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DutchByAssociation

A new HAL Blog! (Yes, I'm a HAL employee!)

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DutchByAssociation: You have such an engaging way of expressing yourself, that most of us are glad you undertook this challenging task. I hope you won't abandon it after reading this post and other similarly testy ones.

I realize that some passengers on ships that look like they've been painted by a dozen intoxicated teenagers, each with a can of spray paint of a different color, might prefer flexible dining because they don't know in advance whether they'll want three martinis before dinner or four.

But my experience on HAL has been that most of us have aging bodies that don't metabolize alcohol as well as they used to and it takes us forty minutes to imbibe our first and only drink while boasting about our experiences in the First World War and then we 're ready for dinner with familiar companions and a familiar waiter.

But HAL, which is so exceptionally passenger oriented in so many other ways, seems to me to be surprisingly unwilling to make it easy to elect fixed dining. On my last cruise, at embarkation, they honored my request to change to fixed dining, but gave my wife and me a table just outside the kitchen where the employees, on their way into and out of the kitchen, flowed past us like the Mississippi River after several days of heavy rain. Fortunately, we were joined at that table on the second day by two charming ladies, one of whom was not inclined to take no for an answer and had us moved to a nicer table.

I suppose that it's possible that complaints similar to mine come from only .1% of the passengers and the other 99.9% of the passengers say that they wouldn't accept fixed dining even if the alternative was that they would have to go hungry. Then HAL might reasonably say that they just can't afford to maintain fixed dining for a handful of us who will just have to decide whether we want to give up all the other things we like so much about HAL if we insist on being able to book fixed dining.

I don't know whether or not you individually have been aware of any passenger dissatisfaction with the difficulty of getting fixed dining, but if you have been, I'd be very interested in knowing whether, so far as you know, HAL believes that as many passengers as they can hope to please are happy with the current situation or whether they are giving any serious consideration to changing it.

 

Hi Pettifogger,

 

I believe I answered your concerns as well in my reply to mamapickle.

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Thank you so much for offering this informative blog and being willing to answer our questions.

 

So, here's mine:

 

Any plans in the works to change the smoking policy onboard HAL ships?

 

Thanks!

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

 

I stumbled across something on this yesterday actually, but would like to confirm it with some people in the office before I say anything about it.

 

Stay tuned. nd I'm glad you like the blog!

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Hi Dutch, some questions (if you can answer) please?

 

1. Any plans of adding the Canaletto Italian retaurant to a corner of the Lido on the "S" and "R" ships?

I hope so. The feedback I've heard is wonderful. It seems exceptionally easy to incorporate it into the Vista Class. S&R represent a few different challenges. Best way to make sure they get onto other ships in the future is through feedback!

 

2. What is the general thinking behind decreasing (by quite a few postions, compared to what it used to be) of the Cruise Activities (former Cruise) Staff, the addition of the "Event Manager", the other new positions (Party Planner, Tech person, etc) and the subsequent reorganization of the CD and that staff's responsibilities?

Before the move to the specified positions, there were just as many cruise staff as far as I have noticed onboard. The thinking behind the specific positions though was to have different events hosted by different people that had a better idea of the specific functions they were doing rather than just rotating people around to things they maybe didn't always do. (Or at least that's the impression I've gotten from all this.

 

3. Any feedback on the "silly" (for lack of a better word) new "audiance participation" games like "Make that bed" (forgot the other two, believe one was a "golf shot") during the evening show on embarkation night?

I actually haven't seen these yet, but I think this is what's referred to as the "Dam Fun Night" I've seen referenced in a few places.

 

4. Are the cabanas on one side of Lido deck by the midship pool on Eurodam here to stay and are there plans to expand them to the other dam ships? Not talking about the Retreat cabanas! In other words, has there been positive feedback on those pool side cabanas now that Eurodam has spent some time in the Caribbean sunshine

I've heard quite a bit that indicates people like the cabanas in the Lido Pool area. Obviously that can be a different story when you're in the Baltic so I personally wish they would keep the Eurodam in warmer climates... Mediterranean for instance... But I would imagine we will likely see them on the Nieuw Amsterdam as it's the sister ship. Rest of te fleet though? Couldn't say for certain. I haven't heard anything about doing this.

 

5. There have been some 'rumors' about new uniforms (have seen the new Front Office uniforms on Eurodam, more like land-based hotel staff compared to traditional 'out to sea' uniforms) for staff including doing away with the "whites" for officers/ Can you confirm or deny or is that still super secret, 'if I tell you, have to kill you' stuff?

I think Captain Mercer addressed this in the Eurodam Blog actually. I haven't seen that the Whites have gone away, but have heard something to the same effect. I believe from the Eurodam/HAL blogs...

 

Thank you Sir! Keep up the good work!:)

Appreciate it!

 

 

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we have never sailed with holland america and are looking forward to it. Our travel agent had booked us with an SZ guaranttee and we got upgraded to an ss room 8077. It looks like we are under the lido restaurant, will this pose a noise problem. Not to concerned as i am an early riser. Is this a better room assignment or not a big difference. thanks for any informationon the zuiderdam would be great.

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Hi ~B--

 

I echo those who are thanking you for starting your blog. I, too, have it bookmarked and will check it regularly.

 

My question: I wonder if you can share any proposed "cost-cutting" plans that will directly impact the passenger. For example, another thread mentions that one ship may be doing away with slippers for full Suite passengers.

 

I know I'd love to learn more about this ... and thanks ......

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Enjoyed viewing your blog, the pictures were so much better than HAL's site. How are things progressing at Pier 91 and how secure will the long term parking there be? Thanks and best of luck to you in your endeavor.

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we have never sailed with holland america and are looking forward to it. Our travel agent had booked us with an SZ guaranttee and we got upgraded to an ss room 8077. It looks like we are under the lido restaurant, will this pose a noise problem. Not to concerned as i am an early riser. Is this a better room assignment or not a big difference. thanks for any informationon the zuiderdam would be great.

 

Under the Lido Restaurant I have never heard a single complaint. The floors are carpeted among other things...

 

Some people seem to have an occasional noise problem being under a pool deck but I think a lot of it has to do with how sensitive people are to noise.

 

Plus, you're a lot more midship and booking the SS out right would have cost you more. Sounds like a great bargain to me! :)

 

As for the Zuiderdam, the ship has the Screening Room like Eurodam does and I've heard that the Pinnacle Bar is incredible onboard. Really great layout for social events.

 

Have a great time!

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Enjoyed viewing your blog, the pictures were so much better than HAL's site. How are things progressing at Pier 91 and how secure will the long term parking there be? Thanks and best of luck to you in your endeavor.

 

Here's a couple links on the Port Of Seattle's page that give you an update, some videos, the finalized cruise schedule and some renderings of the area.

 

Last I heard, the entire structure is up and now they're just working on interior everything, but it will be ready in time for Amsterdam's 4/24/09 cruise which is the first ship of the season.

 

http://www.portseattle.org/seaport/cruise/

http://www.portseattle.org/about/maps/terminal91cruise.shtml

http://www.portseattle.org/about/maps/directions-t91.shtml

 

I'll try in the next few days to make my way down there for some pictures. If I can get some, they'll end up on the blog.

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Hi ~B--

 

I echo those who are thanking you for starting your blog. I, too, have it bookmarked and will check it regularly.

 

My question: I wonder if you can share any proposed "cost-cutting" plans that will directly impact the passenger. For example, another thread mentions that one ship may be doing away with slippers for full Suite passengers.

 

I know I'd love to learn more about this ... and thanks ......

 

Not aware of any goals in mind that involve cost cutting... Keep in mind we're spending over $20 million to refit Oosterdam and then $40 million per ship on S Class and Rotterdam.

 

More likely the ship simply ran out. Not sure why the guest would have been told they're gone though. The most recent brochures still mention slippers and I see that other people on recent cruises say they have gotten them.

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Minor change to the blog...

 

A few of you have commented that it's difficult to read the narrow white font against the black background, so I am changing the font used to bold.

 

I have so far received great feedback on this modification and hope it makes the blog that much more accessible to HAL fans visiting the blog.

 

DBA

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Thank you for your very prompt reply to our (mine and mamapickle's ) inquiries about fixed dining. But can you tell us whether there really were more than 150 passengers who were refused bookings for early fixed dining on the March 7 Zaandam sailing. If there were, we'll have to look forward to standing in a very, very long line on embarkation day to request and perhaps be denied fixed dining. I'll want to be prepared with a book to read while I wait.

On the other hand, if there were only a dozen or so who can be presumably be accommodated at embarkation, there is no reason for mamapickle, for me, or for anyone else to worry very much about it.

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I stumbled across something on this yesterday actually, but would like to confirm it with some people in the office before I say anything about it.

Fair enough.

 

Thanks ever so much, and in the meantime, I'll keep reading. I'm really enjoying this.

 

Blue skies!

 

--rita

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Can you give me an e-mail contact of the person or department that takes care of the interior of Nieuw Amsterdam?

I just found a very interesting shop in NL which has some great old shipsmodels and other material.

They might be interested in this.

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Thank you DBA for taking the time to post on CC and for sharing your blog. I am enjoying both very much. I have bookmarked both and look forward to future posts!

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Why does HAL allow people to "reserve" chairs for extended periods of time around the pool area?

 

Why does HAL allow people to "save" multiple seats in the theather for people for extended periods of time while "demanding" that wife and I are "refused" to sit in two of those empty chairs that they deem (demand) are theirs?

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DBA, since there are no trays in the Lido anymore, is it permissable to bring your own tray from home and use it there? TIA

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Hello

 

Lovely blog

 

Here is my question We have been on many cruise lines and would like to try HAL next Jan

2 cruises tempt us

Westerdam Jan 03-14 days

Noordam Jan 04 -20 days

In what ways are theses ships similar or different

 

Which ship would you recommend and why /Is it true pax are MUCH older on Hal .

 

I will be traveling with my 18 year old son .We love beaches and snorkelling

I love balconies

We enjoy comfortable accomodations,good food,lovely ports,good entertainment and do donate at the casino.Which ship best answers these requests ?

Both cruises above go to HAlf Moon Cay which I am told is GREAT

 

Both itineraries seem great but of course Noordam with 3 weeks goes to more places

I love long cruises -the longest has been 2 weeks

Friends may join us

I'm Listening

 

Michele

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Hi Dutch,

Can you tell us if there will be a charge on the Veendam(or any of the ships) for the new retreat area they are making out by the aft pool areas? Thanks. Loving your blog.

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I will be making my first time ever cruise aboard the Ms Noordam, I hear the blue cruise packets that are delivered to you with all your paperwork are being phased out in favor of e-documents,..... does this mean that by August, when we sail, I may never have an opportunity to receive the lovely blue packets??

Love your blog and thanks for your speedy responses to all the questions!

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Am really enjoying both this thread and your blog. 2 questions now. Will your blog be incorporated into the new Holland America Blog Site? Please tell us all about the new homeport and cruises from Rocky Point Mexico. Thanks in advance Gary & Jane

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Aloha DBA,

 

I have an air filtration/purification question. On my first two cruises on another line, and various hotel stays, I noticed that cigarette smoke travels through vents.

 

We noticed on our HAL cruise that it was not so noticeable. How do you filter the air?

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Hi DB- Thanks for all your hard work. I'm just being hypothetical but I was wondering. Is there enough room on the smaller ships to install the big thalassotherapy pool like on Westerdam etc?

 

I'm not a boat builder but I was looking on the Veendam and I thought there might be a way it could be done (remodeling etc)

 

It's ashame that the Zaandam goes to Hawaii with almost 10 sea days and does not have the big t-pool.

 

The small pools on the smaller ships (which are really just a jacuzzi) just aren't the same.

 

Thanks

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Can you give me an e-mail contact of the person or department that takes care of the interior of Nieuw Amsterdam?

I just found a very interesting shop in NL which has some great old shipsmodels and other material.

They might be interested in this.

 

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to give out personal email addresses. Best way to get this info relayed is likely to contact Roland, the Editor of the Holland America Blog and ask that he pass it along.

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