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DeeDee Groff

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About DeeDee Groff

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Golden Ponds and Yankee Towns
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. I am being optimistic that I will be able to sail from Fort Lauderdale to Venice at the beginning of April. While I have done TA crossings, they have been east to west and in the fall. Would welcome suggestions on what to bring for when I venture outside on the open deck. What has been your experience at this time of year, and what did you wear that kept you comfortable?
  2. The drop in prices for the Westerdam April 5 sailing to Venice and the May 2 sailing RT Venice is the best I've seen in a long time, and I'm not talking about bookings made with a HAL PCC, but rather with an independent brick and mortar travel agency (not big box). On top of that, the "goodies" offered along with the reprice had me scrambling for a calculator. When I booked these two cruises last spring, I saved 13% from the HAL PCC quote, and now I have saved 32% from the original bookings. Now I'm patiently waiting for a vaccine and the attendant advice from HAL.....
  3. This is the same tour I took with the same company on the 2017 Voyage of the Vikings. It was a wonderful tour that could not have been any better, and the customer service both via email and on the ground was exemplary. The advice you have posted about the weather is spot on.
  4. I boarded the Westerdam in Singapore on January 16, and I disembarked in Sihanoukville on February 15. When the disembarkation port was changed from Shanghai to Yokohama, HAL put through a call for me at no cost to my TA who rearranged my return flight. The same was true for the proposed disembarkation at Laem Chabang where the first leg of the flights was to have been from Bangkok to Dubai. When the Westerdam was turned away by the Royal Thai Navy (nothing like seeing a destroyer from the aft), the HAL guest services department took over getting me from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur for the first leg of the journey home; the onward flight was to have been to Inchon. I had, and still have, no complaint at all with HAL, and I am a stickler for customer service. The airport in Phnom Penh to which we were flown by a HAL chartered plane from Sihanoukville could best be described as chaotic. All the flights to Kuala Lumpur were later cancelled, but Canadian friends suggested that perhaps the six of us from the Westerdam remaining in the airport after HAL arranged for transfer to four- and five-star hotels in Phnom Penh--we simply didn't allow ourselves to be herded to the waiting coaches--could book a flight from Phnom Penh to Inchon to make the final flight to the U.S. and Canada. One of our group got on the laptop while two of us went to a "corporate guest services manager" in the airport. This wonderful woman arranged all of our flights out that day, and we thus saved ourselves from a five-night hotel stay in Phnom Penh where we would not have been allowed to leave our rooms. I have written to both Orlando Ashford and Gus Antorcha singing the praises of this gem of a guest services manager. Lest anyone reading this thinks I am a five-star Mariner with a verandah or suite accomodation, please know I am working on my fifth star, and I pay the single supplement for an inside cabin which I usually try reserve in "the high rent district" on the deck where the Neptune Lounge is located. Incidentally, HAL has paid me in full for all the expenses I incurred as a result of all the changes I have outlined above.
  5. Your experience is the same as mine. I don't know the reason for this disparate treatment among all of us who have posted here, but I deal with a TA who is a real go-getter. There has even been a situation where I was able to use the FCC in lieu of a deposit. The only difference I see is that none of the cancelled cruises shows up in "My Bookings."
  6. The reprice saves me $5,734.60. If I had opted to stay with the original reservations, I needed to consider that I would have $1,600.00 for air credits and $1,000.00 for OBC for a total of $2,600.00 in "goodies." Subtract $2,600.00 from $5,734.60, and I would still be paying $2,134.60 more than the reprice even factoring in the air and OBC's. Sorry to have confused you!
  7. My situation is running counter to what I'm reading here. When I book, I am looking for specific cabin numbers, and if the cruises are B2B, I want to remain in the same cabin; no guarantees for me, and I am not interested in an upgrade. I also am looking for the best price without any "goodies," and I will only book with a fully refundable deposit. In March, I booked B2B on the Westerdam for next April and May for a total of 50 nights. On Monday my TA called to tell me HAL had added an $800. air credit for each cruise and also a $500. OBC for each. I could keep them (and the price at which she booked me) or she would reprice; the reprice will save me $5,734.60. Perhaps I'm not thinking clearly, but the air credits and the OBC's are worth a total of $2,600.00, so if I were to keep them I would still be paying $2,134.60 more for the two cruises!
  8. And then we have the circumstance where I booked B2B cruises in March for October 2020 in the Med. Ten days later HAL cancelled both cruises and offered either to refund the $600.00 deposit on each cruise or 200% in FCC's for each cruise. I opted for the 200% FCC's which were then applied to the Grand Africa cruise on the Zaandam when HAL redid my Grand Africa booking on the Rotterdam. My TA did call in advance to ask if that was what I wanted. Thursday evening I went into my HAL account which is something I don't do very often. Lo and behold, I have two more $600.00 FCC's showing as available. My TA won't be in until next week so I called HAL. The PCC I spoke to confirmed that indeed I do have these FCC's, they were posted on Wednesday, and no, she cannot see the reason they were added, only that they were! She suggested that I ask my TA to apply then to any one of my four current HAL bookings. I shall do this, and I will not look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth!
  9. Would anyone care to speculate on the reason this offer is limited to Alaska, Alaska Land and Sea, Canada and New England, and Europe itineraries?
  10. My savings as a solo cruiser in an inside cabin for HAL cruises that are 30 days or longer range between 10 and 13 percent using two TA's in different brick and mortar agencies neither one of which is a big box. Hank's posts echo my sentiments almost exactly. I am actually happy that this topic has come up because I sit and read the posts on the HAL forum day after day, and I marvel at the posters who seem to be glad to handover thousands of dollars because they "like" their PCC! I live fewer than five miles from a large cruise travel agency who promises that by booking with them, the cruiser will benefit from "hundreds of dollars of OBC because of our buying power," but they refuse to put this promise in writing. This is an example of "let the buyer beware" because I met a woman aboard a month long HAL cruise in 2015 who was aghast when I showed her my invoice for the same category cabin, it was $1300. less than she paid, and she received not a penny in OBC from this much touted agency! My other topic of wonderment is that so many cruisers do not seem to understand THEY are paying for all the "goodies" included in the price they are quoted either by a HAL PCC or a travel agency. I certainly am not the brightest light on the block, but I do use a calculator, I ask questions, and then I am able to decide the true value of the quote I receive.
  11. Four separate HAL bookings for March, April, May, and October 2021. Realistically, I expect to be able to sail for the first time next October.
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