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Old February 19th, 2013, 03:21 AM
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Default Planning first cruise and have silly questions!

My husband and I are planning to go on a cruise for Christmas 2013 in the Caribbean and I think I have narrowed it down to Holland America Line for several reasons and I want to make sure those reasons still exist!

I've read everything my eyes could absorb and it looks like HAL is one of the few mid-priced lines that still has real formal nights? The brochure says so, but is it really so? I crossed Carnival and RCL off my list because they do not appear to. It is important enough to me to spend a bit more to have it.

Formal night is for me one of the main reasons to do a cruise! My spouse looks terrific in his Mess Dress and I love dressing up and dining in elegance, I miss that from active duty. HAL just seems like the best fit for us.

Also it appears that we could bring a bottle or two of wine on board. Still true?

Now for a silly one: can we bring beer? Seen conflicting info on that and can't find it on HAL website?

Dancing: is there ballroom dancing? We used to disco like maniacs but those parts don't work anymore. So slow dancing is also important.

How much should we expect to spend per day on board? Not big shoppers, probably eat all meals in main dining room or room, might like to use internet and we don't gamble. I expect the beer will be our biggest expense!

We are retired military and pack like fiends - I can make my sisters three suitcases fit in one carry on so I can take just about anything we need!

Really hope the formal night still holds, if not I'll just have to keep saving for Cunard...

Thank you!
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Old February 19th, 2013, 09:56 AM
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We've cruised 4 times on HAL .I can respond to 2 of your questions .On a 7 day cruise there are 2 formal nights .On a 10 day cruise ,3 nights .

On our last HAL cruise ,in 2012 there was a lounge in which people engaged in ballroom dancing .

Have a wonderful cruise .
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Old February 19th, 2013, 10:11 AM
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Formal nights still exist on HAL, though pax who don't wish to participate can of course dine in the Lido. I think a higher percentage of HAL passengers dress for formal night than do those on Celebrity or Princess. Even then, though, more men opt for a dark suit than fora tux, which I think is a shame. I have yet to see a man who did not look great in a tux. For a one-week cruise you will have two formal nights.

HAL will let you bring as much wine as you like on board, for consumption in your cabin. If you want to drink it elsewhere they will charge you a substantial corkage fee. Beer is not permitted under their rules, though I have seen some brought aboard; as with sodas, if you prefer a type that they do not carry they tend to let you have it. I don't think you can count on it, though.

There are several venues for ballroom dancing but none of them have very large dance floors. The ocean bar has a nice dance combo every evening and we have found them very amenable to requests. In fact, someone they didn't even see once noticed my son and his wife there one afternoon, trying to recall some tango routines they had used back in their college competition days. That evening the combo played a tango for the first time, and repeated it every night thereafter. The largest dance area is usually up in the Crow's Nest lounge, where they typically have at least one or two Latin nights.

As with all cruise lines, most merchandise in the shops is overpriced. HAL does usually have a "bargain day" or two if you really want to pick up a T-shirt for a souvenir. You will be billed a daily gratuities charge, unless you pay it in advance or opt to have it removed from your statement. Alcoholic and soft drinks are billed at bar prices, plus a 15% gratuity. Unless you want to pay by the minute, the least expensive internet package was $50 the last time I was aboard, but was $69 recently on Princess so it might have gone up on HAL.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old February 20th, 2013, 10:43 PM
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Thank you so much for the responses.

Really looking forward to this!

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Old February 20th, 2013, 11:00 PM
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Which HAL ship are you thinking about taking?
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Old February 21st, 2013, 03:00 PM
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Many Holland America ships installed dance floors in their main theaters for pre-dinner dancing. Check for it in the daily program.

For "medium-priced" lines Holland America and Celebrity are both still fairly formal. BUt don't be disappointed if you don't see the full ship decked out.

If what you really crave is to experience the classic "Ocean Liner" formal ballroom experience I highly recommend a Cunard Queen Mary 2 trans-Atlantic cruise. The Ballroom dancing is right out of Downton Abbey with (almost) all men in real tuxes and a huge wood dance floor and an 11-piece band.

Crystal Cruises is the second recommendation - although they are more expensive more is included in the cruise fare.

You will find people in true formal - and real ballroom dancing many nights - usually before late seating dinner.
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Old February 21st, 2013, 04:15 PM
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One of the highlights of our HAL cruises was the Pinnacle Grille. If you decide to splurge, select this option. The food was delicious,and, service divine. We tried to make more reservations there, but, couldn't, so book it early,and if you decide you don't want to go, then cancel it.

I was surprised how limited the space was for the passengers who wanted to do ballroom dancing..postage stamp size floors.
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Old February 21st, 2013, 06:23 PM
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Default So very true

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Originally Posted by Trip View Post
One of the highlights of our HAL cruises was the Pinnacle Grille. If you decide to splurge, select this option. The food was delicious,and, service divine. We tried to make more reservations there, but, couldn't, so book it early,and if you decide you don't want to go, then cancel it.

I was surprised how limited the space was for the passengers who wanted to do ballroom dancing..postage stamp size floors.

On our last HAL cruise we decided to try the Pinnacle Grill .Prior to doing so we spoke with friends who told us to absolutely not go there because the staff was very unfriendly (Veendam) .
Our experience was just the opposite .The wait staff was excellent .

We have friends who are avid ballroom dancers .They were very anxious to do this aboard the Zuiderdam and as Trip stated the dance floor was quite small.
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