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Everything posted by gjkov

  1. We’re just off Zuiderdam and while I agree there were both fancy and more casual dress on a Gala Night, it definitely skewed to the fancy. There were some tuxes, many nice suits or sport coat and slacks on men and many women dressed in beautiful attire. We enjoy dressing for dinner on the ship, so we were glad to see some glamour, but not alienation of those who chose to dress down a bit. And for those who didn’t want to engage in a Gala, there was always Lido or room service options.
  2. My DH and I just arrived home from our first HAL cruise, Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale on Zuiderdam. We’ve been land travelers for many years, and only recently started cruising. This is cruise #3...the first a multigenerational Alaska Cruise on Royal Caribbean and the second a transatlantic on Regent. Obviously two very different experiences, but both good for the audiences we were traveling with. The HAL cruise added a new dimension to our cruise experiences. All in all we had a very good time. It was difficult not to compare the cruise lines and respective experiences at least a little, but we tried to look at the new cruise line and ship for their own merits. The service was excellent...from start to finish...in every venue! The crew appeared to be genuinely happy to be there and their inevitable response of “my pleasure” seemed genuine. A number of crew members (beyond our cabin stewards and MDR waiters) got to know our names and greeted us warmly whenever we saw them. That made for a more personal experience. Our Signature Suite was lovely, spacious, well appointed and always taken care of by our wonderful stewards. We were especially impressed by the number of outlets and USB ports. More than enough for our purposes. The separate shower was pretty tight, but tub shower was nice. We both liked the double sinks, bath amenities and huge bath towels! I liked the vanity for doing my hair and make up. The balcony was very spacious, though the weather was too cool most of the trip to make much use of it. The food ranged from acceptable to very good. We enjoyed the dinner experience in the dining room most evenings, but were happy there was a casual venue at the Lido, on a couple nights we just felt like having a quick bite. We enjoyed coffee and fruit each morning in our room, followed by breakfast some days at the Lido and others in the dining room. Both were good, with plenty of choices. Lunch was either at Lido or Dive In. The burgers at DI were amazing! And the salad bar was fresh, with so many delicious choices. I also loved the made to order pasta and DH enjoyed the carved meats. We both loved all the delicious breads! If we had one food complaint it would be the temperature of food in the dining room at times. It wasn’t always as hot as it should be. One thing I liked very much was the crew in Lido serving most of the food. Many less hands handling utensils! And much of what was self serve was already plated. Entertainment was quite good, with many different venues for different tastes. We most enjoyed Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard. Excellent musicians in both! The main stage shows were hit or miss for us. We loved the Planet Earth production! The Zuiderdam dancers/singers were sometimes very good, sometimes a little off. We enjoyed some movies and especially the BBC Planet Earth documentaries. The screening room was great! But you needed to arrive early because it usually filled up. We missed having a lecturer....DH especially likes that. The interdenominational church service on a Sunday at sea was so well attended we had to bring in more chairs. Two ministers on board did a great job with the service. I’ve read comments from those who don’t like the changes in the Crow’s Nest. But we thought it was a warm and inviting space, though it could get very crowded on sea days. But since there were so many public spaces, we never lacked for a place to sit, read or just watch the world go by. The interactive maps in Explorer were fun and we often saw them being used. Gale force winds forced us to miss the port at Charlottetown PEI, which was disappointing. But we appreciated that the captain put the safety of the passengers first. We liked his daily reports but appreciated that there were not announcements continuously throughout the day like there were on Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed a Q and A with the captain as well as a couple personal interactions and found him friendly, humorous and above all, capable. The cruise director Sabine was very personable and approachable. And her staff seemed to follow her lead. We took a few HAL excursions and did our own thing in a couple other ports. The excursions were very well done, with excellent guides. Perhaps we were fortunate in that regard. I’d highly recommend “Intimate Look at Acadia National Park” in Bar Harbor. We appreciated that there was generally some form of shuttle transportation in most ports for those who wanted to explore on their own. Based on this experience we wouldn’t hesitate to sail HAL again. Judy
  3. What’s App has always worked well for us, on several different cruise lines. We’re sailing for the first time with HAL Oct 13 and I imagine it will work the same. Great for text and phone calls. You just have to have the app on your parent’s phone.
  4. I’m also wondering about anyone’s success with the “Best Price Guarantee”? I’ve just submitted a request after finding a lower priced tour that appears to be identical to the HAL tour we booked at Prince Edward Island. We’ll see what happens. I suspect there will be some reason why it isn’t exactly the same. But we might be surprised....
  5. I have limited experience since our upcoming cruise is our first on HAL. But after we booked through our TA, I went to the website menu, “already booked” and then “manage my booking”. Once you are registered you can login and choose “Book flights and travel” and choose your flights through Flight Ease. Payment was made through our TA at final payment.
  6. Where does Zuiderdam fall in regard to internet cost/packages? Can we purchase an unlimited package.
  7. There were mixed nuts available on request anytime in the lounges and appetizers passed by servers before dinner in the Mariner Lounge.
  8. This adapter has given us power around the world and is great for cruise ship. It also has USB ports. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H87YJFY/ref=dp_prsubs_1?th=1
  9. Does anyone have current information about the prices for internet packages? We’ll be sailing HAL for the first time this fall.
  10. I’m with you Sheila....we enjoyed the people on our team on the Mariner TA so it was fun to play everyday. Everyone on the team was serious, though not cut throat. But it was definitely a commitment! And I’m not sure we’d commit to it again. We also enjoyed the Mensa quizzes every day and would definitely do that again. You can work on them at your leisure, alone or collaboratively. We met some great people as a result of the quizzes!
  11. We have a saying in our house. I will sometimes see something my DH does not (or vice versa) and we say (with humor) “just because you didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there”. Seems to fit here. I see many lovely cropped pants on women in my professional circles and saw many on our Mariner cruise in April.
  12. Since it was our first time on Mariner we can’t compare it to before the refit, but this “overpacker” found there to be plenty of drawer space in our Concierge suite. Six in the closet, three in the living room area and one in the vanity. We also thought there were plenty of outlets for our needs and loved the USB ports by the bed. We always travel with a universal adapter and that was handy, but didn’t even need to use our (non surge) power strip. As for LaVeranda, it never seemed crowded and we never felt any real bottleneck at the back. Certainly was a dream compared to the buffet on the large ships!
  13. Too bad the food has been so inconsistent. We also had problems in Setti Mari on the cruise before yours, but the other dining venues were very good. And we loved Tomas! We also had some amazing desserts, including a floating island that rivaled any I’ve had. I’d also suggest the key lime pie in Prime 7. As for Lorraine, we loved her! Very personable and down to earth. We generally always encountered her seeing us off as we left on excursions and welcoming us into the theater for shows. We also saw her (and other entertainment staff) during other activities. But we participated in those things daily...maybe people who don’t play the games and such wouldn’t see her as much. Have been enjoying your commentary and observations. Thanks for the sharing!
  14. Best margaritas in the Mariner lounge nearly every night before dinner. On the rocks, no salt with Patron. Is Grace still onboard? She was a delight in CC in the morning and Mariner Lounge in the evening.
  15. I’m sure that was a spellcheck issue in Rick’s post. Many times in his thread he’s spoken about Mariner. As to the bathrooms, maybe larger is important to some, but we found the Mariner bathrooms to be more than sufficient and the shower was great! I’d much rather have more room in my suite than a larger bathroom.
  16. Thanks for the great summary, photos and comparisons of the two ships! Sorry to have missed meeting you on the crossing. I think we’ll probably try Explorer at some point, if all the itinerary, timing and value stars align. And perhaps the other ships as well. And we will definitely sail again on Mariner.
  17. Very much enjoying your commentary and observations. We had such a great time on that ship and I truly had a harder time adjusting back to realty. I’m generally ready to return from vacation, but not so much this time. Your comment about the soufflé brought back the night 4 at our table of 7 ordered the dessert soufflé and they all came out underdone. So sorry was the reply....they were whisked away as our conversation continued and a short time later more came, looking beautiful on the surface, but still underdone. We had soufflés a couple nights before and they were great. So not sure what the issue was this particular night. Certainly they are a more precise dessert, requiring very different care in preparation, than many desserts. Again they were taken away and new brought out. This time I could see the section manager checking them carefully before bringing them to the table. They were a bit better, but still not quite right. The soufflé orderers at the table gave up at that point. Maybe out of an abundance of caution they have adjusted oven temps and times for the soufflés, so a little overdone rather than under. I hope you guys continue to enjoy doing as much or as little as desired. I can’t wait for retirement to do the same! And I would definitely read Ron’s book 😀
  18. I don’t think we want to open the included laundry can of worms again, but I agree about the brochures. We have gone away from nearly all mass “snail mail” mailings in our company and has saved a ton of money. I’d rather have cost savings passed along to us than so many fancy brochures.
  19. We were in a Concierge suite, so apparently entitled to up to four logins, but we only used two...one each. Seemed that if I logged in on my iPad, it logged me out of my phone and vice versa. I don’t think I’m technologically advanced enough to be on two devices at once. I am in awe of Bill (as I often am) using more than one login at the same time! 😀 And the internet on Mariner was much better than I had expected. We rarely had any trouble with connection or speed.
  20. Very nice synopsis! Having just completed our first Regent cruise I would agree with nearly all of it. We actually found the shows a little better than we’d expected, from things we’d read here. The guest entertainers were very good and the Regent production group might have been pretty average performers, but just a great group of young people who we enjoyed tremendously in other venues and activities! So that brought them up a notch in our minds. I also completely agree about not setting your expectations so high that you will be disillusioned. If a person’s idea of luxury is the finest of everything, you might be disappointed. We found it to be very nice, but not stuffy. Nearly all the people we met were very friendly and welcoming. Many certainly of greater means, but few that we saw flaunting that.
  21. We were the lone Regent passengers on our (very delayed because of Air France strike) flight into Barcelona a few weeks ago. Being our first time, we didn’t know exactly how it would work, but our driver was waiting outside of the luggage claim, Regent sign in hand, and took our luggage (and us) to his waiting vehicle. He gave us a great little private tour of Barcelona and then dropped us at the hotel. There was no Regent rep there that night, but the hotel staff took great care of us and got us to our room and settled in. The next morning there was a Regent rep in the lobby who gave us the information about our transport to the pier. It was all very easy and nicely handled!
  22. Thanks for sharing those beautiful thoughts!
  23. The red snapper with carrot ginger sauce was seriously delicious. So was the broiled cod...perfectly prepared. But my favorite in CR was the tandoori chicken (with samosas as starter). The crab legs in Prime 7 were awesome. Though two pounds was just an outrageous serving size! If I have them again I’ll ask for 1 lb. They come nicely split, so are not very messy to eat. Gene says his favs were porterhouse steak and onion soup at Prime 7, Beef short ribs and Beef Burgandy at CR. Also shrimp cocktail as starter at CR. Beautifully presented! For a simple lunch the hot dogs at the pool grill are excellent. And so is the pizza at LaVeranda. For breakfast at CR (and also was a daily special at La Veranda one day) we loved the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries. And the French Toast was unique and delicious!
  24. Oh good... I thought I was the only one, too. I had some wonderful fish dishes, but the miso sea bass was not one of them. Gene also loved the salt sticks (yes, they are definitely still available Vlinblin). I was partial to the brown bread. Though all the breads were awesome!
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