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  1. I am 13 years sleeved & have maintained a 170Ib loss. My advice: It will be easy to make bad food choices, but it is also easier to make good choices too! The beauty of the cruise is you will have so many opportunities to choose to eat *exactly* the food you want (and the portion you need). I never buy the variety of fresh fruit and vegs that I am offered on ship. In the buffet you can grab just one boiled egg or just a yogurt with fruit. Or at lunch just have half a sandwich or a salad with only the veggies you like! Now, they also will have other things that aren't as good for you but that is all up to you! In the MDR I usually order what I want and eat the amount I want. To me it is never worth it to overeat, I get too sick and hate the feeling. My opinion on the 'waste' is that the ship has already bought (and usually already plated) the food. If I eat all of it or none of it, the food used is basically the same. It has already been harvested and cooked so I am at peace with eating a few bites and leaving it at that. Yes, it will be thrown out, but if I don't eat some it probably would be also. I also don't feel any pressure to "get what I paid for". Pre-op I would pay what I would pay for a meal to experience and enjoy to satisfaction, same now, I just eat physically less but the value hasn't changed because I consume less of the meal. Tips: I have asked for appetizers instead of mains I have asked for sides only with soup as my main course I have skipped dessert often and then 6 hrs later found many of the same MDR desserts at the late night buffet If someone comments on my food and I don't want to discuss it, I don't. I just smile, usually they get the hint. If you have a set dinner time, be mindful when eating lunch. I like my time better just because I might have had a full day and don't get to eat lunch till 3pm, and then dinner at 6pm is not enjoyable. Final thoughts: enjoy your cruise, the first time back on ship will be a learning experience. Find out what works for YOU.
  2. Yes, I have done this before when I had set-dining, but I didn't want to this cruise for a few reasons. Some of our stops went until 11pm and I didn't know if I would even be on-board for dinner and didn't want to order only to not show. I also knew there would be nights where I'd end up in the Lido if I was too tired or wanted a quick dinner, but I wouldn't know that the day beforehand. Beyond that, I havnen't found the special vegetarian menu to focus on fresh food and vegetables, but offers more meals that are able to be stored long term in freezer I suspect (veggie patty burger comes to mind). On previous sailings the standard MDR menus have had more varied options. The food I did have in MDR was good, but it was repetitive.
  3. This was my third HAL cruise in the past 3 years. Overall, I enjoyed it. There were some serious flaws, and some expected impressive wins. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. SHIP- This is an older vessel, I was surprised by how some things were quite shabby especially since it was in dry dock recently. The wooden railings were very worn, the carpets were tattered and showing wear in the hallways especially. While onboard they seemed to be replacing all the stairs carpeting, and would do it at odd times. For example during dinner service one night they were replacing carpet between floors leading to the MDR floors, forcing everyone to take the elevator for the final flight(s) down? Strange. The furnishings were all nice and up-to-date. I especially liked the chairs and high tops in the Gallery Bar. CABIN- Had a veranda, aft. It had a very deep balcony, nice sized. New flat screen wall mounted TV, bathroom not updated. Beds are wonderful as ever, as they have been on HAL cruises in the past. Room was very clean and of course well kept by attendant. DINING- Main Dining Room was run very smooth, better than other cruises I've been on recently. We had any time dining, and never waited for a table regardless of size requested. The breakfast and lunch food was noticeably better than the dinner in regards to timing, temperature of food, and presentation. The lack of vegetarian main menu items was glaring. They offered only one entrée a night that was veg on main menu and it was either a pasta or a grain/veg combo every single night all 11 days. That was annoying. The Canaletto had great food, worth the upcharge. The Dive-In was my favorite and the Asia distant lands counter in the Lido was my 2nd favorite for casual dining. In room dining was hit or miss with the food quality, but it was always on time and we had no temperature problems. Wrote in things on breakfast card, and all but once we got what we asked for. ENTERTAINMENT- Only went to Mainstage a few times, it was better than years past but we went only on nights they had special performers. Don't care for the ships singers/dancers. Lincoln Center Stage was top-notch, each performance was only a half hour. America's Test Kitchen was good when the menu was strong. One class was tomato soup and grilled cheese; I don't need to hear how to make that or improve it. Very few O magazine events. Many sales pitches were listed as activities-- no thanks. Don't put in a event for me to attend and find out they are just trying to get me to go to the spa or pay for a trainer, or buy some jewelry or buy some art. Annoying and beneath HAL. SERVICE- Best we have had. PORTS- Great. Enjoyed each stop. EXC staff was dismal and some ports seriously lacked any good options so we went with private tours for one port. I prefer to book through ship. CHILDREN- very very few on ship. Probably less than 10. CROWDS- Ship felt overly crowded on sea days. Port days it felt especially empty and lacked things to do.
  4. Could you imagine sailing 1400 days (nearly 4 years!) and then not being invited to the club? 😱
  5. I don't have any experience with the card-switch, but I would be asking my TA for a plan. They seem to have done this or advised this to other pax in the past? Maybe a detailed consult with them will help. If it were me personally in the situation, I'd go to the pier all together, give limited but true information, and ask to have the proper people be given the matching stateroom keys. Something like "our travel agent put the names flipped on the rooms, this is who will be with each other" (Leaving out it was a cost-saver, telling them its wrong, and asking for them to fix it). Not only easier for you, but God forbid there is an emergency on ship, they would have the correct passenger information. Good luck, let us know how it shakes out.
  6. As I won't be drinking alcohol on my upcoming cruise, I had some questions come to mind. 1.) Are the "mocktails" offered at every bar or only certain drinks at certain bars? 2.) Is seltzer or sparkling water a charge, or is it included? 3.) Are non-alcoholic drinks with a charge included in happy hour? What if they aren't a bar mixed drink- like soda or specialty coffee? Any info welcome, thanks!
  7. I found this thread interesting. I am curious where to find this information- things like servers pooling tips? Does that include kitchen staff too? Where is the information about what the surcharge is or isn't used for? Is this info just gathered from talking directly to staff or is it information that HAL has given out? I am truly curious, and am not trying to be argumentative.
  8. First, offering a different view: the Tamarind is no reason for me to pick a ship. I like it, but I can go with out it for a sailing. I have plenty of dining options at home that are comparable, as well as plenty of dining options on board that I enjoy in different ways than the Tamarind. The major thing I do prefer with the Vista Class (Oosterdam), is the size. They are not terribly smaller than the Signature Class (NA), but feel much less crowded to me. They have about 100 less staterooms. Of course, depends on if your sailing is at capacity or not. Things I always consider when comparing two cruise options: 1.) Ports visiting & how many days are sea days vs. not. 2.) Price per night (inclusive of travel to/from. ex: I can drive to Baltimore, I'd have to fly across country for a pacific cruise) 3.) Smoking policy (I am not a smoker, and it triggers my asthma... but if I were a smoker, this would also affect my choice) 4.) Size of ship, passenger count relative to size, etc. 5.) Activities on board, ship amenities, & food options (this applies more if I am comparing two diff lines) 6.) Other ships in port at the same time, and tendering. This wouldn't stop me, but it would be a tie breaker for me. I don't care for crowds, so if I look it up and there are several large ships in port the same day, I avoid. I also don't love tendering, but like I said, it wouldn't matter much unless it's a tie breaker between two options.
  9. Just wanted to provide information... my intention isn't to shame or ridicule the choices of the OP... The x-ray maybe able to catch the alcohol being brought on board, which is policy to not allow onboard. HOWEVER, as with all security checks, it is also to find any other illegal items in luggage. Just like when you enter a concert venue, or sporting event, it is there to provide a check for everyone's safety... and it is not a wild policy for most cruise lines to prohibit alcohol being brought onboard. Also, speaking from experience and information shared from other cruisers, yes, some lines are not as strict with their policy, but as far as I know they all x-ray bags as a security measure.
  10. I sailed on the Eurodam (sister ship, in the same HAL category as NA) last winter with similar itinerary. We docked at Havensight. Though, I am certain it all will depend what other ships are calling on port that day as well. I was able to search online a week or so before leaving to find what piers were being used and what other ships would be at each stop to get an idea of how many other people would be touring and to figure out some private tour logistics. St. Thomas- we did a snorkel excursion through HAL and loved it. Walked from Eurodam to the catamaran, only on the tour with other HAL guests. Swam and snorkeled a few sites, and did a cruise around the harbor. Snacks and drinks included. Clean equipment, friendly service. Would recommend. Grand Turk- we only did two things there- when you exit onto the island, you are in a shopping center, to your left is Margaritaville, which has a large resort pool, free to use. We spent time there and had a drink and a swim. Then we went to the free public beach in front of the ship. The chairs in the front are free (people will try to sell you access, but most are free. Ask fellow passengers, its a common port, so they will know) San Juan- I haven't cruised here, but have vacationed here. It is very hill-y. Think San Francisco hills. You can easily do your own tour, but I'd suggest some transportation (taxi or bus or tour with van) especially if visiting the fort, which is uphill from the dock. Let me know if you have specific questions, I can try to help answer.
  11. Thank you! I am taking this cruise on this ship in December. Do you recall if they were offering the "unlimited" photo package option? Or any details bout the picture people? Did you go on any ship excursions?
  12. Assumptions about my business savvy, as well as what is in the Coke contract aside... I have not once come across any directive written (or even suggested) that implied a competitor drink can't be brought onboard or consumed openly. I have had many good-intentioned employees give out incorrect information.
  13. Hahahahahaha. This is absurd to me. No doubt they have a contract to sell only coke products, but to insist that no competitor can is viewed at all is ridiculous. As a customer I wouldn't want them telling me what I can and can not drink (wear, consume, etc) during my vacation. I have also been a part of these exclusive partnership contracts and I would be SHOCKED if it included any verbiage about anything other than what is sold. Back to the OP- I have carried on bottles and cans, of all brands. I used to only bring a little at the start, but last year I had a very hard time finding soda at the ports as I was in the Eastern Caribbean after the hurricane and many port stores were low on inventory of almost everything. So if a particular kind is important to you, I'd carry it on.
  14. There is one offered with room service, it is $4.95 but if in a Neptune or Pinnacle there is not a charge. "Kick Start": Yogurt, honey, banana, pineapple, berries, and peaches. If you google recent suite breakfast cards you will see it as an additional selection. Personally I have not seen any smoothie at the Lido, but have had the Lido Bar make a non-alcoholic pina colada for me (basically a coconut/pineapple smoothie). It was around $5.
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