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First time HAL cruiser, what do I need to know?

jac14

Well-Known Member
#1
We just booked a family cruise on the Maasdam for July 2012 (Montreal to Boston). It will be a first time on HAL for all of us in our party. We've cruised Carnival, Princess (our favorite thus far) and NCL to a variety of locations (Caribbean, Med, Alaska, Tahiti). What are the best things about HAL and what makes them different than the others? Our group will range from 65 to 5. Any info is appreciated!
 

Calgon1

Awaiting results of mental evaluation
#2
"Oh my goodness ...." Where to begin? :spyglass: Well, let's start with the misconception(s) ...

HAL used to be known as, alternatively, "The Old Folks Line" and "The Rest Home At Sea". LOL. In the past, it was a given that at least 75% of the passengers were 75 or older. Thankfully, about 4 years ago, HAL started actively marketing to younger folks and families. The Signature of Excellence program has had a big impact on their new metrics. I think that ya'll (yeah, I'm Southern) are going to find that on your sailing the mix will be more along the lines of 20% will be 30 and below, 15% in their 30s, 20% in the 40s, 20% in the 50s, 20% in the 60s and 15% in the 70s and above.

As far as children, here again HAL is different. Where on other lines (RCI, Carnival and NCL) you'll find around 20-30% of the passengers are under 21; on this cruise you may have 20-30 children - total! And, odds are, other than in the dining room, hanging around "Slice"(the pizzaria) or the occasional gaggle passing by on a scavenger hunt, you probably won't ever see them! The HAL Club staff tend to run a very popular program and, I've found that the children who sail on HAL tend to be better behaved than the average ...

Looking at the ships, again HAL stands out as different. If you've cruised on one of the big lines, you probably found neon, chrome, plastic, glitz, formica, often loud music and a steady stream of announcements. i.e. - a lot of "flash". HAL has chosen to concentrate on substance. Rich wood panneling, plush carpeting, polished brassworks, objects 'd art and fresh flowers everywhere and (of course) the impecable HAL service.

Ah yes ... the service. From a string quartet greeting you on embarkation, the white gloved stewards escorting you to your cabin, the bell boy ringing in the meals, the fresh orchids on your table, the extensive (no charge) room service menu and the 'hands off' service in the buffet (they serve you - instead of everyone reaching into the dishes ...) to the truly honest smiles and greetings from every crewman/woman you pass. You won't feel like a customer/passenger but, rather, and honored guest in their home.

It's a matter of quality over quantity.
 

Cruizer

Well-Known Member
#3
We just booked a family cruise on the Maasdam for July 2012 (Montreal to Boston). It will be a first time on HAL for all of us in our party. We've cruised Carnival, Princess (our favorite thus far) and NCL to a variety of locations (Caribbean, Med, Alaska, Tahiti). What are the best things about HAL and what makes them different than the others? Our group will range from 65 to 5. Any info is appreciated!
Did you see 2001 A Space Odyssey? Do you remember the name of the computer?
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#4
That is a wonderful itinerary.

When we did this itinerary in 2007 -- Club HAL was somewhat active -- most activities were in the late afternoon or evening as this is a very port intensive cruise.

The Maasdam will be in dry dock in April of this year -- added will be the MIX -- the new showroom at sea -- the lanai cabins -- some new linens, etc.

Some corrections need to be made here. There is no string quartet greeting you as you get on the ship -- haven't seen or heard one in years. There is no white gloved man escorting you to your cabin. All passengers are taken by elevator to the Lido for lunch. Around 1:30 an announcement will be made that the cabins are ready -- you go yourself.

Code Orange is only for the first 48 hours in the Lido where you can not serve yourself anything -- not even the ice water, coffee, tea -- this is on all HAL ships - to help prevent the Noro virus.

The crew is among the best and friendilest on the high seas.

You will love HAL.
 

Jeanie

Well-Known Member
#5
Thanks Calgone for the update on Hal -- a great line -- I do remember the spectacular service the time we sail on Hal
 

Calgon1

Awaiting results of mental evaluation
#6
Some corrections need to be made here. There is no string quartet greeting you as you get on the ship -- haven't seen or heard one in years.
I stand corrected ... Not a quartet. On the Amsterdam (August-September 2010) was the Adaigo Strings (Trio).


There is no white gloved man escorting you to your cabin. All passengers are taken by elevator to the Lido for lunch.
Again (semi-) corrected. When we boarded, there were white gloved waiters handing out champagne. Later, when the cabins were released, I did see some of the more 'mobility challenged' passengers being escorted by those same white gloved waiters .
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#7
It has been years since any ship we have been on passed out champagne when we boarded the ship -- not even on our Amsterdam cruise to Hawaii.

No escorts on any of our ships.

No quartets or Adio Strings -- nothing.

You must be lucky.
 

GloBug

Senior Flea Coller Tester
#8
I boarded on that Amsterdam cruise with Calgon, and I was so astounded when we saw the Adaigo Strings playing to greet us aboard. It set the mood for the entire cruise. Understated luxury the entire time. I remember being so impressed just by the public restrooms. A full size viewing window, I just stood there entranced. Almost forgot why I went in there! Fresh squeezed OJ every single morning. The cabin bathrooms, large and without that shower curtain that loves you! Everything about HAL and it's small amazing touches contributed to a cruise that was memorable.

BTW, isn't Adiago for Strings just the name of a piece of music? It was a quartet.

Made up for having a cabin next to Calgon.



 
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loved_m

Well-Known Member
#11
That is a wonderful itinerary.

When we did this itinerary in 2007 ... Some corrections need to be made here. There is no string quartet greeting you as you get on the ship -- haven't seen or heard one in years. There is no white gloved man escorting you to your cabin. All passengers are taken by elevator to the Lido for lunch. Around 1:30 an announcement will be made that the cabins are ready -- you go yourself...

Perhaps they have updated it since you were last on? We were on in 2010 and 2011 and yes there were white gloves and classy music when we boarded, and no you are not herded into Lido til they open the rooms, we were escorted directly to our room and we boarded early. And there was no virus scare but the servers served our drinks and most every other kind of food even in the buffet areas with the utmost of grace as usual. Can't wait to go again!
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#12
We have nearly 700 days on HAL alone -- cruise them quite often as you can see.

In fact we just got off the Amsterdam a couple of weeks -- HAL's new 14 day Alaskan itinerary that was started last year.

Now you can go directly to your cabin when you embark -- drop off your carry-ons -- and go to wherever you want to for lunch.

We were not escorted to our cabin -- just shown to the elevator -- we know where they are -- and went to our cabin -- dropped off our carry-ons -- went to the Neptune Lounge to introduce oursleves to the concierges -- we do that all the time.
 
#13
Thats sound like our cruise last month on the Veendam. we embark around noon went to our suite ,drop off our carry ons and visited the Neptune lounge.
She knew our names before we interduce our selfs. she probably has our photos on her computer.
 
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Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#14
Yes Earl

The concierges do have our pictures on their computers -- and with their wonderful memories -- they never seem to forget whp is who once they see our pictures.