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Ace5614

Holland vs. Carnival

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Have been sailing Carnival for a long time and getting ready for our first Holland cruise.

What can we expect and what should we not miss?

Will be sailing on the Nieuw Statendam.

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We have cruised on both and have very much enjoyed both.  But, they are different from each other.

 

One thing they have in common is very disparate fleets in terms of age and size of ship.  This will impact on board venues. 

 

They have one thing in common from our perspective.  You have to carefully select your ship.  Read the reviews, understand the size, the age, dining and entertainment venues, and the condition of the ships in their respective fleets.  If not you may be disappointed based on the ship itself or on your personal preferences.

 

 We would sail on some ships in both fleets but definitely not on all ships in either fleet.

Edited by iancal

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Carnival and HAL are about as different as you can get in the mass market industry.  You'll notice an older crowd, far less activities, and less entertainment options.  On HAL, there is no lido entertainment other than the large screen, no pool games, no DJs, no live music in the central atrium, no dancing waiters, and no nightly interactive game shows (there might be 1 the whole cruise).  NS will have more specialty restaurants but in my opinion, Carnival's Steakhouse blows away HAL's Pinnacle Grill.  Otherwise, I'd rate the food equal.

 

I do, however, think you're picking the right ship because the options are more than on their older ships.  Some people will say HAL has better service but to be honest, I haven't noticed it.  I think service is pretty even across the mass market lines.  

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Holland has much better food, on the older ships it is geared to the senior citizens crowd.  What I love most is the classical music and daily mass. 

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Our experience was that the service levels on Carnival and HAL were comparable.  Really, as above, we have not found any appreciable difference from a service perspective on HAL as compared to the others.  Much of muchness.

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4 hours ago, Aquahound said:

Carnival's Steakhouse blows away HAL's Pinnacle Grill. 

 

I do agree with this!  Since the OP will be sailing on Nieuw Statendam, the Sel de Mar Restaurant is a winner not to be missed in my opinion.  Cuisine, service, ambiance:  all were excellent.

 

MDR cuisine?  It depends upon whom the ship's current Executive Chef is.  Some are better than others in my experience.  (Usually, good.  But, sometimes their execution of the corporate recipes disappoint my taste buds.)  The Chef in charge of the Lido Restaurant sometimes provide superior cuisine to that in the MDR.

 

Ace5614:  don't miss trying the NY Pizza and Deli on Nieuw Statendam.  Dive-in on all of the ships is great.  Entertainment?  The Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard Onboard are venues that I really enjoyed.  If you are a spa type person, the Greenhouse Spa's Thermal Suite and Hydrothermal Pool are most pleasant.  The Hydrothermal Pool has an improved design from the Vista and Signature Class ships.  

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You're sailing on NS, the newest ship in the HAL fleet.  We sailed on her last Christmas, one of the first cruises from Port Everglades.  Someone above mentioned there's no large screen for showing movies.  Not true!  She has a huge screen on the Lido Deck, forward to the main pool.  In that area, Lido flows into two decks, one overlooking the other.  Each night they show movies on the large screen, and you can choose to sit in the loungers by the pool, carefully arranged to accommodate those watching the movie, or you can sit upstairs on one of the sofas.  Nearby is the NY Deli, which serves free snacks during the movie, everything from popcorn to pizza, wings, nachos and soft pretzels.  You can also get a sandwich.  Make sure you ask for extra meat.  The Reuben is marvelous.  

 

The Dive-In is open for lunch and early (very early) dinner and serves wonderful Nathan's hot dogs and hamburgers.  The Grand Dutch Café on the Promenade Deck offers free food, wonderful Dutch treats with extra fee coffee and beer.  You don't have to buy a beverage to order the free food.  Don't miss Rolling Stones Rock Room, Billboard Onboard, BB King's Blues Club or Lincoln Center Stage, all of which perform at various times during the evening.  They stagger showtimes, so you can catch them all, moving from one venue to another.  The World Stage is magnificent but underused, IMO.  It's almost theater-in-the-round with screens surrounding the audience.  For those few shows which make use of the screens, it's awesome; however, more often than not, all you get is a comedian or juggler.  

 

Someone mentioned that you'll see a lot of old people.  Depends on when you sail.  If during a school break, such as Christmas, you'll find plenty of families with small tots who are generally carefully watched by their parents.  You won't find a lot of public announcements over the PA or a lot of games around the pool area.  The atmosphere is laid-back and relaxing.  Many passengers have traveled a lot and are interesting to converse with.  The MDR is stunning, but way too large and noisy, especially on the lower level.  Also, the worst thing about the Pinnacle Class ships, of which NS is a member, is the narrow Promenade.  Those of us who sail HAL regularly bemoan the narrow pathway yet still trek around and around it.  If you sail any of the other classes of dam ships, you'll see what I mean.

 

I believe you've probably chosen well for your first foray into Holland America.  The ship has a modern décor and is new with none of the problems, thus far, of her older fleet mates.  Make sure you also appreciate the varied art around the ship.  This line invests millions into their art collections aboard their ships, and you can spend an intriguing morning simply moving from deck to deck as you observe the art.  

 

Let us know what you experience when you return.  Please write a review.  Have a wonderful cruise.  You aren't by any chance sailing during Christmas/New Year's weeks, are you?  If so, please join our roll calls.

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2 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

Someone above mentioned there's no large screen for showing movies.  Not true!  She has a huge screen on the Lido Deck, forward to the main pool. 

 

I'm the one who mentioned the screen.  I think you misunderstood.....

 

4 hours ago, Aquahound said:

On HAL, there is no lido entertainment other than the large screen.

 

In other words, the screen is the only entertainment on the lido.  

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6 hours ago, STANCPA44 said:

...  What I love most is ... daily mass. 

 

Agree 100% ... having daily Mass available on every HAL cruise is the reason we cruise exclusively with HAL!!!  Thank you HAL!

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As a person who prefers 14, 15, 16 day cruises since I have to fly so far to get to any cruise port, I do not find much of a difference in the age of the clientele between HAL ships and Carnival ships.  I think that the 7 day cruises attract many more families than the longer cruises do.  We are Platinum on Carnival and 3* on HAL, getting close to 4*... 

 

DH and I prefer the size of the Spirit class ships on Carnival and the Vista and Pinnacle classes on HAL.  Our first HAL cruise was on Statendam in 2011, and we felt it was just a bit small for us.

 

We've found ourslves very comfortable on Holland America lately, and have no further plans to cruise on Carnival.  Our last cruise (14 night Southern Caribbean on Pride in January, 2019) was quite a let down, as they've cut back too far on staff.  The service we've received on HAL is much better, even though they've suffered many cutbacks on staff, as well. 

 

Have fun on your cruise!

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We are Platinums, almost Diamonds, on Carnival and 3 Star Mariners working on our way to 4 Stars on Holland. We enjoy both cruise lines, but they are as different as night and day. The Holland ships are understated elegance and Carnival ships are all about the glitz.

 

Food is superior on Holland,  but we love the Carnival Steakhouses and we can order Steakhouse Selections in the main dining rooms if our ships don't have a Steakhouse.

 

We are in the older demographic and appreciate very few kids on Holland, but try to sail on Carnival when kids are in school and avoid all holiday cruises on both lines for this reason.

 

Crew on both are very attentive and nice. DH prefers the entertainment on Carnival, but I'm in the casino so I don't care about it on either Carnival or Holland. However, I do enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage music on Holland. Sometimes the bands outside the casinos on Carnival are really horrible and loud. 

 

We have sailed mostly in Neptune Suites on Holland and love the Neptune Lounge and all the amenities for NS passengers, especially the number of double sailing days. We get nothing for staying in suites on Carnival except priority boarding which we get anyway for being Platinums.

 

We cruise mostly on Carnival because of close proximity to Tampa (45 minutes away), but have already booked the Veendam for Dec. 2020 after it comes to Tampa.

Edited by Djptcp
Added paragraph breaks for easier reading.

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