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  1. How long do you folks typically wait when calling Holland America? My hold time seems to get worse each time I call. 9 minutes and counting as of me writing this...
  2. Thank you all. Those are some very helpful experiences and gives us something to look forward to !
  3. To @twodjs (and anyone else who can give an opinion)... Wife and I have a pinnacle suite on Westerdam next year. We are both fairly reserved and quiet and stick to ourselves. We are the type to get embarrassed over extra attention, not those who seek it. We always request a table for two on cruises. We booked it mainly for a once-in-lifetime experience for the extra space and balcony tub, not for the extra attention from the staff. So my question is...does the staff make a big deal over you? Like when we first check in, can we just quietly go to our room by ourselves, or does a porter walk with you and show you around, etc.? If we get a room service meal, will they just drop it off as usual? Just trying to get an idea... Thanks !
  4. It's gonna be cold outside, so the hot tub will be especially nice. I suppose your wore a bathing suit?...I'm just wondering how private it is when you (didn't) use any bubble bath.
  5. Last year on the Noordham, our room had a coupon booklet in it with stuff like 2-for-1 coffees in the Explorer Lounge, 25% of manicures, etc etc. We actually used many of the offers. I think there may have even been two of them, one for me and one for wife. This year on the Zuiderdam, we got no booklet, coupons, or offers. For you frequent HAL cruisers, are these little booklets standard for HAL or only some itineraries? Thanks !
  6. Thank you. I saw the one excursion listed for Shanghai, and thought I was missing something. Guess I'll wait a while for more to be listed.
  7. Hello. We’re on the Princess diamond cruise in December 2020 from Tokyo to Hong Kong, with ports in Shanghai and Xiamen, China. Because it’s still 19 months away, Princess has no excursions listed yet. I’m trying to see what excursions they might have for Shanghai and Xiamen. So I tried Princess’s site to look at 2019 cruises just to view the excursions, but it’s asking me to enter my cruise booking info. Any ideas where to look? Am I missing something ? I know what they offer in the past and in 2019 might not be offered on my 2020 cruise, but it will give me an idea.
  8. We booked the Red Square cruise via HAL, so we did NOT need the visa. When you get off the boat and go to customs, the customs officers will know you are with a HAL tour and will not ask for your visa. It was simple. We were worried too, but if you book through HAL, you are fine. With Guide Guru and others, you may need the paid visa additional cost. Also...because we booked with HAL and we began at 7:00 am, we were guaranteed to be the very first people off the ship. Guide Guru customers won't get special clearance off the ship.
  9. Lots of walking, some stairs, but nothing too strenuous. Like most tour groups, some folks will keep up and some will straggle. You'll be fine!
  10. We did the 1-day Moscow day trip on the Zuiterdam. It is an EXTREMELY long and tiring day. However, all in all, wife and I say it's worth it. St Petersburg is a cool city, but how often will you have a chance to see Moscow? It's a rare chance. I looked for specific reviews on the Red Square tour and didn't find any...so here is my own to help you and future tourists. In theory, it was organized well. Starts at 6:45 am. (I was a little disappointed in HAL for waiting until 7:05 for the late people. If you're not there at 6:46, we should have left without you). A HAL guide takes you off the ship and leads you through customs. After that, you meet your escort. The escort leads you to the bus, and then the bus goes to the train station. Train ride is comfortable and clean and 4 hours long. Clean bathrooms and breakfast included. At Moscow, you meet a local tour guide, who leads you to another bus. Drive through the city. HAL has 2 tours of Moscow: The Armory Museums OR Red Square. You can see museums in every city on Earth, but there is only one Red Square. Suggest that one. BUT BE CAREFUL...HAL's website had conflicting info about which day trip was which. Many people thought they were going to see Red Square, and were disappointed to realize they were on the museum tour instead. This was HAL's fault, but I won't go into detail. The bus ends up at Red Square and Kremlin (again, this is if you select the Red Square tour, not the Armory Museum). You see the famous St Basil church and pass Lenin's Tomb (We could not see the tomb that day because it was a special parade day during on tour). Then you get an hour free time. I suggest you go see St Basil's. We didn't and regret it. The tour guide suggested we go instead into the Goom (Gum) Shopping mall. It's a nice big mall, but malls are everywhere. I wish we didn't go in there. You only have 1 hour in Red Square, and we wasted ours in a shopping mall. After that, you go into the Kremlin, a fortified area where the government is. They take you to one area of the Kremlin where a bunch of orthodox churches are, and you go in one. Again, we would have preferred St Basil's, since it's by far the most famous one, but that wasn't included. After that, you get back on the bus and then back to the train station. Our train left Moscow at around 7:30 pm, got to St Pete's at 11:45, and we were back on the ship around 1 am. A second bus left after us, but it arrived at the ship well before us. Just an unlucky break that we had a horrible driver. Our bus crossed the river twice, meaning he took a wrong route and had to double back. How does a professional tour bus drive not know directions from the train station to the pier? It's well worth it for the experience of it all, but there were some definite drawbacks...mostly with the tour guides and escorts and drivers, which probably wasn't HAL's fault. For example, our Red Square escort talked to the locals a lot during the train ride, ignoring her tour group. Meanwhile the Armory escort did nothing but wait on his group, helped them get free wifi, gave them instructions, etc. If only our escort was as efficient as the other tour. We do recommend this tour, despite some drawbacks. Seeing our pictures of Moscow makes it all worthwhile. Not too many people have that.
  11. Speaking of the pasta bar, on my last cruise, passenger #1 had made his order, and the cook was preparing it on the stove top. The cook then went on to take passenger #2's order, while #1's was still cooking in the pan. Next thing I know, I see #1 squeeze his arms under the glass separator when the cook wasn't looking. He proceeded to season his own pasta himself while it was cooking, instead of simply asking the chef. I guess some people view glass barricades as a decoration, not as a safety/sanitation feature.
  12. Personally, I didn't want any chips that the lady touched, so I didn't care about getting the food replaced. I DID want to tell a worker what she did...right in front of her and loudly enough for her to hear. But from reading a lot of these replies, I realize that some people do not feel shame. I wanted to embarrass her so badly, but I now realize she wouldn't have cared. The worst part was how emphatically she moved the serving tongs out of the way. As if she truly didn't know what they were there for. Of course she knew, but her actions were so dramatic.
  13. We were on the Noordham for an Alaska cruise in 2018, and the cabana areas had no cabanas at all. It was just some chairs set up, free and open to any passenger. We loved it up there. On a recent Zuiderdam cruise, however, that area was closed to passengers and only cabana renters could go up there to the "Retreat" they called it. I'm not sure of HAL's policies about this, but it seems to me like sometimes they charge you for that deck, and other times they just open it up for anyone.
  14. I stand corrected. Any 2 people shouting to each other from different tables about their health issues should be verboten !
  15. My personal bottom line is I don't care if I hear political conversations, but I do care if old men discuss their health issues. One day at Lido lunch, some old, rude guy dining alone started blowing his nose repeatedly, using the real cloth napkins. I was going to say something because he was grossing us out, but the wife stopped me. Then, to make matters worse and I swear this is true, some other older guy starts talking to him about sinuses and how to clear phlegm. So another diner turns around to my wife, and we're all laughing at how how clueless these disgusting men are being. I told him that I want to say something, but my wife stopped me. He said he wants to say something too, but he is an entertainer on board and not allowed to say anything. (That night we saw him on stage, so he was honest!)
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