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'The Bear'

'Crowsnest' Restricted Access -- Maasdam

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Thank you jazzsea and onthegogirl for your posts. You are exactly right. Had HAL notified us before our Rotterdam cruise, it would not have been a problem. They do have a right to "rent " the space for a business purpose, and you have a right to enjoy the cruise with your group. No problem.

 

However, we and our TA asked beforehand twice before taking that May 2 Rotterdam cruise. Once on the ship in the Parkwest situation, we put in a comment card. It took 5 days ON THE SHIP for anyone to even acknowledge that we had made any comment. The Hotel Manager stated he was not even aware we had submitted any comment card. Some of the staff members were told they were not allowed to discuss the issue.

 

It is the lack of response from HAL, not the fact that they booked the Parkwest group, that was the heart of the issue. It is the concept of dealing with their customers honestly and openly, and with concern. As with most problems, it's not the issue, it's the coverup or response that gets you in trouble.

 

Thanks for letting us know. It sounds like a fun time and we hope you have a great cruise.

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Thank-you all for your concerns about my original post!

 

I did not intend to inflame everyone (I wasn't trolling!); I only wanted to forewarn others of the possibility of restricted access to certain venues, so that they could make decisions accordingly!

 

This situation is not a deal breaker for me, because we are alone on the first half of our B2B, the port intensive half, & we will ashore on these islands on port days , and gathering 'rays' in the Aft Pool area on at sea days! On the second half we will be joined by another couple and the partying will begin :D ------ had this event occured during this half of our vacation, I would have been perturbed !! :(

 

As a conclusion, I wish the HAL Corporate could be a bit more open in disclosing these group bookings and the possible restrictions associated with them !! I'm sure that there are enough casual passengers who would book anyway, because to some, there are no sacro-sanct venues, and HAL would still be able to fill the ship. As it happens, I love jazz, and will probably attend some open sessions!

 

It's HAL's secretivity (sp?) that causes me angst !!

 

Thanks all, for letting me vent!

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I can think of several reasons that HAL does not tell passengers about groups. First and foremost, not every group actually sails. At least 60% of groups booked do not meet the cruise line or the promoter's expectations. When that happens group cabin space is given back to ship inventory. Another reason is that other cruise lines also read these boards and would like nothing better than to pirate the group away from Holland America Line. There is a fine line between your right to know about a group and the cruise line or promoter trying to keep it a bit of a secret until it is too late for the group to switch to another ship or cruise line.

 

Most travel agents are becoming more savvy when it comes to dealing with cruise lines and groups. But even I sometimes have trouble finding out about groups aboard ship and I'm a Holland America Line Centurion Agency. (Top 100 producing HAL agents in North America.)

 

Most of us that book large groups try to block sailing dates that are not traditionally popular. Our winter group is usually blocked for the first sailing after New Year's. Other large group producers are switching to full ship charters in order to have control of what happens aboard ship. Chartering a ship is big business and has its own share of headaches for the promoter. We have done three charters in the last 25 years and they were wonderful indeed. Ships were smaller then, though and the passengers needed were less than 900 rather than 1500 + today. Even the "S" class ships of Holland America require 1250 passengers for a successful charter.

 

I can't imagine another sailing like the Rotterdam post ever happening. Executives with Holland America are on top of this, believe me.

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Thank you so much for your posts, Carol.

 

Very informative and reassuring.

 

IF it was your Jazz group on ten day Volendam sailing , October, 2006 ........the sailing which had to be diverted from FLL to Tampa for embarking due to hurricane and Port Everglades/airports closed, then I can personally attest that group in no way impacted our enjoyment in any negative way. Quite the opposite. When we booked that cruise, we did not know there was a large Jazz Group aboard. We learned shortly before we sailed.

 

The group was gracious about letting anyone who wished join in the fun in Crows Nest every night. I believe it was the Henry James orchestra and was wonderful.

 

I would not hesitate to sail with any of your groups again......IF that was one of your groups.

 

 

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No. It was not my group. Having sailing in five hurricanes at sea I choose not to book groups during hurricane season. Between 2004 and 2005 we were hit by three hurricanes (Martin County, Florida) point blank. We now live north of Orlando (on Seven Seas Drive). We had our insurance company phone number on speed dial. I did not post on this board for almost 2 years as a result of these storms and the severe damage we sustained.

 

Over the years we have provided entry to Cruise Critic passengers, often giving non jazzers badges for entry to all of our programs. We'll do the same for "bear" should he wish to be part of us.

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No. It was not my group. Having sailed in five hurricanes at sea I choose not to book groups during hurricane season. Between 2004 and 2005 we were hit by three hurricanes (Martin County, Florida) point blank. We now live north of Orlando (on Seven Seas Drive). We had our insurance company phone number on speed dial. I did not post on this board for almost 2 years as a result of these storms and the severe damage we sustained.

 

Over the years we have provided entry to Cruise Critic passengers, often giving non jazzers badges for entry to all of our programs. We'll do the same for "bear" should he wish to be part of us.

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Jazzsea, this has been very enlightening. Your comment about reserving the entire early seating sent me rushing to check my 12/8 sailing. Fortunately, for now, it looks good. If all groups were as courteous towards the general passenger population as yours seems to be, groups might not be such a problem. Any advice and insight you can provide to us re large group bookings in general (and in specifics:)) will be very gratefully received.

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Carol...... Thanks for your response and especially thank you for your special courtesy to CC'ers. Should we find ourselves on a cruise with you, hope you don't mind if we 'look you up'. :)

 

Special prayers to all of you in Florida for a quiet hurricane season this year......and years to come.

 

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Carol, thank you for taking the time to educate us. Your integrity and public relations skills are very much appreciated.

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Carol -- Thank-you so very much for the offer to unofficially join your group, my wife & I would be pleased to take you up on this offer!! :D

 

I would like to echo the last few posts, thanking you for your forthright, up-front discussion of this particular issue & we, like 'Sail', would like to meet you on a future cruise. (In my case next January !! :) )

 

 

Gord

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Carol, let me add my voice to the chorus of thanks for your honesty, as well as your considerateness in making every effort not to let your group's activities interfere unduly with the ability of non-group pax to enjoy their cruise and have reasonable access to the ship's public rooms. For me personally, having a group block off the CN for two hours a night after early dinner - and reserve one seating in the dining room - would not be in the least bit bothersome.

 

I also appreciate your letting us know that HAL management is not as oblivious to this problem as some of their communications posted on this board have seemed to indicate. I sincerely hope you are right about that.

 

Good luck to you, and thank you again.

 

See - no flames!:D

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I would also like to applaud Carol on a marvelously diplomatic post. All that most pax every want is straightforward information. This is true weather it is a cruise ship, airline or any other method of transportation.

 

Also since you are a frequent poster to these boards why not announce your cruises here? Not only might it conjure up a new customer from time to time, but I had just recently looked at a lot of Jan-Feb cruises and after visiting your site noticed your price on the highest cabin currently available is 14% lower than HAL's and 11% lower than a popular HAL web TA. If I had been leaning toward this cruise that might have been enough to sway me into your group!

 

B.T.W. I did book a group cruise right before it was made a group cruise. I booked the Oosterdam for 2/9/08 just before Lisa turned it into the Yum Yum Worshippers Cruise :) .

 

-Ken

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I've thought long and hard about responding to this post as I realize I am opening myself and my company to some abusive posts. I have posted on this board for a long time and have never tried to hide who I am or the types of cruises I promote. Please take into consideration that I have been planning and promoting Dixieland Jazz cruises for over 25 years before you start calling me names and wishing me or my company or my bands ill.

 

Also consider that when available I will ALWAYS post that I have a large group on a certain Holland America Line vessel.

 

We do have a large group of jazz fans on our January 5 - 15, 2008, Maasdam sailing. Anyone who is sailing on the ship will know that a large group is booked because all of early dinner seating (both upper and lower level) are booked. Passengers are not given an option to waitlist this dining. The dining is CLOSED. Any time that happens on a ship it means that a large group will be aboard ship. (Note: TAs do not always tell their clients that the dining room is CLOSED. They will sometimes imply that the passenger can make a change aboard ship.)

 

Why do we reserve all of the first dinner seating? So that our evening entertainment will impact fewer "regular" passengers. We will use the Crow's Nest and the Ocean Bar while "regular" passengers are having dinner. Please note that the two hour period after early dinner is one of the few times that our music or these venues will be closed to other passengers. At most other times, all venues that our bands use will be open to anyone who wishes to be present. The only venue that is closed is the "Half Moon Room" as it is used for private and group music lessons.

 

The only other venue closing will be for our 25th Anniversary Cocktail Party.

 

I welcome your questions (if you have any) and will respond should you request a response from me.

 

You also need to be aware that Holland America Line executives do read these boards and that your remarks have been heard "loud and clear". We are currently working with several departments within Holland America Line to be sure that our group does not deprive any of you from having an excellent onboard cruise experience.

 

I have read most of the "group onboard postings" and actually appreciate reading what you post. In order for me to stay in business I need to know how to accommodate other passengers in order to produce a cruise that does not cause the ship's staff or Holland America Line executives any headaches.

 

The problem when one group takes over an area of the ship is that we have BOTH paid for the use of this space. When I book an HAL cruise I fully expect to use the Crows Nest ---- I paid for it. If a group outbids for the exclusive use of a valued area of the ship then the disadvantaged passenger should be monetarily compensated. (ie. a cruise credit)

 

I have two areas of the ship that I fully expect to use. One is the aft pool and the other is the Crows Nest. I understand the financial dynamics of group sales but HAL cannot have it both ways.

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I think it's the "UNPLESANT SURPRISE" that inflames people. Seattle should understand that it's the secret, spring it on the pax when they're captive policy that created this outcry. I suspect that if HAL, like you, were up front about groups and closed dining or venues on a cruise, their loyal passengers would continue to book their great cruises.

 

That's it in a nutshell.

 

 

I think it's wrong for large groups to take over the early dining, for whatever reason. I think it's wrong for a large group to take over any of the venues for any long period of time. Unless...we've been told up front. Then, if we should book, we know what to expect. It's the "surprise" that irks me.

 

If this happens, then the entire ship should be chartered.

 

I am just floored that HAL thinks this wouldn't matter to the other passengers, and thinks it's ok to spring this on us once we are on the ship.

 

If they told you upfront about these groups, and offered a discount, then those that cruise...know in advance.

 

So right now, HAL is really catering to charters, and groups. The charters have the run of the ship, and HAL will bump you off those without a hesistation (and take their sweet time letting you know). And why would anyone book a cruise while on a cruise knowing all this (the groups and charter info)? You just can't do that with HAL. You really have to wait it out and see what's going to charter out, and hunt the Internet and see what groups pop up on particular ships.

 

However, the large groups seem to be able to trump the individual passenger (and there's no compensation for this being offered).

 

HAL's been trying to change it's "retirement home" cruiseline imagine...but they certainly are going a direction that I didn't think they'd go. Maybe there are just too many ships out there...and this is the direction they find most profitable. If so, that's fine. But have the decency to let all of us that aren't part of the group know what's going on.

 

And I hate all this....we LOVED our HAL cruise. But this is not something we're going to mess with.

 

HAL wants to have their cake and eat it too.

 

At some point, they are going to anger enough people that HAL will have to decide. And I don't believe for one moment that only a few were bothered by this (on the other thread). The vast majority of people that I know after having a bad experience, just don't repeat the experience. They don't take the time to follow up and see if the issue can be changed. And with HAL, it looks like it's a waste of breath, time and energy to try and do this.

 

Soooo...those that aren't bothered by this will continue to cruise HAL. Those like me who thinks HAL is being greedy, will go elsewhere. And charters and large groups are always going to be part of the equation. So everyone out there needs to factor this in when planning a cruise.

 

And thank you, Carol for explaining what's going on with the jazz cruise. I do hope they have a good time. It's not their fault. I blame HAL.

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I understand the economic need for HAL to solicit group bookings, but I cannot believe they really need to give individual pax the shaft in order to attract groups. There are lots of other incentives they can offer groups, and several venues they can make available to them, without shortchanging other passengers by barring them from premium areas of the ship.

 

The premium public areas are an important part of the reason people book the cruise. HAL's advertised ship descriptions constitute an implicit representation that the public areas will be available for public use. To close them off without pre-booking notice is FALSE ADVERTISING, and we should NOT let HAL get away with it!

 

We are getting the shaft, but it looks like they don't care. They must think they have enough people to fill the ships even though they are surely to lose passengers over this. And maybe they do.

 

The only way to make a point is to take your $$$ elsewhere. Then they have to fill the ship with groups, or people who don't care.

 

The premium public areas are important. Especially the Crow's Nest.

 

And I'd be almost certain that all this is covered in the contract we sign. They have their "aft" covered.

 

Shame on you, HAL!!!

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I am a "regular people", but a DEALBREAKER to me would be 2nd seating--we do not like to eat that late and had learned in the last 20 or so cruises that more and more people on HAL feel that way--

 

I have a problem with HAL and other cruise lines doing things that are an INSULT to their loyal mainline customers--the problem lies not with HAL but with us for allowing them to do that--we need to be very vocal on our feelings both pro and con,instead of allowing a few to justify whatever HAL does and right and just!

FRANK

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Carol...I too would like to thank you for your sincere & honest post..

 

It's my understanding that your group was given early seating in order not to inconvenience other non-group passengers....In other words you will not close the Crows Nest down to us except on one day during your anniversary party..Which to me would be a good compromise for most of us...

 

There will always be a few who will continue to grumble & complain and knock HAL, however the majority of us appreciate the fact that you have been so candid with us..

 

If we're ever on one of your group's sailings, I would love to hear the various bands play..Thanks again..

 

Betty:)

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Not only might it conjure up a new customer from time to time, but I had just recently looked at a lot of Jan-Feb cruises and after visiting your site noticed your price on the highest cabin currently available is 14% lower than HAL's and 11% lower than a popular HAL web TA. If I had been leaning toward this cruise that might have been enough to sway me into your group!

 

 

Did you notice that Port charges are not included in the Jazz cruise web site prices?...HAL and most internet web sites include Port charges in the advertised price...Government taxes are usually additional...When comparing prices make sure all port charges and taxes are included...Read the fine print!

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Did you notice that Port charges are not included in the Jazz cruise web site prices?...HAL and most internet web sites include Port charges in the advertised price...Government taxes are usually additional...When comparing prices make sure all port charges and taxes are included...Read the fine print!

 

I hate when they do that....and they always end up being higher than everyone else when you add it in.

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Carol:

Kudos on your candid response. Your post, and the responses to it, have shown that reasonable people can reach reasonable compromises. This is a far sight better than some group leaders who feel it is better to have discussion hushed up and have references to their groups (roebrta's brigde gruop, for example) redacted. While groups are a necessary evil (for the non-affiliated person) in the hospitality industry, measures can and should be taken to minimize their impact on the rest of the customers.

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