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No more Travel Guides/EXC Guides on HAL

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I'm booked on the Rotterdam for a transatlantic in November.  When I looked at the activities list under that ship's description on HAL's website, it showed no lectures at all--only the Microsoft Windows classes.  So I called the Holland America office to speak to someone in Ship's Services.  After a very long hold, the agent I spoke to said they knew of no changes but when I told him about the website he just seemed unsure.  I told him that I would not take a cruise with that many sea days and no lectures, he still could not come up with any concrete information as to what lecturers we might have on board.

On the HAL website if you click on the EXC In Depth tab it just lists the Maasdam--no other ships.

I've sent snailmail letters to both the HAL office in Seattle and the Carnival corporate office regarding this possible (probable?) change of no lecturers, but have not heard back yet.

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10 minutes ago, comcox said:

I'm booked on the Rotterdam for a transatlantic in November.  When I looked at the activities list under that ship's description on HAL's website, it showed no lectures at all--only the Microsoft Windows classes.  So I called the Holland America office to speak to someone in Ship's Services.  After a very long hold, the agent I spoke to said they knew of no changes but when I told him about the website he just seemed unsure.  I told him that I would not take a cruise with that many sea days and no lectures, he still could not come up with any concrete information as to what lecturers we might have on board.

On the HAL website if you click on the EXC In Depth tab it just lists the Maasdam--no other ships.

I've sent snailmail letters to both the HAL office in Seattle and the Carnival corporate office regarding this possible (probable?) change of no lecturers, but have not heard back yet.

Someone else on my TA cruise got through to a different office at HAL and got the following response for our November TA cruise:

There will be no special lecturers on board.  EXC staff will provide port specific information.  The ship is now offering the BBC nature films with discussion as the only other informational programs. ** Expletive deleted!**

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8 minutes ago, comcox said:

Someone else on my TA cruise got through to a different office at HAL and got the following response for our November TA cruise:

There will be no special lecturers on board.  EXC staff will provide port specific information.  The ship is now offering the BBC nature films with discussion as the only other informational programs. ** Expletive deleted!**

I was always under the impression that lecturers were not employed by HAL, but welcomed as guests during a cruise, while performing some lectures. I think if you look under employment at HAL, they still welcome guest lecturers, but I doubt if they can tell beforehand if one will be on board on a certain cruise.

 

On the Exc voyages of Maasdam, this is different, lecturers are part of the offered voyage/program.

 

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From our past experience and that which had been explained to us is that HAL will only invite guest lecturers on “special” cruises which are 15 days or longer. For example we had guest lecturers on their Antarctica cruise in Jan 2018 and on the Panama Canal cruise Jan 2016. We also had lectures every sea day on our Hawaii cruise in Dec 2016. They of course also have plenty of lectures on their Maasdam in-depth EXC cruises. 

 

Never have done a TA, but I wouldn’t think it would be considered a “special” cruise. However, we have heard they usually have a Glacier Park NP ranger come onboard one of their 7 day Alaska cruises if that particular itinerary includes Glacier NP. 

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EXC is the oddest program ever. The lecturers are EXC. Maasdam cruise are EXC. Excursions are EXC. Guides are EXC. Part of some crow's nests are EXC. In-Depth™ cruises are EXC. If the goal is to confuse customers, Holland America has succeeded. Add EXC to dining "As You Wish" as a debacle.

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1 hour ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Never have done a TA, but I wouldn’t think it would be considered a “special” cruise.

 

Having done a number of TA’s, we have had a guest lecturer on board each one and they were good quality.

 

That being said, with the announcement made it is entirely possible that will not be the case in the future.  Hopefully HAL will see the wisdom in having a guest lecturer on our TA next year.  Time will tell.

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We're going on Maasdam, Land of the Rising Sun, to Japan August 14th.   I'll report back about the EXC aspect.  I did see some $1200 excursions listed, by we made our own excursion arrangements.

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1 hour ago, whogo said:

EXC is the oddest program ever. The lecturers are EXC. Maasdam cruise are EXC. Excursions are EXC. Guides are EXC. Part of some crow's nests are EXC. In-Depth™ cruises are EXC. If the goal is to confuse customers, Holland America has succeeded. Add EXC to dining "As You Wish" as a debacle.

 

Glad to see I'm not the only one having trouble sorting it all out.  Lol

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5 hours ago, Alphen said:

I was always under the impression that lecturers were not employed by HAL, but welcomed as guests during a cruise, while performing some lectures. I think if you look under employment at HAL, they still welcome guest lecturers, but I doubt if they can tell beforehand if one will be on board on a certain cruise.

 

On the Exc voyages of Maasdam, this is different, lecturers are part of the offered voyage/program.

 

 

 

You are correct Jeroen! Guest lecturers have never been HAL employees! The Lead EXC guide and EXC guide positions are HAL employees however, those positions are going out the door after having been introduced with lots of fanfare less than three years ago (Dec 2016). Another brilliant move by HAL's Director of Entertainment

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Yikes!  Such a shame for HAL to lose another thing that attract some of us.  

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Thank you, comcox, for sharing the information about the Guest Speaker part of the EXC program.  If we are all confused about what to expect, it is not surprising.  EXC has been reorganized several times in recent years, resulting in the kinds of inconsistencies that have been mentioned.  My husband has been an occasional speaker since 2009, sometimes lecturing on 1 or 2 cruises a year, sometimes none, then several last year.  There seems to have been a temporary ramping up which meant there were even Guest Speakers on some Caribbean cruises.  With the latest EXC reorganization it appears that Guest Speakers are out again along with the term EXC except for the Maasdam EXC In Depth Voyages.  Judging from the feedback my husband has received on our cruises, they will be missed, along with the excellent EXC Guides we have known. 

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13 hours ago, comcox said:

I'm booked on the Rotterdam for a transatlantic in November.  When I looked at the activities list under that ship's description on HAL's website, it showed no lectures at all--only the Microsoft Windows classes.  So I called the Holland America office to speak to someone in Ship's Services.  After a very long hold, the agent I spoke to said they knew of no changes but when I told him about the website he just seemed unsure.  I told him that I would not take a cruise with that many sea days and no lectures, he still could not come up with any concrete information as to what lecturers we might have on board.

On the HAL website if you click on the EXC In Depth tab it just lists the Maasdam--no other ships.

I've sent snailmail letters to both the HAL office in Seattle and the Carnival corporate office regarding this possible (probable?) change of no lecturers, but have not heard back yet.

The lecturers we had on our transatlantic on the Koningsdam in April were both pretty disappointing. There were two. One focused on the space program, a former NASA employee who just wasn’t as interesting as one would have hoped, and the other talked a bit more about the ports, in a particularly lackluster fashion. Generally, we’ve found Celebrity has better lecturers.

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10 hours ago, whogo said:

EXC is the oddest program ever. The lecturers are EXC. Maasdam cruise are EXC. Excursions are EXC. Guides are EXC. Part of some crow's nests are EXC. In-Depth™ cruises are EXC. If the goal is to confuse customers, Holland America has succeeded. Add EXC to dining "As You Wish" as a debacle.

 

I think EXC must stand for "extremely x-asperated customers".

 

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On my most recent cruise, the cruise director had a new title:  Cruise and Travel Director.

 

The theatre was vastly underused as one of the members of the show had been injured and both of the scheduled production shows were cancelled.  I was traveling with a newbie to cruising and she was really looking forward to the shows.  I did not want to burst her bubble, but truly HAL hasn't had a decent production show in ages.  She did enjoy the Indonesian crew show.

 

We also had a comedian and a magician.  They each did one show and then combined for a show.  There was no band of any kind.  My favorite performers were the Lincoln Center Stage quintet. This was on the Noordam and the location for the Lincoln Center Stage left a lot to be desired.  People walking past talking, despite the signs saying performance in progress.  And since HAL is always looking to make money, there is no bar service for this venue, which is surprising.

 

St. Louis Sal

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20 hours ago, whogo said:

EXC is the oddest program ever. The lecturers are EXC. Maasdam cruise are EXC. Excursions are EXC. Guides are EXC. Part of some crow's nests are EXC. In-Depth™ cruises are EXC. If the goal is to confuse customers, Holland America has succeeded. Add EXC to dining "As You Wish" as a debacle.

I was confused too, but no more.  As a result of the destruction of the entertainment and port enrichment lecture programs on HAL, I canceled my HAL cruise scheduled for December and booked with Celebrity instead.  The new cruise costs a few dollars more, but I believe we'll be getting so much more.

 

HAL - are you reading this?

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3 hours ago, baggal said:

I was confused too, but no more.  As a result of the destruction of the entertainment and port enrichment lecture programs on HAL, I canceled my HAL cruise scheduled for December and booked with Celebrity instead.  The new cruise costs a few dollars more, but I believe we'll be getting so much more.

 

HAL - are you reading this?

We agree. We have moved on to Celebrity and Princess as both of these lines offer a much greater variety of fun things to do on sea days as well as every evening around the ship.

 

We are, however, giving the Maasdam a try in a couple of months to check out their new In-depth EXC program. We’re hoping for the best as we do enjoy lectures and cruising to unique locations. From some of the reviews we’ve read, they seem to be doing a good job with it. 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, St. Louis Sal said:

HAL hasn't had a decent production show in ages.

The best production show I've seen on any of my cruises (not just HAL) was on our 2013 HAL Panama Canal cruise.  It was called Encore and the singers & performers were outstanding.

 

It saddens me that HAL has moved away from such productions.  While I enjoy individual entertainers, I got really tired of seeing a magician, ventriloquist, comedian, singer (repeat rotation) practically every night on our 28 night cruise.  I like musical shows.  

 

Edited by Shmoo here

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2 hours ago, Shmoo here said:

The best production show I've seen on any of my cruises (not just HAL) was on our 2013 HAL Panama Canal cruise.  It was called Encore and the singers & performers were outstanding.

 

It saddens me that HAL has moved away from such productions.  While I enjoy individual entertainers, I got really tired of seeing a magician, ventriloquist, comedian, singer (repeat rotation) practically every night on our 28 night cruise.  I like musical shows.  

 

Oh my. Do they rotate entertainment on long voyages?? We have a 32 day cruise booked. Not liking what I am reading. 

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8 minutes ago, josumello said:

Oh my. Do they rotate entertainment on long voyages?? We have a 32 day cruise booked. Not liking what I am reading. 

On our cruise we had the One Step productions.  They did 2 shows.  And one night they basically showed a TV show (Plant Earth) with live music accompaniment.  Then we had the Indonesian show one night.  But, mainly, it was individual entertainers (singers, magicians, ventriloquists, comedians).  Each one typically did 2 different nights during their time onboard on a rotating schedule.  And there was a 4 man group that one night did a 50's style music revue, and an Irish group that did 2 different shows.

 

So 6 (or 7, I can't recall if the first 4 man group did 2 shows) of the nights we had other than individual entertainers.  That left 20+ nights for the others.

 

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I'm a little confused by what is an EXC guide and what is an "Enrichment Speaker" for example:

 

1. Panama Canal transit had an "Enrichment Speaker" on it and a really good retired professor from the Univ. in Victoria, BC.

2. Southeast Asian Explorer, had a dentist from Hong Kong, who was really entertaining and knowledgeable about the region.

3. Most recent South America Explorer earlier this year had a young man from Argentina who again really knew his stuff and was a good speaker.

 

4. Everywhere the Maasdam now goes it's packaged as an "In-Depth EXC Experience" so there must still be this service on those cruises.

 

I've never experienced "Enrichment Speakers" on cruises less than 14 days.

 

5.  Finally what does HAL do with the big "World Stage Theater" on the new Pinnacle Class ships if there are no nightly production shows...seems like a really big waste of a venue designed for "world class" entertainment.

 

Thanks, 

 

Paul

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Currently on the Zuiderdam doing a 17 day cruise from Rotterdam to Boston.

We had an excellent presentation by an Icelandic speaker who talked about Shetland Islands, Iceland, and Greenland to standing room only audiences.

There are two EXC guides, Jessica and Bonnie, who do the port presentations in the theater and answer questions in the EXC center and dock side, and are now called Travel Hosts.

 

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Below is the response that I received  from HAL when asking about lecturers on our upcoming cruise on the Rotterdam in Oct/Nov 2019.  Nov 2 is when the segment starts for the TA back to FLL so it appears we will have 2 extra presenters for this segment.

 

Hello Ted,

 

We would like to thank you for your email. 

 

Yes,  we do have EXC personnel on all of our voyages giving talks on ports.  In addition,  on the segment starting 11/2 we will have EXC Culture & EXC Nature – Presenters

 

We hope this information is helpful and look forward to welcoming you on board your  Holland America cruise.

 

Thank you and best regards,

ANNA BABCOCK 

Onboard Events Coordinator 

877-885-4259

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Posted (edited)
On 7/16/2019 at 9:59 AM, Copper10-8 said:

 

 

You are correct Jeroen! Guest lecturers have never been HAL employees! The Lead EXC guide and EXC guide positions are HAL employees however, those positions are going out the door after having been introduced with lots of fanfare less than three years ago (Dec 2016). Another brilliant move by HAL's Director of Entertainment

Hmmmmm. Does that mean the Crow's Nest will return to its previous incarnation ? (probably not, right ?) 

The Captain's Corner is really missed, as it was the perfect place for private cocktail parties, and the bar provided a wonderfully intimate late night escape.     

Edited by Boatdrill

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2 minutes ago, Boatdrill said:

Hmmmmm. Does that mean the Crow's Nest will return to its previous incarnation ? (probably not, right ?) 

The Captain's Corner is really missed, as it was the perfect place for private cocktail parties, and the bar provided a wonderfully intimate late night escape.   

 

Probably not is probably a good way to put it :classic_cool:

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As we have previously posted, HAL appears to have lost its way!  We sure hope this is quickly corrected before irreparable harm is done to the brand.

 

Hank

 

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