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MouseBerry

Impressions from a HAL first time cruiser

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Hi,

we, a couple in the mid 50 age, are currently on our first HAL cruise. It is the Koningsdam on a 12 nights mediterranean cruise.

 

To give a bit more context we have been on several cruises before with MSC an Oceania and we are from Germany.

 

Here our first impressions.

 

Level of the Cruise: HAL has been considered as premium in the past. Well if that was true it

isn‘t anymore. It is general mass market and even in this segment not on the top edge but rather in the middle.

 

The ship: MS Koningsdam is quite new and fresh. The decor and style is not the shiny bling bling of some other big cruise ships, but it has not the real traditional or country club style. To us it is somewhere lost in the middle, but this is very personal judgement.

 

The service: Service has several aspects. Friendliness, capabilities and organisation. Service people are very friendly on the Koningsdam, but this was the case on any cruise we made so far. The capabilities are a bit limited and below what we experienced with MSC and Oceania was much better. Organisation is poor and sometimes very poor. We did not feel there are to less people in the service. They are just not well organised. We had to talk to 3 sometimes 4 different waiters. There is a lack of training or improving of procedures. I would not blame the people which provide the service, but rather the management. 

 

The food: We used mainly the main dining room and the food in general is good if not very good. Breakfast was good as well, but the poor service kicked in here as well. Why are are all courses served at once? Tablespace does not allow this, and some warm dishes get cold standing on the table. We understand it is difficult to serve course by course a large number of people, but MSC managed it much better even the MDR is packed with people. No lunch at MDR was a real new experience to us and a sad one.

 

The coffee: If you like coffee look for another cruise line. Most coffee and this includes specialty coffee at extra cost is really bad. And bars and lounges do not serve coffee. Sometimes I want a Cappuccino  late evening. Totally unavailable if coffee bars are closed. 

 

The entertainment: We very much like the music walk and Billboard on board in particular. Shows in the big hall (world stage) not impressive at all (so far, 7 nights still to come).

 

We talked to some people which used HAL several times before. They are very much disappointed. They told us in the past HAL was much better. They missed by example the fresh flowers. We cannot make a statement on that. We paid less than 100€ per day for a balcony tax and fees included. This is quite a bargain. Thus we will not complain. I‘m not yet there but DW already said she will not sail again with HAL.

 

regards

MBerry

 

 

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Thank you for checking and giving us your impressions of HAL.

 

Sorry your cruise is not living up to your expectations.

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Thanks for your review, so far.  It is unusual for all breakfast courses to be served at the same time, in my experience.  I wouldn't like that either.  Has it happened more than once?

 

i hope things improve for the balance of the cruise.

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Just got back from the Rotterdam . Being in a Neptune ( first time loved it 😉) , we had breakfast in the PG.

Menu is the same as in the MDR, it is just served a bit faster and all in due course.

We never had the experience the OP had in the MDR with everything being served at the same time.

Waiting staff in MDR for dinner was outstanding as was the food imo.

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We are going to be on the Koningsdam in the fall. Hopefully the hotel director will have ironed out inconsistencies in the service by then. We had excellent service on our MS Amsterdam cruise which had experienced staff - except in the Pinnacle Grill. We have been on 15+ different cruise lines and one thing is true for all of them including the luxury segment: If you find a waiter team that is competent and that you like, head to their tables at all times. 

 

It is not quite fair to compare an Oceania ship to a HAL ship. Oceania is a premium line with smaller ships. HAL is middle of the road and the price reflects the difference. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, MouseBerry said:

The capabilities are a bit limited and below what we experienced with MSC

 

I am sorry to hear you are disappointed with your cruise and I thank you for sharing your observations.  With regard to all courses being served at once, I experienced somewhat of the same situation on the Zaandam recently.  Both my husband and I commented on it on our post-cruise survey but your same experience does leave me wondering about the current skills and training of the dining room staff and management.  I hope they nip this in the bud soon as this is a basic expectation in food service.

 

As an aside... the above statement caught my eye because I was looking at an MSC cruise in October.  As MSC has had a string of mishaps lately I am concerned about their safety and the skill of their crew.  If you have the time and the interest, would you care to comment further?  Thank you.

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Thank you for your well written review.  I do have to agree with everything you have said.  HAL is definitely middle of the road in our opinion and has declined in recent years.  I’ve never sailed on MSC or Oceania but have sailed on Carnival, Royal, Celebrity, NCL and Azamara. Except for our cruises on the Prinsendam, HAL was lacking in many areas. My husband hates the coffee, we don’t like the entertainment and the only dining we like is fixed dining where you know you’ll be waited on the same every night.  Lunch and breakfast are almost painful.    I suspect that due to cost issues many lines have degraded service and amenities.  We continue to sail HAL for their long speciality cruises and we like to cruise with adults rather than a ship full of children.  I think the hotel director has a lot to do with how well everything runs.  Enjoy cruising on whatever line you choose.  We’ve never had a bad cruise....just think there’s some things that could be done better.  

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Posted (edited)

Having not sailed on HAL for several years, I hope our experience on the Noordam next month is a little better. HAL has never been perceived as a "Premium" line as it is just a main stream cruise line. It does have some attributes we prefer like smaller ships, less crowding and catering to older demographics without all the drinking games, rock climbing and younger people partying all night long.  We also could care less about amateurish attempts to produce Broadway type shows on a cruise ship stage like so many other cruise lines. However, trying to compare HAL to Oceana is not fair as Oceana and other lines like Viking Ocean are true Premium cruise lines. We also looked at MSC for our Mediterranean cruise next year but after reading horror stories about rude service and passengers, terrible food and huge crowds from past MSC passengers on CC we decided to pass on them and go with a real premium cruise line, Viking Ocean. There is not one cruise line that fits all people's tastes and that is why there are so many of them all offering a little different experience. I hope you enjoy the rest of your cruise.

Edited by terrydtx

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And for Neptune Suite guests who pay $ 1,000.00 per night, it has become a bad deal.

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9 minutes ago, Mosaic said:

And for Neptune Suite guests who pay $ 1,000.00 per night, it has become a bad deal.

I do not know where you come up with $1000 per night for a NS?  Neptune Suites on our Noordam Alaska cruise next month are going for around  $ 330pp per night.

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I appreciate the way MouseBerry broke down Service into Friendliness, Capability and Organization and I strongly agree with his interpretation.  We have always found HAL service very friendly, slightly moreso than on other cruise lines.  I agree that capability of individuals varies, but we feel that organization has been lacking for as long as we have been cruising HAL, it is a systemic issue.  We have seen it over and over and have often asked ourselves, "Haven't they done this before?" 

We have cruised more on HAL than other lines mostly for their itineraries and price; price included comfort in the past but that is changing with the newer ships having smaller rooms, so we find ourselves booking in higher categories for similar comforts.

We have always enjoyed the show lounge shows with dancers, these are reported to be going away (haven't experienced that yet) and we have enjoyed most guest entertainers, but now we look for Lincoln Center Stage as our main entertainment.  

The Enrichment lecturers have been a highlight for us over the years but that too is diminishing.  

I think our cruising will be diminishing also, we have chosen to take road trips last year and this year; no cruise this year at all, our first time since 2003.  We'll see what next year brings.   It took us a long time to get to 4 Stars on HAL and but things change.  

 

Thank you MouseBerry for your thoughts.  I remain with my mantra, It's hard to have a bad on a cruise ship!  I trust you and DW will find the best niche for you, there are so many cruise styles to choose from.  

Maureen

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I hope people at HAL read these threads......

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2 minutes ago, KirkNC said:

I hope people at HAL read these threads......

I was just going to write that😊👍I so agree with all of the above! 

We have been and are HAL cruisers, and over the past years have 12 cruises under our belt! BUT WE HAVE SEEN A DECLINE.

I must say Coffee is awful all these years and so glad Exploration cafe opened up for a better cup! We don’t eat in the MDR since I dislike being in a room like cattle,

sorry just my opinion. So over the years PG is where we go. The best iof HAL is itineraries, and the staff. We love the smaller ships HAL has and in 2021 we will try Koningsdam which now I wonder about with the review. Will see. As they say BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER 

and everyone has opinions good and bad so will see.

we are in 9 months doing Rotterdam here in San Diego Panama cruise to FLL and then I really felt guilty doing this BUT WE WILL BE THEN ON OCEANIA DOING A TA TO EUROPE AND AGAIN WHILE IN EUROPE LATER ANOTHER OCEANIA CRUISE. Talk about jumping ship! I’m excited to try another line but also feel bad.

Thank you for your honest review! I appreciate it.

Denise😊

 

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1 hour ago, Mosaic said:

And for Neptune Suite guests who pay $ 1,000.00 per night, it has become a bad deal.

 

58 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

I do not know where you come up with $1000 per night for a NS?  Neptune Suites on our Noordam Alaska cruise next month are going for around  $ 330pp per night.

 

Exactly.

 

And silly me, I always thought people were paying more for a Neptune Suite because you get, on average about twice as much space as a regular Verandah cabin. :classic_wacko:

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Hi,

I agree that HAL should not be compared to Oceania. Both have a different pricepoint. I just mentioned it as in the German cruise market HAL is positioned as a 

premium line. 

 

Regarding the breakfast and serving all courses at once unfortunately this was not one occasion. If it had happened only once I would not have mentioned it. We are open to mistakes and would nobody blame for this. No it was consistent bad service. Of course we tried to get the breakfast course by course and asked for it. Waiter tried to follow our wish, but whenever you force them off their used routine results are unpredictable. After 3 days we gave up.

 

And don‘t worry, we still enjoy our cruise. Style of the ship and service is only on part of the experience. Ports of call and the sealife is still good. I didn‘t want to bash HAL. The main purpose is to tell the difference to our experience so far.

 

And here two additional aspects.

 

Age of people on board: We expected a lot old and very old people as we were told this is specific to HAL. But this is not true for this cruise. There is a good  mixture of people of all ages. Maybe Pinnacle Class ships attract all ages. But there are only a small number of kids on board. We have no problem with kids otherwise we would never had used MSC as you will have a big amount of families with kids on almost all MSC cruises. In the mediterranean for sure. If you like well behaved people around you, very likely HAL is your cruise line.

 

Hard selling on board:

HAL was trying to sell addons on board. Beverage packages, dining options etc., but it is very mild and never aggressive. MSC has increased amount and level of aggression in selling extras on our last cruise. We really don‘t like it. Here HAL actually looks more premium like.

 

We had never a problem with MSC on any cruise so far regarding security and their capabilities to operate a ship. We heard about some consistent problems on the very new ships MSC Seaview and Seaside. We did not use them yet.

 

If someone refers to the last accident in Venice, well I don‘t know whether this was an MSC officer error. But didn‘t a HAL vessel hit another HAL vessel recently?

 

I hope such errors will not happen more often on any cruise line.

 

regards

MBerry

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Thank you, MouseBerry,  for your review.  We were on Koningsdam on a B2B in March and, for the first time, really noticed a lacking in service in the MDR.  It was such a disappointment as we have been lucky to have skilled servers despite their having more tables to take care of.  We noted this on our survey but I wonder really how much the home office takes note.  In March there were real errors in dining service which are basic and learned at the very beginning of training.  When ordering you can ask that courses not come all at once (I know you shouldn't have to do this but I wouldn't want to have entrees getting cold).   On the other hand, our cabin stewards were top notch and very good at noting our preferences and acting on them.  I hope you will find pleasures in the rest of your trip and then find a cruise line that is more to your expectations.

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I find this so odd.

My husband and I spent three weeks on the Koningsdam, in the Med, last fall.  We followed that with 7 days, in the Med, on MSC's Meraviglia.

The contrast was so stark that we were just amazed.

The Kdam was so good that we're booked for January's Grand Voyage to SA on the Volendam.

MSC was so bad that we wouldn't consider another cruise with them even if it was free. We literally were singing the Hallelujah Chorus as we disembarked, and so were other people in line around us.  I'm not exaggerating this. We seriously considered leaving the ship part way through the cruise and making our own way back to Civitavecchia.

I'm having trouble wrapping myself around the idea that the Kdam got that bad in just a few months and that MSC got that good.

Obviously, people are individuals and everyone has their own take on things, but.  . . 

Kdam service: Couldn't have been better. I can't say enough good about them. The highlight was when my husband needed to see a dentist. On a sea day, the guy at the front desk made a ship-to-shore call (at no charge to us) to Naples to arrange for a dentist to see him the next day, which was a Saturday.  He then wrote out the address to give the taxi driver. Furthermore, after the fact, our steward checked on him repeatedly to make sure he was okay.

Kdam food: It was fine. We don't do specialty restaurants. We love the MDR, and on Kdam, we also like the buffet because they serve the food instead of having a free-for-all (which is what happens on MSC).  I don't drink coffee and think it all tastes bad.  Husband didn't complain at all.

Kdam entertainment:  Here's where things may have changed, I admit. We thought it was fine. I loved the World Stage and the BBC stuff. We loved the Lincoln Center. We were not especially fond of the BBKing thing (and that surprised us, because we thought we'd like it) but there was so much else that it didn't matter.

Overall, the experience, which was our first on HAL, was good enough for us to plop down the money for a Grand Voyage.

 

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3 minutes ago, MouseBerry said:

in the German cruise market HAL is positioned as a 

premium line. 

 

I did not know that. No wonder that you had higher expectations. For HAL cruises, book a Neptune suite on a Grand Voyage. It makes a huge difference as we found out. 

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We cruised the Med from Venice April 2018 on MSC, and MSC was the worst line, that I have ever been on.  True, I have not cruised Holland America as of yet.  We will be on Volendam out of Vancouver 18-25 September 2019, so I will soon see.

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13 minutes ago, cowmilker said:

Kdam entertainment

 

Don't expect too much on the Volendam. On our MS Amsterdam Grand Voyage,  everything else was good. Lots of daytime activities for all tastes, great service, an outstanding excursion team. I never thought that the excursion team and the lecturers could make or break (exaggeration!) the enjoyment of the ports until we encountered a weak team on the Azamara Quest.

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Hi,

just to make it clear. Dinner was served properly course by course all the time. The serve-everything-at-once approach is specific to the breakfast. On embarcation there was lunch served in MDR and it was properly served. 

 

Our last cruise with MSC was a 12 night trip on the Meraviglia from Genova to Hamburg. It was the first time we didn‘t like the MSC ship, but the service was good.

 

And here is another thing to compare.

 

Cabin size: I‘m not talking about the cabin size in square foot/meter. I refer to the amount of space to put cloth in. Here the Koningsdam is really good. Good concept to provide enough space. HAL, well done. Last cruise with MSC on Meraviglia it was ridiculous little space for cloth.

 

Now I‘m heading to Malaga and loose my connection. As I‘m an ignorant who can live without internet i didn‘t book any ship internet service;-)

 

regards

MBerry

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10 minutes ago, Floridiana said:

 

Don't expect too much on the Volendam. On our MS Amsterdam Grand Voyage,  everything else was good. Lots of daytime activities for all tastes, great service, an outstanding excursion team. I never thought that the excursion team and the lecturers could make or break (exaggeration!) the enjoyment of the ports until we encountered a weak team on the Azamara Quest.


We have never relied on the ship for information about ports. Ever. We do all the reading and planning ahead of time.  We never board without knowing exactly what we plan to do in every port, down to maps and itineraries and independent excursions if needed, and including having read books/watched movies/whatever for background.  We figure it's up to us to do the learning.

Obviously, though, having good commentary from the ship during the Antarctica drive-by will be more than welcome.

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we do the same research, well ahead of time.

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Interesting topic, since we are first timers on HAL, right now on the Nieuw Statendam in Nordkapp, waiting for Sailaway. 

 

This is our 16th Cruise and we usually sail in Suite Class on Celebrity, so we do compare a lot right now. We took advantage of an Upgrade to Neptune Suite and dont regret it at all. Our Veranda is ridiculously lage and complimentary Laundry is a very nice perk. Do we miss a Butler? Sometimes, yes... 

Neptune Lounge is located very akward between cabins and is not comparble to cozy Michaels or the Retreat Lounge. 

 

Service in Club Orange is excellent although the Restaurant isnt comparable to Celebritys Luminae - it has only the regular MDR Menu with one Special every Evening. Location is also a bit akward with people walking by all the time and the extractor hood above you, but the atmosphere is indeed nice and relaxing. It is almost half empty every night... And yes, the chairs are comfortable 😉

 

Overall Service seems very good to top notch with hits and misses. On our last Celebrity Cruise, Service seemed understaffed, which is not the case on this Cruise. 

 

We love Entertainment on this Ship - live music at a high Level in Billboard, Rolling Stone and Lincoln. Have never experienced this on Celebrity...

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