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Underwhelmed by HAL

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14 minutes ago, idiebabe said:

 

Yes, he said this was the bottle of Wine waiting for him but was it actually Decanted?

 

I think the Cruise Line would be crazy to open a bottle not in the person's presence two hours before a Ressie.  What if he cancelled the Ressie or he turned around to the Wine Steward and said this isn't my Wine in this Decanter, etc.   They are opening themselves up for a problem especially in this day and age so best to avoid that problem and open and Decant when the person is present.  

It's common practise on all lines we've cruised for passengers not finishing a bottle of wine to have it held and returned to them the following night. All of the problems that you theorize with respect to leaving a bottle for a couple of hours to be opened and decanted apply equally, if not more so, to bottles left for close to twenty-four hours. 

 

If you are going to eat or drink in a restaurant or bar, you have to have a bit of faith. Sure, that bottle of vodka may well contain Grey Goose VX, but perhaps the bartender swapped out the contents and refilled the bottle with Smirnoff. I guess the wine stewards and bartenders on cruise ships could be up to these types of shenanigans, but if I had a nice bottle of wine I'd like decanted in advance of a meal, I wouldn't hesitate to ask for this service. 

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Is the Princess Crown Grill the equivalent of the HAL Pinnacle or the HAL Canaletto?

 

Canaletto is an odd duck of a HAL "restaurant" on HAL ships, a converted part of the Lido buffet dining area, food prep done in the Lido prep area. It should never be assumed one will have the dining service level the dedicated space and staff offer in the Pinnacle setting.  

 

But as a new customer, there is no way you would have known this except by obvious observation, But then you described the Pinnacle as dark and grim, when in fact accompanying photos showed an open space with many windows. So perceptions in this case would be fickle.

 

 Sorry you wasted your special bottle of wine at essentially the pop-up  Canaletto.

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54 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

It's common practise on all lines we've cruised for passengers not finishing a bottle of wine to have it held and returned to them the following night. All of the problems that you theorize with respect to leaving a bottle for a couple of hours to be opened and decanted apply equally, if not more so, to bottles left for close to twenty-four hours. 

 

If you are going to eat or drink in a restaurant or bar, you have to have a bit of faith. Sure, that bottle of vodka may well contain Grey Goose VX, but perhaps the bartender swapped out the contents and refilled the bottle with Smirnoff. I guess the wine stewards and bartenders on cruise ships could be up to these types of shenanigans, but if I had a nice bottle of wine I'd like decanted in advance of a meal, I wouldn't hesitate to ask for this service. 

 

Yes, it is common practice on all lines that Wine is held which is not finished.  We order Wine Packages.  We do Fixed Seating and our "leftover" Wine will be waiting for us on our Table.  On NS we did Specialty Restaurants and "leftover" Wine followed us to our next Restaurant.  When the bottle was opened though initially we were present.  

 

You make a good point on whether or not you know it's Grey Goose or Smirnoff but highly doubt the Bartenders are doing a Bait and Switch on Cruise Ships.  They have no gain to do so as opposed to a land Restaurant where it can and does happen (directed by Owner).

 

I think it was very nice of Princess to accommodate the OP but also understand why a Cruise Line would not want to open themselves up for problems.   

 

 

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Celebrity is the only cruise line that I've ever seen them decant wine in their specialty dining room.  But I think it was something they bought onboard.  Celebrity had a $14,000 bottle of wine on the list.

 

I'm guessing decanting a bottle is harder than just popping the cork for $18.   Most of the wine we've bought onboard involved twist off caps.

Edited by knittinggirl

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15 hours ago, CineGraphic said:

Just as an FYI....we were told multiple times that most of the staff came from the Konigsdam, it's sister ship in an effort to avoid any problems.

I am surprised if this is true with the wine service.  Michael was the Sommelier or whatever Holland calls the top dining room wine person on the Kdam.  He was on both the Oosterdam and the Konigsdam last year and he is top notch.   His wine tastings/courses were excellent  on both cruises so poor wine service would be puzzling with him onboard.  The OP mentioned the wine steward in Canaletto sounds just like the one I had on the Konigsdam.   Nothing like starting your dinner on a bad foot not when a sourpuss tells me I have to pay corkage on my stickered bottle.  Your wine should have been decanted sediment issue or not because that is what you had asked for.   

 

We found the coffee in the Dutch Cafe on the Konigsdam excellent but everything varies from ship to ship.  

 

Just curious is the Blend operation still running on the NS and Kdam?  I found it a good value for the price compared to comparable bottles on the dining room wine list.   It was $79 for an hour + of great tasting and snacks and carrying out a self-crafted to have with dinner.   I did it twice on the Kdam as we had several sea days, I was with one couple the first time and all by myself the second time.   

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21 hours ago, OVgirl said:

As for coffee, The Dutch Cafe is not the place to get real coffee. It has been set up to offer an 'experience'.

If you want espresso drinks you should head up to Explorations Cafe in the Crows Nest.

 

Sadly, our recent experience getting a good coffee from the Explorations Café is a relic.  Since the Explorations Café moved out of its own space and into the bar space at the EXC Crow's Nest, bartenders make the coffee.  It is my opinion that the coffee just isn't as good as it was when there was a Barista making the coffee.  I also miss the case of beautiful pastries, scones, and tea sandwiches.

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4 minutes ago, ottahand7 said:

Just curious is the Blend operation still running on the NS and Kdam?  I found it a good value for the price compared to comparable bottles on the dining room wine list.   It was $79 for an hour + of great tasting and snacks and carrying out a self-crafted to have with dinner.   I did it twice on the Kdam as we had several sea days, I was with one couple the first time and all by myself the second time

Yes, Blend is alive and well, after the price was lowered last year to the current price. If I remember correctly, the initial price when it was introduced on the Kdam was almost double.

The tastings were well attended.

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We don't think the food on Princess is as good as HAL so we have booked HAL much more.  Everyone is different when it comes to food.  We also sailed on NS and had none of these problems.   

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37 minutes ago, knittinggirl said:

Celebrity is the only cruise line that I've ever seen them decant wine in their specialty dining room.  But I think it was something they bought onboard.  Celebrity had a $14,000 bottle of wine on the list.

 

 

On both the Oosterdam and the Noordam we had our corkage wines decanted in both PG and Canaletto.  As a wine nut I figure why not bring some of the really good old stuff from the cellar to have with wonderful dinners that I don't have to cook.   They were extremely careful with old corks.  It was never offered on the Kdam and I wouldn't have opted for it anyway as my friend wasn't drinking.  Most of my cruise planning centers about how to get my wines to the ship.  🍷

 

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1 hour ago, OlsSalt said:

you described the Pinnacle as dark and grim, when in fact accompanying photos showed an open space with many windows. So perceptions in this case would be fickle.

I dined at night and said the room was dark. How does a picture taken in daylight prove otherwise? Some of you seem dead-set on contradicting what I personally experienced and saw. I wish I had that sort of time on my hands. Nothing you say or think is going to change the fact that service was off. Management knows it,  and that’s all that matters to me at this point. I’m sorry if I can’t be a HAL cheerleader who thinks they can do no wrong. Enjoy your cruises with HAL, and I’ll enjoy our future cruises with Princess. Maybe I was wrong to be allowed to believe that HAL is a step up from Princess. I wasn’t expecting anything other than hot food served hot and properly made drinks.

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52 minutes ago, knittinggirl said:

Celebrity is the only cruise line that I've ever seen them decant wine in their specialty dining room.  But I think it was something they bought onboard.  Celebrity had a $14,000 bottle of wine on the list.

 

I'm guessing decanting a bottle is harder than just popping the cork for $18.   Most of the wine we've bought onboard involved twist off caps.

Princess decanted mine in the MDR, both when we bought something $40 + and when we brought on our own.  I can't say it was on all of our Princess cruises, but our last waiter was pretty darn good with decanting our bottles.

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Kinda reminds me of the only Princess cruise I've been on which was about nine years ago on the Ruby Princess which was their newest ship at the time.  Entertainment-the best.  Cabin, a mini-suite- the best I had been in at that time.  Cabin steward- a 10.  Pools- a 10.  Beyond THAT....well.  A very stuffy environment.  A very crowded ship.  But I thought the FOOD was terrible, especially the MDR.  I was never so happy to see Margaritaville on Grand Turk!  LOL!  We ate everything on the menu!

 

Retrospectively....I realize I might have been part of the issue.  I was used to Carnival and say what you want about Carnival, the food is GOOD.  Carnival was what I was USED it.  I knew the ins and outs of Carnival.  If I had tried another Princess cruise, even on the Ruby Princess I probably would have enjoyed it better.  I could have learned the ins and outs of Princess as well which certainly helps.

 

Chances are if you'd try another HA cruise, say the Eurodam or the Nieuw Amsterdam and others I'm sure,  you'd like it better.  Nevertheless, happy cruising no matter where it may lead you!

 

In no way am I minimizing your complaints you had with HA.  Hey, you were there!  Decanting a wine should have been a ZERO issue for them as instructed by you.  Also as you mentioned, they should have made ANY drink you wanted.  PERIOD.  That's the way one earns a nice tip!  

 

BTW...I have a cruise planned on the Royal Princess next year!   

 

    

Edited by chill6x6

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I just figured out that CC has made picture posting easy.  Here is an Oosterdam PG wine service with my decanted 1996 Seavey cab.   

wine service pinnacle 31518.jpg

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2 hours ago, ottahand7 said:

I just figured out that CC has made picture posting easy.  Here is an Oosterdam PG wine service with my decanted 1996 Seavey cab.   

wine service pinnacle 31518.jpg

 

Looks pretty dark to me on this ship.

Edited by ChinaShrek

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1 minute ago, ChinaShrek said:

 

Looks pretty dark to me. 

If you reread the original post, it was a different ship .

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3 minutes ago, 1ANGELCAT said:

If you reread the original post, it was a different ship .

Sorry, I did not notice that.  I made a quick change to my post. 

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I do find the lighting in the Pinnacle Grill, across several ships, darker than is comfortable for my enjoyment and reading the menu easily. But I find many upscale land-based restaurants are too dark for reading the menu and dining easily. It's a complaint I have made several times on the cruise comment surveys and also to the PG manager on the ship. To help, I make my reservations as early as possible to try and use what natural light is available from the windows, but by the time dessert comes, it is usually too dark for my comfort.

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It wasn't too dark for us when we dined in the Pinnacle on the Oosterdam.  Several times we had one of the round banquettes in the room away from the windows - to the immediate right upon entry.  Just my preference I like a darker environment for dinner.     Too much light bothers me while enjoying a slow, leisurely dinner.  I did find the Konigsdam slightly brighter than the Noordam or the Oosterdam.   Everyone has their own preference.  I can take dark but not loud.  

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Sorry you did not have a good exerpeince. We normally cruise RCCL and have also cruised Celebrity and NCL. We cruised HAL for the first time on Nieuw Amsterstam end of November last year and will be on Nieuw Statendam April 7th. We had a good experience very similar to Celebrity on our first HAL cruise. We like the larger RCCL ships with the huge promenades for longer cruises or transatlantic crossings but for a port intensive week we found HAL to be wonderful with good food and an excellent staff. 

 

I am surprised at your experiencde at the Pinnacle Grille. On Niewu Amsterdam I had a 10oz filet and it was excellent. I also am surprised that you can find any cruise line that would agree to open your wine two hours before you would arrive due to health concerns.

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On 1/28/2019 at 1:26 PM, OlsSalt said:

HAL built its reputation, which BTW is low key, on its smaller ships and unique itineraries. it was  a ship for travelers and primarily self-contained travelers. But some how this combination created a very high passenger loyalty niche. One of the best in the business.   It is now losing its way, trying to compete in the larger ship market. 

 

Not sure what would distinguish their larger ships, who primarily now do bus routes - too short to enjoy the subtle charms of the HAL staff and crew; too large to offer their formerly great itineraries and sense of onboard itimacy.

 

This is a current HAl and CCL management issue. I just hope those who have invested their lives working on HAL ships and offering their formerly unique added-value do not get lost in this current HAL management meat grinder misdirection.  

 

Thank you for your feedback.  You are obviously more interested in the details onboard experience than the overall travel experience.   HAL has not made the shift to these new customer requirements. 

what do you mean by self contained? I never been on HAL, so this would help me understand what they were more about in the past. 

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Earlier this month, my wife and I embarked on our first HAL cruise, aboard the Nieuw Statendam. This was our 12 cruise overall, most with Princess.”

 

We sailed on Royal Princess this past summer. Food quality and service were so far below our experiences on previous Princess cruises (14 cruises) that we cancelled our Winter 2019 Princess cruise on Royal Princess.

 

We booked Holland America (2 cruises this winter), primarily because of the excellent service, food quality, and the Lincoln Center Stage music program. Holland America and Cunard (Queen Mary, Queen Victoria) have become our favorite cruise lines.

 

 

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If anybody sailed on Princess BEFORE the currently rolling out  horrid cutbacks and changes in menus, ingredients, etc...  And didn't think it was that great...   I just have to say, once again,  PLEASE DO NOT SAIL PRINCESS EXPECTING ANY DECENT FOOD OR SERVICE.  We recently sailed the Regal, with the new menus and system of service.   it was no less than horrible... Several plates we were served were almost inedible.

 

We had an EXCELLENT experience with dining and food on the CORAL princess....  But, this recent sailing has me vowing to never sail with Princess again.   

 

The REGAL is an excellent wonderful amazing ship....  excellent entertainment and venues all around, the Sanctuary just can not be beat.   But, I will not be able to sail with inedible food that actually has so much 'crap' and salt in in that I do not feel well...  And RUDE service.   

Edited by Wishing on a star

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22 hours ago, DrSea said:

what do you mean by self contained? I never been on HAL, so this would help me understand what they were more about in the past. 

 

It is an interesting comment and yours is an interesting question.  Self contained may refer to people who are naturally inquisitive, do their research, and make the trip what they would like it to be.  They entertain themselves.  Other people want someone else to entertain them.  

 

At the moment,, the best contrast I can draw is the difference between Sanibel Island, Florida and Disney World.  Do your homework and Sanibel, with DIng Darling, Tarpon Bay, the Shell Museum, wonderful shelling beaches, and Captiva and Fort Myers nearby, is a great trip.  People entertain themselves there.  Other people go to Disney World where they are entertained by others.  

 

HTH

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13 hours ago, BRWolf said:

 

It is an interesting comment and yours is an interesting question.  Self contained may refer to people who are naturally inquisitive, do their research, and make the trip what they would like it to be.  They entertain themselves.  Other people want someone else to entertain them.  

 

At the moment,, the best contrast I can draw is the difference between Sanibel Island, Florida and Disney World.  Do your homework and Sanibel, with DIng Darling, Tarpon Bay, the Shell Museum, wonderful shelling beaches, and Captiva and Fort Myers nearby, is a great trip.  People entertain themselves there.  Other people go to Disney World where they are entertained by others.  

 

HTH

Uh oh. My travelers may not like this, which is fine. We are going to try out HAL because I wanted to. It is primarily for me. I want to see what the food is like. I am definitely not the target audience, which is why it took me 15 years before I tried HAL. 

 

Thanks for explaining it to me in easy to understand terms. 

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We're new here on this forum but not new to cruising. We'll be on the Koningsdam next month and just started doing research.

 

Would it have been possible to request a decanter from his/her room steward? Then he/she could have been charged the $18 corkage at that time and known that the wine in the decanter was his/hers and just carried the decanter to dinner.  Maybe not the most convenient option but better than drinking a mouth full of sediment or wondering if they swapped a $90 bottle for 2 buck chuck (not that they would).

 

We booked this cruise b/c of the itinerary and the focus on music. We don't need to be entertained like at Disney World but a cocktail and a quartet + exploring foreign ports make cruising what it is for us.  Are we not HALs target audience?  And, if not, what are the qualities of the typical HAL cruiser?

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