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    Michigan & Maui
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    A retired Generation X actively traveling the world
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HA! I’m barely loyal to my siblings

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  1. What card are you getting targeted on? I see nothing on my Am Ex Gold Business. I also have an Am Ex Delta but I've never seen this type of offer on a cobranded airline card.
  2. @0106 thank you for this report! Very timely. Few questions (for anyone who cares to reply): 1) I have zero tendering priority and I'm concerned about making private tour arrangements and not being able to get there in time. On the 35 night Kdam cruise, it took nearly 6 hours to get everyone off in Nuka Hiva. It was also challenging in Fakarava, and several people were left behind by their private guide. What are you thought on this? 2) I have $300 to burn on SE. Like you, I really don't like HAL excurstions, but I'll spend the money. What tour(s) would you recommend from HAL?? 3) What stops were fine to get off and just explore on our own? We are hikers. Distance isn't really an issue. 4) What are the top three tours you did? Mahalo!!!
  3. Just so you know, last year we had many people uber to the bwyh from the downtown hotels :).The first day night we had about 40 people and the second night we had around 80. It really was a fun gathering so if you change your mind know that everyone is invited.
  4. Ditto! I'm sure our paths will cross. I'm in the middle of organizing another pre-cruise meeting at the Best Western yacht Harbor if you plan on coming into San Diego a day early. Are you following the Roll Call here? Lots of info from many very knowledgable people there :). Oh Boy. I have the palette of a toddler so Food Tours aren't in my wheelhouse. I lived in Honolulu back in the 80s and I'm sure any of the restaurants I enjoyed then are long gone (although I did find my rickety apartment still standing last year; it was a dump in the 80s I can't even imagine now). Have you checked out Dukes for happyhour? That's a fun bar with entertainment. Not sure how long your in port but it's all I've got for you :(. I am off to fine your Antarctica review. I will be posting on your live thread shortly! Mahalo in advance :).
  5. Honey I'm home!! Winter 2024 is in the rear view mirror and so is this review. Time to wrap it up. In keeping with my goal to avoid Michigan Winter, in 2025 Hubby and I are booked on 22 night Oosterdam to Antartica and then I'll be repeating this 35 night Koningsdam cruise followed by another couple months in Maui. Why fix what isn't broken? Continuing to book with HAL should speak volumes about my overall opinion on the product. Obviously I very much enjoyed this cruise and feel that HAL offers a tremendous value. However; In a perfect world these are the things I would change for next year: 1) More activities offered for those of us who don't want to spend all day laying in the spa. I like a little spa action as much as the next girl, but I like to mix relaxation in with high energy. Get up and get moving! Things like aqua aerobics, pool volleyball, an additional yoga class, would be most welcome. The dance classes and TaiChi were so well attended just doubling up on those in the afternoon would be a major improvement. And for the Love of God, play some music at one of the pools for a just couple hours a day. 2) I'm hoping for a better band in rolling stones rock room. That music is my chosen genre, but I ended up in BBkings for the dance energy. The band in Rolling Stones had a habit of playing a couple tunes to get the dance floor rolling and then jumping into some Hendriks. As mentioned, I like cowbell as much as the next girl, but the sets just didn't flow. And while I can't remember why I walked into the kitchen, I do remember the lyrics to almost of the songs from the 80s. Unfortunately, too often, it took until the chorus before I could recognize the actual song being played. The music walk is an excellent concept, but it doesn't work if the band/piano players don't motivate the crowd. More often than not, billboards and RSRR were empty by 10:00 and BBKings stopped between 10:30-11:15 most nights. 3) For me, even the low energy entertainment options were often really low budget. Obviously entertainment isn't a priority for HAL (as evidenced by only 3 playmakers on a ship this size). The arts classes were a joke. The Hal dots was literally a hand out to connect the numbered dots to reveal a ship. The watercolor class offered no instruction, but did provide an inspiration and some paint. With the exception of a couple shows, my local high school offers better evening shows and I still can't figure out why they don't utilize the big screen at the lido, if not during the day, at least offer a nightly movie. Now; I get it. Many long time HAL cruisers sail HAL for the very serene atmosphere I'm recommending be changed. But, these are the very same reasons HAL's long time reputation is a cruiseline which appeals to the 'newlywed or nearly dead". If HAL wants to shed that stereotype (and I think they do), I believe just a few minor tweaks could go a long way drawing in the newer retirees who seek a bit more spice but want to skip the amusement park on the sea concept (side note, I still love a good water slide but don't expect that on HAL). Generation Xers are entering retirement and have different wants/needs than what HAL is currently providing. Evolution. I'm not suggesting turning HAL into a family cruise line. I mean really, how can that possibly work? They don't even have a water slide ;-). But I beleive there is an energy level that exists somewhere between the library and a Metallica concert. Just pump it up a bit without turning into Disney. I think this slightly pumped up version maybe the sweet spot as HAL struggles to identify itself. I certainly don't envy Hal trying to find that elusive sweet spot and, as mentioned, none of the above suggestions stopped me from booking 57 nights on HAL in 2025. Their interesting itineraries at reasonable price points keep drawing me in. That's the niche HAL does best. As far as the good, I have not one complaint with service. It was stellar. Very personal. Several crew asked to friend me on social media (not visa versa) proving that they really are interested in us. I did hear complaints about service in the MDR but I did not partake. I think the food was terrific All you can eat lobster on the buffet on dressy night! It was like a step back in time to cruising pre-covid. I really enjoyed all the fresh to order grill items at the lido nightly (steak, chicken, or rotating types of fish). The Asian wok station to individually select protein and veggies and have it cooked while you wait assured food was fresh and hot (same with the pasta station). The salad station was exceptional!! Hint, there is a lime vinaigrette dressing that is low in fat/calories at the deli and it's soooo yummy. Why they don't offer this dressing at the salad bar in the lido is beyond me but I started having my salad made downstairs and carried it up to the deli for the dressing. The ports were amazing, but I'm a water girl. To me, the draw of this itininary is the water. Next year I will do absolutely zero land tours and spend my entire time exploring reefs that are actually still quite vibrant (and snorkeling with sharks of course). If you aren't in the water, it's hot. As in makes Florida in August look tepid. If you aren't planning on being in the water, perhaps consider a small battery operated fan. Many folks were resorting to wetting wash clothes, putting them in their freezer overnight, and bringing them on excursions to help stay cool. But, for me, the absolute BEST part of this cruise were the friendships made. Friendships that are still going strong! Of course, social media helps, but I've spoken on the phone with a few of my 'gal pals' already. Dozens of us are planning and booking future cruises together. A couple folks are meeting me in Maui next year and I'm having beers with another couple here in Michigan in a few weeks. If you were on this cruise, and are still reading this ridiculously long review, please accept my deepest thanks for helping to make this trip one I will remember for life!!! When it all boils down, it's the relationships made that make any vacation exceptional and this certainly was an EXCEPTIONAL cruise! I promised to post the pdf files I created for tours once I got back to my desktop in Michigan so here they are. These are obviously old now. I have also posted these in the 2025 roll call but I believe someone was inquiring for their fall French Polynesia trip. These should get you started if looking for independent tours. There isn't a tour here that I would not highly recommend. Best Western Yacht Harbor 1.17.pdf Fakarava excursion 2.11.pdf Moorea Day 1_ Catamaran named Taboo 11.5.pdf Papeete ~ Island Tour Day 11.5.pdf Raitea Wednesday March 6 w_Bruno (4).pdf Shark Cage Dive. Honolulu Day 2 1.2.24.pdf Whale Watch Maui 1.2.24.pdf
  6. I have gotten port fees returned on NCL several times, but it's not a blanket policy. Depends on the port. Same thing on RCL. There have been times I have gotten port fees returned and times received nothing.
  7. I spent 35 nights on Koningsdam in Feb/March. Agree that the physical layout of the ship is lacking. She just doesn't move people well. Too many dead ends and poor design features for crowds. Took me a few days to figure out how to zig when everyone else was zagging. With that, I found the service exceptional (although I steered clear from the main dining room where most of the service issues appear to be).
  8. That seems like a pretty big error. It's not like these ships are driving down US75 and just got off at the wrong exit. I'm very surprised the captain admitted this mistake. Very. With that, as disappointing as this maybe, the compensation is more than fair according to the terms and conditions you agreed to. I got $15 OBC for missing Fanning Island and thought that was more than fair (granted it wasn't crew mistake). Edited to add, I'm shocked the captain put that mistake in writing!! Please take a photo of the letter and post here. With the letter you may have more leverage than missing a port for weather or medical.
  9. From the HAL terms and conditions of the gift cards. HAL Gift Card Terms and Conditions I know many people have successfully had funds reloaded onto their gift cards upon cancellation, but the language in the actual terms and conditions has always made me cautious. I do realize there are different interpretations of 'reloading', but the T&C (linked above) also state clearly that HAL can change T&C at anytime within the laws of the state of Florida (when not mandated by Fed). I do use gift cards, but acknowledge that gift cards always come with risk. Buyer be informed..
  10. Welcoming committee and little flee market in Moorea. It’s a tender port so be very careful here booking your own early tours. Tendering was pretty slow this cruise. The tender ports are: Fanning (we didn’t get there), Moorea (safe for most people), Fakarava (caution for those with walkers or wheelchairs as it’s Sandy gravel), NukaHiva (those with mobility issues should reconsider getting off here. There are a couple steep uneven steps to exit the tender. One lady slipped and an ambulance was needed, not sure what happened to her). Anyway, this is what you will see then tendering into Moorea- a little flee market plaza and a lovely church. IMG_3557.MOV
  11. Im on next years cruise with you. Unfortunately we will be sharing the port with the Volendam on our return (so far we are in the clear at embarkation ). Sharing the pier makes all the difference in the world in San Diego. It absolutely slows the process down and makes things a bit more chaotic (or very chaotic given your perspective). It appears to me that both space and manpower are challenges for 2 ships. Based on everyone I know, and everyone posting on other social media platforms, there were people who missed 11am flights. I suspect those people did not make a conscious effort to be one of the first off the ship (the line to clear customs moves fast but it was long snaking the entire length of the cruise and back). People were lining up at 6:15am. I always like to stay an extra night or two in port cities and San Diego is a great place to explore. imo that would be my vote. Why stress? With that, if you pay attention and get the first luggage color off (they put luggage tags out 4 days before debarking) I think you will be just fine, but no dilly dallying! The volendam is smaller than the Disney ship we shared with this year, but offloading 35 nights worth of luggage is considerably more challenging than 7 nighters. If you can carry your own luggage off even better. My biggest slow down was waiting for luggage to be offloaded. At 10:30 am the last luggage colors were still sitting on the ship. Not sure if that was due to space, manpower, or both but the challenges in San Diego are real.
  12. thank you MaryPat 🙂 I appreciate the encouragement to continue. Part of the reason I do reviews is to go back and reread them much later as that helps to cement my memories. But, this review is now over a month old (blame it on Maui). I really need to wrap this up 🙂
  13. Sure- but the fact that not one has invested should raise an eyebrow (besides poor Maritza who missed the memo and invested his measly 100k). One never can tell what investor trading means, but I do pay attention to patterns.
  14. I’m not actively trading cruise stock at this time so I’m out of the loop, but this came across my desk. Thought some of you may find it interesting to note. insider trading of RCL the last year-
  15. If you want to book in advance (aka the rest of the summer) you obviously pay for that privilege. I mentioned the “bus runs”. Those typical 7 day trips offered by HAL to Alaska, caribbean, mexico (and I’m even seeing some very attractive fares for New England). These sailings tend to offer excellent rates last minute without booking the new program. If history repeats itself (as is has the last several years), the Alaska 7 day runs will sail at very similar rates all season. Of course, if you want last minute rates you have to wait to book last minute;). My point is that you can book last minute (a month in advance) for - similar price as last minute (48 hours prior). I get that the $49 fare may offer better rates for unique itineraries. I’d use this program for legendary voyages in a NY second, but I don’t see those offered.
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