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Loving to Hate Hal


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My wife and I are 4-star Mariners, but we also sail on other lines (inc. Silversea, Oceania, and, most recently, Cunard). Just yesterday, we booked a Vancouver-to-Tokyo cruise for September of 2020. Both Cunard (Queen Elizabeth) and HAL (Noordam) are offering the cruise. The Cunard version is five days longer (19 vs. 14), but the HAL version is considerably less expensive, and not just because it's shorter. (A signature suite on the Noordam cruise is about $100 pp less PER DAY than a "regular" balcony cabin on the QE). We booked the Cunard cruise. The reason is that, on longer cruises, HAL offers next to nothing anymore in terms of entertainment and enrichment. We were on the Queen Mary 2 for 21 nights this summer and were amazed at the quantity and quality of their daytime lectures and evening entertainment. That ship also has a large library (10,000 volumes) and a full-time librarian. The QE library is smaller, but still bigger than any library HAL has. 

 

I think the reason so many people are critical of HAL is that it used to be so good. We wouldn't have reached the four-star level if we hadn't had many enjoyable experiences. But "they" have taken away many of the things that at one time set HAL apart. We'll still consider HAL---in fact, we'll be on the Oosterdam for a 7-night Mexico Riviera sailing in December---but for longer voyages I feel there are better alternatives.

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17 hours 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.  

 

Do you invest in the stock market? If so, do you invest in companies that are satisfied with "enough profit" or do you seek out companies that try constantly to become more profitable?

 

If I heard the CEO of one of my holdings say, "I've been thinking about it, and I've decided there is such a thing as 'enough profit' ", I'd sell today and invest in a competitor. 

 

Profits reward investors, employees, and suppliers, and are necessary for every company's survival. Increased profits attract investors, and, sorry, but investors are insatiable where profit is concerned.

 

LPD

 

 

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My problem with all this constant negativity is that it takes away the fun anticipation and excitement we want to be feeling about our cruises. And it clouds the view of cruising for all new cruisers to these boards.

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48 minutes ago, LP Dad said:

Do you invest in the stock market? If so, do you invest in companies that are satisfied with "enough profit" or do you seek out companies that try constantly to become more profitable?

 

If I heard the CEO of one of my holdings say, "I've been thinking about it, and I've decided there is such a thing as 'enough profit' ", I'd sell today and invest in a competitor. 

 

Profits reward investors, employees, and suppliers, and are necessary for every company's survival. Increased profits attract investors, and, sorry, but investors are insatiable where profit is concerned.

 

Putting all resources into driving the quarterly stock price up is a relatively recent invention and has corrupted many companies by emphasizing short-term results versus long-term strategy.  What it does is destroy companies and give the most money to the ones who did it, who of course are never around to suffer the consequences of their choices.  If you're an investor, you should do that research because there are currently several big pushes to change this methodology, starting with how & when financials are reported. 

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You are now talking about "the quarterly stock price" and "short-term results vs. long-term strategy".  That's a pretty quick pivot from your original declaration that "there is such a thing as enough profit".

 

"Driving the quarterly stock price up is a relatively recent invention." Yes, only since the Buttonwood Agreement.

 

LPD

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I agree that being negative is unhealthy and generally pointless.  However, I do not feel that having an opinion and responding to ‘what I miss’ threads is being negative.

 

 I love cruising on HAL and I look forward to each cruise, but that does not mean that I don’t notice the changes occuring.   The reason I notice, is because I care about HAL and I am sorry to see the typically HAL experience being slowly eroded.  Much is spoken about costs, but I believe the popularity of the Prinsendam ( with its higher costs ) shows that people will pay to sail on a smaller ship to special ports.  Yet the feeling many of us have, is that HAL will slowly replace the smaller ships for the ever larger Pinnancle size ships in order to be more cost effective.

I don’t believe it’s negative to discuss and debate this as it will affect our future relationship with HAL.   I hope that Seattle will hear our ‘negativity ‘ and just maybe it will help to stem the tide and preserve HAL’s uniqueness.

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1 hour ago, opa&oma said:

My problem with all this constant negativity is that it takes away the fun anticipation and excitement we want to be feeling about our cruises.

Simple solution: STOP READING this thread and any others that have a tone that upsets you.

Edited by catl331
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1 hour ago, opa&oma said:

My problem with all this constant negativity is that it takes away the fun anticipation and excitement we want to be feeling about our cruises. And it clouds the view of cruising for all new cruisers to these boards.

Everyone has an opinion and all should be allowed to share.   We’ve noticed many cutbacks since we started cruising on HAL.  It hasn’t stopped us but we have tried different cruise lines now which we hadn’t before.  

 

Just this year alone I will have done 5 cruises on HAL so although I miss those special little things they used to have I still enjoy our cruises and especially the staff.  Reading the threads does not take away any of the “fun anticipation and excitement” at all.   I like to read what others have noticed whether it’s good, bad or ugly but reserve my opinion until I’m on the ship myself.  

 

Hubby and I are looking forward to our 2 weeks on the Oosterdam coming up.  Although I’ve read some negative reviews I’m sure we will enjoy the cruise.   

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3 hours ago, LP Dad said:

Profits reward investors, employees, and suppliers, and are necessary for every company's survival. Increased profits attract investors, and, sorry, but investors are insatiable where profit is concerned.

 

I'm not going to disagree with the premise that investors should expect maximized profits, but assuming profit maximization will benefit all other stakeholders isn't always accurate.  On one hand improved profitability can increase employment opportunities, raise salaries, and increase spending on suppliers.  But efforts to improve margins can also cut benefits and squeeze suppliers.  It isn't always a win-win.  Of course, sometimes failing to stay competitive means executive turnover or even bankruptcy,

but my point is simply that the picture can be complicated.  

 

With regard to HAL and the issues on this board, it seems that the company's leadership is taking the approach of "how much can we cut without customers spending less or going elsewhere in numbers that exceed the gains from the cuts".  If you are in a position to do that, it certainly makes sense from a business perspective and I don't begrudge HAL for doing it.  Demand is high, time to increase margins.

 

The big question is when the market shifts, due to new competition, recession, or other factors, will this current strategy have a negative impact in a future when HAL faces a more difficult time retaining customers.  It is not always simple to change or reverse course.  CCL shareholders need to hope that there is a strategy on how to deal with downturns.  

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AL3X, of course you're right that not all stakeholders win every time in the short term. (I own a wholesale supply company, so I can attest to the fact that suppliers are often the first place companies look to squeeze.) But I sure love it when our customers are profitable, especially when they appreciate our role in their success.  The ones that aren't profitable pay slowly, fade away into oblivion, or, worse, go bankrupt and stick us with unpaid bills.

 

As to whether or not Carnival Corp's approach is best, I leave that to the experts. The five-year share appreciation is essentially nil, although there were periods (2018) when it was up nicely. And a 4.7 dividend yield is attractive.

 

I've sailed twice with Costa (including the Concordia a few months before she sank) and it's pretty basic. My first HAL cruise is a TA later this month. 

 

LPD

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21 hours ago, *Miss G* said:

 

Reposting for emphasis.  Ironic, no?

Perhaps; however, sometimes I am so like "Pollyanna," I want to slap myself.  Or, like Annie, "The sun will come out tomorrow."  May it shine on you!

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8 hours ago, davy jones said:

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.

Exactly, and they have launched 2 bigger sparkly new ships, and another one to come.  They seem popular with some of the folks who comment on this blog - they didn't come for free!

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Just now, BJzink said:

Exactly, and they have launched 2 bigger sparkly new ships, and another one to come.  They seem popular with some of the folks who comment on this blog - they didn't come for free!

 

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As stated before by many, this is a cruise industry problem. These companies continue to build huge multi million dollar ships but then cut down on amenities while they continue to charge more for for drinks, photos, tours and specialty restaurants. We all have a choice, to cruise or not to cruise. We will continue to cruise as long as we can find fairly low rates as we try to cruise 3-4 times a year. Orlando must hate us because on our many cruises we have been there and done that so we basically we now stay on the ship, only have 1 cocktail each before dinner and spend very little in the shops and do without the internet for a week.

As far our biggest issue with HAL, it has to be the lack of entertainment especially with the production shows in the theater. Let's face it, how many times can you attend shows in the Lincoln Center, BB Kings and Billboard Onboard. Not having a small band in the Ocean Bar is another issue that should be addressed. Can't think of any other lines that we sail on that has no music in their lounge areas.

Edited by MISTER 67
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14 hours ago, davy jones said:

 

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.

 

Companies that disrespect their customers will come to a sad end. By the time that it impacts their bottom line, their brand will have been damaged.

 

HAL should be a premium brand. I just don't understand why they are throwing away their large investments in the brand. Mickey paid a huge price in cash in 1989. HAL has paid billions in advertising and promotions.

 

What is a brand worth? That's different from market capitalization on the stock exchange. Brand value is a measure of long term viability. Market value gyrates from day to day, quarter to quarter.

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-a-brand-worth_b_9991720

 

 

Louis Vuitton (#14) has a brand value of $39b versus sales of $15b. Walmart (#26) has a brand value of only $26b on revenues of $348b.

 

https://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/list/#tab:rank

 

 

Nike (#14) has a brand value of $36b versus sales of $36b. Whilst Honda (28) has a value of just $25b versus sales of $135b.

 

 

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I used to like Hal a lot then the cutback came one after another.  Eventually I was able to get past that. Now I am hung up with the trail Hal did to charge for entrees in the mdr.  So not sure when I can move past that.  So for now no Hal cruises. Maybe some day in the future. 

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12 hours ago, BJzink said:

Exactly, and they have launched 2 bigger sparkly new ships, and another one to come.  They seem popular with some of the folks who comment on this blog - they didn't come for free!

If only cruises on the two new ships were to come for free.  Then I’d take one. 😏

I was on track to easily become a four-star mariner in time.  Now I find other lines with acceptable promenade decks, and may stay a three-star.

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The discussion about the downgrading of cruising (on all lines) is the same situation as your fav restaurant downgrading their products and at the same time raising prices.  Each person has to calculate is it worth it to pay more for less.

 

All businesses are faced with inflation to be sure, so it is acceptable for a modest price increase. But the price increases I have observed are well above inflation and reasonable profit margin for a capital intensive sector.

 

Recently, both cruising and my fav restaurant have been let go.

 

My last 5 cruises have increasingly cost more but I received less product, less quality etc. Thought I would move from mass to premium, that did not help as the Oceania cruises progressively had worse food (new menu Aug 2018) and reduced staff levels. Not acceptable to me. 

 

The decision to purchase, and under what circumstances, is unique to each person.

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If you think there is a lot of negativity in the HAL forum, go look at the Princess and Celebrity forums, just as much or more negativity there. I think it is more the sign of the times in today's world of cruising. Keeping prices competitive means less and less included in any mainstream cruise line. I remember a recent thread here about cold soups not being offered in the MDR anymore, for some they said it was a deal killer for continuing to sail on HAL, all I can say is really?

Edited by terrydtx
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