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Everything posted by TAD2005

  1. We were on the Westerdam 25 days Venice to FLL, in October/November 2017 and they had 3 levels of unlimited internet. On the 12 day segment from Venice to Rome, the Social Media package was around $95, the middle level which allows e-mail, banking and web browsing was $149 and the Premium package which includes streaming and VOIP phone calls like Skype was $199. The Westerdam has abandoned the by-the-minute plans, and gone to the 3 unlimited plans. It is still the same today, and the Eurodam, which we will be on next March also has the unlimited plans.
  2. Another casualty of non-paying insurance companies is Orient Beach Club on the French side of St. Martin. They have received their insurance payout for loss of revenue, but they only operate the resort with their employees. The Copropriété (Copro) which owns the land on which Club Orient is built and is similar to an HOA is responsible for the vast majority of structures. Copro has still not received any payments from the insurance company, but the French government has a policy that the resort ( OBC) must pay their out-of-work employees 85% of their salaries, even if the resort was totally destroyed, which is was. OBC has met that responsibility for over a year, in the anticipation that the insurance funding would allow them to rebuild. The insurance company is still refusing to pay Copro, and OBC cannot afford to continue to pay 85% salaries with zero income, so they have filed with a liquidator and will go bankrupt. No more Orient Beach Club. See Club Orient Facebook, details of closure, dated Oct 4, 2018.
  3. There's another live streaming webcam looking full time at the port and Great Bay. http://www.thevillasongreatbay.com This small resort is located near the west end of Great Bay beach, closer to the now destroyed Sonesta Great Bay hotel and casino, and Divi Little Bay resort.
  4. On a trans-Atlantic from Cadiz to FLL, we had 27-30 ft seas until we reached the Azores. It was early November on the Zuiderdam. There was a storm north of us in the Bay of Biscay. We were in cabin 6006, close to the bow. We had some pitching up and down, and you had to hang onto the railings walking to dinner. But we certainly were not "bouncing". And the term is "Swells" not Swales. There is a slow pitching up and then down if you are in forward or aft cabins. Very slow pitching, as the ship climbs over each swell. We find the rocking very relaxing, certainly not annoying or violent. The OP must be trying to associate rough seas on a ship with turbulence in a jet. Yes, in a jet caught in turbulence, you will bounce up and down. But in a jet, you are blasting through the air at 500+ MPH, while a cruise ship moves up and over the swells at a leisurely 18 knots. No bouncing !!
  5. There is no advantage buying the beverage package on the 2nd day. It is not pro-rated, but you will have to negotiate with the front desk to get your first day drinks reversed. But remember, if you buy the SBP onboard, you pay a $5 per day penalty, ($44.95 per day, vs $49.95, both prices plus 15%). If you intend to buy it, you should purchase it online, before your cruise and save $5 per day, per person. If your intent is to purchase onboard to utilize some of your free HAL provided cabin credits, then you will pay the $5 per day penalty. Hal would rather you use your own money to purchase the package online, because the markup for alcohol onboard is much lower than other onboard purchased items like Spa treatments, Art purchases, and shore excursions.
  6. We have used Flight Ease for many cruises, and the airlines involved were United, British Airways, Swiss, Delta, American. As soon as the flights were booked through Flight Ease, we were given the airline record locator number. We could go onto the airline's website and select seats, add our frequent flier numbers, and when the time was right, usually 24 hours before the flight, we could check-in. In all cases, the reservation was made 6 months or earlier before the flight, and payment for the flight was tied to the final payment for the cruise. Same date, usually 75 days out. Anytime before final payment, we could change our flights, or cancel them with no penalties. We have never had the airfare go up, but if you change a flight before final payment, you do pay the current rate, which may be more or less than originally booked.
  7. If you cancel an online booked tour, more than 3 days before the cruise, the refund will go back on your credit card. If you cancel it under 3 days, the refund will go onto your cabin account, MINUS 10% short cancellation fee. This 10% is to discourage you from doing exactly what you propose. Plus you take the chance that the tour may be sold out and there is a waiting list. Cancelling onboard, or under the 3 day limit, not only costs you 10%, it also puts you at the bottom of any waiting list if you choose to rebook.
  8. We were on the Rotterdam in March and they still had the by-the-minute internet. We used Skype to make calls and it worked fine. We were on the Westerdam last November and they had the 3-tiered type of internet. We selected the premium level and Skype worked perfectly, even in the middle of the Atlantic. You just have to setup a Skype account and put $10 or $20 on it. Because HAL uses Carnival's internet system in Miami, when you log into the internet, your computer (and Skype) thinks you are in Miami. So any call made is considered domestic and charged on their 2 cents per minute rate. The person you are calling does not need to have Skype or even a computer. You can call landline phones and it works perfectly. We keep in contact with the kennel who is boarding our dog, just to check up on him.
  9. That's what I was looking for. HAL used to have the smaller ships doing this itinerary in prior years. This year, it's the Eurodam and the prices for a 28 day cruise in a balcony cabin are finally reasonable. The smaller ships like the Maasdam and Amsterdam only have Lanai cabins and suites. What they call a veranda suite is just a regular veranda cabin on the larger ships. But they charge suite prices. Finally, they put a larger ship on this route and it is very popular. I booked the 28 day Hawaii, Tahiti, Marquesas cruise last October while onboard. I got an aft veranda cabin, (VB grade) for $5100 P/P. I also have prepaid gratuities and a $50 beverage card. Today's prices for a VB grade cabin (presently unavailable) is $9200. A minimum grade veranda cabin (VE or VF) is $7600. I have no idea why HAL refuses to schedule more itineraries like this, because they sure seem like a winner.
  10. The standard Signature Beverage Package (SBP) costs $44.95 per day plus 15% service charge, or $51.70 per day. On the rogerjett package prices listing posted above, they are assuming you are purchasing the SBP while onboard. Yes, that is $49.95 per day plus 15%. But if you purchase it online, ahead of your cruise, the daily price is $44.95, plus 15%. The maximum menu drink price in the SBP is $9. All beers, almost all mixed drinks, and some wines are menu priced between $6.50 and $8.95. Taking the average drink price of $7.50 plus 15% SC will cost you $8.62 if you are paying as you go, without the SBP. Divide the daily cost of the SBP of $51.70 by $8.62 and you get 6 drinks. 6 drinks is the break-even point, and after that, you are drinking free. If you have a very port intensive cruise, where you are off the ship from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and you only have a few glasses of wine with dinner, then the SBP is not worth the money. You have to estimate what your beverage consumption will be on vacation. When you are on a cruise, the captain's is driving and you usually tend to consume more than you will do at home, when you have to drive home from a restaurant. Recent reports from CC members is that HAL is now not counting sodas or bottles of water against your 15 daily limit. Naturally, a specialty coffee with a shot of liquor will count as one drink. But a regular cappuccino will not count. And you definitely do NOT have to consume 9 or 15 beverages per day to make the package pay for itself.
  11. If you want the same table, at the same time, with the same waiters, then you are describing fixed dining. You can reserve, ahead of the cruise, a table in early fixed dining (usually 5:30) and you will get everything you are asking for and you can reserve in advance. However, if 5:30 doesn't work for you, then you will have to deal with Open Seating, and negotiate with the Maitre'd for a fixed table withing the 5:15 to 6:30 window that you can make reservations in open seating.
  12. I would guess that some people have HAL sheets, pillow cases, and towels at home. The big question would be IF they actually paid for them ?
  13. We do a mix, but only when booking the ship's tour is reasonable. On tours that involve overnight stays it is way cheaper to go privately. Next March we will be overnighting in Bora Bora on the Eurodam. We have always wanted to experience the overwater bungalows. The ship anchors at 8:00 AM on Saturday and doesn't leave until 11:00 PM Sunday, so there is plenty of time for a DIY. HAL offers an overwater bungalow at the Pearl Resort, including transfers and dinner for $1299.95 PER PERSON. I booked the same hotel, in a similar grade overwater bungalow for $765 for both of us. The hotel provides a free ferry service to their resort, and you get a free breakfast. Worst case, dinner for 2, including drinks, maybe $250, considering the high prices for everything in Bora Bora. So our out of pocket cost for this overnight will cost us $1015 for 2 people. Using HAL's shore excursion, we would spend $2600, for the same hotel, same quality room. Also, the HAL excursion forces you to leave the hotel at checkout time of 11:00 AM Sunday. With our privately arranged tour, we can stay at the hotel, using their facilities until the last ferry, which is around 5:30 PM. The ship doesn't leave anchor until 11:00 PM. HAL has a guarantee that if you can find a duplicate private tour that is cheaper that the HAL tour, they will refund your money plus extra. I wonder if my Pearl Resort tour would qualify ? Has anyone actually cashed in on the HAL tour guarantee ?
  14. As a 4-star mariner, we get a 50% discount on Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Rudi's, or Canaletto and their fixed price fees. On the menus, for example, Pinnacle Grill, there are extra cost items, like the 12 oz lobster tail and the President's cut steak, which costs an extra $59, on top of the $35. My question is if the 50% discount applies to the whole check, including any extra items, or only the $35 fee. Would my total cost for Pinnacle Grill be $17.50 + $29.50 for the President's cut steak, or would my cost be $17.50 + $59.00 for the same steak. Do they discount the whole check or just the base entry fee ?
  15. We had 4174 on the Oosterdam and the cabin was great. Much deeper balcony, and the cabin was also bigger. You can tell by the distance between the side of the bed and the couch. We had about 5 ft of space between the left side of the bed and the couch. The balcony was big enough for 2 full size lounge chairs. We had only one, but we asked for a 2nd from our cabin steward and it was there the next day. Deck 4 stern balconies are mostly uncovered on the Vista class ships. The great part of deck 4 stern balconies is when you stand at your balcony railing and look down, all you see is prop-wash and water. You are at the extreme back of the ship, and there's nothing below you to look at except water. On decks 5, 6, 7 & 8, you are looking down on the balconies of the decks below you and lots of heads. We always try to get a deck 4 stern balcony.
  16. We usually select fixed dining, late seating. Months before the cruise we send an e-mail to the Ship's Coordinator for the specific ship we will be sailing in. We check a website HAL Facts dot com that has the table number layout for the MDR's for all HAL ships. We put together a list of at least 10 tables that we think we want. We send that table list to the Ship's coordinator 4 or 5 months out, and they will always confirm one of our selected tables for us. We print that confirmation and take it on the cruise, but our keycard is always pre-printed with one of our selected tables. Naturally, if you wait too long, you will be waitlisted.
  17. If you actually book a cruise onboard (not just a future cruise deposit for a to-be-announced cruise) you get double OBC that you normally would get. That same offer is extended to you after you get home (welcome home) for a period of 60 days from leaving the ship. If you book onboard, the "welcome home" OBC is applied just as if you waited to decide after you got home. That is standard HAL policy, no "razzle-dazzle". Just a way to encourage you to book another cruise while you are still in the "cruise mood". As long as you book a refundable fare, you can cancel or switch cruises any time up to final payment date. You are not locked into the cruise you picked while onboard. However, if you change your cruise length by a substantial amount or change cabin type, your OBC will change.
  18. The old LG flat screens are small, and analog only. The HAL supplied DVD player uses regular composite video (yellow jack) and analog audio (red & white jacks) for inputs. The remote supplied with the TV's does allow you to switch TV inputs from RF to composite video. So, connecting an external guest supplied device is easy, as long as it has analog outputs. The new 50" flat screens in veranda cabins are mounted very close to the wall, inside a shadow box. If you have a very skinny arm, you may be able to push an HDMI cable into the side mounted jacks. In some cabins, the TV's are, as specified above, are in a corner, allowing easier access to the HDMI jacks. As mentioned, the big problem is being able to switch the TV's inputs from Ethernet to HDMI. The supplied remotes do not have this ability. If you bring a universal remote and the list of codes for the TV's, you may be able to switch inputs.
  19. With the unlimited laundry service, there is no extra price for pressing. Everything comes back pressed and on hangers, except little items like underwear and socks. All for the $7 per day rate in North America, and $9 in Europe. We put a bag out before leaving our cabin in the morning, at the clothes are back late that day or the next morning. The "by-the-bag" plan of $20 per bag in North America and $30 in Europe works the same way, everything comes back pressed on hangers. There is a separate pressing-only service that is not covered by the unlimited package plan. For all laundry plans, you can't use it the day before disembarkation. The laundry job may not be returned to you by the time you get off the ship.
  20. Flight Ease is great for 2 specific reasons. First, if you need a one-way or open-jaw international, you get much better pricing than you would on your own. Second, domestic or international, when you book with Flight Ease, your fare is paid at the same time as your cruise final payment. If you have a regular, refundable fare with the cruise, you can cancel the cruise and air together, if something comes up, and you lose no money. If you book your air on your own, and you need to change or cancel, you get hit with change fees, and lost money on the air cancellation. Also, when you or your PCC or TA books your flights with Flight Ease, you get an airline record locator. You then log into the airline and you can choose or change your seat assignments and add your airline FF number. You check-in and print your airline boarding passes from the airline's website, not HAL's. No, you cannot use miles to upgrade to a higher class or purchase the initial flights.
  21. The last 3 HAL ships we were on (Rotterdam, Westerdam, Oosterdam) all have ATM's in the casinos. But they charge a pretty steep transaction fee. The better deal is to sit down at a slot machine, put your room card in, and request a few hundred $$$ from your room account. Do a few pulls of the one-armed-bandit, then cash out. You will get a ticket you can take to the casino cage and they will give you US $$$ cash. There is no transaction fee, no credit card fee, and the amount lands on your room account which you pay at the end of the cruise. Much better than ATM's onboard, cash advances at the front desk or ATM's on shore, unless you need Euros or another foreign currency. Than the best deal is the ATM's on shore.
  22. I don't see how the room service eggs could taste different from the MDR or Lido. They all come from the same kitchens. There are no separate kitchens onboard just for room service. The only exception is in the Lido, and if you specify real cracked eggs, which you can do. They have both pasteurized liquid eggs and real eggs onboard. You can specify real eggs in the Lido and they will get them for you. They have them readily at hand for the eggs benedict, sunny side up, and poached eggs. On very long cruises, they will fall back on the liquid eggs because the have a longer shelf life.
  23. Almost all cocktails, beers, umbrella drinks and limited wines are under the $9 menu price limit of the Signature Beverage Package. If you are a wine aficionado, or you like the top shelf liquors and brandies, then the $9 limit will get in your way. You would then select the Elite Beverage Package which has a limit of $15 per drink. These are menu prices, and you don;t have to concern yourself with the 15% service charge, because you have already paid that when you purchased the package, or it was included with Explore-4. You would be hard pressed to find a cocktail on the menu that would not be covered by the $9 limit SBP. Only shots of Tequila have problems. here's only one brand of Tequila that is included under $9. The SBP is $44.95 per day, and the Elite Package is $54.95 per day, both prices plus 15% service charge. All packages have a limit of 15 beverages per day, and everyone in the cabin must purchase the same package, no sharing of drinks with non-package friends.
  24. If they don't have the new, 50" interactive flat screens mounted to the wall, then they will still have the old DVD players and the lending library at the front desk. The old smaller flat screens, are strictly RF and analog inputs. Some people want to feed their laptops into the TV. The old TV's do not have HDMI inputs, they are still analog composite video and audio (yellow, red & white RCA connectors).
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