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Orlando Ashford is leaving HAL


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We were on the 2017 World Cruise on the Amsterdam – LA to FTL. We visited Korea, Japan & China in February. It was cold. It snowed during our visit to Beijing – the crew made snowmen on the ship. The ship was cold during this time especially the Lido Market buffet on the top deck which was surrounded by windows that let the cold in.

Orlando visited our cruise for a week. He hosted a town hall meeting. A passenger asked why the ship was so cold. Orlando could not answer so an engineer type officer said the following.

The air conditioning is controlled by HAL headquarters in Seattle. They turn the heat off from midnight to 6am. Also the ship failed to bring adequate repair parts and replacement filters for the A/C system. Can you imagine that for a 100 day voyage!!!

But, this affected us personally. The heat in our cabin broke during Feb & March and the ship could never repair it. Finally at the Beijing port, they brought us an oil heater (electric) that heated enough so we could shower.

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On 6/18/2020 at 10:45 AM, jrblach said:

We were on the 2017 World Cruise on the Amsterdam – LA to FTL. We visited Korea, Japan & China in February. It was cold. It snowed during our visit to Beijing – the crew made snowmen on the ship. The ship was cold during this time especially the Lido Market buffet on the top deck which was surrounded by windows that let the cold in.

Orlando visited our cruise for a week. He hosted a town hall meeting. A passenger asked why the ship was so cold. Orlando could not answer so an engineer type officer said the following.

The air conditioning is controlled by HAL headquarters in Seattle. They turn the heat off from midnight to 6am. Also the ship failed to bring adequate repair parts and replacement filters for the A/C system. Can you imagine that for a 100 day voyage!!!

But, this affected us personally. The heat in our cabin broke during Feb & March and the ship could never repair it. Finally at the Beijing port, they brought us an oil heater (electric) that heated enough so we could shower.

Let’s hope they’re upgrading the entire air filtration system now, including the AC and heat. If they don’t, the Amsterdam won’t have many passengers when sailing resumes.

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From my perspective it is fairly simple.  This is what I would call cheating your customers.  No customer like to be cheated.

 

It goes well past failing  to meet expectations.

Edited by iancal
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We were also on the Amsterdam for the first half of the 2017 WC,  Fort Lauderdale to Hong Kong.  Early in the voyage a pipe broke in the bulkhead in our cabin, flooding the floor.  We were moved to another outside cabin a deck lower.  When we were in Korea and Beijing it was extremely cold weather and we lost heat in our cabin.  Best they could do was about 40 degrees when it was about 20 degrees outside.  The cabin was on the same deck and not far from where passengers came on and off the ship, so when in port the cold weather came right in that area of the ship.  When we got off in Hong Kong my DW said "Never again will we book the Amsterdam".  This is a ship that we had cruised on for more than 300 days since 2002.  Incidentally, the cruise previous to this was the 2014 WC which we booked the half from Hong Kong to Fort Lauderdale.  We were bitten every night by some type of insect and after four days of trying to get rid of them they had to move us to another cabin.

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Now that Orlando Ashford is gone I am confident that the heat will be turned back on at night as appropriate and all those  pesky deferred maintenance issues will be resolved.

Edited by iancal
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8 hours ago, iancal said:

Now that Orlando Ashford is gone I am confident that the heat will be turned back on at night as appropriate and all those  pesky deferred maintenance issues will be resolved.

 

Based upon the previous posts, and I am truly sorry to say this because I have enjoyed my sailings on the Amsterdam, maybe the best resolution to the issues would be Alang.

 

A well known frequent contributor to CC was once told by an Engineering Officer that the Amsterdam is "rusting from the inside out".  If true--and it may well be for all of the vessels as they age--given the current economic/health situation, it may be well to "cut the losses" as much as I would dislike not being able to once again sail one of the older HAL ships.

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I believe that the writing is on the wall for older ships that happen to be in mass market cruise line fleets. It has been for some time.   Operating costs, mtce costs, and not not enough cruisers willing to pay the higher fares required to keep them on the ocean.

 

There is no point in moaning and groaning about it.  Face reality.  Either keep cruising on the larger mass market cruise lines or pay the fares required to switch to a premium cruise line that operates small ship.  Move forward.  Bemoaning it will not solve the issue.

Edited by iancal
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14 minutes ago, iancal said:

Bemoaning it will not solve the issue.

 

"But I'm four stars, and I wish it was 1990 again, and it's all Ashford's fault, and I hate the big ships (which are half the size of the truly big ships), and my post count is approaching 30k, so that must mean something on Cruise Critic."  And my personal favourite, "Kirk Lanterman must be flipping in his grave right now to witness all the cutbacks at HAL."     

 

🙂  

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People need to stop and think.  Perhaps cutbacks had to be made for financial reasons.  Who knows what HAL's P&L has looked like over that past five years. 

 

It could well have been that HAL got it's marching orders from Carnival Corp in terms of how much revenue was expected and how much profit and cash flow was demanded from the HAL subsidiary.  It could be that Mr. Ashford and team found themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Customers who wanted all the attributes of cruising twenty or thirty years ago at today's competitive prices. And corporate masters who wanted their  subsidiary sales, revenue and profit targets achieved and  a return on their invested capital.   

 

I worked in an environment where we were expected to send our corporate masters a prescribed amount of revenue, profit, and sales growth every quarter.  IF we failed to meet those targets for three or four quarters in a row our corporate masters would send us some 'help'.  Not the kind of help that we particularly relished. It invariably started with cutbacks, downsizing, and management change/consolidation.  This is the NA corporate culture.

Edited by iancal
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8 hours ago, YXU AC*SE said:

 

"But I'm four stars, and I wish it was 1990 again, and it's all Ashford's fault, and I hate the big ships (which are half the size of the truly big ships), and my post count is approaching 30k, so that must mean something on Cruise Critic."  And my personal favourite, "Kirk Lanterman must be flipping in his grave right now to witness all the cutbacks at HAL."     

 

🙂  

Well, my wife and I are four stars, and on our last cruise in January, (1) No production shows, (2) the food was miles below what it had been even last year, (3) the ship was dead as a door nail on sea days, with nothing, I mean nothing, going on (and we like to pass seas days just reading and hanging out, do not need to be entertained, but still...)  (4) the Westerdam cabin hadn’t even been refreshed in years, and (5) the lido buffet was at best average. 
I do believe each of these issues are Orlando’s fault.

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Agreed.  Mr Ashford was clearly not able to deliver a 1990's/2000 experience at a 2019/2020 price point. 

 

Not to mention not bringing back formal nights in the MDR or personally ensuring that there was a sufficient supply of popcorn in the on board theatre.

 

No wonder he left.

 

Perhaps one of the forum members who is an expert of cruise ships could step up and deliver the desired  product at the same price point. Sans cutbacks.

Edited by iancal
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With all due respect, Iancal, you are setting up the classic "strawman". One need not have "1990/2000 experience", and I don't really see that is being requested. Rather, the other posters seek quality food, some entertainment (usually, in my experience there is some, but lately there have been "dark nights" in each venue limiting the choices), and a reasonably well fitted out cabin.

 

Considering the promises implicit in HAL's brochures and elsewhere about the wonderful experiences you will have on board, I do not think it too much to ask that the actual match the marketing hype. "Manage my expectations", after all.

 

I would also opine that HAL is not presently a bargain--not at least for a Neptune Suite, which can clock in (using Cdn. $) at over $500 Per person, per day. I keep getting those email adverts, and keep saying, after hopefully checking, "nope". HAL's per diem also does not include liquor or gratuities, unless one gets one of the promotions.  Often, for a slightly smaller suite, a better deal can be had on a more inclusive line, which may even include excursions and some air subsidy.

 

So, for the price HAL charges at present, an upscale dining experience in the main dining room and Lido, decent entertainment choices and options, plus a comfortable cabin (good mattress, nice sofa to sit on, etc.) are reasonable expectations of mine, anyway. Some may disagree...

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I worked for four well known US multinationals. They were all the same in terms of how the subsidiary operated.

 

The 'President" of the subsidiary was a figurehead and had very little power.  He/she did not control the power....the budgets and the power to hire/fire, and allocate resources.  That power belonged to the  divisonal operating VP's of each of the four multinationals that I was fortunate enough  to work for..  These VP's  were the people that really managed their respective divisional businesses.  They all  reported hard straight line to  VP's in the Corporate office.  Those were the people who actually set the budgets and made the decisions.  In all cases these subsidiary VP's only had a weak dotted line relationship  to the subsidiary President.  

 

Not saying that this is the way HAL worked because I really do not know.  But I suspect it is.  The budget cutting, the mtce, deferrals, the staff cuts, the decision to offload ships may have been decisions outside of the purview of Mr. Ashford.  But as in the figurehead of all subs, the President gets the blame pubically.

 

Perhaps Mr. Ashford left because. like many others in his position, he had much of the responsibility but little of the authority to actually make decisions, control budgets, and allocate resouces.

Edited by iancal
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On 6/20/2020 at 6:30 PM, rkacruiser said:

 

Based upon the previous posts, and I am truly sorry to say this because I have enjoyed my sailings on the Amsterdam, maybe the best resolution to the issues would be Alang.

 

A well known frequent contributor to CC was once told by an Engineering Officer that the Amsterdam is "rusting from the inside out".  If true--and it may well be for all of the vessels as they age--given the current economic/health situation, it may be well to "cut the losses" as much as I would dislike not being able to once again sail one of the older HAL ships.

That might be a comment on the type of materials used by the ship builder.

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17 hours ago, iancal said:

Agreed.  Mr Ashford was clearly not able to deliver a 1990's/2000 experience at a 2019/2020 price point. 

 

Not to mention not bringing back formal nights in the MDR or personally ensuring that there was a sufficient supply of popcorn in the on board theatre.

 

No wonder he left.

 

Perhaps one of the forum members who is an expert of cruise ships could step up and deliver the desired  product at the same price point. Sans cutbacks.

I think the sarcasm is misplaced. Celebrity manages at just about the same price point, and HA did too for years, including our two cruises in 2019. The bottom line is that the product suffered under his leadership, and the cutbacks were noticeable and pissed off their best customers. And there’s no excuse for the complete lack of activity onboard. So he got fired.

 

The line clearly needs some new ideas and fresh blood. 

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57 minutes ago, iancal said:

I worked for four well known US multinationals. They were all the same in terms of how the subsidiary operated.

 

The 'President" of the subsidiary was a figurehead and had very little power.  He/she did not control the power....the budgets and the power to hire/fire, and allocate resources.  That power belonged to the  divisonal operating VP's of each of the four multinationals that I was fortunate enough  to work for..  These VP's  were the people that really managed their respective divisional businesses.  They all  reported hard straight line to  VP's in the Corporate office.  Those were the people who actually set the budgets and made the decisions.  In all cases these subsidiary VP's only had a weak dotted line relationship  to the subsidiary President.  

 

Not saying that this is the way HAL worked because I really do not know.  But I suspect it is.  The budget cutting, the mtce, deferrals, the staff cuts, the decision to offload ships may have been decisions outside of the purview of Mr. Ashford.  But as in the figurehead of all subs, the President gets the blame pubically.

 

Perhaps Mr. Ashford left because. like many others in his position, he had much of the responsibility but little of the authority to actually make decisions, control budgets, and allocate resouces.

If this were the case, then he also lacked the corporate skills necessary to protect his brand. That’s part of the job as well.

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1 hour ago, BarbarianPaul said:

If this were the case, then he also lacked the corporate skills necessary to protect his brand. That’s part of the job as well.

Absolutely.  I do not personally know the man and wish him no ill-will, but it was very obvious from the day he was appointed that he did not possess the skills or competencies required for the position he was granted.  He was in way over his head, so to speak 😉.  

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6 hours ago, Himself said:

That might be a comment on the type of materials used by the ship builder.

 

I sailed on Veendam when she was just two years old.  There were quality of material issues in my stateroom's bathroom that the ship's maintenance staff had to address during my cruise.  Fincantieri probably made the lowest priced bid to win the contract to build the ship.  One gets what one pays for.  

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On 6/21/2020 at 10:34 AM, iancal said:

It could well have been that HAL got it's marching orders from Carnival Corp in terms of how much revenue was expected and how much profit and cash flow was demanded from the HAL subsidiary.  It could be that Mr. Ashford and team found themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Customers who wanted all the attributes of cruising twenty or thirty years ago at today's competitive prices. And corporate masters who wanted their  subsidiary sales, revenue and profit targets achieved and  a return on their invested capital.   

 

 

While I fundamentally agree with what you have written, Mr. Ashford and company made mis-steps that alienated their loyal customer basis.  Some left; most didn't because we still enjoyed the majority of the HAL experience.  Did the affiliation with Oprah gain many new guests of a generation that I think it was hoped to do?  (I'd like to see the data on that if it did.)  After the retirement of an Executive V-P of Food and Beverage, another gentleman was hired whose direction of that area was horrible.  He soon was replaced by a different gentlemen who helped to produce a cuisine experience that was what HAL guests expected.  

 

I don't know why such changes are made within a Company.  There had to be good reasons in the minds of those who made them.  Your analogy of Mr. Ashford and his executives being between "a rock and a hard place" is probably appropriate.  

 

As I have said on this Forum previously, however, the selection of Mr. Ashford, with no prior cruise or cruise industry experience, as the President of Holland America Line was not an "inspired" decision by whomever in Carnival Corporation leadership.  Unless, there was a need for someone well experienced in the Human Relations area that was needed to address whatever HR problems existed within HAL.

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On 6/21/2020 at 10:26 AM, YXU AC*SE said:

"Kirk Lanterman must be flipping in his grave right now to witness all the cutbacks at HAL."     

 

I have much faith in Stein Kruse.  Mr. Lanterman was his mentor.  Mr. Lanterman led HAL at a time when HAL might well have ceased to exist.  I have to believe that Mr. Kruse will find a way of keeping the -dam ships afloat and sailing.  At least, as many as he can.  

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Sorry for above blank post!


One other point of discussion. A phrase came up in another post referring to the “HAL experience.” At this point I’m not exactly sure what that even is. Nothing of interest happens on the ships. The food isn’t particularly good. The cruise directors and staff are all professional, but the CD’s in general are somewhat humorless and generic, and nowhere near as lively as their competitors.

 

My wife and I enjoy the low key vibe, but that’s more related to a lack of anything happening on the ships, which was really noticeable on our last cruise. The music walk is fun to walk by,  but it’s never a destination for us, and personally I don’t think it’s the anywhere near the game changer HA hoped it would be. 
 

We enjoy the four star perks, and aren’t ready to abandon the line,  but we generally have a better time on Celebrity. We have fond memories of our HA cruises, but now it seems old, stodgy, boring and retro. 

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