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Voyage of the Vikings a Specialty Cruise? I think not!


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3 hours ago, AncientWanderer said:

So many of these complaints are easily fixed.  They mostly all relate to cutbacks in labor.

 

I do wonder if cruise food will ever be special again.  One sees the same complaint on all the cruise line boards -- that the food isn't what it used to be.  A lot of this is probably due to the fact that they have to offer so very many options -- gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo...every night.  Not knowing ahead who will order what, they have to make it all available and there would be so much food waste.  Tough to run a business like that.  (Then when the leftovers are used for Lido lunch the next day, in a less-than-palatable way, that's a bummer, too.)  In the end, to cut costs, we get a lot of cornmeal presented 50 different ways as the starch with dinner.

 

I'd still rather be onboard than not, though.

 

My brother is gluten free, and he ordered the night before in the MDR. They know what ppl will order if you are gluten free and dairy free and vegetarian.

 

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10 minutes ago, leerathje said:

 

My brother is gluten free, and he ordered the night before in the MDR. They know what ppl will order if you are gluten free and dairy free and vegetarian.

 

 

My understanding is that this does happen with special diets like salt-free or gluten-free.  But what I'm referring to is that each night there are more main dishes offered on the menu.  There are little codes on them for vegetarian or whatever.  I have no problem with them offering a lot of different things, so that every guest has something to order, but it does seem logical that there would be more focus on quality if there were fewer offerings.  Things just seem "watered down" a bit from the days when there were fewer choices.  

 

 

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31 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

 

But what I'm referring to is that each night there are more main dishes offered on the menu.  There are little codes on them for vegetarian or whatever.  I have no problem with them offering a lot of different things, so that every guest has something to order, but it does seem logical that there would be more focus on quality if there were fewer offerings.  Things just seem "watered down" a bit from the days when there were fewer choices.  

 

 

But remember that there were, once upon a time, more courses offered at each dinner. I suspect that the total number of dishes offered is no greater than it once was, it's just that they are arranged differently (fewer courses but more choice per course).

 

I think the difference has more to do with the quality of ingredients used (in order to meet per passenger/per diem targets) and also with the total number of meals served daily. It's more difficult to pay close attention to quality when you are preparing 2600 dinners versus, say, 800-900 passengers on a smaller ship.

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We thank the OP for taking the time to post their review and thoughts.  Having taken (and paid the high price) the VOV (Rotterdam) I do agree that this voyage has previously been treated as something special by both HAL and the many fans of the VOV experience.  A few weeks ago we posted a thread about "HAL losing its way" and your review simply reflects  some of what we have experienced on a couple of  past cruises.   We used to consider HAL one of the best mass market lines but now think they should be categorized as a Budget cruise line.   But the VOV is sold at near luxury line prices which has kept us from booking another VOV.

 

Like many HAL fans we hope that Mr. Ashford wakes up....or is soon GONE!  Mr. Ashford supposedly has a lot of talent in managing people, but apparently has no clue what it takes to maintain a high quality cruise line.  Even the best people can only do so much if they are not given the resources.  Watching one of our favorite cruise lines go through a steady decline is not a good thing.

 

Hank

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

But remember that there were, once upon a time, more courses offered at each dinner. I suspect that the total number of dishes offered is no greater than it once was, it's just that they are arranged differently (fewer courses but more choice per course).

 

I think the difference has more to do with the quality of ingredients used (in order to meet per passenger/per diem targets) and also with the total number of meals served daily. It's more difficult to pay close attention to quality when you are preparing 2600 dinners versus, say, 800-900 passengers on a smaller ship.

 

They can do it on a larger ship.  The best food I've ever had was on Celebrity Mercury back in the day when chef Michel Roux was in charge.  That ship holds 2,000 passengers.  Of course, it must have taken an enormous team of chefs and an impressive budget to make the magic happen, but it can be done.

 

Anyhow, different times...

But now I'm mostly vegetarian anyhow, so I appreciate the multiple options, no matter how they categorize them on the menu in order to discourage one from ordering an app, a soup and a salad.

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Your post makes me want to run screaming to Celebrity.  We have really liked HAL in the past.  I think things have gone downhill since they joined with Oprah.  We are taking the Tales of the south pacific in October.  I hope it won't turn out like your cruise did.  Please tell us when you get a reply and what HAL says.   

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11 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

You post is disheartening, but it also raised some questions. I'm not yet at the stage of being able to consider a 35-day cruise, but the itinerary and concept is somewhat unique and I've casually read discussions about the VoV cruise here on the HAL board for several years, thinking "Someday...."

 

I say casually, so my questions are somewhat to inform myself. I'm in no way trying to throw any shade. I was always under the impression that this particular itinerary is unique to HAL (or at least among mass market lines there is no competitor offering it). Isn't that one of -- or the main -- reason why the price is so high?  That is, basic supply and demand and what the market will bear? 

 

I don't know about this year, but in years past it seemed like this itinerary was always sold out or nearly so....  Was that because in the past it has been done on one of the smaller ships?  (And has that always been the case -- not a Vista class or larger in the past?)

 

Also, not having been on a longer cruise, what kind of 'special events' were missing?  Not including the changes/cutbacks that are apparently taking place fleet-wide, what kinds of things were anticipated by passengers?  Do they have more parties/events? Special meals? And these have been offered on past VoV cruises?

 

I have to wonder whether HAL may have realized this cruise was a hot ticket and sort of 'killed the goose that laid the golden eggs' by using a larger ship and still charging the same higher fares while not going to any effort to make it memorable (other than the wonderful ports)?

 

Celebrity is offering a similar itinerary in August 2020 on their "revolutionized"  Summit.  Begins in New York (actually Bayonne, NJ) and ends in Dublin so it doesn't get to Norway.  Then you can do the reverse itinerary and there you have a cruise very similar to the VOV.  Or, fly home from Dublin. So there are options other than HAL.

 

If I felt as strongly as the OP about the degradation of service on HAL, I would cancel my next cruise with them.  Actually, I did that.  We had a Caribbean cruise booked with HAL but was really not looking forward to it.  Now that's ridiculous!  So we canceled HAL and booked the brand new Celebrity Edge.  At least we'll have evening entertainment.

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11 minutes ago, baggal said:

 

Celebrity is offering a similar itinerary in August 2020 on their "revolutionized"  Summit.  Begins in New York (actually Bayonne, NJ) and ends in Dublin so it doesn't get to Norway.  Then you can do the reverse itinerary and there you have a cruise very similar to the VOV.  Or, fly home from Dublin. So there are options other than HAL.

 

 

I just quickly looked at the itineraries and to me they really aren't comparable. HAL is round-trip from the same port (easier, IMO) and visits 18 ports over the course of the cruise -- and goes well beyond Dublin to Amsterdam as well as three Norwegian ports. 

 

Summit is visiting the same ports over and back, so in total only 6 different ports, 5 of which are visited each way....

 

 

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6 hours ago, Umbarger said:

Your post makes me want to run screaming to Celebrity.  We have really liked HAL in the past.  I think things have gone downhill since they joined with Oprah.  We are taking the Tales of the south pacific in October.  I hope it won't turn out like your cruise did.  Please tell us when you get a reply and what HAL says.   

Sadly, Celebrity also has lots of cut-back related issues.  A few years ago that line got a new CEO from RCI (Lisa Lutoff-Perlo) and she seems hell bent on the constant cutting to reduce costs coupled with some major price increases.  Although Celebrity is still a decent line it is now just a shadow of what it was just 4 years ago.  That being said, at least Celebrity has the usual Production Shows, and does not show documentaries in their main theater (and call it the evening entertainment).   It seems like most of the mass market lines have gone on cut-back binges.  We spoke to quite a few long-time cruisers during our recent Princess cruise to Greenland (yes, even Princess goes to Greenland now) and they expressed the same kind of frustration that one sees in the OP's post.  The solution seems to be that quite a few cruisers are moving-up to more luxurious lines or going to ship within a ship concepts such as MSC's Yacht Club and NCL's Haven Suites.  Even Celebrity has a ship within a ship concept on its new Edge-Class ships.  But even a ship within a ship depends on the vessel having decent entertainment (including Production shows).  Consider that you can cruise on MSC (we would only recommend their Yacht Clubs), take a 10 day cruise, and have a different Production Show every single night!  Amazing that MSC can actually use their expansive onboard performers 7 nights a week (they have enough performers to rotate night's off for the members).    When HAL still had their own production show performers we did one Pacific Crossing (on the Oosterdam) where the production staff did not work for nearly 2 weeks!  They only had 3 shows in their repertoire (a 4th show was just sitting on chairs and singing) and had to spread those shows out over a 4 week voyage.

 

Hank

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20 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Sadly, Celebrity also has lots of cut-back related issues. ....

Although Celebrity is still a decent line it is now just a shadow of what it was just 4 years ago.  That being said, at least Celebrity has the usual Production Shows, and does not show documentaries in their main theater (and call it the evening entertainment).  ......

  The solution seems to be that quite a few cruisers are moving-up to more luxurious lines or going to ship within a ship concepts such as MSC's Yacht Club and NCL's Haven Suites.  Even Celebrity has a ship within a ship concept on its new Edge-Class ships.  But even a ship within a ship depends on the vessel having decent entertainment (including Production shows).  .......

Hank

Thing is, Celebrity could still cut back some more but would still be above HAL.

As for "ship within a ship" concept, I don't like it. I don't like the idea that I cannot go to certain areas of the ship especially on longer cruises.

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My husband and I booked the July 2020 VOV cruise last week on the zaandam. It will be our third Hal cruise. We are currently elite on celebrity and diamond plus on royal, so not new to cruising.

 

We enjoyed Hal so much that we thought we would do our first real adventure with the Hal line. All our other cruises have been no longer than 11 days and the usual Bahamas, Carribean, Alaska and Mexico itineraries.

 

For those of you that have done the VOV, do we need any special visas? We are Americans.

 

Also, did you use credit cards for purchases off ship or did you convert to local currency before the cruise or would this be possible at guest services onboard?

 

Just a side note: we really liked the more sophisticated ambience that was present on the ship and with Hal’s passengers.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

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11 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

But how many times did you mention how much you paid? Always the best way to approach things, like discussing religion or politics!

Enough already.  I made my point, you made yours. 

Edited by Riversedge
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14 hours ago, CJcruzer said:

 

Our second trip to Norway was on the Koningsdam in 2018, and it was fantastic.   (our first visit being with Celebrity Millennium).    I would not rule out the “mega ships for that area.   I believe only one port was tender, but we are 4* and just headed to the tender area - no lines.

The lines have to be very careful where they send their large vessels.  On our recent Caribbean Princess ship (with 3000 passengers) one of our ports was Nanortalik, Greenland which is a tender port.  The only tender pier (ashore) can only handle one tender at a time and also must handle some large Zodiacs (used for excursions).   It takes about 15 minutes to unlead and then load a single tender which means they can only move about 600 passengers an hour to and from the port.  This created a real mess (many passengers never got ashore).  This is one reason that many of us like the smaller HAL ships (we already miss the Prinsendam).   A Senior Officer on the Caribbean Princess told me that Princess had been forewarned about the Nanortalik tender problem...but the cruise lines now have a lot of pressure (from customers) to expand itineraries and go to new ports (many of which do not have good facilities).  We once had a similar situation with HAL when we tendered into a small South Pacific island that had nowhere at their small tender pier to even tie-up the boats (Several crew had to spend the entire day holding the lines with only their weight to secure the boats).

 

Hank

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25 minutes ago, Pchamb3 said:

My husband and I booked the July 2020 VOV cruise last week on the zaandam. It will be our third Hal cruise. We are currently elite on celebrity and diamond plus on royal, so not new to cruising.

 

We enjoyed Hal so much that we thought we would do our first real adventure with the Hal line. All our other cruises have been no longer than 11 days and the usual Bahamas, Carribean, Alaska and Mexico itineraries.

 

For those of you that have done the VOV, do we need any special visas? We are Americans.

 

Also, did you use credit cards for purchases off ship or did you convert to local currency before the cruise or would this be possible at guest services onboard?

 

Just a side note: we really liked the more sophisticated ambience that was present on the ship and with Hal’s passengers.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

I did the 2018 VoV and it was a wonderful trip. No special visas were required at that time, but things could change. The 2020 VoV already has an active Roll Call at https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/235-zaandam-roll-calls/ you might look at, and the 2018 is at https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2361190-july-18-2018-38-day-boston-boston/

 

 

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25 minutes ago, pete_coach said:

Thing is, Celebrity could still cut back some more but would still be above HAL.

As for "ship within a ship" concept, I don't like it. I don't like the idea that I cannot go to certain areas of the ship especially on longer cruises.

You mean like the Neptune Lounge?  Or certain areas of the MDR?  Just about all the mass market lines have certain areas restricted to most passengers.  On Celebrity they have "Michaels"  (suites only) and a special section in the MDR.  On Princess they have The Sanctuary.  On MSC they have the Yacht Club, NCL has their Haven Suite areas, Cunard has their Grill Suite areas, etc.   The cruise lines are all being forced to compete with restricted areas.  If you want access to everything you must now go on the luxury lines (such as Seabourn, and Silverseas) and even those lines give some extra privilege's to those in the most expensive cabins.

 

Hank

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2 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

You mean like the Neptune Lounge?  Or certain areas of the MDR?  Just about all the mass market lines have certain areas restricted to most passengers.  On Celebrity they have "Michaels"  (suites only) and a special section in the MDR.  On Princess they have The Sanctuary.  On MSC they have the Yacht Club, NCL has their Haven Suite areas, Cunard has their Grill Suite areas, etc.   The cruise lines are all being forced to compete with restricted areas.  If you want access to everything you must now go on the luxury lines (such as Seabourn, and Silverseas) and even those lines give some extra privilege's to those in the most expensive cabins.

 

Hank

I though it was quite clear. "As for "ship within a ship" concept, I don't like it. I don't like the idea that I cannot go to certain areas of the ship especially on longer cruises. " 

Makes it like  class system on the entire ship...like back in the 1920's on the trans Atlantic ships.

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42 minutes ago, pete_coach said:

I though it was quite clear. "As for "ship within a ship" concept, I don't like it. I don't like the idea that I cannot go to certain areas of the ship especially on longer cruises. " 

Makes it like  class system on the entire ship...like back in the 1920's on the trans Atlantic ships.

You did make it clear.  But wouldn't you put the Neptune Lounge into that category?  The Class system is back on all mass market lines and its called "the Suite Life"  or something similar.  And look at this entire Club Orange concept on HAL which simply dilutes some of the benefits of 4-5* Mariners.  When everyone gets "priority" nobody has priority.

 

We actually feel the "class system" more on HAL then on lines like MSC and Cunard.   Many 4-5 Star Mariners make it very clear that they are 4-5* Mariners and feel "entitled" to whatever.  On HAL we often see cruisers wearing their 5 Star Mariner Pins ("look at me....I am special) and we have actually seen a few folks wearing their Medallions (tacky, tacky, tacky).   On MSC we were in the Yacht Club, but nobody outside the YC would have been aware of that fact.  We did not wear a cruise card around our necks (so we could show-off our status) and did use the entire ship where we were just like every other passenger.  It was only when we went back to the Yacht Club enclave (located behind private electronic doors/gates) that we were treated very special without having to say "look at me."  Since everyone in the YC had equal status there was none of this one-upmanship we have witnessed on most of our HAL cruises.  And before anyone flames me, yes, we are also 5 Star Mariners (although you will never see that around our neck or on our lapel).

 

By the way, if you go back to the OP's post they made sure to mention 4-5* Mariners and President's Club..as though those folks are more special then a 1 Star Mariner.  I understand they were simply trying to say that even long time HAL cruisers were appalled.....but when you think of it why should it matter who is appalled.  Even one unhappy passenger (perhaps on their first cruise) is one too many.  Personally I have no problem with a "class system" as long as it is done discretely.  On HAL it is NOT.  I can still remember a few years ago trying to get into the embarkation day lunch (in the MDR) to be turned away and told, "you are only a 3 Star Mariner."   Ouch!

 

Hank

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

You did make it clear.  But wouldn't you put the Neptune Lounge into that category?  The Class system is back on all mass market lines and its called "the Suite Life"  or something similar.  And look at this entire Club Orange concept on HAL which simply dilutes some of the benefits of 4-5* Mariners.  When everyone gets "priority" nobody has priority.

 

We actually feel the "class system" more on HAL then on lines like MSC and Cunard.   Many 4-5 Star Mariners make it very clear that they are 4-5* Mariners and feel "entitled" to whatever.  On HAL we often see cruisers wearing their 5 Star Mariner Pins ("look at me....I am special) and we have actually seen a few folks wearing their Medallions (tacky, tacky, tacky).   On MSC we were in the Yacht Club, but nobody outside the YC would have been aware of that fact.  We did not wear a cruise card around our necks (so we could show-off our status) and did use the entire ship where we were just like every other passenger.  It was only when we went back to the Yacht Club enclave (located behind private electronic doors/gates) that we were treated very special without having to say "look at me."  Since everyone in the YC had equal status there was none of this one-upmanship we have witnessed on most of our HAL cruises.  And before anyone flames me, yes, we are also 5 Star Mariners (although you will never see that around our neck or on our lapel).

 

Hank

If you understand that I made it clear, what is it about "I don't like it" that makes you go on and on trying to explain it? 🤔

I do not like it...on any line....period.

Edited by pete_coach
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56 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

You did make it clear.  But wouldn't you put the Neptune Lounge into that category?  The Class system is back on all mass market lines and its called "the Suite Life"  or something similar.  And look at this entire Club Orange concept on HAL which simply dilutes some of the benefits of 4-5* Mariners.  When everyone gets "priority" nobody has priority.

 

56 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

 

Personally I have no problem with a "class system" as long as it is done discretely.  On HAL it is NOT.  I can still remember a few years ago trying to get into the embarkation day lunch (in the MDR) to be turned away and told, "you are only a 3 Star Mariner."   Ouch!

 

Hank

 

 

 

48 minutes ago, pete_coach said:

If you understand that I made it clear, what is it about "I don't like it" that makes you go on and on trying to explain it? 🤔

I do not like it...on any line....period.

 

I have to agree with pete_coach in that I also really do not like the whole "ship within a ship" concept or the idea of a physical class system. HAL's system is more of a 'mental' one and I cannot say that I have noticed it or that it has bothered me in any way. (But then I have not been on itineraries with lots of "entitleds" either....)

 

You have to be kidding yourself a bit if you think people are not exquisitely aware of the "Yacht Club" on MSC and that there isn't significant bragging rights associated with it. But to be clear, it's not the pins or the bragging that bothers me. It's the loss of valuable real estate like a large and well-located lounge that formerly was open to all (Celebrity), not a small lounge that was always intended to serve the suites (HAL).  Or the loss of prime locations on deck that are no longer accessible to everyone.

 

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The OP lost me when referring the VOV as a "Speciality Cruise".  It has been unique in terms of the itinerary, but I personally have done 2 full cruise VOVs and never heard it identified as a "Speciality Cruise".  Unusual and very popular itinerary, but beyond that it is not like a Grand Voyage - and not advertised as such.  (Yes, I have been on several Grand Voyages including the World so I know the difference.)  

 

More expensive per day charges than Alaska, Caribbean, Mexico and some European cruises yes - but in large part that is due to its attraction to many and folks willingness to pay more for this cruise.  

 

I did appreciate OP's describing things he/she both liked and did not like.  Thank you.  

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

On HAL we often see cruisers wearing their 5 Star Mariner Pins ("look at me....I am special) and we have actually seen a few folks wearing their Medallions (tacky, tacky, tacky).

 

I’ve never actually seen anyone wearing the pins or medallions but I think it’s nice that they would want to wear them.  I don’t take offense to it.  In fact, I think it would be a nice conversation starter, really.

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1 hour ago, wander said:

The OP lost me when referring the VOV as a "Speciality Cruise".  It has been unique in terms of the itinerary, but I personally have done 2 full cruise VOVs and never heard it identified as a "Speciality Cruise".  Unusual and very popular itinerary, but beyond that it is not like a Grand Voyage - and not advertised as such.  (Yes, I have been on several Grand Voyages including the World so I know the difference.)  

 

More expensive per day charges than Alaska, Caribbean, Mexico and some European cruises yes - but in large part that is due to its attraction to many and folks willingness to pay more for this cruise.  

 

I did appreciate OP's describing things he/she both liked and did not like.  Thank you.  

Just a word about "Grand Voyages"  We have done only two and they were both excellent cruises (on the Prinsendam every cruise was excellent).  But we thought the "Grand" thing was overblown and overhyped by HAL.  For example, HAL said (or used to say) that they have special staff/crew on the Grand Cruises.  But the reality is that nearly the entire crew is just working their normal contract periods.  About the only personel change we noticed on our Grand cruises involved the Cruise Director, the port expert (not sure they even have them any more), and the addition of some first rate lecturers.  On the other hand, the best lecturer we ever had on any HAL cruise (or any cruise) was Dr. Alan Wright (Astronomer) who happened to be on a normal trans-pacific cruise.   But just about everything else on our Grand Voyages was pretty normal for HAL including the cuisine, service, and entertainment.  The "gifts" were fine, but most of these were not really that special.  Speaking of the VOV cruise, when we took that on the Rotterrdam we found it interesting that Arnold Donald's wife was traveling "incognito" on that cruise.  She thought it was a special enough voyage that she took time from her schedule to do the entire voyage.

 

Hank

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I was on the recent VoV and found the ship's staff from top to bottom excellent. I don't expect the captain to be the social director, but he was very accessible in the Crow's Nest when posting weather and sea condition updates. His positive attitude spread throughout, I believe.

 

I agree that the dining room staff is overworked, and the delay between courses got worse as the cruise went on. I don't know if that was a kitchen problem or a dining room problem. But every year the stewards seem to have more and more tables.

 

My last two cruises were Grand Voyages and they are different. Others have stated some differences; I would add all the instructors (watercolor, bridge, tai chi, etc.), local chefs joining for a week or two, etc.

 

If the VoV were always on the Zuiderdam or similar sized ship, the price would come down. When I originally booked, it was on the Rotterdam. The change in ship (reported accurately above) meant there were many more cabins to fill. So last-minute bargain pricing changed the equation.

 

Everyone has their own opinion, but I thought it was a great cruise. I have 4 more HAL cruises booked (two worlds and one grand included). Yes, I wish some things were different. But I just wanted to say the OP's experience wasn't mine. (I reported my experiences, good and no-so, in my blog at www.writerondeck.com.)

 

 

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19 hours ago, cowmilker said:

My husband and I have tickets to see Post Modern Jukebox in mid-October in a nearby city. Some people, like us, really, really like PMJ.  That's not a joke.

If we were lucky enough to be on a HAL cruise where they were performing, we'd be on the front row.

 

Indeed. That was the one disappointment from my recent cruise on Oosterdam - no PMJ on that run. BBKings is just too loud (tho the musicians' quality is great), Billboard has limited appeal, I have really enjoyed Lincoln Center Stage when doing masterworks (not particularly interested in movie music sort of programming), and PMJ would've been icing on the cake for us.

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We were also on this 35-day Voyage of the Vikings, and had a great time. 

 

We didn't care for the fact that when we went to medical for an epi-pen, they charged us $95 to see the doctor so he could write a prescription.   First they should have carried epi-pens in stock, and the doctor should have been authorized to write a prescription for any port on the itinerary.   As it turned out, no pharmacy would take an RX from him in a US port, and they offered to check at the first Canadian port.   Fortunately, we found our epi-pen when we further unpacked.

 

Our fixed seating dining experience we fantastic!  The cabin steward worked well too.  We always present them with a list of preferences on embarkation day, so they know what to do.  I think we got seated in a group of tables in full suites.  I think my allergies ended up getting me matched with stronger waiters.

 

We didn't get any final bill on Embarkation morning, and reported this to the front desk.  This should come under the umbrella of the hotel director.

 

EXC tours were across the spectrum.  And EXC in Cork was very sloppy.  We'd left the ship early to shop, and by the time we returned, we had to go to the end of the line for a sticker, which was all the way back inside the ship through security.   They had eight buses for the same tour and time slot!  Didn't care for the new EXC makeover in the what used to be the Crow's Nest.  The EXC screens don't impress me.  If the EXC screens provided detailed outlines of EXC tours like Princess, I would have been more impressed.  Trying to dazzle us with fancy screens, and pretty pictures, and less w/ content.

 

Someone high up had switched our Iceland ports, so we ended up in Reykjavic during a national holiday.  We booked a city tour, which proved difficult because of the traffic.  Someone in the seat behind me complained of a boring EXC, but we started cracking each other up by comparing at photos from our previous EXC tours.  Turned into quite an entertaining EXC.  Often the tour guide can make or break an EXC.

 

 

The Zuiderdam creaked a lot more in the North Atlantic than I remember the Rotterdam in the same area, and there was the problem w/ broken pipes the OP mentioned.  We had our water shut off once during the night.  But they gave us warning, so I was able to fill every glass in our room. 

 

 

Edited by knittinggirl
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