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Old April 20th, 2008, 07:09 PM
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Default Is a HAL cruise right for us?

I have been browsing this board and, since you all are very experienced and knowledgeable Holland cruise passengers, I want to pick your brains about whether you think a Holland cruise will be something my husband and I will enjoy. We are thinking of booking an Alaskan cruise in August 2009 to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. We are in our mid-30's and don't have children. We are attracted to the idea of going on a HAL cruise because of the things we've read about the good food and quiet romantic atmosphere. We have never been on a cruise before, though we have done a good deal of traveling throughout the US and Western Europe.

We are not partiers, but we do like some nightlife. Are there shows or clubs with live music on HAL cruises? What types of activities and entertainment are common on Holland? We want something that is quiet, but not too quiet, if you catch my drift?

Also, what are the other passengers like and what is the atmosphere on the ship like? Thanks for answering my questions.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 09:19 PM
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While we have never experienced a bad cruise on any ship we have sailed, there were circumstances on both my HAL cruises, that, surprised us.

Our first cruise was on the Old Westerdam. We had our first taste of the wonderful service, this line is known for. The food was good, as was the entertainment. It was a 60's theme cruise, and was interesting to see all the blasts from the past! Really, our only issue was, the fact that at night this ship was much to quiet. We had not experienced this before.

Our other cruise was in 05, on the Zuiderdam, with friends, who are major HAL fans. Quite surprisingly, especially to our friends, was the quality of service in the dining room. Our staff, was obviously having issues, and we knew it. Other tables around us, did not seem to have any problems. Our table itself was in an odd configuration, and placement, so the serving was awkward as well. Our table of 6 rated the food in the dr, as only fair. The Pinnacle Grille was outstanding!

We thought we would find the night life on this younger hipper ship, to be different then our previous experience, but it wasn't, sadly. The ship was
again, too quiet for our liking. We are not party people, but we wanted a bit more excitement. To our HAL pals surprise, this was an experience unlike their other sailings.

I guess, our two sailings, had booked with a more conservative goup of passengers, explaining why the ships were more quiet than we are used to. The Zuiderdam was a beautiful ship, but lacked the amazing service we had loved so much on the Westerdam.

As a moderator, and reading all the boards, I know our experience seems to be in the minority, but our "Z" experience makes me reluctant to sail HAL any time in the near future. ..While these things did impact us a bit, we overall enjoyed the cruise.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 08:47 AM
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Thanks, Trip. Since we're planning to go to Alaska in August '09, the only other cruise line we're seriously considering is Celebrity. From what I've read, Celebrity and Holland are comparable. However, in the Celebrity forum, many people have said that the quality of Celebrity's food and service has gone down in the past couple of years. From what I've read, it seems like Holland has better food and service, but is maybe not as fun when it comes to entertainment or night life? Like I said, I don't want to get drunk and dance in a conga line, but it would be nice to have some live music and a chance to have cocktails late at night. From your post, I can see that Holland may be a little lacking in that area.

Holland ships also appear to be smaller than Celebrity ships. I am assuming that this means that the ships restaurants and facilities will be less crowded? In my book, that's a good thing.

I realize that my husband and I will most likely be younger than our fellow passengers, and I have no problem with that. I'd rather be on a quieter ship with people older than me than on a party ship where the pools and other facilities are crowded with loud little kids. I'm just hoping that the atmosphere on the ship is sociable and lively.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Whatever line you choose, I am sure your time aboard will be wonderful. Both lines tout service, and for the most part, its spot on.

Each cruise has a personality of it's own, with sometimes a glitch here and there. We never went hungry, gawd forbid,lol, and although our cruises were a tad quieter, we just went with the flow..Enjoy!
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Old April 21st, 2008, 10:21 AM
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this is a subjective topic that I don't think anyone can really give you alot of input on...having said that..alot of what makes a cruise successful or not is really based around the random selection of your fellow passengers on that particular cruise..if the crew is on top of it's game, the weather good, the food acceptable...then regardless of cruise line you should have a good experience based upon how you feel receive for the value of your dollar spent

I'm a big fan of HAL so I would say you should enjoy it
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Old April 28th, 2008, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rac8899
Thanks, Trip. Since we're planning to go to Alaska in August '09, the only other cruise line we're seriously considering is Celebrity. From what I've read, Celebrity and Holland are comparable. However, in the Celebrity forum, many people have said that the quality of Celebrity's food and service has gone down in the past couple of years. From what I've read, it seems like Holland has better food and service, but is maybe not as fun when it comes to entertainment or night life? Like I said, I don't want to get drunk and dance in a conga line, but it would be nice to have some live music and a chance to have cocktails late at night. From your post, I can see that Holland may be a little lacking in that area.

Holland ships also appear to be smaller than Celebrity ships. I am assuming that this means that the ships restaurants and facilities will be less crowded? In my book, that's a good thing.

I realize that my husband and I will most likely be younger than our fellow passengers, and I have no problem with that. I'd rather be on a quieter ship with people older than me than on a party ship where the pools and other facilities are crowded with loud little kids. I'm just hoping that the atmosphere on the ship is sociable and lively.
Since it's been 3 years since Trip was last on a HAL ship I think she would find that her experiences are not the norm. We've cruised several times on HAL ships, as recently as February, and our experiences have all been positive. A 7-day Caribbean will normally have a younger demographic but we've had a great time on all of our HAL cruises. Our cruise in Feb was the best so far--the entertainer in the piano bar (Jimmy Maddox) was the best we've experienced. We were in there every night until the wee hours of the morning. The service has never been better and their food has improved dramatically over the last 2 years (and it was very good before!). HAL does cater to people looking for more elegant, less frenetic experiences. Along with the shows in the main show lounge, each evening there is a live dance combo in the Ocean Bar, string music in the Explorer's Lounge, a live band in the Crow's nest, a piano player/singer in the piano bar and, on the Vista-class ships, a disco with a DJ.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 06:15 PM
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Rac8899, My wife and I went on our first cruise in August 2007 to Alaska onboard ms Oosterdam a vista class ship operated by Holland America. We are both in our mid fifties. We had a wonderful time both on and off the ship. We especially enjoyed the somewhat subdued atmosphere and the elegance. We enjoyed the food in the dining room and the food at the specialty resturant(Pinnacle Grill) very much. We enjoyed our cabin alot,we booked an SA suite and recieved alot of special perks such as, special cocktail party with the officers and a special champaine brunch with captain and other officers,the food was fantastic. You may want to splurge also as we did celebrating our 33rd. ann. You will have so much fun seeing Alaska and going on adventures off the ship that when you are on board you can pick and choose how active you want to be. You will meet people I am sure that you can get together with and find many places on board to dance,toast,and be as lively as you wish. Have a wonerful time and happy anniversary..........MD
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Old April 28th, 2008, 08:55 PM
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We have spent a lot of time on HAL ships. About three months total. There will be a fairly young crowd on a relatively short Alaskan cruise. Yes, there are shows and live music every night. You won't be disappointed. I think Trip's experience was not typical. From what you say you are seeking in your first post, I think HAL is the better choice for you by far
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Old April 29th, 2008, 10:38 AM
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We took our 1st HAL cruise this past Dec. to the Mexican Riviera. We are much older than you, but this is what we found:

First, we sailed on Oosterdam a Vista-class ship, which is bigger & newer than some of the other HAL ships. It is still much smaller than the mega Princess ships and a much better & more relaxing size.

The ship was beautiful and the service was terrific. 100% better than we experienced on Princess. We had an SC deluxe suite and the cabin and verandah were huge and the beds were wonderful. We also had the use of the Neptune Lounge as mentioned by the poster above.

We did not find the food to be special. We found it very ordinary and in some cases not very good. The steaks were thin, tasteless and tough except for one formal night.

The general tone of the ship was subdued - not the frenetic energy of a Princess cruise with hordes of people everywhere. We liked not having the crowds. I understand the Alaska cruises have a much greater diversification of ages, with a lot of younger people - so the energy level should be higher.

We were lucky in the entertainment with Joel Mason, an Elton John impersonator, who was terrific.

I don't think cruising, in general, is for us, but HAL was a much, MUCH better experience than Princess.


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Old May 13th, 2008, 07:17 PM
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Thank you so much for all of this helpful information! It sounds like this would be a good fit for us. I appreciate all of your feedback.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 06:53 PM
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Just returned from the Alaska Cruise aboard the Westerdam.
I would encourage the trip. It really was a magnificent trip. This was our
2nd cruise. Did the W. Carribbean last year with Carnival. Were not at all impressed.
But HAL was wonderful and has everything you are hoping to find. The excursions are great and the scenery beyond spectacular. Helped that the sun shined quite a bit too.
My only complaint was that we were in a Deluxe suite right below the Lido deck. They start breakfast prep around 3 AM. Woke me every single night.
Not nice. Be sure to avoid that area even if you are a heavy sleeper.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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sskatt , Welcome back. It seems you enjoyed yourselves as we did. Alaska is so beautiful..........MD
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Old May 29th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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My only complaint was that we were in a Deluxe suite right below the Lido deck. They start breakfast prep around 3 AM. Woke me every single night.

MD - same thing happened to us on the Veendam a couple of weeks ago, but we were never wakened at 3am. One morning it was 6:30 am - turns out that someone was moving/dragging chairs and tables up on the Lido deck. We found out later that our cabin was below the part where you walked from the inside of the Lido to the outside part right hear the Dolphin Bar.

All during the day we would hear this scrapping/banging sound. We did tell one of the Senior Officers and whether anything was done after we left, I don't know.

Next time I'll make sure we are further forward under the Spa.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:35 PM
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Default [b]For those that had cabins under the Lido etc.[/b]

A little planning and thought can avoid the problem of noisy cabins.

If you take the option of choosing your own cabin rather than taking a guarantee or luck of the draw, you can check the deck plans beforehand to see where your intended cabin will be located.

If you don't want your sleep interrupted, pick a cabin which is preferably between other cabin decks and not under or above a restaurant, showroom, pool, engine room or other potentially noisy venue.

Good luck with future cruises!
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Old May 30th, 2008, 02:49 PM
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Rac we scheduled our first cruise on Holland America as well. What drove my decision was the high ratings for food and that particular ship in general, but more so the itinerary. I'm looking forward to the trip. Can't really help you there but...

I've read the good and bad etc but in truth for us it was meaningless as I have yet to take a cruise where I didn't discover a great time. I can say some have better food, others may have better nightclubs, still others have something else but I have yet to be on a ship that is 100% all of the above. Which makes this new experience even more exciting because I know where I'm going, know what I'm eating, and eating, and eating and I know if we don't dance in a club, we'll be dancing somewhere. Perhaps in our room or on a top deck with nothing but us and the moon.

As a sidenote: We were on NCL on one cruise and went to the crowded clubs and we only lasted a short time because we thought we were missing out on something else. The music was ok. We slipped out and accidentally found the Karaoke room which we are in no way even remotely interested in. My husband is a rock enthusiest and most of these clubs on any trip we have been on are something else. We had a drink and sat down to plot our next stop. We ended up being there for hours. lol. Seems some great professional singers cruise. Who knew! All in all you never know what you will find when one door closes and another opens.

For us, itinerary rules the day.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Is a HAL cruise right for us?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rac8899
I have been browsing this board and, since you all are very experienced and knowledgeable Holland cruise passengers, I want to pick your brains about whether you think a Holland cruise will be something my husband and I will enjoy. We are thinking of booking an Alaskan cruise in August 2009 to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. We are in our mid-30's and don't have children. We are attracted to the idea of going on a HAL cruise because of the things we've read about the good food and quiet romantic atmosphere. We have never been on a cruise before, though we have done a good deal of traveling throughout the US and Western Europe.

We are not partiers, but we do like some nightlife. Are there shows or clubs with live music on HAL cruises? What types of activities and entertainment are common on Holland? We want something that is quiet, but not too quiet, if you catch my drift?

Also, what are the other passengers like and what is the atmosphere on the ship like? Thanks for answering my questions.
Go and enjoy: yes, you will be among the youngest on the ship and nightlife will be almost non existant. The biggest complaint you will ever see about HAL is the lack of activities and energy period, but the cabins are first class and the food outstanding as cruise ships go.

Though HAL isn't our first choice it is certainly an excellant line. As long as you know ahead of time there isn't much going on after about 10pm. Of course Alaska is very port intensive so you may be just tired enough to choose an early retirement.

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Old May 30th, 2008, 11:08 PM
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Cruised HAL since when I was 30 - my kiddo's cruised HAL since he was 1.

Classy line, subdued, many repeaters, no surprises, nice rooms, have fun.
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Old June 4th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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Is this cruise right for you? It all depends on what you want in a cruise.

A cruise is like a moving postcard... you wake up every morning in a new place and facing a new adventure. My wife and I are in our 50's and have been on 2 HAL cruises in the past 9 months. Specifically, we've been on the Canada/New England cruise and on the Southern Caribbean cruise. We loved them both and are now planning our next cruise with Holland America. You will find the embarkation and disembarkation very organized, service excellent, staff friendly and the meals quite good. You will also find the Holland America ships to be a bit smaller, but generally with larger staterooms compared to that of other ships. If you can, get a Deluxe Verandah Suite, it's well worth the extra price per person when you consider the additional perks, including free laundry and pressing services.

However, very important:
1. You mentioned that you are in your 30's. This might be a problem since the average age of the passengers appears to be well over 65. In fact (no kidding) we witnessed an old man with a walker, pushing an old woman in a wheel chair into the dining room! There appears to be more wheel chairs on a Holland America ship that you'll find in a hospital.
2. Some of the Holland America ships have been in service for quite a while, needing major time in dry dock to get them updated. You might want to google the launch date and most recent dry dock date for the ship. This could give you an idea of what to expect on board. However, the ship might be old and needing some upgrades, but you should still find it clean.

I hope this helps!
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Old June 4th, 2008, 01:21 PM
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Hi Newbie:

These are your larger, newer, more-hotel-like HAL ships.

Amsterdam, Zuiderdam II, Westerdam IV, Oosterdam I, Nordam IV, Eurodam I

Hoteler's like windows so the Verandah may be appealing and more hotel like. Cruisers, veterans, divers, and beachbums who sleep in may like the inside midsection rooms for stability or darkness. Been all over HAL ships and all cabins are pretty decent, although some will vary in noise. The top suites with jacuzzi tubs are choice though.

HAL does attract repeaters and we Mariners will cruise HAL 'til we drop. That said not all of us are dropping anytime soon. Kiddo's a Mariner and he's only 13 with as many cruises. I started with HAL in my 30's and at 51 I'm more likely to run over you with a diver propulsion vehicle than a wheel chair.

The key things about HAL are class and consistancy - being a life guard I would likely be tempted to rescue those drunks who dive off some other lines or pull them from the nets of the closed pools. That's not a problem on HAL. And HAL also don't crash into other ships, list, catch fire, sink, or get hijacked by pirates as often as some other lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere2
Is this cruise right for you? It all depends on what you want in a cruise.

A cruise is like a moving postcard... you wake up every morning in a new place and facing a new adventure. My wife and I are in our 50's and have been on 2 HAL cruises in the past 9 months. Specifically, we've been on the Canada/New England cruise and on the Southern Caribbean cruise. We loved them both and are now planning our next cruise with Holland America. You will find the embarkation and disembarkation very organized, service excellent, staff friendly and the meals quite good. You will also find the Holland America ships to be a bit smaller, but generally with larger staterooms compared to that of other ships. If you can, get a Deluxe Verandah Suite, it's well worth the extra price per person when you consider the additional perks, including free laundry and pressing services.

However, very important:
1. You mentioned that you are in your 30's. This might be a problem since the average age of the passengers appears to be well over 65. In fact (no kidding) we witnessed an old man with a walker, pushing an old woman in a wheel chair into the dining room! There appears to be more wheel chairs on a Holland America ship that you'll find in a hospital.
2. Some of the Holland America ships have been in service for quite a while, needing major time in dry dock to get them updated. You might want to google the launch date and most recent dry dock date for the ship. This could give you an idea of what to expect on board. However, the ship might be old and needing some upgrades, but you should still find it clean.

I hope this helps!
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