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Cunard vs Holland America


glutenhab
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We've done world cruises and shorter cruises on both lines.  DWhit's comment about the itineraries is true, HAL has more interesting cruises IMO (because they have more ships).  However, if both lines were doing the same itinerary I would pick Cunard.  The speakers on board are always great. 

 

I choose which world cruise to take based on itinerary alone so in 2015, 2018 and 2020 I was with Cunard.  In 2017 and 2021 I was/will be with HAL.  

 

I'm not a foodie so that's a wash for me.  The crews are always good although I might give a slight edge to HAL on that count.  On world cruises at least the passengers are more international on Cunard (a big plus for me). 

 

 

 

 

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I think that HAL is the line most similar to Cunard among US lines (I have no experience with P&O).

Both lines have a long history and celebrate that tradition. Both lines cater to a similar demographic, tilting largely to seniors (but not exclusively!). As a result, both lines emphasize a quieter activities and entertainment, as opposed to pool slides and climbing walls. Their ships are smaller than new ships on most other lines, and in fact, Cunard ships other than the QM2 share a hull design with HAL ships. 

The single thing I think of on HAL ships is genuinely warm service. A little warmer than Cunard and less familiar than Princess. Training may be a little below Cunard, but above many other mass-market lines. 

I find the food to be roughly equivalent to Cunard Britannia class. You have a choice to have traditional dining with set tables and seatings or anytime dining.

We love HAL and consider it our next favorite line to Cunard.  

Edited by MarkBearSF
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2 hours ago, lenquixote66 said:

We have cruised on Cunard and HAL.While we have always had great timex on the HAL cruise it cannot compare to Cunard.

In what way? 

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Holland America used to have a number of similarities with Cunard but lost most with new ship designs and policies.

 

Regarding from design and ambiance, from what I have see the closest to the Cunard interiors was the Explorer's Lounge on the Amsterdam.

The Queen's rooms on Cunard ships are large ballrooms. There is nothing comparable on HAL.

If you look at photos of eg the Commodore Club on the Queen Victoria and the Crow's nest on the Eurodam you will see striking differences.

 

The Cunard dress code requires eg. jackets for men every night and formal/gala nights mean mostly evenig dresses and a vast majority of tuxedos/dinner suits, while HAL, as you know, has no more dress code to speak of. Thus the ambiance is very different.

 

Food is somewhat similiar and can be better or worse on both lines. Overall the variety of dishes on Cunard is larger (eg including pheasant, venison, various kinds of fish and so on on a regular basis). The service on Cunard is more formal and correct.

 

The correctness of behaviour even includes the language. Eg. HAL staff tends to call passengers by the first name if they allow this or not, while guests are correctly addressed on Cunard, using titles and last names.

 

The new enterainment concept on HAL is very different from the traditional one and from Cunard ones. Cunard has more live music and more musicans overall. Even the nights are longer with the ballroom orchestra playing until midngiht and a band playing until 1 am many nights followed by a DJ.

 

...

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My last HAL Cruise (Caribbean)was just before COVID in late February last year, my last Cunard was on a Transatlantic on the QM2 in 2016. 

 

HAL is very much a mass market product although a good one. Food and Service in the Dining Room were very good. However apart from embarkation day no lunch is served in the Dining Room anymore and you are convicted to the Lido Cafeteria which was not better than eating at a staff canteen  here in Norway. Pretty bland and definitely not made with love. Cunard includes espresso's etc while on HAL you need to pay.  

 

Stateroom accommodation on Cunard is a little better than HAL. (Very comfy beds on QM2). It comes across interior wise Cunard Ships have higher quality materials.

 

Public wise is HAL just like Carnival, formal night was an absolute joke with the majority running around in shorts and jeans. Cunard is much more classy. Cunard emphasis its British cultural background while HAL is all American with a little splash of Disney Netherlands. 

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I did a Grand Voyage around South America and the Antarctic on HAL; it was a very fine experience. We were on the Prisendam, the service,  shore excursions, food and ambiance were excellent;I was with a fun table and we had a great time for the entire cruise; the overland tour to Macchu Picchu was superb. Everything about the Antarctic experience was also excellent-especially the lectures by a group of researchers from one of the land stations; they got hot showers, a good meal and food to take home😁

I did a wonderful  crossing on the Nieuw Amstedam in 1971-another experience altogether , a violent hurricane-whoo-hoo😁- oh long ago and far away!

I have done many crossings and cruises on Cunard. My World Cruise on QE could not have been better. Cunard’s style and ambience is of a different order from HA, but I always check out HA’s unusual itineraries-they are now offering a ‘Round Africa in ‘22 which looks fab-but I’ve already got plans. Hope they offer it in ’23-I’m getting on😉 Oh to get back to sea!😊

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3 hours ago, lenquixote66 said:

Cunard required gentlemen to wear suits for every dinner

Seems pretty trivial - also incorrect - we crusied out of Australia and jackets were optional except for formal nights - and you don't require a suite as such - saw some magnificent evening jackets which weren't suits 

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1 hour ago, lissie said:

Seems pretty trivial - also incorrect - we crusied out of Australia and jackets were optional except for formal nights - and you don't require a suite as such - saw some magnificent evening jackets which weren't suits 

When we cruised on Cunard only suits were permitted.

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2 hours ago, lenquixote66 said:

When we cruised on Cunard only suits were permitted.

 

When was that? In my 10 years on Cunard at least some nights have permitted jackets, both in the old 3 dress code days (jacket/suit/tux) and the current 2 code days.

 

The Aussie jacket-optional style isn't characteristic of Cunard overall.

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1 hour ago, Underwatr said:

 

When was that? In my 10 years on Cunard at least some nights have permitted jackets, both in the old 3 dress code days (jacket/suit/tux) and the current 2 code days.

 

The Aussie jacket-optional style isn't characteristic of Cunard overall.

 

The abominable Australian jacket-optional is a new one; It seems to have only been instituted last year (2020) during the summer season. It was definitely not in place when I sailed in Australian and New Zealand waters in 2019 nor 2018. Hopefully they'll change it back again. There are plenty of cruise lines already for gentlemen who do not wish to wear a jacket to dine.

 

I agree with you that this is not characteristic of Cunard. If Cunard wishes to be like P&O Australia or any of the other mass market lines, they can lose those of us who wish to sail on a legitimate Cunard ship with all that that entails.

 

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A few years ago we had our first cruise on HollandAmerica in a very long time. It wasn’t that we wanted a change from Cunard, we were interested in a voyage that Cunard didn’t offer at the time. We decided on either Montreal-Boston or v.v. or an Alaska cruise from Vancouver. Although we don’t always travel in suites, we wanted the closest category to Cunard’s Grills that HAL offers, i.e. a Neptune suite.

 

We soon decided on Alaska because of the fare. The Montreal – Boston cruise cost more than Cunard for a regular balcony cabin and the Neptune suite was similar to Cunard’s fare for the Grills – but with few amenities. We got a reasonable fare for a Neptune suite on a seven-night Alaska cruise aboard the Noordam, a Vista-class ship similar in layout to Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth which we had been on the year before. The Noordam had only one aspect that was superior to the Q.E. - a real teak promenade deck. To our taste the Q.E. is vastly superior in décor. For one thing, the Q.E. has a gorgeous grand lobby where the equivalent on the Noordam was laughable. It was as if a hole had been cut in a deck and one curved staircase filled the space.

 

The HAL crew was very pleasant, similar to Cunard’s. HAL’s Neptune suite offered only two major perks. The Neptune (concierge) lounge, an interior room as the one on the QM2, offered a good selection of snacks all day long. This was especially appreciated because HAL closed the main dining room most of the time at lunchtime. Telling suite passengers they have to eat in the cafeteria, which we don’t do, or room service is strange. The lounge provided sufficient sustenance. Breakfast is available in the Pinnacle Grill (similar to Cunard’s Verandah) for suite passengers and this was very good.

 

We are not gourmets, but the food at dinner was good at best but sometimes barely edible. Two grey lamb chops being promised as a medium rare rack of lamb was just one disappointment. The two lunches we had in the dining room were also not up to Cunard’s standards. Afternoon tea was a joke. Vaguely hot water was poured into a cup. If we were lucky we would be offered a teabag before the water was poured. Getting a decent “cuppa” was nearly impossible. (In fairness, this was the case on our first HAL cruise in 1974 on the lovely Rotterdam before Carnival bought the line.) The Neptune Lounge was the only place on the ship where steaming hot water was available to make tea. I have never seen such small scones as we had on HAL. Friends who are fans of HAL said we must go to the Royal Dutch Tea. We stood in a queue to receive our tea-time goodies which were not served at table. Why did we bother, we said to ourselves.

This was the last year that formal nights were called formal, not gala. Although I wasn't the only man who wore a DJ on the two formal nights, it wasn't very formal. Many men came to dinner with neither a jacket nor a tie. There were two young chaps at a table near us who wore T-shirts and baseball caps on formal nights.

 

Entertainment is a matter of taste, of course, but there was almost nothing to please us. Whereas Cunard offers a full range of entertainment, the only entertainment we enjoyed on the Noordam was a piano/violin duet which played for an hour once a day. There were rumours of a “piano-man” but the room in which he was supposed to be playing was usually locked up or closed for a private group. Obviously HAL fans are pleased with over-amplified pop music or blues. In fairness, I understand that a broader range of entertainment is now being offered on some HAL ships due to an arrangement with LincolnCenter.

 

There was only one interesting talk: about Glacier Bay. All other talks were about shopping in port. We went into the theatre for a talk about ports of call. After a while the lecturer looked around and said: “This is a private lecture for members of the XXXX tour and others should leave.” Thank you very much. We and several others slinked out. This large tour group was given exclusive use of some parts of the ship from time to time. On a few occasions we couldn’t get into the Crowsnest, the equivalent of Cunard’s Commodore Club. Speaking of the Crowsnest, early one morning I sat in there to watch the sun rise over the mountains. It was quite calm until a steward decided to put rock music on the tannoy.

 

We were delighted that Cunard started Alaska cruises in 2019.  Needless to say, we won’t be going on HAL any time soon.

 

 

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Cunard is a class act. We have been on recent World Cruises on Cunard and Grand Cruises on HAL. Cunard wins every time. We enjoy the ambience, the service, the food, the lectures, the shows, the other passengers and specialty restaurants on Cunard. HAL has more interesting ports, but we go for the ship, since we have already visited most of the ports scheduled on both ships. Also, what we pay on HAL is not worth what we are getting, in my opinion. Cunard offers excellent value for what we are enjoying on board.

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16 hours ago, Underwatr said:

 

When was that? In my 10 years on Cunard at least some nights have permitted jackets, both in the old 3 dress code days (jacket/suit/tux) and the current 2 code days.

 

The Aussie jacket-optional style isn't characteristic of Cunard overall.

48 years ago

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On 1/31/2021 at 2:55 PM, david,Mississauga said:

Speaking of the Crowsnest, early one morning I sat in there to watch the sun rise over the mountains. It was quite calm until a steward decided to put rock music on the tannoy.

Thanks for mentioning this, there is cheesy background music everywhere on HAL which does give it a bit of a shopping mall atmosphere.  It also made me leave the Crows nest. 

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20 hours ago, Oslo Dutch said:

Thanks for mentioning this, there is cheesy background music everywhere on HAL which does give it a bit of a shopping mall atmosphere.  It also made me leave the Crows nest. 

 

We found this on Princess last year. Between breakfast and lunch when on sea days we typically want to either sit and look out to sea or read a book it is almost impossible to find a quiet spot. Even in bars that are not open they keep the music going. On Cunard ships it is easy to find a quiet place.

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve sailed “ mass market” ships for many, many cruises. Each line has its pluses and negatives.

The only negative I found on last years Cunard QM 2 World Cruise was; o.k. there were more than one negative. The first and important to me, was there isn’t any shaded areas other than the promenade, to sit outside to chat with friends. Second of course was the need to over pack with formal clothing. Thirdly ( not really an important issue) was the indecipherable menu. It became much fun among our dinner mates to find out what was ordered and what was placed at your table. 
 

HAL had been a favorite, however I’ve found, over the years, depending on when and where you sail, most mass market ships are similar . 
 

We are just fortunate to sail at all. After this past year any sail is a good sail. We are booked on HALs Grand Africa 2022. I’ve read on CC and now remember T.V. s on HAL’s Zaandam are not adequate, the small movie theater is nothing compared to Cunards nightly current movies in the huge theater, and yes HALs decor is stodgy.  And yes it is pricey, but it’s going where we want to go. 

ann

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We enjoyed from the QE2 to the current QM2 many long voyages with Cunard.

 

Long Caribbean's, Norway, several Panama Canal's, part of World Cruise, Transatlantic's and back to back NYC/NYC (Quebec).

 

And we keep coming back to what we feel is "Home" with Cunard.

 

Never disappointed with any of the sailings that are always memorable and have met many special people. We are still in contact with. 

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Posted (edited)
On 1/31/2021 at 1:07 PM, lenquixote66 said:

48 years ago

 

Wow , your last Cunard cruise was 48 years ago ?

 

No suites required every night . I only wear a dark suit on Formal nights .

Jacket , no tie on other nights perfectly acceptable .

Edited by MCC retired
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4 hours ago, MCC retired said:

 

Wow , your last Cunard cruise was 48 years ago ?

 

No suites required every night . I only wear a dark suit on Formal nights .

Jacket , no tie on other nights perfectly acceptable .

Things were different in 1973.There were Bon Voyage parties.Passengers were allowed to have guests on the ship before it sailed.

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