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WJBonds

Zuiderdam11/27 - my thoughts pt.2

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[font=Comic Sans MS][size=4][color=royalblue]As long as we all have different standards, and these posts confirm that, we'll always have people on the same cruise with a different opinion. [/color][/size][/font]
[font=Comic Sans MS][size=4][color=#4169e1]I'd have to say my standards might be a little higher now, if you compare them to my previous cruises on HAL.[/color][/size][/font]
[font=Comic Sans MS][size=4][color=#4169e1]My standards haven't changed, HAL's have been lowered.[/color][/size][/font]

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[quote name='JDee']Sail, Remember a particular crime show where all next shift is mustered, uniforms and haircuts checked, etc., and the sgt tell them "be careful out there" or something like that.

Don't you think it's just possible that HAL holds a similar muster and tells all "be nice to everyone out there, especially since Sail is with us again".

Just a thought....

Happy cruising.....[/QUOTE]

:D [b]JDee.....Careful before I get a big head. :o No...I do not think that is possible. Why would anyone give a hoot! Big deal! Just another pax like everyone else. Sure...maybe we're good customers but so are alot of other folks. A few aboard may know our 'real name' but I am very sure it is of no interest whatsoever.....and why should it be different than that?!! The idea is too silly. IMO[/b]


[b]I guess we've just been lucky and had good stewards. Hope our good luck holds![/b]


[b]I do remember the TV show you reference......was it "Streets of San Francisco" , or something like that?[/b]

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[quote name='sail7seas']........

[b]I do remember the TV show you reference......was it "Streets of San Francisco" , or something like that?[/b][/QUOTE][font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=red][size=3]I think it was "Hill Street Blues":D[/size] [/color][/font]

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[quote name='Giorgi-one']You don't book a cruise with the attitude that a cruise is what you make it. What you meant to say is that you made the best you could out of a bad or not great situation. That is not the attitude I have when I book a cruise. Of course it's better than being at work, but so is staying home, going to a different restaurant each night, going to Atlantic City to gamble, going to shows in Philadelphia, visiting Longwood gardens, etc. And most people book HAL because they want something better than Carnival.[/QUOTE]


I know exactly what I meant to say! If you want a top class cruise than I'm afraid you would have to book something like Crystal or equivalent 6 star ship! I think that some people would probably find fault in everything, whatever it may be- eg restaurant, casino etc. You just have to be realistic- The Zuiderdam offers very good value for money.

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[quote name='uncialman']Amber,

I would never want to doubt your perception or the great experience that you had on the Zuiderdam. I think the majority of us are rather dissapointed in the fact that in almost every major category (food, service, ship design etc) the Zuiderdam falls far short of the previously consistent and pristine levels of the Holland America product. In this sense, a cruise is *not* necessarily what you make it, it is what is presented to the customer who is paying for the experience. If a customer is expecting the kind of service, food and ambiance on the Zuiderdam that they encountered on the Rotterdam just 2 years previously, they will be somewhat dissapointed (and hence, the negative reviews). However, there are many folks who are cruising for the first time with HAL on the Zuiderdam that enjoy her in comparison to Carnivore or other lines - and I'm glad they have come over.

The problem that I have is that the HAL experience is becoming a carbon copy of every other standardized cruise product (Princess, RCI etc) and that the Zuiderdam product can't be distinguished from those other lines as clearly. If I want a big, noisy, crowded, kiddie-filled, nickle-and-dimed cruise vacation, I can easily find it on other lines. If I want a quiet, intimate, relaxing cruise with superior service, it *used* to be with HAL - but not so with the Zuiderdam.

Please understand, my very best cruise experiences have been with Holland America: I would just like to make some more glorious memories aboard her fleet.[/QUOTE]

I am a first time HAL cruiser and I understand that it used to be a 5 star fleet of ships with service to go with it- my nephew used to be an officer on one of the ships so I am aware of its old standards. Unfortunatley, there are so many new ships now offering cheaper and cheaper cruises and HAL has to compete. That may be one of the reasons that you think standards have dropped, they obviously have to cut their costs somewhere with the prices they are offering!. It is sad that this is the case, but to go to the old HAL standards, you now have to sail with Crystal line or its equivalent. Going on a cruise is not as exclusive as it used to be- I don't mean that in a bad way, its great that more of us can now afford to go on one.

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[quote name='sail7seas']

[b] How is it possible that we got dinners that, for the most part, compare favorably with others we have had on HAL in the past? [yes....I have seen some changes that I don't care for but nothing that would qualify for the descriptions offered here.] How is that DH and I had wonderful service in the dining room? Can't just be us. I doubt anyone stood at the assignment list and said let's make sure that 'sails' and her husband always have the best dining stewards!)[/b][/QUOTE]
I would say it was pure luck. I never had any problems at all in the past. I saw the reduction in staff on the Rotterdam and experienced lousy service.

After we spoke to management the dining room service improved. Waiting to have your order taken for over 30 minutes is a bit much. We were originally at the end of the line but moved to the begining of the line.

The people at the table across from us entered the dining room with us. We were getting dessert, they were on salad.

Not everyone is coming back saying they had bad service in the dining room. It all depends on where you are in line.

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[quote name='amber1002']I am a first time HAL cruiser and I understand that it used to be a 5 star fleet of ships with service to go with it- my nephew used to be an officer on one of the ships so I am aware of its old standards. Unfortunatley, there are so many new ships now offering cheaper and cheaper cruises and HAL has to compete. That may be one of the reasons that you think standards have dropped, they obviously have to cut their costs somewhere with the prices they are offering!. It is sad that this is the case, but to go to the old HAL standards, you now have to sail with Crystal line or its equivalent. Going on a cruise is not as exclusive as it used to be- I don't mean that in a bad way, its great that more of us can now afford to go on one.[/QUOTE]
[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3]Amber, I think you make a very good point and would never argue with your logic. [/size][/font]

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[quote name='amber1002']I am a first time HAL cruiser and I understand that it used to be a 5 star fleet of ships with service to go with it- my nephew used to be an officer on one of the ships so I am aware of its old standards. Unfortunatley, there are so many new ships now offering cheaper and cheaper cruises and HAL has to compete. That may be one of the reasons that you think standards have dropped, they obviously have to cut their costs somewhere with the prices they are offering!. It is sad that this is the case, but to go to the old HAL standards, you now have to sail with Crystal line or its equivalent. Going on a cruise is not as exclusive as it used to be- I don't mean that in a bad way, its great that more of us can now afford to go on one.[/QUOTE]

Honestly, the reasons that prices drop is the old law of supply and demand. HAL currently has a fleet of 12 ships, three of which happen to be of the Vista variety. Vista class ships have a lot of cabins, a bunch of 'em, and they have to fill their newly built cabins. *Unfortunately* there isn't a huge demand for cabins on the Zuiderdam and other Vista class ships - so they drop the prices to fill the cabins. Believe me: if HAL thought they could fill their ships by selling bottom category inside cabins for $900.00, they would. But the fact remains that people aren't exactly busting down the door to book their Vista Class ships in the Caribbean. This is the reason why the cruise price is low and the price is higher on the mammoth RCI Voyager Class of ships doing *exactly* the same itinerary: supply and demand. There is massive demand for the Voyager class ships and they fill them without a problem. On the other hand, the faithful HAL loyalists choose not to cruise the Vista Class and so HAL then has to try to attract a younger, hipper crowd ("50 is the new thirty, kiddie water parks etc.").

So, HAL decides to lower their prices to try to attract the customer that formerly cruised NCL and Carnival. Then, to make up on operating costs and profit margins, they cut staff and start nickle and diming to make up for the financial shortfall. Now in doing so, they seriously risk losing their faithful customers that won't be overly thrilled with the change in standards. So instead of more dining room staff and less nickle and diming, they give us the short term and relatively inexpensive quick fix of "Signature of Excellence."

But still, many HAL loyalists with combined thousands of sea days aboard the intimate HAL ships don't care for the new mass-market approach to HAL cruising. Do they need to go to Crystal or Radisson? Do they need to give Silversea or Seabourn a call? No: they just go over to Celebrity and end up remembering what they used to like about HAL. Now don't get me wrong, Celebrity isn't perfection, but the new CEO is busting his rear trying to make the product head and shoulders above HAL and Princess for only a few bucks more. Champagne upon entering the ship, impeccable food, great white-gloved service, amazing and creative entertainment options, a "no announcement" policy, classic ambiance etc, etc.

So, then HAL just becomes another Princess with dark ships, an mixed-international crew and no MUTS. What is to disntinguish them from the pack? Why would someone then pay $899 on a balcony on the Zuiderdam when they can get the same kind of cruise product for $899 on Princess or RCI? Why would a family pay a hundered bucks less to cruise on the Zuiderdam rather than one of the Voyager titans? What does HAL offer for your dollar that gives them the advantage?

In retrospect, I wish HAL would have tried to not become a 13 ship fleet with all the demands of filling 10,000 cabins every day of the year. This is the "Boston Market" mistake that they made a few years ago: too many restaurants and not enough quality control. The premium market is smaller, yes, and the premium market customer expects more for their dollar. When you overbuild, you have the demands of keeping the $$$ flowing in, so the temptation is to ignore who brought you to where you are today and just try to do the short term fix. Unfortunately, there is no brand loyalty within the short term fixes. I'm afraid the eventual loss will be the HAL that we all remembered and were fond of. Whatever will be HAL's loss, it will surely be Celebrity's gain.

Now, the Crystal folks will continue to be Crystal and Radisson folks (and neither line has made the mistake of overbuilding their demand). They will remain the cream of the crop, and deservedly so. But HAL will lose their long held position of "premium service and experience at an affordable price". As I already stated, this just puts HAL into a crowded "contemporary" field of competitors who are more attractive to the demographic that HAL is trying to reach than HAL is.

Supply and demand...

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[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3][color=darkgreen]Uncialman, that was really interesting! Thank you! [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3][color=darkgreen]Please forgive my stupidity, but what is a MUT?[/color][/size][/font]

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[b]You sure put forth something to think about. Well expressed.....I actually agree with some of it.[/b]

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[quote name='HeatherInFlorida'][font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3][color=darkgreen]Uncialman, that was really interesting! Thank you! [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3][color=darkgreen]Please forgive my stupidity, but what is a MUT?[/color][/size][/font][/QUOTE]

Hey!

It means "Movies Under the Stars" on the new Princess ships: a giant outdoor movie screen that they play rock videos on all day above the pool and movies at night. Kinda neat idea: horriffic over a 7 day cruise...

[url]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=108792[/url]

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]You sure put forth something to think about. Well expressed.....I actually agree with some of it.[/b][/QUOTE]

I love your spirit, S7S! We both love HAL!

And please, pretty please tell them not to mess with my beloved Rotterdam!

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[b]I hear you......Rotterdam is a very special ship. We love that ship and have some very wonderful cruises on her (and hope to again). Our cruise in March on Rotterdam to Panama Canal was terrific. At that time, on that cruise, I did not find things 'stretched too thin'....YET. [/b]


[b](I do keep an open mind...or try to. I 'm willing to consider another viewpoint but that does not mean I shall automatically adopt it. :) )[/b]
[b]I still remain a firmly loyal, HAL Mariner. I hope I shall be able to remain so far into the future. I guess it is up to HAL??? if that can/will happen.[/b]

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[quote name='sail7seas'][b]I hear you......Rotterdam is a very special ship. We love that ship and have some very wonderful cruises on her (and hope to again). Our cruise in March on Rotterdam to Panama Canal was terrific. At that time, on that cruise, I did not find things 'stretched too thin'....YET. [/b]


[b](I do keep an open mind...or try to. I 'm willing to consider another viewpoint but that does not mean I shall automatically adopt it. :) )[/b]
[b]I still remain a firmly loyal, HAL Mariner. I hope I shall be able to remain so far into the future. I guess it is up to HAL??? if that can/will happen.[/b][/QUOTE]

Ditto and ditto! :D

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[quote name='uncialman']Hey!

It means "Movies Under the Stars" on the new Princess ships: a giant outdoor movie screen that they play rock videos on all day above the pool and movies at night. Kinda neat idea: horriffic over a 7 day cruise...

[url="http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=108792"]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=108792[/url][/QUOTE]
[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][size=3][color=navy]Well ..... to each his own, I suppose. Vanilla and chocolate:D . Not for me, definitely.[/color][/size][/font]

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