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rbslos18

Overwhelmed Newbie to Holland America

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We have been on 33 cruises, virtually all on Princess. We are very happy with Princess particularly their Club Class product. We are working on booking a group on the Niew Amsterdam. Princess just doesn’t have an option for us in Western Europe that is more than 7 days on a ship which has a traditional Promenade Deck (a must for DW and our marriage. Nothing else matters to her!). The new Princess ships are large, beautiful but the Promenade walking deck has been eliminated. 

 

The HA website is simply overwhelming. It is (very) difficult to navigate and to find information. (I am actually savvy with the internet and computers.) It just is not user-friendly. We are  hoping it isn’t a reflection of the product. It certainly doesn’t make a good initial impression.  The people who post here on CC seem lovely and the reviews suggest HA is similar to Princess. I really don’t mean to sound negative, but I am just a tad concerned.

 Two questions:

1) Does HA offer cruise airfare like Princess’ EZair? I couldn’t find it or the prices on the website.

2) Does HA offer a product similar to Club Class?

 

Thanks for your patience and I do not mean to offend HA lovers. I actually hope to join you!

RB

 

Edited by rbslos18

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A little reading would find a lot of info. Yes, HAL offers airfares. No, there is no equal to Club Class. The new Club Orange might be an attempt to match, but it is very new.

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You won’t offend anyone when say the HAL website is not user friendly.  It’s not.

 

It was better before they “improved it”.

 

Yes, HAL has flight ease.  I don’t know if you can see pricing before you book, but you certainly can once you have booked.

 

I don’t think there is anything on HAL similar to Club class.  The closest would be booking a Neptune Suite or the new Club Orange, I think.  But they are not the same.

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Hi,

HAL has Flight Ease, I priced out a flight for us going either with flight ease or booking myself, saving $400 each person using Fkight Ease.  We have sailed only four times with Princess, I don’t know what Club Class provides.  We regards to the promenade deck, I love walking that too, but I just want to give you a heads up, in my opinion, the promenade deck on The Koningsdam is not a very enjoyable walk as the other ships.  The lifeboats hang low the length of the promenade deck on both sides so that you can’t look out  unobstructed to sea..  The only unobstructed part is aft.  I would guess the Nieuw Starendam, (the other Pinnacle class is the same).  I love the Koningsdam other than that.   All the other ships, love the promenades.  Hope you enjoy your cruise.

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28 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

A little reading would find a lot of info. Yes, HAL offers airfares. No, there is no equal to Club Class. The new Club Orange might be an attempt to match, but it is very new.

 

True but after the website and with time of the essence to book 8 cabins, reading days and months of CC posts is equally overwhelming! Your post is well taken and I appreciate yours and everyone else’s quick response and validation about the website. Surely a multi-billion company like Carnival can do better! 

 

Once we are booked I promise to become familiar with Holland America on CC. 

Edited by rbslos18

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Hi RB

The Nieuw Amsterdam has a great 3 laps to a mile promenade walking.   Agree with DW, the promenade walk saves my sanity and therefore my marriage.  We also will not consider a ship without one 

About a year ago HAL “upgraded” their website so that became unfriendly and counter intuitive.   It is no way a reflection of the service you will receive on the ship. 

Unfortunately you cannot look at FlightEase unless you have already booked.  Perhaps if you call HAL and ask to speak to personal cruise consultant(PCC) the PCC should be able to give you the desired info.   Our PCC has also expressed his displeasure and frustration with the new website.  

Enjoy!

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Regarding flights, yes HAL offers flights but you cannot shop for them until after you purchase your cruise.  I find the price very similar to what is offered by Princess, so I would suggest finding a cruise on the Princess page that leaves around the same date as yours, and then you can look up flights with EZAir,  play around with the dates (and even cities if necessary) to get your desired comibination. This will give you a good idea of the flights that will be available for you after you book with Holland America.  

 

I can’t answer your other questions, but I will say don’t let the website scare you off.  The onboard product is great and the staff is simply amazing.  I am sure you will have a wonderful trip! Enjoy and welcome to HAL!!

 

 

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HI RB,

 

I would not try to mess with the website.  I would call HAL and ask to be assigned a Personal Cruise Consultant to help with booking this cruise.  The PCC would be the same person you would go to with questions/changes/additions, etc that you want to make with the cruise.  Booking 8 cabins is hard and you would get the help you need with someone who would become familiar with your needs and work all the way through until you get on the ship.

 

The PCC can also help with the air portion of the booking.  I tell mine what I want and she sends me sample itineraries.  Sometimes, I find the itinerary I want and ask her HAL's price.  It has worked out wonderfully for me for the last four cruises.  

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2 hours ago, rbslos18 said:

 

True but after the website and with time of the essence to book 8 cabins, reading days and months of CC posts is equally overwhelming! Your post is well taken and I appreciate yours and everyone else’s quick response and validation about the website. Surely a multi-billion company like Carnival can do better! 

 

Once we are booked I promise to become familiar with Holland America on CC. 

Just google these words :  Cruise Ship Deck Plans   .Here you will find  all the cruise lines & each ship of each cruise line & all their deck plans ;which you can examine at your leisure . Hope that this helps you .

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4 hours ago, mcrcruiser said:

Just google these words :  Cruise Ship Deck Plans   .Here you will find  all the cruise lines & each ship of each cruise line & all their deck plans ;which you can examine at your leisure . Hope that this helps you .

 

You all have been gracious and helpful. Trying a new cruise line is a bit stressful but given the requirement of DW, it is inevitable. It sounds like HAL is very similar to Princess in many ways and may be a good fit. We did three cruises on an ultra-luxury line a few years ago but did not feel at home. There was no promenade deck and it felt like Versed throughput the day. We aren't looking for a wild nightlife but some modicum of life!

 

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If you book a certain number of cabins with the same booking number, you are eligible for a free inside which can be upgraded. Sorry I don't remember the number you need to book, but it might be worth looking into.

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Don't know the size of the ships you sailed on Princess in the past, but HAL ships for the most part are a lot smaller - even the Nieuw Amsterdam which is when HAL ships started getting larger - so you may find this onboard experience more "intimate" anyway without any extras that I assume the Princess "Club Class"  provides.

 

Most HAL older ships don't really need the concept of a ship within a ship simply due to their smaller sizes.  This is changing as HAL ships get larger with their new fleet introductions which are starting to offer a more "exclusive" amenities package within the ship.  However, you may be interested in the surcharge cabana's  for your group that do offer a wonderful at-sea day open air gathering spot.

 

You are 100% right about the terrible new HAL website. I am so sorry this has been your first impression about HAL.  We have nearly 500 days with HAL cruises and I leave that new website pounding, screaming and crying with half my search time using their "feedback" side bar, ranting at them.

 

At this point there is no justifiable reason this offending interface remains the HAL public face. I can't even imagine how much business HAL has lost because of it - and that should matter to someone in higher management. Simply inexcusable. So sorry this is your first impression too. 

 

Yes, the onboard experience is the opposite -warm, helpful, welcoming and professional. We remain convinced HAL offers the best cruise value out there among the mainline price points - smaller ships, unique itineraries, warm homey onboard experience and on the older ships wonderful libraries and public spaces.

 

 Hope you also have a very enjoyable time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship is lovely and has a lot of interesting appeal, as well as the very highly appreciated Tamarind pan-Asian surcharge restaurant. Best wishes.

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On 1/31/2019 at 6:25 AM, Lido deck main said:

Hi,

HAL has Flight Ease, I priced out a flight for us going either with flight ease or booking myself, saving $400 each person using Fkight Ease.  We have sailed only four times with Princess, I don’t know what Club Class provides.  We regards to the promenade deck, I love walking that too, but I just want to give you a heads up, in my opinion, the promenade deck on The Koningsdam is not a very enjoyable walk as the other ships.  The lifeboats hang low the length of the promenade deck on both sides so that you can’t look out  unobstructed to sea..  The only unobstructed part is aft.  I would guess the Nieuw Starendam, (the other Pinnacle class is the same).  I love the Koningsdam other than that.   All the other ships, love the promenades.  Hope you enjoy your cruise.

OP is looking at Nieuw Amsterdam - I'm like you, when I see "Nieuw" I complete it with Statendam!  But the NA has the "real" promenade deck!

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On 1/31/2019 at 6:58 AM, rbslos18 said:

We have been on 33 cruises, virtually all on Princess. We are very happy with Princess particularly their Club Class product. We are working on booking a group on the Niew Amsterdam. Princess just doesn’t have an option for us in Western Europe that is more than 7 days on a ship which has a traditional Promenade Deck (a must for DW and our marriage. Nothing else matters to her!). The new Princess ships are large, beautiful but the Promenade walking deck has been eliminated. 

 

The HA website is simply overwhelming. It is (very) difficult to navigate and to find information. (I am actually savvy with the internet and computers.) It just is not user-friendly. We are  hoping it isn’t a reflection of the product. It certainly doesn’t make a good initial impression.  The people who post here on CC seem lovely and the reviews suggest HA is similar to Princess. I really don’t mean to sound negative, but I am just a tad concerned.

 Two questions:

1) Does HA offer cruise airfare like Princess’ EZair? I couldn’t find it or the prices on the website.

2) Does HA offer a product similar to Club Class?

 

Thanks for your patience and I do not mean to offend HA lovers. I actually hope to join you!

RB

 

 

We are also new to HAL. We have a cruise booked on the Nieuw Statendam for Europe in 2020. Like you we have been primarily cruising with Princess, but wanted a new European itinerary. HAL has an itinerary we really like and we are looking forward to this new experience. Also like you we were shocked how bad the HAL website is. Why doesn’t Carnival have universal websites for all the cruise lines? The Princess site is very easy to navigate. It’s easy to look at the price for any cabin and check out flight prices while in the planning stages. A website is one of the first experiences one has with a cruise line. The HAL website is a total turnoff. 

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On ‎1‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 12:47 PM, mcrcruiser said:

Just google these words :  Cruise Ship Deck Plans   .Here you will find  all the cruise lines & each ship of each cruise line & all their deck plans ;which you can examine at your leisure . Hope that this helps you .

If you want to look at only HA ships, try halfacts.com   This site has deck plans, photos (some of which are outdated due to ship refurbishments), and general information about cabins which past passengers have been kind enough to review.  The site is easy to use.

Edited by sevenseasnomad

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One thing I did discover on the HAL website is - there is a "Feedback" tab down near the bottom of a page.  I let them know every time I have a difficulty with the website.  All my booking arrangements are made with a PCC (Personal Cruise Consultant) and she has told me the staff find the site annoying too.  But she gets around it a lot better than I do.  The last few cruises we have booked because someone here has made a recommendation, not because I found it for myself on the website!  

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1 hour ago, Poulsbo Cruisers said:

 

.......... Also like you we were shocked how bad the HAL website is. Why doesn’t Carnival have universal websites for all the cruise lines? The Princess site is very easy to navigate. It’s easy to look at the price for any cabin and check out flight prices while in the planning stages. A website is one of the first experiences one has with a cruise line. The HAL website is a total turnoff. 

 

Good (bad) to get these HAL neophyte reports about the HAL website. We old timers with HAL get scolded for "not liking new things" as we have been endlessly complaining about tis new website too for almost a year. This is such a sad state of affairs to be hearing the same thing from new potential customers so this has to be affecting the over all HAL reservations and bottom line at this point.  

 

The lack of response from HAL Seattle management  to correct, or better yet discard, this website is very troubling. I will throw it out there again, as perverse as it sounds  --is someone inside HAL or CCL trying to sabotage HAL itself - run it into the ground?  Discard the brand and spin off their new ships to one of the other CCL family members?

 

One can only speculate this is possibility when the reports from new and willing customers continue to match the website reports from prior and quite loyal passengers. The HAL website is intentionally destructive as this point in time. 

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On 1/31/2019 at 7:51 AM, dfish said:

HI RB,

 

I would not try to mess with the website.  I would call HAL and ask to be assigned a Personal Cruise Consultant to help with booking this cruise.  The PCC would be the same person you would go to with questions/changes/additions, etc that you want to make with the cruise.  Booking 8 cabins is hard and you would get the help you need with someone who would become familiar with your needs and work all the way through until you get on the ship.

 

The PCC can also help with the air portion of the booking.  I tell mine what I want and she sends me sample itineraries.  Sometimes, I find the itinerary I want and ask her HAL's price.  It has worked out wonderfully for me for the last four cruises.  

I second this.

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I cruise both Princess (platinum) and Holland America (4-star Mariner) and find them both very comparable. But I actually give a slight edge to Holland America for the little touches .... closet doors, cloth towels in public restrooms, and fresh flowers and plants throughout the ship! Minor touches to be sure, but they definitely feel more luxurious.  And we have booked flights at time of booking and have always been impressed with how competitive the pricing through HAL has been compared to booking direct through the airline.  And we’ve been fortunate that our flights through HAL have never increased after booking even though we track it increasing through the airline.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in HAL if you like Princess. 

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On 1/31/2019 at 9:55 AM, Underthemoonlight said:

Hi RB

The Nieuw Amsterdam has a great 3 laps to a mile promenade walking.   Agree with DW, the promenade walk saves my sanity and therefore my marriage.  We also will not consider a ship without one 

About a year ago HAL “upgraded” their website so that became unfriendly and counter intuitive.   It is no way a reflection of the service you will receive on the ship. 

Unfortunately you cannot look at FlightEase unless you have already booked.  Perhaps if you call HAL and ask to speak to personal cruise consultant(PCC) the PCC should be able to give you the desired info.   Our PCC has also expressed his displeasure and frustration with the new website.  

Enjoy!

👍👍👍  Excellent Post, Underthemoonlight - thanks for you very objective and helpful response to OP's concerns/questions.

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On 1/31/2019 at 8:25 AM, Lido deck main said:

Hi,

HAL has Flight Ease . . .

Thanks for the information.  Wish I'd known that yesterday when I booked air fare.  But HAL doesn't work w/ southwest airlines.

 

I preferred Princess's shore ex on their website because of their outline system, which looks like they'd removed it the last time I checked.  However, HAL has been kind enough to send me that information if I contact them about a particular shore excursion.  (Royal Caribbean never responded to me.)

 

We have a very steep learning curve w/ HAL's new website.  Some things that used to be on the home page are nested.  For example, you have to navigate at least to the second screen to get to the contact us page.  On Find a Cruise, we now have to go one page below to ask about transatlantic cruises, specific cruises, where that information was available from the top page on the old system.  I'm wondering if all the cruise lines are now using the same coding, since many have gone to that horrible find a cruise page.  On Celebrity, we have to search for map on one page, and click another page for stateroom prices.  Sort of like HAL's page.   Back to HAL, I find the map view pretty worthless.  With the ports jammed together, it's hard to read.  So, I click on list view instead.  The other annoying facet of their system is sometimes you must go back to the beginning and effectively start over.  To look at shore excursions for booked cruises, you have to pretty much start over, and sometimes their "stone knives and bear skins" lock up.  I'd trade their fancy graphics for something that just prints out the information. 

 

They don't state which are tender ports on their sales page anymore, but you can find a list here.  To me, this is important since we generally don't go ashore w/ tender ports.  Too many tender ports means we don't book it.

 

https://www.hollandamerica.com/content/dam/hal/marketing-assets/Accessibility/port-tender-list.pdf

 

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You can thank google for the new HAL website. Google insists on a mobile responsive site. And that is what the new Hal site is. Mobile responsive. I am sure the vast majority of us do our cruise bookings on our phones. 

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On 1/31/2019 at 5:06 PM, rbslos18 said:

 

You all have been gracious and helpful. Trying a new cruise line is a bit stressful but given the requirement of DW, it is inevitable. It sounds like HAL is very similar to Princess in many ways and may be a good fit. We did three cruises on an ultra-luxury line a few years ago but did not feel at home. There was no promenade deck and it felt like Versed throughput the day. We aren't looking for a wild nightlife but some modicum of life!

 

We've sailed on Princess far more than on HAL, but our last cruise was a 16-day EB TA on the Zuiderdam.  And while it was different from a Princess cruise, we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The cabins are larger (all have couches, at least the OV ones), there's the wonderful promenade deck as mentioned by others, no crowded feeling at all.  I really enjoyed the casino as I came out $100 ahead on the slots, a first for me <g>.  The ships are much "quieter" and less "busy" than on Princess.  Loved the Exploratioons Cafe/Crow's Nest. What itinerary are you on?

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My husband and I are 4-star Mariners with HAL, but we continue to be frustrated with the terrible website. The situation should be an embarrassment to the company. I like to do my searches online before calling our TA. I've sent endless negative comments on the site but to no avail. 

We were disappointed with the Promenade on the Koningsdam, so for those who find a place to walk with a view important, check out deck plans first. Also, we've found that with the new staterooms that open out onto the Promenade, the deck chairs are mostly reserved for those staterooms. 

However.... we still sail exclusively with Holland. My husband won't let me book with any other line! 

 

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