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About faerievert

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Nashville, TN
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    Travel, Dogs
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  1. Thanks for this important tip!
  2. I cannot thank you all enough for the info! I'm especially happy to hear it leaves from the usual sea port (ie where I know where I'm going!) and that the excursions are reasonably priced. I'll look into booking a hotel this month while there's still a good selection. We don't have any OBC, but we did book a gratuity-included fare (worth $70 each). I'll be sure we check that with the office on board about that. We'll plan to tip the bartenders in dollars and have plenty for local guides for anywhere we choose to skip the ship excursions. Can't wait to climb to the mast and get my snorkel on! Shame they don't have a scuba option on Caribbean itineraries.
  3. Just booked a highly-discounted sailing on the Star Clippers' line's Star Flyer Jan 16 out of St Maarten. Looking for accommodations recommendations for places around Philipsburg that aren't the Holland House for the night before the cruise. We've been to Philipsburg briefly on our last HAL cruise and having stopped by the place see no point in spending $400+ for the Holland House's location and reputation (which are stellar and deserved, but not what we care about it). Trying to keep it under $250. Less if possible. All we need is at least a double bed, a private bathroom with shower, and within a reasonable taxi ride of the airport and ship. No view, beach, or kitchen required. We love trying out unique local places that might be a little out of the way. Any suggestions for places to try or avoid?
  4. Taking advantage of an amazing deal to make our tall ship dreams come true. Seriously, go check out the prices for next year on their website if you haven't already. We're doing the Star Flyer Treasure Islands Jan 16 2021 itinerary, stateroom 300. We've been briefly to St Maarten on a HAL cruise in December and look forward to going back. We've never been to any of the other islands on this itinerary. Yes, we know about how very different this will be from a regular cruise and that's the appeal. I've read about as much as I can find but the over-planner in me still has questions. Does anyone know where the Star Flyer docks in St Maarten? The main cruise terminal or ... ? We like to cash tip our bar tenders generously (even on HAL where it's on top of a beverage service fee). Would it be rude to tip at the bar in US dollars? We can bring euros if the staff would prefer that. I'm hoping they wouldn't mind getting US cash on a Caribbean itinerary. Any accommodations recommendations that aren't the Holland House? We're familiar with it and it's beach front location. I see no reason to spend $400+ per night. We don't mind being further out and less fancy/lacking a view as long there's at least a double bed, a private bathroom, and within a reasonable taxi ride of the airport and port. Normally we book our own private excursions, but with this cruise line's non-standard timing I'd rather not bother. So I'd love some clues about what types of excursions Star Clippers tends to do in the Caribbean and what prices are like. How many digits should I brace myself for per tour? I don't know if we're talking under a hundred euros or over a thousand or somewhere in between. I know I'll need to wait until onboard to see what they have available for us. I'm pretty sure we charge excursions and alcoholic drinks at the bar/dinner to our room. Is that right? Any other worthwhile upcharges or paid services we should be budgeting for?
  5. Carnival bought HAL in 1989. There's been lots of changes in the last three decades 😉 Rest assured, I can confirm there's a vegetarian menu in the MDR still, in addition to daily vegetarian selections on every menu. I saw it in use in December.
  6. We much prefer the deeper 4th deck balconies. Were able to sit out on ours in the rain thanks to the overhang, but loved the larger space. The regular veranda will feel cramped when we eventually have one again. I prefer to be far forward or aft. 4180 on the Koningsdam had great views and no downside to speak of.
  7. I’m sure this will sound silly, but how where we know where to go inside the port to get to the Koningsdam? We head that way within the hour and I can’t find anything saying a pier or berth or whatever to tell the driver.
  8. February 2019 on the Eurodam it was shown on the big screen in the main theater with some drink specials (beer buckets, etc.) and in the Queen's theater as an all-inclusive package with drinks and snacky game day foods. Pretty sure the bars with TVs had it on, too.
  9. Other than the travel books and a stack of the Oprah's book club shown in the photos, there's no official library. There is a bookcase where cruisers deposit books. They hold over the prior itinerary's leavings, but there's not much at the end. I suspect people grab reading material for the flight home ;) We bring books we don't mind leaving behind and put them there after they're read. There were about usually 3-4 shelves of books, each containing 8-12 inches width of books on our Hawaiian cruise in February. My guess is that people bring the most books on itineraries with lots of port days. I suspect I'll see a lot of "beach reads" on my upcoming Caribbean itinerary on the Koningsdam. I suggest hitting a used book store or library sale to collect cheap reading material and leave it behind. Asking friends to save magazines for you or to thin out their own collections is also a good bet. Note that you can ship books at a cheap "book rate" with the USPS to your pre-cruise hotel if you don't have space/weight in your luggage. Works if you order books online, too (I still suggest used to save money). It's ok if they arrive ahead of you (by less than a week). Just call the hotel to let them know.
  10. You might be able to trade a more expensive venue for a cheaper one if you ask the restaurant desk nicely on board. They'll have one set up on embarkation day. But you'll definitely not be able to repeat any of the more expensive options. This is also the time to adjust your preassigned dining times (you can't pre-pick on packages).
  11. We had the cellar master package on our February 2019 Hawaii HAL cruise. I also tried to get clarification on it from HAL pre-cruise with equally little success. It was 6 bottles from list #1, plus a bonus bottle (a house brand cab, you had no choice on this one, but you could choose any from list #1 for the others), plus two nights at Pinnacle, plus two tastings (the standard and the premium). Oh, and there were also wine charms as the other mystery gift. We paid onboard for the "around the world" tasting (which is a rather amusing and disorganized all you can drink affair). I would probably do that one again rather than the standard pairings tastings. The Ocean Bar's Sip & Savor wine + mini appetizer pairings were much more interesting, imo. At $5 per glass, for a real pour, not just a tasting, with new choices of red and white available each time, I'd rather do several of those than the $25 or $50 tastings. Watch for them on the daily program. Sea days only, I think. On a Hawaiian cruise there are a lot of sea days. Yes, the Pinnacle dinners are assigned nights, but it was very easy to get it switched to our chosen nights on the first day of the cruise (we wanted to go on our birthdays--both were during the cruise). Not every timeslot was available every day, but we had a lot of choices available. We've done this on every cruise. Unless you're very particular that the dinner must be a certain day at a certain time for some reason, it's really not a big deal to book onboard (at least if you book on the first day). We did have trouble getting our second dinner scheduled at the desk. The computer showed that we'd only have one night at the Pinnacle instead of two. She had to go talk to a supervisor who eventually got the second enabled and scheduled. It was confusing and felt like it was taking forever, but on leaving I found the "big nuisance" had cost me not even 15 minutes. Kudos to the HAL staff for being so efficient that a 15 minute wait is so out of the ordinary! Fast forward to the day of the Cellar Master Dinner and we received an unexpected invitation to attend. This was after we'd done our two "included" dinners. So I'm unclear if we were supposed to have been invited to the special event the whole time and inappropriately fought to receive that extra Pinnacle dinner (this would explain why it wasn't originally on our account) or that we somehow "won" a free Cellar Master Dinner. We thought it was the latter because we'd spend so much time hanging out with the cellar master, but we asked him and he said he hadn't done it. We weren't even on the check in list at arrival. But we had the paper invitations addressed to us by name so they let us in. It will forever remain a mystery. It was amazing, btw. I'll be very tempted to attend again on our upcoming cruise. Definitely superior to the usual Pinnacle dinner and paired with excellent wines. They were selling it for either $89 or $99 per person, no mariner discounts allowed. Considering the dinner plus how much wine we drank, it was definitely a good value for money. Now that we're 3* it doesn't make sense to buy the package again. We'll wait until we're onboard to see their available selection on each list before we choose a package. There's no pre-purchase discount, so I'd rather be able to put off paying for as long as possible! If you're 2* or lower, and interested in two pinnacle dinners plus two wine tastings, and don't mind being restricted to list #1 wines, it is a good value. And only available for pre-purchase. You can't buy the cellar master package onboard.
  12. We use the unlimited bag service. We set the bag out every morning when my husband wakes up. About half the time it's back around 5pm. At least 80% of the time it's back by turndown service. We've never had it return later than the following day around noon. But the promise remains "48 hour" turnaround. At a minimum, you'd need clothing for 4 full days to be safe. Note that the chances of it being slow go up significantly at the end. And always check your laundry on return. If there's an error, report it immediately. My husband was once missing and item and it got returned within the hour. Another time we had ended up with someone else's shirt and gave it back so it could find it's way home (every item has a numbered tag stuck to it, so they just have check their database to return it). But that's two errors out of daily laundry on 4 cruises. Whites will tend to get a little dingy. I don't bring anything that if it gets ruined by going through the dryer I would be absolutely devastated about. On the plus side, all your wrinkle-prone items will all come back well-pressed and hanging!
  13. Dec 3rd we'll be at the Hilton Marina that several others have mentioned. We also stayed there our last cruise out of FLL and liked it. On the return on the 22nd, we're trying the Hilton Garden Inn nearer the airport. Unless the price at the Doubletree on the beach (the only Hilton Resort property without a Resort Fee) keeps falling, then we may move over there. I'm checking prices twice a week and surprised to find it's down to be the same price as the Garden Inn, but haven't jumped because requires longer/more expensive transport. Checking has paid off, though. We canceled and rebooked the Hilton Marina for the $50 less than our original price. We've never stayed over on the return to port before. We always go straight to the airport from the ship. But the plane tickets are so expensive the Sunday before Christmas that even with hotel and dinner charges it was cheaper to spend the night and fly Monday!
  14. So I take it this applies to my upcoming 18-day itinerary on the Koningsdam in December. We have one booking #, but we go back to Ft Lauderdale in the middle. It's really two cruises (11 days + 7 days). It hadn't occurred to me that we would need to do anything for that except a second muster drill. Is the "in-transit" sequester and check usually done at the beginning, middle, or end of disembarkation? We do get to stay in the same room and not have to pack up/move, I hope? Our plans to visit friends in Boca fell through, so no longer planning to do anything in port that day (turns out they'll be out of town on a 3-day cruise!). Can I go back to read or sleep in my stateroom after the port formalities are done or will our room be being "made over," too? Any other good places to hang out on the "empty" ship?
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