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molemaui

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We enjoy transatlantic cruising and are looking at HAL for our next cruise. Our last TA was on Viking Ocean (920 passengers) and we totally loved the ship. In our opinion however, the food was average at best.  Can anybody on this thread who has sailed Viking Ocean, Regent, Silversea or Oceania make a comparison to HAL with regards to food, amenities and service?

 

Although we prefer smaller ships (1000 or less passengers), I think we need a ship with at least two pools (one indoor)  when doing a TA as the weather is often uncertain especially during repositioning season. The smaller ships only have one pool except Viking Ocean.

 

Thanks in advance for any information. 

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The cruise lines you mention are high end lines. HAL is not competing with them, and you shouldn't expect HAL to have food better than those lines.

 

Food is very subjective. 

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What ship are you looking at going on?

 

That can make a difference.  I have sailed Oceania and was disappointed.  Other than Jacques, I thought the Prinsendam staff could teach them a few things.

 

Prinsendam food is usually good and the PG is the best in the fleet but sadly she is leaving on July 1st.

 

I don’t think HAL is going to compare to luxury lines though.  It’s not luxury. 

 

 

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All HAL ships have two pools and, other than the Prinsendam, one of them is considered an indoor pool. There is a dome roof that can be opened/closed as weather requires.

I have sailed on Oceania, once, (it will be a one and only), and HAL many times. The service on HAL has the service on Oceania beat by far. It was hard enough to get one drink in the lounge before dinner; the stewardess never returned to see if I wanted another. Service in the dining room was mediocre at best. My cabin steward was excellent; I wonder if the fact he was Indonesian (just as on HAL) had anything to do with it?

I was not impressed with the food on Oceania, except for their version of HAL's Dive-In. Oceania burgers were delicious, as were the fries. They never could cook bacon the way I wanted, even after being told precisely how I wanted it cooked---and how I didn't want it cooked.

On HAL service is good or better in every venue I frequent. They remember my name, what I want, it's served promptly and pleasantly. Food selection and presentation has been better in the past, but I have never left hungry, either.
HAL, however, is considered a mass-market line, while the other lines you mention are considered premium and luxury.

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I have a feeling if the pool is important to you that may limit you to the mainstream lines.  You might consider the Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam, Eurodam, or Nieuw Amsterdam with a selection of specialty restaurants.  My other thought would be the Grills on QM2.

 

Roy

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I don't see Cunard on your list. We've done a few TA with Cunard and they have been relaxing and good food. 

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Cunard's QM2 has an indoor pool as well as an outdoor one, excellent speakers on transatlantics and it's a comfortable ship if you happen to hit rough weather.

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1 hour ago, RuthC said:

I have sailed on Oceania, once, (it will be a one and only), and HAL many times. The service on HAL has the service on Oceania beat by far. It was hard enough to get one drink in the lounge before dinner; the stewardess never returned to see if I wanted another. Service in the dining room was mediocre at best. My cabin steward was excellent; I wonder if the fact he was Indonesian (just as on HAL) had anything to do with it?

 

 

Ditto Ruth.

 

We did one and NEVER again.  The only specialty restaurant I liked was Jacques Ibut good luck getting a second reservation).

 

The specialty dinners they did (similar to a Cellar Master but different format) was not impresisive IMO. Some stuff was over cooked and some way undercooked and NOT cheap.  

 

I think it is all hype and if some want to swallow it, well and good.  I can say honestly that the crew on the Prinsendam could teach this crew a few things 😉 

 

I never figured out what our butler was for.  He did bring me hot water to make honey lemon water when I got the cruise crud on that ship but that could have been done on the LIdo on a HAL ship easily 😉 

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3 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

The cruise lines you mention are high end lines. HAL is not competing with them, and you shouldn't expect HAL to have food better than those lines.

 

Food is very subjective. 

I agree. I don't expect better food-just don't want to go too far the other way. Thanks for your insight. 

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2 hours ago, TN Fem said:

I don't see Cunard on your list. We've done a few TA with Cunard and they have been relaxing and good food. 

I will look into Cunard. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, RuthC said:

All HAL ships have two pools and, other than the Prinsendam, one of them is considered an indoor pool. There is a dome roof that can be opened/closed as weather requires.

I have sailed on Oceania, once, (it will be a one and only), and HAL many times. The service on HAL has the service on Oceania beat by far. It was hard enough to get one drink in the lounge before dinner; the stewardess never returned to see if I wanted another. Service in the dining room was mediocre at best. My cabin steward was excellent; I wonder if the fact he was Indonesian (just as on HAL) had anything to do with it?

I was not impressed with the food on Oceania, except for their version of HAL's Dive-In. Oceania burgers were delicious, as were the fries. They never could cook bacon the way I wanted, even after being told precisely how I wanted it cooked---and how I didn't want it cooked.

On HAL service is good or better in every venue I frequent. They remember my name, what I want, it's served promptly and pleasantly. Food selection and presentation has been better in the past, but I have never left hungry, either.
HAL, however, is considered a mass-market line, while the other lines you mention are considered premium and luxury.

Sailed Oceania once-that's why I booked them again for July. I've heard a lot of negative comments regarding Oceania and hope I just didn't get lucky! 

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We did a transatlantic on the Maasdam, the smaller older ship, a few years ago and the food was really very nice - they know they need to vary the menus for the longer cruises, and HAL has been at this for a long time so they do keep things relatively interesting - the variety of dining options on board break up the routine too.

 

The food is good - but it is by necessity hotel banquet quality -  but definitely a good hotel banquet quality - since all ships, even the high end ones,  have to turn out thousands of meals a day in limited facilities under all sorts of conditions with ingredients that have to be shipped from elsewhere and pass sanitation inspections.  That puts a damper on any dining possibilities right away. 

 

So it will not be fine, individualized dining on HAL ships, if this is an expectation. Just good dining, definitely better than reports from other ships in the same class.  But even on our Crystal Cruises which is known for its fine dining, we found it was really more just frou frou added in presentation than any major refinement in the basics of what they offered which will always be pretty standard - appetizers,  meat, vegetables, sides, salads and dessert.

 

HAL breads are delicious so often just the simplest of choices are good enough - HAL fresh baked bread and butter could keep me happy for weeks.   And quite frankly, I am glad HAL food is not totally delicious - I have a hard time saying no to start out with even when it is just plain good enough. I personally like HAL's breakfasts and lunches best of all - very interesting variety - so by the time dinner rolls around I am good for just  a large dinner salad anyway. 

 

 HAL has added a lot more interesting and international items to their menus too, a fresher approach with ingredients, and some really good vegetarian entrees that can easily compete with the main courses,  even if one is not a vegetarian.  

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I thought the food on Celebrity was pretty good. I understand cooking for thousands is a daunting challenge compared to cooking for hundreds. Food is just one component albeit an important one in choosing a cruise. I guess I'm just trying to determine if HAL is a step above or two from Princess and Royal Caribbean. If it is somewhat equal to Celebrity, I'll book tomorrow!

 

Thanks for all thew comments and suggestions. I keep checking back for more. 

 

Good cruising!

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Food on the Zaandam in later 2014 (and Prinsendam 2 years earlier) was superior to the Millennium in late 2017, at least in Celebrity ship MDRs.  I think Princess food was comparable in roughly the same era to HAL.  Things may have changed since at HAL though (haven't cruised on HAL since).  I think one reason why HAL can keep food good is that a lot of dishes can be prepared and plated ahead of time, which is why so many show up in the buffet.

 

Breakfast in HAL MDRs was something we looked forward to.  One breakfast in the MDR on Celebrity will drive you to the buffet.  The waiter on our 1st night gave us that tip and we thought he was trying to fob us off - turns out he was being absolutely truthful.  

 

I think Celebrity was dictating menus and the key ingredients weren't being supplied to the cooks.  My next cruise will be on a French cruise ship where the chef de cuisine hopefully has freedom to create the menu. 

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8 hours ago, molemaui said:

I thought the food on Celebrity was pretty good....

 I guess I'm just trying to determine if HAL is a step above or two from Princess and Royal Caribbean. If it is somewhat equal to Celebrity, I'll book tomorrow!...

 

We cruise both HAL and Celebrity frequently, and while food is subjective, I think HAL food and service are easily equal to Celebrity.

 

For four years we’ve only booked in Celebrity’s high-end daily dining (Luminae suite restaurant, once in Blu Aqua class restaurant). HAL’s food served in the main dining room for all passengers has always been just as good - and without the suite price tag.

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16 hours ago, molemaui said:

We enjoy transatlantic cruising and are looking at HAL for our next cruise. Our last TA was on Viking Ocean (920 passengers) and we totally loved the ship. In our opinion however, the food was average at best.  Can anybody on this thread who has sailed Viking Ocean, Regent, Silversea or Oceania make a comparison to HAL with regards to food, amenities and service?

 

Although we prefer smaller ships (1000 or less passengers), I think we need a ship with at least two pools (one indoor)  when doing a TA as the weather is often uncertain especially during repositioning season. The smaller ships only have one pool except Viking Ocean.

 

Thanks in advance for any information. 

 

We don’t do transatlantics but here goes...

We have the most days of any line on Oceania and love it. .  Not hype.  Food service and ship comfort are the  best we’ve experienced.  Love, love the specialty restaurants.  Perfect- of course not.  Perfection does not exist.

Relaxed, comfortable atmosphere with well traveled and lovely passengers.  It matches what we enjoy. Great enrichment programs.  Marvelous libraries with oodles of current books on the shelves. (the books on Prinsendam were right out of the Nixon era). 

Considerably more expensive than mass markets.  

If the price makes you nervous, you might not like it.  Same for any product you buy. 

We generally do not do ship tours but if you buy them individually they are overpriced.  Totally avoid any of their transfers, precruise  hotels as they are ridiculously overpriced.  Their  O life program is decent, you elect O life at booking and you can get some included excursions. 

We take the air credit in lieu of their included air.  

One open air pool with the most divine, shaded seating we’ve experienced. No retractable roof. 

 

Viking is a nice step up from mass markets, we liked it a lot but not our favorite.  It isn’t the best bang for our buck as we are not crazy about ship tours.  They have an included tour in every port built into the price. They choose the included excursion, passengers have some choice in selecting a tour time.  Two great specialty restaurants, pretty good food in the Restaurant.  Lovely ships, staterooms are all verandas and up.  Very nice service.  Included house wine and beer with meals.  Great enrichment programs.  

Two outdoor pools but their pool area seating is uncomfortable.  The retractable mid pool roof would be good on a TA but otherwise it was closed too much for our liking.  Some ventilation issues when the roof is closed.  They are lacking shade at the rear infinity pool.  Marvelous spa pool and the spa services are included, other than personal services.

 

Regent is a a lovely line.  More included items built into the price than sister company Oceania.  

Haven't done Silversea, we expect it would be more formal than we like. 

Crystal is very good and they’ve relaxed the dress code and switched to open dining.   They just gutted and rebuilt Symphony,  rolled out new ships and riverboats.  

  

Edited by sammiedawg

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On 2/12/2019 at 5:45 PM, molemaui said:

 

 

Edited by molemaui
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Thank you everyone for your input.

 

While I prefer the smaller ships, I think its about time to give HAL a try. 

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One thing we look for on a transatlantic is a retractible  glass dome Lido area like all HAL ships have - away from the wind, but feeling more outdoors with lots of windows for viewing the passing ocean. Open to the outdoors if the weather is good; covered if it is not. This is more than just a forward viewing area such as the CrowsNest bar area, which is totally indoors.

 

The glass dome Lido on HAL ships has more of a casual, outdoor, lounging vibe to it around the pool, and often quite toasty greenhouse feeling when it is cool outside - also great for viewing Alaska too. This is one HAL feature that makes it a deal killer for us when other lines don't offer this, or its equivalent. 

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8 minutes ago, OlsSalt said:

One thing we look for on a transatlantic is a retractible  glass dome Lido area like all HAL ships have - away from the wind, but feeling more outdoors with lots of windows for viewing the passing ocean

 

Not all HAL ships have the retractable roof over the Lido pool.  The Prinsendam doesn’t. I know she leaves the fleet on July 1st, but she still has one more TA to do so I wouldn’t want anyone misled planning to sail on this ship

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25 minutes ago, kazu said:

 

Not all HAL ships have the retractable roof over the Lido pool.  The Prinsendam doesn’t. I know she leaves the fleet on July 1st, but she still has one more TA to do so I wouldn’t want anyone misled planning to sail on this ship

 

Looks like the P'dam is pretty much sold out for the TA anyway. Only a few ocean views left. Yes, hate to mislead anyone thinking it, as a HAL ship,  had a retractible glass roof over the Lido  It does not and I recall that area being very windy. Good catch.

Edited by OlsSalt

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I just compared a TA in a Sky Suite on the Celebrity Reflection ($315/person/day) in Nov 2020 against a simlar TA on the Nieuw Amsterdam in a Signature Suite ($335/person/day) and we would, hands down, book the X cruise in a Sky Suite over a HAL Signature Suite every time. Not only is the variety of entertainment a lot better on a X TA versus a HAL TA, but the food in the Luminae private restaurant is so good, you won't even think about going to one of their 4 specialty restaurants unless you have some extra OBC you just wnt to use up.

 

In addition with X you also have access to Michael's where you get free drinks and have a concierge. But, you won't need the services of the concierge too much as you also get a butler with your sky suite. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a HAL TA, just that you get a lot more value with X if you don't mind a ship with 3300 passengers versus the 2200 that are on the NA.

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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On 2/12/2019 at 8:29 PM, kazu said:

 

Ditto Ruth.

 

We did one and NEVER again.  The only specialty restaurant I liked was Jacques Ibut good luck getting a second reservation).

 

The specialty dinners they did (similar to a Cellar Master but different format) was not impresisive IMO. Some stuff was over cooked and some way undercooked and NOT cheap.  

 

I think it is all hype and if some want to swallow it, well and good.  I can say honestly that the crew on the Prinsendam could teach this crew a few things 😉 

 

I never figured out what our butler was for.  He did bring me hot water to make honey lemon water when I got the cruise crud on that ship but that could have been done on the LIdo on a HAL ship easily 😉 

We have one cruise on HAL (Zuiderdam)and one on Oceania(Riviera) and based on my experience I would pick Oceania every time. Service was better, food was better and ship was nicer.

 

We enjoyed our HAL cruise and have a Hawaii / French Polynesia  on HAL(Ossterdam) booked for next year.  

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20 minutes ago, stevec999 said:

We have one cruise on HAL (Zuiderdam)and one on Oceania(Riviera) and based on my experience I would pick Oceania every time. Service was better, food was better and ship was nicer.

 

We enjoyed our HAL cruise and have a Hawaii / French Polynesia  on HAL(Ossterdam) booked for next year.  

 Glad to hear you had a good experience.  We didn’t plain and simple.

 

The food IMO was over hyped.  the pasta at the specialty restaurant was microwaved, not fresh.

the chicken at the another specialty restaurant was not only raw but no one came to check on the table so our table mate sat for too long with inedible food.

 

tht’s just the beginning and I’m not going to go into it as it’s all in my live thread that I did at the time but I did try to be “nice” at the time.

simply put, it was an over priced cruise that offered little.  A number of O afficinados said they had cancelled all future bookings and the cheerleaders said we were harsh.

 

All I know is when you serve me coffee in a cracked cup that I wouldn’t serve in my house and then, when I bring it to your attention and, instead of discarding it, you put it in the dishwasher bin to be be recirculated, it’s not a ship I want be on board with Noro and NO protocols in place.

 

I only sailed her once.  Considering the reply I got from their Head Office (and I’m not a complainer) once was enough. I’m not risking my hard earned money on this line again.

 

I’ll sail on HAL or  another line - but I couldn’t drag DH back on O for love or money.

 

O’s rooms were lovely and I enjoyed it - had the cruise experience been as good as the room, we would have been happy campers 😉 

 

 

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