Hello Penny, good to hear from you. I pray everything is going well with your treatments.
I see you feel the same way about Princess' pastries, and I would add cakes in there also--kind of dry and tasteless. But Princess' soups rule! HAL's didn't compare.
And I don't think you were just lucky on Princess; great service, crew and cuisine don't just "happen"; Good Lord, we wouldn't keep going back if we thought it was just accidentially terrific.
A couple of minor dissapointments on one ship are surely not going to erase 30+ years as a satisfied customer. I really did like Veendam, mainly for its size and buffet; but I'm in no way ready to jump ship, so to speak. I AM looking forward, more than ever to trying Princess' smaller R class ships. By the way, if someone knows the correct name for the class of Tahatian, Pacific and Royal Princess I'd really like to know it--I just use "R class" out of ignorance of the correct name.
Penny, I'm going to talk more about ports later, but I'm getting dirty looks from my boss so I'll just say I was most impressed with Tallinn and Helsinki. I know, I know, what about St. Petersburg? What good is it to be in one of the greatest repositories of Western Civilation if you're stuck in gridlocked traffic; or cant' get close enough to a painting to tell who painted it or what it is because your getting hearded along like you're in a cattle drive!--elbow to elbow with 10,000 other befuddled tourists.
Thank you f-mattox for the frank review. I had expected a diehard Princess fan to be very critical of HAL and I believe you were. Your comparisons are clear and you gave the good and bad for both Princess and HAL.
I cannot make comparisons having only sailed on HAL (Zuiderdam & Amsterdam) but I have to agree about the HAL staff. I was so impressed by the cheerful attentive service in every part of the ship from wait staff, to bar staff to housekeeping.
I look forward to more details (both good and bad) in the days to come.
Finally getting back on a Dam ship, Nieuw Amsterdam Nov'11 (My Mom's 80'th B'day cruise)
Navigator of the Seas 2010
Serenade of the Seas 2009, 2011
We've only done one HAL cruise and that was 15 years ago. But I still recall how wonderful the service staff was to everyone. I'm not sure if they still do it, but HAL has/had their own training school in Indonesia for prospective staff members. And HAL has always enjoyed a high reputation for their buffets.
I agree about the "island" concept for the buffets - it always seems needlessly frantic to me.
Thank you Dave; I just finished reading your day by day log of your cruise and it sounds like you and your family had a wonderful time--and so generous of you to share your thoughts while on the cruise.
I usually skip the Captain's Welcome Aboard parties too, but I was curious to see how HAL handled it--very nice! After going through the receiving line and meeting the Captain, we were escorted right to a table and immediately served hors d' oeuvres and champagne. The showband played for dancing. Then the Captain introduced the heads of each department and other key personnel--including the "employee of the month", a young housekeeper who had just been promoted to cabin steward. He looked very nervous amongst all the brass but it was a touching gesture.
Anyway, I'm so glad you had a great cruise, as did I.
Next stop for me--Panama Canal; and then the cruise-chat cruise, which I'm actually looking forward to more than the other. I can cruise any ship anywhere I want; but getting this wonderful bunch together is going to be a rare opportunity.