Last spring I had a cruise with my sister booked on Celebrity Eclipse, which of course got cancelled due to Covid. My husband thought it was safe to book one for this November as vaccines should be available for everyone before then so he booked us a cruise on Holland America Noordam. It didn’t take long before we got a cancellation notice saying the ship’s itinerary had changed. Their website still shows the first half of that cruise as well as the following cruise unchanged, but the time period of the second half shows nothing for that ship at all so we figure that it is probably going into drydock during that time.
Even though the Noordam is a sister ship of the Westerdam and Oosterdam as well as P&O’s Arcadia, we were happy to finally book a cruise on Holland America that was not the Oosterdam, Westerdam, or Veendam. Not that there is anything wrong with any of them, they are all nice ships, but regardless of where in the world we’ve booked all of our cruises on Holland America have been on one of those three. We were looking forward to seeing a different dam ship this time – and he’d found an itinerary where all the ports it went to were places we’d never been.
Offerings for cancelled cruises now sure aren’t what they were last spring. The best they had to offer was same price for same cabin category plus a bit of onboard credit for two specific sailings they had selected. Other than that they had a short list of available cruises with somewhat similar itineraries that they offered the onboard credit for. That’s it, no 125% for any future booking or anything close to what cruise lines were offering last spring. Although since the price of one of the offered replacement cruises was up by nearly 50% a few weeks later the same price booking actually turned out better for anyone booking that specific cruise. Not so much for other choices.
Then again Celebrity offered that or a refund and we chose the 125%, but they sent the refund anyway along with an offer for onboard credit for a cruise booked within their specified time period. It might be for the best though because now we have the option of going with any line in case we don’t find another bargain there someday when we book a replacement for that cruise. Celebrity has always been a higher priced line than some, and now that they have decided to go all-inclusive it means a paying an increased fare for people like us who don’t drink much to subsidize the drinks for people who drink a lot more. Because all-inclusive doesn’t mean the extra stuff is free. It just means you pay more for the cruise and those things are included in the fare you paid.
Including the gratuities in the fare is a good thing since that is something for everyone to pay anyway. If it’s included in the fare people who aren’t accustomed to cruising won’t be surprised by tips showing up on their onboard bill. Passengers also won’t be able to remove those tips from the poor hard working crew that depends on that money.
Including wifi is not such a good idea though because onboard internet is always notoriously slow and the more people that are online the worse it gets. People who wouldn’t pay separately for it will use it if it is included, and rightfully so since they are paying for it in the higher fare, but that means more people online and even slower service. Sometimes it’s so bad you can’t even open an email and that was when not everyone onboard had it.
When drinks are purchased separately from the fare the heavy drinkers can buy packages and the rest of the people just buy one when they want it, which is fair to all because each person is paying for what they consume. If you average it out among all the passengers and include drinks in the cruise fare those who drink less end up paying for alcohol consumed by people who drink more. Sure you might have a few drinks you wouldn’t otherwise have paid for, but not likely enough to equal the difference in cruise price for a lot of people. It would be so much better if they charged less for the cruise and other than the gratuities if they want to include something extra allow people to choose if they want alcohol or internet or perhaps dinner at a specialty restaurant and a massage or shore excursion for those who didn’t want either. At least that’s not an issue on Holland America, although it would be nice if all lines included the gratuities in the price since in addition to being better for both passengers and crew it would also be easier to compare prices.
We asked our travel agent about taking the half of our original cruise that was still available on Holland America’s website and then catching a different ship at the disembarkation port, but she said that cruise lines are currently re-deploying ships to different regions with alarming enough frequency that she did not recommend trying to tie any two different ships together this year as part of the trip might likely get cancelled. Apparently none of the cruise lines are offering the sort of things they were for cancelled cruises last spring so people are pretty much out of luck if their ship gets moved somewhere else after they book it.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021