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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Here is the HAL brochure that answers lots of Beverage Package questions as well as what drinks are included in each package. All items on the Quench Beverage Package (non-alcoholic beverages) are included in the Specialty Beverage:




    Thanks for that very clear description of the SBP and EBP. One minor point is the price shown for the SBP. This must be a handout that is given onboard, because they quote the SBP price as $49.95 per day. That is true if you wait to purchase it onboard. If you buy it online, at least 4 days prior to your cruise, or call Ship's Services and purchase it before departure, the price is $44.95 per day, both prices are plus 15% service charge.

  2. Just like any environment where tipping occurs, don't ever expect the guide, waiter, attendant, etc to say "Sure, I have change". You try to tip a tour guide 2 Euros with a 5, 10, or 20 Euro note, and you will quickly see them start fumbling in their pockets and say "Sorry, no change" !! You just tipped someone 10 Euros for a tour. Carry small change !

  3. I get really upset when the news media reports on a cruise ship passenger "falling overboard". It is virtually impossible to simply "fall overboard" on a cruise ship, as we CC members all know. The railings all over the ship come up to your mid-chest for an average height person. The bulk of your weight is below the railings, so your center of gravity also falls below the railing. Most of these "falls" are caused by one of the following actions. First, and most likely is too much alcohol or drug usage. This causes people to do the "King of the world" stunt seen in the movie Titanic. Or people sitting on a railing, trying to take a "selfie". Next is the unfortunate and sad instance of suicide, and finally, someone being physically pushed up and over the railing during a fight, which may also be based on too much alcohol.

    Nobody just is walking along the back of the ship and leans the wrong way and falls overboard. Can't happen. But, as usual, the cruise industry gets a bad reputation for being unsafe, dangerous, etc. I'm not a fan of the commonly tossed around term of "Fake News", but falling overboard a cruise ship definitely falls into that category. It is wrongly reported in that way to generate hype and interest, or done by ignorant news reporters who have no actual knowledge of today's cruise ships..

  4. True, they do leave the prior day's MDR menu on the TV and Navigator until the next one is posted, usually after 9:00 AM. Always check the date on the menu to be sure you are looking at the current day's menu. If you see yesterday's menu, wait 1/2 hour or so and check again.

  5. We booked the Eurodam 28 day March 2019 Hawaii, Tahiti, Marquesas cruise while onboard in October 2017 while the 2017 Explore-4 promotion was in effect. Explore-4 was offered at that time when we booked and our stern veranda cabin was $7050 P/P. When we got home and transferred that booking to our TA, Explore-4 ended, and HAL was offering their "Cyber-Sale" which included prepaid HSC and a $50 beverage card. We told our TA to drop Explore-4 and take the prepaid HSC promotion. Our fare for the same cabin dropped to $5090. When Explore-4 started up at the end of July this year, my TA checked and it was not offered on this 28 day cruise. My TA told me that because the ship, at that time was 80% sold out, there was no need to add a promotion to it, HAL said it was selling very well.

    The SBP is $1447 P/P for the 28 days, and we will purchase it prior to the cruise. So, with the $2000 P/P reduction in cruise fare by dropping the 2017 Explore-4, and by purchasing it ourselves, we still made out by about $500, plus saving $678 in HSC.

    We do find the SBP always pays off for us on longer cruises with lots of sea days. This 28 day cruise has 18 sea days. We always come out ahead with the SBP by hundreds of $$$ on our cruises. Hey !! why not ? The captain is driving and we're on vacation !!

  6. On the smaller ships that still have the analog TV's and DVD players above the desk, the free Navigator on your laptop, tablet or phone has the menus for the MDR dinner, and Lido lunch and dinner buffet. On the larger ships that have gone through dry-dock upgrade, the 50" interactive TV mounted on the wall has menus for MDR dinner and the Lido. They usually post them on the Navigator and TV around 9:00 AM each day.

  7. For our upcoming cruise with my wife's dad, we booked without for him and with Explore 4 for ourselves. We'll upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package. By way of comparison, the beverage package wound up costing us around $34/pp/day. Adding the EBP upgrade will bring it to roughly $40/pp/day. A glass of Nicholas Feuillatte Champagne and two glasses of wine with dinner will almost cover that.


    I assume that your DW's dad is sailing in a separate cabin from you and your wife. If that is the case, then your plan of you and your wife having the beverage package and your wife's dad not having it will be fine. However, if you have your wife's dad in your cabin with you, then you may run into the HAL rule that everyone in the cabin must have the package, and if you don't purchase it online, they will automatically add it to the cabin account for the person who does not purchase it. See HAL's rules for the SBP or EBP. "All passengers in a cabin MUST have the same level of beverage package".


    The SBP comes out to $51.70 per person, per day. For a 10 day cruise, the cash cost would be $517.00. If your cruise of 10 days costs $510 more than without Explore-4, then you are breaking even, except that you also get a $35 Pinnacle Grill dinner. Price it out, because the break-even point of the SBP is 6 drinks, priced at $7.50 plus 15% SC. After 6 drinks, you are drinking free.

  8. Definitely YES. The aft balcony cabins are the same width as your cabin, but much deeper. The cabins are also a few feet deeper. You have room for 2 full sized lounge chairs, facing the railing and a regular chair plus a table. The only drawback to deck 8 aft balconies are possible noise in the early mornings when the crew is hosing off and cleaning the aft, deck 9, Lido pool deck. Some people have mentioned hearing chairs being moved around.

    If you have a choice of deck for your aft balcony, select deck 4. We love the deck 4 aft balconies, because they are at the extreme back of the ship. When you lean your elbows on the railing of your balcony all you will see is water, the ship's wake and occasional dolphins. Due to the tiered nature of the back of the ships, all decks above deck 4 are further back, and when you look down, you see other balconies and the people in them.

    We have has aft balconies on Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, and we have a 28 day South Pacific cruise on the Eurodam in 2019 in a deck 4 aft balcony. There is a little motion, usually when the ship is sailing in high swells, maybe 10 - 12 or more feet.

  9. We purchase the signature beverage package before we leave home, so our cabin key cards are already imprinted with SBP. There is never a problem with the cabin account when we do this. Same for the Elite package. If you purchase onboard, you pay a $5 a day penalty for purchasing it onboard, because you are using the free HAL provided cabin credits instead of your own cash. The Elite package is the same price, purchased online or onboard. If purchased onboard, it sometimes takes a day or two to get the package registered on your account and working. If you are on a short cruise, you should purchase it online before you leave home.

    You do not have to drink 15 drinks per day to make the package pay for itself. That is a common misconception. With the SBP, the total daily cost, including the 15% service charge is $51.70. A typical mixed drink is $7.50, but with the 15% SC it comes to $8.63 per drink. Divide that into $51.70 and you get 6 drinks. That is the break even point. After 6 drinks (or wines, or beers) you are drinking free. If you have a very port intensive cruise with only one or two sea days, and only have a few glasses of wine at dinner, then, of course, the SBP or Elite package is not worth the money. But if you have a cruise with lots of sea days (like the cruises we usually book) it pays off very nicely. On a 26 day Med/TA cruise with 13 sea days, we made out in the hundreds of $$$ with the SBP.

  10. When you use any URL that starts with https://book2.hollandamerica.com you will notice that is looks identical to the trusty old website. They have not changed that part of their site, that stayed intact. They just link to it with their new site. "Book2" is for people who already have a confirmed booking, and you need to purchase shore excursions, flight ease air, dining, packages, etc.

  11. With the Turkish Lire in the tank, I would guess that private (non-HAL) tours will be going up in price. We stopped at Sarande, Albania last October, on the Westerdam, when Turkey was on the no-go list. It is a nice port for walking. We ended up in a bar at the north end of the town, on the sea, and had a pizza and lots of their local beer. They were very happy with Euros, and the check came with the Lek and Euros prices.

  12. Any deck 5, mid-ships balcony cabins will have the huge orange lifeboats hanging on their davits right below your balcony. HAL sells them as VA grade, but to me, they should be considered as partially obstructed. As other's have said, you have a nice view looking straight out to the sea. But if you want to check out a school of dolphins swimming alongside the ship, or watch a sail-away band on the dock, you will be disappointed. The tops of the lifeboats are right below you, and restrict your view downward. Also, because if the narrowed deck in the midships area, the balconies are definitely not as deep. If you can get an aft or forward cabin, away from the narrowed section of the midships, you will have a deeper balcony and no lifeboats below you. Before booking any cabin, on any ship, always check the actual cabin pictures available on the HAL facts website or cruise deck plans website. Do research before you plunk down that credit card.

  13. What is the price difference to upgrade from SBP to Elite.? We will be on a 12 day Med Cruise.



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    If you paid cash (credit card) for your SBP, then it's east to upgrade to the Elite package. Just visit any bar or the front desk and ask to upgrade. It will cost you another $10 per day plus 15% service charge or $11.50 per day on top of what you already paid. If you got your SBP through Explore-4, then you may have to hit a few bars and keep asking for the upgrade. Some are reluctant. On other ships, they actually promote the upgrade. Either way, you should do it as soon as you board, and before you order your first drink. I don't think you can change your mind and do it on day 5 of a 12 day cruise.

  14. It sure sounds like sharing to me. Once you hit the magic 15 limit, you are paying full freight for each drink. If you hand your wife's card to the bartender/waiter and order a drink, then, when it is served to your wife, she shoves the drink over to you and you drink it, you are considered to be sharing. Once you hit that 15 drink limit, you effectively have no beverage package until the next day when it resets. You have just been lucky that the bartender didn't flag you on that move. Of course, from a waiter's point of view, denying someone a drink kills a $1+ tip that they would normally get. So, unless a bar manager or higher up is hanging out in the bar area, you will probably get away with it 90% of the time.

  15. I just checked the HAL website and their policy statements concerning the Signature and Elite beverage packages have not changed. They still state that the packages will cover "many wines, beers, liquors, mixed drinks, water, sodas, and specialty coffees, all under $9 or $15, up to 15 beverages per day. They do not say anything about non-alcoholic beverages not counting in the 15 per day total. If this policy has officially changed, and is not just an individual ship promotion to foster more package sales, then I wish HAL would change their posted policy to settle this issue once and for all. But expecting HAL to concern themselves about some minor text errors on their website right now is expecting too much. They seem to have FINALLY got their website working maybe 80%. But this is an issue for another thread, of which there are many.

  16. The Navigator site is not an "app". It is an onboard, totally free, website that you can access to view your cabin folio, dinner menus, and other onboard functions. You just have to sign up with your cabin number. It only costs you money of you decide to add internet access to it. If your Apple Watch is capable of accessing regular HTTP and HTTPS websites, then you should be able to browse it.

  17. Another factor in Port Everglades is the number of ships disembarking at the same time as your ship. There are just so many US immigration officials assigned to PE, and if there are 5 ships all clearing at the same time, then the number of agents assigned to each terminal drops significantly. Check that issue out before you make a before-noon flight reservation, as it could have an impact on the time it takes to clear immigration and be on your way.

  18. Once in FLL, we saw the Global Entry line combined with the folks in wheel chairs, so that extended the wait time a bit. They had 3 agents working the non-citizens line and 2 working the US Citizens line, even though there are maybe 12 booth positions. So, the US line was about an hour long.

  19. I agree. On the previous HAL ships I have been on, any beverage, be it anything from water to a Wang Wang (6 different types of alcohol), they all count for your 15 drink limit. The proof of the pudding is your online cabin folio, accessed through the free part of the HAL Navigator in your cabin. Every beverage I had was charged, and then reversed with the beverage package. If you see it charged and reversed, then that beverage, even a simple can of Coke, counted towards your 15 limit. Don't pay any attention to the offhand comments of the bartenders or beverage manager. Pay attention to what the bean counters in the Front Office do when they total your drink consumption for each day. Totally different group of people and totally different rules.


    However, this was based on our last cruise in March 2018. If the rules have changed since then, that would be a welcome improvement. And after watching dshroyer's post #35 and his You Tube video, I stand corrected. That is fantastic. I have always wondered why a 25 day cruise also earned 25 additional days in spending credit when I am sure I never spent $7500 onboard. But I did have the Signature Beverage Package on all of those cruises, either via Explore-4 or purchased.

  20. If you like doubles of any drinks, that is allowed. However the double is counted as 2 of your daily 15. I have seen a friend go over the 15 limit, because he was drinking double tequilas and other drinks through the day. He noticed the extra charges on his cabin folio when he checked it during the cruise. It is very tough to exceed the 15 limit, unless you like doubles. The break-even point with the regular package is about six, $7.50 drinks, plus the 15% service charge. After those 6 drinks, you are drinking free, up to the 15 limit.

  21. Other than the casino and the front desk, the one place there are cameras looking at every angle is the gangway area. Who gets on and off the ship is super critical. No one in this century uses tapes for their security cameras. The cameras are all digital and they are recorded on video servers that have multiple terabytes of storage, enough for at least 30 to 60 days of retention.

    As we all know, the basic cruise fare is only about half of the total cost of the cruise. Your onboard purchases make up the remainder. When this incident happened, I'm sure the captain and security staff reviewed the video. Then, the entire video from all angles was sent to Seattle over the internet, with the captain's and security chief's report. The legal staff in Seattle looked at it very carefully, considered the captain's report, and then Seattle made the final decision, disembark the 2 passengers and fly them home. This decision was not made lightly, knowing the definite chance of a lawsuit and bad media publicity. HAL lost most onboard spending from this couple, they also spent around $1500 to $2000 to buy last minute, one-way air tickets to get them from Helsinki, back to San Francisco. And the couple will probably get their cruise fare back, after signing an agreement to no more legal action on this issue. So, HAL will lose money on this incident, may have to go through a nasty trial, and get bad press. I can assure you that the decision by Seattle to disembark the guests was not taken lightly and they probably feel pretty sure that the husband was definitely the instigator of the pushing or they would not have acted as they did.

    People complain about the 2 day delay to confront the passengers. Considering the time differences of western Russia and Seattle, plus the decision making required in Seattle, it probably would take 2 days. Plus, they wouldn't dump these people off in Russia, with no entry visa. They would wait for a western port where they could disembark and get to the airport without any immigration issues.

    We have been to St. Petersburg on a cruise. The ship is not cleared like it is in the Caribbean, where it takes 5 to 10 minutes. In St. Petersburg, each of maybe 2000-plus passengers must pass through Russian immigration before they can exit to their waiting shore excursion. When we went there, Russian immigration has only 2 lanes open for all of those passengers, and it took over an hour to clear. The tour operators are totally aware of this and they will wait.

    There's no way HAL will post the video of the incident on social media or anywhere. They must be very confident they acted properly, and they are waiting for their day in court, if it goes that far.

  22. We were also charged 7% Florida sales tax on any drink while we were in Florida waters. The problem is, we left from Tampa, and cruised down the west coast to Key West. We were taxed for embarkation day and the next day in Key West. Luckily, we had the signature beverage package, and they do not charge the various state taxes to you if your drinks are covered by the package. You see the extra 7% on the drink receipt, but it never is charged against our cabin account. I guess the ship must absorb that tax ?

  23. Because the old TV's and DVD players were removed from the desk area, that freed up extra 220 & 120 volt outlets in the desk area. There are plenty. All electronic devices these days, including CPAP machines will work on any voltage from 100 to 240, all you need to bring is plug adapters, NOT the much more expensive voltage converters. A typical round prong European to US flat blade adapter costs around $4. I bring a few of them so all desk outlets are usable to me, plus a 15 ft straight extension cord for my CPAP. Depending on what side of the bed you are using, a 15 ft cord is long enough to reach both sides in a Veranda cabin. There are 2 USB charging outlets at the desk and also 2 more next to the light switches behind your bed pillows.

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