Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Storylady

No more Travel Guides/EXC Guides on HAL

Recommended Posts

We just boarded the Prinsendam in Dover on May 6th. That night we attended the “Port Talk” in the showroom given by one of the best travel guides we have had on HAL ships, Brett. It was a full house despite people just boarding. Since the Prinsendam is being sold, I asked Brett which ship he would be assigned to next. And he told me that HAL will soon no longer have travel guides doing port talks. There is a general country talk given by the EXC Guide on the Maasdam given by the Cruise Director who lucky for those sailing on her happens to have been a travel guide. And there might be a similar program on the World Cruise. But the rest of the HAL ships are out of luck.  I am saddened by this change. The port talks are the ONE program I make a point to go to. I plan to say something on the survey and also write a letter to President Orlando not that it will make HAL change their mind. Talk about dumbing down a cruise line, this really puts HAL in the Carnvial mass market category.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you ! The whole " enrichment" program nowadays is some talk from Spa personnel trying to get you to buy expensive products.....  Hardly any lecturers .

 

We just got back from the Zaandam, the rumor onboard was that HAL is also doing away with Cruise Directors. Their job is apparently  taken over by the EXC guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having just returned from South America on the Zaandam we had THE best EXC guide who packed the theatre out at every talk. Kevin very well informed and very funny at times and his information was invaluable at some challenging ports of call. He really showed us how to get the best from each place whatever our interests. I said on my survey that these talks set Holland apart from other lines whos only intent is to sell as many excursions as possible and strengthens their claim of in depth port immersion. I do hope they continue. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear about these changes.

 

HAL is being Carnivalized more and more as time goes by.  This was something we all worried about back in 1989 when Carnival bought HAL.  It didn't happen then, but it looks like it is happening now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second that. The EXC guides were ( with one exception as she was also trying to sell as many shore excursions as possible during her talks) quite often are the only ones NOT trying to talk you into buying anything but giving information about the ports, public buses, places to visit etc. That's possibly the reason why HAL is getting rid of them.... These port talks and travel information were always packed and one of the highlights of the day - days that are increasingly packed full by incentives to BUY BUY BUY. By and by trivia and perhaps the musical duos ( also reduced from trios...) and groups and knitting circles for those who can knit - which I can't - will be the only things offered to while away the hours on board.

We thus might be forced to cruise more often with Cunard despite their formality - there's real knowledge and interest being conveyed during their daily talks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess HAL figures you can just go to the computers in the EXC area in the Crows Nest (on the ships that have that) and look up whatever you need online. Or use your own phone/tablet/device after buying their internet plan. After all, they don't have to pay you anything if you do that, so they're saving money.

 

Anyway, they hand out those oh-so-useful port maps so you can find their "partner" shops (can anyone say kickback??). What more could you possibly want???? Sightseeing info? Nah, nobody wants that...

 

I can't believe they'd get rid of the Cruise Director. Doesn't he/she manage the entertainment? OK, so production shows are going away, but at least for now they have individual entertainers. Isn't the CD the one who acts as liason between visiting performer and entertainment staff--backup musicians, lighting and sound techs? Who's going to handle that task? 

 

I know not to expect too much from HAL, so I make sure I do plenty of research in advance and take along my own entertainment--ebooks, knitting, etc. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Storylady said:

We just boarded the Prinsendam in Dover on May 6th. That night we attended the “Port Talk” in the showroom given by one of the best travel guides we have had on HAL ships, Brett. It was a full house despite people just boarding. Since the Prinsendam is being sold, I asked Brett which ship he would be assigned to next. And he told me that HAL will soon no longer have travel guides doing port talks. There is a general country talk given by the EXC Guide on the Maasdam given by the Cruise Director who lucky for those sailing on her happens to have been a travel guide. And there might be a similar program on the World Cruise. But the rest of the HAL ships are out of luck.  I am saddened by this change. The port talks are the ONE program I make a point to go to. I plan to say something on the survey and also write a letter to President Orlando not that it will make HAL change their mind. Talk about dumbing down a cruise line, this really puts HAL in the Carnvial mass market category.

 

Sorry to see the EXC guides go, especially Brett, who we had on two cruises, a great and extremely knowledgable guide and also nice person!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I hope this is not the case!  Last year, ours for a 14 night Alaska cruise was fantastic.  As a local, she was so interesting that her talks were very well attended; the main showroom was nearly full for her talks!  Would be a shame not to have that as part of the sailing.

Edited by syesmar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like HAL is heading to just providing bare bone transportation, room and board.😧

Combine this with the older ships being replaced by ones without my beloved Lower Promenade deck, my crusing days are numbered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, syesmar said:

I hope this is not the case!  Last year, ours for a 14 night Alaska cruise was fantastic.  As a local, she was so interesting that her talks were very well attended; the main showroom was nearly full for her talks!  Would be a shame not to have that as part of the sailing.

I think unfortunately it maybe true, until recently, there were job openings for guides listed on HAL, but no more!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the dumbest move HAL can make.  No evening entertainment besides some questionable musicians in some venues and now this.  Count me out on any future HAL cruises.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brett, Matthew, and Kay were superb EXC destination guides on our recent Maasdam cruise.  They kept their distance from the selling of shore excursions and provided valuable information.

These new changes would be heartbreaking.  Hopefully HAL will reconsider?

Barbara

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend on the Amsterdam confirmed that HAL is definitely going to do away with the EXC Guides. He did said that they may keep them on the Grand Voyages. Guess they want us to try other cruise lines. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Wow, this is disheartening to hear. The EXC guide on the Volendam, Glen Michael, wound up having to repeat 2 presentations about the Panama Canal. He was so good that his talk about HMC had to be repeated.

Edited by NotLikeBelleRosen,IHope
I forgot to add guides name

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Storylady said:

A friend on the Amsterdam confirmed that HAL is definitely going to do away with the EXC Guides. He did said that they may keep them on the Grand Voyages. Guess they want us to try other cruise lines. 

 

Sadly, not too many other lines offer them.  I realize I am somewhat spoiled from my years of "Voyages to Antiquity" experience with guest speakers geared toward each itinerary, but HAL seemed like the one holdout in the more mass market category to offer genuine port information as opposed to simply 1) filling HAL tours and 2) shilling for stores that provide HAL with a kickback.

 

I always imagined that "Savor the Journey" was meant to attract those who were interested in the journey -- wanting to know and understand the world better through travel. Now?  Methinks they'd better change their slogan unless by "Journey" they only mean the time spent aboard ship. :classic_mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Make sure to fill out these after sailing questionnaires and make your disappointment about this clear to management, maybe it helps!

Edited by Alphen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope that this is not the case as I found that the EXC tour talks were one of the best things offered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A good  port guide is worth their weight in gold.  We have had some awesome ones in the Med.  Sadly, our last experience was very poor,   Couldn’t be bothered to answer questions.   Another loss in what once set HAL apart. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If true, just another "brilliant" move by HAL's director of entertainment, right in line with doing away with the production cast and shows. He's on a roll 🙄

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These days it is all about "maximizing onboard revenue."   In the past we have enjoyed some wonderful travel guides on HAL including Brett (mentioned above) and Frank Buckingham (now retired).  But the Travel Guides do not generate revenue for HAL, and sometimes even hurt revenue when they disclose decent alternative options to the overpriced (and profitable) cruise line excursions.  Should we be surprised at another cut-back on HAL cruises?  

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Our last two Holland America cruises were 14 days each.  There were no enrichment speakers.  The port guides, (periodically their title changed) were selling port excursions and reading a power point. 

They sat somewhere for a couple hours to take questions.  One gal sat with a Fodors guide to Norway and used the index to look up subjects.  I asked a question on how to see a particular cultural group and she pulled out the list of excursions for that port.  She had previously marked  with yellow highlighter the listed points of interest on each tour  The second guy also read the power point, not sure if he could answer questions. 

 

I am not sure what has been lost if the lament is about port guides.  I can read excursions lists and get an idea on what to see.  

Of course loss of enrichment speakers was huge in the mass market industry.  We had our best Mass market ones on Princess, years ago. 

 

 

Edited by sammiedawg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, sammiedawg said:

Our last two Holland America cruises were 14 days each.  There were no enrichment speakers.  The port guides, (periodically their title changed) were selling port excursions and reading a power point. 

They sat somewhere for a couple hours to take questions.  One gal sat with a Fodors guide to Norway and used the index to look up subjects.  I asked a question on how to see a particular cultural group and she pulled out the list of excursions for that port.  She had previously marked  with yellow highlighter the listed points of interest on each tour  The second guy also read the power point, not sure if he could answer questions. 

I am not sure what has been lost.  

 

When were these cruises?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Copper10-8 said:

If true, just another "brilliant" move by HAL's director of entertainment, right in line with doing away with the production cast and shows. He's on a roll 🙄

I so hate to see this. Just one more chunk out of the total cruise enjoyment package. I noticed the trend on the Nieuw Amsterdam last week. The Main Stage has lost most of its luster. I believe HAL's loyal fan base will continue to diminish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Sadly, not too many other lines offer them.  I realize I am somewhat spoiled from my years of "Voyages to Antiquity" experience with guest speakers geared toward each itinerary, but HAL seemed like the one holdout in the more mass market category to offer genuine port information as opposed to simply 1) filling HAL tours and 2) shilling for stores that provide HAL with a kickback.

 

I always imagined that "Savor the Journey" was meant to attract those who were interested in the journey -- wanting to know and understand the world better through travel. Now?  Methinks they'd better change their slogan unless by "Journey" they only mean the time spent aboard ship. :classic_mellow:

 

Funny, I was thinking about "savor the journey" this morning, and I agree with your meaning. But HAL's cuts mean less to savor. So what should the new slogan be? "Leave your brain [at home], take your wallet" ? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

I always imagined that "Savor the Journey" was meant to attract those who were interested in the journey -- wanting to know and understand the world better through travel. 

 

I don't doubt the OP's information that was obtained by a crew member.  But, in the past, information from crew members has not always been reliable.  To eliminate the EXC Guide's position is contrary to the purpose of establishing Exploration Central.  And, I think it's marketing appeal as stated in the above quote by cruisemom42 would be significantly diminished if the EXC Guide's job disappeared.

 

Abolishing the position of Cruise Director?  Maybe the title--as well as a person holding such a title--might be eliminated.  I recall that there is a crew member aboard who holds the title of Event Planner.  Maybe a combination of whatever the Event Planner does and whatever the Cruise Director does is in the future.  If so, the title of "Event Planner" sounds more "modern" and "up-to-date" than the historic title of "Cruise Director".

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
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • 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
×
×
  • Create New...