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St Pete Cruiser

EXC/ON LOCATION/PORT LECTURER ELIMINATED?

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Holland America has long had someone to give advice on the ports that each cruise calls on, a real plus for those who want to discover on their own as well as to add info for selecting shore excursions.  The position was recently given the title of EXC Guide, but now it seems that the position is being combined with cruise director.  

Barbara Haney, long time port lecturer, retired last year.  Brett, who was on the N Statendam, sadly left after 8 years as well.  Guest lecturers, usually used on longer cruises with extra sea days, may be scarcer as well.  Navy Captain Tom Anderson, who has been on HAL for years, told me last week he isn't scheduled again on HAL, but is working on Seabourne and some other premium lines.

What can we do, other than comment on our surveys and when we chat with officers onboard, who tend to agree with us?  Same with the removal of flowers from the MDR tables and Lido.

 

 

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We are just coming back to HAL in 2020 and I am disappointed by your news. It sounded wonderful to read, at earlier posts, about interesting lecturers being on board during a cruise.

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6 minutes ago, azalice said:

We are just coming back to HAL in 2020 and I am disappointed by your news. It sounded wonderful to read, at earlier posts, about interesting lecturers being on board during a cruise.

The Maasdam is the only ship not cutting back according to several onboard.  

On the newer ships, there is a lot more attention and money being spent on the Music Walk, rather than the EXC program.

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1 hour ago, St Pete Cruiser said:

The Maasdam is the only ship not cutting back according to several onboard.  

On the newer ships, there is a lot more attention and money being spent on the Music Walk, rather than the EXC program.

Have not been on the newer ships lately, our recent experience (september/october) on Rotterdam was that there still was a seperate CD and an excellent EXC guide (Glenn Michael Askew). Flowers were still present in MDR, not in Lido. Our Maasdam cruise in May had a combination of CD/EXC.

 

There were already some lively threads on this subject and I do not know if this is the new policy fleetwide or not.

Edited by Alphen

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On our Voyage of the Vikings this summer we had an excellent EXC guide (Jessica).  She was funny, approachable and extremely knowledgeable.  At the end of the cruise they were phasing her out by giving that position to the cruise director.  He stumbled through the job but the difference was huge.  This is a cost saving cut that is not going to go over well with any of HAL's customers.  Why not write a letter to Seattle and voice your concerns?  Maybe if they heard from enough of us.....  I don't trust that the surveys actually do much good.

 

We did not have flowers on the table in the MDR on the Zuiderdam but there was a bouquet at the front.  We only had battery lamps without the light.  Waste of a space on the table if they're not going to up the game and actually put little lights in there.  All part of HAL's cost cutting measures.  

 

 

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Just returned from a TA onboard NS.  There were two lecturers on board giving a lecture in the morning and one in the afternoon.  We also, heard that these positions will be, for the most part, eliminated.   This is one of the things that made HAL stand out from other lines and one that we found important to our overall experience.

 

Other cutbacks/changes we noticed were no flowers on tables in the MDR, no orchids on the Lido tables, staff taking on more work, no piano player in Ocean Bar, only cookies or brownies in Explorations Cafe, fewer entertainment opportunities to attend in large theater (a magician, a piano player/comedian, a comedian,  and a group called Ida which were four sopranos).  Hope this is just a transition and HAL will find their way and identity.

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42 minutes ago, Riversedge said:

On our Voyage of the Vikings this summer we had an excellent EXC guide (Jessica).  She was funny, approachable and extremely knowledgeable.  At the end of the cruise they were phasing her out by giving that position to the cruise director.  He stumbled through the job but the difference was huge.  This is a cost saving cut that is not going to go over well with any of HAL's customers.  Why not write a letter to Seattle and voice your concerns?  Maybe if they heard from enough of us.....  I don't trust that the surveys actually do much good.

 

We did not have flowers on the table in the MDR on the Zuiderdam but there was a bouquet at the front.  We only had battery lamps without the light.  Waste of a space on the table if they're not going to up the game and actually put little lights in there.  All part of HAL's cost cutting measures.  

 

 

We know Jessica from a previous cruise and agree she exactly what we need. Knowledgeable, friendly, and enjoyable to listen to. 

Yes, those dollar store lights are a cheap replacement for real flowers.

On N Statendam,  no pastries brought around and no jams on table. You have to ask for them when you order. Matre'd apologised, but did let us know that is the new procedure. 

Who should we email in Seattle?

I really think these little things are adding up to the point of turning a loyal and frequent HAL cruiser away.

20191024_033326.jpg

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It occurs to me that it's a really odd plan to market a cruise line as one that specializes in longer and more exotic destinations, but then to do away with destination guides and lecturers.  That just makes no sense.  It's as if World Cruise marries Booze Cruise and has a baby named Hal.

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2 hours ago, AncientWanderer said:

It occurs to me that it's a really odd plan to market a cruise line as one that specializes in longer and more exotic destinations, but then to do away with destination guides and lecturers.  That just makes no sense.  It's as if World Cruise marries Booze Cruise and has a baby named Hal.

Not only do we regret loosing these people onboard, but when you see and feel someone's enthusiasm for their position, when they excel at providing not just information, but doing it with style and in a timely fashion, and being dockside as you leave the ship with last minute updates, it hurts to see them released.  

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8 hours ago, AncientWanderer said:

It occurs to me that it's a really odd plan to market a cruise line as one that specializes in longer and more exotic destinations, but then to do away with destination guides and lecturers.  That just makes no sense.  It's as if World Cruise marries Booze Cruise and has a baby named Hal.

 

I completely agree.  We have a cruise booked on the Zuiderdam in July 2020 that has a unique itinerary - Norway, Iceland and northern Scotland.  These ports are new to us and up to now I made the assumption that there would be a port guide on the ship.  Since we are well within the cancellation without penalty period and I haven't booked air yet, I am going to look for a similar itinerary on another line.

 

Are you listening HAL?

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I encountered an interesting situation on our recent Amsterdam trip to Alaska.  The first morning on board we went for breakfast in the MDR.  I asked for a cinnamon roll and raisin bran cereal.  They had no cinnamon rolls they told me, but would get one from somewhere -- I don't know where.  In time I received the cinnamon roll.  Next morning, again no cinnamon roll, but my niece had been up to the Lido earlier and saw a tray of sticky buns.  She brought one down to the room, and I took one with me to the MDR every day thereafter.  I was told, that cinnamon rolls were discontinued in the MDR,  A few days later I again asked for raisin bran cereal, and the MDR was "out of it".  My niece again told me that it was available in the Lido.  Instead thereafter I ordered other items off the menu.  When others saw the sticky bun, they also wanted one, but were told it wasn't available in the MDR.  HAL has such a good bakery and it is one of my delights to have a fresh pastry for breakfast.  This strikes me rather strange to not have fresh pastries available in the MDR.    Another cut-back, I guess.   😯

Marianne

 

 

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9 hours ago, AncientWanderer said:

It occurs to me that it's a really odd plan to market a cruise line as one that specializes in longer and more exotic destinations, but then to do away with destination guides and lecturers.  That just makes no sense.  It's as if World Cruise marries Booze Cruise and has a baby named Hal.

 

The combination of the CD and the EXC lecturer felt a little odd on my recent Eurodam cruise.  It almost felt like HAL was trying to be a mass market version of an expeditionary cruise line.   In my opinion, it didn't work.  In her CD role, she brought zero life to the room.  

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8 minutes ago, Aquahound said:

 

The combination of the CD and the EXC lecturer felt a little odd on my recent Eurodam cruise.  It almost felt like HAL was trying to be a mass market version of an expeditionary cruise line.   In my opinion, it didn't work.  In her CD role, she brought zero life to the room.  

 

I think if would be hard to find someone who could fill both roles well.  The two jobs require different skill sets.  And stranger still is that as the ships get bigger, they cut positions who will have one-on-one communication with passengers.

 

Earth to HAL:  Hospitality requires interacting with guests.

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1 hour ago, Marianne said:

I encountered an interesting situation on our recent Amsterdam trip to Alaska.  The first morning on board we went for breakfast in the MDR.  I asked for a cinnamon roll and raisin bran cereal.  They had no cinnamon rolls they told me, but would get one from somewhere -- I don't know where.  In time I received the cinnamon roll.  Next morning, again no cinnamon roll, but my niece had been up to the Lido earlier and saw a tray of sticky buns.  She brought one down to the room, and I took one with me to the MDR every day thereafter.  I was told, that cinnamon rolls were discontinued in the MDR,  A few days later I again asked for raisin bran cereal, and the MDR was "out of it".  My niece again told me that it was available in the Lido.  Instead thereafter I ordered other items off the menu.  When others saw the sticky bun, they also wanted one, but were told it wasn't available in the MDR.  HAL has such a good bakery and it is one of my delights to have a fresh pastry for breakfast.  This strikes me rather strange to not have fresh pastries available in the MDR.    Another cut-back, I guess.   😯

Marianne

 

 

I thought maybe it was just the new bigger ships that were suffering this.  If Amsterdam has changed as well, oh well....

 

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16 hours ago, colonialinnkeeper said:

Just returned from a TA onboard NS.  There were two lecturers on board giving a lecture in the morning and one in the afternoon.  We also, heard that these positions will be, for the most part, eliminated.   This is one of the things that made HAL stand out from other lines and one that we found important to our overall experience.

 

 

Lecturers are not a payed position on HAL, but are volunteer cruisers who do this and get some compensation for this contribution. On the HAL website I believe somewhere there is more information about this.

 


By the way, in contrary to other information, today under career opportunities on the HAL website, there are still openings for EXC guides!

Edited by Alphen

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7 hours ago, baggal said:

 

I completely agree.  We have a cruise booked on the Zuiderdam in July 2020 that has a unique itinerary - Norway, Iceland and northern Scotland.  These ports are new to us and up to now I made the assumption that there would be a port guide on the ship.  Since we are well within the cancellation without penalty period and I haven't booked air yet, I am going to look for a similar itinerary on another line.

 

Are you listening HAL?

I agree with you.  I cancelled my TA that was booked for this month (lost a couple of hundred) and am going to cancel my South America cruise for next October.  I only kept my January Panama Canal because I had invested too much money already in arrangements.  I wrote directly to both the Seattle office and Carnival Corp. to complain about the downgrading HAL is doing.  The latter never responded and the former sent a letter that never really addressed what I wrote.  I will make 4 star with the last cruise I have with them, but it will be the last.

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11 hours ago, baggal said:

 

I completely agree.  We have a cruise booked on the Zuiderdam in July 2020 that has a unique itinerary - Norway, Iceland and northern Scotland.  These ports are new to us and up to now I made the assumption that there would be a port guide on the ship.  Since we are well within the cancellation without penalty period and I haven't booked air yet, I am going to look for a similar itinerary on another line.

 

Are you listening HAL?

Don't bother to look at Celebrity....their port lectures are given by the port shopping company.....steering you to the shops that give them a % of your purchases.

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7 hours ago, Alphen said:

Lecturers are not a payed position on HAL, but are volunteer cruisers who do this and get some compensation for this contribution. On the HAL website I believe somewhere there is more information about this.

 


By the way, in contrary to other information, today under career opportunities on the HAL website, there are still openings for EXC guides!

 

Alphen, thanks for clarifying.  We have a friend who has lectured in this program for the last 8 or 9 years.  He just retired from doing this last year.  I guess what I was saying was, regardless of how the position is supported, I do hope that HAL will continue the program.  

 

Also, before cancelling a cruise I would call HAL and verify whether there would be lecturers on board or not.  If HAL gets many of these calls, they may see that it is one of the important components their clients want when they choose to cruise with them.   It feels that there may be a lot of conjecture floating around without confirmation.

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2 hours ago, ghstudio said:

Don't bother to look at Celebrity....their port lectures are given by the port shopping company.....steering you to the shops that give them a % of your purchases.

 

For what it's worth, my 2-week cruise with Celebrity last December had a legit excursion guide (Mickey) who was really informative without pushing useless shopping. Maybe HAL and Celebrity are cutting back on having excursion guides on shorter 7-day cruises? As for now, we are receiving anecdotal reports but it's not confirmed if there is a fleet-wide movement to get all CDs assume the role of EXC guide.

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35 minutes ago, vicd1969 said:

 

For what it's worth, my 2-week cruise with Celebrity last December had a legit excursion guide (Mickey) who was really informative without pushing useless shopping. Maybe HAL and Celebrity are cutting back on having excursion guides on shorter 7-day cruises? As for now, we are receiving anecdotal reports but it's not confirmed if there is a fleet-wide movement to get all CDs assume the role of EXC guide.

We just left the N Statendam last Sunday after 24 days aboard, returning from Europe.  Brett, who has been with HAL for 8 years as EXC/port lecturer/etc, was very down and told us that the company is combining his position with the cruise director and he was indeed leaving.  He has worked nearly all of the fleet including the Prinsendam and Grand Voyages and is an excellent presenter, IMHO.

Hamisch Davis, the cruise director, was going on time off, but is to return to the Amsterdam for the World Voyage in Jan, 2020, where they will still have the separate rolls.  He confirmed to us that all of the "regular" cruises will be converted to CD/EXC one person position and it appears most of the ships have already done so.  Hotel Manager Don Habets was there with us when he told me.  This is a "Seattle" decision and not up to the individual ships.  The Grand cruises and maybe the Maasdam would be still using the EXC guide separate from CD.

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10 hours ago, Alphen said:

Lecturers are not a payed position on HAL, but are volunteer cruisers who do this and get some compensation for this contribution. On the HAL website I believe somewhere there is more information about this.

 


By the way, in contrary to other information, today under career opportunities on the HAL website, there are still openings for EXC guides!

The new position is "Cruise and Travel Director", not to be confused with a presenter brought on for a specific region.

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On Voyage of the Vikings, I noticed that the CD was also doing something w/ the ports.  Since I believed CD was supposed to be a full time position, I wondered what was happening.  Sounds like they're getting rid of an employee.

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30 minutes ago, St Pete Cruiser said:

The new position is "Cruise and Travel Director", not to be confused with a presenter brought on for a specific region.

I can only say that there already has been a lively discussion on the CD / EXC position on this board and can only add from my personal experience, since I do not know what the fleetwide trend on the Dam ships is. Maybe HAL doesn’t know either.

From experience:

·         On our cruise on Maasdam in May/June 2019; there was a Cruise & Travel Director (combination of EXC guide and Cruise Director postion), but Maasdam is known to be the odd ship in the fleet, having the EXC voyage program.

·         On our September/October cruise on Rotterdam; there was both a Cruise Director and a separate EXC Guide.

·         Holland America lists job opportunities for EXC guides on its website, even today.

 

There have been reports on other ships that have the Cruise & Travel Director, but also ships that still have both Cruise Director and a separate EXC Guide.

Where HAL is going to? No idea, lets wait and see, if you miss either of them on your cruise, let both the ships staff know with your comment card on board, make comments in your post cruise questionnaire and or mail head office.

 

If indeed the change will slowly go from two seperate positions to a combined one fleetwide, it is taking them a long time to do this on all of the ships. Again, make use of the opportunities to speak up, never know if they will revert to old policy in the (near) future.

 

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Just heard from friends on Rotterdam that the CD is now the combination there as well. Captain told him it is fleet wide.

Captain Bos van Dreumel.

Edited by St Pete Cruiser
Addition

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