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Do you Like the direction..


Right or wrong direction for Holland America Line?  

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  1. 1. Do you like the direction Orlando Ashford seems to be leading Holland America Line?



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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Really?

 

My older sister was a late 60s/early 70s young adult. I've seen her and her friends when songs of the era are played -- they love it. It's a walk down memory lane. One didn't have to be a hippie or a junkie to enjoy the music of the time. 

 

I'm 10 years younger and came of age during the punk era. The first Sex Pistols album is still a treasured possession of mine. Was I an anarchist? No way. Do I still enjoy belting out the songs?  You bet.

 

 

But with all this talk of attracting a younger audience, why are they using a song from the 60s? And how is a woman wandering around looking lost, flopping on a bed, and lying in the sun feeding her head? How are those experiences enriching her mind? That commercial doesn't show me anything about X or the Edge.

 

 

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47 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

But with all this talk of attracting a younger audience, why are they using a song from the 60s? And how is a woman wandering around looking lost, flopping on a bed, and lying in the sun feeding her head? How are those experiences enriching her mind? That commercial doesn't show me anything about X or the Edge.

 

 

 

Songs are regularly recycled and/or are timeless.  For example, songs by the Beatles.  Jimi Hendrix is my 29 yr. old nephew's guitar hero.  Definitely not his generation.  I take it as the woman is rejuvenating herself.  You may have a different interpretation or reaction.  

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3 hours ago, Roz said:

I'm very intrigued with Celebrity's Edge.  I've read all the hype and reviews, and it's a mixed bag of reactions.  My last cruise with HAL left me shaking my head.  I'm looking for something new.  I just did a quick fare check on 3 ships leaving Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 1, all 7-day itineraries.  Fares are for the lowest category inside cabin.

 

Edge - $899

Nieuw Statendam - $449

Veendam - $399

 

So, will the passenger paying $899 spend even more once they're onboard, or will their vacation budget be tapped out after paying the much higher fare?  Will the $399 passenger spent a lot more onboard because they got a bargain basement price, or will the $399 simply attract the budget minded cruiser?  These are all questions I'm sure cruise lines are pondering and researching.  

 

Like or not, today's cruisers are looking for several dining and entertainment options, and HAL's older ships just can't deliver.  I still think it's possible to have a traditional look and experience (which is what HAL promotes itself as) and still provide passengers with a modern, up to date ship.  

 

Roz

Perhaps Celebrity is charging those prices because folks are willing to pay it.  HAL, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming a budget cruise line with many older ships (having few balcony cabins).  In the competitive Caribbean market the HAL ships are among the worst options.  We once tried a back to back Caribbean cruise on the Westy.  One afternoon, while sitting on deck and listening to a band playing Glenn Miller music (just what you need to get into a Caribbean mood) we actually walked up to the one of the band members and asked if they could play some Bob Marley.  The answer was that they did not know any Bob Marley music....and that about sums up HAL in the Caribbean.  HAL does a great job in the South Pacific, Asia, Europe, etc.  But they are entirely out of their league in the Caribbean market.

 

Hank

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8 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

One afternoon, while sitting on deck and listening to a band playing Glenn Miller music (just what you need to get into a Caribbean mood) we actually walked up to the one of the band members and asked if they could play some Bob Marley.  The answer was that they did not know any Bob Marley music....and that about sums up HAL in the Caribbean.

You toss out this old chestnut so often, I have to ask what ship(s) you are sailing, as I haven't heard Glenn Miller music, or any other music from that era, in many, many years. I would be listening for it, too. My ears would perk right up if I were to hear so much as a riff of Great American Songbook music. 
I can't even find 50s and early 60s music anywhere on HAL. You know, music from when the Baby Boomers---HAL passengers---were young.

HAL doesn't even have a radio station dedicated to those kinds of music anymore, and hasn't had one in several years. 

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3 minutes ago, RuthC said:

You toss out this old chestnut so often, I have to ask what ship(s) you are sailing, as I haven't heard Glenn Miller music, or any other music from that era, in many, many years. I would be listening for it, too. My ears would perk right up if I were to hear so much as a riff of Great American Songbook music. 
I can't even find 50s and early 60s music anywhere on HAL. You know, music from when the Baby Boomers---HAL passengers---were young.

HAL doesn't even have a radio station dedicated to those kinds of music anymore, and hasn't had one in several years. 

 

I agree. In the past 10 years I've been sailing with HAL once or twice a year, and I haven't heard anything from Glenn Miller or that era. About the "oldest" music I can recall (other than classical) is the 50s music from the "rat pack" show they had a few years ago. 

 

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4 minutes ago, RuthC said:

You toss out this old chestnut so often, I have to ask what ship(s) you are sailing, as I haven't heard Glenn Miller music, or any other music from that era, in many, many years. I would be listening for it, too. My ears would perk right up if I were to hear so much as a riff of Great American Songbook music. 
I can't even find 50s and early 60s music anywhere on HAL. You know, music from when the Baby Boomers---HAL passengers---were young.

HAL doesn't even have a radio station dedicated to those kinds of music anymore, and hasn't had one in several years. 

It was the Westy and quite a few years ago.  Since you asked I looked at my data base and it was in early Dec 2012 :).  I believe they still had the "HAL Cats" in those days and it was probably this group who was playing an afternoon music set (I think they would play for about an hour) on deck.  

 

You are right about the current situation.  In fact, on HAL it can be difficult to find a live band anywhere for dancing or afternoon listening (on deck).  We have enjoyed the BB King groups (when on the ships that have that music), but they do not play in the daytime during a sea day.  The idea of letting them play a poolside set of Caribbean music (on Caribbean cruises on the few ships that have that group) makes too much sense to ever happen on HAL.  In fact, the thing that is interesting about the BB King groups is that they seldom to never play BB King music.  

 

When I am cruising in the Caribbean I want to hear steel drums, Marley music, etc.  Even a decent rock band can play Caribbean music.

 

I think Mr. Ashford is very good at math.  He understands that cruise ship entertainers need cabins, food, and paid.  If he eliminates entertainers he can sell their cabins to passengers and avoid having to pay entertainer salaries, production costs, etc.  What will come next.  Perhaps they will cut the number of  room stewards by about 40% and only provide cabin service once per day (and charge extra if you want a nightly turn-down).  In the MDR they might have a supplemental menu with various add-on fees such as $19.99 for a steak, $24.99 for lobster, etc.  You might laugh but we are starting to see these things on other lines (even HAL has tried MDR add-ons).   Perhaps they will truncate the cabin service menus.....oops I think that has already happened.  How about charging an extra fee for priority embarkation, tendering, etc.  Oops...forgot about Club Orange!  What next?

 

Hank

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27 minutes ago, rucrazy said:

The last Great American Songbook playlist I heard in the crows nest was on the Rotterdam December 2010...

You mean they still have a Crow's Nest?  Or is it now just "Crows Nest Lite!"

 

Hank

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36 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

 

You are right about the current situation.  In fact, on HAL it can be difficult to find a live band anywhere for dancing or afternoon listening (on deck).  We have enjoyed the BB King groups (when on the ships that have that music), but they do not play in the daytime during a sea day.  The idea of letting them play a poolside set of Caribbean music (on Caribbean cruises on the few ships that have that group) makes too much sense to ever happen on HAL.  In fact, the thing that is interesting about the BB King groups is that they seldom to never play BB King music.  

 

 

I just got off Eurodam this morning and this was my single biggest complaint about the cruise.  Even on the sea day, there was no live entertainment anywhere on the ship.  If they would just a place a solo guitarist somewhere like the Crows Nest, Ocean Bar, or poolside, it would make a big difference.  But they don't and it makes for a very boring day at sea.  In the Ocean Bar, a lonely piano sits there with no one using it.  

 

Even the Main Stage shows have been whittled down to 6 mediocre dancers and no singers.  

 

I have to say, though, the Orange Party was quite lively.  But it's HAL so the execution of it still left one scratching their head.  They held it in the Blues Lounge/Test Kitchen and it was uncomfortably packed.  If they held the party poolside like every other line does, it would have been much better.  

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3 minutes ago, ronbe65 said:

Considering the quality of the ship and the itineraries, I would not pay more than "from $400" for a cruise on the Edge.

 

Have you sailed on the Edge?  The reason I ask is you mentioned quality.  

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4 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

But with all this talk of attracting a younger audience, why are they using a song from the 60s? And how is a woman wandering around looking lost, flopping on a bed, and lying in the sun feeding her head? How are those experiences enriching her mind? That commercial doesn't show me anything about X or the Edge.

 

 

Well, if you want a serious answer instead of kidding around, I think the ad is a slick and clever one, it is a wink and a nudge at "old school" cruise ship ads -- basically they are letting you know, in a sense, that this isn't your father's cruise ship, to mangle a pun.

 

I think the song references a lot of things, only some of which are rooted in the 1960s drug culture. The "Alice in Wonderland" story gets reinvented for just about every generation. In the 1980s we had Tom Petty's music video for "Don't Come around Here":  

 

 

And in 2010, there was Tim Burton's usual (dark) take on the story of Alice's return to Wonderland (trailer below):

 

 

 

The idea of the ad is that you board the cruise and it is a full-stop escape from every day life. It's a place where "Wonder Awaits" (which is the title of the ad campaign).  It fits perfectly with the "edgier" design of Celebrity's new Edge-class ships, with their "Eden" area -- a place where one can "Experience Revelation, a one of a kind immersive experience that expresses the true spirit of Eden. Transverse through chillful environments, playful interactions, and enticing performances."  Doesn't that sound a bit like Wonderland?

 

And if that were not enough, there is the La Petite Chef dining experience:  

 

"Le Petit Chef is the brainchild of Skullmapping, an artists' collective that specializes in 3D projections. It began as a land-based offering before hitting the high seas with Celebrity. During the experience on most ships, a tiny chef, who could fit in the palm of your hand, is projected onto each expertly placed table setting. Cruisers watch as he whimsically and painstakingly creates each course of their meal."

 

Very wonderland-y, if you ask me....

 

(And I do think the ad shows off some of the new spaces onboard. It's at least as true to life as the commercials with those gorgeous golden-tanned models sharing a romantic dinner together or walking hand in hand on the deck at sunset, which are the tropes of cruise ship commercials for the non-adventurous lines.) 

 

Does it make me want to sail on Edge? Not particularly, because I'm not a fan of some other "things" associated with this class of ship. But I do think it is a very clever campaign.

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

When I am cruising in the Caribbean I want to hear steel drums, Marley music, etc.  Even a decent rock band can play Caribbean music.

 

The reason why we are complaining about HAL "entertainment"?  It is due to the individual or individuals in Seattle responsible for this area that have been there for far too long.  I don't think I am incorrect--and, if so, please tell me so--but complaints began in the Fall of 2002 when those of us on the Volendam's Maiden Asia Pacific Cruise were informed shortly before arriving in Los Angeles that the live on-stage band for the shows was going to be eliminated at the end of our cruise.  The man who made that decision still sits in his office in Seattle to the best of my knowledge. 

 

This Main Stage, or whatever the current name of the venue is, programming as to music has varied greatly over the years:  canned music, live music, etc.  Musical entertainment elsewhere on the ships have also greatly varied from the Piano Bar's Diana Fast (whose sets I did not want to miss) to others where one set was enough to decide it was time to retire for the evening. 

 

There have been solo guitarists who also were vocalists performing in Mix and the Crow's Nest.  Excellent entertainers with many times the room, particularly Mix, was packed.

 

The quality performers who would be of interest to cruisers of any generation are out there.  The "man in Seattle" (maybe due to whatever constraints) doesn't hire them.

 

  

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On ‎9‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 6:26 PM, *Miss G* said:

 

The Koningsdam is my favorite HAL ship.

I agree.  The Koningsdam  is a beautiful ship, and one of its shows featuring incredible dancers and technology was one of the best I have seen on any ship.  I guess it is different strokes for different folk.

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8 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

For me, Celebrity's Solstice class ships were beautiful -- sleek, modern, still a bit of a wink toward onboard fun and entertainment but not over the top

 

I sailed on Celebrity Eclipse and I agree with your comment.  I preferred her decor as compared to Nieuw Statendam's.  The music offered in all venues that I attended was excellent with the string group playing in the Atrium just before I had dinner being the most enjoyable.  Main theater shows?  Of the three, I thought two of them were just simply weird.  Fun?  The Glass Blowing Show and the "grassy" top deck were enjoyable and I enjoyed watching--didn't play--bocce ball.  The best venue on the ship:  the Sunset Bar at the stern on the top deck.

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3 hours ago, Hlitner said:

It was the Westy and quite a few years ago.  Since you asked I looked at my data base and it was in early Dec 2012 :).  I believe they still had the "HAL Cats" in those days and it was probably this group who was playing an afternoon music set (I think they would play for about an hour) on deck.  

 

You are right about the current situation.  In fact, on HAL it can be difficult to find a live band anywhere for dancing or afternoon listening (on deck).  We have enjoyed the BB King groups (when on the ships that have that music), but they do not play in the daytime during a sea day.  The idea of letting them play a poolside set of Caribbean music (on Caribbean cruises on the few ships that have that group) makes too much sense to ever happen on HAL.  In fact, the thing that is interesting about the BB King groups is that they seldom to never play BB King music.  

 

When I am cruising in the Caribbean I want to hear steel drums, Marley music, etc.  Even a decent rock band can play Caribbean music.

 

I think Mr. Ashford is very good at math.  He understands that cruise ship entertainers need cabins, food, and paid.  If he eliminates entertainers he can sell their cabins to passengers and avoid having to pay entertainer salaries, production costs, etc.  What will come next.  Perhaps they will cut the number of  room stewards by about 40% and only provide cabin service once per day (and charge extra if you want a nightly turn-down).  In the MDR they might have a supplemental menu with various add-on fees such as $19.99 for a steak, $24.99 for lobster, etc.  You might laugh but we are starting to see these things on other lines (even HAL has tried MDR add-ons).   Perhaps they will truncate the cabin service menus.....oops I think that has already happened.  How about charging an extra fee for priority embarkation, tendering, etc.  Oops...forgot about Club Orange!  What next?

 

Hank

Hank I soooooo agree with everything you have said!! I am so tired of all the crap from Seattle and all the change and charges they are doing! Back in 2018 we were on a 30 day cruise SA. At the time the entertainers were telling us how this was their last cruise with HAL! They said they were eliminating them and changing The Maasdam into a EXC cruise  which we all know now. They also told me that the CD was going to be wearing many hats that Seattle is making big changes!!!

They said QUOTE”Ashford is being pressured to make quick changes give less and charge more!!” They told me they don’t care since this is their last and they were moving on with NCL!

So I am not feeling bad to say how I feel and trying Oceania on 2 cruises! They might be more but no nickeling and diming me.

Thank you Hank👍

Denise 😊

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13 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I sailed on Celebrity Eclipse and I agree with your comment.  I preferred her decor as compared to Nieuw Statendam's.  The music offered in all venues that I attended was excellent with the string group playing in the Atrium just before I had dinner being the most enjoyable.  Main theater shows?  Of the three, I thought two of them were just simply weird.  Fun?  The Glass Blowing Show and the "grassy" top deck were enjoyable and I enjoyed watching--didn't play--bocce ball.  The best venue on the ship:  the Sunset Bar at the stern on the top deck.

I am not on this thread to pick on HAL, who does have a big problem with their lack of entertainment and activities.  Celebrity also has a big problem that goes back 4-5 years when their CEO position was taken over by a long-time RCI alumnus.  While I think that HAL has "lost their way" in the case of Celebrity the CEO knows what she is doing...which is to turn a quality cruise line into another RCI money-making machine.  We have taken more then a dozen cruises on Solstice Class (including the Eclipse) ships and they are our favorite ship design.  But lately, there have been so many cut-backs (I call it the death by a thousand cut-backs) that the Celebrity of today is not even close to what it was 5 years ago.  

 

I will be very honest.  Like many here on CC, DW and I truly love cruising.  And we have been doing it for over forty years on 16 cruise lines.  In the past 5 years, all the mass market lines we enjoy (HAL, Celebrity and Princess) have undergone changes...which we view as mostly negative.  This has driven DW and I to look beyond those lines for something we find more satisfying.  In the past year we have tried two new lines (for us) which are MSC (Yacht Club) and Seabourn.  The MSC cruise (21 days) blew us away and exceeded nearly all of our expectations (food could be improved).  Seabourn is a quality luxury line (which cost us less then lower cost suites on Celebrity) which has much that we like.   We still have cruises booked on both HAL and Princess but I am thinking that more Seabourn may be in our future.  When we booked our next HAL cruise, the line still had Production Shows.  Now, we are quickly running out of reasons to cruise on HAL but we shall see how it goes on our long "Westy" cruise.  What is wonderful about the cruise market is that there is a lot of competition and we have no hesitation in trying different lines.  Our "Loyalty" is only as good as our last cruise.  We will not be back on HAL until next April and I hope that Mr. Ashford has been listening and makes some improvements between now and then.

 

We have often posted that HAL's strong suit are the amazing itineraries.  But other lines have done a good job playing "catch up" with the itinerary thing (one of our future Princess cruises has an amazing itinerary) and I think that HAL can no longer rely on itinerary as their major attraction.  Many of us like HAL's medium size ships, but many of those are getting "long in the tooth" and no longer compete in a market where balcony cabins are the norm.   Once you move to the larger HAL vessels you are in direct competition with many other lines.....and some of them are superior to HAL.

 

Hank

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14 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

The MSC cruise (21 days) blew us away and exceeded nearly all of our expectations (food could be improved). 

 

I am sailing on MSC Meraviglia in YC in January and look forward to what I will experience.

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19 minutes ago, DeeniEncinitas said:

Hank I soooooo agree with everything you have said!! I am so tired of all the crap from Seattle and all the change and charges they are doing! Back in 2018 we were on a 30 day cruise SA. At the time the entertainers were telling us how this was their last cruise with HAL! They said they were eliminating them and changing The Maasdam into a EXC cruise  which we all know now. They also told me that the CD was going to be wearing many hats that Seattle is making big changes!!!

They said QUOTE”Ashford is being pressured to make quick changes give less and charge more!!” They told me they don’t care since this is their last and they were moving on with NCL!

So I am not feeling bad to say how I feel and trying Oceania on 2 cruises! They might be more but no nickeling and diming me.

Thank you Hank👍

Denise 😊

Denise,

We recently met an excellent singer/dancer on Seabourn who had previously worked a few HAL contracts.  She did not have much good to say about HAL and the direction they have taken in terms of entertainment.   Even on a ship with only 450 (max) passengers she got to sing while being backed by a very good band!  On HAL they had to work with pre-recorded tracks which is akin to singing Karaoke.  You are not going to find any decent professional singer who wants to work with pre-recorded tracks.  They only do it because it is their only option when they work on certain cruise lines.

 

Hank

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4 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I am sailing on MSC Meraviglia in YC in January and look forward to what I will experience.

It will be interesting to see what you post after that cruise.  When we were on the Divina (last year) we met a big time MSC fan who wondered (out loud) if the Meraviglia was a good fit for the Caribbean.  He told us that he thought that ship design did not have enough outdoor space for the Caribbean market.  This would not be an issue in the YC (because you have your own sun deck) but we are curious to see some reviews once this ship does a few Caribbean cruises.  

 

By the way, while on the Divina we ran into an old friend who was previously an officer on HAL (we knew him on the Prinsendam).  MSC is growing fast (2 new ships a year) and seeking experienced crew from the industry.  You will probably love the YC but not be as happy with the area outside the YC which is somewhat more crowded then you find on HAL.  But I loved that I could walk into a lounge at 11:00 pm and listen to live music with a pretty decent crowd.  In fact, on some nights our favorite band on the Divina did not even start working until nearly 10pm.  You probably already know that when you arrive at the port you should look for the white tent (outside the terminal) that check's-in those in the YC and guides them threw the terminal stuff onto the ship :).

 

Hank

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19 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Our "Loyalty" is only as good as our last cruise.

 

HAL and Princess put my loyalty to the test in January.  My Royal Princess New Year's Cruise was the most disappointing cruise at that time of the year that I have had.  That cruise was immediately followed by a Nieuw Statendam cruise during her initial year.  On that cruise, some experiences to savor; others, not so much.

 

Then, this Summer I sailed on Coral Princess and Westerdam on two slightly different Alaskan itineraries.  Both fully met my expectations with Coral Princess maybe in the lead.

 

The negative impressions of Nieuw Statendam and Royal Princess have been erased.  Both ships were the largest on which I have ever sailed and both require an "adjustment" to my thinking and planning when I am on-board.  I view my cruises on both of these vessels as a "learning experience".

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2 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

It will be interesting to see what you post after that cruise.  When we were on the Divina (last year) we met a big time MSC fan who wondered (out loud) if the Meraviglia was a good fit for the Caribbean.  He told us that he thought that ship design did not have enough outdoor space for the Caribbean market.  This would not be an issue in the YC (because you have your own sun deck) but we are curious to see some reviews once this ship does a few Caribbean cruises.  

 

By the way, while on the Divina we ran into an old friend who was previously an officer on HAL (we knew him on the Prinsendam).  MSC is growing fast (2 new ships a year) and seeking experienced crew from the industry.  You will probably love the YC but not be as happy with the area outside the YC which is somewhat more crowded then you find on HAL.  But I loved that I could walk into a lounge at 11:00 pm and listen to live music with a pretty decent crowd.  In fact, on some nights our favorite band on the Divina did not even start working until nearly 10pm.  You probably already know that when you arrive at the port you should look for the white tent (outside the terminal) that check's-in those in the YC and guides them threw the terminal stuff onto the ship :).

 

Hank

 

There has been some discussion about the suitability of the Meraviglia for a Caribbean itinerary.  I have little interest in that issue.  I am sailing Meraviglia for the YC experience.   I expect crowds outside of YC, but, I think, based on my experiences on Nieuw Statendam and Royal Princess, I am better mentally prepared to deal with this than I was.

 

I am expecting excellent entertainment outside of YC with decent music within the TopSail Lounge.  I am aware of the "white tent" for which to look when I arrive at the pier.  I appreciate the reminder.

 

Cuisine is of interest to me.  As a MSC Black Card Voyagers Club member, ought I book a specialty restaurant on Meraviglia?  Or depend upon the cuisine/service in the YC Restaurant?    

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30 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

It will be interesting to see what you post after that cruise.  When we were on the Divina (last year) we met a big time MSC fan who wondered (out loud) if the Meraviglia was a good fit for the Caribbean.  He told us that he thought that ship design did not have enough outdoor space for the Caribbean market.   

We sailed aboard the Meraviglia in the Mediterranean. Based on what we experienced, I believe that she will be a huge hit in the Caribbean. In our experience, this class of ship is second in “wow factor” to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class. She has wide open decks, with tons of space. The main pools are bigger than on other cruise lines we’ve sailed on. And the Polar Aqua Park is wonderful. We spent a lot of time enjoying these facilities. We didn’t sail in the Yacht Club, but we had an Aurea Duplex Suite which gave us access to a private solarium deck for suite passengers. Even though we had this perk, we never used it. There was plenty of space in the common outdoor areas. 

 

I give little to zero credibility to any concern about the Meraviglia’s suitability in the Caribbean. She’s an absolute marvel and I predict that she’ll give Carnival, Royal, NCL and all the other usual players on this side of the Atlantic some stiff competition. 

Edited by Tapi
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35 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Denise,

We recently met an excellent singer/dancer on Seabourn who had previously worked a few HAL contracts.  She did not have much good to say about HAL and the direction they have taken in terms of entertainment.   Even on a ship with only 450 (max) passengers she got to sing while being backed by a very good band!  On HAL they had to work with pre-recorded tracks which is akin to singing Karaoke.  You are not going to find any decent professional singer who wants to work with pre-recorded tracks.  They only do it because it is their only option when they work on certain cruise lines.

 

Hank

Your right Hank!!!!

we are looking forward to O’s production shows! Have fingers crossed it will be enjoyable! We have looked  at Seabourn and Reagent and will decide after the first of the year. We have a Koningsdam Cruise 

1/9/21 RT from our home in San Diego Mexico and Hawaii! BUT WILL LOOK AT THE OTHER CRUISE LINES FOR SOMETHING WITH TAHITI TO AUSTRALIA. Reagent and Seabourn have some nice itineraries!! I just don’t like large ships and prefer smaller.

Liked talking to you!

Denise😊

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1 hour ago, rkacruiser said:

 

There has been some discussion about the suitability of the Meraviglia for a Caribbean itinerary.  I have little interest in that issue.  I am sailing Meraviglia for the YC experience.   I expect crowds outside of YC, but, I think, based on my experiences on Nieuw Statendam and Royal Princess, I am better mentally prepared to deal with this than I was.

 

I am expecting excellent entertainment outside of YC with decent music within the TopSail Lounge.  I am aware of the "white tent" for which to look when I arrive at the pier.  I appreciate the reminder.

 

Cuisine is of interest to me.  As a MSC Black Card Voyagers Club member, ought I book a specialty restaurant on Meraviglia?  Or depend upon the cuisine/service in the YC Restaurant?    

It sounds like you have done your homework :).  We also looked forward to the Top  Sail Lounge, and on the Divina we found much to like.  Drinks were excellent and most of the time we walked into the expansive lounge there was a waiter that followed us to wherever we sat to immediately take our order.  Nobody ever asks to see your cruise card as you are inside the YC enclave and everyone gets just about anything they please.  The small buffet (with various snacks) is stocked 20 hours a day.  Our drinks were made with just about any brand booze we requested.  French Champagne flowed.  In the evening we rotated ever other night between a piano bar player/singer and the other night we had a pair of violinists.  It was low key, very classy, and usually very empty :(.  Most in the YC preferred to go out to the main part of the ship where we had an excellent rock band, country group, etc.   DW and I spent nearly every night with the small rock group (the guitar player could do Hotel California nearly as good as the Eagles original) but we would always end our evening in the Top Sail for a nightcap and some friendly conversation at the bar.

 

The specialty restaurants (only two on the Divina) were somewhat disappointing.  The Italian place (Eataly) had great pizza but the other food was not impressive.  The Asian restaurant was pretty good (not outstanding).   The Black Card gets you a fixed menu (we did that in the Italian place...but in the Asian restaurant we decided to order a la carte which did cost us a few dollars.  We actually had dinner there with our old HAL Officer friend.  The  YC restaurant (called Le Muse) was hit and miss (with food) but service and ambiance was always good.  Breakfast and lunch in Le Muse was always very good, but dinner had its moments (both ways).  I was a bit disappointed in the wines that were poured (booze is included for YC folks) and got very annoyed one evening when our waiter suggested Robert Mondavi Woodbridge.  I told him that it was cheap garbage wine (drinkable but not particularly good) and he quickly returned with some better Italian wine offerings.

 

DW and I were happy enough with the YC to quickly book two future YC cruises :).  Although food was not up to my expectations, for the price (generally about $300 per passenger day) it was probably the best bargain in the cruise world.  Service was truly amazing from the minute we strolled into the white tent until we disembarked.  When I mentioned to our Butler that DW liked to have Diet Coke in the cabin he immediately dropped what he was doing, grabbed a few cans from the Top Sail bar, and put it in our cabin.  When I mentioned to our Stewardess that I liked Cognac...a full liter bottle of Courvoisier showed up in our cabin bar.  In the YC you never have to deal with the lines at Guest Relations since the YC has its own Concierge Desk (staffed 24/7) where they will do anything.  The night we decided to go the Eataly for dinner the Concierge called and was told that it was full.  We then stopped in the Top Sail Lounge for a drink thinking we would just go to Le Muse.  A few minutes later our Butler came into the Top Sail and told us they had spoke to the Hotel Manager and that we would not be accommodated in the Eataly.   After a few days we realized that the staff would do almost anything to please the passengers.  Outside the YC it was a different story.

 

Hank

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