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ghstudio

An elite plus tries HAL - on Veendam now

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It’s like a mini-suite on princess...essentially a slightly larger cabin but without the full suite perks.  

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I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on HAL. After 13 or so cruises on Celebrity, we are taking our first HAL cruise in November. looking forward to the comparisons.

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Thanks for the fair and balanced review, ghstudio! After nearly two decades of exclusively cruising X and RC, we recently booked our first HAL cruise (Pacific Coastal) for next September. Interestingly, I have run into quite a few X cruisers, on the HAL website. I think that the big change in their smoking policy attracted a whole segment of cruisers who, like us, would never have considered their line before. I also think that many RC & X cruisers are discouraged by RCCL's diminishing presence on the West Coast, these days. Hoping that we like HAL, and we are also considering Princess.

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Update:  unfortunately I found smokers in the casino tonight...which does not make me happy.  It’s a red flag for us.

 

dinner tonight was problematic.  Escargot has no garlic to speak of....Caesar salad was about 1/2 the size of the past two nights...my wife’s cod was very salty and my lamb chops were well done even though I asked for pink.  The fresh fruit dessert was two small slices of watermelon, 2 small slices of something yellow and unrecognizable and 2 blueberries.  Very disappointing meal.  Alcohol free wine only by the bottle (celebrity has it by the glass). Perrier on the menu as 33cl is only 20cl bottle????

 

The positive image is starting to tarnish a bit.

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Entertainment: went to the show tonight....4 singers, six dancers....no live music.  To be fair, this is a smaller ship, but somehow shows to canned music just don’t work well, imho.  Energetic troop....okay voices, but clearly not the A team.  I’d give celebrity the win on this...and we don’t really like the celebrity troop shows, but the far better staging and live music help.

 

apparently smoking is only allowed in the casino on some nights...I see on tomorrow’s “what’s happening’ that tomorrow is a casino no smoking night.

 

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Hal has two suite classes at least last time we cruised them about 7 years ago, the suites are nice but no real perks, the larger suites have a suite lounge that doesn’t have drinks , just coffee, also breakfast in specialty which is very nice . Suite perks do no compare to celebrity.

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We go back and forth between X and HAL and sprinkle others in as well..  Both good lines for different reasons.

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I think there are HAL ships that ban all casino smoking. The Eurodam in the newest one unfortunately. For me it’s drift and recirculating smoke that goes into the cabins that I wish to avoid.

 

Have a great cruise ghstudio.

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My first cruise was with HAL (Oosterdam) and I loved it - nothing to compare to at that point, so for me, all was wonderful.

 

Tried other lines, and then landed on X, which is my preferred line.

 

I always think about trying HAL again, but am quite worried about smoking in the casino.  I see conflicting comments regarding HALs smoking policy.  Are there any HAL ships which ban all smoking inside?  I'm very sensitive to smoke...

 

@ghstudio thank you for the great comparison.  I'd be interested to hear how the buffet setup compares to S class Oceanview on Celebrity...

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I think the buffet is better on Hal....One example... cold cuts are much better...celebrity cold cuts are as cheap as they can find.  Less choice, but much tastier desserts. Hal serves you so the tongs/serving pieces aren’t touched by other passengers.

 

hal waiters at dinner ask you to order dessert when you order your meal....that’s annoying, at least to me...ask me when I’ve finished my main course.   Another annoyance is that red and white wine are both served in the same white wine glasses.  Ok, one more annoyance...the only sweetener on tables in mdr or buffet is sugar.  You have to ask for artificial sweeteners and someone has to get them for you.  Very strange.
 

 

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Explanation for sweeteners is that they are trying to cut environmental pollution from the little paper envelopes.  Seems like a real stretch to me, but that was the answer.

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5 minutes ago, ghstudio said:

Explanation for sweeteners is that they are trying to cut environmental pollution from the little paper envelopes.  Seems like a real stretch to me, but that was the answer.

My guess is people put them in their purse, lol.

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9 hours ago, hulamoon said:

I think there are HAL ships that ban all casino smoking.

This is the current fleet policy:

 

All staterooms, suites, and verandahs are non-smoking. Guests in violation of our policy will be charged a $250 per day cleaning fee.

E-cigarettes are permitted in staterooms, otherwise only in designated smoking areas.

Except as otherwise noted, cigar and pipe smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the ship; it is only permitted in designated outdoor smoking areas.

Designated Smoking Areas

Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Oak Room (Noordam only, including cigar and pipe smoking)

Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Amsterdam, Maasdam, Volendam, Zaandam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Sports Deck, outside Crow's Nest
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Rotterdam, Veendam

  • The Retreat Bar area
  • Sports Deck, outside Crow's Nest
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Note that outdoor smoking areas may be designated as port or starboard, varying by ship. Please comply with ship signage.

Holland America Line reserves the right at any time to modify the smoking policy onboard or alter the locations where smoking is permissible.

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2 hours ago, ghstudio said:

I think the buffet is better on Hal....One example... cold cuts are much better...celebrity cold cuts are as cheap as they can find.  Less choice, but much tastier desserts. Hal serves you so the tongs/serving pieces aren’t touched by other passengers.

 

hal waiters at dinner ask you to order dessert when you order your meal....that’s annoying, at least to me...ask me when I’ve finished my main course.   Another annoyance is that red and white wine are both served in the same white wine glasses.  Ok, one more annoyance...the only sweetener on tables in mdr or buffet is sugar.  You have to ask for artificial sweeteners and someone has to get them for you.  Very strange.
 

 

Totally disagree on buffet, remember going there for lunch and they had a Italian section, pasta and sausage, they put hot dogs in the dish rather than Italian sausages. I take celebrity buffet over that any day. 

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36 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

This is the current fleet policy:

 

All staterooms, suites, and verandahs are non-smoking. Guests in violation of our policy will be charged a $250 per day cleaning fee.

E-cigarettes are permitted in staterooms, otherwise only in designated smoking areas.

Except as otherwise noted, cigar and pipe smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the ship; it is only permitted in designated outdoor smoking areas.

Designated Smoking Areas

Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Oak Room (Noordam only, including cigar and pipe smoking)

Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Amsterdam, Maasdam, Volendam, Zaandam

  • Sea View Bar area
  • Sports Deck, outside Crow's Nest
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Rotterdam, Veendam

  • The Retreat Bar area
  • Sports Deck, outside Crow's Nest
  • Casino (designated nights, active players only)

Note that outdoor smoking areas may be designated as port or starboard, varying by ship. Please comply with ship signage.

Holland America Line reserves the right at any time to modify the smoking policy onboard or alter the locations where smoking is permissible.

Funny I was just looking at this and in the HAL board. Thank goodness there is a newer ship NA, with no smoking casinos. 
 

Thank you

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18 hours ago, 4774Papa said:

 

 

18 hours ago, 4774Papa said:

 

Celebrity and Royal have good policies with a few places set aside for smokers, NCL does as well, unfortunately they allow smoking in the casino, so if you pass through there or are near there, you get it.

 

I always compare HAL, Princess, Celebrity, Royal and NCL prior to booking a cruise.  Right now, I am looking at transatlantics and finding Royal to be the best deal.   Perhaps I will have an opportunity to do HAL in the future, since their policy on smoking is in line with the other cruise lines.

 

Just an FYI. NCL’s new ship the Bliss has a totally enclosed casino smoking room for smokers. The rest of the casino, which is quite extensive, is smoke free. There is a bit of a smoke odor right next to the door going into the room, but no actual smoke. As far as I know, their new ship Encore will be the same. I will be on it for NYE. This is a big improvement. 

 

Mary Ann

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4 minutes ago, hulamoon said:

Funny I was just looking at this and in the HAL board. Thank goodness there is a newer ship NA, with no smoking casinos. 
 

Thank you

Yes, we were on the Nieuw Amsterdam in February and enjoyed being able to walk anywhere inside the ship without the smell of smoke. We then spent two weeks on the Nieuw Statendam in June and found ourselves avoiding the casino and the surrounding area. 

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13 hours ago, ghstudio said:

Update:  unfortunately I found smokers in the casino tonight...which does not make me happy.  It’s a red flag for us.

 

dinner tonight was problematic.  Escargot has no garlic to speak of....Caesar salad was about 1/2 the size of the past two nights...my wife’s cod was very salty and my lamb chops were well done even though I asked for pink.  The fresh fruit dessert was two small slices of watermelon, 2 small slices of something yellow and unrecognizable and 2 blueberries.  Very disappointing meal.  Alcohol free wine only by the bottle (celebrity has it by the glass). Perrier on the menu as 33cl is only 20cl bottle????

 

The positive image is starting to tarnish a bit.

 

 

I'm following your thread with interest. Our first ever cruise was on Noordam. I had no idea about cruising at that time. Like many Brits we vacationed regularly in Florida and decided to see a bit of the Caribbean. I looked at last minute pricing and itinerary and settled on the HAL ship after reading reviews for probably less than one hour. 

I was blissfully unaware that we'd be the youngest as we were in our thirties at the time! Next we sailed Aqua Class on Silhouette. And my thoughts at the time were :-

Cabin wise there wasn't much in it. Maybe Silhouette was a little nicer with the Aqua Class bathroom but no massive difference. 

The food was better on Noordam in the MDR than it was in Blu. As was the service. We'd been sold Celebrity as a step above HAL, but didn't really see it. Since then I've read that their has been a degradation in food quality and service on HAL, along with pretty much every other line discussed on here. So I'd love to know how they stack up against one another now. 

 

The HAL ship did seem dead after 11pm though. 

HAL seem to have much more interesting itineraries than X. They also seem to offer deep discounting after final payment date so do make a lot of sense for those interested in price and itinerary rather than the actual ship. 

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Buffet...not sure about hot dogs vs sausage. But I like prosciutto and sliced ham va the mystery cold cuts on celebrity. I think it’s a trade off but I do like having them serve vs everyone touching the tongs, etc

 

 

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1 hour ago, NMTraveller said:

Does the new HAL ship have the Crows Nest?

Yes indeed. Although now called officially named Explorations Central & Café, it's still the Crows Nest for most of us. One of our favourite spots on this and other HAL ships.

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I am reading your review with great interest.  I had almost booked HAL a few years back and then read the smoking policies.  

May try it again.  Have been sailing Celebrity almost exclusively for 11 years.

 

Sailed on RC late August.  Had not been on RC in 8 years.  Even though it was not crowded,  the smoke in the Casino was thick.  It wafted out into the hallways.  If you were on floor 6 you could not avoid walking through the casino to get to other locations on that floor.  

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22 hours ago, ghstudio said:

Sailing from Montreal to Ft Lauderdale.

 

Greeting and Welcome to Charlottetown.  Sorry about the weather wish is was a bit nicer for you today . It was beautiful here last week!  Would of loved to meet and said hello to you today.  I am literally 2 minutes away from the ship.

Adjustments-XL.jpg

 

Adjustments-XL.jpg

 

Adjustments-XL.jpg

 

Regards,

Kevin Reid

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