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TAD2005

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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We have Eurodam cabin 4187, on a March 9, 2019 28 day cruise.   We love the aft cabins because of their size, and not just the balcony size.   In the cabin, there is the usual bed, night table and 2 seater couch.   In most veranda cabins on either side of the ship, there is almost no space between the left side night table and the couch.   On the aft cabins, there is about 3 ft extra room between the left night table and the couch.   The balconies are a bit deeper.  But nowhere as deep as the stern balconies on the Vista class ships.   Due to the greater slope of the aft decks, a deck 4 aft balcony on a Vista class ship has enough room for 2 full length lounge chairs, plus a table, and you still have room before you get to the railing.   The Eurodam has less of a slope on the stern, so there is less balcony depth.

  2. After reading all of the posts on this thread and others for "Anytime" dining, (As You Wish on HAL), it appears that most folks really want all of the features of fixed dining (same time, same table, same waiter, same size table, for the whole cruise) except they don't like the 5:30 or 8:00 pm fixed dining times.   For peace of mind and zero hassles, we always reserve way ahead with the Ship Coordinator for our ship (e-mail available from Ship's Services) for an ideal table, selected from the PDF's on HAL Facts dot com.   We prefer late seating, because after a long day off the ship, we like to relax, shower, dress, and have a pre-dinner cocktail before the 8:00 pm dinner call.   To me, eating at a fixed time of 1-1/2 hour earlier, or one hour later from the favorite 7:00 pm Anytime dining request, would be far better than having to deal with reservations every 3 days, standing in line, wondering who you will be seated with.   When the doors open up at 8:00 PM,  we walk right in to our same table, waiter is there greeting us, and our favorite bread selections and cocktails are already there, waiting for us.   Sure beats waiting in line, even for 5 or 10 minutes.

  3. 14 hours ago, Andi Land said:

     

     

    You can track your application status online and get email updates. 

     

    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/after/status.html

    Thanks for the link to track my application.  It worked and here's the results:

    Your Application Status

    Thank you for submitting your application for a U.S. passport book!

    Your passport application is in the final processing stages.

    Your passport application locator number is 000000000.

    When you applied, you requested Routine Service.

    This means you should receive your passport on or about 01/06/2019.

    If you have any additional questions, please contact the National Passport Information Center with the above locator number.

     

    Looks like they are still working.   They received my application on the 17th of December, and I will get the passport back on Jan 6.  That would be 3 weeks for Routine Service.  Pretty good !!

  4. Our cruise isn't until March 9, 2019, but DW's passport expires in January.   We sent in our application Dec 17 and the check was cashed by the US Dept of State on Dec 18.

    Does anyone know if the 25% US government shutdown is affecting passport renewals ?   I have heard that State Dept. employees are not affected.

     

  5. The BB-King Blues Club is sometimes just plain LOUD !!   

    The famous professional speaker company Cerwin-Vega had a company slogan  "Loud is Beautiful...If it's Clean".

    Sometimes these bands use cheap equipment and just crank it up and all you hear is distorted sound, which is annoying to everyone.   If you have quality amps and speakers, the clean, un-distorted audio sounds great and is not annoying.   I hope the bands in the Rolling Stone Rock Room use quality equipment.   

  6. We always book a "true stern" cabin, but, as you say, they go fast.   We also had a bow cabin on the Zuiderdam, deck 6, cabin 6006.  We had 2 days of 28-30 ft seas from Cadiz to the Azores on an October 2015 TA.   Sleeping was relaxing, no problems, and the dining room was full.   There was some pitching up and down, but it didn't bother us.

    One disadvantage of mid-ship balcony cabins is due to the narrowing of the ship in that area.  Looking at the deck plans, it is clear that the decks in the mid-ship area narrow due to the lifeboats and their davits.   On deck 5 of the Vista class ships, the view from a mid-ship balcony is OK looking straight out, but looking down, all you see are the orange tops of the lifeboats hanging right below you.  I call that a partially obstructed view, but HAL sells it as a premium VA grade cabin.   As you go to deck 6, 7 and 8, the view is not as restricted.  Also, the balconies are much narrower in that section of the ship.   There's hardly room to put a regular chair out there without turning it sideways, or your knees will be up against the glass railing.  

  7. You can use the SBP or EBP anywhere on the ship there is a point of sale (POS) terminal.   One exception is grabbing a bottle of water as you are leaving the ship for a shore excursion.   There is no POS terminal at the gangway, so you must sign for your bottle of water and it is charged to your room account.   If you are going in a shore excursion the next day, the night before, on your way back to your cabin, grab a bottle or 2 at any bar using your package and store it in your fridge in the cabin.  

    Not sure about IPA beers, but all beers on the HAL bar menus are included in the package.   You can use your drink package in the MDR, but not for bottles of wine, just by-the-glass.   The one shortcoming of the regular SBP is it is limited in wine selections under the $9 per glass limit.   If you want a full selection, upgrade to the EBP for $5 per day extra, plus 15%.

  8. 4 hours ago, lvcotatian said:

    Have you gone on your cruise yet?  I am going on a music cruise on the Oosterdam on January 5, 2019 and I am trying to decide if I will buy this drink package too.  I saw a drink menu that someone posted on another topic and I am in hopes that the beer selection get better as most of the beers are lagers and I prefer IPA's and Pale Ales.  If you have already gone and bought the Signature Drink Package please let me know what you experience was like.  I am curious if it includes all non-alcoholic drinks too as I certainly don't want to drink only hard alcohol the entire cruise.  Thanks for your input.  

    Every beer that HAL lists on it's menus are included in the SBP.   Even the 16 oz Grolsch bottles.   I can't speak for for IPA's, because they are not listed on the regular bar menus.

  9. 4 hours ago, lvcotatian said:

    ho much do you tip the bartender at the beginning of the cruise?

     

    Which bartender ?   Depending in the ship, there will be many bars and different bartenders.  Unless you also sit at the bar, on a stool, you will have multiple waiters serving you.  There's no guarantee that you will have the same waiter or bartender throughout the cruise.   However, if you do sit at the bar, in one particular bar, and find a particular bartender you like, a nicely palmed $20  or $50 will guarantee prompt service.  Of course, that $20 depends on the length of your cruise.  For a long cruise (20 days and up) a larger amount may be in order for your favorite barkeep.

  10. As long as the menu price for the drink is $9 or less, you are covered.  Don't even concern yourself about the 15% service charge, it has already been paid.   When you purchase the package online, before your cruise, it is $44.95 per day, and purchased onboard it is $49.95 per day, both prices are plus 15%.   You have already paid the service charge, so they won't be hitting you again for it.  If you get the SBP with Explore-4, HAL covers the 15%.

    If you are paying as you go, a $9 drink will cost you $10.35 without the package.  The daily cost of the SBP, including the 15% is $51.70.   Divide $10.35 into $51.70 and you get 5 drinks.   The 6th drink and above are free.   

  11. Redneck Bob.... Hope to meet up with you on the Eurodam in March.   I agree with you on the selections in the Billboard Onboard venue.  They advertise "Top 100 from the 60's and 70's".   There are hundreds of great songs from that era.  But what do they play ???   Beatles, same 3 or 4 songs over and over, Sweet Caroline (so good...so good...so good), and Billy Joel's Piano Man.   Same songs, every set.  I offered suggestions, and "Sorry we are not allowed to play that song".   The problem is that the musicians that Billboard hires for the Billboard Onboard venue were just a twinkle in their parents eye back in the 60's-70's.   They have not "lived" that music, so all they know is the very limited standards that Billboard approves.  We were on the Rotterdam last March and they still have the traditional single piano bar and entertainer.  The guy was great, never duplicated any of his sets for the entire 21 days.  We got talking during one of his breaks, and I asked if he would be on one of HAL's larger ships.  He said he applied to Billboard for a gig on a larger ship as part of the Dueling Pianos.   He  said that Billboard liked his talent, but he was just too old for a venue like Billboard on HAL ships.  This great talent was 57 years old.  Enough said !!!!

  12. I'm guessing that the problem with that Lanai cabin sliding door was the magnetic latch.   Those doors are held closed by a powerful magnetic lock.  You have to press the white button on the inside, or swipe your prox card on the outside to release the lock.   If the electronics that controls the release of the magnetic lock are defective, there's no way the ship's mechanics could service it.  They obviously don't have a spare module.   If the magnetic lock is defective, then your sliding door is permanently unlocked.  Ships motion could cause the unlocked door to slide open all by itself.   That is a very bad security issue, so to put a bandaid on the problem, they screwed a wood block into the track to prevent the unlocked door from sliding open all by itself. 

    This guest definitely deserves a decent form of OBC in compensation.   HAL couldn't sell you a cabin where the cabin door lock was defective, but I'm sure they stock spare door lock modules.  They don't seem to have spare magnetic lock control modules on this ship.

  13. 4 hours ago, SetAnOpenCourse said:

    The Grolsch seems like a better deal than the others.

    Grolsch is great !!  It is a bit more expensive, but it is an 16 oz bottle, not the usual 11 or 12 oz of most other beers.  And you have the fun of popping the cork top, unless the waiter does it for you !!

  14. KK is absolutely right.   The porters stack hundreds of pounds of luggage into those containers and use fork lifts to load them onto the ship.   If the flat of water would leak or burst from the weight of luggage piled on top of it, then all the luggage would get wet.   HAL doesn't want the liability.  You have to carry it onboard yourself.   

  15. You can insert your cabin card into a slot machine, and request money from your cabin account to be loaded into the machine.  After playing a while, you "cash out", which means you take what's left on that machine and put it into your casino bank.   To cash out of your casino bank, you take your cabin card to the casino cage and cash out.  You will receive cash at that point.   They have no way to put those funds back onto your cabin account.

    I have heard recently that HAL now has a way to distinguish OBC on your cabin account that is purchased by your TA, or purchased by you, and which funds are free OBC from HAL.   The current thought is that you cannot use the free HAL OBC to load up a slot machine.   That must come from purchased OBC or placed as a debit on your account to be settled by your credit card at cruise end.   It is true that HAL can distinguish which funds are free OBC from HAL?

  16. Exactly right.   The issue of reimbursing privately is secondary to the big problem of changing names.   If one person booked a solo world cruise or group of segments, and then after one or two segments, got off, how would the next person be able to board?  There would be no record at the terminal for the next person to be able to get onboard, the pictures would not match, and passports would be different.   The original person booked would have to take their luggage off the ship, and the next person would have to get their luggage onboard.   Also, when you board the ship at any port, your picture on the gangway computer is compared to the actual person holding the card.   There's no way this could be done.  HAL would require the individual segments be purchased by the actual person who will be occupying the cabin.

  17. Those rates are not new.   On a October 2017 Westerdam Med/TA 25 day cruise from Venice to FLL, we had the unlimited internet.   The cruise was a "Collector's Cruise" with the midpoint in Rome.   For the first 12 days to Rome, the Premium rate (streaming and Skype) we paid $195.  For the next 13 days to FLL, we paid $205 for the same premium package.   The Social rate was $89 and $99.   The Surf rate was $142 and $157.    The rates do seem to vary between ships.   Somewhere on CC the actual rate card has been posted, showing the daily rates, and the discounted rates for the full cruise.

  18. When you either buy the SBP or EBP, or get the SBP with Explore-4, the 15% service charge is paid and you do not have to worry about it.  There's no additional service charges added to your account.

    The break-even point with the SBP, based on an average drink price of $7.50 plus the 15% is 6 drinks.  After that, you are drinking free.  And on most HAL ships, the 15 drink limit only applies to alcoholic beverages.  Specialty coffees, sodas, and bottled water do not count in your daily 15.   This does not agree with HAL's official policy stated on their website, but, as is normal with HAL, what Seattle says bears little resemblance to what happens onboard.

  19. Unfortunately on cruise ships, there is a single "pipe" up to the satellite and down to land based internet.   You are sharing that "pipe" with all of the other passengers and possibly hotel and marine operations.  And you know who will get priority in a crunch.   There is just so much available bandwidth on that satellite.  Higher usage can affect everyone's bandwidth.  That's why HAL does not guarantee any particular download or upload speed.  It's all "Best Effort".   Also, because you are using satellite based internet, the latency (ping rate) will be in the hundreds of milliseconds.   Laws of physics, it takes time to travel up to a geostationary or LEO satellite and back down again to an earth terminal.  That latency affects on-line gaming and VOIP.  

  20. 13 hours ago, SetAnOpenCourse said:

    Is the moral of the story indeed, to get a passport?  IMO that’s a hurdle they faced, but not as critical as her illness, perhaps even less critical than the medical bills.  They are not stuck in the Bahamas permanently.

    Having a passport would take a huge load off of both women, when the one with the medical problem was finally cleared to fly back home.   The moral of the story was BOTH a passport and medical and evacuation insurance.   Both women appeared to have very limited financial reserves, they had to borrow from friends to handle all of these extra expenses.  Mr. Murphy's Law held true here.  These women were in the worst possible situation, with very limited cash and no passport to get home, and a medical disaster strikes one of them.   With medical and evacuation insurance, and a passport, they could concentrate on the severe medical issue and not have to worry about hospital bills, one-way airfare to get home, and sitting in a motel, waiting for their passports to be processed.

  21. The drink menu posted by POA1 showing the drinks covered by the 2 beverage packages is what I have always thought, and I hope it is current.   The only place I have seen all martini prices at $9.95 is the menu at the Mix Bar on the R-class ships.   The menu above shows all martinis are included in the SBP.   i will bring that menu list with me next March on the Eurodam.

  22. A couple was leaving on a 3 day short cruise to the Bahamas on RCI last Friday.  On Saturday, one of the women developed a medical issue which the ship's hospital could not handle.  They transferred her to a Nassau hospital.   They have US medicare disability insurance, which is not valid outside of the US.   The hospital wanted $2000 cash to even admit the woman.   She got some of the funds from friends, but the problem was more serious and required surgery.   The ship was leaving.   Because the woman was taken off the ship for a serious medical issue, they would not allow her back on to get back to the US.  That would expose RCI to a liability if the women died while onboard.

    This is an already bad enough situation, but the kicker is the 2 women only had birth certificates, NO PASSPORTS.   You can't fly back to the US without a passport.  

    Yes, the 2 women bear 80% of the blame for not having trip insurance, which would have cost maybe $50 for a 3 day cruise, medical coverage only.  But they listened to RCI when they were told that passports are not needed for a cruise that visits the Bahamas and returns to the same US port.   I blame part of this on the cruise industry and CLIA.  There is the "Jones Act" which requires every non-US flagged cruise ship to visit a foreign port before returning to the US.   Because of this restriction, on almost all cruise lines, you must go to a foreign port some were in your itinerary, even if it's Half Moon Cay.   The Bahamas doesn't require passports of US citizens arriving on cruises, so to make cruising more affordable and convenient, the cruise industry lobbied congress to allow cruise ship passengers to travel on these "closed loop" cruises with just a birth certificate and a government issued photo ID (driver's license).   Naturally, the cruise lines do not mention the possibilities of the mess that has happened to these women.   Even if you have too many rum & cokes and fall asleep on the beach and miss the ship, you are toast without a passport.

    Moral of the story.... GET A PASSPORT... even for a simple 3 day cruise to the Bahamas.  And, if your heath insurance is some form of Medicare, buy cheap medical coverage travel insurance.   I have seen so many posts on CC from people who refuse to get a passport because of the inconvenience or expense.   I think these two women would have a convincing story to tell anyone who leaves the US without a passport and some form of medical insurance that is valid in the countries you are travelling to.

    CC should make this news story into a Sticky and post it on all cruise line boards.

    Read the full article here:   https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/medical-emergency-leaves-couple-cruise-stranded-bahamas-hospital-bills-pile-185216471.html 

  23. 46 minutes ago, CHOPPERTESTER said:

     

     

    When we were on Westerdam for a Med B2B Sept/Oct 2017 you could order any drink and just pay the difference. Are the policies by ship or have they changed? Maybe it's just the way you approach the bartender.

    We were also on the Westerdam, from Oct 14, 2017 all the way to FLL.   The drink max price was $9 and if you ordered a $10 drink, you paid $10 plus 15%.   Hal never has had a deal where you paid the difference.  Their onboard POS terminals will not allow it.

  24. I noticed on another post that the prices of all martinis in the Mix Bar are now $9.95, which also prices them out of reach of the SBP.   I sure hope this is not a trend.   Usually when HAL boosts the maximum price of the SBP (from $7 to $8, and now $9), they raise the drink prices to match.   In this case, they seem to raise the drink prices first, in the hope that this will force people to kick in the extra $5 per day (plus 15%) for the Elite Beverage package.

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