Embarkation Day on day Holland America Eurodam and The Amazing HAL App

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I think for any Frequent Floaters embarkation day is like waiting to unwrap a gift you have been waiting for and can not wait to enjoy. While I had a LYFT XL pre-ordered for morning pickup we got ready earlier than planned and were able to cancel and rebook for an earlier pickup.

a barcode on a card

Much of this post is also my feedback on the Holland America “Navigator” App and how impressed I am as compared to the very basic (by comparison) NCL App. I checked in as soon as possible with the app and was assigned the earliest boarding time of 11:AM but the day before I received a push notification that our boarding time had been moved to a later group (during online check-in on the web I was alerted this could happen and why the App would be a better choice than a paper boarding pass / bar code that could change).

a room with black railings and pipes

If you are a regular Holland America cruiser check-in will not seem impressive or out of the ordinary but for me it was so different from NCL. We arrived at the port around 10AM and there was no one in line. With everything correctly completed before arriving all we had to do was have our barcode scanned, passport verified and a facial scan and we were done. It was ridiculous how fast it was and then given a “Group 2” boarding card.

a group of luggage in a hotel

Unlike the check-in area the holding area was more filled with guests even at this early time. What confused me was there was no reconfirmation manually of anything including health questions or credit card verification or anything at all – just go sit and wait to be called and again have your barcode scanned (they did offer to help update anyone’s paper codes if needed). But the thing the surprised me most was no room key was provided as is always the custom with NCL before you board.

a large ship on a dock

Suite guests and elites boarded first (after a number who needed assistance) and the process was efficient and quick and started on-time at 11AM. We did not have to wait long and our boarding was just as quick with another scan of the App barcode and we were free to go and explore the ship.

a room with a table and chairs and a view of the ocean

After a quick visit up to check out The Retreat and saying hello to the attendants topside an announcement was made that our rooms were ready and our key cards would be by our doors in the room “mail box”.

How interesting.

a plate of food on a plate

a plate of food on a white plate

We made our way all the way aft and dropped our carryon luggage and proceeded on to the main dining room for lunch. By the time lunch was done and we made our way back to our rooms our luggage was already in the central area near our cabin and we simply grabbed them and wheeled them to our room (rather than wait for them to be delivered by crew).

a group of luggage in a hotel lobby

I just can not say enough how efficiently and smoothly embarkation day had gone with Holland America and how hard the crew worked to get everything done. Now back to the Navigator app for a bit.

screens screenshot of a cell phone

During the cruise I continued to be impressed with the app including being able to book a shore excursion and the fact that once booked (either via app or calling the excursion desk) that your excursion tickets were instantly live in the app as another bar code and that no paper tickets were needed. Just brilliant Holland America and NCL could learn so much from you.

screenshots of a phone with a screenshot of a newspaper

Beyond all the information about the ship and shows as well as account access tracking drink order or anything else was the amount of free content on the app. If you did not have a wifi package to keep up to date what is going on in the world with your own social media feeds you could access a number of updated world newspapers and magazines. Again, just so smart.

a blue carpet with white text on it
Daily reminders inside the elevators

I get that much of my fascination with day one for frequent Holland America cruises may seem almost “eyeball roll” worthy but it really showed me how very pleasant day one of the cruise could be vs. what I have experienced before. As a side note fellow Frequent Floater Mike West who loves Princess Cruise Lines (which is also a Carnival Corp line) shared that their boarding and experience is even better that this with their RFID tokens they received before the cruise in the mail and eliminates the need for a key card at all (I can’t wait to try this one day).

Before dinner we took the time to unpack (we bring a lot of extra bits) and the packing list included a number of fancy cloths as it seemed they would be needed now and then sailing with Holland America for dress up nights – but would they? – René

 

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert
René de Lamberthttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great review of the Holland America Eurodam embarkation day! Your positive experience with the HAL app and the smooth embarkation process truly captures the convenience and excitement of starting a cruise journey.

  2. I agree, that this was the most efficient Embarkation Day I have experienced on HAL. This was my 6th cruise on HAL. It took me a while before I realized that I had to use the app for my shore excursions. Previous cruises always had paper tickets delivered to the stateroom mailbox. Meeting outside the ship on the dock was more efficient than previous cruises where we meet at the “Showroom of the Sea” which has now been renamed to I believe “World Stage”.

  3. Had a really seamless,easy boarding experience recently on the Oceania-Nautica. We arrived at (ROme Port) check-in area at 11am and almost immediately got processed. But we had to take our bags to another area to hand over and board the ship. Upon boarding told to go to Barista area or go to lunch and ww would be notified whtn suite ready, We were just ordering coffee when our butler come to us and said you suite is ready and your luggage is in the suite. It was 11:25am and we were escorted to our suite dropped our carry-ons and got to lunch.. It was an easy experience.. I would like to say disembarking was the same but not!! It was vry complicated as we were docked in an out area near Venice… that is another story.. It needed lits of work.

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