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Just read Carlyshenk's post and I thought I might have written it.  We too are elite+ on celebrity...eating in MDR and Blu...and just off the Veendam, our first HAL cruise.  First, very disappointed in the Pinnacle grill..and I had their porterhouse steak which was just poor quality meat.  Excellent menu....not so great food.  Murano much better.  We have never liked Tuscan Grill...as far as we're concerned, we'll just skip both.  I found the food on HAL actually better than Celebrity.  Desserts on Celebrity look wonderful with a large choice, but HAL's pastries actually taste good...celebrity's look better than they taste.  Celebrity has wonderful bread sticks...HAL has good breads/rolls, but no bread sticks.  HAL actually serves bagels vs Celebrity offering rolls with holes in them that can be mistaken for bagels.  Smoked salmon good on both....omelettes and eggs to order good on both...HAL has thin french pancakes to order (wonderful).  ice cream is better on HAL (no icy crystals) but only available at limited times.  HAL has taco bar in pool area...great.  Seasoning of food on our HAL cruise was wonderful..not sure if it was the cruise or overall on HAL.  We've found that Celebrity "dumbs down" seasonings..and we've had a couple of cruises where the only seasoning they seem to have was salt.  My only disappointing selection (other than that porterhouse steak) was the escargot on HAL which just lacked any taste. Cheese plate dessert in MDR is far far better than Celebrity.  Cold cuts in Buffet are far far better than on Celebrity and the salad bar on both is very good.

 

I'd give a win to Celebrity on dining room service....HAL service was variable.  Wine steward on HAL never refill glasses...they give you the bottle.  Celebrity does a better job at this.  

 

Overall, I like the buffet on HAL better..in fact I'd say that the food on the Veendam was better than I've had recently on Celebrity. One plus was that on the Veendam, with only 1350 passengers, there was never any problem finding seats in the buffet area...no long lines....and that certainly can influence one's opinions.

 

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised on HAL...but as everyone else has said, food is very subjective and your tastes may be very different than ours.

 

We have not abandoned Celebrity....I'm pretty sure we brought the average age down on board the Veendam (we're in our 70's) and the HAL activities seem to be versions of trivial pursuit, America's Food Kitchen, and happy hours at the various bars.....but we will cruise them again because they have some very interesting itineraries....Celebrity keeps doing the same cruises year after year.  

Edited by ghstudio

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Here is my subjective reply:  We were on the Zaandam in July.  We could have eaten in the "Orange" room that was in a corner of the main dining room; however the food and service was so good in the main dining room that we did not see the point in eating elsewhere.   We were not that impressed with our last Celebrity cruise.  We found one of their specialty restaurants ("Q") gimmicky.  We went twice to their French themed restaurant.  The first time was an embarrassment.  We were on the cruise with two friends who own property in France and for a long time have spent many months there each year.  A very pretentious waiter started to lecture us on how to eat French food.  He did not back off when we told him our friends were fluent in French and had spent years there.  The waiter had been intrusive throughout the meal.  We had paid for three specialty meals, so decided to go back to the French one but requested a different waiter, and had a better experience.  Yup!  It is subjective.

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Totally agree with Mimii. We were on this cruise also. Our 16th cruise overall, second with HAL. Food was the worst IMO. Dining room menu was not to our liking (subjective) so we ate over half our dinners in the buffet, which wasn't much better. The salads here were very good, so we always had at least something to eat! Dive-In was awful. Tried 3 different times, hamburger not cooked once, asked for no guac on chicken-got guacamole so took it back (they scraped it off and gave it back to me!), hot dog bun was so hard I couldn't eat it. Finally gave up and had a salad. Desserts in both buffet and DR were ho-hum (cheesecake was like no cheesecake I had ever had-not in a good way. Skipped dessert or had ice cream. First cruise I have ever been on where I didn't gain weight! 

 Service in DR was not good either. Another reason we didn't eat here often. Left once without having dessert even offered to us because they were sooooo slow. Not that busy so no excuse. Met some nice people though.

 I know there are some pretty diehard HAL cruisers on this board but I am not one of them. It will be awhile before I do another one. Too many better ones out there. We don't cruise for the ship, we cruise for the itinerary, but we have to eat and HaL just isn't doing it for us.

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Several responses similar to my experiences. I am an Elite Celebrity cruiser, 25 years with them. My last trip was a TA and some of the food was truly outstanding. Each his own, I thought Tuscan Grill was outstanding - but it should be. Same with Pinnacle. Still, for me, Tuscan Grille was NYC/world class great. 

The crux of things falls to what is included. MDR in each is about equally good and disappointing. For most evenings, Celebrity was ... fine. Rarely if ever sublime. We found Veendam and Eurodam to just touch above that level. OTOH Bacio is in a whole other world from Explorer. Not even a little bit debatable. So I’ll be interested to try the Grand Dutch Cafe. Buffet, a push. Burgers, not a chance - I found Celebrity’s to be actually poor. Pizza was excellent on Veendam, just OK on S class. 

It comes down, as every one knows, to price and itinerary. I have every reason to continue to sail Celebrity. Our best total experience in our lives was the Silhouette for 2 weeks.  I just booked a 7 day, Caribbean balcony on Pinnacle class for $440. Best itinerary and cruise ever was two back to back trips on Veendam, going from Boston to Montreal ($399) and back ($399). I’ll be staying with HAL right now. 

 

I’m looking forward to Nieuw Statendam. I think they will set a new standard for me. Hoping so.

Edited by AlexCherie

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I prefer all of HAL’s casual breakfast and lunch food service choices across the whole fleet. Overall, I’d rate the two lines about equal for food service.

 

We mostly book Sky Suites on X and so eat in Luminae, but in my experience over the four years since Luminae was introduced, HAL’s main dining room food and service has compared very favorably to it. (The exception is the less-successful wine steward service in HAL’s main dining room.)  

 

I must say a big point in favor of HAL’s Club Orange dining room on a Nieuw Statendam was a truly attentive and pleasant wine steward, the best we’ve ever had on a HAL cruise. We also enjoyed the breakfast dishes cooked by a chef right in the Club Orange glass-walled kitchen a few steps from our table and delivered hot.

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MDR:  HAL slightly better, equivalent to Blu.

Buffet:  Wash

Poolside: HAL significantly superior

Breakfast: HAL slightly better from extensive menu.

Cafe: X wins with better options and setup.

Specialty:  Not sure, we rarely do it.

 

Our last cruise on Celebrity Eclipse in April showcased severe cuts in food quality, from watered down soups, shortages on ingredients, lukewarm buffet, stale bread, and even frozen mixed veggies.  Hopefully they've backpedaled, as reviews seem to be improving, so I'm only comparing X from 2014 - 2018.

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Having taken over  40 cruises just with Celebrity(Elite + level ) &   now a 3 star Mariner  ,I would give  HAL the edge simply because of the smiling & very helpful wait staff .Additionally we like the fact that HAL serves in the Lido buffet so people so not have their hands all over the servers  . Also ,HAL is a better buy over all & a better buy in their special restaurant costs 

 We have sailed other cruise lines as well & again we would pick HAL as our favorite . We have sailed on Princess & next April we sail B2B on Royal Princess & we read that their buffet is the very best with theme nights added in  like German ,Italian ,ie  .We will find out  for ourselves next April 

 

 

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Here are all the menus I compiled on my recent sailing aboard the Eurodam.  These might give you some idea of the items you can expect.  I personally love the food on HAL.  Most extensive breakfast menu of any line I've sailed (Carnival, NCL, Princess, Celebrity, and RCCL) and overall good quality.  https://profcruise.com/holland-america-menus/

 

Enjoy your cruise!

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41 minutes ago, ProfCruise said:

Here are all the menus I compiled on my recent sailing aboard the Eurodam.  These might give you some idea of the items you can expect.  I personally love the food on HAL.  Most extensive breakfast menu of any line I've sailed (Carnival, NCL, Princess, Celebrity, and RCCL) and overall good quality.  https://profcruise.com/holland-america-menus/

 

Enjoy your cruise!

FANTASTIC COLLECTION!! Thank you for posting these. Leave tomorrow-hoping for a great cruise. 

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2 hours ago, molemaui said:

FANTASTIC COLLECTION!! Thank you for posting these. Leave tomorrow-hoping for a great cruise. 

 

Sure thing.  Have a wonderful cruise!!!  Wish I was going with you!

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Have a fabulous cruise, molemaui!

And just one more bit of "food for thought"... Celebrity has plenty of good things to eat, but dining atmosphere has to be factored in, too.  It's hard for food to taste great if the ambience isn't right.  Looking at that, I think HAL wins hands down.  The tables are spaced nicely in the MDR, and for the buffet, there is a lot of pleasant seating out by the Lido pool or out on the aft deck.  Excellent alfresco dining.  

Bon appetit and smooth sailing!

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21 hours ago, ProfCruise said:

Here are all the menus I compiled on my recent sailing aboard the Eurodam.  These might give you some idea of the items you can expect.  I personally love the food on HAL.  Most extensive breakfast menu of any line I've sailed (Carnival, NCL, Princess, Celebrity, and RCCL) and overall good quality.  https://profcruise.com/holland-america-menus/

 

Enjoy your cruise!

 

Delighted to read your 20 best things about HAL and to find out more about the veggie menus etc via your blog! I've been veggie for 30 years and normally go for the Indian veggie food on cruises. We are doing the 29 day Baltic & Viking Passage next year with 9 and 11 year old. 

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3 hours ago, shudie said:

 

Delighted to read your 20 best things about HAL and to find out more about the veggie menus etc via your blog! I've been veggie for 30 years and normally go for the Indian veggie food on cruises. We are doing the 29 day Baltic & Viking Passage next year with 9 and 11 year old. 

 

I'm so happy you found them helpful!  I generally go with the Indian veggie food on cruises too, but love how veggie friendly the dining room is on HAL (I love that they offer veggie links on the regular breakfast menu too).  I'm super jealous of your 29 day itinerary.  My son would be jealous of your kids too - his longest was 21 days, but we both felt that was still too short, lol.  Have a fabulous time and enjoy the food!

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On 10/19/2019 at 9:40 AM, molemaui said:

I know this a totally loaded question! Can anyone who has sailed Celebrity compare the food to HAL. (I'm purposely not trying to compare Oceania, Silversea, etc) We are taking our first HAL cruise and will enjoy no matter what but would like to hear other's opinions. 

We were very disappointed by HAL’s food on a recent Rotterdam cruise of the British Isles. (You can find my full cruise review on the review section.)
 

Seemed to us they’re trying to upsell premium dining, and letting their basic dining options deteriorate as a motivator.  

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How is the sodium content in food on HAL compared to Princess and Celebrity?  I found Princess food on my last cruise to have very high sodium content (which for me causes bloating).  Celebrity didn't have as much sodium in it -- the food tasted fresher I think?

 

 

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15 minutes ago, bamelin said:

How is the sodium content in food on HAL compared to Princess and Celebrity?  I found Princess food on my last cruise to have very high sodium content (which for me causes bloating).  Celebrity didn't have as much sodium in it -- the food tasted fresher I think?

 

 

I haven’t cruised on Celebrity—although we  may after abandoning HAL—but food on Princess was great. Don’t recall it being over or under seasoned. 

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5 minutes ago, BayWatching said:

I haven’t cruised on Celebrity—although we  may after abandoning HAL—but food on Princess was great. Don’t recall it being over or under seasoned. 

 

I cruised on the Star Princess in 2011 and the food was great with lots of seafood.  More recently sailed on the Royal Princess and although the buffet was ginormous we did find that the sodium (salt) content was high on a lot of food and there was a lot less seafood (shrimp in particular).

 

Our second journey though was a trans Atlantic crossing so that may have had something to do with it.  

 

I'll be trying out HAL for the first time in December on the Nieuw Statendam -- really looking forward to it to see how it compares to CEL and Princess.

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Bay Watching--I just read your review and really hope this is not the direction HAL is going. Thank so for your insight. 

Edited by molemaui

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6 hours ago, bamelin said:

How is the sodium content in food on HAL compared to Princess and Celebrity?  I found Princess food on my last cruise to have very high sodium content (which for me causes bloating).  Celebrity didn't have as much sodium in it -- the food tasted fresher I think?

 

 

 

I cannot tolerate/have high sodium either and I find the food on HAL is seasoned perfectly for me.

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14 hours ago, bamelin said:

How is the sodium content in food on HAL compared to Princess and Celebrity?  I found Princess food on my last cruise to have very high sodium content (which for me causes bloating).  Celebrity didn't have as much sodium in it -- the food tasted fresher I think?

 

 

I do not use much salt when cooking  and I find too many restaurants use way too much, however I never thought our food on our recent Noordam cruise was over salted.

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14 hours ago, BayWatching said:

I haven’t cruised on Celebrity—although we  may after abandoning HAL—but food on Princess was great. Don’t recall it being over or under seasoned. 

I think you should find yourself going from the frying pan and into the fire.

Consider a full upgrade to Oceania, or possibly Seabourn. Of course not nearly as reasonable. 

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Day 1-food “OK”. Nothing to write home about. In fairness, first day dining is not a real judge at all. Been wary of up sell efforts previously reported but have not encountered them yet. 

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We did the Celebrity Millennium in Asia for 14 nights in 2018 and loved the food.  Especially having escargot available every night.

 

This year (March 2019) we did HAL Westerdam for 14 nights and were very disappointed with the food.  Only offered escargot one night.  The choice was disappointing and the quality not as good as X.

 

PLUS my husband got a moldy grapefruit at the HAL MDR and a moldy yogurt at their buffet.  Never seen mold on any food before on any other cruise and we've sailed 8x before on 4 different lines.

 

BUT we are trying them again.  Same ship (the Westerdam) and very similar 14 night Asia cruise.  We've lowered our expectations this time so hopefully no surprises or disappointments.

 

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I did not read through the other responses.  I can say that I have been on 5 HAL cruises - 2 this year (NA and Oosterdam) and I have one booked for next year.  We have cruised Oceania and that was the best, but not comparable in pricing to HAL or Celebrity.  We have cruised 4 or 5 Celebrity cruises and frankly that is my preference of cruise line, but their itineraries are sometimes lacking for us.

 

Anyway, to compare Celebrity v. HAL on food - MDR - I think Celebrity is overall better quality.  Though we did have many nice meals on our recent HAL cruises, there were some misses.  The buffet, which is not my preference I found Celebrity a bit better, but it may have been due to the way the buffet was set up/organized as I find the Lido a bit too chaotic.  

 

I think you'll be fine either way, but I thought HAL service had gone a bit down hill and the menu options were not as much as Celebrity offered.  But for the most part I found them fairly equal. 

 

Specialty dining options are a different animal and I'm not sure you asked about that. 

 

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Through day 6 I have to say the food has been “decent to good” in the dining room. Not great or memorable but better than OK. I think Celebrity was better but reading everyone’s comments, it’s not out of the question that they have gone down a bit. 
 

My expectations are reasonable now. HAL is not going to deliver Oceania, Silversea or even Viking Ocean quality. What they do deliver is a great itinerary, nice suites and pretty good pricing. 
 

Another poster mentioned upselIing. I find it distasteful to have the steak or lobster on every nights menu with an additional charge. It’s not too long ago that even RCL had  “Lobster Night”.  
 

I had feared after the first day I might lose weight on this cruise. Happy to report that will not be the case. 

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