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MouseBerry

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About MouseBerry

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Frankfurt Germany
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Oceania Cruises
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Mediterranean

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  1. Hi, I checked the Falmouth cruise schedule and it indicates the MS Rotterdam will anchor. Thus I expect to tender in Falmouth as well. Does anybody did tender in Falmouth (Cornwall) before and can give a hint on where the tender boats will dock in the city? The Falmouth port site indicates a quite long tender of 30 min. regards MBerry
  2. Hi Mary, a valid point for sure. Whenever we plan not to show up at early fixed dinning, we inform not only our table mates we inform our waiter as well. Actually on our last cruise we were assigned to a table for 6. The first night we were alone. 2nd night a very nice couple from Canada joined. But that‘s it. Table was never full utilised. When the ship had late „all aboard“ and we could not make it to our early dinning, we informed all involved parties and used Lido buffet on that occasion. Usually the upper dinning room for early fixed dinning had a large number of free seats every evening. After a few days we noticed unknown people have been seated on the free seats. Different people most evenings. I don‘t know for sure, but I guess the free capacity has been used for open dinners. One thing had disappointed me a bit. If a ship stays quite long in a port of call and all aboard is e.g. 11pm, restaurant opening hours are not adapted. Even the Lido buffet had no extended opening window. Yes there is an addl. late opening of the Lido after 10pm every night, but with a very limited menu. regards MBerry
  3. Hi, we prefer fixed early dinning. But on our next cruise in some ports „all on board“ is quite late. Are we allowed to use the anytime dinning on these days or are we bound to early fixed dinning or the lido buffet then? regards MBerry
  4. Hi, just to avoid any misunderstanding: cancellation of ports or tender ports due to security reasons, might it due to weather conditions or any other security reason, is not a problem at all. Actually safety is always very much appreciated. My concern is to miss a tender port due to other reasons. Of course I would suppose HAL would do anything to avoid such situations. My experience, not specific to cruise industry, is that there is always an optimization between customer and operator concerns. If nobody else from CC has encountered such a situation with not functional tender boats, then I suppose situation was an exceptional situation and not a repeating one. regards MBerry
  5. Hi, I read a few reports on cruise critic about quite recent MS Rotterdam cruises where some ports are missed because of not funtional tender service. From the writting I got the impression that the non functional service was quite consistent. Apparently it lasted several days thus multiple ports are missed. And apparently all of the tender boats were not functional at the same time. I‘m now quite concerned as our upcoming cruise early August has 4 tender ports. I was quite shocked how HAL had handled the situation on board, if actually that happened what has been reported in the reviews. But if HAL knows the situation now and does not inform passengers of upcoming cruises properly I would consider this as very bad business behaviour. Still hope HAL is able to solve the problem. Does anybody have info if this problem has been solved? Or if the problem actually existed at all? You know about this faked reviews which goes in both directions. The good and bad one. regards MBerry
  6. Hi, on our last cruise on MS Koningsdam it was no problem to find a free lounger somewhere. Even on sunny sea days no problem at all. But to find a lounger in the shade was a big problem sometimes. We plan our next cruise on MS Rotterdam. I saw some pictures of the lower promenade deck with loungers. There is shade. Are these loungers dedicated to the Lanai cabins or can they be used by all guests? Maybe the ones directly in front of Lanai cabins should be dedicated as this is more or less their balcony, but maybe some extra loungers are available to all guests. What are the rules here? cheers MBerry
  7. Hi, Exploration Cafe specialty coffee with alcohol is not included in the QBP. At Exploration Cafe we saw some specialty vitamine water ad well. We didn‘t try these, but we read somewhere in CC they are included in QBP. But this might have been changed. Well, I would suggest to sacrifice one of the meeting rooms on each ship and introduce a new feature the „Explore Beverage Packages Workshop“ or short EBPW;-) But to be serious, to us the QBP was/is a good deal. Communication about could be better and should be more consistent over time. @ochealaaf: On which Rottetdam cruise you will be sailing? Did you see my thread „Impressions by a first time HAL cruiser“? We were not satisfied in all aspects, which is in general not possible. But we booked already the next cruise on Rotterdam 4th of August (we will book QBP again). And no, we are not retired yet and unfortunately not utterly rich. As we say in Germany: if you buy a house most important is location, location, location. With cruises sometimes itinerary is paramount. And this Rotterdam itinerary for us is just a dream. E.g. we are fans of british tv series Broadchurch. And port of call Portland is just a short bus ride away from West Bay. Can hardly await to stand at the beach below this high cliff or walking on the ridge. cheers MBerry
  8. Hi, as our cruise has finished on 24th of June here a last topic we would like to highlight. Embarkation/Disembarkation: We had an scheduled boarding time of 1pm. We showed up 1,5 hours early, but were immediately served. The whole process worked like a charm and it was quicker than ever before. The cabin was immediately ready to use. Best embarkation ever. Well MSC Yacht Club was even better as a private butler picked us up at the port hall entry door and everything was handled in the Yacht Club Lounge onboard. But this should not be compared. Disembarkation worked equally fine. We opted for the disembarkation time of 9:30 had a nice breakfast in the MDR and were allowed to stay in our cabin until the scheduled time. And HAL managed the whole process very well. First time we didn‘t fell like a pair of worn shoes and first time we didn‘t fell like rushed of the boat. Well done HAL! Would we suggest HAL to other people? Well we would tell about our impressions and would say: give it a try. Would we book again with HAL? Well already happened. We booked a cruise around the British Islands a 14 day cruise starting on August 4th. First time we booked an Oceanview cabin. So far we always had balconies. First time we booked a quite old ship (22 year old Rotterdam). So far we booked always ships which were quite new (1 to 3 years). Why? Well it is the itinerary. DW loves Great Britain and Ireland. Cornwall, Devon, Scotland, Isle of Skye, Canal Islands etc. When I discovered this cruise it was by accident as it falls thru our regular filters. But when I showed it to DW it was a matter of minutes to book it. We call it an experiment. We guess the MS Rotterdam is closer to a traditional cruise ship than any of the very modern ships built in recent time. cherrs MBerry
  9. Hi, we were on a cruise from june 12 to 24th mainly in Spain, Italy and France. Temperature was between 22 and 28 degree celcius. This was just perfect and we expected much more heat. Now back in the middle of Germany we had 32 to 40. And no sea nor breeze around. I miss the ship and the sea;-) MBerry
  10. Hi, we are just on the Koningsdam and were wondering before the cruise if the quench beverage package would be a good deal for us. We made some assumptions what we usually consume each day. We came to the conclusion that it is a good deal and we booked it for 12 days in summary 450€. Usually we like cocktails and coffee with alcohol, but the packages which include alcohol are much to expensive to our taste. Now we are in the middle of the cruise and quite happy we booked the quench package. Every day we have a cappuccino during the breakfast, then a specialty coffee in Exploration cafe, which is quite good quality in our opinion. Then we take 0,5l bottled water. In the afternoon we have some sodas and smoothies. At dinner we have bottled water again and very often a espresso with the dessert. Later in the evening usually we have sodas and mocktails. In average we consume drinks which cost double what the quench package is charged for. Good deal. If we want a cocktail with alcohol we use the several happy hours which happen every day several times. But be aware of the happy hour rules. You pay the first drink and the second one is 2$ only, but it has to be the same drink. The smoothies and mocktails, to our taste, not all equally good. You have to try what fits your taste. And the drinks are not consistent across the different bars. My favourite mocktail is the Grapefruit No-a-cosmo in the Ocean bar. Not too sweet and with nice orange zest. It was difficult to figure out what is included in the package. Sodas, bottled water, smoothies, mocktails and coffee (even specialty coffee in exploration cafe) are included. Beer without alcohol is not included. Milkshakes, although not containing alcohol are not included. Maybe they consider it a dessert and not a beverage. We didn‘t try beverages in the Grand dutch cafe, but I read at CC these drinks are not included. By the way a really stupid rule set by HAL. So do your math. My suggestion is: book it. regards MBerry
  11. Hi, here another update on our HAL first cruise impressions. Update on topic entertainment: Well, now we have attended to several shows in the main show room, the world stage. I mentioned earlier that shows in the world stage seems to be a bit lame and the music walk is the big place to be. But actually the story is a bit different. Music walk still is very special and positive. But shows in the main show room are not lame in general. Some shows were really not worth to talk about, but yesterday there was a dance show called HUMANITY. This show was designed bespoke to utilise all the technical equipment of the world stage, video walls, laser lights and many other things. And the integration with the artists was perfect. The whole show was just perfect and a real innovation. Thus I came to the conclusion that HAL is not trying to save money by reducing show quality in general, but put little effort on some shows and put a lot of effort and money on other shows. The show HUMANITY was just made perfect, which is to my experience what you can expect from most US entertainment. The audience really much liked it. Me, and is very personal, was more impressed by the technical perfection, but not touched emotionally. A million led dots and laser beams will not light my heart! To my taste it was to perfect and a kind of sterile. Again my comparison with MSC. In the past, not sure it still exist, some shows were executed by the ships general entertainment team. Most of the people were semi professional dancer or singer. Far from perfection, but the story and execution were very charming and heartwarming. I remember at the final show they arranged with neon letters in a dark show room a „Thank you and farewell“ in any language we had guests on board. Really not perfect, but I was touched. So if you like US style perfect entertainment very like a few of the HAL shows on Koningsdam will please you very much. Entertainment on Oceania, at least regarding big shows, is totally different because the ships are much smaller. Here another topic, Excursions: I cannot say much about excursions as we use them almost never. They are just to expensive to our taste. We organise off-ship activity on our own. From reading the excursion booklet I think the prices a bit higher than MSC and on the same level like Oceania. Yesterday we attended to an EXC talk about Barcelona. Not to get details as we have visited Barcelona very often and know the most details already. We want to see what is an EXC talk really. We expected a selling show for excursions. But no, it was pure and valuable information. Really compact, but all the important info were provided. And HAL excursions are hardly mentioned at all. And the lady Andreia did it really good. Never had this service on any cruise before. I read in another thread that HAL is going to cut EXC talks. Why do cruise lines cut things were they are really shine. If someone from HAL is reading here and in case a customer word has any meaning for you: keep the EXC talks. regards MBerry
  12. Maybe the co-cruiser from Australia meant 10 australian dollar. Cocktail prices actually are comparable to MSC but liquor and beer is more expensive. And beverage packages are more expensive for sure. Sodas and coffee are on a regular level as well. As a German I very much focussed on beer and beer mix beverages. Yes, it is really difficult to generalise. We have to go into the details. And of course everybody has to reflect individual drinking behaviour. Fortunately the beverage cost can be check with info from the net. regards MBerry
  13. Hi, here an update on the breakfast service. Today breakfast was served course by course even not explicitly requested. Apparently HAL is different from ship to ship and on one ship service might be different from one waiter-team to the other. On one side this gives a bit of hope, but on the other side it means inconsistent service. No problem if you not expect consistent service and, as suggested, able to find the table/waiter that fits best to you. As DW has always extreme opinions, either totally like it or totally dislike it, I‘m seeing shades of grey. HAL, and I can only say something about Koningsdam, has some pros. Music walk is very special and in a positive sense. Billboard on board tries to engage the whole audience and if some popular songs are performed all people sing along. Never experienced this. We noticed that most people on board are from US, Canada, Australia and only the minority is european. A bit strange as we sailing in european waters. Here is another topic to compare. Beverage cost and alcohol in particular: Everything with alcohol is very expensive on HAL ships. One guy from Australia really complained to pay 10$ for a shandy (mixed beer and lemonade). A beverage package with alc included cost roughly 50$ a day. At MSC we got the same package on our last cruise for round about 30$. We used the quench package on our current cruise. It is without alc and the price 20$ pp per day is ok. If specialty coffee would be better (e.g. italien brand like illy) it would be a bargain. We tried cocktails with alc during happy hours (and there are happy hours every day even after 10pm) but the quality didn‘t convince us. We are currently checking different cruiselines as a preperation for a maybe much longer cruise. Thus dear fellow readers: if you like good food, ,american style cruising, good music entertainment then look for a good itinerary and a good price and give HAL pinnacle class ship definitely a try and make up your own mind. There was a question regarding MSC Yacht Club. We used that as well and it felt really as a premium cruise. At that time Yacht Club cost was roughly double of a normal balcony. But now it is almost the triple cost. Roughly 300€/pp/day. As Yacht Club is for sure better service and food the cabins are regular ones and not suites. I would rather invest the money on an Oceania cruise. Btw, has someone experienced the level down effect? Apparently all cruise lines going down in quality. Not nice, but there is another effect that had to be considered. Our first cruise 10 years ago had a cost of roughly 120€ for a balcony pp per day. Now 10 years later you can get still cruises at the same price point. I guess the high competition in the cruise market dictates this. Lower quality to maintain low entry prices. If I invest lets say 200€ pp per day today I could get the same quality as 10 years ago. Maybe cruisers with over 30 years under the belt can tell a much more extreme story. There was a note about my boardname MouseBerry. Well that‘s a non digital translation of my pet name (Mausebär) DW gave me long time before. regards from Koningsdam lido pool MBerry
  14. Hi, just to make it clear. Dinner was served properly course by course all the time. The serve-everything-at-once approach is specific to the breakfast. On embarcation there was lunch served in MDR and it was properly served. Our last cruise with MSC was a 12 night trip on the Meraviglia from Genova to Hamburg. It was the first time we didn‘t like the MSC ship, but the service was good. And here is another thing to compare. Cabin size: I‘m not talking about the cabin size in square foot/meter. I refer to the amount of space to put cloth in. Here the Koningsdam is really good. Good concept to provide enough space. HAL, well done. Last cruise with MSC on Meraviglia it was ridiculous little space for cloth. Now I‘m heading to Malaga and loose my connection. As I‘m an ignorant who can live without internet i didn‘t book any ship internet service;-) regards MBerry
  15. Hi, I agree that HAL should not be compared to Oceania. Both have a different pricepoint. I just mentioned it as in the German cruise market HAL is positioned as a premium line. Regarding the breakfast and serving all courses at once unfortunately this was not one occasion. If it had happened only once I would not have mentioned it. We are open to mistakes and would nobody blame for this. No it was consistent bad service. Of course we tried to get the breakfast course by course and asked for it. Waiter tried to follow our wish, but whenever you force them off their used routine results are unpredictable. After 3 days we gave up. And don‘t worry, we still enjoy our cruise. Style of the ship and service is only on part of the experience. Ports of call and the sealife is still good. I didn‘t want to bash HAL. The main purpose is to tell the difference to our experience so far. And here two additional aspects. Age of people on board: We expected a lot old and very old people as we were told this is specific to HAL. But this is not true for this cruise. There is a good mixture of people of all ages. Maybe Pinnacle Class ships attract all ages. But there are only a small number of kids on board. We have no problem with kids otherwise we would never had used MSC as you will have a big amount of families with kids on almost all MSC cruises. In the mediterranean for sure. If you like well behaved people around you, very likely HAL is your cruise line. Hard selling on board: HAL was trying to sell addons on board. Beverage packages, dining options etc., but it is very mild and never aggressive. MSC has increased amount and level of aggression in selling extras on our last cruise. We really don‘t like it. Here HAL actually looks more premium like. We had never a problem with MSC on any cruise so far regarding security and their capabilities to operate a ship. We heard about some consistent problems on the very new ships MSC Seaview and Seaside. We did not use them yet. If someone refers to the last accident in Venice, well I don‘t know whether this was an MSC officer error. But didn‘t a HAL vessel hit another HAL vessel recently? I hope such errors will not happen more often on any cruise line. regards MBerry
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