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Oceania vs. HAL


SabreSailor

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I know that there is a tremendous difference in size and number of passengers of Oceania ships vs. Holland America ships, except for perhaps the Prinsendam.

 

But for those who have cruised on both lines, how would you compare the food? Dining room service? Bar service? Cabin service? Overall sense that the crew is anxious to please?

 

Thanks!

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We've sailed with Oceania three times, and three times with HAL, but not on Prinsendam. We also have many cruises on other lines.

 

I think the food on Oceania better than HAL, think food service & cabin service about the same.

 

Friendliness of the wait service & cabin service crew perhaps different, Oceania's Eastern Europeans being somewhat more reserved than the Filipino/Indonesian HAL wait-staff.

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We've been on HAL three times, Oceania twice.

 

Druke I has described the staff very well. The Oceania staff is more reserved overall, but does get friendlier as the cruise progresses. Both have cabin and bar staff that wants to please.

 

Our food experience on both has varied from one cruise to the next. HAL wins for deserts on two of the cruises. On one cruise the HAL deserts matched Oceania's deserts.

 

We have never visited whatever speciality restaurant was available on HAL, but have used the Lido and Dining Room on HAL.

 

The Terrace on Oceania is better than the Lido on HAL. The Main Dining Rooms are comparable in our estimation as far as quality of the food and food service are concerned.

 

The meals we've had in Toscana were fantastic on the first Oceania cruise, fair on the second. The meals in Polo on both cruises were fair. The quality of the food service in Polo on both cruises was poor to terrible. Toscana food service was excellent on the first cruise, fair on the second.

 

We prefer Oceania for the restricted smoking policy and dress code. We also like the size of the vessels with Oceania. HAL comes in a close second.

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We've sailed Oceania 3 times and HAL twice. We prefer Oceania in virtually every way -- food, service, fellow passengers, ambience, itineraries, smoking policy, dress code -- every way, that is, except room size which is smaller than HAL but still fine for us. But Oceania is more expensive than HAL. It's a trade-off.

And looking ahead? We've got 2 Oceania cruises booked and 1 HAL cruise booked. That's our trade-off...

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We have had one cruise on Oceania but it was a lengthy one of 35 days. We have been on quite a few HAL ships including the Prinsendam and each cruise has been over 14+ days. We will be back on the lovely Prinsendam in November for a 24 day cruise.

 

We loved our experience on Oceania. We had a great cruise and enjoyed every day. We found both Toscana and Polo excellent, better than the expensive Pinnacle Grill on HAL.

 

We enjoyed our breakfasts each morning on the Terrace but we felt that the food in dining room was inferior to HAL.

 

On HAL we appreciate the fresh flowers and paintings around the ship, the smiling Filipino and Indonesian crew and the entertainment at night. On Oceania we loved the intimate size of the ship, the wonderful free Bridge lessons, the Anytime dining and the ease of country club casual each night. Not having to bring our formals half way around the world was a big plus for us.

 

We would gladly cruise on either line and know that we would have a great cruise experience.

 

Itinerary is now what we look for when choosing a cruise.

 

Jennie

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We have had one cruise on Oceania but it was a lengthy one of 35 days. We have been on quite a few HAL ships including the Prinsendam and each cruise has been over 14+ days. We will be back on the lovely Prinsendam in November for a 24 day cruise.

 

Hi Jennie. We love Oceania, but there's an itinerary/price on a HAL Prinsendam cruise that's tempting me. My husband really, really likes Oceania and doesn't particularly want to cruise on a different line. However, like you, itinerary is more important to me, and I'm willing to have a slightly less satisfying cruise experience as long as the ports are interesting. The things that are keeping me from booking a HAL cruise are the apparent formality of dress at night, and perhaps the fact that airline prices are so high to Europe, and HAL (I guess) doesn't offer the "free" (to a point, anyway) airfare that Oceania does. On the Prinsendam, can a man get by with just a nice collared shirt and a pair of khaki's, or do they really want you to dress up? Also, on the formal nights, are there options if you don't want to dress up (room service??!) My husband hates dressing up! Also, with HAL, I assume you just go and book your own flights, right? Thanks much.

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Not Jennie, but re the dress code. HAL passengers tend to follow the dress code. (I don't do cocktail dresses and glittery jewelry and got quite a few looks for my basic black dress and silver jewelry on formal nights.) The early seating folks tend to dress a little less glittery than the late seating folks.

 

Men ARE expected to do a dark suit and tie at a minimum on formal night.

 

HOWEVER - we learned on our first HAL cruise that there is a work-around. The Lido is the buffet. You can eat there in casual dress. Most of the entertainers eat there and we had wonderful conversations with them. It got to be a joke among many of the passengers on "formal" days. We would greet each other with a, "Lido night, right?" greeting and save spaces at the tables.

 

(The menu at the Lido pretty much matches the menu in the dining room. Some food you take yourself, other food is served just like at the Terrace.)

 

Also, if you aren't following the formal dress code, you are more or less expected to sit on the upper level for the evening entertainment.

 

The casual dress is what HAL calls smart casual or Oceania calls country club casual. The "no" rules in the evening are the same as Oceania's.

 

We never did Room Service on HAL, so can't comment. Also, can't comment on the flights. We're lazy and booked them through HAL. The price, scheduling, etc. was very good for us since our airport is one of their gateway airports.

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Hi "Not Jenny"! Your information is very helpful. My husband loves Tapas on the Terrace, and it sounds similar to HAL's LIDO thing. So on HAL on formal nights, we'd no doubt be at LIDO. I was thinking HAL was a little more formal on the rest of the nights than Oceania is, but if we can be country club/smart casual at night, that's not so bad. (Will I get a lot of looks if I wear basic black pants and a nice top with jewelry? I only do an occasional dress or sundress on Oceania, and nobody seems to care!) Are jeans for men pushing it for the Lido at lunch?

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Not Jenny, again.

On our first Oceania cruise, I wore what I would wear on HAL on their smart casual nights. I found that, at least on that cruise, many of the Oceania people were more dressy than the HAL people.

 

Jeans or shorts work well for the Lido at breakfast and lunch. It's evening when things get a bit more formal on HAL. Keep in mind, too, that you normally have one formal night per week, so it really isn't a big thing.

 

If your husband likes Tapas, he should like the Lido. Just don't look for that wonderful made to order Ceasar Salad!

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[quote name=roothy123;18325606.

 

Hi Jennie. On the Prinsendam' date=' can a man get by with just a nice collared shirt and a pair of khaki's, or do they really want you to dress up? Also, on the formal nights, are there options if you don't want to dress up (room service??!) My husband hates dressing up! Also, with HAL, I assume you just go and book your own flights, right? Thanks much.[/quote]

 

Hi, this time it is Jennie.

 

You can get away with dark pants, a jacket and a tie and I do believe after reading lots of posts about dress on HAL lately, that some people are wearing khaki's on formal nights but I cannot be sure about that.

 

One thing that they are now doing on HAL and that is the mixture of Traditional dining and Anytime dining. We loved Anytime so much on Oceania, that we have elected to have that on our HAL cruise in November when we are on the Prinsendam again.

 

I do not wear glittery outfits. Instead, for formal nights, I bring along one long black skirt and have various tops that I can wear with that. We have so far to travel, that luggage and weight is a problem for us, and I have found that having that basic, black skirt and the different tops works well.

 

My husband does bring his formal gear and that is enclosed in one of those long heavy plastic zip up packs. When we board a flight, he just asks the flight attendant to hang it up and that is then taken care of until we arrive at our destination.

 

HAL used to have 2 other types of evenings, semi formal and casual. On semi formal nights, men wore jackets and ties and the women were in good black pants etc. On informal, men could wear the more casual shirts and pants. I do believe that they are cutting out the semi formal gradually from their cruises as the world is becoming more casual in their dress.

 

If the itinerary is something you want to do, don't be discouraged by the dress code as you can always work around that. You can have dinner in your cabin or go to the Lido. Also, on most of the HAL ships we have been on, I have never seen anyone turned away from the dining room for being inappropriately dressed, though I have read that some Matre'd's do stick to the code.

 

Jennie

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We've been on 8 HAL cruises and I think that some of the above information might be misleading. Here is HAL's official dress code from their website:

 

Clothing & Dress Code The right clothing can make a big difference in the enjoyment of your cruise. First and foremost, dress for comfort. Daily life aboard ship and in ports of call is relaxed and casual. Warmer climates call for clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics. For cooler climates, we suggest casual clothes that can be layered easily and possibly a raincoat and waterproof hat or umbrella and gloves. Certain shore excursions may require particular attention to clothing. For example, certain churches or other places of worship may not allow tank tops or short pants. Bring a swimsuit as all of our ships have pools and whirlpools. You may wish to bring more than one outfit for the water. We ask that you wear shoes and a cover-up over a bathing suit when walking through the interior of the ship. If you would like to jog on the sports deck or work out in the fitness center, bring workout gear. Footwear should include comfortable walking shoes for visits ashore and sandals or rubber-soled shoes for strolling on deck.

Evening dress falls into two distinct categories: Formal or Smart Casual. Smart Casual can be defined as slacks and collared shirts for men and casual dresses, slacks and informal evening wear for women. T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are not allowed in the restaurants or public areas during the evening hours. On festive Formal evenings, ladies usually wear a suit, cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen wear a jacket and tie, dark suit or tuxedo. There are approximately two formal nights per week.

In order to complement your fellow guests, Holland America Line asks that you observe the suggested dress code throughout the entire evening.

Note that the cruises average 2 formal nights per week, although on our last 12 day cruise, the third formal night was declared "formal optional".

 

Yes, we have seen some people stretching the dress code at dinner, but there are countless entries on the HAL Board that talk about the dining room managers sending passengers back whom they felt were not following the dress code.

 

We happen to like being formal once in a while, but understand those folks who don't. I think if you really don't like dress-up occasionally on a cruise, there are many cruise lines that might suit you better than HAL. What I do take exception to is folks who know HAL's dress code when they book and intentionally test it because they don't feel like dressing up for the dining room. That just makes it unpleasant for those who do follow the code.

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After reading the comments about the differences between Holland America and Oceania, I am wondering what the smoking policy is on Holland. I have sailed on Oceania and never found smoking to be a problem. I am a non-smoker. Is it a problem on Holland America? We are thinking of doing a cruise on he Rotterdam in 2010.

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We both have strong allergies to smoke. Smoking is allowed in the cabins on HAL. Portions of the public areas on HAL allow smoking. On our last HAL cruise we both had our allergies act up eventhough we avoided the smoking areas. This is the main reason we tried Oceania and now consider it our cruise line of choice.

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Not Jenny, again.

On our first Oceania cruise, I wore what I would wear on HAL on their smart casual nights. I found that, at least on that cruise, many of the Oceania people were more dressy than the HAL people.

 

Jeans or shorts work well for the Lido at breakfast and lunch. It's evening when things get a bit more formal on HAL. Keep in mind, too, that you normally have one formal night per week, so it really isn't a big thing.

 

If your husband likes Tapas, he should like the Lido. Just don't look for that wonderful made to order Ceasar Salad!

 

 

Actually, it is two formal nights per week, not one!

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I just got off of the new HAL Eurodam and there was an extra survey form about smoking. It asked if I would still sail with HAL if smoking were prohibited in the cabins, or if it were prohibited completely. Right now they restrict smoking in many public rooms, though not the casino or sports bar. So it looks like HAL may be considering a change in their smoking rules.

 

FYI, the bathrooms in a standard cabin on the Eurodam are the largest I have ever encountered. A small bathtub in nearly every cabin.

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So sorry. You are correct. It is two formal nights per week.

 

It is good news that HAL is thinking of revising its smoking policy. We would return happily to the cruise line since we like it so much, formal nights and all!

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Thank you for the info on Holland's smoking policy. I must say I was disappointed to learn that they allow smoking even in the cabins. I hope they change their policy soon, otherwise we may consider not cruising with them in 2010.

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I believe HAL has been asking those smoking questions for some time now. Rather than asking "Are you less likely to book a cruise with us if smoking is restricted?" (or words to that effect), HAL should have asked "Are you more likely to book a cruise with us if smoking is restricted?".

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