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TAD2005

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Everything posted by TAD2005

  1. Any news on the Rotterdam dry-dock in December 2019 ? On the current "HAL Ships at a Glance" chart, the Rotterdam is scheduled to have the "Mix" area renovated to include Billboard Onboard, eliminating the traditional Piano Bar in that area. The HAL chart says that Billboard Onboard will be on the Rotterdam effective Dec 6, 2019. But checking the Rotterdam cruise schedule from now to December, 2019, I don't see any gaps in the sailing schedule that would allow a large scale renovation like ripping out the entire "Mix" area, with both bars and adding the dueling pianos.
  2. If the airline you are flying is part of the code-sharing alliance for a domestic airline, then your FF number will credit the miles to your domestic airline. We booked a Trans Atlantic on British Airways with Flight Ease. After the booking, we got an immediate BA record locator. BA is a member of One World, which American Airlines is also a partner. We were able to enter our AA FF number and we got AA mileage credit and we were able to select out seats on the BA flight.
  3. I saw a CC post that the Veendam has a full ship charter starting Nov 3, when it arrives from its Trans-Atlantic.
  4. The most current prices of the SBP, copied from the HAL website today are "Prices are per day at $44.95 if pre-booked online compared to $54.95 if purchased on board". With the 15% service charge added, that makes the online purchase $51.70 per day and the onboard price $63.20 per day. The Elite beverage package is now $59.95 per day plus 15%, or $68.95 per day. The elite package has the same price, if you purchase it online, before the cruise or onboard using cabin credits. HAL recently raised the price for onboard SBP purchases. It used to be a $5 a day penalty, now it's a $10 a day penalty, plus the usual 15%. I call it a penalty because HAL would prefer you use your own money to buy the drink packages instead of using the free, HAL provided cabin credits. If you are going to use their free cabin credits, they will grab more of it for the SBP when you buy onboard. You are correct that the max drink price for the SBP is now $11, up from $9.
  5. The Signature Beverage Package (SBP) covers all alcoholic drinks with a menu price of $11 or less. And you don't have to concern yourself with the 15% service charge, because you have already paid that when you purchased the package. Check the drink menus on Roger Jett Photography dot com, and you will see the current drink prices and what is available for $11 and under. You can get all beers, most every mixed drink and a decent selection of wines with the SBP. Just about every gin, vodka, rum, scotch, is included, and drinks with multiple alcohols still count as one drink. You can get a Long Island Ice Tea which has many types of alcohol in it and it is covered. You can get doubles of any drink, but it counts as 2 drinks of your daily limit of 15. If you do order a drink that costs more than $11 menu price, your cabin account will be charged for the full amount of the drink plus 15% SC. You cannot just pay the difference. Both passengers in your cabin must purchase the same drink package. This prevents drink sharing. People have tried to scam the system in the past and order a drink for a cabin-mate or a friend and discretely sliding that drink over to them. The waiters are attuned to this and will cancel your package with no refunds. With the SBP, you can also get unlimited sodas (cans or in a glass), bottles of water in 500 or 330 ml sizes, and all non-alcoholic specialty coffees. You can use it in the MDR and any specialty restaurants. The SBP will not cover any drinks from your mini-bar in your cabin or any room service drinks. Also drinks on Half Moon Cay are not covered. Bottles of water that you might buy when heading down the gangway for a shore excursion are not included. If, when you get onboard, and find that the $11 limit is not sufficient, especially if you like your wines, you can easily upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package that has a $15 limit, by paying the difference in the daily price. But if you check the drink menus before your cruise, you should be able to determine which package is best for you. We always find the SBP saves us hundreds of $$$ on every cruise, but our cruises are usually 21 days and longer, with many sea days. Enjoy !!
  6. Depends on your typical beverage consumption when you are in vacation mode. (much different than home mode when you have to go to work the next day, or worry about driving home from a restaurant). The current SBP is $44.95 per day plus 15% SC, or $51.70 per day if you buy it online before your cruise. That gets you 15 drinks per day prices at $11 or less, MENU PRICE. Don't worry about the 15% SC with the package, it is already paid. The 15 drink per day limit is only for alcoholic drinks, sodas, bottled water and non-alcoholic specialty coffees are unlimited. The average drink price on HAL ships is $8.95 plus 15%, or $10.30 per drink if you don't have the package. Divide $51.70 by $10.30 and you get about 5 drinks. After 5 drinks, you are drinking free. It all depends on what you think you will consume per day. Also, a very port intensive cruise will keep you off the ship most of the day, so your drink count will be lower. On cruise with lots of sea days, the reverse is true. Some people make out like bandits with the SBP, others say it doesn't work for them because they only have 1 or 2 glasses of wine at dinner.
  7. DW does not like the room service coffee. So she brings her own container of instant coffee, and we write-in a large pot of hot water on the door tag, along with a lot of other write-in items. We always get exactly what we write in, and it is prepared perfectly.
  8. The muster drills are usually quick and painless. But we always seem to be assigned to a lifeboat station where there are a few stragglers who insist on getting that last cocktail when the 3rd level alarm is sounded. They try to take it with them, but they get stopped, so everybody has to wait while they chug a drink and wander out to the lifeboat station with 100 + people glaring at them.
  9. We cruised on the Rotterdam from Tampa for 21 days in 2016. Great cruise, no problems. We love the traditional, intimate piano bars that were on all HAL ships before the Billboard Onboard dueling pianos came along. That change eliminated the really great piano bar musicians from being able to work on many HAL ships. The new musicians from Billboard Corporation usually have never performed together in a "dual" setting before they board the ship and start their contract. Usually you get one good musician and one weak one. Occasionally you get 2 good ones. But we prefer the traditional piano bar that is in the "Mix" area, and hope it stays that way.
  10. The 15% service charge is added to the purchase of the initial SBP, NOT each drink. When you buy the SBP online, it is $44.95 per day (the least expensive in the industry) plus the 15% SC, which totals $51.70 per day. Yes, both in the cabin must buy the package. Princess doesn't have the "both must buy" requirement, but their basic package costs $69 per day plus 18% service charge or $70.79 per day. For that extra $20 per day, they can afford some sneaky drink sharing between guests.
  11. Yes, the Westerdam does have the wall-mounted flat-screens. They are around 40' and they use on-demand technology. You can start a movie, stop it to have dinner, and come back and it remembers where you left off. The movie selections are vast and categorized according to genre. There are hundreds of titles. Plus they have live TV from ESPN-2, ESPN-2, MSNBC, FOX News, BBC World Service, and a special events live channel. There are reruns of popular TV series such as Big Bang Theory, and House Hunters International from HGTV. Lots of stuff to watch.
  12. HAL has specific policies that any soda or water MUST be carried on by the passenger. You cannot pack it into a "dollar store zip bag" and put a luggage tag on it. All luggage is loaded into a huge metal cage with hundreds of pounds of other bags in top of it. That cage is delivered to the ship by fork lift. If your "dollar store" bag is near the bottom of hundreds of pounds if other luggage, the weight will squash your soda cans and water bottles and your luggage and many other passengers luggage will be soaked with sticky soda and water. Are you willing to pay the cleaning charges for those passengers clothes ? That's why HAL prohibits any sodas and water in checked luggage. People have gotten away with doing it, but why take that chance ?
  13. There's no free lunch (or breakfast or dinner). Every product or service that you consume on the ship costs the cruise line money. If those services or product are bundled into the cruise fare, it goes up for everybody, and every guest doesn't use all of those products or services. To keep prices competitive, most products and services are not bundled, but ala-carte. Obviously this could be taken to a ridiculous end by charging for hot tub and pool usage, charging admittance at BB-KIng's Blues Club, etc. But to reach a happy medium, things like soda, specialty coffees, bottled water cost the cruise line something, so they mark that up and charge the passenger. If you want "All-Inclusive", there are lines that provide that, and everyone pays for many services and products they will not use. But if that is what "floats your boat", then go for it, but be prepared to pay. However, when "All Inclusive" goes main-stream, then you end up with situations like Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. The food and beverage managers of many of those "All Inclusive" resorts were getting swamped by guests drinking themselves into oblivion. So they put out feelers for any beverage distributor who could supply off-brand alcohol at rock bottom prices. The distributors complied and started cutting the booze with methanol, which is cheaper, but is killing people. I'm not saying that the free Diet Coke on your next All Inclusive cruise will kill you, but when the demand for all the free stuff reaches the tipping point, then the quality of the free stuff will suffer. or the prices will go up even more. Take your pick. I am happy the way HAL is marketing their product.
  14. On the Rotterdam, recently, if you brought them inside at night, the crew doesn't care. If you don't, they will collect them so they don't get soaked during the hosing of the promenade deck. There is so little excess space in the Lanai cabins, that storing those chair pads every night would be a real inconvenience.
  15. TAD2005

    Pizza

    Because the NY Style Pizzas are made individually to your order, where you can choose the toppings, (or bring your own toppings from the Lido Salad bar), the bake of the cruse, the amount of cheese, the type and amount of sauce, then the quality of the pizza is really in your hands. Yes, the Lido Market Pizzas (under the french-fry lights) are OK, but not great. But the NY Style Pizzas on the ships that have them, are only as good as your instructions to the baker.
  16. We have sailed the Rotterdam many times in the past, and have booked 29 days on the Rotterdam from Rotterdam to Ft. Lauderdale in Oct 2020. According to HAL's "Ships at a Glance" chart, the Rotterdam is scheduled to have the Mix bar and piano bar area gutted and Billboard Onboard installed by a drydock just before Dec 9, 2019. But I checked the sailing schedule of the Rotterdam, and every day from now to Oct. 2020 is a scheduled cruise. I don't see any 2-week period where such a large renovation could take place. I checked the Drydocks, and Groups onboard post on CC and they do not show a drydock (or a wetdock) for the Rotterdam. Does anyone have any updates on this ?
  17. Most ports in the US are secure areas which, like airports, require vehicles entering the port to have a boarding pass or a legitimate port vehicle pass like taxis. Amazon delivery requires a street address. Considering the chaos that normally surrounds a cruise ship port, I would think Amazon would politely say No Thanks. For sodas and bottled water, give yourself and your mom a real treat on the cruise and buy a Quench non-alcoholic beverage package. That way, when your mom is thirsty, she doesn't have to run back to the cabin to grab something cool. She just asks any waiter or bartender for a cold soda or water and show the card. And you can buy as many sodas or bottles of water as you want and stock your cabin fridge. Ask your room steward to remove all of the fridge contents when you board, leaving the fridge empty. People spend thousands of $$$ on a cruise, but try to save a little by humping heavy cases of water and soda all over the embarkation city and onto the ship. And you can't try to smuggle it in your checked luggage. HAL x-rays all bags and catches most flats of soda and water. HAL doesn't want broken cans of soda leaking all over the carpets when they deliver your bags to your cabin.
  18. There's a difference between a B2B and a Collector's cruise. A B2B is 2 cruises that HAL has not officially combined into a single cruise and they sell them individually. You can usually get a discount when you buy both cruises at the same time. You usually get 2 separate booking numbers, and occasionally you have to change cabins if your first cabin is not available on the 2nd cruise. A Collector's cruise is one, longer cruise that has a midpoint, and people can buy either segment or the whole cruise. But you have one booking number for the whole cruise, one cabin account, and you are guaranteed the same cabin for the full cruise. In Europe, on a Collectors Cruise, you get an "In Transit" pass and you can leave the ship or stay on at the midpoint, your choice. When you return to the ship, you can bypass the lines of new passengers waiting to board. If your Collector's cruise or B2B midpoint is a US port, everyone must leave the ship at a specific time after the disembarking guests have left, and wait for US immigration to declare the ship is at "Zero Count". Meaning there are zero passengers onboard. Then, you are permitted to reboard. We have never had a B2B or Collector's cruise where the midpoint was a Canadian port, so I can't offer anything there.
  19. Ask your room steward for a champagne ice bucket and keep it full of ice. You can rent a fridge for $2 a day, but it has to be under your desk which eliminates your leg space if you plan to do any computer work at the desk. On the Rotterdam, we were not instructed to bring the lounge chair pads in at night. They came by with a push-cart to collect them around 8 or 9 pm. Then they hose down the deck. They put them back on the chairs around 6 AM. PLEASE do NOT leave your Lanai sliding glass door open, or for that matter, any balcony cabin door on any ship for outside ventilation, as suggested by a post above. The air conditioning is a shared, closed-loop system. Just like in your house,, if you leave a large door open with the AC running, your AC unit will work much harder to remove all of that hot, humid air. On a cruise ship, with shared cooling among a group of cabins, that action will destroy the air conditioning for you and every other cabin in your area. That humid, sea air gets sucked in from the open door, circulates through all other cabins, and reduces the cooling for everybody.
  20. The SBP has always had the 15% SC included in the purchase price, if you buy it, or if it's included with a promotion, it is always included. You never get hit with 15% service charges when you have the SBP. And the current drink max cost is $11 MENU PRICE. Do not start adding 15% to the menu drink prices to determine if they are included in the $11 limit. The price you see on the drink menus will determine if the drink is included in the package.
  21. We had a Lanai cabin on the Rotterdam. The sliding glass door has very thick panes of glass, much heavier than you would see on a regular balcony cabin higher up. That heavy glass makes the door more difficult to slide open, but we never had a problem with it sliding closed by itself. We definitely had to push it closed. The door has a very strong magnetic lock that you push a button inside to release the magnet. You have about 3 seconds to slide the door open before the magnetic lock re-energizes. Same for the outside proximity lock release. Your special lock release card (you are issued 2, and don't lose them) is a prox card. You just hold it against the prox reader outside your cabin and you again have 3 seconds to start to slide open the door, or it will lock. The sliding door and window have a very heavy reflective film applied which prevents anyone on the outside from seeing into your cabin. During the day, it's impossible to see anything. At night, with all the cabin lights on and your nose pressed against the door from the outside, you can only make out the ceiling lights. Anyone walking around the cabin are just shadows. But you should still keep your drapes closed at night, because the promenade deck is well lighted all through the night. Some people use the men's pants hangers with clips to hold the drapes completely closed, if you want total darkness for sleeping. There is no fridge and there is little room to put one if you decide to rent one for $2 per day. You have 2 reserved lounge chairs right outside your sliding glass door. The pads on those chairs were removed around 9:00 pm and replaced at 6:00 AM to allow for hosing down of the deck during the night. On the Rotterdam, some of the Lanai cabins were under the kitchen sections of the MDR. We did have a little noise from that in one of the Lanai cabins that were closer to the aft section. But we enjoyed the Lanai cabin and it's great for people who enjoy walking the decks.
  22. TAD2005

    Pizza

    The Lido pizza under the french fry lights and the taco bar near the Dive-In are one of the few self-serve food venues remaining on HAL ships. Some people are just plain slobs and treat the self-serve venues like they do at home. Grabbing pizza slices or taco shells with their hands, and if they aren't happy with their selection they put it back and take another. I have seen people picking extra slices of pepperoni off of the other slices and putting it on their slice, using their hands. Also a person at the taco bar taking a spoonful of sour cream with the serving spoon, dropping it on her plate, and licking off the spoon, and putting it back into the tub of sour cream. That is why HAL is eliminating as many self-service stations as possible. As Forest Gump said "You can't fix stupid", so HAL is trying to eliminate these places where people can be stupid.
  23. If everything goes on schedule, ship arrives on time, immigration officials are on time, no problems with luggage removal, no strange immigration problems caused by an unusual number of non-US guests onboard, lots of available taxis, no shortage of TSA officials at the FLL airport, no breakdown of computers, then a 10 AM flight could work. But who needs that kind of stress after a great cruise. And who wants to have the extra expense of missing the flight and maybe spending a night in a hotel somewhere on your routing back home ?
  24. If you have one of the VB-10XXX cabins on the observation deck, those cabins have "Juliette Balconies" which are very shallow, only 4 or 4.5 ft deep. There is room for a couple of chairs and a table, but you must turn the chairs sideways if you want to stretch your feet out. The cabin interiors are otherwise the same as other balcony cabins.
  25. TAD2005

    Pizza

    And the Rotterdam has it, on the back deck, next to the SeaView Bar. The NY Style pizza also has prepared salads, but the custom made salads in the Lido are better. I guess they figure they must offer a "healthy alternative" to the fresh-made pizza just to keep the comments down.
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