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Loving to Hate Hal


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Yes we need this thread.  BTW, who is "we?"  This is not a private board for a chosen few, but rather a universal forum for all in the world.  People, other than regulars, need to know there are on going concerns and cutbacks so that expectations can match reality.

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I haven't been on a cruise but I'm researching extensively in preparation for my first (Glacier Discovery Northbound aboard Noordam on 05/24/2020). I am a frequent flyer and see parallels here to that industry though. It seems all the companies are gravitating to either end of the spectrum - some airlines try to one-up each other with more and more luxurious overseas first class offerings (airlines such as Emirates, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc., which would be analogous to Oceana, Seaborn, and Viking in the cruise industry), but at the same time, more and more of the majors (American, Delta, United, and most of the European flag carriers) are chasing the ultra-low-cost-carriers (Spirit, Easyjet, Ryanair, etc.) with "unbundled" fares (low-priced tickets but with extra fees for absolutely everything that used to be included - baggage, snacks on-board, or even assistance from their call center). I can understand those who are used to a premium/semi-luxury experience disappointed to watch their preferred cruise line going downmarket but still being priced out of the full-luxury lines. The customer can't very easily "vote with their wallet" when they're all becoming the same. (You'd think the parent companies that own several brands would want to keep them differentiated, though it seems they're being run semi-independently.)

 

Imagine being told "if you don't like Motel 6, stay at the Ritz Carlton" because there's nothing in between. That's where the airlines have gone, and it sounds like the cruise lines are doing the same.

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21 hours ago, MISTER 67 said:

I feel guilty about absolutely nothing, my bank account is far more important than HAL's bottom line, if they aren't doing well it's because they continue to cut one thing after another which mean their business formula isn't working. We are sailing on the Nieuw Amsterdam on November 30, it might be our last cruise with them which brings me no joy but our loyalty to HAL is shrinking away.

Your responses are moot then. I made a general comment  about non spenders, of which you are one, and you took exception.

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Corporations rightly focus on their profit and returns.

 

Consumers should focus on their betterment. Loyalty to any brand does not necessarily benefit consumers. 

 

Consumers are fodder for manipulation and exploitation by business. That is very obvious in the cruise industry.

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7 hours ago, strickerj said:

I haven't been on a cruise but I'm researching extensively in preparation for my first (Glacier Discovery Northbound aboard Noordam on 05/24/2020). I am a frequent flyer and see parallels here to that industry though. It seems all the companies are gravitating to either end of the spectrum - some airlines try to one-up each other with more and more luxurious overseas first class offerings (airlines such as Emirates, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc., which would be analogous to Oceana, Seaborn, and Viking in the cruise industry), but at the same time, more and more of the majors (American, Delta, United, and most of the European flag carriers) are chasing the ultra-low-cost-carriers (Spirit, Easyjet, Ryanair, etc.) with "unbundled" fares (low-priced tickets but with extra fees for absolutely everything that used to be included - baggage, snacks on-board, or even assistance from their call center). I can understand those who are used to a premium/semi-luxury experience disappointed to watch their preferred cruise line going downmarket but still being priced out of the full-luxury lines. The customer can't very easily "vote with their wallet" when they're all becoming the same. (You'd think the parent companies that own several brands would want to keep them differentiated, though it seems they're being run semi-independently.)

 

Imagine being told "if you don't like Motel 6, stay at the Ritz Carlton" because there's nothing in between. That's where the airlines have gone, and it sounds like the cruise lines are doing the same.

Yes and sad.  Middle class has been pinched out.

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8 hours ago, strickerj said:

I haven't been on a cruise but I'm researching extensively in preparation for my first (Glacier Discovery Northbound aboard Noordam on 05/24/2020). I am a frequent flyer and see parallels here to that industry though. It seems all the companies are gravitating to either end of the spectrum - some airlines try to one-up each other with more and more luxurious overseas first class offerings (airlines such as Emirates, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc., which would be analogous to Oceana, Seaborn, and Viking in the cruise industry), but at the same time, more and more of the majors (American, Delta, United, and most of the European flag carriers) are chasing the ultra-low-cost-carriers (Spirit, Easyjet, Ryanair, etc.) with "unbundled" fares (low-priced tickets but with extra fees for absolutely everything that used to be included - baggage, snacks on-board, or even assistance from their call center). I can understand those who are used to a premium/semi-luxury experience disappointed to watch their preferred cruise line going downmarket but still being priced out of the full-luxury lines. The customer can't very easily "vote with their wallet" when they're all becoming the same. (You'd think the parent companies that own several brands would want to keep them differentiated, though it seems they're being run semi-independently.)

 

Imagine being told "if you don't like Motel 6, stay at the Ritz Carlton" because there's nothing in between. That's where the airlines have gone, and it sounds like the cruise lines are doing the same.

Very interesting and perceptive post.  But I do think that most folks can still "vote with their wallet" if they open their minds, look around at other options, and carefully analyze what they are getting for their money.  For example. we can book a HAL cruise for X dollars with no perks.  But then we are going to spend Y dollars per passenger day for tips, drinks, and whatever.  Or we might book cruise line Z for a little more money, but at the end of the cruise our tab is zero!  In the final analysis the more expensive line might be about the same price and give us more of what we desire.

 

In the past 12 months DW and I have been "driven" to try 2 new cruise lines (for us) and both were quite nice.  Although we had previously cruised on many different lines, for the past 10 years most of our cruises had been on only 3 lines (HAL, Princess and Celebrity).  But were increasingly having issues with all three of those lines so it was time to again expand our horizons.  We have 3 more lines on our "bucket list" to fit into our future cruise schedule.  Yes, we still like HAL and do have a 30 day HAL cruise booked for 2020.  But when it comes to HAL and Celebrity our future cruise days will likely be limited as we substitute other lines that better meet our expectations.   Princess still remains high in our future cruise list although we are more careful about itineraries and specific ships.

 

Hank

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12 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Very interesting and perceptive post.  But I do think that most folks can still "vote with their wallet" if they open their minds, look around at other options, and carefully analyze what they are getting for their money.  For example. we can book a HAL cruise for X dollars with no perks.  But then we are going to spend Y dollars per passenger day for tips, drinks, and whatever.  Or we might book cruise line Z for a little more money, but at the end of the cruise our tab is zero!  In the final analysis the more expensive line might be about the same price and give us more of what we desire.

 

In the past 12 months DW and I have been "driven" to try 2 new cruise lines (for us) and both were quite nice.  Although we had previously cruised on many different lines, for the past 10 years most of our cruises had been on only 3 lines (HAL, Princess and Celebrity).  But were increasingly having issues with all three of those lines so it was time to again expand our horizons.  We have 3 more lines on our "bucket list" to fit into our future cruise schedule.  Yes, we still like HAL and do have a 30 day HAL cruise booked for 2020.  But when it comes to HAL and Celebrity our future cruise days will likely be limited as we substitute other lines that better meet our expectations.   Princess still remains high in our future cruise list although we are more careful about itineraries and specific ships.

 

Hank

 

I also plan to try as many cruise lines as I can, assuming I enjoy cruising. (If not, at least my one experience will be Alaska, which seems best seen by sea.) I was initially interested in Norwegian for their casual approach and because the itinerary included Hubbard Glacier, but they were $400 pp more than HAL despite (I thought) being marketed as a budget line. I’m a little leery of Carnival or RCL because of their “party” reputation. (I’m someone who prefers quiet.)

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1 hour ago, strickerj said:

 

I also plan to try as many cruise lines as I can, assuming I enjoy cruising. (If not, at least my one experience will be Alaska, which seems best seen by sea.) I was initially interested in Norwegian for their casual approach and because the itinerary included Hubbard Glacier, but they were $400 pp more than HAL despite (I thought) being marketed as a budget line. I’m a little leery of Carnival or RCL because of their “party” reputation. (I’m someone who prefers quiet.)

HAL has a good reputation for Alaskan cruises.  It is a bit ironic that although we are 5 Star Mariners on HAL we have never used them in Alaska.  In that State we have only cruised with Crystal and Seabourn.  When it comes to Alaska we do recommend spending some time on land which can be done though HAL cruise/tours or by simply doing some stuff on your own.  For example, this past summer we took a 14 day cruise from Seward to Vancouver (on Seabourn).  A few days prior to the cruise we flex into Anchorage, rented a car, and drove to Denali for a few days (we booked a small place at Healy which is a few miles from the main entrance to Denali National Park.   Like you we would not even consider Carnival or RCI in Alaska (although we have cruised multiple times on both of those lines).  For the mass market lines we would only consider HAL or Princess, both of which have a decent presence in Alaska.

 

Hank

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30 minutes ago, Roz said:

Carnival and RCL aren't party ships in Alaska.

I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess that makes sense - it wouldn't be the same clientele as in the Caribbean.

 

13 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

HAL has a good reputation for Alaskan cruises.  It is a bit ironic that although we are 5 Star Mariners on HAL we have never used them in Alaska.  In that State we have only cruised with Crystal and Seabourn.  When it comes to Alaska we do recommend spending some time on land which can be done though HAL cruise/tours or by simply doing some stuff on your own.  For example, this past summer we took a 14 day cruise from Seward to Vancouver (on Seabourn).  A few days prior to the cruise we flex into Anchorage, rented a car, and drove to Denali for a few days (we booked a small place at Healy which is a few miles from the main entrance to Denali National Park.   Like you we would not even consider Carnival or RCI in Alaska (although we have cruised multiple times on both of those lines).  For the mass market lines we would only consider HAL or Princess, both of which have a decent presence in Alaska.

 

Hank

That sounds nice... I wouldn't mind trying one of the luxury lines at some point, but we're only in our 30s, so really we're fortunate that we can go anywhere at this point in our careers (much less take my mother in law with us, who has always wanted to go to Alaska). We're also renting a car in Anchorage and going to Denali for a few days afterwards. My parents did a similar trip on Princess but I wanted to take the train to Anchorage all the way from Seward rather than Whittier.

 

Sorry if I hijacked the thread here.

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2 hours ago, strickerj said:

 

I was initially interested in Norwegian for their casual approach and because the itinerary included Hubbard Glacier, but they were $400 pp more than HAL despite (I thought) being marketed as a budget line. 

 

NCL is $400 pp more than HAL???

 

Are you sure? That seems amazing?

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14 minutes ago, HappyInVan said:

 

NCL is $400 pp more than HAL???

 

Are you sure? That seems amazing?

I thought so too. Base prices were comparable, but I wanted to select my stateroom to be on the starboard side - the one I selected was around $2000 on NCL vs. only $1600 on HAL. If there was a cheaper room that that met my criteria, I didn't find it. 🙂

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3 hours ago, strickerj said:

I thought so too. Base prices were comparable, but I wanted to select my stateroom to be on the starboard side - the one I selected was around $2000 on NCL vs. only $1600 on HAL. If there was a cheaper room that that met my criteria, I didn't find it. 🙂

 

Thanks for the info.

 

My advise is this. Cheapest is not necessarily the ideal first choice.

 

Anyway, as a new cruiser, you do need to dip your toe. With your first cruise (and second) cruise, you will decide whether cruising is for you? Which price range and type of itinerary works best.

 

Who would you prefer to sail with? Make lasting friendships, and enjoy the camaraderie.

 

Like hotels or airlines, cruise brands have loyalty programs. So, you might want to 'settle' down quickly to accumulate credits. There are substantial benefits to being a senior Mariner.

 

Bon Voyage.

 

 

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6 hours ago, HappyInVan said:

 

NCL is $400 pp more than HAL???

 

Are you sure? That seems amazing?

 

Carnival is often the most expensive mass market cruise line in Alaska too.  Too few ships, too many loyalists.  I've mentioned it on their forum, and most claimed that they liked their product, needed the points / status, or were willing to pay extra for the value (?).

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2 hours ago, Stateroom_Sailor said:

 

Carnival is often the most expensive mass market cruise line in Alaska too.  Too few ships, too many loyalists.  I've mentioned it on their forum, and most claimed that they liked their product, needed the points / status, or were willing to pay extra for the value (?).

I've cruised Alaska 5 times; 4 with HAL and 1 with Carnival.  Carnival had an 8-day at the end of the season that caught my eye and included Sitka and Glacier Bay.  Guess which was the best cruise?  Carnival.

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10 hours ago, HappyInVan said:

 

NCL is $400 pp more than HAL???

 

Are you sure? That seems amazing?

It might be hard to accept, but perhaps HAL has become the budget line.  Consider that HAL has older ships with fewer passenger balconies, No major production shows, fewer live bands, fewer ship operated activities (and far more Cruise Director staff), etc.  Take a look at HAL pricing in the Caribbean and it has among the lowest prices.  Personally I wish none of this is true, but sometimes it is difficult to avoid reality when it stares you in the face.  Despite HAL's long history of Alaskan cruise tours all we saw when we recently were driving around Alaska (Anchorage to Denali and points between) was Princess.  Princess trains, Princess Lodge, Princess Bus Lines, etc.  Must admit we also saw very little Carnival (inland) but we started to wonder if Princess has taken over Alaska.  And no, we were not on a Princess cruise :).

 

Hank

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Definitely the lowest late booking prices for 7 day Alaskan cruises for the past three or so years.  Princess has not been far behind.  Not certain if it is overcapacity or older ships.   We watch this pricing because the embarkation port is so close to us.  $289-309 for an inside.

Edited by iancal
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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

It might be hard to accept, but perhaps HAL has become the budget line.  Consider that HAL has older ships with fewer passenger balconies, No major production shows, fewer live bands, fewer ship operated activities (and far more Cruise Director staff), etc.  Take a look at HAL pricing in the Caribbean and it has among the lowest prices.  Personally I wish none of this is true, but sometimes it is difficult to avoid reality when it stares you in the face.  Despite HAL's long history of Alaskan cruise tours all we saw when we recently were driving around Alaska (Anchorage to Denali and points between) was Princess.  Princess trains, Princess Lodge, Princess Bus Lines, etc.  Must admit we also saw very little Carnival (inland) but we started to wonder if Princess has taken over Alaska.  And no, we were not on a Princess cruise :).

 

Hank

 Thanks. I had not realized.

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What, another hate Hal thread. That makes the fourth thread of this type in the past two weeks. That means their are more hate HAL threads than Dress Code threads. I know, I don't have to read, but it is quite entertaining. Have sailed HAL for over 40 years and believe me their have been plenty of changes both good and bad but as I said in the first hate HAL thread 2 weeks ago; "as long as I am on a boat at sea, nothing else matters to me" or something like that.

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4 hours ago, Hlitner said:

It might be hard to accept, but perhaps HAL has become the budget line.  Consider that HAL has older ships with fewer passenger balconies, No major production shows, fewer live bands, fewer ship operated activities (and far more Cruise Director staff), etc.  Take a look at HAL pricing in the Caribbean and it has among the lowest prices.  Personally I wish none of this is true, but sometimes it is difficult to avoid reality when it stares you in the face.  Despite HAL's long history of Alaskan cruise tours all we saw when we recently were driving around Alaska (Anchorage to Denali and points between) was Princess.  Princess trains, Princess Lodge, Princess Bus Lines, etc.  Must admit we also saw very little Carnival (inland) but we started to wonder if Princess has taken over Alaska.  And no, we were not on a Princess cruise :).

 

Hank

 

Interesting perspective.  Valuing food quality, service, and bedding, I couldn't disagree more.  Then again, some on the RCCL forum might agree that Royal is a premium product because they value the entertainment and activities.  Each of these cruise lines seem to be allocating budgets in different ways to capture their niche.

 

I wouldn't judge a cruise line based on cost, especially a line with more seasoned cruisers in the Caribbean.  There's withered interest, yet deeper pockets for onboard spending.  My understanding is that HAL is as profitable per pasenger as Princess, despite the smaller ships.

 

Other than the Denali lodge, Hal's infrastructure in Alaska is underwhelming.  Whitehorse and Dawson City especially were 2 star budget hotels.  Other than a triple Denali, or to see the Yukon once, Princess is probably the way to go for interior.

 

Edited by Stateroom_Sailor
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8 hours ago, Stateroom_Sailor said:

 

Carnival is often the most expensive mass market cruise line in Alaska too.  Too few ships, too many loyalists.  I've mentioned it on their forum, and most claimed that they liked their product, needed the points / status, or were willing to pay extra for the value (?).

 

My last 2 Alaska cruises were on HAL and the primary reason I booked HAL was because they were the cheapest....by far.  I also checked RCI, Celebrity, NCL, Princess and Carnival.  I paid $599 for a veranda on HAL, whereas verandas were over a thousand on those other lines.  HAL had a lot of openings and those other lines were just about sold out.  

Edited by Aquahound
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The more I read some of the responses, the more I am reminded of a book that mentioned the story of Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden.  The author said that the story taught the lesson that some people live in paradise and that is still not enough.  I know folk, successful folk (money wise) who are never satisfied because they never have enough.  Again, some concerns are legitimate, but gratitude is awesome!

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40 minutes ago, Aquahound said:

 

My last 2 Alaska cruises were on HAL and the primary reason I booked HAL was because they were the cheapest....by far.  I also checked RCI, Celebrity, NCL, Princess and Carnival.  I paid $599 for a veranda on HAL, whereas verandas were over a thousand on those other lines.  HAL had a lot of openings and those other lines were just about sold out.  

We took our 10 year old grandson with us to Alaska on the Noordam in July. Had a SS and a 5 day land tour, the addon for our GS was only $499 and this over a $1000 cheaper than any other cruise line we looked at.

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Just now, terrydtx said:

We took our 10 year old grandson with us to Alaska on the Noordam in July. Had a SS and a 5 day land tour, the addon for our GS was only $499 and this over a $1000 cheaper than any other cruise line we looked at.

 

I was 13 in 1991, and remember being captivated by a HAL commercial that ran frequently.   3 day cruises starting at $895, no way we could afford that.  Times have changed...

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