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LMaxwell

HAL first timers - the next generation

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6 hours ago, *Miss G* said:

 

The Nieuw Amsterdam is a lovely ship.  A hidden gem is the Tamarind bar (along with the Tamarind restaurant).  It is reached mid-ship, only, via the stairs or the elevator.

 

You will also find the HALfacts site useful for room pictures and ship information.  Keep in mind that many of the pics were taken pre-refurbishment so if it looks out of date it usually is. That’s where the Dry Dock threads come in handy.  Have a wonderful time!

 

I found this excellent Cruise Critic photo gallery post drydock.  I appreciate the HAL Facts link. 

 

https://www.cruisecritic.com/photos/ships/nieuw-amsterdam-541/

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A word about entertainment expectations.  I know we are not going to get RCI's diving shows, MSC's cirque acrobat shows, NCL adult themed productions...that's alright.  I'm just hoping there are activities going on.  DEFINITELY no rocking nightclubs.  But would hope they have some deck parties or some fun events, or some fly in headliner entertainment scattered throughout the week.  Just hoping sedate doesn't mean bereft. 

 

Then again, looking at it, there are things that I have not been exposed to much elsewhere (cooking demos, for example) so maybe that will change how I relax and interact with the cruise.  Less going on, and being new, maybe means less of a feeling to "get to everything".  Those lido loungers look nicer than the unpadded ones I'm used to and I want to spend time in them with a book.   It's a low key, almost all beach or laid back relaxing kind of itinerary more about trying the ship and Tamarind is on the list for sure.  

 

As far as kids; there doesn't need to be 1000 for ours to have fun.  If there are a few kids aboard that he can play with at camp (he usually likes theme night activities) that's fine.  If they have a program where they take the kids to dinner I'd expect to use it 1 or 2 nights.  I can't imagine the kids program differs majorly in function from other lines and my kid has always enjoyed himself and gotten along with staff and other kids.  

 

 

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One nice thing about HAL - usually it is easy to come by a lounger by the pool (unless you are on a Spring break cruise).  We went on one Carnival cruise and the closest lounger we could find was up one deck and around the corner from the pool!!  Could not even see it.

 

 

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We were 39 and 41 on our first HAL cruise, 3 nights, and 5 nights a year later.  Limited experience, but we thought it was overall slightly superior to Celebrity (even more so after recent cuts), and hands down better than Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  I usually don't go to basic shows anyways, so the the expansion of live music venues is a net gain to us.  The ship and passengers are very laid back, and you may have gaps between activities.  Likely you'll be drawn to people of similar age or interest, and will buddy up.  I asked a few first time HAL couples on our last cruise, agent 30 - 50, and everyone liked the cruise line, not minding that they veered younger.

 

There will be more kids in the kids club for Alaska, which may be a very different experience on a 14 night Panama Canal cruise. If you are sailing to/from Anchorage, I highly recommend adding a triple Danali cruise tour, it would justify your HAL cruise even if the line wasn't your thing.  

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We will be on our first HAL cruise in January.  We decided to tack it on at the end of a BTB on the Sky Princess.  I'm definitely worried about the lack of activities.  If HAL doesn't work for you, try Princess.

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37 minutes ago, HALrunner said:

Get a lido cabana, you will be hooked for life!

They could give me all the OBC in the world and I probably wouldn't use it for that.  The experience may be nice but I find their presence distasteful, sort of like how on MSC or NCL they charge for access to certain sundecks.  To me that is coin operated cruising (nickel and diming people) and the antithesis of the mood I am going for (I don't buy phone/internet on cruises, and generally don't want to be presented with spending options/opportunities all day long).  The fundamentals of the product have to be right before I'll spend additional on fluff. 

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3 hours ago, LMaxwell said:

They could give me all the OBC in the world and I probably wouldn't use it for that.  The experience may be nice but I find their presence distasteful, sort of like how on MSC or NCL they charge for access to certain sundecks.  To me that is coin operated cruising (nickel and diming people) and the antithesis of the mood I am going for (I don't buy phone/internet on cruises, and generally don't want to be presented with spending options/opportunities all day long).  The fundamentals of the product have to be right before I'll spend additional on fluff. 

 

My parents are elderly and my mother isn’t as able-bodied as she used to be.  In consideration of this I booked a family cabana in The Retreat.  My mother could switch between sun and shade, in just a few steps, and be guaranteed a spot.  We could all wander off to do our own thing and always have a central meeting area.

 

The staff were absolutely hands-down fabulous.  After the first day they noticed that my parents enjoyed ice cream in the afternoon.  From that moment on they would pop in to ask if it was ice cream time, and bring them one every day.  This is just one of a multitude of ways the crew made this purchase one of the best I have ever made.  

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If you are travelling on the Nieuw Amsterdam and your child is over 6, this bad piece of news can affect your sailing experience significantly:

 

Basically, HAL seems to be replacing Club HAL for kids over 6 with a video arcade that is largely unsupervised (for now). The Nieuw Amsterdam is next in line for this change after the Oosterdam.

 

 

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Have you considered Disney Cruise Line?  It seems to check all the boxes and then some...

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3 hours ago, vicd1969 said:

If you are travelling on the Nieuw Amsterdam and your child is over 6, this bad piece of news can affect your sailing experience significantly:

 

Basically, HAL seems to be replacing Club HAL for kids over 6 with a video arcade that is largely unsupervised (for now). The Nieuw Amsterdam is next in line for this change after the Oosterdam.

 

 

I'll place a dispute w my Amex today if this is true 

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8 minutes ago, iceman93 said:

Have you considered Disney Cruise Line?  It seems to check all the boxes and then some...

 

No way Disney cruise is worth 3x-5x to go to same Caribbean ports; they get plenty of our money anyways, we are local

Edited by LMaxwell

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On 12/4/2019 at 5:53 AM, LMaxwell said:

  Quality entertainment (this is a major concern; it seems the kids clubs are fine but HAL has cut their nightly adult entertainment to Carnival levels; if this is the case we are one and done.  ). 

 

Sorry but if I'm to be honest, I think it'll be one and done if this really is a major concern.  For a more refined cruise line that still has decent evening entertainment including pool parties, game shows, etc, etc, I recommend Celebrity.  They blow HAL out of the water with entertainment and activities.

 

If I remember correctly from the other thread, you're going on either Eurodam or Nieuw Amsterdam.  You have 2 choices every night; BB King or Billboard. That's it.  I'm not including Lincoln Center Stage because it isn't really a lounge.  

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2 hours ago, Aquahound said:

 

Sorry but if I'm to be honest, I think it'll be one and done if this really is a major concern.  For a more refined cruise line that still has decent evening entertainment including pool parties, game shows, etc, etc, I recommend Celebrity.  They blow HAL out of the water with entertainment and activities.

 

If I remember correctly from the other thread, you're going on either Eurodam or Nieuw Amsterdam.  You have 2 choices every night; BB King or Billboard. That's it.  I'm not including Lincoln Center Stage because it isn't really a lounge.  

 

I am at full blown war w HAL since they are eliminating kids clubs.  I requested a refund and HAL won't give a NICKEL.  Booked at 116 days out.  48 hours later we are at 114 days out and they are going to keep every cent.  Their stance is basically you paid, take the cruise or don't.  

 

 

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On 12/5/2019 at 10:42 PM, LMaxwell said:

 

I am at full blown war w HAL since they are eliminating kids clubs.  I requested a refund and HAL won't give a NICKEL.  Booked at 116 days out.  48 hours later we are at 114 days out and they are going to keep every cent.  Their stance is basically you paid, take the cruise or don't.  

 

 

According to HALs Blog, they are not eliminating the kids CLUB. The arcade experience is an addition. A real plus on Hal ships to Alaska is the pool area has a retractable roof so can be used in all weather and as mentioned not busy. They also offered some afternoon shows in the World Stage on our sea days in Nov. There are also lots of good family movies on your in room TV, free. 

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13 hours ago, catlet said:

According to HALs Blog, they are not eliminating the kids CLUB. The arcade experience is an addition. A real plus on Hal ships to Alaska is the pool area has a retractable roof so can be used in all weather and as mentioned not busy. They also offered some afternoon shows in the World Stage on our sea days in Nov. There are also lots of good family movies on your in room TV, free. 

 

Call HAL and ask if Nieuw Amsterdam will have Club HAL, for ages 3 - 17, this March in its current iteration with only the addition of the arcade.  You're not going to get a straight, direct "Yes". 

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On 12/4/2019 at 12:10 PM, Samanthac25 said:

I will let you know how it goes when we get back! I'll also do my best to remember to take a picture of the daily papers. I saw your other post and was hoping someone would have had them too since I'm very interested in what the days and evenings will be like. 

 

On 12/4/2019 at 8:26 PM, LMaxwell said:

 


LMaxwell, sorry that it took so long but here are the daily papers I took pictures of on Nieuw Amsterdam over Christmas week. 

D531641A-66A2-4708-8F73-E0C9F39D296E.jpeg

EFD4482A-D696-432F-AF8B-B5B15E5E2E6D.jpeg

993EE4B6-22E4-499C-AB78-7CB6B2FFD367.jpeg

FBCB5350-B255-4433-8193-891C69718783.jpeg

A092CF8A-DB03-4AAC-8787-5FF853C08F5A.jpeg

3D1E9401-EBA4-43A3-8E81-C782DD0BC357.jpeg

68F80841-BC30-4E3C-9F5E-094FC870B5DE.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Hi LMaxwell,

 

I'm a decade older than you, but young at heart and we seem to have similar philosophies in cruising.  I have 5 or 6 HAL  cruises under my belt, but Vista class is the largest I have sailed. I"m glad you are going on N.A. as the older, smaller vessels would probably not be a good fit. 

 

What HAL does best (imo) is service and itinerary. Service has always been simply the best. If you like refined service you will appreciate the very well trained Indonesian staff.

 

We have a 20 day Antarctica booked with them and, in all honesty, I'm a bit worried about entertainment. If BBKings is as good as I've read, that will work for us (albeit it might get redundant after 20 nights). I"m so over the hooookie high school level entertainment on mid-sized ships (the mid sized  NCL, RCL, celebrity, etc..), but we do like the entertainment on the bigger ships (Oasis class, Breakaway class, etc..). We like howl at the moon, aqua shows, legally blonde, Rock of ages etc.. None of HAL ships come close to the mega ships with their production shows, but life is a compromise. One of the HAL ships has a new Rolling Stone venue (not sure if that is N.A.), and that would have worked perfectly for our demographics.

 

I can't speak to the children's club, but on the HAL cruises I've taken, there have been very few children. This may be a stumbling block. You may find it odd that you do not serve yourself in the buffet. DH hates it because it does create back-ups in line. HAL has remained traditional in some aspects, which we appreciate. Room service is an example.

 

HAL really excels by offering exceptional itineraries. You may not be at the place right now where you can do extended time on the ocean, but it won't hurt to build some loyalty. HAL has a very good 5* Mariner rewards program.

 

Edit: I wrote all that before I read about the kids club. I hope you can find resolution.

Edited by BermudaBound2014

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When our kids were at home and we cruised together, we sailed RCL or Princess. Later on, we sailed the following with my "rating" based on overall experience NOT food. Windstar (excellent),  Regent Seven Seas (OK), Silversea (outstanding), Viking Ocean (excellent), Uniworld (outstanding), Celebrity (very good-excellent), Oceania (outstanding+) and HAL (very good-excellent)

 

We wanted to get away this past November and found a HAL Panama Canal cruise and thought we'd try HAL for the first time. We enjoyed it enough that we're booked again in February (Nieuw Amsterdam) followed by a Celebrity "back to back". 

 

I'm learning a lot about HAL from other comments but since I never sailed them when "things were better" my perspective is just based on what I experienced, not any expectations.

 

Food is so subjective and yes other carriers may do a better job but our experience on HAL was certainly more than acceptable. Same with entertainment.  On our 11 day cruise, we sat through and enjoyed  29 or 30 sets in the BB King lounge. Wasn't much else to do but we didn't care. Our one criteria for rebooking on HAL is the ship MUST have a BB King or Rolling Stone lounge. Another example how you can have just "OK" food and a great cruise experience is Viking Ocean. On a 1-10, the food was about a 5 but on a 1-10, the ship and overall experience was a 20!

 

We will continue to mix it up with small "deluxe" ships and the larger ones such as HAL and Celebrity. Enjoy your first HAL cruise! We sure did. 

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HAL is really about music these days.  Not really impressive at all for kids or shows imo. Other lines offer much more if those areas are a big priority.

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On 12/4/2019 at 7:53 AM, LMaxwell said:

  Late 30/early 40's married with young child.  We take 4-6 cruises per year and many, many weekend trips to Disney.  Live in South Florida and have high status among many cruise lines (Royal, NCL, MSC, Carnival...) but am just completely over the "YELL LOUDER IF YOU ARE HAVING FUN. WHAT?!? YELL LOUUUUUUUUUUUDER."  

 

I'm so glad we're not the only ones. DH and I are both 42; trying out HAL after many NCL and Carnival cruises where we were disappointed in the lack of quiet spaces and the constant thump-thump-thump heard even on our balcony. I'm wondering if I've even made a mistake in booking a Vista suite on Amsterdam this summer; we're so used to NEEDING that balcony for relaxing because every space is filled to capacity with belly flop contests and yelling DJs that it didn't even occur to me that I could book a simple outside cabin and use chairs on the (real!) promenade. This will also be our first cruise without our son, who (now 16) LOVED the kids clubs and teen clubs until we met a mega-ship, and he experienced waits to even enter, which wasn't worth it to him. I'll be keeping a close eye on the teens on board to see if he'd be more comfortable on HAL, too! 

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We too are seasoned Carnival cruises that need a change.....over all the yelling and screaming and not being able to find a quiet place to read.

 

Pulled the trigger today on Oosterdam out of San Diego to Mexican Riveria.

 

We have never sailed HAL, we have never sailed out of the west coast.  

 

We are looking forward to trying something different.  We don't care about shows, or daytime activities just enjoying the journey.  

 

We are no longer night owls either since we are now retired both in our late 60's.

 

We do enjoy good coffee and a few good adult beverages during the day.  

 

We are looking forward to new ports of call for us, we are NOT shoppers, we love being out on the water.

 

We are wintering in Yuma, AZ so we will be driving to the port and looking for park n cruise....let the new adventures begin!

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The Nieuw Amsterdam is a nice ship. We especially liked the music venues.

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We’ve been cruising on HAL since about 2005 and we love it. When our son was younger, the kids’ activities were definitely inferior  to DCL, but he had fun anyway. We love the new entertainment options of BB King’s, Lincoln Center Live and Billboard. We’re not the kind of people who enjoy big production shows and BB King’s is amazing. The musicians are super talented. We like the food on HAL a lot and find the service is excellent. There’s virtually none of the “Let me hear you say YEAHHHHHHHH!”  

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On 12/9/2019 at 10:42 AM, catlet said:

According to HALs Blog, they are not eliminating the kids CLUB. The arcade experience is an addition. A real plus on Hal ships to Alaska is the pool area has a retractable roof so can be used in all weather and as mentioned not busy. They also offered some afternoon shows in the World Stage on our sea days in Nov. There are also lots of good family movies on your in room TV, free. 

 

HAL's blog is deceptive. They absolutely are eliminating Club HAL from ages 7 onward... High Score, which is an arcade with little supervision will replace Club HAL for that age group. I have had 3 emails telling me this. They have told me that as of 2021, High Score will be the go-to for 7 to 17 year olds. Kids club will only be for 3-6 year olds. Ridiculous to lump 7 year olds in with 17 year olds. There will also be self -checkout which means more kids roaming around the ship unattended. 

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