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About joekerstef

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    DC area
  • Interests
    photography, nature & the environment, WHALES!!!!
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America but would love to try some of the others

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  1. If you're not past final payment, call HAL or your TA and refare. Just be aware that you likely lose whatever perks you were to receive with your original booking.
  2. No. Ours was at 9:30pm in the Crow's Nest on a non-gala night fairly late in the cruise. Dutch treats were served (the cream puffs were to die for) and there was a special orange drink at the bar (said Sex on the Beach on my receipt but they called it something else). They also passed out some orange bling.
  3. That was not the case on Maasdam last year. Short party by the pool for Koningsdag. Underwhelming. Whereas last month on Maasdam it was a decent party. Also there was a thread about this just a week or two ago.
  4. I have always printed B&W and never had a problem.
  5. And even the no jeans requirement may not be enforced. There was a guy at the table behind us on Maasdam a couple weeks ago wearing jeans on gala night. I don't think his collared shirt was even tucked in. And he wore the same outfit two or three days in a row.
  6. Do say hello to Rachel Moreno and Jason Kelley and (if he's still onboard) Dr. Kent Syverson for me. They were three of the guest experts on our cruise and they were all in their own ways quite excellent. Rachel and Jason will definitely still be there.
  7. The last one I received was 28 December 2018, and before that July 2018 unless I deleted one but I don't think so. Looking in my email, I seem to get "winter" and "summer" editions. I might get print editions in the other seasons as I do seem to recall getting them in print too.
  8. The tendering in Ketchikan and Juneau (especially Juneau; our tender broke down, and that was after two hours of other problems) was particularly frustrating. I get it, we were the little ship and arriving the latest, but again, on a cruise where you're paying a premium (which I realize many many people on our sailing did not), tendering in a port where it should not be necessary is a big bummer. I wonder if that was a factor of the original itinerary having been changed (at least for Juneau and maybe Port Alberni; no change for Ketchikan). I've always found the food lacking on gala night, but it wasn't great most other nights either. Dining room food and service was way down from one year prior, when it was the best I've had. So frustrating.
  9. The EXC guest experts on the cruise were excellent, and that was the best aspect of the cruise. But that's all the "In Depth" there was on this cruise, and in many ways, especially the price, the 14 day Alaska cruise I took on Maasdam three years ago was better and more special. The excursions in the ports I'd already been to (Ketchikan, Sitka, Homer, Anchorage, Kodiak, Juneau) were pretty much the same as a regular Alaska cruise and in Anchorage there were FAR less than there had been in the past. No real entertainment tie-in with EXC, just the regular assortment of singers and comedians and the like. Ship's zodiaks not used for anything because of permitting issues. Food and service WAY down from my previous Maasdam cruise one year prior. I like Lance, but I agree, he lacks the CD's enthusiasm. Matthew will be leaving the ship after the current cruise ends. I'm pretty sure the expanding the EXC In Depth tidbit came from a personal convo with one of the EXC experts and I think what he meant was bringing people like him, the experts, on board cruises on other ships. I also think if this happens at all, it will not be soon, still trying to see how the program is received. I agree there were a lot of last minute bargain getters on our cruise, many of whom from what I gather had never heard of the EXC In Depth thing. Meanwhile we paid a huge premium for the cruise but for me what we got extra (not much) with reduced regular activities and so-so service was not worth the extra money. Bonus: I was left behind at a stop on a HAL excursion in Port Alberni and HAL's response to that whole experience both during and after was terrible. On the up side of that, I did get a unique cultural exchange with a Canadian police officer....
  10. Off Maasdam a couple weeks ago, which has the EXC In-Depth program. My experience with that cruise was very disappointing considering the premium we paid for that cruise and my personal love for Maasdam. I have expressed my displeasure to HAL; might make a full review here, but that's not my purpose right now. As relates to this thread, we did not have a cruise director, we also had a "Cruise and Travel Director" who did the usual CD stuff plus gave port talks that were brief intros to what could be seen in the port and were not shopping based. We had the EXC guest experts to give specialized enrichment talks so Lance wasn't giving any talks beyond the port ones. We also had "Entertainment Director" Matthew, whose function (trivia, djing, bingo, etc.) seems to be more like the former Asst. CD. He told me that he was supposed to be an EXC guide but that HAL was doing away with that position so it was take Entertainment Director or nothing. (Not sure if this is the same Matthew who was referenced earlier in this thread, but I really liked him.) I did also hear, and I believe this came from one of the EXC experts on board but I won't swear to that, that HAL is thinking of expanding the In-Depth program to other ships, perhaps on an itinerary basis rather than designating an additional ship. So maybe if we want any sort of enrichment, we're going to have to pay big bucks for it. I will also say here since it did come up in the thread that I really think HAL has lost its way (thinking of hlintner's post in particular). I've only been cruising HAL for three year but I've seen some big changes in that time that are just not good. The line wants to appeal (I guess) to sophisticated and/or active folks in their 40s/50s but don't provide experiences that appeal to that crowd. I don't claim to be sophisticated or active but I am in my 40s and I guess it's just a good thing that I am mostly okay with amusing myself because you are largely on your own for entertainment both day and night unless you're into classical or jazz music. If you were to ask me what really sets HAL apart before, I'd say exceptional service, but even that was uneven and indifferent this time (fortunately not universally so, but still). And the other thing setting them apart has been great itineraries, and looking at the published schedule right now, with the exception of some of the longer voyages that are totally out of my reach, I'm not excited. I'm really starting to feel like under current management, HAL might be in trouble if they don't get their act together soon. It's not necessarily that they're rudderless, it's just that they're steering the ship erratically and will sooner or later wind up running aground on some undesirable and avoidable shoals.
  11. On Maasdam we had happy hour every day at 4pm and 9pm in Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest. Cannot comment on Ocean Bar since I never went there. But trivia was at 4pm in the Crow's Nest so was concurrent with happy hour. Peanuts and plates of appetizers were offered to the folks who ordered beverages at the 4pm happy hour only (may have been peanuts at 9pm, don't remember, but apps only at 4).
  12. Hope they have a better time tendering in Juneau than we did three weeks ago.
  13. Mainly only one slip to keep track of; buy a beverage, get receipt, check that previous balance minus transaction price equals new balance, toss old receipt. You won't have a ton of little drinkie charges littering your final bill and a million receipts to reconcile. And as was just discussed if you have a balance left at the end of your cruise it is refunded to your onboard account, so I bought a larger bev card than I figured I would need to kind of function as OBC. I wound up with a credit balance for a three week cruise which was nice.
  14. Orange Party on Maasdam was in Crow's Nest at as I recall 9:30pm whatever night it was. You don't *have* to wear orange although it's encouraged. The crew passed out orange beads and glow necklaces for those who arrived early. There were some tasty Dutch treats passed around (the cream puff was amazing). Brought people together and there was some dancing. For me it was fun. There was absolutely nothing related to the Orange Party in MDR.
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