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SDHALFAN

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About SDHALFAN

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Sunny San Diego
  • Interests
    Travel, reading, cooking/eating
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    just about anywhere a HAL ship goes
  1. Oh, don't be too sure about that. I looked at the itinerary which I had printed out from HAL's website and was flabbergasted to see them advertise an Inside cabin for $8,199.00 per person and I'm wondering to myself: where the heck are these cabins? Even the Outsides are being advertised as $9,449.00 per person, but then there is a huge jump to a Verandah at $27,879.00 per person. Of course one has to add taxes and port charges but I still have never met anyone who paid as little as $8,199.00 for an Inside. There must be some hidden deck that none of us know of.:D Anyway I sincerely hope that you have a great sail Valerie. Thank you for your very kind wishes. I'm looking forward to having some fun palling around with Karen. Valerie:)
  2. Hi Colette: I have been on a couple of cruises where our cabin, which must have been a D on main deck since my husband was still alive then, was in the path of the tenders. I don't really remember much noise but I do remember how much fun I used to have waving at the tender operators as they dropped past our window. They would wave back, with a big grin on their faces. Valerie:D
  3. Thank you all for your kind wishes. I'm packed and just about ready to go and I am so looking forward to finally meeting Karen - we have been e-mailing each other for a while. Barbara (SJSULIBRARIAN): I seem to remember that you were on the Roll Call board for last year's Grand Asia/Australia cruise and remember when you had to cancel. I really hope that you get to do that cruise some day very soon. It's much more exotic than this year's cruise and we visited some amazing ports and met many kind people. Vietnam was an eye opener for me, being of the "Vietnam War generation". I expected some hostility but found nothing but warm and generous people there. Speaking of warm and generous people - oh can't wait to get back to Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world and the Kiwis, like the Aussies, are fun-loving and warm and generous to a fault. I'll tell Karen you all say "Hi" and how much fun you are having reading about her adventures. Don't look for a blog from me - I'm much too lazy".:D I'll be thinking of you all. Valerie:)
  4. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Los Angeles to board the Amsterdam for the 63-day cruise. I booked an FF guarantee (I need that window) and was upgraded to an EE so I will be almost mid-ship. However, on my last two cruises (one of 49 days and one of 65 days) I was not upgraded but stashed at the stern of the ship and honestly I was perfectly happy there. I didn't notice much vibration and the only time it got noisy was when we were preparing to dock or preparing to leave port when the stern thrusters kicked in. It wasn't that bad and I imagine that Karen will adjust quickly. She got a very nice upgrade. I like the layout of her cabin, especially since she had the bed reconfigured to two twin beds as it really does make the cabin appear more spacious, and it's fun to sit on the bed and look out the window. I don't believe that the ship is full. HAL is having a hard time filling cabins on these long cruises and believe me, Karen and I are paying a lot more than $8,00.00 (try doubling that, add some more, then you will be close:D). I will be sure to tell Karen when I see her that so many people are reading and enjoying her blog. Valerie:)
  5. Your question has been pretty much answered correctly by the previous posters but one thing I want to stress is that you must obtain the visa for China before boarding ship or you will be refused boarding, and you will not be given a refund. I don't know anything about the Cambodian visa but imagine that, like Vietnam, HAL can obtain it for you once you are aboard ship. HAL charges a hefty premium for obtaining these visas but going through a visa service company you are going to pay a premium also. If you are anywhere near a Vietnamese or Cambodian Embassy or Consulate you can go get the visas there but how many of us actually live anywhere near these Embassies or Consulates?:D On our cruise last year we needed visas for China, Vietnam and Indonesia. HAL obtained the visas for Vietnam and Indonesia for us once we were aboard ship and the cost was added to our onboard account. Once again, and I can't stress this enough, you absolutely must obtain the China visa yourself before even showing up at the pier (it's not inexpensive, believe me but you have to do it). Have a wonderful cruise. You are going to visit some incredible places. Valerie:)
  6. That was a fun ride Brian, thanks for taking me along with you (albeit vicariously:D). The Ryndam is one of my favorites of the HAL fleet and Wednesday I board my all-time favorite (the Amsterdam) for my cruise to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Welcome home. Valerie:)
  7. Thanks again, so much, Lisa for keeping us updated as to where our favorite ships are. I just checked out the Amsterdam in Seattle, knowing that lots of friends are eagerly awaiting boarding time so they can get the Grand Australia/New Zealand cruise underway. Next time I see that gorgeous ship will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday and I will be one of those eagerly waiting to get our cruise underway. Hope all is well with you and Tom and Andy and that you are enjoying your new job. Love, Valerie:)
  8. See you in 5 days - can you believe it's fnally happening? I'm going to start packing this weekend. My brother's shoes have still not arrived so I'll just go ahead and pack and then airmail him the shoes once I get home - not going to worry about that any more. Try to get some sleep tonight and tomorrow while I'm getting my haircut you will be just about ready to board ship - I will be thinking of you. Enjoy that wake view and the "almost private" verandah.:D See you soon in L.A. Valerie:)
  9. Thanks so much Colleen for the good wishes. Yes, I also am on this great cruise and Karen and I have been exchanging e-mails for a while now. She was a little worried about cruising solo, but since I have being doing that for several years I think I have managed to allay her fears. There are going to be several really nice people on the cruise that I have met on earlier cruises so I will be sure to introduce her to them. She will have more friends than she knows what to do with within a very short period of time. Wow - Karen is down to hours now in counting but since I board the ship in L.A. I still have a few days to go. I'm going to need them - so many things still to do, but then once aboard ship I can just chill out and anticipate all the adventures ahead of us. I'm sure that Karen is going to keep everybody up to date on her blog. Thanks again for your good wishes. Valerie:)
  10. Bon Voyage Karen. The "gang" are all converging on Seattle and Los Angeles and in just a few short (OMG, very short days) we will all get to meet each other aboard the glorious ms Amsterdam. Try to get some sleep tonight, okay? You wouldn't want to show up all bleary eyed, even with a great haircut and shiny "new" toenails. See you in L.A. Valerie:D
  11. On many of the cruises the movies shown in the Wajang Theater are available on the TVs in the cabins the next night. The Wajang Theater is usually too cold for me so I enjoy the movie in the comfort of my own cabin, in my PJ's - sometimes with a Room Service dinner. Can't beat that for comfort.:D By the way DVD rentals are free for all cabin categories on all the Grand Voyages - at least they have been the past couple of years and I will find out about this year in just 6 days from now. Valerie:)
  12. I have to say that I am 100% in agreement with all the previous posts. I am also thrilled that HAL is charging extra for some of the exercise classes. It's hard to believe that HAL expects me to pay to sweat and/or hurt therefore, I have an excellent excuse for not exercising, other than walks around the Promenade deck or taking the stairs instead of the elevator - those at least are free. Valerie;):D
  13. Now that you mention it Sail: except for a 17-day cruise aboard the Prinsendam, with the truly charming Captain Gunderson at the helm, every other time I was invited to dine with the Captain the cruises were 30 or more days in length. Valerie:)
  14. I can only speak from limited experience but I believe that the Dining Room Manager is the one who makes the selection. I think that they (the Dining Room Managers) carefully observe the tables during dinner and notice those diners who appear to be the most fun, or to be having the most fun. The Captain is expected to "host" these tables at least one time during a long cruise (14 days+) and Lord knows he would really appreciate dining with interesting and fun people. I know, from personal experience, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with number of days sailing with HAL, or cabin location since I have been fortunate enough to be chosen to dine with the Captain on four cruises, most of which were when I had few sailing days with HAL and was in a cabin on Main Deck. Valerie:)
  15. Oh John: I am so very sorry to hear about your sister. Please know that you and Maria, and your entire family, are in my thoughts and prayers. Valerie
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