I just returned from the 11 day cruise aboard the MAASDAM which left from Norfolk, VA, and wanted to share my opinion of the changes aboard HAL. This is my 9th HAL cruise and the first time that I have noticed a decline in some services.
Half Moon Cay has always been a favorite stop for me. However I am severely sensitive to the sun. This year I was required to pay $9.00 for "clam shell" which covers a lounge chair. All clamshells were locked and required payment in order to utilize. To, me, this was just too much. Here we are spending a good amount of money on a cruise and they want to charge me for shade on THEIR private island! The workers at the beach were less than happy to unlock the clam shell which I was required to pay for at the excursion desk.
If you are a smoker, plan to bring your own matches. HAL has eliminated all matches aboard the ship. The bartender cites 9/11 as the reason. This is our 3rd cruise since 9/11 on HAL and all previous times matches were available.
If you wanted an additional item from the kitchen at dinner (as usually is the case for lobster night) we were immediately told the kitchen was closed.
The shampoo provided has been changed to another brand which was horrible. My suggestion - bring your own. They gave us one small bottle that needed to last us the entire cruise.
The biggest disappointment was the daily program. It used to fit so lovely in my scrap book. The first 3 days it was a legal size piece of white paper that had been poorly photocopied. The remaining days it was a tri-fold small brochure. The port descriptions were so poorly photocopied you could hardly read them.
I have been reading the cruisemates message boards for several years and have never posted a negative comment about HAL until today. It is the only cruise line my family travels with and we have always enjoyed their service. It just appears that they are beginning to nickel and dime the little things. We went to the explorer's lounge expecting chocolates after dinner like we had experienced on the ROTTERDAM. Instead we found a steward who didn't want to be bothered getting us a cappucino.
I hope these changes are just "trial runs" for HAL to see what type of response they receive from passengers. I hope other HAL passengers will post their feelings regarding these changes. I know that things must change from time to time in any industry but let's hope HAL sees the light and changes for the better, not worse.
Maybe $9.00 is too much, but they do not give you a free mask and fins because you want to swim in the water or a free float to float in the water. Also Dizy is right about the other just things: just ask.... They always want to keep you happy.
I also have been on HAL many times. I try not to sweat the small things.
Last Feb (Noordam) I was at the service counter and they gave a pack of matches to a man when he asked.
RCL - Radiance of the Seas - Panama Canel 10-24-2004
Am going on Volendam this week and will see if things have gone down as we were on this ship 3 yrs ago.Hope they have not followed Carnaval and only serve one egg with eggs benedict and make you request jam in the dining room.My guess is not and only time will tell.If so they will drive me back to Celebrity where wewe have been most pleased with 5 different ships.
I don't sweat the small things but when you have to pay for shade on THEIR private island, that becomes ridiculous.
I would and do gladly pay for fins/snorkels and float because that is something above and beyond what is expected in the cruise fare. But to charge for shade? Do you think they should be charging for lounge chairs too since it's not expected that I would want a chair in the shade?
Did it ever occur to them that since they generally have a senior crowd that there might be people on medications that make them sensitive to the sun and shade might be a necessity rather than a choice?
As I said in my original post, I have never been critical of HAL and I have never concerned myself with being a pain about "small stuff." I was merely commenting on a general trend that I have noticed.
We're going on our first cruise in April, so have no experience... But, we do have experience with going to beaches, so I'm going to make a comment about the clam shells on Half Moon Cay.
Do you think HAL is charging for them in order to make sure they'll be used by the people who actually want them and will use them? I know how irritating it is to get to the pool and find all the lounge chairs covered with towels and you have to find a regular chair in which to sit. You notice that half the chairs are never used. Maybe it was the same thing with the clam shells--people were putting their stuff in one and never using it.
I for one will be happy to pay $9 to ensure that I get some shade for the day. Both of us are on meds that make us sun sensitive, too, and don't want to miss this beautiful beach!
Joan and Pat
First-time Cruisers! Zuiderdam, April 2004
I've done more cruising on the online bulletin boards than on various cruise lines, but it seems obvious that cruise lines are going to "user fees". To keep the cruise fares low (which is not a blessing to many experienced passengers, particularly HAL) passengers are having to pay more and more of the features no longer included in the basic fare. Cruises seem to be becoming less and less of an "all-inclusive" vacation. Should all passengers "chip in" to pay for the entertainment only some see? Should all passengers "chip in" to provide the sunshade that only some use? These questions seem to be answered more and more in the negative.
At this point, HAL seems to be "nickel and diming" less than other cruise lines, but it seems to be the future of the industry. I prefer to travel by myself and can't quite afford the fares of the luxury lines on a single basis. Since I discovered HAL, I doubt that I will be on any other lines -- HAL provides exactly the type of relaxation and ambiance that I am looking for. I'll live with whatever changes they make, whether it is increased fares or increased user fees. I only have a few cruises to my credit, so I can't compare current policy/service/quality with that of previous decades, which may be a blessing for me.
I think HAL just like every other industry is attempting to maximize the dollars that each person will spend, Lets take half moon cay, in june they are adding horse back riding and a sting ray city. Do you think they are going to be free. They probably dont pay any docking fees, and with all the improvments that they are making half moon cay, they are still making a ton of bucks there. However, we get off, get our chairs, swim, eat some lunch swim and head back to the ship total spent on half moon cay ZERO total enjoyment and relaxation 100%
HAL is attempting to change the demographics with the new vista class ships, Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam etc. And we have been on both the Z and O (our first HAL cruises) and it was amazing to listen to all the old time HAL cruisers to what HAL has taken away etc.
I dont think we will see it change and if anything they (the cruise industry) will find more ways to extract money to make up for the low fares. On our most recent cruise on the O Jan 25th to Feb 1, they put out a flyer that folks could stay another week, 199 per person inside, 299 outside. Do you think they are going to lose money, I really doubt it
They will charge you for items only when people continue to pay for those items. Too many people think that 'so what, I am on vacation and I saved for it. So I will spend whatever to get whatever.' Don't pay, don't participate and see if it will go away. RCCL was charging initially for Johnny Rockets. People would not pay, so RCCL stopped charging. Happy Cruising!!
"On our most recent cruise on the O Jan 25th to Feb 1, they put out a flyer that folks could stay another week, 199 per person inside, 299 outside. "
I am very curious what happened to the folks who were already booked and paid for the subsequent cruise, as HAL has a lot of folks who do back to back cruises, don't they?
Did they receive partial refunds, ship credits, significant upgrades? Does anyone know?
I have heard that the Maasdam was to receive upgrades prior to their April sailing from Norfolk. Can anyone comment if this has taken place and describe the changes? This 10 day cruise is my first, so any additonal tips are appreciated. We had heard that one is no longer able to purchase alcohol for consumption in your cabin even with the mark up over duty free prices. What is the policy regarding carrying it onboard?
SF Sharon....We do many back-to-backs and have been aboard when they have made offers for folks to stay aboard for the next cruise. We have never gotten any "refund" and would not expect to. Why would we? We booked our cruise(s) many months prior, we get to stay in the same cabin as that is how we always book it.....we made our plans in advance to be aboard. We did not expect anything from HAL other than what we paid for.....a great cruise. And that we have always gotten.