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Everything posted by SWFLAOK

  1. Since it's a small ship, boarding doesn't take much time at all. We haven't boarded earlier than advertised when staying at the IC Tahiti as part of the pre-cruise package so if you're hoping to board early if staying elsewhere, there's no chance. Many of the passengers come in on the late flight from LAX, and the ship doesn't leave port until they arrive, which could be well after midnight. On our first PG cruise, we took that flight, and didn't want to do it again.
  2. This was just the opposite of what we experienced on our 14 night holiday cruise on HAL. The first night and last night, which were both at sea, were casual nights. We've cruised on quite a few cruise lines, and the first night and last night have never been 'dress up' nights. On the first night, everyone is unpacking, and many have not even had a chance to read the info left in their cabins. On the last night, most passengers have to pack their luggage and put it in the hall before they go to bed. We wanted to book specialty dining that didn't conflict with dress up nights, but on the holiday cruise, almost every night was a dress up night, but we never felt under dressed with a dark suit and a basic dress.
  3. The wines for 9 dollars a glass or less were quite good, and we usually drink good wine at home with dinner. We didn't have any problems with our sommelier offering us anything higher in price without letting us know, and once she knew what we liked, she offered us something she knew we would like. We tasted each wine before we accepted it the first time. We did have trouble with one of the bars adding a dollar to the price of a drink on the menu for a premium spirit that we didn't order .That would have made us pay for the entire cost of the drink (9.50 or 10.00 plus 15% tip). When we pointed it our, they removed the charge. They did it a second time, and after that we had our cocktails elsewhere. We brought 2 bottles of good champagne on board since we were on a holiday cruise, and we had those bottles in our cabin with an ice bucket included without a corking charge.
  4. We couldn't figure out why HAL had a polity that gratuities weren't included, but that you can refuse to pay them, and that's OK. Why should that be OK? We didn't experience any service that didn't deserve a gratuity. We gave additional money to a few who went beyond the others, and I hope they got to keep that extra money. We also had some money left over in our ship's credit and we gave that to the crew fund. HAL should include the gratuity in their rates. If passengers feel like giving an additional tip to crew who went beyond the expected, they should be allowed to keep it. If passengers can't afford to pay gratuities on their cruise, then they should look at lower priced cruise lines.
  5. Motu Mahana is very easy, especially since they built a small dock to avoid the wet landing. There isn't much walking required at all, and definitely no stairs or inclines. If the weather is good, it's a highlight of the cruise. I checked google maps, and the walk from the tender dock was to the Magic Mountain Overlook. We talked to people who did that and they said it was doable, but very hot and they wished they had brought more water. We rented a car and drove up to the Belvedere lookout. While we were there the bike riders arrived from the shore excursion. They were all very exhausted
  6. Unless a bumpy ride bothers her hip, these all look like reasonable activities based on your info. The most difficult PG activities are the 3 coconut trail walk and the E bikes, as well as a long walk up the hill from the tender drop-off for a scenic view (a free activity) on Moorea. The rest of those you've mentioned should be easy to do. Good luck with your trip.
  7. If you take the PG airfare, they provide your transfers and don't make you wait for hours at the airport. You may, however, wait for hours at the hotel. The IC is, however, very nice, but the drinks and food are very expensive. If you don't take the bus tour, you'll spend time waiting for your day room. Many people go straight to the hotel, and change into swimsuits to hang out by the pool. The luggage is kept in a secure place. Around 6, they want the luggage back, and an hour or so later, you need to move to the public areas. The airport is really very crowded, and it's hard to even find a place to sit down. There are 3 or 4 flights that leave between 11 and 12. We haven't found an affordable way to get into the VIP lounge. After our first cruise, we decided to pay PG for 2 nights at the IC after our return to port. This was so much better than the day room experience. Breakfasst were included, and we rented a car for a day from the hotel lobby, which allowed us to go to the nearby grocery store for very reasonably priced French wine and snacks for our room, as well as drive around Tahiti and Tahiti Iti. We saw all of the waterfalls, gardens, and beaches, as well as the expansive views from Tahiti Its . On our departure day, we were allowed to leave later than the usual time, and didn't spend much time at the airport. There were only 2 other couples on our bus, and our luggage was with us. We found the extra expense to be well worth it compared to the entire expense of the trip.
  8. I would think the hardest thing to do would be getting on and off the tender since you won't be at a dock once you leave Tahiti. How hard that is to do depends on the weather. The Paul Gauguin has a long outside stairway down (and back up) to the tender. If the weather isn't ideal, these steps, as well as the tender platform, will be moving. Taking a long time to make it up and down this staircase will inconvenience others so there could be comments from other guests. Getting on and off the tender can be challenging, but the PG crew does it better than any other cruise line we've been on. You should be able to find excursions that are not challenging. The descriptions are pretty accurate. If it's a "bus" ride that stops at a number of sites, it might not be a real bus, but it will not require a long walk. Staying on the bus would be an option, but a long walk isn't normally involved. If there's a long walk to an overlook, it will normally say that in the description, and if it's an overlook, it's going to be uphill (and down). I can't think of any long staircases, so the uphill and downhill walks would be on a path or road, and the description should say that. If you have any questions about a particular excursion, I may be able to answer it. We're headed off for our 4th trip to Tahiti in September, taking the Tahiti to Fiji cruise.
  9. On our December cruise from Fort Lauderdale, 5 star mariners and those with Neptune Suites were allowed to board at 11:30.AM. Our Neptune Suite was available, but not everyone boarding at that time had suites available. The information in our suite did not indicate that there was room service available for lunch. The main dining room was open and we went there for lunch.
  10. In March of 2018, the carpeting in the dining rooms was probably less than a year old since the Paul Gauguin had been in dry dock the previous year. We spoke to crew members when we were onboard in late 2017, and they told us that those who stayed onboard as the ship headed to dry dock (without passengers onboard) spent all of their time ripping up carpeting and installing new carpeting. The next dry dock will be in 2020 after the Fiji to Bali cruise and before the Fiji to Tahiti cruise. At least the Paul Gauguin leaves time to get to dry dock and back from dry dock with no passengers onboard. That's very unusual for a cruise line. We have never noticed a smell to the carpeting, and we have been on a cruise early in the year before dry dock. As Wendy said, cruisers on board can bring in a lot of dirt. There isn't a lot of time between cruises to shampoo the rugs. On the other hand, we just cruised on HAL, and the Prinsendam was just one 6 night cruise out of dry dock. Our Neptune Suite smelled like dirty clothes, and it seemed to be coming from the mattress and pillows. I had some Lysol spray with me (the benefit of not having to fly to Port Everglades), but it only helped for a few days without spraying again). Much of the carpeting in the hallways was worn to the point of the pattern being gone in the center. Deck 12 looked good, even though we were on the way to the Crow's Nest, but deck 11 carpeting was extremely worn. Since the Prinsendam was sold after we made our reservations for that cruise, and won't be turned over to it's new owner until July, I can understand why they may not maintain it, but it was our first and last cruise on HAL. We already have the Paul Gauguin booked later this year, and we can't wait.
  11. I wouldn't worry about the zodiacs on the bow being moved. They don't look like they're moved on a regular basis. The tenders are on the sides of the ship. We have heard people mention noise from the Grand Salon below their cabins, but the entertainment doesn't last very late at night so it shouldn't be too much of problem unless you go to bed early and need it to be quiet.
  12. The shore excursion booklet also gives information on how fit you should be, and what walking distance and type of walking is required for each excursion. What's not pointed out very well is how far you might need to walk from the ship to the terminal to get on the excursion bus, or how hard it might be to tender to the dock to get to your excursion. Many of the people with walkers and scooters signed up for excursions but couldn't make it to the bus. This seemed to be a bigger problem on HAL than on other cruise lines we've been on, but there are always at least a few.
  13. Off topic, but we once went to an upscale restaurant in Newport Rhode Island, and were unaware that jackets were required. My husband is tall, but not really overweight, and weighed even less back then. They offered him a size 50 jacket that was way too wide, and not very long. It was bright green. He was told he needed to wear it if we wanted to dine there that evening. It was a very slow night, but the 5 other tables that were seated after us all asked him if he had won the Master's that year.
  14. We had more excursions cancelled than added on our recent Caribbean cruise on the Prinsendam. Check the tour excursion booklet when you board, and then make sure you read the daily newsletters delivered to your cabin each evening. You can also attend the EXC talks that preview each port. They not only go over the available excursions, but also give you some ideas of what you can do on your own.
  15. We had no problems with embarking or disembarking at the cruise port in Fort Lauderdale on Dec 21 and Jan 4. TSA at the airport was reported to be slow during the holidays, but TSA said it was within their criteria. Our local news in Florida said that the first missed paycheck for these employees will not be until January 14th. Since all of our many previous government shutdowns have resulted in back pay for federal employees, I think most employees will continue working for a while.
  16. I've commented before on Cruise Critic, that I only have 2 evening gowns. I have them because I had to wear them on New Year's Eve in 2001 and 2002 when our friends insisted that we attend a very upscale NYE dinner and dance evening that lasted well past midnight. We had a great time, but have never done anything like that again. I kept the gowns since they were pretty, and expensive. When I die, one of them can be chosen as my last outfit for whatever funeral arrangements are made. I won't be wearing a gown on any cruise before then. On our recent HAL cruise over the holidays, with 3 gala nights, a gala optional night, and a festive night, I did not feel uncomfortable wearing a cheap dress from Kohl's with black flats. A little black dress and a magenta dress with a lace overlay worked fine in both the MDR and Pinnacle Grill on gala nights. A dark navy jacket with dark pants, and a dark pink jacket with gray dress pants worked fine for my husband on gala nights. He only brought one pair of dress shoes (black), and 2 ties. He only wore the ties on the gala/festive nights. We found that most men wore jackets in the MDR on gala nights, and in the Pinnacle Grill at dinner. On NYE, we saw 2 men leave the Pinnacle Grill and return with jackets, which they put on the back of their chairs. There were people dressed more casually in the MDR for dinner, but we didn't really see shorts or T-shirts. We did see a few people in what appeared to be nightgowns and pajamas, but there are always a few of those on any cruise. We didn't dine elsewhere at dinner, but we did see very casually dressed people in the bars after dinner. They were mostly under 40 (and some less than 18) dressed in the same casual clothes that everyone wore during the day. Our previous cruise on Silver Sea did not allow casual dress outside of your stateroom after 6PM, and tuxes were in the majority on formal nights, so HAL is much more relaxed on their dress code than some of the luxury cruise lines.
  17. I don't think we ever met the Guest Relations Manager. Our only interactions about the Pinnacle Breakfast were with the Neptune Concierge and those who worked at the Pinnacle Grill. We spoke to Nicole nearly everyday, but we had signed up for expedited disembarkation on Friday so we ordered 6 AM room service, and didn't ask if they were open early for breakfast that day.
  18. If one of the ships that is supposed to stop at Half Moon Cay is the Prinsendam and you aren't on it, then you will have 800 less people at the beach. As we were told while on board, the Prinsendam doesn't have the modern technology needed to hold her position off of Half Moon Cay so they just slow down near it and continue on. We had seas of 3 feet or less last Thursday with winds about 15 mph from the SE (pretty light for the normal trade winds), and another HAL ship came in after us and anchored much closer to shore than where we had slowed down. We circled and then continued on for our third day at sea. It was very disappointing, and boring. We've been on older ships that have anchored in much worse conditions without newer technology, but didn't have a large number of people in wheelchairs or on scooters, or with walkers, that tried to get onto the tenders at our previous stops. We were told that they can't risk having people hurt while tendering so rather than telling some guests that they can't leave the ship, they avoid tendering. We avoided stopping at Cap Cana since it was too rough to even slow down. At Scarborough Tobago, we circled a few times, and then actually backed into the dock. According to the crew, this was the first time the Prinsendam had ever successfully docked in Tobago. Every other time they had pulled into an anchorage at the NW end, and no one went ashore since all excursions were not accessible and there was nothing to do onshore in that area. We had recently been on a cruise that had no problem docking at Scarborough, with the normal trade winds at this time of year. We've decided that we'll avoid HAL until we're at least 80 years old. At that point, we won't care where we're going on the cruise, and won't mind being stuck on the ship for many days at sea.
  19. We just got off the Prinsendam and those breakfast hours don't match what we were told by the Neptune Suite Concierge. Breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill is not shown on the daily newsletter since most people onboard are not even aware that it exists. We had to show our cards the first time, and after that they remembered us, but we saw no one allowed without a card, or who was not a regular. We saw no children, and no family groups in the Pinnacle Grill. If we had seen children we would have asked why they were there since there were none in the Neptune Suites. You pretty much meet who's in the Neptune Suites (and Pinnacle Suite) since they're close together, and you're all invited to a reception in the Captain's Quarters on the day after boarding. The Rotterdam deck plan shows the inside cabins to be on the back of the ship, and not across from the Neptune Suites. You are definitely in the minority in thinking that if you pay for one Neptune Suite, your whole family should get the benefits no matter what cabin they're in, and taking excess food from the Neptune Lounge to feed them would be part of that. If the older kids are old enough to stay in their own cabin, maybe they should be contributing to the cost of their vacation. Maybe 2 lower level suites that are next to each other would be a better fit if it's 2 adults and 4 kids who are still children.
  20. I guess it depends on how large your clothes are. I just measured our bag on the Prinsendam. It's 13 by 20. It's a drawstring bag so it's flat. Two pair of my husband's dress pants just about fill it. I could easily fit 3 days of my clothes into it because mine are smaller and made of much thinner material. We haven't sent out any laundry yet, but the slip says that laundry received by 9 AM will be returned the next day. I don't know if they return the bag sooner or not since this is my first time on a HAL cruise.
  21. I will definitely be taking Bonine an hour before we leave port. I might need one more during the night, but it looks like Saturday will be much more calm. I've almost always had good results with it, and before we sold our boat and started taking cruises, I relied on Bonine to cross the gulf stream to the Bahamas many times. Good info sailorgirl.
  22. Nothing is worse than a website that doesn't make it clear what's included for packages, suites, etc, and that's exactly what the Holland America site is like. And then we have bad information given out by the people that answer the phones at Holland America, and that information will be passed on from there . How about Holland America putting it in writing when I book the cruise, as part of our contract? At this point, I have no idea what's included in my cruise package. I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I get to my cabin. I do know that large waves will be part of my first night experience since that bad weather passed by us today.
  23. We're on our first HAL cruise, and have a Neptune Suite on the Prinsendam starting Friday. We've never read anything about our cruise that says breakfast is served in the Pinnacle Grill. We had read that we would be served breakfast in our room with free Mimosas, but we didn't print that and can't find it anymore on a HAL website. We'll see when we get there. With 4 to 5 meter waves predicted for Friday night, we'll see what happens. If we can still eat breakfast anywhere on Saturday morning, it will be a good thing.
  24. This is the first time we've been on a cruise where the drinks (other than premium liquor) have not been included. We have the signature beverage package, and if a martini isn't included as part of that package, we will be very disappointed, and will probably make a complaint about it. Having already paid HAL's in room bottle price for our cruise later this week, I think we'll stick to all-inclusive cruise lines in the future.
  25. I don't remember seeing anything about closed toe shoes either. I think it does say no flip-flops. In SW Florida, dressy flip-flops are acceptable at high end restaurants, and sandals are our normal formal footwear. Are dressy sandals allowed on HAL? I don't take any cruise where I need to pack hiking boots. They take up too much room since we both have very large feet, and it's not possible to get our feet into our airline seats if we wear them on the plane.
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