Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
TomBeckCruise

Celebrity cruisers retry HAL after 12 years

Recommended Posts

We have sailed on HAL 5 times, but not since 2006. HAL chose to remain a mostly smoking ship, while the rest of the industry chose to go mostly non-smiling, and X led the way. Since then we have sailed primarily with X.When HAL recently made significant changes to their smoking policy we decided to give them a try again.

Here are some things we noticed during our 20 day Zuiderdam cruise that stopped in Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada: Typically do not compare cruise lines, but both of us kept mentioning things we liked and did not like about the cruise, and compared it to Celebrity. Each Rated on a 1-10 scale.

We had a balcony cabin on deck 7.

 

Itinerary:HAL has more choices around the world. HA 9, X 5

 

 

We try to get exercise on sea days by walking. HAL has a wide promenade deck that goes all the way around the ship. 3 laps = 1 mile.

X walking area above the pool is barely usable. HA 10, X 1

 

 

Both cruise lines do a good job of keeping smoke out of the inside of the ship. HAL does not allow smoking on the side of the ship anywhere, only the back of deck 9. Smoking on the side can often be smelled on balconies above. HA 9, X 8

 

 

Service and dining:

 

 

Roomsteward. The people are excellent on both lines, but HAL has two people where X Has one. I don’t know the number of cabins, but it seemed we could not leave for 30 minutes without our cabin being serviced twice daily. Hal 9, X 8

 

 

Main Dining Room. More staff on HAL. Simply better on HAL, especially wine service. HAL9, X 7

 

 

Specialty Restaurants. We only ate at the Italian restaurant, Canaletto. Some people loved it. We thought it was good.I guess wine came with the meal. We had one glass, and a charge did not appear on our bill.

The Steak And seafood menu did not look very good at that specialty restaurant. HA5, X 9

 

 

I had coffee at the Crows next every morning. Good Americano, Again excellent service. HA9, X 8

 

 

Cafeteria:

HAL and Xboth offer plenty of choices. HAL is more crowded than X. It is packed from the time it opens until it closes. They set up tables to accommodate 40-50 people in the pool area. We both preferred the food slightly on HAL. Food quality HA 8,X 7

Overall HA6, X 8

Main dining room food:

 

 

We ate mainly fish and pasta. I suspect that a ship that departs Copenhagen has some pretty good fish, and I doubt the HALfood on a Caribbean cruise would be as good as what we had. HA, 9, X 8

 

 

Entertainment:HAL production shows were better. The guest singer, comedian, etc. were equal to X.

No piped in loud music anywhere that I noticed, no techno.

 

 

Mattresses:no comparison, as many people have commented HAL has the best at sea. HA9, X 6

 

 

Internet: X is horribly expensive for average service.Hal is only somewhat expensive on Zuiderdam for the worst at sea, or at least I Can’t imagine worse. It was average at 3 a.m. Otherwise it was practically unusable. That was a real problem for many people on the cruise who had to make different connections in NYC at the end of the cruise because the cruise terminal changed from Manhattan to Brooklyn. HA 1, X4

 

Fellow Passengers: very similar, but the median age was probably five years older onHAL. That is certainly not a problem for us. We enjoyed meeting people from many places. We are both 65+

HA9, X 9

 

 

Overall Experience: HAL 8.5, X 8 we like both lines.

 

 

HAL and X are our favorite mainstream cruise lines. We prefer them other other lines significantly.

 

 

It is nice to have another cruise line that we like as much as X.

Edited by TomBeckCruise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome back to HAL. We also cruise both lines and I agree with almost everything you said. Especially about the HAL itineraries in Europe and walking the promenade deck. I think Celebrity has better entertainment, but that's just my opinion.

 

I've never gotten a free glass of wine at Canaletto :confused: Did you have a drink package?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Welcome back to HAL. We also cruise both lines and I agree with almost everything you said. Especially about the HAL itineraries in Europe and walking the promenade deck. I think Celebrity has better entertainment, but that's just my opinion.

 

I've never gotten a free glass of wine at Canaletto :confused: Did you have a drink package?

 

No drink package. We did buy wine by the bottle, four bottles at a time which gave us a good discount.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with you. We have preferred cruise line. We like some of them for very different reasons. We certainly enjoy the differences. Cruising only on one cruise line does not do it for us. Plus, we also see some significant differences in ships between cruise lines and within cruise lines-some of which we like more than others.

 

It is so good to have choice and to have competition. It serves to make the cruise lines better and to provide products and services that meet current and changing market demands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You forgot to score Entertainment.

 

I’ve seen comments in other CC threads about excessive background music on Celebrity ships.

 

Thanks for your comparison. Interesting to read!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for taking the time to give us your comparison. We're pretty much creatures of habit, and have sailed exclusively on HAL for at least 20 years. However, if we were to try something new it would be Celebrity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We pretty much agree with your HAL vs X ratings.

 

HAL has much better itineraries. Celebrity has better past passenger benefits including some free internet.

 

We remember our cruise on HAL on Veendam to Alaska in 2006. Food wise it was better than any other HAL or Celebrity cruise in the past 12 years.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your comparison! Having exclusively sailed X in the past, I admit to some small amount of nerves in trying a new cruise line for my upcoming cruise. Glad to see that HAL performs so favorably in your eyes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just got off of a 12-day Koningsdam and they absolutely DO ALLOW smoking in the casino. It was very bad on most nights and drifted into other areas. The sea view pool area also allows smoking on the starboard side which means it basically makes the entire area smoking. Koningsdam is a pretty ship and HAL does a few things better but we still prefer the openness of the Solstice X class and ESPECIALLY the Lido restaurant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You forgot to score Entertainment.

 

I’ve seen comments in other CC threads about excessive background music on Celebrity ships.

 

Thanks for your comparison. Interesting to read!

HAL singers and dancers 7, X singers and dancers 6 I'm certainly not comparing them to Broadway, just cruise mainstream cruise ships.

 

Loud music has always been annoying to me except at concerts, and even then some rock concerts are too loud. We like to relax in a bar before dinner, and have a glass or two of wine. It is difficult to understand what others are saying if the music is loud. Hopefully X has corrected that problem. Well, it is a problem for me. Some people probably like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to review your experiences. We are sailing on HAL this January after an absence of 19 years. We did take a Bermuda Cruise on the Summit two years ago and the experience was just ok. The ship was at full capacity and swarming with children. It was a 7-day early August sailing to Bermuda and the ship just couldn't handle all the children. We were so grateful to be in Agua Class as we avoided the Lido deck crowds. We might go back on Celebrity, but not on a short cruise. I used to consider HAL having "older" passengers. Well, now that I am in that demographic, it's time to try them again. We are sailing on the Koeningdam, which we hear has a different vibe than some of the older HAL ships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for taking the time to review your experiences. We are sailing on HAL this January after an absence of 19 years. We did take a Bermuda Cruise on the Summit two years ago and the experience was just ok. The ship was at full capacity and swarming with children. It was a 7-day early August sailing to Bermuda and the ship just couldn't handle all the children. We were so grateful to be in Agua Class as we avoided the Lido deck crowds. We might go back on Celebrity, but not on a short cruise. I used to consider HAL having "older" passengers. Well, now that I am in that demographic, it's time to try them again. We are sailing on the Koeningdam, which we hear has a different vibe than some of the older HAL ships.

 

Sailing out of a big urban area in the middle of the summer on a one-week cruise pretty much guarantees you'll have lots of kids on board. ;p

 

The Summit is one of Celebrity's older M-class ships. The newer S-class ships are stunningly beautiful. You might try one of them if you haven't already done so. To date, they are our favorite ships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought that was the case. It was a huge problem as the children had no place to go as the children’s programs were packed. The pools were impossibly crowded. We spent our time in the solarium. Visiting Bermuda was our sole reason to take the voyage. I’m sure we will try Celebrity in the future if one their itineraries work for us.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comparison. We have never sailed on Celebrity, but will probably one day. I found this especially interesting, as we have friends who sail frequently and love Celebrity. A few years back, they sailed on HA for the first time. I believe it was for 14+ days. They hated HA. They said they would never sail again with them, even if free. I said I just don't understand. We love HA and have never had any type of complaint that wasn't very minor. Their complaints covered everything you can think of, from dirty cabins, to unfriendly staff, to the food, to everything in between. I told them that this is definitely not our experience. It's good to read from someone who is comparing both lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that with HAL, there can be quite a difference between ships. Consequently, while you might have experienced a smoke-free interior on the Zuiderdam, that isn't the case on all ships. I would definitely score HAL lower overall on the smoke rating.

 

The wonderful, wide promenade decks of the past are no longer part of current HAL builds. While I agree that X's track is barely usable at some times of the day, it's fine early in the morning or late in the day, much better than on the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam.

 

We've spent almost equal time cruising with Celebrity and HAL, so I found your comparison quite interesting. I'd score some of the items a little differently (I'm a big fan of Café al Bacio :)), but I suspect that my final score would be quite similar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find that with HAL, there can be quite a difference between ships. Consequently, while you might have experienced a smoke-free interior on the Zuiderdam, that isn't the case on all ships. I would definitely score HAL lower overall on the smoke rating.

 

The wonderful, wide promenade decks of the past are no longer part of current HAL builds. While I agree that X's track is barely usable at some times of the day, it's fine early in the morning or late in the day, much better than on the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam.

 

We've spent almost equal time cruising with Celebrity and HAL, so I found your comparison quite interesting. I'd score some of the items a little differently (I'm a big fan of Café al Bacio :)), but I suspect that my final score would be quite similar.

An Americano on HAL is $2.20 for small, and $2.50 for large. That is what we drink so that is what I graded on. No material difference in taste. It is $5 on X. I did find the service in Zuiderdam'sZcoffee shop to be exceptional. Of course it might be terrible on another ship.

We dislike cafeteria coffee on both lines. I should say every cruise ship we have sailed on. Princess was the worst though.

JMO, but HAL needs to get more standardized. I like the difference in size, but different smoking policies just should not happen. It does appear that most of their ships will be in drydock in 2018, and that seems to be when the change to no smoking indoors is made?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
An Americano on HAL is $2.20 for small, and $2.50 for large. That is what we drink so that is what I graded on. No material difference in taste. It is $5 on X. I did find the service in Zuiderdam'sZcoffee shop to be exceptional. Of course it might be terrible on another ship.

We dislike cafeteria coffee on both lines. I should say every cruise ship we have sailed on. Princess was the worst though.

JMO, but HAL needs to get more standardized. I like the difference in size, but different smoking policies just should not happen. It does appear that most of their ships will be in drydock in 2018, and that seems to be when the change to no smoking indoors is made?

 

Is there a specific reason you have to be hopeful that indoor smoking will cease on HAL? It is the one thing that stops us from returning to HAL. We have one booked on the Nieuw Statendam, with hope that there might be design changes that would contain or modify the amount of smoke that seeps from the casino to the surrounding areas... but comments on the boards still note that the smoke is still an issue on the Koningsdam. With our booking being a TA the casino will be open a lot and that will increase rather than decrease the smoke. If that’s the scenario, we will cancel.

 

Too many other places to spend vacation money than to waste it on a trip where smoking is an issue. We love HAL otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is there a specific reason you have to be hopeful that indoor smoking will cease on HAL? It is the one thing that stops us from returning to HAL. We have one booked on the Nieuw Statendam, with hope that there might be design changes that would contain or modify the amount of smoke that seeps from the casino to the surrounding areas... but comments on the boards still note that the smoke is still an issue on the Koningsdam. With our booking being a TA the casino will be open a lot and that will increase rather than decrease the smoke. If that’s the scenario, we will cancel.

 

Too many other places to spend vacation money than to waste it on a trip where smoking is an issue. We love HAL otherwise.

Isn't NS a new ship? It is anyone's guess.

They have four ships scheduled for dry dock later this year. If those go non-smoking then maybe NS will too. Otoh, it might not. :mad: You would think that they would change, but again, who knows? I don't trust anything any customer service person says. If HAL puts it in print then I would be comfortable going. They are doing a deceitful disservice to both smokers and non-smokers by not letting customers know.

You might wait and see if your deposit is refundable, and you are not concerned about missing another ship or getting a good flight, etc.

Sorry, any answer from anyone other than HAL is just a guess.

We also hate smoking, and it has been many years since we have had to be exposed to smoke ashore in the US. Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have found as many variables between ships/itineraries/crews in the the cruise line as we have between ships in different cruise lines.

 

We do not see that much difference between HAL, Princess, or Celebrity. For us the differences lie in the ship, size, age, and amenities. It seems to us that the only constant with the mass market cruise lines is inconsistency. And to a certain extent the cutbacks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for taking the time to review your experiences. We are sailing on HAL this January after an absence of 19 years. We did take a Bermuda Cruise on the Summit two years ago and the experience was just ok. The ship was at full capacity and swarming with children. It was a 7-day early August sailing to Bermuda and the ship just couldn't handle all the children. We were so grateful to be in Agua Class as we avoided the Lido deck crowds. We might go back on Celebrity, but not on a short cruise. I used to consider HAL having "older" passengers. Well, now that I am in that demographic, it's time to try them again. We are sailing on the Koeningdam, which we hear has a different vibe than some of the older HAL ships.

 

We are excited to be sailing with HAL for the first time this New Year's. We have sailed on the Summit twice during the low season in December and there were only a handful of children.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this comparison! We are sailing on HAL for the first time this summer. We are 40 something professionals and we travel with our two teenagers. We are elite on Celebrity. We usually sail in top tier suites.

 

We originally had booked a similar Med itinerary on X, but it was a B2B which isn’t ideal, and we would need to switch cabins midway. We had an aft penthouse on the 2nd leg which we do love.

 

So when I saw a similar itinerary on HAL, same length, with a corner aft suite and an adjoining aft suite I booked that too. We were shocked that the 2 suites combined are about half the price of the total trip on X!

 

Your review puts me at ease that we will enjoy the HAL experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations

Announcements

×
×
  • Create New...