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


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Hi all!  I will be on my first HAL cruise next month (Eurodam, Alaskan Explorer) and I have a question.  We were assigned anytime dining, as opposed to a fixed dining time.  Is there a specific floor of the dining room we will go to?  And also, is it possible to "reserve" a table with open dining, and if yes, how is that done? 

 

Thank you in advance!   

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26 minutes ago, JMB1969 said:

Hi all!  I will be on my first HAL cruise next month (Eurodam, Alaskan Explorer) and I have a question.  We were assigned anytime dining, as opposed to a fixed dining time.  Is there a specific floor of the dining room we will go to?  And also, is it possible to "reserve" a table with open dining, and if yes, how is that done? 

 

The MDR entrance for Any Time Dining is on Deck 2. (Sometimes if there is room, you may then be led to a table on Deck 3 which is for Fixed Dining. But you still enter on Deck 2.)

 

Only 50% of the Deck 2 tables are available to be reserved. This can be done by going to one of the podiums for Specialty Dining on embarkation day. They are normally near the Pinnacle Dining Room on Deck 2 and on Deck 9 between the Lido Pool and the entrance to the Spa. You could also reserve by calling Dining Services once onboard or talking with the MDR maître d. Some cruises will allow you to book a time only for the next three nights, some for the entire cruise, some only for that evening.

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3 minutes ago, Cruise Suzy said:

 

The MDR entrance for Any Time Dining is on Deck 2. (Sometimes if there is room, you may then be led to a table on Deck 3 which is for Fixed Dining. But you still enter on Deck 2.)

 

Only 50% of the Deck 2 tables are available to be reserved. This can be done by going to one of the podiums for Specialty Dining on embarkation day. They are normally near the Pinnacle Dining Room on Deck 2 and on Deck 9 between the Lido Pool and the entrance to the Spa. You could also reserve by calling Dining Services once onboard or talking with the MDR maître d. Some cruises will allow you to book a time only for the next three nights, some for the entire cruise, some only for that evening.

Thank you!  

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2 minutes ago, islandwoman said:

Is there somewhere on hollandamerica.com that you can see your OBC?

Can they be used pre-cruise to book packages, shore excursions, etc?

 

You cannot see your OBC online. Have your TA or PCC send you an updated receipt/confirmation. It will be there.

 

OBC is the abbreviation for On Board Credit. HAL does not allow you to use it until actually onboard. However, you can book Specialty Dining or Shore Excursions using your credit card. Then, once onboard, you can have the amounts transferred to refundable OBC. Go to the Guest Services Desk to have Specialty Dining charges transferred and to the Shore Excursions Desk to transfer shore excursions. The prepaid amount(s) will be transferred to your refundable OBC - which goes to your credit card on file if not used onboard.

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5 minutes ago, Cruise Suzy said:

 

You cannot see your OBC online. Have your TA or PCC send you an updated receipt/confirmation. It will be there.

 

OBC is the abbreviation for On Board Credit. HAL does not allow you to use it until actually onboard. However, you can book Specialty Dining or Shore Excursions using your credit card. Then, once onboard, you can have the amounts transferred to refundable OBC. Go to the Guest Services Desk to have Specialty Dining charges transferred and to the Shore Excursions Desk to transfer shore excursions. The prepaid amount(s) will be transferred to your refundable OBC - which goes to your credit card on file if not used onboard.

This is 100% correct and what we have done on past cruises.

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1 hour ago, Cruise Suzy said:

 

You cannot see your OBC online. Have your TA or PCC send you an updated receipt/confirmation. It will be there.

 

OBC is the abbreviation for On Board Credit. HAL does not allow you to use it until actually onboard. However, you can book Specialty Dining or Shore Excursions using your credit card. Then, once onboard, you can have the amounts transferred to refundable OBC. Go to the Guest Services Desk to have Specialty Dining charges transferred and to the Shore Excursions Desk to transfer shore excursions. The prepaid amount(s) will be transferred to your refundable OBC - which goes to your credit card on file if not used onboard.

Absolutely correct - we do it every cruise. If you want, you can also cash out at GS vs having the unused amount credited to your CC.

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2 minutes ago, poet_tess@yahoo.com said:

Looked at Main Dining menu, is it the same menu every night?

 

There will be a few selections that are available every evening, but most starters, entrees and desserts will vary.

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Cruise Suzy said:

 

There will be a few selections that are available every evening, but most starters, entrees and desserts will vary.

But there is no way to see the menus in the app for everyday of the cruise. The app will only show the menu for the MDR that day you look. The menu you see today is the one on the ship that today wherever it is located. Once onboard you will only be able to see the menu for one day at a time too.

Edited by terrydtx
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On 6/3/2024 at 10:49 AM, terrydtx said:

The separate CO line in the MDR will get CO guests seated before other guests in the anytime dining waiting lines. Also you will get an CO menu with the extra CO special menu items for that night.

Thank you!

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Posted (edited)

First timer, leaving on the Zaandam in exactly one month. 1) My husband and I noticed that we can check in on line in the app. How far in advance should we do this? 2) Also, we have not received any emails from HAL about the cruise since we booked w/ a PCC several months ago. Is this normal or are we missing something? Does HAL send pre cruise emails to passengers? We do have our cabin and excursion invoices, which we requested at the time booking. 3) We have Club Orange and anytime dining. I understand that we have preferred seating in the MDR with CO. Does that mean no wait if we just show up? Or, should we make MDR dinner reservations for a table for 4 after we board? 
 

Thank you. 

Edited by Ileneilene123
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4 minutes ago, Ileneilene123 said:

First timer, leaving in exactly one month. 1) My husband and I noticed that we can check in on line in the app. How far in advance should we do this? 2) Also, we have not received any emails from HAL about the cruise since we booked w/ a PCC several months ago. Is this normal or are we missing something? Does HAL send pre cruise emails to passengers? We do have our cabin and excursion invoices, which we requested at the time booking.

 

You can complete your check-in now or wait a week or so. It must be done 3 days before boarding. HAL sends an e-mail when your boarding pass is ready - but you have to have completed check-in before then. You will probably get more than one notice that your boarding pass is ready - with a possible time change. You can print the luggage tags as soon as they are available but no need to print the boarding pass until there's a barcode on it. I download each version as a PDF when first available and but print only when a barcode appears.

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17 minutes ago, Ileneilene123 said:

2) Also, we have not received any emails from HAL about the cruise since we booked w/ a PCC several months ago. Is this normal or are we missing something? Does HAL send pre cruise emails to passengers? We do have our cabin and excursion invoices, which we requested at the time booking.

I think I usually get an email or two urging me to buy more things from HAL (flights, transfers, excursions...). And any changes, usually after final payment!

 

As far as MDR, we have not had CO, but I understand it is like cutting to the front of the line (separate prioritized line) on non-Pinnacle ships*. You may have a slight wait if there is not a 4-top empty, but I don't think you have to make reservations. 

 

* The three newest "Pinnacle-class" ships have separate CO dining rooms.

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50 minutes ago, Ileneilene123 said:

First timer, leaving on the Zaandam in exactly one month. 1) My husband and I noticed that we can check in on line in the app. How far in advance should we do this? 2) Also, we have not received any emails from HAL about the cruise since we booked w/ a PCC several months ago. Is this normal or are we missing something? Does HAL send pre cruise emails to passengers? We do have our cabin and excursion invoices, which we requested at the time booking. 3) We have Club Orange and anytime dining. I understand that we have preferred seating in the MDR with CO. Does that mean no wait if we just show up? Or, should we make MDR dinner reservations for a table for 4 after we board? 
 

Thank you. 

You can check in anytime online in your HAL account. If this is your first time on HAL you can set up an online account using your HAL confirmation number, after you check in you can print your luggage tags and your boarding passes are usually ready within 7 days of departure. They need to have a bar code on them to be official for use at the cruise terminal. With CO you have early priority boarding which means you can show up at the cruise terminal any time after boarding begins and you will have a special line for suites and CO passengers to check in.

 

In the MDR with anytime dining and CO there will be a separate podium at the MDR entrance for Suites and CO passengers to check in for seating. You will be seated before other non CO passengers in the main entrance line which can be very long.

 

Good luck and enjoy your first HAL cruise.

 

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2 hours ago, Cruise Suzy said:

no need to print the boarding pass until there's a barcode on it. I download each version as a PDF when first available and but print only when a barcode appears.

Good advice.  On our recent Koningsdam cruise several passengers attempted to check in with boarding passes that had no bar codes.  They had to see an agent to get a new boarding pass. I don't know why the HAL website posts useless boarding passes.

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6 hours ago, Cruise Suzy said:

 

You can complete your check-in now or wait a week or so. It must be done 3 days before boarding. HAL sends an e-mail when your boarding pass is ready - but you have to have completed check-in before then. You will probably get more than one notice that your boarding pass is ready - with a possible time change. You can print the luggage tags as soon as they are available but no need to print the boarding pass until there's a barcode on it. I download each version as a PDF when first available and but print only when a barcode appears.

Great info — thank you so much! 

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6 hours ago, crystalspin said:

I think I usually get an email or two urging me to buy more things from HAL (flights, transfers, excursions...). And any changes, usually after final payment!

Yes, I was expecting something like this but so far not one email. Wonder why HAL is being so quiet w/ us? I hope they know we’re coming, lol. 

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6 hours ago, terrydtx said:

You can check in anytime online in your HAL account. If this is your first time on HAL you can set up an online account using your HAL confirmation number, after you check in you can print your luggage tags and your boarding passes are usually ready within 7 days of departure. They need to have a bar code on them to be official for use at the cruise terminal. With CO you have early priority boarding which means you can show up at the cruise terminal any time after boarding begins and you will have a special line for suites and CO passengers to check in.

 

In the MDR with anytime dining and CO there will be a separate podium at the MDR entrance for Suites and CO passengers to check in for seating. You will be seated before other non CO passengers in the main entrance line which can be very long.

 

Good luck and enjoy your first HAL cruise.

 

Perfect! Thank you. We are getting very excited. My husband is checking in online now as I type. 

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4 hours ago, islandwoman said:

Good advice.  On our recent Koningsdam cruise several passengers attempted to check in with boarding passes that had no bar codes.  They had to see an agent to get a new boarding pass. I don't know why the HAL website posts useless boarding passes.

Good to know. We will wait for the bar codes to be added before printing our boarding passes. Thx. 

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My question is about transferring a booking made on the HAL website to the big box TA that gives you a gift card to use in their stores when you come home.  Everything I've found in search is several years old.  Has anyone done this recently?

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17 minutes ago, skatelady said:

My question is about transferring a booking made on the HAL website to the big box TA that gives you a gift card to use in their stores when you come home.  Everything I've found in search is several years old.  Has anyone done this recently?

I called the big box TA and requested the transfer paperwork. She emailed it to me with the big box TA info filled in. I completed my portion and emailed it to HAL. I called the big box TA three days after emailing the paperwork to HAL and we completed the transfer over the phone. This must be completed within 60 days of the date you booked the cruise. Very easy and simple.

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Thanks!  I went to the travel agent site, their frequently asked questions under the cruise heading has how to transfer a reservation for many of the cruise lines and lets you download a partially completed form.  Clear instructions - complete and email, they provided the correct email address at the cruise line, and advised to give them 7 days and then contact them to complete the transfer.  It was easy once you knew where to look.  I had great difficulty finding the form on the HAL sight.  

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29 minutes ago, skatelady said:

Thanks!  I went to the travel agent site, their frequently asked questions under the cruise heading has how to transfer a reservation for many of the cruise lines and lets you download a partially completed form.  Clear instructions - complete and email, they provided the correct email address at the cruise line, and advised to give them 7 days and then contact them to complete the transfer.  It was easy once you knew where to look.  I had great difficulty finding the form on the HAL sight.  

It is in the TA's interest to facilitate the transfer of a booking.  Not so much for HAL !

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