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Billthekid

No joy in mudville or on HAL cruises

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Posted (edited)

Just back from 7-day Alaska cruise on the Noordam 7-21/7-28.  Previous cruise was December in Caribbean.  The latest changes (read things taken away) include little simple things.  Our major exception noted is the lack of opportunity to dance.  This has been discussed in this forum, but new to us.  First night no combo in the Ocean Bar before late dinner seating.  Was told it has been a month or two without any music by bartender.  Told could go to B.B.King lounge at 9:15 show, but band member was sick so no show.  That was the only music available the first night which was none.  So had a drink and asked for hot appetizers.  No go that has been eliminated also, but was available during happy hour only.  Talked to Beverage and Food Manager and asked why and his response was "things change"  Cute! Next night was Gala(formerly Formal night)  No music available before dinner so went to 10:15 B.B.King show.  Four rock and roll songs were performed and band left after 25 minutes.  Then piped in rock and roll music.  Most of the people left the room.  

 

Other exceptions noted:  Cheap plastic excursion bag instead of cloth for excursion.  Guess plastic is good for seven seas.  No pen, paper, notepad for cabin.  Explorer lounge uses paper napkins for food instead of plates.  Espresso coffee now $3.50 for after dinner.  Started at free, then $1.75.  Guess better quality coffee beans are being used although regular coffee comes out of the same machine.  No flowers on the dinning table or Pinnacle.  No fresh squeeze Orange Juice just water down concentrate.  Nuts and liquor flavor for ice cream topping gone.  Just crushed cookies (day old?).

 

We have two future cruises scheduled, but must seriously consider an alternate before all is gone.

Edited by Billthekid
spell

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1 hour ago, CruiserBruce said:

Change is difficult...

 

But HAL is taking away so much and adding what?

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17 minutes ago, SJSULIBRARIAN said:

 

But HAL is taking away so much and adding what?

Nothing I can see.


The dinner menus are going further downhill. There are few activities during the day, and they are taking away the opportunity to fill that new-found time with reading materials! Evening entertainment is reduced to the point that some evenings cocktail time is blaring overhead music instead of a combo.

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30 minutes ago, SJSULIBRARIAN said:

 

But HAL is taking away so much and adding what?

They add nothing, that's the way the Boys from Brazil(Seattle) save money..

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Posted (edited)

Interesting. We've pretty much moved on to Princess and Celebrity, but still have a 40 day coming up on the Maasdam. We're 4* and hope HAL starts elating customers again like they did us for quite awhile. However, for the past few years the air seems to be leaking out of their fun time balloon.

Edited by Ken the cruiser

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11 minutes ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Interesting. We've pretty much moved on to Princess and Celebrity, but still have a 40 day coming up on the Maasdam. We're 4* and hope HAL starts elating customers again like they did us for quite awhile. However, for the past few years the air seems to be leaking out of their fun time balloon.

IMO don’t hold your breath. We’re also 4 Stars and it is no big deal! We see things going south also. We love the Maasdam.

For us we have a Rotterdam cruise soon but will be trying Oceania with 2 cruises.

Felt guilty for changing over but not now.

Denise😊

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You mean there aren't new entertainment options on the new ships and the medium sized ships? Must have been imagining that.

 

On our cruise in June, there were commonly 6 or 7 entrees each night. Haven't seen that in a long time.

 

Just what leaps to mind...

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Posted (edited)

There are cutbacks on all cruise lines it seems.  The only constant seems to be inconsistency.

 

We do not think any of the mass market cruise lines deserve our customer loyalty.   Especially in view of the paltry loyalty benefits that they offer.  We get better benefits from our on line TA on the first cruise we book, not after the tenth or so like many of the cruise lines.  And we get cash, not a bottle of water, expedited boarding, a medal or pin,   fifty percent of a meal, or some underwear laundered.

Edited by iancal

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Posted (edited)

Not just HAL, all the lines are cutting back while gouging us to death.

We are Elite with Princess and on our last cruise with them I asked an asst. Maitre why the food wasn't as good as what we were used to, he said Princess was cutting back on their food budget. He also told us to not be surprised that one day meals in the MDR will have a small charge with the only free meals in the buffet. Our last cruise with HAL was in April on the Oosterdam, we thought the food was pretty good but the entertainment was a joke, no band in the Ocean Bar before dinner thus no dancing. Some nights there was only one entertainment venue open.

If there is one line that seems to keep things on an even keel it would be MSC with no cutbacks and no gouging plus great pricing on their cruises. 

Edited by MISTER 67

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Our last cruise on HAL was in 2016 and we saw a lot of changes on our 21 day on the Westerdam.

 

No band any time in the Ocean -- with no music -- no dancing.  Had to ask for hot appetizers -- some times we got them -- most times we did not.

 

We have been getting the cheap, plastic tote bags for several years.

 

There weren't any nuts or liquors for the ice cream in the Lido on our 2015 and 2016 cruises.

 

No fresh squeezed orange juice on those cruises.

 

We are not fans of the BB King groups or the new Rock and Roll groups.  Way too loud for us.

 

We loved the good old fashioned Piano Bar where we could sing along -- they are disappearing quickly.

 

Change has been happening for quite a few years now.  OP -- you were luckily you only experienced on your recent cruise.

 

Sadly the cruise lines are trying to attract the younger generation and really don't care about those who were royal for years to the cruise lines.

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4 minutes ago, iancal said:

There are cutbacks on all cruise lines it seems.  The only constant seems to be inconsistency.

 

We do not think any of the mass market cruise lines deserve our customer loyalty.   Especially in view of the paltry loyalty benefits that they offer.  We get better benefits from our on line TA on the first cruise we book, not after the tenth or so like many of the cruise lines.  And we get cash, not a bottle of water,  fifty percent of a meal, or some underwear laundered.

Funny, I haven't seen those same cutbacks on Princess or Celebrity. We just got off a 12 day Princess cruise on the Crown which had a CD and 6 assistant CDs!! On our X cruises in January, there was a CD with 4 assistants. How many visable assistants does a HAL CD have and is it true they are not allowed to tell jokes any more onstage? 

 

There were only 2 sea days on this particular 12 day Princess cruise, but they had 3 enrichment lectures. On the 10 and 11 day X cruises in Jan there were 3 professionally given enrichment lectures on each sea day. How many enrichment lectures conducted by non EXC employees does HAL offer on cruises 14 days or less? I believe the answer is zero.

 

No, IMHO, HAL is definitely  running a distant 3rd to both Princess and Celebrity where 4-5 years ago they were running neck and neck.

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20 minutes ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

Our last cruise on HAL was in 2016 and we saw a lot of changes on our 21 day on the Westerdam.

 

No band any time in the Ocean -- with no music -- no dancing.  Had to ask for hot appetizers -- some times we got them -- most times we did not.

 

We have been getting the cheap, plastic tote bags for several years.

 

There weren't any nuts or liquors for the ice cream in the Lido on our 2015 and 2016 cruises.

 

No fresh squeezed orange juice on those cruises.

 

We are not fans of the BB King groups or the new Rock and Roll groups.  Way too loud for us.

 

We loved the good old fashioned Piano Bar where we could sing along -- they are disappearing quickly.

 

Change has been happening for quite a few years now.  OP -- you were luckily you only experienced on your recent cruise.

 

Sadly the cruise lines are trying to attract the younger generation and really don't care about those who were royal for years to the cruise lines.

Exactly especially on your last point. We were on the Celebrity Equinox last month which is a line that has always catered to an older crowd. The cruise was very good but what just about ruined it for us was the constant ear shattering Electric Dance Music played everywhere from morning until early dinner. EDM is just horrible but I guess the Millennials love it so Celebrity has decided to go after that generation and forget what has been their bread and butter generations for over 3 decades.

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Posted (edited)

In my prior business life we used to say that we could not cut our way out of a profit challenge    Cutting expenses helped in the short term but hurt long term revenue and profit. 

 

We could only grow our way out, ie attract more customers, sell more product, grow our revenue and our profit.

 

Perhaps the HAL management team has a different view or a different perception of their business challenges.

 

Are there people out there who actually think cruise lines, including HAL, are somehow 'loyal' to their customers or reciprocate customer loyalty in any substantive tangible way????  If so, I can give them a great cash only price on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Edited by iancal

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9 minutes ago, iancal said:

In my prior business life we used to say that we could not cut our way out of a profit challenge    Cutting expenses helped in the short term but hurt long term revenue and profit. 

 

We could only grow our way out, ie attract more customers, sell more product, grow our revenue and our profit.

 

Perhaps the HAL management team has a different view or a different perception of their business challenges.

 

Are there people out there who actually think cruise lines, including HAL, are somehow 'loyal' to their customers or reciprocate customer loyalty in any substantive tangible way????  If so, I can give them a great cash only price on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Exactly.  What does customer loyalty status have to do with cutbacks?  

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1 hour ago, Ken the cruiser said:

Interesting. We've pretty much moved on to Princess and Celebrity, but still have a 40 day coming up on the Maasdam. We're 4* and hope HAL starts elating customers again like they did us for quite awhile. However, for the past few years the air seems to be leaking out of their fun time balloon.

 

I hope you will enjoy your cruise on the Maasdam.  We sailed the 21 day itinerary to Alaska in June and I think HAL has spent money to develop the EXC in depth program and is cutting back elsewhere in the fleet.  We had lots of special lectures and programs on board.  The food was very good and, of course, the room stewards were outstanding.  The weak link was the tendering process and hopefully they will have that under control by the time you sail.

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Posted (edited)

No, it is simply that I believe that there are people out there who remain 'loyal' to their cruise line even when they are not particularly happy with the product.  From my perspective, why on earth would you be loyal to any vendor, travel or otherwise, when the product is less than satisfactory?    At some point loyal customers walk.  GM, Ford, etc. learned this the hard way.

Edited by iancal

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5 minutes ago, oaktreerb said:

 

I hope you will enjoy your cruise on the Maasdam.  We sailed the 21 day itinerary to Alaska in June and I think HAL has spent money to develop the EXC in depth program and is cutting back elsewhere in the fleet.  We had lots of special lectures and programs on board.  The food was very good and, of course, the room stewards were outstanding.  The weak link was the tendering process and hopefully they will have that under control by the time you sail.

We're hoping so too. We really like the in-depth EXC concept and since we'll be going to Polynesian islands as well as circumnavigating Australia, it should pretty cool!

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We did a 10 night cruise on Koningsdam   in March followed  by a 7 night  Cruise on Rotterdam . 

 

 We are taking a different view of HAL from the above posts 

 

 A bit of our cruising experiences .Those were our 83rd & 84th cruises .We are 3 star Mariner  .We have sailed many cruises with Celebrity  ,Princess ,Royal Caribbean & Carnival  .We started cruising in the early 90s & our first cruise was on Carnival holiday 

 

 Now looking back & into the present ,we honestly see a better cruising exoerience  with our more recent cruises vs our earlier cruises , We have enough cruising experience with HAL ,to say that we totally enjoy todays experience .We occasionally drink a glass of wine with dinner ;but ,we do not frequent the cocktail lounges . We love the new HAL ships with their interactive TVs in our state room ,far better than the earlier small screen with DVD players  . Imo  there is greater selection of quality foods  in the MDR ,the Buffet & around the  main pool area

 

 We are sold on HALs performance & their change of entertainment ,especially the mew Pinnacle ships .They  have the best service of any of the other lines we cruised

 

 

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I have one more cruise on HAL this year and two booked on Celebrity next year but am already seeing problems with one of the Celebrity bookings. Maybe it is time to bite the bullet and go for higher end lines. Hard choices or maybe it is time go back to land vacations.

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I haven't been a HAL customer long enough to be able to compare the "old days" with today (earliest HAL cruise was Sep 2017), and I thoroughly enjoyed my cruises on the Amsterdam and Rotterdam (1 each -- I have another 35-day cruise on the Amsterdam this fall); not as much on the Eurodam as it was just too big, too many people, too crowded, and the food was ... OK ... MDR was fine, but the Pinnacle Grill was such a disappointment that I probably won't be booking any dinners there on my upcoming cruise.

 

All that aside, I've pretty much switched over to Regent Seven Seas as their fare structure for solo travelers is much better that HALs, and their all-inclusive fares brings the overall price competitive with HAL for longer cruises.  Again, I'm talking about their SOLO traveler pricing -- the supplement is much less than the 100% HAL charges, and with the inclusion of specialty dining, all wine/beer/alcohol/coffees/etc. plus gratuities, excursions, and Internet -- all things you have to pay extra for on HAL, the Regent fare can actually be cheaper.  Add to that the ship size (500-700 passengers) and food quality (excellent) and it just works better for me.  I tried Oceania this summer -- food was spectacular, but it was not a good fit for me.  

 

I'm also looking at HAL's trend toward larger ships -- if the Eurodam at 2100 passengers felt too big, there's no way I'd be comfortable on any of the Pinnacle-class ships.  I'm willing to give the Maasdam a try at some point, but it's going to have to be a stellar itinerary.

 

I'm not sure HAL knows who they're trying to target as far as market is concerned.  There are a lot of us "baby boomers" that are coming into our own these days who enjoy quiet elegance and minimal silly distractions that so many other cruise lines use to attract younger passengers/families (more power to them -- it fills a niche in the market).  I don't need constant entertainment, but I do appreciate an atmosphere that cherishes older passengers.  I'd like to grow old gracefully, and I'd like to do some of that growing on a ship that values my business.  I'm not sure HAL does.

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

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We are returning to HAL after several years for a 24 day in the Mediterranean May 2020. The itinerary and our past experience with HAL - along with a smaller ship (NA - still larger than we prefer) are what attracted us. I have to admit that Reading this does cause some red flags. 

We do not like larger ships - that leaves our options limited and why we have sailed Viking, which we very much enjoy and will be sailing on in two months. 

We are not overly concerned with night life, so it sounds as if that might be a good thing based on this thread. We do enjoy good food and service though, so that is concerning. 

We also have our eye on circumventing Australia with HAL, but will see how this experience is in May.

We are also booked on Princess (have’t sailed them for several years either) because it is RT out of SFO = no plane! We do no have anywhere close to the cruising experience that so  many of you do, but we do know what works for us and what doesn’t. I want to and will remain hopeful, but will continue to follow this thread. Thank you for the Information. 

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In the past year or so we've been on the Westerdam x 2, Volendam, Eurodam and Noordam (90+ days) and found that each ship differs in what is new, what is gone, how good the Pinancle is, how good the service is.   So, I wonder, how much is this a function of the individual ship and how much Seattle?

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1 hour ago, ArtsyCraftsy said:

I haven't been a HAL customer long enough to be able to compare the "old days" with today (earliest HAL cruise was Sep 2017), and I thoroughly enjoyed my cruises on the Amsterdam and Rotterdam (1 each -- I have another 35-day cruise on the Amsterdam this fall); not as much on the Eurodam as it was just too big, too many people, too crowded, and the food was ... OK ... MDR was fine, but the Pinnacle Grill was such a disappointment that I probably won't be booking any dinners there on my upcoming cruise.

 

All that aside, I've pretty much switched over to Regent Seven Seas as their fare structure for solo travelers is much better that HALs, and their all-inclusive fares brings the overall price competitive with HAL for longer cruises.  Again, I'm talking about their SOLO traveler pricing -- the supplement is much less than the 100% HAL charges, and with the inclusion of specialty dining, all wine/beer/alcohol/coffees/etc. plus gratuities, excursions, and Internet -- all things you have to pay extra for on HAL, the Regent fare can actually be cheaper.  Add to that the ship size (500-700 passengers) and food quality (excellent) and it just works better for me.  I tried Oceania this summer -- food was spectacular, but it was not a good fit for me.  

 

I'm also looking at HAL's trend toward larger ships -- if the Eurodam at 2100 passengers felt too big, there's no way I'd be comfortable on any of the Pinnacle-class ships.  I'm willing to give the Maasdam a try at some point, but it's going to have to be a stellar itinerary.

 

I'm not sure HAL knows who they're trying to target as far as market is concerned.  There are a lot of us "baby boomers" that are coming into our own these days who enjoy quiet elegance and minimal silly distractions that so many other cruise lines use to attract younger passengers/families (more power to them -- it fills a niche in the market).  I don't need constant entertainment, but I do appreciate an atmosphere that cherishes older passengers.  I'd like to grow old gracefully, and I'd like to do some of that growing on a ship that values my business.  I'm not sure HAL does.

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

 

I agree with much of what you say, as another solo cruiser. I have a cruise on Westerdam booked for next year, but after that it is a cruise on the Celebrity Constellation (approximately the same size), then the following year I'm trying both Oceania and Crystal. 

 

My only divergence would be to say that I do like a little liveliness on ships, especially in the evening or on sea days. Not "constant entertainment" (as I'm sure someone will come along and suggest I want bumper cars or rock walls....) but some reasonable lectures, good musical performances, trivia, even the occasional comedian or other special act are things I enjoy. 

 

A passenger above spoke of not noticing the same cutbacks on Princess. I especially noticed that in regard to music on board. On my last Princess cruise, while I was not happy with the ship, I really enjoyed all the music: a full orchestra playing during shows, a string quartet that played several times in a smaller venue, a contemporary music "cover band", steel drums by the pool, and even some country music. Plus a piano bar in the evening. 

 

However, as I said, I was not happy with Princess overall and despite many past cruises I'm unlikely to go back. As a solo, I am starting to feel, like you, that the higher end lines that offer a nice incentive for solos (compared with mass market and "premium" lines) may be where I am headed.

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