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TomBeckCruise

X cruisers retry HAL after 12 years

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We recently did just a short cruise on HAL (Canada / New England) and overall were quite pleased. I think the decor of the ship (Rotterdam) was a bit more sophisticated than X - HAL really embraces it's heritage and culture of the home country. Many lovely displays of fresh flowers!

 

I also really liked the big, covered promenade deck. We had a cabin that was about 10 steps away from the access and many times it felt like we had a very large verandah to enjoy. The Rotterdam is a smaller ship - I think only 9 decks tall, which suited me.

 

No doubt I missed my elite benefits and I will have to give X a slight edge on the food. What I found most disappointing was the choice of appetizers - quite limited, often a bit strange and small portions. French onion soup was an option every night and was good, escargot appeared only one time. The every night salmon was very good, in fact the fish dishes on HAL outshone X by quite a bit (in MDR). And at least on our sail, the anytime dining was a joy - never a wait, no beepers - we have had bad experiences on X.

 

I would be quite happy to sail HAL again - it does seem their prices are usually a bit higher than X. They do allow you to use your shareholder benefits even if you have a perk or two, so that can help with the bottom line. In the future I'll certainly look at the offerings of both brands.

Edited by suec12
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When HAL updated their smoking policy, I put them back on my list for future cruises. But then I read somewhere that they still have Formal Nights, which is another deal-breaker for us. What was your experience with the HAL dress code?
No formal nights. Gala nights are comparable to Celebrity Chic nights. Some dress up, most don't.

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We are 3 star with HAL and Elite + with X. Did the TA on the K this Spring. Totally upset re. smoke in the casino. If they ever change that policy we will again sail with HAL. Until then we go with Celebrity mainly for the perks as we feel both are similar in service and food,

 

I wonder if HAL realized how many customers they lose by this policy? Or they don't care..

Supply and demand.

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We did zuiderdamm a few years ago and were not impressed, suite perks also are so much better on celebrity, all hal offered was a great breakfast and a lounge without liquor.

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We are booked on the Nieuw Statendam for a Transatlantic in October 2019, but with trepidation due to the smoking policy. Very nervous about it due to comments on the HAL boards about the smoke traveling from the casino to the adjacent open stairwells on the Koningsdam, the sister ship. I’m hopeful they might change the smoking policy or make a few adjustments to address the issue. But not holding my breath.

 

Might have to hit the reject button once the ship begins to sail, if things remain the same. As many said, it’s nice to have some options. We have done Celebrity every which way and there’s nothing new...until the Edge ships come out, and I think we will be priced out of Celebrity at that point, based on prices we see so far.

 

Thanks for your post....all info is good to know!

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Good review, fits with what my 70+ year old Attorney says about HAL. He told me I would hate it. He loves them.

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We've been on two Holland America cruises and really enjoyed both of them.

 

When Koningsdam was out for a few months we considered booking her. However, when I went on the HAL boards it was hard to find any helpful info. about what balcony to book. People mostly said "it's a new ship, nobody knows." If that were Celebrity, there would be a sticky on the top of the page with hundreds of posts … lol. We ended up booking a cruise on Reflection, which made us Elite, so it worked out pretty good.;)

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We've been on two Holland America cruises and really enjoyed both of them.

 

When Koningsdam was out for a few months we considered booking her. However, when I went on the HAL boards it was hard to find any helpful info. about what balcony to book. People mostly said "it's a new ship, nobody knows." If that were Celebrity, there would be a sticky on the top of the page with hundreds of posts … lol. We ended up booking a cruise on Reflection, which made us Elite, so it worked out pretty good.;)

We've been on the Koningsdam twice and booked the aft-facing cabins both times, one time in a Neptune and one time in a Vista Suite. We enjoyed both cabins, but didn't and still don't think getting a Neptune suite is worth what they charge. However, if you can get an upsell for 25% of the difference between the VS and Neptune cabin fare as we did, then it might be.

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Just off of Koningsdam and definitely allow smoking in the casino...and with a circular staircase going down to the “Music Walk” the smoke drifted into those areas. We had a port intensive itinerary but the Koningsdam entertainment was probably the worst we have experienced on our 25 cruises.

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Just off of Koningsdam and definitely allow smoking in the casino...and with a circular staircase going down to the “Music Walk” the smoke drifted into those areas. We had a port intensive itinerary but the Koningsdam entertainment was probably the worst we have experienced on our 25 cruises.

Just curious, did they have HAL production singers and dancers? I had heard back in May from an ex-HAL CD they were going to eliminate them from the entertainment offerings.

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Just off of Koningsdam and definitely allow smoking in the casino...and with a circular staircase going down to the “Music Walk” the smoke drifted into those areas...

 

Folks on the HAL board have reported the same thing. Especially with HAL moving to no smoking in the casinos on some of its older ships as they get interior refits during dry dock, it's hard to understand why HAL has allowed smoking in the casino in its newest ship (and particularly when the casino is open to other public areas).

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Wow! We feel just the opposite. We are in our mid 60s and grew up with rock n roll starting with the Beatles when I was 12. For us HAL's production shows are definitely more subdued and target the 70+ age group where as the production shows we've seen on both the Solstice and Eclipse have been fantastic and definitely target the young at heart! But I will definitely say if you don't like loud music, HAL is definitely a better choice for those that enjoy more easy listening theater entertainment IMHO.

About 5 years ago we thought that the entertainment on HAL was like watching Lawrence Welk, that seems have changed now and the production shows are more modern and on par with what we have seen on Princess, and Royal in this past year.

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About 5 years ago we thought that the entertainment on HAL was like watching Lawrence Welk, that seems have changed now and the production shows are more modern and on par with what we have seen on Princess, and Royal in this past year.

We started sailing on HAL in the mid 90s, and it seemed that every show was an American patriotic show or music from the 30s, 40s and 50s (Lawrence Welk). On our Zuiderdam cruise this month the music was mostly from the 60s and 70s. Both times they were trying to appeal to an audience of people primarily in their 60s and 70s.

 

Perhaps HAL is becoming more like Princess with several small venues around the ship with entertainment. Hopefully the singers and dancers productions will not be dropped. Like other cruise lines the guest performers were hit and miss.

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Folks on the HAL board have reported the same thing. Especially with HAL moving to no smoking in the casinos on some of its older ships as they get interior refits during dry dock, it's hard to understand why HAL has allowed smoking in the casino in its newest ship (and particularly when the casino is open to other public areas).

Yep, go figure. One must research to find the right HAL ship, and much of the information out there is incorrect, even on HAL's website.

Hopefully they will bring all of their ships into the 21st century soon.

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Folks on the HAL board have reported the same thing. Especially with HAL moving to no smoking in the casinos on some of its older ships as they get interior refits during dry dock, it's hard to understand why HAL has allowed smoking in the casino in its newest ship (and particularly when the casino is open to other public areas).

 

I agree! The only thing I can assume is that they want to appear friendly to the non smokers while pacifying the smokers...trying to win with both groups. Based on these posts, we will probably cancel our TA on the Nieuw Statendam because the casino will be open practically nonstop, which means the smoke circulating will be nonstop, too. UNLESS they make some changes, which I seriously doubt they will do.

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Just off of Koningsdam and definitely allow smoking in the casino...and with a circular staircase going down to the “Music Walk” the smoke drifted into those areas. We had a port intensive itinerary but the Koningsdam entertainment was probably the worst we have experienced on our 25 cruises.

 

Folks on the HAL board have reported the same thing. Especially with HAL moving to no smoking in the casinos on some of its older ships as they get interior refits during dry dock, it's hard to understand why HAL has allowed smoking in the casino in its newest ship (and particularly when the casino is open to other public areas).

 

NCL's new mega ships (i.e. Getaway, Escape...,) have the same problem. They sandwiched the casino between two public decks mid-ship and the smoke wafts up/down into those areas. The worst was the smoke entering Le Bistro while we were eating one evening.

We will watch the reviews of the N. Statendam to see if they are going to allow smoking in the casino.

 

Enjoy!

Kel:D

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Just curious, did they have HAL production singers and dancers? I had heard back in May from an ex-HAL CD they were going to eliminate them from the entertainment offerings.

 

Yes, they did have the HAL singers and dancers. Saw them in one show but they had one just with dancers and another one with both. The show I saw featured two male and only one female singer. While they are talented I have just grown tired of the production shows. The guest entertainers we saw left a LOT to be desired. Unfortunately, even the BB King Blues band which is usually the highlight of entertainment was below what we have experienced on previous HAL cruises.

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We did zuiderdamm a few years ago and were not impressed, suite perks also are so much better on celebrity, all hal offered was a great breakfast and a lounge without liquor.

 

Yes Celebrity suite perks are a factor for us not booking HAL. While HAL has changed some of their smoking polices. The last time I check HAL website you can still smoke E-cigs and Vape in your cabin. There is no smoking on the balconies of any kind.

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