify, I miss used the term Lido pool. The Lido pool which is the inside pool is for the use of children & adults. The out side pool is called the Sea View Pool. That pool is for adults only, but the lounge chairs around it are for the enjoyment of all. Sorry if this caused confusion. 

Thank you for clarifying. We are doing the B2B Baltic and Viking Passage with 2 children and are hoping they can swim indoors if that option is available. 

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