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About Nang

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Adelaide Australia
  • Interests
    Motorcycling, holidays, fishing, caravanning and home beer brewing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. About 6 weeks ago we decided to book the Vasco Da Gama Singapore-London March 2020. Ocean views were showing as being available but when our travel agent contacted CMV there was just one cabin under $AUD30,000 and its was a superior plus balcony for a tad under $AUD23,000 for the cabin (myself and DW). This was nearly $10,000 more than we could see for OVs that were supposedly available but had gone by the time our TA acted (which was just later that day). DW was very keen so booked the balcony and I managed to keep my cool and suck up the idea of such an expensive (for us) cruise. On the CMV website we could wait list an OV which we did with very little optimism. Well last week we got a call and for the cost of $100 we can down grade to an OV for $15,559. Spend $100, save $7000 seems like a good deal to me. I can now sleep at night 🙂
  2. I have refared 4 or 5 times in the past 2-3 years and never had a request refused. Had you booked a non refundable fare? If so I understand, if not I find it very strange.
  3. Yes, $44.95 plus 15% for the Signature beverage package. I didn't realise it had gone up significantly in a just a couple of years.
  4. All I can tell you is that this promo became an option on the HAL website for Australian bookings on Saturday (it was not there on Friday). The promo code I saw on one of the pages where it listed the conditions was NX/UU which was really on no use to me as there was nowhere to enter a code in the booking process. Perhaps TAs can make use of these codes. The promotion is available to Aussies until 1 May and expect this also applies elsewhere. Have a look over the next few days on the HAL website. I hear you regarding access to good deals, the cost of most cruises and perks that go with them seem to heavily favour our American friends. I say good luck to them, while I am feeling very envious.
  5. After some effort and toing and froing with my travel agent I finally managed to get this SBP/Pinaccle dinner perk under the Early Booking Bonus which apparently is available until 1 May. The saga unfolded as below .... Early in the week having read this thread I asked our TA to rebook or refare to get this Explore 4 perk for our Aug 2020 Copenhagen - New York cruise we booked last year. I had done a dummy booking on the HAL website and it appeared all should be good but when the TA went to do it the fare increased by $600pp and we would lose our $200 per person OBC. When I learnt this I told him not to rebook and went to the HAL website to check for myself on Friday. There was no Explore 4 or other perk and the cruise price had not changed. This seemed strange but I just shrugged and moved on. Then this morning I get an email from an online booking agent about HALs Early Booking Bonus for 2020/21 cruises. I get on the website and do a dummy booking and with no increase in price I can get the SBP/Pinaccle dinner. Back to the TA and he is able rebook the same cabin for same price with the perks and he notices our $200pp OBC has been replaced with $125pp OBC which is a welcome surprise as we expected to lose the $200 OBC completely (it was a perk that came from originally booking this cruise when we were on the Koningsdam last year). He also notices we get an Onboard Value Booklet and there is mention of "Michael Gardner" on the booking. Can anybody provide some information on the Value Booklet and Michael Gardner reference? TIA
  6. I have seen a few people use this self serve and have tried it myself. Its a total flop in my experience - does not pour well and I KNOW how to pour beer. Waste of time and $s, go to a bar and get a decent beer.
  7. Holland America have a late buffet, 10:30-11:30 I believe
  8. The boss has returned and reported that she enjoyed the cruise but she has clearly had her expectations raised having cruised exclusively on HALcompared to the first timers she spoke to (who were all impressed). Her views were strongly confirmed by other experienced cruisers (HAL, Princess, Celebrity) - the Astor does not provide an experience up to the standard of some the lines. Having listened to her comments it seems to me the attitude/demeanor of staff has impacted her view to a large extent. They very happy with their large interior room. The public toilets were not at all "nice" and there were significant issues with blockages and getting them cleared. Facilities in their cabin were good all trip. Food was OK but there were limited choices compared to HAL which I expect was largely around the size of the ship - 600 vs 2000+ passengers on HAL. Entertainment was a step above that provided by HAL - we have noticed a significant decline in HAL entertainment since we began cruising in 2012. They learnt that the Astor is being retired from the CMV fleet once it returns to the UK in April - all three agreed it had well and truly "run its race". What concerns us is that while the Astor cruise was good value for $s (it was a cheap cruise) our upcoming 45 day epic from Singapore to Tilbury is not cheap (for us at least) at $AUD250pp per day ($US180). I doubt the staff will be any more pleasant and I expect to be impressed by the entertainment but my wife is very concerned about the food and in particular what is on offer in the three waterfront dining rooms, including at breakfast. Hopefully the larger and refurbished Vasco Da Gama will deliver.
  9. DW reported today that despite the rough weather and her first dose of sea sickness things are going well. Food is good but she was a bit surprised that her one meal in the MDR had no differences in the menu to what was available at the buffet - not an issue, just a surprise. Ship life at sea has been busy with trivia, bingo, etc. Sis and her have made some new friends and have been frequenting the disco at night. Only negative has been the staff lack of friendliness. We have been accustomed to great service and very friendly staff on Holland America. Front office staff on the Astor have apparently been less than friendly but "efficient" - abrupt rather than rude. Communicating with service staff has been difficult due to their inability to cope with an Aussie accent. One example, "Could you please get me some butter" being met with "You have cutlery on the table in front of you" (rewind and replay several times with no resolution). It has also been difficult to order drinks. No drama though, just something to adapt to and move on. All three are enjoying themselves, especially the mother in law who is on her first cruise.
  10. Thanks for the replies. Trudi had not when we last spoke had dinner, just lunch and was hopeful of a better experience in the MDR. Its good to hear that others have reported the Astor MDR food to be great. We too nearly always eat in the MDR at night except when trying out a specialty restaurant. I had not realised that CMV was a cheaper line than HAL but if it is that does not bother me. However I am surprised to learn that most lines have self serve buffets - I do not understand why lines other than HAL are willing to give novovirus and other bugs a helping hand to infect their passengers but it is what it is. I am sure my wife will enjoy her current cruise and us both our epic to London next year.
  11. Hi all, we have cruised HAL 6 times and booked another 2 (Alaska and repositioning Copenhagen to New York). Last week we booked Singapore to London on the Vasco Da Gama in 2020, a 45 day epic and way longer than the 21 day maximum we have done to date. We like HAL a lot but are keen to try different lines and were hooked by this itinerary. My wife has just embarked the Astor today for a 7 night cruise Adelaide to Tasmania returning to Adelaide. She understands the Astor is an old ship and isn't put off by the decor. She is travelling with her sister and mother in an interior suite and is quite impressed by the size and condition of the cabin. However her introduction to CMV food was underwhelming at the buffet lunch. She described it as a cafeteria compared to what we are used to with HAL with passengers serving their own food - this really surprised me given the viruses/bugs that can spread very quickly around a ship. The food was OK but with less variety and not to the standard of the HAL buffet. While this is not a major worry it is a bit of a concern. Can anybody comment on whether the buffet on the Vasco Da Gama is likely to be similar?
  12. The break even point for the Signature Bev Package is 14 alcoholic drinks shared between two people. If you have coffee, sodas or bottled water this number comes down. I am a fairly big beer drinker and my wife averages out at one cocktail a day - its not worth it for us unless it comes as part of a package at a reduced rate. I have booked under explore 4 twice (includes SBP and a Pinnacle dinner) and once the fare drop after the promotion was way more than the cost of the SBP so we refared and did not get the SBP while the other it was line ball and we kept the Explore 4 perks. I have no idea whether we won or lost on the latter and I don't care as I have better things to do than count drinks (but the statistician in me kept telling me I should have counted them and do a post cruise comparison and now I do wonder).
  13. The SBP costs an extra $5 (plus15%) perday is bought on board. The $44.99 price is only if purchased pre-cruise
  14. I used to be you 5-6 years ago - fit in as much as possible because its so far to go. Now that I've done that for a trips and also tried the more relaxed approach of less locations with longer stays I wish that I had got the above advice earlier and took it. Still you live and learn (and we aren't all the same). However I would seriously consider dropping one of the cities off your pre-cruise itinerary or extend your trip by a few days if at all possible - its too hectic in and out of hotels and travelling. Still you will have a ball either way, enjoy!!!
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