Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
torybruno

Is there a piano bar on Oosterdam?

Recommended Posts

On our HAL Alaskan cruise three years ago, we LOVED sitting around the piano bar every evening.  Fingers crossed they still have piano bars with great players!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, torybruno said:

On our HAL Alaskan cruise three years ago, we LOVED sitting around the piano bar every evening.  Fingers crossed they still have piano bars with great players!

Yes, there is.  It is a dueling piano bar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, FlorenceItaly said:

Yes, there is.  It is a dueling piano bar.

Interesting!  Can’t wait!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, torybruno said:

On our HAL Alaskan cruise three years ago, we LOVED sitting around the piano bar every evening.  Fingers crossed they still have piano bars with great players!

 

Oosterdam, as did all four Vistas, used to have a dedicated piano bar on Deck 2 fwd, starboard side. In April 2016 during a dry-dock, that piano bar was gutted and replaced with a casino bar. In the place of the single pianist, Oosterdam received ‘Billboard Onboard’ which includes the dual piano set-up opposite the casino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some people still prefer the single piano bars like on the smaller ships.   Since 2016, HAL formed a marketing agreement with Billboard Entertainment.   They expanded the piano bar areas to include 2 pianos, placed back-to-back with a much larger bar surrounding the 2 pianos.  They removed the wall separating it from the casino.  Billboard supplies the talent.   Some are great, some not so great, and some do not work well in a dual piano setup.   They play 3 sets a night, and they stick to their set times.  The 3 sets are pre-determined play lists except they have one set devoted to requests.   But unless you are requesting Beatles, Neal Diamond "Sweet Caroline" or Billy Joel's "Piano Man", their ability to play stuff from the 50's and 60's era, where most of the audience grew up in, is limited.   These musicians are usually very young, in their 20's and 30's.    So whatever they have heard of 50's-60's music is very limited.  

We had a fantastic piano bar musician on the Rotterdam a year ago.  The Rotterdam still has a single piano bar in "The Mix".   The guy would hang around during the breaks between sets and talk with the guests.  I asked him if he has applied to Billboard to be part of the new dual piano gigs.  He said he did, but they rejected him because he was "too old".   This talented musician was 58 years old.  That tells you a lot !!

The smaller, more intimate piano bars feature a single musician who is not only proficient on piano, but also supplies their own accompaniment, such as small saxophone, a side man for rhythm and bass and they are also great working the crowd.  We prefer the smaller style single piano bars.   

Every square foot on a cruise ship has to generate enough revenue to pay for itself.  The older, smaller piano bars only have 10 or so seats around the piano, with other seating nearby.   To allow for more thirsty passengers to enjoy the piano bar, they made it huge.  

The term "Dueling Pianos" is not always the case.  You need 2 musicians who have worked together for a long time to pull off a great Dueling Piano act.  On our recent Eurodam cruise in March, the first time the 2 musicians  performed together was when they performed on the Eurodam.  Not great !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TAD2005 said:

Some people still prefer the single piano bars like on the smaller ships.   Since 2016, HAL formed a marketing agreement with Billboard Entertainment.   They expanded the piano bar areas to include 2 pianos, placed back-to-back with a much larger bar surrounding the 2 pianos.  They removed the wall separating it from the casino.  Billboard supplies the talent.   Some are great, some not so great, and some do not work well in a dual piano setup.   They play 3 sets a night, and they stick to their set times.  The 3 sets are pre-determined play lists except they have one set devoted to requests.   But unless you are requesting Beatles, Neal Diamond "Sweet Caroline" or Billy Joel's "Piano Man", their ability to play stuff from the 50's and 60's era, where most of the audience grew up in, is limited.   These musicians are usually very young, in their 20's and 30's.    So whatever they have heard of 50's-60's music is very limited.  

We had a fantastic piano bar musician on the Rotterdam a year ago.  The Rotterdam still has a single piano bar in "The Mix".   The guy would hang around during the breaks between sets and talk with the guests.  I asked him if he has applied to Billboard to be part of the new dual piano gigs.  He said he did, but they rejected him because he was "too old".   This talented musician was 58 years old.  That tells you a lot !!

The smaller, more intimate piano bars feature a single musician who is not only proficient on piano, but also supplies their own accompaniment, such as small saxophone, a side man for rhythm and bass and they are also great working the crowd.  We prefer the smaller style single piano bars.   

Every square foot on a cruise ship has to generate enough revenue to pay for itself.  The older, smaller piano bars only have 10 or so seats around the piano, with other seating nearby.   To allow for more thirsty passengers to enjoy the piano bar, they made it huge.  

The term "Dueling Pianos" is not always the case.  You need 2 musicians who have worked together for a long time to pull off a great Dueling Piano act.  On our recent Eurodam cruise in March, the first time the 2 musicians  performed together was when they performed on the Eurodam.  Not great !!

Hmmmm, we loved the single player and understand your points.  Hopefully they’re good because we’re not show people, I fall asleep at the shows!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They were quite good on our May 5th sailing!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Billboard Onboard has replaced the Piano Bar.  It will be on all of the ships soon. Good fun and entertainment, an improvement of the piano bar, IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The old piano bar was great, sitting around the piano player, great atmosphere..the dueling stuff, boring, no atmosphere, I never understand why they need to change things, 'billboard on board', big deal!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Palm Bay Cruise Couple said:

The Billboard Onboard has replaced the Piano Bar.  It will be on all of the ships soon. Good fun and entertainment, an improvement of the piano bar, IMHO.

There is insufficient room on the smaller ships like the Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Veendam, Volendam, Zaandam, Noordam, and Maasdam to install Billboard Onboard.   That is why these ships, that have been through recent drydocks, have not been modified.   

Edited by TAD2005

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Palm Bay Cruise Couple said:

The Billboard Onboard has replaced the Piano Bar.  It will be on all of the ships soon. Good fun and entertainment, an improvement of the piano bar, IMHO.

 

 

Not quite; there are no plans to put Billboard on the two 'S' and four 'R'-class ships

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

For a more accurate deck plan, and to see which ships have Billboard Onboard, check out Cruise Deck Plans dot com.

You can check out each ship with detailed deck plans that are current.

I see that the HAL chart you posted shows some dates for some of the smaller ships.   But speaking with the Captain's staff onboard the Rotterdam, they said there just isn't any room for Billboard Onboard on that and other "R" class ships without reducing the size of the shops.  We know that will never happen.

Edited by TAD2005

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TAD2005 said:

For a more accurate deck plan, and to see which ships have Billboard Onboard, check out Cruise Deck Plans dot com.

You can check out each ship with detailed deck plans that are current.

I see that the HAL chart you posted shows some dates for some of the smaller ships.   But speaking with the Captain's staff onboard the Rotterdam, they said there just isn't any room for Billboard Onboard on that and other "R" class ships without reducing the size of the shops.  We know that will never happen.

I agree with you, that at Times Cruise Deck Plans . Com.  We were also recently aboard the Rotterdam and it has since incorporated Lincoln center Stage and was told that the Billboard Onboard would be added in place of The Mix.  At least the Ocean Bar is still the Ocean Bar with great musicians.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/22/2019 at 4:41 AM, Palm Bay Cruise Couple said:

 

Thanks! I stand/sit corrected. Must have been a change of plans in Seattle! If they are going to rip apart the Mix Bar concept on Maasdam, Veendam, Rotterdam, Volendam and Zaandam and the only remaining dedicated piano bar (Rembrandt Lounge with Amstel Café) on Amsterdam, they'll have plenty of room to install two pianos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I, for one, despise Billboard on board. Whenever I pass by, it always seems to be two twenty something tenors or sopranos BANGING OUT loud renditions of very tired music. I do not find that entertaining.

On the other hand, the piano bar entertainment is more intimate and a pleasant experience. Even Jamm can be entertaining, and he has a huge catalog of music he plays. Sorry to hear that Billboard on board is being introduced across the fleet. Sure, they sell more drinks, and I guess that's the bottom line.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be on the Rotterdam in Oct. 2020.   I sent an e-mail to Barry From Boston, a great (single piano) piano bar musician, asking him if he would possibly be on the Rotterdam in October 2020.

Below is his response.   I was really disappointed to hear of the destruction of another great piano bar.

 

On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 3:03:03 AM EDT, Barry ###### <barryfromboston@me.com> wrote:


Rotterdam will eliminate the piano bar this December [in drydock] and install Billboard On Board Dueling Pianos on that space. I work through a different Contractor, so that won't  be possible. But thanks for thinking of me. 
There is no immediate plan to displace [the piano bar on the] Maasdam, or myself. Thanks for writing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just got off the Oosterdam, and Billboard Onboard was horrible. DH used to own a Dueling Piano bar, so we went in with high hopes. The two gentlemen performing sounded great when they were doing show tunes from Hamiltion. Unfortunately, every song they performed sounded like a show tune, rather than the correct genre. The night billed as "Hot Country" had songs that were hot in the 80s - Islands in the Stream, 9 to 5, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Everyone in the room looked like s/he had been sedated. There was one group you could tell would've gotten into the show with a little encouragement, but there was none. We went back once or twice to give it a second chance, and it was the same.

 

Do yourself a favor and head to BB King's. The music there is well performed, and the crowd is having much more fun. Every night there were at least a couple or two who were very good dancers out on the floor, which got others to venture out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, bartexas said:

We just got off the Oosterdam, and Billboard Onboard was horrible. DH used to own a Dueling Piano bar, so we went in with high hopes. The two gentlemen performing sounded great when they were doing show tunes from Hamiltion. Unfortunately, every song they performed sounded like a show tune, rather than the correct genre. The night billed as "Hot Country" had songs that were hot in the 80s - Islands in the Stream, 9 to 5, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Everyone in the room looked like s/he had been sedated. There was one group you could tell would've gotten into the show with a little encouragement, but there was none. We went back once or twice to give it a second chance, and it was the same.

 

Do yourself a favor and head to BB King's. The music there is well performed, and the crowd is having much more fun. Every night there were at least a couple or two who were very good dancers out on the floor, which got others to venture out.

Billboard Onboard performers change regularly as there are now approx 10 HAL ships with that setup, so that is 20 performers with 3-4 month contracts alternating ships and partners.  We have had some good duos and some bad duos as well as a few where one performer outshone the other one (as are BB King performers BTW whose groups even change 1 or 2 members within the same cruise sometimes).  Just saying Billboard Onboard is good or bad does very little to inform the readers of the real experience.  It is like saying that you saw a really bad magician without naming him/her.  It does not mean all magic shows are bad.  It would be much better and easier to judge if people actually identified the piano entertainers by their real names instead of just the generic Billboard Onboard label.  Just a thought ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, bartexas said:

We just got off the Oosterdam, and Billboard Onboard was horrible. DH used to own a Dueling Piano bar, so we went in with high hopes. The two gentlemen performing sounded great when they were doing show tunes from Hamiltion. Unfortunately, every song they performed sounded like a show tune, rather than the correct genre. The night billed as "Hot Country" had songs that were hot in the 80s - Islands in the Stream, 9 to 5, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Everyone in the room looked like s/he had been sedated. There was one group you could tell would've gotten into the show with a little encouragement, but there was none. We went back once or twice to give it a second chance, and it was the same.

 

Do yourself a favor and head to BB King's. The music there is well performed, and the crowd is having much more fun. Every night there were at least a couple or two who were very good dancers out on the floor, which got others to venture out.

 

Spot on! Both the male and female lead singers at BB King's were awesome. They pretty much made the cruise. My group gave all remaining entertainment mixed reviews. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The basic premise of Billboard Onboard is flawed the way it is being run.  In many instances, the musicians contracted by Billboard have never met or performed with each other until they board the ship.  Sometimes, with really talented people, you get a winner.  Other times the quality is a crap shoot.   Most of the Billboard Onboard sets I have seen since the inception, there was a very strong musician, who carried the weaker one.   

But it seems that HAL is committed to equip the entire fleet, with very few exceptions, to this concept.   Obviously the old piano bars, although very popular, were not generating enough drink sales to justify the space they were occupying.  And just like Las Vegas hotels,  every square foot on a cruise ship must generate revenue.  And if they can get a corporate sponsor to chip in like NY Times, Microsoft, Lincoln Center,  BB-King's Blues Club, America's Test Kitchen,  Rolling Stone Magazine, etc.  that is even better.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So we're back!  Personally, I enjoy the one piano player format,  it was more of an intimate experience on our Zaandam cruise three years ago with a great accomplished piano player.  Not saying this was bad, we did go 5 out of 7 nights.  Sometimes, they would come up with what I thought were very strange songs for piano bars... These were very young men, and one did seem to be a stronger singer/player than the other.  There was more interaction among themselves than with the crowd.  As far as dueling pianos, I would not call it dueling.  One was more accompanying the other?  Sorry, I'm not a musician and my terms may be off!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on the Oosterdam last August, with Andy & Katrina playing in Billboard.  They played music from the 50s through now, show tunes, Motown,  rock'n'roll/pop, country, even some heavy metal.  They did have some pre-set shows, such a songs what were #1 hits, or from particular artists.  Their request shows were pretty good, too, and if they didn't know it, they'd come back the next time having learned it.  We enjoyed them very much.

 

I think they were most recently on the K'dam.  Maybe they still are?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, torybruno said:

As far as dueling pianos, I would not call it dueling. 

It's not so much "dueling" pianos as "dual" pianos.  As in there are two of them.  On our Eurodam cruise, they would switch off who was playing.  While some of the shows were themed (60's, rock and roll, british invasion) others were requests.

 

 

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...