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

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On ‎10‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 6:00 PM, Btimmer said:

The tiles are typically given at the Mariner lunch, but you can request one at the Front Desk.

We sailed with HAL several times, but it was many years ago.  I seem to have forgotten a lot of things!

 

How does the Mariner Welcome Onboard lunch work?  I don't believe we ever went to one.  Is it the first day?  Is it a specific time or do you just show up during certain hours?

 

And, is there a Mariner Brunch or is that the same thing?

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by metairiegal

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We've never attended a Mariner's Welcome Lunch on embarkation day.  We always eat in the Lido that day.

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5 minutes ago, metairiegal said:

We sailed with HAL several times, but it was many years ago.  I seem to have forgotten a lot of things!

 

How does the Mariner Welcome Onboard lunch work?  I don't believe we ever went to one.  Is it the first day?  Is it a specific time or do you just show up during certain hours?

 

And, is there a Mariner Brunch or is that the same thing?

 

Thanks in advance!

On the Noordam this past July and the Mariner brunch was in the MDR on our second sea day by invitation from the Captain.  There is no longer a Mariner welcome lunch on the day of embarkation in the MDR, the MDR is open to any passenger. This was one Mariner benefit that went away in the last few years.

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Generally but not always the main dining room is open on embarkation day. They try to guide everyone to the Lido for lunch but walk by the MDR to see. Also, the Mariner Brunch is later in the cruise and you will receive an invitation in your mail slot with the time and place.

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The Westerdam closed the MDR and allowed on Mariners to eat lunch on Embarkation Day this June.  As posted above, most ships open the MDR to all on Embarkation Day but not all do.

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Not sure if this is right place to ask this but if not I'm sure someone can point me in the right direction.  We have done two cruises on HAL, first on the Westerdam and second on the Nieuw Statendam.  We are now planning another cruise in February on the Veendam.  A friend suggested we instead do a similar cruise on the Norwegian Escape, which is a much larger ship, 4,266 vs 1,350 on the Veendam.  Any thoughts on which we should choose?  I've seen some reviews regarding the Escape that it can be very crowded.  So far we've been happy with HAL, some lines at times but nothing terrible

 

Thank you

 

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Here are a couple observations.

 

1.  Do you have an itinerary preference?

 

2.  We sail almost exclusively on HAL because of itinerary.  However a couple years ago we sailed on the Harmony of the Seas to experience the largest cruise ship in the world.  And we really liked the ship; but we'd likely not sail on it again because of limited itineraries for our style cruising.

 

In any event, enjoy your selection.

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It depends on what you're into. I've done the Escape and the Veendam. The pros with the Escape is that there was always something to do. The cons for me is that it was way too big. It was hard to get a seat at many of the bars. There was a lot of walking since it is such a large ship. Tendering, boarding, disembarking,  and finding your luggage was a zoo. It had more of a party atmosphere with lots of kids. It was also very hard to meet people. Many reunions and large groups. I prefer a more relaxing and laid back cruise. But that's just me.

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9 minutes ago, Btimmer said:

Here are a couple observations.

 

1.  Do you have an itinerary preference?

 

2.  We sail almost exclusively on HAL because of itinerary.  However a couple years ago we sailed on the Harmony of the Seas to experience the largest cruise ship in the world.  And we really liked the ship; but we'd likely not sail on it again because of limited itineraries for our style cruising.

 

In any event, enjoy your selection.

Itineraries are similar, western Caribbean so that's not really an issue

 

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2 minutes ago, WheresMyUmbrellaDrink said:

It depends on what you're into. I've done the Escape and the Veendam. The pros with the Escape is that there was always something to do. The cons for me is that it was way too big. It was hard to get a seat at many of the bars. There was a lot of walking since it is such a large ship. Tendering, boarding, disembarking,  and finding your luggage was a zoo. It had more of a party atmosphere with lots of kids. It was also very hard to meet people. Many reunions and large groups. I prefer a more relaxing and laid back cruise. But that's just me.

Thanks, it was the size that had me concerned as well.  I've always liked the atmosphere on HAL, not just a big party boat

 

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1 minute ago, jonyboy said:

Thanks, it was the size that had me concerned as well.  I've always liked the atmosphere on HAL, not just a big party boat

 

Not only the size of the ship, but look at the population of the ports when you arrive (if you like port days.) Instead of 1,000 people visiting sometimes a very small area, you have 3-4,000 easily. 

 

A website I LOVE to look at when I book a cruise is http://m.cruisett.com/p

You can see how many ships will be in a port on a given day and the potential population increase. It is fascinating, depending on the size of the port you are going to and how well they absorb the population.

 

If you are big on just staying on the ship, that might not be a concern.

 

Janet

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That is a great website, thank you so much.  We always get off the ship when in port and you make a good point about how many people.  Thank you

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39 minutes ago, ljgordon54 said:

Not only the size of the ship, but look at the population of the ports when you arrive (if you like port days.) Instead of 1,000 people visiting sometimes a very small area, you have 3-4,000 easily. 

 

A website I LOVE to look at when I book a cruise is http://m.cruisett.com/p

You can see how many ships will be in a port on a given day and the potential population increase. It is fascinating, depending on the size of the port you are going to and how well they absorb the population.

 

If you are big on just staying on the ship, that might not be a concern.

 

Janet

Thanks for posting the Cruisett web site.  I usually use the a crew center web site to find out how many ships will be in port, but this site gives the ships and the number of passengers!  Thanks!!

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57 minutes ago, WheresMyUmbrellaDrink said:

It depends on what you're into. I've done the Escape and the Veendam. The pros with the Escape is that there was always something to do. The cons for me is that it was way too big. It was hard to get a seat at many of the bars. There was a lot of walking since it is such a large ship. Tendering, boarding, disembarking,  and finding your luggage was a zoo. It had more of a party atmosphere with lots of kids. It was also very hard to meet people. Many reunions and large groups. I prefer a more relaxing and laid back cruise. But that's just me.

I have cruised on both HAL and NCL, but not on the Escape or the Veendam. I would have to agree with what you say for just comparing both lines head to head. Because NCL has so many specialty restaurants, that they want passengers to pay extra for, their MDR is very much inferior to HAL's MDR in both service and food quality.  I think overall NCL's specialty restaurants are not much better than HAL's MDR. That is just my opinion as food is so subjective, but I also like the smaller size of HAL's fleet.

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59 minutes ago, ljgordon54 said:

Not only the size of the ship, but look at the population of the ports when you arrive (if you like port days.) Instead of 1,000 people visiting sometimes a very small area, you have 3-4,000 easily. 

 

A website I LOVE to look at when I book a cruise is http://m.cruisett.com/p

You can see how many ships will be in a port on a given day and the potential population increase. It is fascinating, depending on the size of the port you are going to and how well they absorb the population.

 

If you are big on just staying on the ship, that might not be a concern.

 

Janet

I'm glad you sent that website, 2 of the ports on the NCL have 16,000 and 30,000 in ports the days we are there.

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22 minutes ago, jonyboy said:

I'm glad you sent that website, 2 of the ports on the NCL have 16,000 and 30,000 in ports the days we are there.

I am sure you know, but just in case I will remind others that that is just a potential. If every ship was full and everyone got off! Sometimes the numbers are staggering. I wish I would have seen this site a long time ago, it would have saved me some stress. Especially when you have to tender in to port.

Janet

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1 minute ago, ljgordon54 said:

I am sure you know, but just in case I will remind others that that is just a potential. If every ship was full and everyone got off! Sometimes the numbers are staggering. I wish I would have seen this site a long time ago, it would have saved me some stress. Especially when you have to tender in to port.

Janet

It is good information to have.  There have been times when ports are so busy it's hard to shop, find a place to eat etc.

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Has anyone had issues transferring your booking to your TA?  We booked directly and HA has not been very responsive to my request so far.  Any suggestions?

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13 hours ago, jonyboy said:

Not sure if this is right place to ask this but if not I'm sure someone can point me in the right direction.  We have done two cruises on HAL, first on the Westerdam and second on the Nieuw Statendam.  We are now planning another cruise in February on the Veendam.  A friend suggested we instead do a similar cruise on the Norwegian Escape, which is a much larger ship, 4,266 vs 1,350 on the Veendam.  Any thoughts on which we should choose?  I've seen some reviews regarding the Escape that it can be very crowded.  So far we've been happy with HAL, some lines at times but nothing terrible

 

Thank you

 

We were dedicated NCL cruisers until I discovered the great HAL itineraries for our last two cruises. But, no matter what cruise line, we always avoid the very large ships because of the crowds, the long waits for free-seating dining and at the "buffet" for breakfast/lunch, crowds at the entertainment venues, and just everywhere. The very worst part is you have to tender at EVERY port, and the crowds dealing with that make it all the worse! I will say that the two areas where NCL has HAL totally beat are with entertainment (both main stage and night club type venues) and with selection and price of port excursions sold on the ship. NCL must invest much more in their entertainment because the quality surpasses HAL by miles! NCL always has a very large selection and variety of excursions at at much more reasonable prices. I am convinced this is because HAL is financially connected with the one and only company that is allowed to sell the excursions on their ships, thereby having a monopoly on the "market." NCL has an "open market," allowing a large number of businesses to offer their tours - as long as they have passed NCL's quality requirements. These two huge issues are causing us to reconsider future cruising with HAL.

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8 hours ago, rpfin said:

Has anyone had issues transferring your booking to your TA?  We booked directly and HA has not been very responsive to my request so far.  Any suggestions?

I've booked a few cruises while on board HAL and haven't had any problems getting them transferred to my TA.  I contact my big box TA, give them HAL's confirmation number and the TA takes care of transferring the trip.

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In addition to cruisett, I also use cruisecal.

I have found cruisett to be less than 100% accurate for Caribbean ports lately, but what do you expect for free?  :)  It seems that cruisett doesn't include Aida, P&O & other Euro based lines.

 

You can use the "Itinerary Lookup" section on cruisecal for free.

http://www.cruisecal.com/portal/ItineraryLookup/tabid/2918/Default.aspx

Cruisett gives the portload as a nice obvious number, but cruisecal will certainly give you an idea of port activity.

I use both sites for a "belt AND suspenders" approach.

And neither site is particularly good for last minute ship redeployments or itinerary changes.  YMMV

 

 

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On 11/10/2019 at 2:10 AM, ToXS said:

We were dedicated NCL cruisers until I discovered the great HAL itineraries for our last two cruises. But, no matter what cruise line, we always avoid the very large ships because of the crowds, the long waits for free-seating dining and at the "buffet" for breakfast/lunch, crowds at the entertainment venues, and just everywhere. The very worst part is you have to tender at EVERY port, and the crowds dealing with that make it all the worse! I will say that the two areas where NCL has HAL totally beat are with entertainment (both main stage and night club type venues) and with selection and price of port excursions sold on the ship. NCL must invest much more in their entertainment because the quality surpasses HAL by miles! NCL always has a very large selection and variety of excursions at at much more reasonable prices. I am convinced this is because HAL is financially connected with the one and only company that is allowed to sell the excursions on their ships, thereby having a monopoly on the "market." NCL has an "open market," allowing a large number of businesses to offer their tours - as long as they have passed NCL's quality requirements. These two huge issues are causing us to reconsider future cruising with HAL.

Based on this and other comments, we have taken NCL off our list.  Now I'm curious how you all feel about the Celebrity Summit.  It is also larger than the Veendam but smaller than the NCL escape.

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