Comparison of Holland America Line v DCL

xiphoid76

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 6, 2011
We took a Holland America cruise from Montreal to Boston this past week. Let me tell you, DCL is absolutely worth the money!

The itinerary was the best thing - since it is a smaller ship we were able to hit Montreal, Quebec and Charlottetown unlike Disney.

The embarkation process was a mess - why can’t they use a numbering system like DCL - instead you sit on plastic chairs in order you check in?!

The food was awful - many times as dinner we left and had to get room service to find something to eat. The ship was in rough shape, this was the Zaandam- built after the Magic and Wonder yet falling apart at the seams - much of this can probably be attributed to the staff on board. The staff worked hard but there was probably 40% the amount of staff DCL has.

The rooms were outdated, tv only had 7 channels - no on-demand movies but a DVD player you could rent movies for.

The clientele is definitely older - by like 30 years or so over DCL. We saw six people younger than us on the ship and we are in our mid 40s. The entertainment was limited to say the least - there was a comedian one night, lounge singers two nights and music performances the other nights. They don’t have the set-up DCL has.

Basically we will never sail HAL again, but this cruise was good to do as it made us appreciate DCL!
 

Chrissy-Mickey

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 23, 2016
Thank you for sharing your review of an old HAL ship.

From past reviews I've learned to consider ships of other cruise lines old even when they are around the age of DCL's Magic and Wonder. DCL definitely takes good care of their ships.

Last June I cruise with HAL for the first time, we got a good last-minute deal on the Eurodam. We had been looking for a cheap cruise to Alaska, but had been (apparently wisely) ignoring the deals on the older ships that were sailing Alaska at the time.

The Eurodam was clean and looked pretty good. The service on board was fine and the staff was friendly. The food was hit or miss, but we could always find something at the buffet. We don't enjoy sitting down at restaurants for an hour or more without DCL theming/entertainment, so we usually don't bother going to the MDRs when cruising other cruise lines. Entertainment was non-existing for our taste, though we did enjoy the game room they have. The room was comfortable, and they did have movies on demand.

We found that for itinerary and $$$ a newer ship of HAL can be worth it for us. That said, our next cruise is a Panama Canel cruise: we know that other cruise lines will have good deals on their Panama cruises a few months out, and they even have more interesting stops than DCL, but we're going for the Disney experience :jumping1:
 
  • Mainsail Minnie

    Momketeer
    Joined
    Jul 28, 2019
    Thanks for the review. I was tempted to switch to HAL for Alaska but stuck with DCL, and I know that was the right choice for us, because a stellar ship experience is more important to us than the ports. For us, a cruise is about getting away from it all, relaxing, having fun, being comfortable & taken care of, and being surrounded by the beauty of the ocean and a well-designed & well-kept ship. DCL delivers all of that, so we've stuck with them.
     
    Last edited:

    wombat_5606

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 17, 2006
    Thanks for the review. I was tempted to switch to HAL for Alaska but stuck with DCL, and I know that was the right choice for us, because a stellar ship experience is more important to us than the ports. For us, a cruise is about getting away from it all, relaxing, having fun, being comfortable & taken care of, and being surrounded by the beauty of the ocean and a well-designed & well-kept ship. DCL delivers all of that, so we've stuck with them.
    HAL is great, especially in Alaska. They go places DCL cannot go. If the ship is very important, then try one of their new ships, either Koningsdam or Nieuw Statendam.

    I wouldn't paint any cruise line with 14 ships with a such broad brush. I wouldn't necessarily encourage HAL for cruisers with young children either, but I have enjoyed my adult cruises on HAL very much.
     

    tutumomickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 18, 2016
    We too have enjoyed our HAL cruises very much, So much so that we are now three star mariners and we were already platnium on Disney before our first HAL cruise. We have found the Eurodam, Oosterdam and Nieuw Amsterdam to all be as clean and in better shape than our beloved Wonder. These ships do not have DVRs but tons of new release on demand movies. We found the evening entertainment in BB Kings and Billboard on Board far above anything Disney offers after hours. The main stage shows are far better on Disney but, they do get repetative. We prefer the MDR food on HAL as well. And Palo does not come close to comparing to Tamarind though Palo is double the price. The 'Rainforest Room' on HAL puts the Wonder's to shame and it is also far less expensive. Our biggest surprise was Half Moon Cay. This is the most beautiful, relaxing, quiet private island with beaches so white and soft, it feels like baby powder. I thought I would miss all the Disneyanna but, I actually had such wonderful times, I did not. I now find myself missing many of HAL ammenities when we sail Disney.
     

    BWV Dreamin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2007
    A better comparison would be Norwegian vs. DCL.. We sailed HAL last spring. It caters to the older crowd. And I mean older ( like wheel chairs and walkers). Night life was pretty subdued. The food was not great, but not bad. BUT, we only paid $950/pp for a balcony room. So we felt we got a lot of value for the money.
     
  • Brett Wyman

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2018
    We accidently went on a HAL cruise on the Maasdam way back in 2000. We were both in our early 20s then and just graduated college. It was like a retirement home on water : ). My wife and I were a novelty because we were so young. We had some great conversations because of that. At the time the boat was very very nice and the service back then was considered "upscale". We weren't rabble-rousers even in our youth so we enjoyed the quiet and calmness.
     

    PrincessShmoo

    DIS veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2009
    Now, see I like HAL. Well, I like the "old" HAL. There have been many recent changes to how HAL does things and they are not going over well with her tried and true cruisers. Many of them are jumping ship to other lines.

    We did a 28 night Hawaii/Tahiti cruise on HAL this past March, and, except for the fact that they've done away with any production shows in the main theater, I enjoyed that cruise quite a bit. I've done 4 cruises on HAL. I'll probably do more, but with the knowledge that "things aren't the way they used to be".

    I totally agree that HAL in Alaska is better than DCL, if you're going to Alaska for the Alaska experience.
     

    Skywalker

    Elementary, My Dear Mickey
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2004
    Goes to show how everyone's experience is so different. We have done Disney and it was all right, however, we loved Holland America, and that includes my two teenage boys. The friends they met there were friends they are keeping for life. We loved the ship (Veendam, even though it is an older ship), loved the crew and the people we met. Ship was clean and classy, whereas the Disney Magic we were stuck with a sewer smell for 7 days and paid too much money for basically the same experience of being at sea. I mean I'm glad we sailed Disney to try it, but paying such a high premium to be around guys dressed as Mickey Mouse is not our style.
     

    BWV Dreamin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2007
    Now, see I like HAL. Well, I like the "old" HAL. There have been many recent changes to how HAL does things and they are not going over well with her tried and true cruisers. Many of them are jumping ship to other lines.

    We did a 28 night Hawaii/Tahiti cruise on HAL this past March, and, except for the fact that they've done away with any production shows in the main theater, I enjoyed that cruise quite a bit. I've done 4 cruises on HAL. I'll probably do more, but with the knowledge that "things aren't the way they used to be".

    I totally agree that HAL in Alaska is better than DCL, if you're going to Alaska for the Alaska experience.
    HAL is now under the Carnival umbrella. That is when the changes started. It was a nice break being on a non-kids cruise. But entertainment was sorely lacking. We are sailing Norwegian next summer.
     
  • hrhdhd

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2010
    HAL is now under the Carnival umbrella. That is when the changes started. It was a nice break being on a non-kids cruise. But entertainment was sorely lacking. We are sailing Norwegian next summer.
    Carnival Corp. bought HAL in 1989. We started sailing them well after that, starting in 2005, and are now 3-star Mariners. The cutbacks Shmoo is talking about are more recent.
     

    wombat_5606

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 17, 2006
    HAL is now under the Carnival umbrella. That is when the changes started. It was a nice break being on a non-kids cruise. But entertainment was sorely lacking. We are sailing Norwegian next summer.
    I love the BB Kings bands and the Post Modern Jukebox. Have you been on a ship with those?
     

    o&smom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 23, 2011
    Thank you for sharing your review of an old HAL ship.

    From past reviews I've learned to consider ships of other cruise lines old even when they are around the age of DCL's Magic and Wonder. DCL definitely takes good care of their ships.

    Last June I cruise with HAL for the first time, we got a good last-minute deal on the Eurodam. We had been looking for a cheap cruise to Alaska, but had been (apparently wisely) ignoring the deals on the older ships that were sailing Alaska at the time.

    The Eurodam was clean and looked pretty good. The service on board was fine and the staff was friendly. The food was hit or miss, but we could always find something at the buffet. We don't enjoy sitting down at restaurants for an hour or more without DCL theming/entertainment, so we usually don't bother going to the MDRs when cruising other cruise lines. Entertainment was non-existing for our taste, though we did enjoy the game room they have. The room was comfortable, and they did have movies on demand.

    We found that for itinerary and $$$ a newer ship of HAL can be worth it for us. That said, our next cruise is a Panama Canel cruise: we know that other cruise lines will have good deals on their Panama cruises a few months out, and they even have more interesting stops than DCL, but we're going for the Disney experience :jumping1:
    We’ll be cruising with you in March. We can’t wait!
     

    GatorMomInNC

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 18, 2011
    We have sailed HAL one time, the Veendam from Boston to Quebec City. The ship was older, the clientele was older. We had a great time, mainly because we were sailing with 3 generations of my family and the ports were great. My younger son loved the kids club - it was very small and NOTHING compared to DCL --- but he was one of only a handful of kids, so got very individualized attention and they had a lot of gaming consoles. My older son did not like it and did not go.
    We played trivia as a family and won a LOT. We enjoyed the ports. Did not like the casinos and the smoking.
    Initially, I had the worst dining service I have ever had on a cruise, and my sister (also a very experienced cruiser) said the same thing. We ended up asking for new servers after the 2nd night -something I have never done on 5 other cruise lines. We all agreed if they didn't give us a new server we would order room service for the rest of the cruise. They ended up changing our dining time and servers and things improved greatly.
    The rooms were very small and as I said, the ship was older. But there were things I liked -they had a library, great trivia and lots of hottubs that no one else was using. They were at the back of the ship IIRC, and the seas going into the St. Lawrence river were rough, and it was so foggy you couldn't see beyond the railing. My son and I had a great time literally sliding back and forth in the hot tubs in almost complete fog and we still talk about how much fun we had!! It was like a roller coaster. Similarly, the pools were spilling over and it was kind of dangerous and scary, so my kid loved it!
     

    PrincessShmoo

    DIS veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2009
    But there were things I liked -they had a library, great trivia
    And there's a couple of the changes - the libraries have been removed or seriously downsized (mostly just books that others have left after they've read them). And the trivia games (if you're lucky) will actually be at a time you can attend them (they usually occurred during our early dinner seating). Also, no more "cruise directors" onboard HAL ships. They are a combined "cruise & travel director". Fewer Assistant CDs to handle more than 2 or 3 events on a daily basis.
     

    BWV Dreamin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2007
    Carnival Corp. bought HAL in 1989. We started sailing them well after that, starting in 2005, and are now 3-star Mariners. The cutbacks Shmoo is talking about are more recent.
    Yes but I think its from the new corporate people and CEO of Carnival.
     

    MrsInsG

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 12, 2017
    I have sailed HAL several times and have loved them. The ships are classic (not Vegas style, and not huge) and the services has always been outstanding. We are cruising DCL on our upcoming anniversary cruise because we are bringing our 11 and 14 year old daughters. HAL is not on par with DCL when it comes to kids, so we bit the extremely expensive bullet and are sailing on the Fantasy. The last time we sailed DCL we were utterly unimpressed by the food and lack of adult entertainment; so much so, in fact, that it's been 15 years since we last sailed DCL and we were unwilling to return until now. To each their own, but I definitely would not write HAL off and will be thrilled to return to HAL and continue earning our Mariner status (we're hoping to be four star Mariners before taking the around-the-world HAL cruise in about 15 years!)
     

    Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates

    Book your Disney Cruise through Dreams Unlimited Travel and receive a Shipboard Credit and an Exclusive Gift Basket!



    CASTAWAY CAY PHOTOS

    DECK PLANS


    STATEROOMS


    ITINERARIES


    Top