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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Concerning item #4 ("Or better yet you have to just about become an alcoholic and purchase the beverage package for 15 drinks a day if you want any kind of break on prices. "). You don;t have to be an alcoholic to benefit from the beverage package. It is a common misconception that you have to drink 15 beverages per day to break even with the package. Do the math. The average cocktail, beer, or wine costs between $6.50 and $8.00. With the 15% service charge added in, you are paying around $9 for every drink. The SBP costs $51.70 per day, including the 15%. So, divide $51.70 by $9 and you get around 6 beverages. after that you are drinking free. There's the discount. Some people don't find it works for them, others say they benefit from it. Strictly a personal choice. But I do agree that HAL has some of the lowest drink prices of all the major lines. An Absolute and tonic is $7.95 menu price.

  2. Over the years, we have seen many instances that what Seattle says is gospel, the individual ships do their own thing. However, HAL corporate is shooting themselves in the foot by not standardizing their beverage package policies across all ships and on the website. Of course, HAL considers it a great day when the website actually works, so expecting any accuracy in the details is over the top.

  3. Just to be sure I'm reading this right..... you can bring ONE bottle of wine onboard with NO corkage fee. All other bottles brought on, either at your embarkation port or other ports along the cruise WILL have an $18 corkage fee, and it doesn't matter where you drink it, in your cabin, in the MDR, or in the men's room. You pay an $18 corkage fee for all bottles above ONE, no matter where you drink it. Is that correct ?

    Some of the posts seem to think that if they bring a case of wine onboard, and drink it all in their cabin, there's no $18 fee. One post suggested that you pour your wine in the cabin, and carry the glass to the MDR for dinner. I think that the corkage fee is assessed when you bring it onboard. From that point, you can carry a bottle and a glass anywhere on the ship and enjoy your wine with no issues.

  4. A lot of the discussions on here is about fresh beef. When a ship is provisioned in a US port and is at sea for 20-30 days before major provisioning again, the meat would have to be frozen or vacuum packed to keep fresh. Freezing will destroy some of the tenderness and flavor, but it is a necessary evil for serving tasty steaks on a long cruise. If a ship is doing 7 day round trips out of FLL, the meat would not have to be frozen. But a 30 day cruise would require some freezing, so that must be taken into consideration when comparing cruise line meat quality. A typical Carnival cruise out of Miami is 7 days, so the Steakhouse can keep their fresh meat unfrozen. HAL usually does longer cruises, so some meat must be frozen for the later days in the cruise.

  5. Thanks for the video. I wish HAL would update their website for the beverage packages, because they still are saying pretty much everything wet that you purchase with the package counts towards your 15 daily total.

    We also enjoy the nightly cordials in the little 'take-home" glass. However, we have so many of those little glasses that we are giving them to relatives. We have never been hit for 2 drinks for the cordials. And I always check my daily totals on the HAL Navigator. I always see $7.50 plus $1.12 service charge for a total of $8.62 in the debit column, and then I see a full credit for that amount because of the SBP. That somehow doesn't seem fair to charge non-beverage package people $7.50 and basically $15 for people with the SBP. I have ordered double vodka gimlets many times and that is perfectly OK, but they do hit my daily count for 2 drinks. Those little cordials are certainly not doubles. Maybe they are charging for the take-home glass. If that is the case, I have about 75 of them I'll sell back to HAL on my next cruise.

  6. Based on what you estimate your beverage consumption will be, I would say no, you will lose money on the Elite package. The regular beverage package is $51.70 per day, including the 15% service charge, but that limits you to drinks with a menu price of $9 or less. Don't consider the 15% SC in that $9 menu price, because that is paid when you buy the package. The break-even point for the regular beverage package ($9 limit) is 5 or 6 drinks. After that you are drinking free. If your 7 day cruise is very port intensive, (every day a new port), then either beverage package will probably not pay off. You should take the drink menus and run a typical day of beverages and see where you are.

    We always purchase the SBP, because we usually book cruises of much longer duration with many sea days. That's when the beverage packages really pay off for us, usually to the tune of hundreds of $$$.

  7. There is no such thing as a "Signature Beverage Card". It is a plain and simple "Beverage Card" of whatever denomination you choose to purchase. It is dollar for dollar, and no discounts. You can use the Beverage Card for whatever liquid refreshment you want, except the inroom fridge and HMC. Also, you can't use it for bottles of water at the gangway for a shore excursion.

    The "Signature Beverage Package" (SBP) does provide considerable discounts, IF, and it's a BIG IF, you drink more than 5 or 6 beverages per day. For drinks in the $6.00 to $8.95 price range, when you add in the 15% service charge, you are drinking free after 5 or 6 drinks. If your normal cruise drink consumption is a glass or 2 of wine at dinner, go for the plain beverage card. If you think you may consume more than 5 or 6 drinks per day (maybe a cruise with lots of sea days), the you should consider the SBP. Also, purchasing the SBP is cheaper by $5 per day if you purchase it online, ahead of your cruise. If you wait to buy it onboard, maybe hoping to use some of your HAL provided free cabin credit, you pay $5 a day more, plus the usual 15% service charge.

  8. We are on the Eurodam, March 9, 2019, R/T San Diego, 28 days to Hawaii, Tahiti and the Marquesas. We have an overnight in Bora Bora, and we have booked a overwater bungalow at the Pearl Resort for the night. We arrive in Bora Bora at 8:00 AM on Saturday and don't leave until Sunday at 11:00 PM. HAL is offering the same hotel overwater bungalow for $1300 per person including dinner and transfers. We booked the same hotel directly for $650 for the one night for BOTH of us, and our booking gets us a free boat ride to the resort from the tender dock. We figure our dinner would cost us around $200 with drinks. So HAL's same package would cost us $2600, we are estimating $900 to $1000 for both if us. We have no concerns about missing the ship, because we must checkout of the Pearl by 11:00 AM on Sunday, and we plan to get a day room and hang out in the resort until around 5:00 PM, and head back to the ship. A huge savings !!

  9. People mentioned that they don't care what ship captains make or even airline pilots.

    Remember the Colgan Air flight 3407 back in 2009, operating as a Continental Connection flight. It was found that the pilot and first officer were extremely tired going into their duty shift. The reason is that their salaries were under $30 K per year, and they couldn't afford a "shared crash pad" near Newark airport. So the captain slept in the airport the night before, and the FO, who lived in Seattle, dead-headed on an overnight flight to Newark. So, low pay of the regional airlines, who contract with the majors, and fly under their livery, does have an impact on the job performance of the crews.

  10. The beverage package (regular or Elite) can be only used for beverage purchases. The beverage card can be used for anything from the beverage dept. Occasionally they will have drink specials where you keep the glass. As long as that special drink is under $9 or $15 (the package limits) I would think that the glass would be included. But buying a special cup, probably not.

  11. 500 MB of HD video is about one hour. If you have a 500 MB cap, you will have to choose what you want to watch very carefully. If you exceed the 300 or 500 mb daily cap, do they throttle you down to a very slow rate, do they cut you off, or do they charge extra to your onboard account ?

  12. It all depends on how your particular cruise is selling. If you are past final payment date, and the ship is only 60-70% full, then the passenger has a lot of clout to get fare reductions and other perks. If the ship is almost full, you don't have much of a chance to get any concessions. The most important thing in marketing cruises is "heads in beds". As we all know, your cruise fare is only about 70% of the total cruise cost. Your onboard spending is critical for making a cruise financially a winner for the bean counters. That's why 3rd & 4th persons in a cabin sail so cheaply. They make up for the low fare by those person's onboard spending.

  13. We switched cabins 3 times and we still had the same booking number all the way through. Our beverage package purchase and shore excursions were tied to the booking number, so they remained. Also our cabin credits stayed the same, because we moved within our original booking cabin grade. Some cabin credits, like the ones you get for booking onboard, are based on the length of cruise and cabin grade. If you booked a balcony cabin, then moved down to a ocean view or inside, your cabin credits may change. But if you move up, like you were considering, then, if anything, you cabin credit should also increase or, at the very least, stay the same.

  14. HAL uses satellites for it's internet service. They share the system that their parent company, Carnival Corp, has setup for all of their owned cruise lines. So, no matter where in the world you are sailing, on a HAL ship, after you log into the internet, in your browser, enter http://www.iplocation.net. You will see your current IP address, plus the owner and location of that IP address. It will be Carnival Corp, Miami, FL. Your computer will think it is in Miami FL, and so will Netflix, Hulu. and You Tube. So, your US account with any of these streaming services should work, just as if you were sitting in a bar in Miami.

    The issue of bandwidth is another story. I have had HAL's premium package on the Westerdam, trans Atlantic, and running an Ookla Speed Check, I would get anywhere from 4 mb/s up to 7 mb/s. Streaming live video should work, but, just like any ISP, speeds are always listed as "Up To XX mb/s". Because there are other guests, and the ship's marine and hotel operations, all sharing that single satellite uplink, the speed will vary. Just like a water pipe, the amount of water pressure coming out of your tap all depends on how many other people also have their taps open.

  15. Anytime you do a speed test on a cruise ship provided internet, your "Ping Rate" is going to be horrible, compared to land based internet. On the ship, you are using a satellite connection, and there is the transit time from the ship, up to the satellite, 23,000 miles in orbit, and another 23,000 miles back down to earth. The LEO satellites (low earth orbit) are also used, but both have latency of between 200 and 600 ms. A typical home internet connection gets between 10 and 40 ms latency. That is part of the reason why ship internet is nowhere near what you get on land.

  16. The original (and current) price for the SBP is $44.95 a day, plus the 15% service charge, totaling $51.70 per day. In January 2017, HAL started charging a $5 per day PENALTY for buying the SBP onboard. Prior to Jan 2017, the $51.70 per day price was the same, purchased online, ahead of the cruise or purchased onboard. The reason for the $5 per day penalty is that HAL found out that many people were purchasing the SBP with their HAL provided free cabin credits. Compared to other onboard purchases like the SPA, shore excursions, art, and photos, beverages have a much smaller markup. HAL would rather have you use your onboard credit to buy high markup items, and spend your own cash to buy the SBP in advance of the cruise. It is NOT a discount, it is a penalty. Very strange, the Elite Beverage Package costs the same ($54.95 per day plus 15%), if you buy it online or onboard.

  17. My CPAP was 7 years old, and I was getting nervous about it quitting on me. My problem is not simple snoring, it is that I stop breathing 50-60 times a night, and my sleep was being constantly interrupted. CPAP cured that. Because my original machine was 7 years old, I asked my medicare advantage provider for a new one. I had to get a new prescription from my doc, plus provide a copy of the original sleep study that was done 7 years ago. With all of that, I got a new machine. I had to pay 13 monthly payments of $11, plus a one-time $85 fee for supplies. I keep the old machine as a standby, but it's too big and bulky to carry on a cruise as a backup, especially since my present machine is brand new.

  18. Since the recent change in the US tax laws, durable medical equipment (a CPAP machine that is prescribed by your doctor qualifies) is now covered 80% of the cost. You only have to pay 20% of the cost (used to be 50%). So, if you really depend on the CPAP machine, and you are going on an extended cruise, try purchasing a refurbished machine as a spare. They fit into a small carrying case, and the airlines will not count that as one of your carry-ons.

  19. I wouldn't say a "multitude" of other cruise lines do not have a "both must buy" policy. Checkout the Cruise Critic, nicely done article on the major cruise lines and their beverage packages and prices. Pay particular attention to the "Fine Print" paragraph for each line which specifies the restrictions on each package.

    The cruise line that everyone seems to use as an example as the "best deal" is Celebrity. They have 3 packages. The bare bones package is $45 a day, but drinks are limited to $6 each. You can't get many mixed drinks on Celebrity for $6. The next package is their "standard", which costs $55 per day, and that has a per-drink limit of $9, same as HAL. Their "Premium" package is $65 a day, and has a per-drink cap of $13, less that HAL's Elite package. Also, all packages are plus 18% service charge, 3% more than HAL's. Celebrity is one of the few listed on the CC article (https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1470) that does not require "both must buy".

  20. Booking a Neptune suite does not automatically grant you a Signature Beverage Package. It is not an automatic perk. It must have been a promotion, like Explore-4, tied to your cruise when you booked.

    The per-day cost of the regular, signature beverage package (SBP) is $44.95 per day, and the Elite package is $54.95 per day, both prices are plus 15% service charge. You pay the 15% SC upfront with the package, so nothing is added to your cabin account for each beverage.

    The total cost for the SBP, including the SC is $51.70 per day. The Elite package is $63.20 per day. You would have to pay the difference between the 2 package daily totals to upgrade. Some ships may have special offers to upgrade at lower rates, based on participation levels, and you would see that once onboard.

    The only difference between the 2 packages is the per-drink price cap. The SBP has a $9 MENU PRICE cap. This is the price you see on the drink menus. You do not have to consider the 15% SC because that is already paid when you get the package, either through outright purchase or through Explore-4. The Elite package increases that daily per-drink maximum to $15. The big advantage is for folks who desire a better selection of wines. With the SBP, the wine selections included with the $9 cap is limited.

    But as a reference, with a typical $7.50 mixed drink menu price, your SBP package will break even at the 6 drink level. After 6 drinks, (or wines or beers), everything after that is free. Naturally, bottles of water, sodas, specialty coffees, are priced less than $7.50, so the break-even point varies based on your beverage choices.

  21. I have asked this question before on CC. If you book with Flight Ease, and you miss the ship due to a flight delay not caused by you (missing the flight), HAL will get you to the next port that is reachable by a flight or land transport (bus, taxi, HAL's option). However, if the next port is many days into your cruise, you are on your own to pay the hotel and meals while you are hanging out, waiting for the ship to catch up with you.

    For instance, if you miss the ship in FLL, and the next port is HMC, HAL will not transport you to that "boat only" island. You will have to go to the next port, where ever that may be, days later. If you miss the ship in San Diego for a Hawaii cruise, you have 5 days in Hawaii to wait for the ship to arrive. The word I got from other CC members is that HAL does not cover the hotel and meals while you are waiting. That doesn't sound too fair, I hope people who have had this type of problem would let everyone know what really happens.

  22. The Signature Beverage Package (SBP) only will pay for itself if you consume more than 6 mixed drinks a day at $7.50 plus 15% service charge. If you only drink beer, or one or 2 mixed drinks, or just a glass of wine at dinner, save your money and pay as you go.

    The "both must purchase" policy came about after beverage packages became popular. Anytime you provide a special deal, some people, will try to figure out a way to scam it. Drink sharing was widespread across the industry. Cruise lines used different methods to curtail the practice. Some just raised the daily price to a level that if sharing happened, they wouldn't lose too much. Others, like HAL kept their daily price low at $44.95 per day, and established the "both must buy" policy. But in all cases, the bartenders and waiters are trained to spot sharing and if so inclined, they will report it. You can lose your beverage package, with no refund, no pro-rating, and all drinks consumed will be billed to your cabin account. However, the problem with this policy is enforcement. If there is a bar manager or other high level manager around, and you try to sneak a shared drink to a friend, the waiter will turn you in, mostly to save his job. If no managers are around, then the waiter will probably let it slide, because he gets the 15% service charge on any drink, and he doesn't really care who drinks it.

  23. Agreed. We have sailed on the Oosterdam in Nov 2016 and the Rotterdam in March 2018, both out of Tampa. The problem with the smaller ships like the Rotterdam is if you want a private balcony, then you are stuck booking a suite, with the associated higher prices. Any private balcony cabin is considered a Vista Suite. It has no regular veranda cabins like the Vista class ships and up. We were in a "lanai" cabin on the Rotterdam, and it was nice, but still not a true private balcony. Your balcony was the very busy Promenade deck. And there are only a limited number of lanai cabins, which tends to drive the price up.

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