I can't speak for HAL, I have never been on one of their ships, but I have been on Celebrity's Zenith and had a wonderful experience. The service was excellent, and the food was delicious. The ship, although it was over 10 years old, was extremely clean and well kept. I would definitely recommend Celebrity after my experience.
I had a very mixed experience on HAL. On a brand new ship we had a non-functioning toilet for the full ten days of the cruise. The front desk was quite rude to us. We contacted first the chief engineer and told him of our problem and never heard a word from him. Then we contacted the captain. Ditto. On the other hand, the ship was lovely, the Philipino/Indonesian crew amazing, the food good and the cabin huge, albeit smelly after awhile. When I returned I wrote a mixed review talking about the good and bad points of the cruise, trying to be as fair as possible. I heard from several HAL district sales managers telling me they would forward my reviews to the president of HAL and I was sure to receive compensation. I thanked them and expected nothing, not even a letter of apology. My father was a corporate CEO and he told me the highest level of executives set the tone for the rest of the company. Since the ship's executive level was rude and non responsive, I expected that would be the case on land. I was right. Nothing, not a word, no compensation, no nothin'On the other hand, I've sailed all the Century class ships and found that everyone bent over backward to help. The much maligned chief housekeeper was a Godsend more than once. And when you called for help, it arrived almost immediately. So HAL, no, Celebrity yes for me.
You should give it a whirl. We generally like Celebrity, but have sailed HAL as well. They are pretty comparable I would say. I thought the food was a bit more interesting on Celebrity. I like the smaller HAL ships as we felt like we saw people a lot, which makes for good socializing, etc. Both are good choices.
If you are truely happy with HAL I am not sure why you would want to change, but it is nice to do something different. We are switching from our favorite line to Celebrity cause we got a really great deal. The entire family is excited about our up coming cruise and the chance to experience a totally different type of ship. Would we have switched if we hadn't gotten such a great deal? Most likely not!
I am considering a variety of cruises. Why should I switch to Celebrity from Holland America? All opinions appreciated.
It's really quite simple. Holland America Lines is owned by Carnival Corporation, which is totally indifferent toward its passengers and its crews and will do anything and everything to fatten the bottom line of its next financial report, regardless of the consequences, whereas Celebrity Cruises is owned by a company that really does care about its passengers and its crews and that wants your repeat business in the future.
"If you like Holland there's probably no reason whatsoever, unless you just want to do a comparison."
Sounds like us. We sailed HAL's Veendam a couple of weeks ago and will be sailing the Mercury soon. The ships are only one year apart in age, though the Mercury is about 22,000 GRT larger. They both have a very nice forward-facing observation lounge with panoramic views, and their two-level dining rooms are in the aft of the ship.
One thing I see in recent pictures of the Mercury is a lack of flowers on individual dining room tables. I hope the pictures were simply taken prior to putting the flowers out, but would like to know if Celebrity customarily puts flowers on the tables, as it is an amenity I really appreciate.
Also, the pictures (Jeff's) show dining room chairs that do not have arms on them. We really prefer to have a place to rest our elbows between courses and the Veendam has that. It also appears as if the tables are closer together on Mercury and that there is very little elbow and knee room at the tables, too, with place settings and chairs close together.
I am looking forward to the Thalossotherapy pool, and to all the new amenities that Celebrity is providing. Unless we are somehow upgraded, though, the cabins won't be at all comparable. HAL upgraded us to a verandah cabin (free), which they now call a mini-suite. It was quite large.
The sushi on HAL (on the menu along with the Indonesian lunch) was pretty, not to mention "interesting", but also laughable (a crunchy red bell pepper was inside), so we have high hopes that Celebrity will prepare their sushi better. I'm not expecting miracles, but hoping that the sushi will be at least more traditional. And if I get an affirmative response to a "Nihon-jin desu ka?" query to the sushi chef, I'll be thrilled. (Not likely, I imagine.)