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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ?

  6. 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 ?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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).

  17. In our Rotterdam cruise in Lanai cabin 3376, we noticed that the deck crew would come by around 7:00 pm and remove the cushions on the deck chairs, and after washing down the decks early the next morning, they come by with a cart of cushions and replace them around 6:00 AM.


    I was also concerned about people passing by on the Promenade deck and looking into the cabin. The glass door and window are very heavy glass and coated with a reflective film that made it impossible to see in, even at night. Just to verify this, I turned on every light in the cabin, and went outside. Standing on the Promenade deck, all I could see was my own reflection, as if I were looking into a mirror. I actually pressed my nose to the glass door and all I could see was the glow of the ceiling lights inside the cabin. I could not make out any people, furniture, or anything inside the cabin. I can guarantee you that no one can see into the Lanai cabins, day or night. Yes, the Promenade deck is well lighted at night. If you need total darkness for sleeping the clothes pins holding the drapes completely closed will help. The little bit of light coming through the small gap in the curtains provides just enough light in the cabin to act like a night light. Not an issue for us. But if you want total darkness, bring a few clothes pins.

  18. I’m baffled too by the culture of celebrity worship, which is the under current (no pun intended) of the cruise.


    I don't think it's celebrity worship, it MONEY !!! The Rolling Stone partnership, just like BB King Blues Club, NY Times, Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center, and the Oprah deal are all reciprocal partnerships. The cruise line funds the install of a venue with a brand name and the associated commercial plugs, and they receive funding, and the partner receives in-kind promotion. One hand washes the other. Unlike the old piano bars which were strictly a HAL venue, and the only income was from the drinks sold, the new entertainment venues bring in sponsorship funding as well as the shared cost of the musicians who are performing.

  19. Lanai cabins on the Rotterdam and other R class ships used to be Ocean View, but they put a sliding glass door out onto the Promenade deck and call it a Lanai cabin. Regular private balcony cabins on those ships are called suites, and have a much higher price than equivalent cabin on a Vista class and higher ship. You do have 2 private lounge chairs outside of your lanai door, and a sign specifying that these chairs are for Lanai cabin guests only. Most guests pay attention to the signs, but you may have to occasionally boot some guests who choose to ignore the signs. Usually, just open your door, and if there's someone sitting there, point to the sign and they will leave.

    There is some noise from the galley on the deck above. Check cruise deck plans dot com and put both decks side-by-side and you will see what is above you. We had cabin 3376 on the Rotterdam, and the dish washing part of the galley was above us. There was some noise early in the morning, but not bad enough to wake you up.

  20. Just back from 12 day Med Cruise from Venice to Barcelona -- wonderful cruise :).


    We purchased the greenhouse thermal spa package for $369.00 for 12 days. The thermal spa includes a large whirlpool, ceramic heated beds, and two saunas. We found it was not too crowded, and it was definitely relaxing and a great way to end the day after touring.


    We also purchased the unlimited laundry package for $108.00 for 12 days. The service was prompt, and everything came back beautifully wrapped in a laundry basket or on hangers. Since we travel with only carry on luggage, the laundry package was a great value for us!


    Hope this is helpful,




    Your laundry package prices agree perfectly to HAL's standard price structure, $7 per day for North America, and $9 per day for Europe. For the life of me I can't understand why it costs more to wash clothes on a ship when it is in European waters. Same labor, same water, same soap.

    I have heard that if you call Ship's Services prior you a European cruise and order the unlimited laundry package, it is $7 per day for Europe, not $9. It's worth a try.

    Also, the unlimited package is for the whole cabin, not each person in the cabin.

  21. We always order from the in-room breakfast card. Yes, it is limited, but we always write-in what we want, and it has never been a problem. As long as you write-in what is available in the Lido you will get it.

    As of early March, on the Rotterdam, any egg dishes were made with liquid eggs, unless you request real eggs. If you do, they will happily grab a few real eggs and make your omelette, scrambled or whatever egg dish you want. I have never seen powdered eggs unless it has happened since March 2018. Eggs Benedict are always made with real eggs. The liquid eggs are real eggs, pasteurized for longer shelf life and come in a box similar to a quart of milk.

  22. Most people associate with the music that was current in their teen and early adult years. They carry that association through their lives. I'm 70 and really rock out to 60's Doo-Wop, 70's and early 80's music. Somehow, I can't figure out how the kids of the 90's and 00's will get that sentimental feeling over the rap music that expounds on abusing women, killing cops, and lots of F-bombs. But to each his own. The new Rolling Stone venue on the new ships really sounds interesting. I wish it would be on the Eurodam in March, 2019, but I think they would have to wait for a dry-dock to make the changes needed.

  23. The piano bars of old (Jimmy Maddox) were great, but the venue was too small for everyone who wanted, to enjoy it. Plus, HAL needs butts in seats to sell drinks, and the old piano bars were not making enough money to justify their real estate on the ship. So, they come out with Billboard Onboard, a marketing partnership with Billboard Magazine. Lots more room, but pretty much the same music, with 2 pianos instead of one. How many times can you hear Sweet Caroline, Piano Man, and every song by the Beatles ? There's so much great music from the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's (before the abomination of Rap music) and no one was playing it. If this marketing agreement with Rolling Stone produces a small band that can decently cover the music from the time the baby boomers grew up, it will be a success. If they have 20 year old musicians in the band who never heard of 70's and 80's groups because they weren't even born then, and play the standard piano bar fare, then it will not succeed.

    There was a great piano bar musician on the Rotterdam last March who played all of the great stuff, but he was in his upper 50's. He applied to Billboard to be included in the Billboard Onboard venues, and they told him he was far too old.

  24. Be very careful of upgrades to deck 5, midship balconies. On the Zuiderdam, we had a VD grade cabin 6006, far forward, for a 26 day Med/Trans-Atlantic to FLL We were offered an "upgrade" to deck 5 midships, VA grade balcony, 5098. We checked the cruise deck plans dot com website and saw our "upgrade". If you are in the cabin, looking out, your view is OK. But if you are out on the balcony, looking down, all you see are the tops of the big orange lifeboats. If there is a sailaway band on the dock, or a school of dolphins alongside the ship, you see only lifeboats. Also, the midships section of the ship is narrowed at that point, so the balconies are not as deep as balconies forward and aft. And, to make things even worse, our balcony was right next to the mid-ship elevators. We would have been able to wave to the elevator passengers as they rode up and down. We rejected HAL's "upgrade", saying thanks, but no-thanks. catl331 is absolutely right. Those cabins, before 2014, were considered "partially obstructed" VE or VF, the bottom of the barrel. After 2014, they were VA grade, the best on the ship. Before you select any cabin on any ship, or accept an upsell or upgrade, always check the website listed above that will show you pictures of the cabin.

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