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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We booked a 28 day cruise on the Eurodam for March 9, 2019. We booked it while onboard the Westerdam in Oct. 2017. We booked a veranda cabin, so the standard onboard credit was $150 P/P for a cruise of this length in a Veranda. Because we booked onboard and paid the reduced, refundable deposit of $300 P/P , our cabin credits were doubled to $300 per person, and we also received a CLIA $100 P/P booking promotion. When we got home, we transferred the booking to our TA, and she got us an additional $50 per P/P credit, plus prepaid gratuities (value of $756 for both of us) and a $25 P/P beverage card. We intend to purchase the signature beverage package just before the cruise, so the $50 combined beverage card will buy us a nice bottle of wine.


    We always do a firm cruise booking of something (refundable) while onboard, different than a future cruise deposit. Then, later, if we change our minds, the deposit is refundable or transferable to another cruise. As long as the number of days and cabin class remain within the guidelines, you keep the double onboard cabin credits.

  2. Flight Ease will not let you see any flights more than 330 days out from your last flight. We just booked a R/T with Flight Ease for a March 9, 2019 cruise, returning on April 6. We could not book until about May 25.

    You can change your departure city all you want with Flight Ease. You cannot change the final arrival city. It must be the city where the associated cruise departs from. This is to prevent people using Flight Ease for personal trips or business trips to totally different cities, before their cruise, that are not anyway near your cruise departure city.

  3. We agree with other posts here that late, fixed traditional dining is our favorite. Plenty of time for a shower, short nap, and dress for dinner, then a few pre-dinner drinks in the Ocean Bar. We contact the ship's coordinator months before our cruise, and using PDF plans of the MDR, (available on that site that has HAL facts) we select a list of maybe 10 table numbers that we would like. We get 2-tops when we travel by ourselves, and 4-tops when we travel with another couple. We always get one of our selected table numbers. When we dine at the PG or Tamarind, we inform the dining room manager of our plans. But, like others, we do not appreciate them seating any-time diners 30 minutes or later at our table if there is a vacancy. But it really is a mute point, because by 8:00 PM, our fixed dining time, there are always loads of empty tables in anytime. That is not the case in early fixed dining around 5:45 pm.

  4. HAL's Flight Ease has great one-way international flights, thousands cheaper in business class. Setup a Flight Ease one-way to CPH, which is all HAL will allow you to do, and then take a train to ZRH, and then return the same way. It's 12-1/2 hours on the train and you see some pretty fantastic scenery on the way. Why stare down at Europe from 35,000 feet ? European trains are clean, on-time, comfortable, great food, and easier compared to flying. Because you are just doing a round-trip CPH-ZRH-CPH on the train, a Eurail pass wouldn't work out as well as just a round trip ticket.

  5. It seems the Rotterdam is now the Prinsendam, it has picked up most of the cruise itineraries. Of course, you have the ripple-down effect. What replaces the Rotterdam, and then what replaces that ship and on and on ? Somewhere at the bottom of the priorities, some cruises are just outright cancelled.

  6. The big advantage is double cabin credits based on the length of your cruise and the category of cabin you want. There is also a reduced deposit (unless you book a nonrefundable cruise or one that gives a special reduced rate for full payment at the time of booking). We always book onboard for those benefits, and HAL already knows our TA, so the booking is automatically transferred to the TA, who also provides additional OBC.

  7. We have been using the HAL website for a long time, and we never had any issues with the old one. There was an occasional complaint on CC about some minor issues, but no where near the absolute disaster that is happening now with the new one. So, if few people had issues with the old site, why doesn't HAL simply dump the new site and restore the old one ? At least until the "lowest bidder" contractor they hired to develop the new site can get it fixed and working at least as reliably as the old one.

    I don't want to hear these lame excuses that "you must keep your browser updated, Java and Flash Player updated, etc. and if you don't, then it's your fault that the site is not working". Hogwash !!! The old site worked fine for me with Chrome, IE and Firefox and on an Android tablet. Never a problem. If you develop a new site that is incompatible with the hardware/software of your customers, you are kissing goodbye to a lot of business. That is exactly why the Beta test phase for new websites is so important and supposed to reveal these browser incompatibilities. I have a feeling that to meet some kind of artificial deadline involving financial penalties to put the new site online, the beta test phase was cut short, otherwise, these problems would have been addressed and fixed.

  8. We were in Venice last October, for 5 days preceding our Med/TA cruise on the Westerdam. We booked a small hotel for the 5 nights, thinking that mid-October would be less crowded and cheaper hotels. Were we fooled !! On the Saturday departure of the Westerdam, there were 4 other monster-size ships originating their cruises there. Because they were originating and not just a port call, some 18,000 tourists all looking for a hotel room for at least one night before the cruise (smart move) so prices were crazy (300 Euros per night) and St. Mark's Square was wall-to-wall people. We could hardly move. If there's any way the OP could find a way to arrive in Venice a day or 2 earlier, they would have a much better experience seeing that beautiful city.

  9. In the US, the power companies strive to maintain an official voltage of 120 and 240. It can vary based on loading. But most electronic devices made in the past 20 years will happily operate anywhere from 100 to 240 volts. They all rectify those voltages to DC and produce anywhere from 5 to 18 volts for the device. Some electrical items are voltage specific, like light bulbs and appliances. The power line frequency (60 hz in North America) is very important due to electric clocks and anything with a motor in it. Your 33-1/3 RPM vinyl records (remember those ??) would sound strange if the powerline frequency was not exactly 60 HZ. But, ships attempt to maintain 60 hz, but it is not critical because they do not interconnect with other power companies. So, your electric clock on the ship may run a little slow or fast.

  10. Remember the recent story of a passenger arriving in the US on an international flight. She was given an apple by the flight attendant, but instead of eating it on the plane, she put it into her carry-on bag to eat later. When she deplaned, she passed through immigration and US customs. They asked her if she had anything to declare, she said "no", but she forgot about the apple in her bag. Unfortunately, she was also selected for a random secondary inspection by customs. They found the apple, and detained her, ending up with a nasty fine. Kind of overkill over an apple, but it shows that some countries can be very strict about bringing ANY food in, either on planes or ships.

  11. Each cruise line is independently operated under the umbrella of Carnival Corp. They can choose the website development company that they think is best, and the total cost plays a big part in the selection. In the case of HAL's new site, they really screwed up on this one. Maybe selecting the lowest bidder wasn't a wise choice for this job. Or the CEO said that his kid just graduated from college with a computer science degree, and gave the job to him/her ? Who knows ? Whoever did this one, should give back any money that was paid.

  12. Birthdaygirl30..... You are right on describing "bothersome". One person sitting at a Lido table, or near the Lido center pool, occupying a whole table, loading up the remaining chairs with their personal stuff so no one else can snag a chair, reading a book, with their feet up on another chair, right at noon lunch time. All the while, other people with plates, loaded with food and drinks, from the Lido or Dive-In, trying to find a place to sit and eat their lunch. And the person reading, gives these people with loaded plates a dismissing look, basically saying "I'm here, you're not, and I'm not moving, and I don't care if it's lunchtime".

  13. But, if you are just boarding the ship, and even if there is an overnight, you still must attend the muster drill, whenever it is scheduled. They do take attendance, and you can't wait onshore until it's over in an attempt to avoid the drill. There's no getting around it, you must attend a muster drill at initial boarding, before sail-away, and every 30 days after that, if your cruise is a long one.

  14. Any bottles of liquor you purchase from HAL must be consumed in your cabin. So, depending on the liquor, you will need ice, and possibly some mixers and fruit. If you have a huge suite, and like to hang out in the cabin, then that will work. But the beverage package (or paying as you go) is the only option when you are out and about the ship. We have always found the SBP to pay for itself, but that all depends on your particular level of drinking. And don't base it on what you do at home. You're on vacation, the captain is driving, and people tend to loosen up a bit when on vacation. Six drinks a day is the break-even point. If you think you will not hit that level, that pay as you go. But remember, specialty coffees are included, sodas, bottles of water, all beers, almost every cocktail you could imagine (even a Wang-Wang, which has 6 different types of alcohol is included). The only place the SBP falls a little short is wines. If you must have your favorite wine, and that is all you drink, then the SBP is not for you. You may consider the Elite package, which ups the price to $15 per drink, and that covers most wines. It costs $10 per day extra above the $44.95 rate.

  15. Your post has intrigued me.


    I do use the Navigator on board to keep track of my on board account and other things.


    I did have the Explore4 last cruise on the 1st segment but nowhere did I see the drink consumption.


    Is there a button I failed to press?




    Unless things have changed in the last 4 months, every recent HAL cruise I have been on, their free "Navigator" site on the ship, allows you to see your cabin account folio. It is very current and one of the menu selections that doesn't cost you anything. It initially shows your cabin balance including any OBC you may have. As the days progress, you should see your $13.50 P/P, per day HSC being added to your account. If you have the beverage package, any drinks you purchase should show up in the left column and then reversed (credited) in the right numerical column. I always capture that folio on the last day and when I get home, I total my drinks for the cruise and compare that total against the cost of the beverage package. You can also get a printed copy of that folio at the self-service kiosks near the front desk. When I do my comparison, we always make out in the hundreds of $$$, over buying drinks as-you-go.

    Possibly when you have the SBP provided by Explore-4, some ships may not show each drink and the credit for it. We had a cruise with free gratuities, and each day, we saw the usual $13.50 added to our account, and then immediately reversed. They should do the same with the SBP.

  16. The break-even point is 5.6 drinks per day, based on a $7.95 drink plus 15% service charge. Do the math. A $7.95 cocktail plus 15% is $9.14 if you don't have the package and pay as you go. The SBP costs $44.95 per day plus 15%, or $51.70 per day. Divide $51.70 by $9.14 and you get 5.6 drinks. Round that up to 6 drinks and after that, you are drinking free. If you don't think you are going to drink 5 or 6 cocktails, or the equivalent in beer or wine, then the package is not for you.

    The requirement of both people in a cabin buying the same package is to prevent sharing. If people were honest and didn't try to scam the system by sharing, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. You have one passenger with the regular package and the other has the elite package in the same cabin. The passenger with the regular package wants a higher priced drink. The person with the elite package buys a higher priced drink for their cabin-mate, slides that drink to their friend, and then orders the same for themselves a few minutes later. Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes not. When the bartenders and waiters catch this happening, the result is not very pretty, and very expensive to the offending passenger. To prevent this type of confrontation and embarrassment, HAL requires both passengers to have the same type of package. It's the same as two friends on a plane, one in first class, the other in economy. After takeoff, the guy in first has a few free drinks, and then they both go to the bathroom. When they come back to their seats, they swap cabins, and the coach guy orders a couple of free drinks. If the flight attendants are not paying attention, they get away with this scam. If they are alert, both are in deep trouble.

  17. For people using Chrome, I found that if you set your screen zoom to 125% instead of 100%, a lot of the messed up graphics and missing information will now appear. It's certainly not a permanent fix, and the HAL website should accommodate any screen magnification that people use. This is a programming bug, and a temporary workaround.

  18. Set up an account (free) with the onboard wi-fi (not internet, just onboard info), and you can monitor your drink consumption as well as your total onboard spending on a tablet or laptop. With the beverage package, you will see that your account is hit for each drink, plus the 15% service charge, and then it is reversed out. If one of your drinks exceeds the $9 or $15 drink price limit, or if you have exceeded the 15 drink daily limit, you will see the full price of the drink on your account, and it will not be reversed. The total drink price plus 15%, will be added to your cabin total. Remember, doubles of any drink count as 2 drinks in your 15 per day limit.


    The average $7.95 cocktail ends up costing $9.14 if you pay as you go. The regular beverage package costs $51.70 per day, with the 15% service charge. So the break-even point with the SBP is 5.6 drinks. After 6 drinks, you are drinking free.

    We always take cruises with lots of sea days, so the beverage package always saves us hundreds on every cruise. If you on a "if it's Tuesday, this must be Santorini" type of cruise (a port every day), of if you only have a glass of wine at dinner, then the SBP is not for you.

  19. An Aft suite on either side of the ship will allow you to see the "mules" in action. Back when the canal first opened, they actually used mules to guide the ships through the locks. Later, they were replaced by electric locomotives powered by a 3rd rail, similar to subway trains. They do NOT pull the ship through the locks. There are locomotives on both sides of the ship and they attach 2 steel cables to both sides of the ship and they keep the ship centered in the narrow locks. With many ships having only inches of space on either side, ships don't have the ability to horizontally maneuver inside the locks. The "mules" (the original name has stuck) keep the ship centered and the ship uses its own propulsion, with strict guidance from the canal pilot, to move through the locks. An aft cabin really provides a great view of how the lock doors work. In the new, larger locks of the canal expansion, because the locks are so much bigger, both length and width, they use tugs at the bow and stern to keep the ships centered in the lock. This has proved to be a problem because ships are scraping the rubber "defenses" (bumpers) on the sides of the locks.

  20. Yes, a legitimate medal problem must be spelled out in a doctor's note to get around the "both must purchase" rule. You cannot simply say "I don't drink alcohol". You can thank the freeloaders who figured that they could scam the system by only one person buying the package and sharing drinks with their cabin-mate. That problem was widespread across all cruise lines which offered drink packages. Some lines, like HAL used the "both must purchase" solution, other lines just raised the price of the package to a level that if there was sharing that went undetected, the cruise line wouldn't lose out. In all cruise lines, if you are caught sharing, (and the waiters and bartenders are very good at detecting it) you lose the package for the rest of your cruise with NO refunds or prorating. Some even backtrack and charge you full price for all drinks you had since the cruise began, and the money you paid for the package is gone.

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