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New to Holland America? This is for you...AKA "HAL For Dummies"

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40 minutes ago, Oregon Cruiser Lady said:

We put down our deposit, then we read that HAL had been bought out by Carnival!  Many folks here have mentioned that things have been going down recently -- few if any productions, worse food, etc.  I'm still trying to find out if they still have a separate vegetarian menu anymore, but no one has responded yet.  Question for those of you who've taken HAL in earlier years and have also experienced it recently:  Do you notice a difference in offerings, food, etc.?

 

Just wanted to be sure you’re aware that Carnival Corporation owns a number of cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourn, and and and.  Just don’t want you to think that Carnival Cruise Lines owns HAL.  (Plus, as the others say, it was a long time ago.)

 

As for the vegetarian menus... there are two.  There are also vegetarian options on the regular menu every day.

 

MDR Vegetarian Menu

Indian Vegetarian Menu

 

A recent thread:

 

 

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54 minutes ago, faerievert said:

Carnival bought HAL in 1989. There's been lots of changes in the last three decades 😉 

 

Rest assured, I can confirm there's a vegetarian menu in the MDR still, in addition to daily vegetarian selections on every menu. I saw it in use in December.

Thanks, faerievert.  That is a huge relief!

 

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25 minutes ago, *Miss G* said:

 

Just wanted to be sure you’re aware that Carnival Corporation owns a number of cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourn, and and and.  Just don’t want you to think that Carnival Cruise Lines owns HAL.  (Plus, as the others say, it was a long time ago.)

 

As for the vegetarian menus... there are two.  There are also vegetarian options on the regular menu every day.

 

MDR Vegetarian Menu

Indian Vegetarian Menu

 

A recent thread:

 

 

Wow, thanks so much!  This is so reassuring!  Hope HAL does not change this.

 

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As always Ruth is measured and reasoned in her comments.

My view is that HAL is a throwback to an earlier more refined cruising experience . The ships are small (by today's standards) ,  the food is great but less adventurous then say Celebrity . You will not get skating , bumper cars , or rock climbing walls . You will get nice places to read a book , warm experienced staff and fellow cruisers and a classical music trio to enjoy .You seldom feel like a pinata with constant upsells and various new and varied ways to make you spend a bit more onboard .

I am not wedded to any cruise line having experienced 6 in only 12 cruises . Holland most exceeded my cruise expectations .  

How many production shows would be there on a 14 night HAL Westerdam cruise?

what other entertainment and activities?

What is the daily program like for multiple sea days in a row?

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There will be one “show” on the Main Stage almost every night, but don’t expect top quality entertainment. HAL has never made much of an investment in this venue for its guests. That was one of our biggest disappointments with HAL. (That and its monopoly on the sale of all excursions, resulting in very limited choices and unreasonably high prices.) The one area in entertainment where they do out shine ALL other cruise lines is with their daily Lincoln Center Stage classical string quintet recitals. That is what saved the cruise trip for us with evening entertainment. If you want fantastic, exciting productions a la Cirque du Soleil, comedy acts so hilarious you buy their CD, and breathtakingly beautiful singing and dancing, don’t waste your time going to HAL’s Main Stage productions. You have to go to another cruise line for that. Try Norwegian Cruise Line. That was the case with HAL when we 1st sailed with them 35 years ago. We found no improvement when we gave them another try a year ago. You will find the TV in your state room more worth your time.

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Thanks Tox, that settles it for me

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59 minutes ago, ToXS said:

There will be one “show” on the Main Stage almost every night, but don’t expect top quality entertainment. HAL has never made much of an investment in this venue for its guests. That was one of our biggest disappointments with HAL. (That and its monopoly on the sale of all excursions, resulting in very limited choices and unreasonably high prices.) The one area in entertainment where they do out shine ALL other cruise lines is with their daily Lincoln Center Stage classical string quintet recitals. That is what saved the cruise trip for us with evening entertainment. If you want fantastic, exciting productions a la Cirque du Soleil, comedy acts so hilarious you buy their CD, and breathtakingly beautiful singing and dancing, don’t waste your time going to HAL’s Main Stage productions. You have to go to another cruise line for that. Try Norwegian Cruise Line. That was the case with HAL when we 1st sailed with them 35 years ago. We found no improvement when we gave them another try a year ago. You will find the TV in your state room more worth your time.


My wife and I are falling off the couch in laughter regarding this post because it is “spot on!” We are hosting a large group in two weeks, and we picked the Statendam for its itinerary and not its main stage. During a previous cruise, we found that the four separate music venues were much more entertaining than the main stage. And yes, we even watched a couple of movies in our room as opposed to the main stage. But we enjoy the “calmness” and extra day of port on HAL’s Koningsdam and Statendam compared to the larger RC ships. 
 

Travel safe and have fun! 

Edited by Michigander1959

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39 minutes ago, Michigander1959 said:


My wife and I are falling off the couch in laughter regarding this post because it is “spot on!” We are hosting a large group in two weeks, and we picked the Statendam for its itinerary and not its main stage. During a previous cruise, we found that the four separate music venues were much more entertaining than the main stage. And yes, we even watched a couple of movies in our room as opposed to the main stage. But we enjoy the “calmness” and extra day of port on HAL’s Koningsdam and Statendam compared to the larger RC ships. 
 

Travel safe and have fun! 

I agree with these opinions, but I will add my wife and I did enjoy some time most evenings in the BB King Lounge

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4 hours ago, ToXS said:

There will be one “show” on the Main Stage almost every night, but don’t expect top quality entertainment. HAL has never made much of an investment in this venue for its guests. That was one of our biggest disappointments with HAL. (That and its monopoly on the sale of all excursions, resulting in very limited choices and unreasonably high prices.) The one area in entertainment where they do out shine ALL other cruise lines is with their daily Lincoln Center Stage classical string quintet recitals. That is what saved the cruise trip for us with evening entertainment. If you want fantastic, exciting productions a la Cirque du Soleil, comedy acts so hilarious you buy their CD, and breathtakingly beautiful singing and dancing, don’t waste your time going to HAL’s Main Stage productions. You have to go to another cruise line for that. Try Norwegian Cruise Line. That was the case with HAL when we 1st sailed with them 35 years ago. We found no improvement when we gave them another try a year ago. You will find the TV in your state room more worth your time.

 

In addition to above, if there is a really good show you won't get a seat unless you get there 30-45 minutes early. That is pretty disappointing also. I agree with what has been said, the bars and nightclubs are where to look for good music. On the truly up side, we just took a Carnival for the first time and HAL is not that loud! Everywhere on Carnival is loud. The piano bar is not our idea of a relaxing piano bar--it is a drunken sing-a-long bar. 

my2cents

Janet

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9 hours ago, drsel said:

How many production shows would be there on a 14 night HAL Westerdam cruise?

what other entertainment and activities?

What is the daily program like for multiple sea days in a row?

 

Attached are scans of the weekly charts we had for Amsterdam 17 day cruise through the Panama Canal of the holidays.  We traveled as 3 seniors and 3 adults.  The two 20 somethings thought it was slow and were not as impressed with the shows.  The last comedian was pretty blah, but the rest of the shows were worth attending.  The only great show was an impromptu matinee put on by a couple of the production folks who were showing their parents what they could do on their own.  Fabulous!  Roy Tan really good piano.  Akos Laki was great on the sax. McDonald was a good comedian. There were 2 bands and 2 piano bars each day/night with different choices. Very laid back style. I didn't keep any daily charts, but things like trivia games or game show type shows with cast/crew players.  Mahjong, and other card game tournaments on sea days.  As for the excursions, if you don't go with a HAL excursion and you're running late coming back, they won't wait for you.  They waited 1 1/2 hours for a late HAL excursion on our trip one night.  The captain admitted that was a very expensive wait in fuel and docking fees. 

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3 hours ago, ljgordon54 said:

In addition to above, if there is a really good show you won't get a seat unless you get there 30-45 minutes early.

That may be true for the early show. The late show usually has plenty of good seats right up to show time. 

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I just wanted to make a few comments on shows on cruise ships.

On my very first cruise, about 20 years ago, I was on a Princess ship and my wife talked me into seeing the main show. I thought it was hokey and I have never gone to see another one on any cruise line.

But I have always enjoyed the various musicians who have performed in bars and various other parts of the ship,

My absolute favorite thing to see is the Lincoln Center string ensemble and various other string quartets that have performed on HAL ships over the years.

But to each their own, and many people love those bigger shows. Personally. I would rather be sitting on my balcony sipping a glass of bourbon.

Edited by Tom O.

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7 minutes ago, Tom O. said:

I just wanted to make a few comments on shows on cruise ships.

 

I think these are good comments. I liked the smaller venues and performances on HAL, but others really like the big stage. I did go to one performance and there was good use of the space (it was mainly dance) and the performances were fine. But it's never going to be the same as a dedicated theatre on land. As pre or post dinner entertainment it was fine, the variety performance on our cruise was a bit dated but the comedian was much better than expected/feared.

 

BBKings and the Lincoln Centre are the kind of thing you would pay for; and the piano bar guys were fun. The performances do rotate so there's a lot to see.

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What is bb kings about

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Attached are scans of the weekly charts we had for Amsterdam 17 day cruise through the Panama Canal of the holidays.  We traveled as 3 seniors and 3 adults.  The two 20 somethings thought it was slow and were not as impressed with the shows.  The last comedian was pretty blah, but the rest of the shows were worth attending.  The only great show was an impromptu matinee put on by a couple of the production folks who were showing their parents what they could do on their own.  Fabulous!  Roy Tan really good piano.  Akos Laki was great on the sax. McDonald was a good comedian. There were 2 bands and 2 piano bars each day/night with different choices. Very laid back style. I didn't keep any daily charts, but things like trivia games or game show type shows with cast/crew players.  Mahjong, and other card game tournaments on sea days.  As for the excursions, if you don't go with a HAL excursion and you're running late coming back, they won't wait for you.  They waited 1 1/2 hours for a late HAL excursion on our trip one night.  The captain admitted that was a very expensive wait in fuel and docking fees. 
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Thanks rboy, that was very enlightening and informative!
apparently there are hardly any activities on a day to day basis. Unlike Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity; the main competitors of Holland America.

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16 hours ago, drsel said:

How many production shows would be there on a 14 night HAL Westerdam cruise?

what other entertainment and activities?

What is the daily program like for multiple sea days in a row?

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Here is a sample of Westerdam dialy activities from last year (7-day):

 

http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/specialty-2/on-locations-specific-cruises/westerdam-alaska-2019-when-where-northbound

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Thanks so much!
I am actually shocked! I can't believe they advertise reading a book as one of the main events of the day

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I am getting a 14 night Westerdam non refundable inside guarantee for US$ 815, including all port fees and taxes, excluding gratuities.

But I think I will pass.

 

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7 hours ago, drsel said:

I am getting a 14 night Westerdam non refundable inside guarantee for US$ 815, including all port fees and taxes, excluding gratuities.

But I think I will pass.

 

That what is great about the cruise business. Each cruise line appeals to a different segment of society.

People who like lots of activities are better off on a different cruise line than HAL. HAL has no rock climbing walls, bumper cars, or other intensive activities. 

For me, reading a book is an activity, especially if I can do it on my balcony. 

Of course, if I am on a ship with a lot of activities, I can just ignore them, and I do. But if all these activities are important to you, you would should choose a different cruise line.

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2 hours ago, Tom O. said:

 

That what is great about the cruise business. Each cruise line appeals to a different segment of society.

People who like lots of activities are better off on a different cruise line than HAL. HAL has no rock climbing walls, bumper cars, or other intensive activities. 

For me, reading a book is an activity, especially if I can do it on my balcony. 

Of course, if I am on a ship with a lot of activities, I can just ignore them, and I do. But if all these activities are important to you, you would should choose a different cruise line.

I couldn't agree more.

 

While for me main shows are nice but not necessary, if I want to be entertained I will go to BB Kings.  I also very much enjoy not fighting through crowds of loud people participating in some activity on the pool deck.  Give me a nice single malt and a book or some friends you can actually have a conversation with and not have to shout, I'm happy and relaxed!

 

There are cruise lines out there for everyone, with as much or as little as you want to do, you just have to find the one that fits "you"

 

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Like many others on this thread, we also enjoy a feeling of quiet elegance and sophistication on HAL. We particularly value the friendliness and professionalism of the predominantly Dutch, Philippino and Indonesian staff and crew. In addition, a wraparound promenade deck is essential to us, and most if not all HAL ships have one. We like the medium size of the ships and the by-and-large stunningly beautiful interiors. We enjoy the peaceful,  relatively child-free environment on board, and the large cabins and balconies, with the exception, or so I’ve heard, of the balconies on the Koningsdam?  We enjoy daily afternoon tea, and find the food in both the buffet and the dining room consistently excellent in terms of variety and quality. We very much value free room service, as well.

We appreciate and consistently benefit from HAL’s Best Price Guarantee for excursions, which I conclude that the posters who lament HAL’s excursion pricing must be unfamiliar with. HAL will match any competitive excursion price for its ship excursions and offer the difference between the cheaper price and HAL’s price as onboard credit. It is a simple and attractive program we have often taken advantage of, allowing us to take HAL excursions at prices lower than HAL advertises.  (Regarding the ship leaving behind any late passengers NOT on ship-sponsored excursions: as most cruisers know, not only HAL,  but ALL cruise lines have this same policy.)
 

We miss the strong emphasis on Dutch cruising traditions which we came to value on our HAL cruises in the 1980’s. We feel that some valuable traditions and therefore some consistency of ship culture have been sacrificed an effort to “modernize” and to attract, so far seemingly less than successfully,  a younger cruising demographic. This has, to us, resulted in a shipboard culture that seems to not know exactly what it wants to be. 

 

We saw on our recent cruises how popular B B King‘s Blues Club was, but we ourselves could not enter the small venue due to the excessive volume of the music. This us why it surprises me when posters talk about how much they enjoy the quiet atmosphere on HAL but also love B B King’s. 

 

Overall, we still find HAL gives us the most overall enjoyment and value for our cruising dollar. 
 

 

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The two are not incompatible. We were on the Statendam for the TA in October. We liked the quiet atmosphere of the cruise during the day but enjoyed lively music at night.

The few evening main stage shows we saw were not very good in my opinion.  One documentary on the ocean was like watching an aquarium said my husband. 

I really do not care much about the evening shows in the theater, do not attend many and it is not a factor when choosing a cruise. 

We liked absolutely everything else about our cruise on the Nieuw Statendam and we will soon be on the Knoningsdam for a 10 day cruise 😄

 

 

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