strange, because i had exactly the opposide impression from my november cruise on the rotterdam. i had sailed on the rotterdam before, and this was my tenth hal cruise. i noted that the food was much better in the dining room and the lido, and the waiters were more attentive, too. i loved the flowers on the lido tables poolside, something new to me. i had no problems with the cabin stewards as i once did on a new england cruise aboard the same rotterdam -- on that cruise i had to forage for soap and shampoo! i have noted some increase in fares, but are we sure it is 50%?? as for the minimum tip charged, it is less than i normally tip for good service; i gave some of the wait staff a little more. i've another cruise on the rotterdam in may, hope i don't see the things commented on.
I realize that pricing varies due to time of year, ship and itinerary however, my HAL cruises for 2005 (2 booked) are less expensive then the last 3 HAL cruises I took in late 2003 and 2004.
I know prices are going up in Europe but seeing some of the pricing in the last Mariner magazine shows me that there are still some very good deals out there.
However, there IS something wrong when my HAL cruises are cheaper then my Princess cruises for the comparable stateroom and itinerary.
We had similar feelings as Cruise Addict after our recent Zaandam New Years cruise.
We wrote a review, however it is on another board and if I posted the link here there would probably be an uproar.
We get the impression that HAL is going completely away from what made them unique and becoming like their parent. Maybe they should change their name to Halival!
Hummmm, Carnival has owned HAL for a long time now and they are well known for their hand-off policy amongst the differant product lines. We are doing a greeat group cruise in June onboard athe Zuiderdam which is the new class Vista ship and very much looking forward to it as I have seen great reviews of this ship. Yes, all ships do get poor reviews on occasion and sometimes you read two differant reviews from people that were on not only the same ship, but the same date etc and you would swear they were on differant planets! Both of them are probably right in their assesment in their opinions but can have greatly differing views. Mainly it seems the luck of the draw with the crew that was personally assigned to them as steward and/or waiters but it can be just a matter of taste as well. I really don't think that the auto tips have done much as HAL made it well known that tipping was not required and even though most tipped anyway as they should, a large number did not so if anything the crew is happy about now getting tips and you can still remove them if you are not satisfied and the crew know that.
I have sailed and worked on hundreds of cruises over the past 30 years. I noticed a serious decline in GUEST quality as soon as prices were lowered in the early 90s.
As soon as the great American Middle Class could afford to travel, the quality of everything went way down.
Over the past 20 years, the average daily tip has decreased by about 50 %. Cutting the wages of our service staff by 50% is not the best way to get them to work harder or better.
Over the past 10 years, as many as 30% of guests tipped nothing at the end of the cruise. First we cut the staff's salary by 50%, then we take away another 30%. Is anyone surprised that the staff is not as professional or willing as in earlier years?
In 1912, a second class cabin on theTitanic cost $2,850 for a 5 day crossing from London to New York. That year the average American earned $300 per year. That $2,850 in today's currency equals $40,000 for a 5 day cruise. Dinner in the First Class Diningroom (better known as the Ritz Restaurant) on Titanic was over $200 per person. Cash only, no charging. Those 1912 era $200 would be more than $2,500 today.
If only we could go back to those "good old days", the quality of Guests and Service would not be an issue.
We would see only the cream of society on ships, being served by the best staff in the world.
You are absolutely right. We just returned from our 3rd HAL cruise, on the Ryndam. The service, food quality and entertainment are definitely not the same. Plus, over half the passengers got sick on this long Panama Canal cruise (we were even denied entry into Jamaica), so we came into Ft. Lauderdale one day early---just so they could clean up the ship for the next cruise. They "dumped" all the passengers one day early and would not put up anyone in local hotels except for international travelers. All of us who booked independent air had to rebook from the ship's phones (we got 20 "free" minutes, which wasn't enough), plus cancel and rebook any other reservations, plus notify family and friends who may be meeting us or picking us up.... It was a lousy way to treat the passengers! We will probably not go on HAL again. The good news is that we did not get the virus! And nothing was ever in the news about this, either. They did a great job of hiding it out. Beware.