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HAL downsizing so far, ....


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Posted (edited)

A concise summary from Cruise Industry News of HAL's changes in the last year.

 

Four smaller ships sold, one (much) larger one (will be added in July) for an overall fleet reduction of three to 11 ships

Net loss of ~2,500 berths, according to CIS. (My math suggests >3,000 fewer berths.)

Major management shake-up.

 

And (again my back of the envelope #s) .... average ship capacity up to ~2,060 berths from ~1,840.

Smaller ships reduced from six to two. 

 

 

Edited by voyageur9
typos & the reductions should be 'berths' not staterooms, my mistake, not CIS
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I think that HAL wisely took advantage of the sailing pause to pare down the ships that it did not plan to operate in the long run.  I heard 5 years ago that the smaller ships were really not very profitable for them, so no surprise there.  Hopefully after this, HAL will come back stronger than ever.

 

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Posted (edited)

I believe what will be more interesting are the new or the enlarged cruise lines that will emerge from the covid crisis with less encumbered balance sheets and strong sense of what segment of the market they will target.

 

More competition is always good especially in a highly concentrated industry with essentially two large corporate players.

 

We are looking forward to seeing their offers/itineraries and whether  or how any of the mass market lines will respond to this competition.

Edited by iancal
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15 minutes ago, Kamfish642 said:

Voyageur9 - Which  much larger ship is expected to be sold off in July?

No large ship to be sold - it will be added to the fleet in July (the Rotterdam)

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@voyageur9 Capacity additions/reductions are usually repesented based on "lower" berths only (double occupancy) as that is the standard metric for ship capacity in the industry, so that may account for the differentials you noted.

 

The loss of the 4 smaller ships does however change the brand focus going forward.  The longer more unique sailings that could be offered more frequently on those vessels may not be possible to do with as much regularity going forward, so it may be several years between a particular itinerary offering, or certain itineraries may not come back at all.  Management will have to analyse what the best use of Zaandam/Volendam are and place them where they can command enough yield premium and ancillary revenue to be profitable.

 

Holland America's strongest selling point (outside of certain markets like the 7-10 night Caribbean/Mexico/Alaska) has always been their itinerary portfolio.  Especially longer, more unique sailings that can often be combined back to back to back to make a longer voyage with little port overlap.  Take that away and they are just another mainstream cruise line fighting for market share in a crowded playing field.

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I have lost my love for the old S Class ships but I was very sad to see the AMSTERDAM leave the fleet. I would have liked all the R Class remain in the fleet.

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53 minutes ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

Especially longer, more unique sailings that can often be combined back to back to back to make a longer voyage with little port overlap.  Take that away and they are just another mainstream cruise line fighting for market share in a crowded playing field.

Yes, I agree 100%.  What I don't understand is why HAL leadership seems to be on a crash course to this exact course of action.  I would think they'd be looking for underserved portions of the marketplace and trying to corner those rather than directly competing where they're not the strongest.

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1 hour ago, Kamfish642 said:

Voyageur9 - Which  much larger ship is expected to be sold off in July?

... four smaller ships sold, one much larger, to be added in July. Net reduction thee.

 

Sorry if the original: "Four smaller ships sold, one (much) larger one (will be added in July) for an overall fleet reduction of three to 11 ships" was confusing.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, iceman93 said:

Yes, I agree 100%.  What I don't understand is why HAL leadership seems to be on a crash course to this exact course of action.  I would think they'd be looking for underserved portions of the marketplace and trying to corner those rather than directly competing where they're not the strongest.

For years HAL has had a confusing strategy.  Hopefully they know what it as most of us outsiders can’t figure it out.

Edited by KirkNC
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As stated by others I think it was all about age, maintenance and energy efficiency. If so, that makes a lot of sense.  

 

For other reasons I have been pondering if the current CEO of CCL will be here in 2023.  

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1 hour ago, quack2 said:

They keep pissing me off by getting rid of promenade decks.  Especially to Alaska.

I agree ! Promenade decks are one of the best features of the ship.  Will now only sail on the Vista and not the  Pinnacles. 

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1 hour ago, quack2 said:

They keep pissing me off by getting rid of promenade decks.  Especially to Alaska.

Didn’t they reinstate the promenade on the latest ship, or was that someone’s wishful thinking?

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I do agree with Kirk that HAL has been like a "ship without a rudder" for the past several years.  They did not seem to know what they wanted or what customers they wanted to attract.  Being a small to medium ship line primarily seeking older cruisers was not working (in terms of the bottom line) because of the inefficiency of the older, smaller vessels and the competition keeping price points too low.   HAL has also long had a problem with "maximizing onboard revenue" since many of their older cruisers were not inclined to spend a lot of money on ships (hard to do when you go to bed by 9).

 

The newer ships have a design that is better aligned to attracting younger cruisers, but that can also be a turn-off to many older (and very loyal HAL) fans.  I will be very honest is saying that we like HAL (we are 5 Star Mariners) but are very confused at what the line is about!  We cruise many other lines and do not have that confusion.  If we go on lines like Princess, MSC, Viking, etc.  you know what you will get which does not vary much from ship to ship.  But on HAL much depending on the specific ship so you could not compare the Maasdam with Koningsdam in terms of amenities, entertainment, etc.  And the old Prinsendam was like a line unto itself (it was also our favorite HAL vessel).

 

So what will we get once HAL resumes operations?  We have no idea and are also a bit worried.  We do have one 28 day HAL cruise booked in 2022 and, assuming the cruise happens, it will be a test cruise for us...to determine if we have any further interest in HAL.  

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)

We are not HAL boosters.  Or any cruise line boosters for that matter.   Happy to cruise on any line that has the right ship, the right itinerary, at the right price. HAL was, is fine, but certainly no  better, no worse than Princess, Celebrity, etc from our perspective. Very little basic difference in these mass market cruise lines.

 

HAL has always confused us.  It is as though they had a target market but never did.  Always changing, lots of contradictions, and incredibly poor web site and an even worse customer loyalty plan.  It was as though they expected their current customer base to live forever, keep cruising HAL, and never demand any basic or significant changes or enhancements.  Alas, this is not how it works in the real world.

 

I do not think that this will work post covid.  They need to get it together and move forward with a specific product aimed at a specific target market.  If they do not we believe that others will fill quickly fill  the void.

Edited by iancal
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32 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

They did not seem to know what they wanted or what customers they wanted to attract.

 

From a personal viewpoint--and probably a very selfish one as related to any corporate considerations--I cared only about my cruise experience on a HAL vessel.  My major concern in recent years has been the inconsistency that I have experienced in the cruise experience that I received.  

 

I have attributed this concern to the actions of those in the executive offices in Seattle.  Executive Vice-Presidents in charge of Food/Beverage, just as one example, have changed over the years.  The variations of what these gentlemen have mandated have resulted to a tremendous variation in menus offered, cuisine prepared, as well as the service involved with such.  

 

Then, there is the issue of the quality of upper level management who are employed on the ships.  And, based on my most disappointing HAL cruise aboard the Noordam, even the ship's Master would be included.  Guest friendly?  Operating a ship that seems to be a "happy ship" as experienced guests including me perceived?  The Master and the Hotel Director are very important people that do have an influence on the guest experience.  

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2 hours ago, jeda4137 said:

I agree ! Promenade decks are one of the best features of the ship.  Will now only sail on the Vista and not the  Pinnacles. 

 

You still have the two 'Signatures' (Eurodam & Nieuw A) with full P-decks also, just sayin'

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7 hours ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

.Holland America's strongest selling point (outside of certain markets like the 7-10 night Caribbean/Mexico/Alaska) has always been their itinerary portfolio.  Especially longer, more unique sailings that can often be combined back to back to back to make a longer voyage with little port overlap.  Take that away and they are just another mainstream cruise line fighting for market share in a crowded playing field.

 

Well said.  That is why we sail Holland America.  And sadly, a lot of the ships that could do the unique itineraries are now gone.  The bigger ships just can’t get into the smaller ports.  I think they lost close to 200 ports when they sold the Prinsendam.  I had an interesting chat when an officer hosted dinner and we were both mourning her sale.  He said 50 ports were lost and I asked isn’t it more like 200?  He said yes, right away he was trying to downplay the loss.

 

5 hours ago, KirkNC said:

For years HAL has had a confusing strategy.  Hopefully they know what it as most of us outsiders can’t figure it out.

 

Agree.  Confusing and inconsistent.  Go on the right ship with the right itinerary and it’s a different experience than the ho hum Caribbean but that’s JMO.

 

2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

I do agree with Kirk that HAL has been like a "ship without a rudder" for the past several years.  They did not seem to know what they wanted or what customers they wanted to attract. 

 

 

Agree, but some ships were attuned to what the customers wanted (another contradiction with HAL) and itineraries, etc were set to match along with great crews.  Others were not and standard mass market sailings. 

 

Quote

 

 HAL has also long had a problem with "maximizing onboard revenue" since many of their older cruisers were not inclined to spend a lot of money on ships (hard to do when you go to bed by 9).

 

I’m sorry but I am so tired of hearing you say this over and over again.  I’ve been on enough HAL ships and enough great itineraries where “older” folks or those that had the money were attracted to and no carpets were rolled up at 9 pm.  The piano was rocking and rolling, or BB KIngs or whatever venue you chose.  People were out and about.  The ship was NOT empty and we are not in bed at 9 pm. We do late dining and carry on 😉.  So we are in a position to see.

 

Quote

 

  But on HAL much depending on the specific ship so you could not compare the Maasdam with Koningsdam in terms of amenities, entertainment, etc.  And the old Prinsendam was like a line unto itself (it was also our favorite HAL vessel).

 

Absolutely agree and especially on the Prinsendam 😉 

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Just to provide my understanding regarding the classic promenade deck which we would also miss.

I believe the change was mandated by the new SOLAS? regulations for how the lifeboats are carried. This made the classic approach infeasible. I look forward to be proven incorrect.

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The S and R-class ships attracted us to HAL and grabbed our loyalty. And the Prinsendam was so unique. Sadly, we never did get to experience a sailing on her (but had many bookings that had to be cancelled for a variety of reasons).

 

We had great times on Vista and Signature ships, but still preferred the smaller, more intimate S and R's.

 

Then we sailed on the Koningsdam. Game changer experience for us as consumers. Yes, many of the experiences have changed - dining comes to mind. The thought of going back to one dining venue with assigned seating  with only two available times is now incomprehensible. As is the thought of how we used to pack  And with Vistas and Signatures being updated to offer some of the Pinnacle amenities, we are happy, even if we understand that so many ports have been lost. In order to sail on ships that can access those ports, the per diem costs are at a level we are just not comfortable with.

 

One can only wonder how the Green Eyeshade people (accountants) felt as they noted the costs with keeping the older ships afloat? It must have been incredible! Most of us have a personal automobile. Think of what a car of the same vintage would cost to operate vs a new one.

 

Change is not easy. And as we emerge from the pandemic tunnel, I suspect there are going to be huge changes for the new cruise experience.

 

We are more than willing to try it out. We even look forward to it with anticipation.

 

JMHO

 

 

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9 hours ago, john2003 said:

Just to provide my understanding regarding the classic promenade deck which we would also miss.

I believe the change was mandated by the new SOLAS? regulations for how the lifeboats are carried. This made the classic approach infeasible. I look forward to be proven incorrect.

 

It was my understanding that the positioning of the lifeboats on the 2 Pinnacle Class ships is what affected the promenade deck.  I didn’t think it was a Solas requirement but I”m honestly unsure on that one. 😉 

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1 hour ago, kazu said:

 

It was my understanding that the positioning of the lifeboats on the 2 Pinnacle Class ships is what affected the promenade deck.  I didn’t think it was a Solas requirement but I”m honestly unsure on that one. 😉 

I was told it was so the Pinnacle class ships could fit in certain waterways and ports.  I don't always pay close attention to architectural discussions😎

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