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Loving to Hate Hal


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I am curious, why are Hal posts so negative these days, and why do so many seem to want so much for what is little when compared to sailing prices years ago?  Life is not perfect, travel is not perfect, and I am certainly not perfect.  Misery seems to love company.  I am a realist, actually, and there may be legitimate concerns; however, I do know that constant negativism is very unhealthy--physically and psychologically.  Just wondering.

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I think it's pretty universal to all cruise lines these days.  There is such a thing as enough profit but good luck getting any American company to believe that.  Chasing ever-higher dollars that will eventually not materialize quarter after quarter after quarter.  It's a race to the bottom to see who can come up with the next scheme to make more money at the expense of the customer experience.  Combine that with all of these new builds and the whole industry is going to be in a real pickle when the next economic downturn hits.  

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I love HAL.  All the recent threads have been a great "purge."  It's been good that everyone can exchange recent experiences, kind of say, "You, too?"  

This has allowed us to assess what is important -- or not -- to us, figure "work-arounds" for the problem areas, and decide if we want to forge ahead with our plans.

Good stuff.  I can't wait to board the Oosterdam this coming month!  

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1 minute ago, bEwAbG said:

I think it's pretty universal to all cruise lines these days.  There is such a thing as enough profit but good luck getting any American company to believe that.  Chasing ever-higher dollars that will eventually not materialize quarter after quarter after quarter.  It's a race to the bottom to see who can come up with the next scheme to make more money at the expense of the customer experience.  Combine that with all of these new builds and the whole industry is going to be in a real pickle when the next economic downturn hits.  

Yup!  I have to agree that many CEO's are skimming the cream off the milk.  I think, also, that we are headed for a recession.  At the same time, when I think of the crews on Hal, I just cannot complain about any cruise.  They are paid the pits so our cruise prices do not rise alarmingly.  In other words, we also are skimming the cream off the milk.  It is a dilemma.

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It's sad because almost every board I read leads me to believe that a lot of people are unhappy with the direction their favourite cruise line is going.   And if you read reviews of hotels, restaurants and resorts, it's the same.

I fear that we (as a society) have moved from being contented with our lot and look for slips/errors/mistakes/dissatisfaction in things.   I think as long as we can cruise and/or travel that we should all consider ourselves fortunate.   Sure things aren't perfect, some things go wrong - but there also are memorable moments in every trip.   Sometimes we just have to smell the roses instead of looking for the patch of poison ivy.

Corporations try to make max profits for their shareholders (which they're implicitly mandated to do) while trying to find the point where they can save money but keep customers coming in the door.  Sometimes it's corporate greed... but every business does it to some degree.  Travel is a "luxury" so they have to be careful not to out-price themselves so instead it's changing the way they do things - either by cutting services, staff, etc.   

I don't have to do dishes, I don't have to cook, I don't have to make my bed (but I do anyway), and I don't have to shovel snow....that's what it takes to keep me happy.

 

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1 hour ago, Tennessee Titan said:

Do we REALLY need this thread????

 

14 minutes ago, opa&oma said:

Do we REALLY need the "Are you happy with the direction HAL is taking" thread? 

 

No one is forcing you to read or respond to these threads.

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For us, simply put, we like to laugh, have a good time and be entertained on sea days and in the evening onboard ship. We're getting ready to go on a 40 day HAL cruise around Australia and the South Pacific on the Maasdam and are spending over $330 pp/day in a Vista Suite to achieve that goal. If HAL can do that, then we might book another cruise while onboard.

 

But, for us as of late, I will say HAL has some heavy competition in the form of Princess. On a Princess cruise their CDs usually have 6 assistants, all comedians in their own right, while HAL has a CD with maybe 1 assistant. But, the Maasdam is a unique HAL ship in that they offer a HAL in-depth EXC program with a special emphasis on quality enrichment lectures and cultural presentations.

 

So if HAL does a great job, we might book another Maasdam cruise with them if they have an itinerary that interests us. If not, then we'll keep looking at Princess with their mini-suites and Celebrity with their sky suites. 

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5 hours ago, AncientWanderer said:

I love HAL.  All the recent threads have been a great "purge."  It's been good that everyone can exchange recent experiences, kind of say, "You, too?"  

This has allowed us to assess what is important -- or not -- to us, figure "work-arounds" for the problem areas, and decide if we want to forge ahead with our plans.

Good stuff.  I can't wait to board the Oosterdam this coming month!  

 

I sailed on Oosterdam Sept 1 and had a fabulous time. Got an upsell into a Neptune and oh, man, it's going to be hard to go back to normal cabins, we were so spoiled. Due to trying Anytime Dining this trip, we hit our goal of eating all dinners (save 1 at PG) and all breakfasts in MDR which was so much more relaxing than navigating the Lido (where I have found the food very good, just it's a bit of a gauntlet). The music venues were all very good (only beef is volume in BB Kings - the band was great, just loud). Only made it to mainstage for 1 dance show and it was...ok, but even if they had broadway shows, unlikely I would've made time to sit through a long show as that's not why I sail. The ship was well-maintained, classically pretty. Overall, service was excellent, food was good-to-excellent and meals in MDR were not slow. Only thing I missed from last year's cruise on Eurodam was Tamarind.

 

There will always be something someone can think could be better or that was less-than-perfect. After reading comments on Oosterdam on this site, I went with a bit of trepidation. The ship and crew/staff assuaged those concerns completely and I would sail her again in a heartbeat.

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I believe that the issue is expectation gap.

 

Fares have remained fairly constant for years.  Clearly HAL an others cannot continue as they have been in the past without adjusting price.

 

I suspect the big issue is that HAL (and other cruise lines) set, through their advertising and marketing campaigns, a set of customer expectations that fall well short of reality.

Edited by iancal
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10 hours ago, Shih-tzu said:

It's sad because almost every board I read leads me to believe that a lot of people are unhappy with the direction their favourite cruise line is going.   And if you read reviews of hotels, restaurants and resorts, it's the same.

I fear that we (as a society) have moved from being contented with our lot and look for slips/errors/mistakes/dissatisfaction in things.   I think as long as we can cruise and/or travel that we should all consider ourselves fortunate.   Sure things aren't perfect, some things go wrong - but there also are memorable moments in every trip.   Sometimes we just have to smell the roses instead of looking for the patch of poison ivy.

Corporations try to make max profits for their shareholders (which they're implicitly mandated to do) while trying to find the point where they can save money but keep customers coming in the door.  Sometimes it's corporate greed... but every business does it to some degree.  Travel is a "luxury" so they have to be careful not to out-price themselves so instead it's changing the way they do things - either by cutting services, staff, etc.   

I don't have to do dishes, I don't have to cook, I don't have to make my bed (but I do anyway), and I don't have to shovel snow....that's what it takes to keep me happy.

 

I agree. Life is good. I wonder how those people that complain so much live at home. I find it's a privilege to be able to have the health, time & money to cruise. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would gladly trade places with people that complain about how bad their cruise was.    

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14 hours ago, Dunelm said:

I am curious, why are Hal posts so negative these days, and why do so many seem to want so much for what is little when compared to sailing prices years ago?  

 

I believe there are some, of which I'm one, who would be willing to see prices go up in order to not have to see the many cut-backs and changes that lead to dissatisfaction with a product. Of course, others will not feel the same way, but what I think is lacking is a line that is priced, shall we say, mid-way between the fares HAL charges now and those charged by a Viking or Oceania, for an experience that is more in keeping with HAL's tradition (yet not as 'inclusive' or quite as 'premium' as the other lines....)

 

 

3 hours ago, ski ww said:

I agree. Life is good. I wonder how those people that complain so much live at home. I find it's a privilege to be able to have the health, time & money to cruise. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would gladly trade places with people that complain about how bad their cruise was.    

 

You are conflating two different things. Yes, we are all lucky to be able to go on vacation and have the time and money to do so. That, however, is a completely different issue than getting value for money. After all, one could say that buying a $35,000 new automobile is a privilege and we should be thankful that we can afford to do so. However, that does not negate the fact that you expect to get what you have paid for -- if you purchase a lemon, you are right to complain about it.

 

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11 hours ago, opa&oma said:

We want to keep these boards for information seeking, not opinion polls.

It's called Cruise Critic for a reason.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is also invited to post a comment in return.  As long as there is no bullying or harassment, IMHO, it's called free speech. 🚢🚢

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It is not so much that we "hate HAL" it is more that we are disappointed in the fact we are beginning to see less value than we once did.  I am witnessing higher pricing with fewer amenities/niceties. And that troubles us. 

We have been cruising since the late 90's, and have always considered it as our #1 form of leisure travel. 97% of our adventures have been on Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises, these cruises have let us see some amazing places on this earth.

So please do not take my unhappiness as hatred, it is not, what it is, is unhappiness with the way this industry has evolved.

We have a holiday cruise booked on the Volendam this year and after that voyage It may have become a reality that we may have reached the end of this type relaxation/adventure.

But again it's not that we HATE HAL or Celebrity, it's just we are not HAPPY anymore. It happens!

 

Safe Travels

Joseph

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12 hours ago, opa&oma said:

Do we REALLY need the "Are you happy with the direction HAL is taking" thread?  No!  Get a life people!

As a matter of fact, YES!
I doubt I am wrong when I state that there are quite a few people like myself that used to cruise on Holland America but for one reason or another began cruising on a different line. After having cruised with other lines for quite some time, we may be interested in getting on a Holland America ship again but, I am also interested in seeing what loyal customers think about the product offering so that I can weigh what I see written and decide if I want to see for myself or not.We have not been on a Holland America ship since 2001 and I am now looking at their product again.

The bottom line is indeed very simple, as others have said. If you're not interested in the topic, just skip the thread. Or, perhaps let people know why you are (or are not) pleased with the product.
Thanks for your understanding why this may be important to others

 

Jed

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16 hours ago, Dunelm said:

Yup!  I have to agree that many CEO's are skimming the cream off the milk.  I think, also, that we are headed for a recession.  At the same time, when I think of the crews on Hal, I just cannot complain about any cruise.  They are paid the pits so our cruise prices do not rise alarmingly.  In other words, we also are skimming the cream off the milk.  It is a dilemma.

 

I like facts and figures. It provides perspective and I can assess which opinions are simple rubbish.

 

The oil of oil has fallen from its peak in 2011 by a lot a lot.

 

https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart

 

 

All cruise lines have benefited.

 

https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/ccl/financials

 

Carnival Corp Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) excluding D&A (depreciation and amortization) has declined from 65% (2014) to 58% (2018). Profits are up and share price is up. Donald and Arnold are not going to be fired tomorrow.

 

Comparison? RC has also cut their COGS too. From 65% to 55% (10 points).

 

https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/rcl/financials

 

 

Not all cost cuts are equal. RC has launched a fleet of mega-ships and they've enjoyed economies of scale. And for any cuts in quality, RC can distract the passengers with the razzle dazzle. That's an increase in value.

 

What I am unhappy about is that the cruise companies are cutting benefits even as their costs pummel and margins rise. A gold star for the reader who can guess right. Which brands are cutting their quality the most?

 

 

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We are sailing HAL soon.  We are "moving up" from the three mass market lines to see if they are for us.  Our last HAL cruise was during the '80s.  It will be significantly different than 1986 and we expect it to be.  Truthfully, we would not want the level of formality that cruising was back then.  We do expect a higher level of quality and service than the lines who serve different market segments.  We will have a good time.

 

If you go through these boards, you will find similar threads about cutbacks on the larger ship lines.  Some are making cuts, or adding fees, that have a much greater impact than eliminating the yum yum man.

 

Companies have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders that own them.  Profits and the anticipation of future profits drive stock prices and shareholder value.  You can attract more customers, increase prices, or reduce costs.  It sounds simple, but it is not rapidly changing political, economic, and market environments.  Each has its own risks and potential rewards.

 

Consumers vote with their purchases.  If they are unhappy, they will try something else.  It could be a competitor or land based vacation.  I'm not being snarky, it is reality and it is why we are trying HAL.   The lines we sailed were simultaneously increasing prices, overcrowding ships, and lowering the quality of the product.  

 

I understand how these people feel that their loyalty has been betrayed, but loyalty is a two way street.  It's OK with me for people to vent here and hope for change.  But the trend will continue until it impacts the bottom line.

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