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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Not true. You are fighting the laws of physics. There are only so many orbital slots in the "Clark Belt" for geostationary communications satellites. And each satellite is very limited to the bandwidth of data that it can handle. Land-based hotels, bars, restaurants are connected to almost unlimited bandwidth fiber optic cable. So bandwidth is fast and cheap. Once you throw a satellite into the mix, you have a very big bottleneck for fast, cheap bandwidth. If satellites were cheap, why don't the airlines offer free internet for all passengers ? Only the people who pay 10 times the cost of a coach seat in business or first class get it free. They use satellites when flying over the oceans. Cruise ships are no different. Once they leave the dock, it's satellite only and the cost per megabyte goes up exponentially.

  2. Any time you use a phone onboard a ship at sea, either voice, data or text, you are passing through HAL's satellite data connection. They, naturally, expect you to pay for the use of their bandwidth. If you are docked in port, then you can use the international roaming plans of Verizon or other carriers. Any time you include a satellite link in your data path, the cost goes way up. So, if you can wait until you are docked to use your phone, then the international plans will be the cheapest. If you must have connectivity while at sea, then you must also expect to pay for it.

  3. It's a ship, huge, powerful engines, sailing on an unpredictable sea. If you want absolute stillness and quiet, book a Motel 6.

    We always book aft cabins. Not just cabins in the aft section, but cabins at the absolute back of the ship. Especially deck 4 on Vista class ships, because at the railing of your very deep balcony, all you see is water. Not the tops of the heads of passengers on balconies below you. Due to the tiered structure of the back of the ship, only deck 4 aft cabins are at the absolute back of the ship. Aft cabins on deck 5, 6, 7 & 8 all look down on the balconies below you. Yes, there is some motion in aft cabins, only an occasional side-to-side shimmy in high swells. But that rocks you to sleep at night. If available, aft cabins are our first choice. Never experienced any soot problems on deck 4 either.

  4. On Vista class ships, the deck 5 balconies in the mid-ship area are not very deep. If you look at the deck plans on a website of the same name, you will see the reason why. The mid-ship portion of the deck is narrower because of the lifeboat davits. HAL sells these mid-ship balconies as class VA, top of the line. But in reality, they are far from premium due to the less-deep balconies, and the big orange lifeboats immediately below. In deck 5 mid-ship balconies, when you stand at your balcony railing and look down, all you see is the tops of the lifeboats hanging on their davits below. It's OK if you are looking straight out to sea. But if you want to check out a school of dolphins or a band on the dock playing sail-away music, you won;t see anything except orange lifeboat tops.

    If you want a nice balcony cabin, pick an aft cabin on any deck except deck 8, or a cabin aft of the mid-ship section.

  5. On cruises 25 days and under, the credit/debit card hold is $60 per day per person. On cruises 26 days and up, the hold is $30 per day/per person. With my cards, the hold hits your card sometime after the first day out of port. In my case, the hold drops off the card after 4 or 5 days. I have heard that this hold drop depends on the card and issuing bank. You also have the option of providing a cash deposit in lieu of a credit card.

  6. Alternate Link for Booking Login




    Try using this link: https://book2.hollandamerica.com/secondaryFlow/login Hope that helps!


    HAL sent me an email today about my booking and when I tried to use the links, I got the 404 / invalid link messages. Might need to be checking to make sure the emails are properly linked prior to sending;)


    Happy Sailing! :D


    Thanks for this link. With it, you are basically bypassing the new website, and going directly to the "book2" section, which is the part where already booked guests can purchase shore excursions, wine and beverage packages, and access Flight Ease. That part of the website has not been changed and still works OK.

    There are 3 basic sections to the HAL website.

    First is the inventory section, an SQL database, which lists available cruises, prices, attached promotions and available cabins. That is the part that HAL people update daily.

    The second part is the registered guest database. That keeps a record of every past, present and future HAL guest who has setup an account. It lists their past cruises on the Mariner section, presently booked cruises, and all of the options and extras that was purchased.

    The third part is the user interface that accesses these other 2 parts, which are huge databases, most likely SQL databases. The user interface is the part that HAL has changed and is causing so many problems. As syesmar has shown, once you get past the initial user interface (new website) and jump to the "book2" sub module, all is as it was before. That has not changed and it works well.

  7. It's clear that (some 35 year old MBA in) HAL management decided, "Nevermind our current customers,

    we've got them hooked and they're dying off anyway. Go full-bore smartphone screen format, and get

    us some fresh customers!"


    I'd bet the rent money that the new website was implemented as specified.


    You are exactly right. The old website was not very friendly for small screen users, phones and tablets. To see everything, there was too much horizontal and vertical scrolling and that discourages users to muddle through.

    The correct procedure is to develop parallel websites. When you first login, the site queries your device to determine the screen size. If it is a desktop or laptop, the site routes you to the wide-screen version. If it senses that you are on a phone or laptop, you are routed to the site with specialized screens and fonts for small screen devices. You can develop a site that favors small screens, but expands for large screens, but the end result suffers.

    I may be a dinosaur, but if I'm trying to select a very expensive cruise, the last thing I would do is make that selection on a 3 X 4 inch screen.

  8. That sounds like a loophole large enough to sail a ship through, unless there are also substantial financial penalties for having the site go live without being sufficiently tested, and meeting certain standards.


    Would such penalties also likely be part of the contract?


    As with any contracted service, there is usually a progress payment schedule, and a final hold-back pending successful completion. A successful completion of a website means that you do not see the company being roasted alive on social media like is presently happening to HAL. A portion of the hold-back amount can have forfeiture tied to it based on the success of the end product.

    A large, interactive website has thousands of lines of code and hundreds of modules. It's impossible to create a perfect bug-free website on the first try. (Just ask the company that developed the US Government's health care site). There's always a few bugs lurking deep in the code that requires a special unique set of commands to even identify. That kind of bug is expected and never an issue. But the wide range of coding problems, missing features, screen display issues, and browser compatibility that hundreds of people are having is far above what would be considered minor bugs.

  9. Website development is a skill far above the capabilities of the HAL people who maintain & update the site. Most companies contract out to a firm to develop a new site. It is a long and painful process getting it right. Once it is completed, they run it in a private mode for alpha testing by a few select technical individuals. The bugs identified in the alpha tests are fixed, and the site is opened up to beta testing, which involves sometimes hundreds of regular users who are not computer literate. These folks send back their bugs and suggestions, and once these problems are solved, the old site is taken down, and the new site is published for general use. Many times, in the development contract for a new site, a deadline is specified so the testing phases don't go on forever. If the contractor for the new site doesn't produce a bug-free site by the deadline, there are financial penalties.

    It is clearly evident that the contractor has severely shortened the beta testing to avoid the financial penalties, and rushed to publish the site. I would assume (hope) that there are some pretty nasty phone calls going on right now between HAL and this contractor.

  10. We were on a 26 day Med/TA cruise on HAL, and we messed up and bought too many Euros from the Bankomats, (ATM's) while in the European ports. When we left Cadiz, Spain and started the 8 days crossing the Atlantic, I figured I would cash in those excess Euros and pay down my onboard account. The front desk was happy to take my Euros for payment, but the sell-back rate I got was horrible. A huge loss. My next cruise requires French Pacific Francs, (XPF) so keeping the Euros wouldn't help me.

  11. We were on the Oosterdam from Nov 25 (day after US Thanksgiving) to Dec 16. When we boarded, there was Christmas decorations all over the ship and holiday music was playing in the public areas. (not religious stuff, but the usual Frosty the Snowman, Silver Bells, Rudolph type of music). This cruise was a B2B, and the last segment was 7 days, Dec 9 - 16. A large political group (about 225) boarded on Dec 9, and the holiday music immediately reverted to normal rock-n-roll. We called the front desk and asked "what happened" ? We were told that "some guests were offended by the holiday music". For the first 14 days of the cruise, no one was offended. A political group (to remain nameless) boarded for the last 7 days, and all of a sudden, 2 weeks to Christmas, and we have generic rock-n-roll. A coincidence ???....... I leave it up to you.

  12. Don't forget the Rotterdam also has NY Style Pizza. It's a totally separate venue out on the aft Lido deck, outdoors. They will custom make a pizza for you any way you like it. You can select the cook of the crust, veggies, meats, cheeses, oil, and extras of anything. Just like the Dive-In, they give you a pager and when your pizza is done, they beep you. The pizza is about 10" diameter. Delicious.

  13. I always pack a 12 ft (3 meter) plain vanilla extension cord plus a $3 plug adapter so I can use either the 120 volt outlet or the 220 volt outlet. All current CPAP machines will be happy to work anywhere from 100 volts to 240 volts. The 12 ft extension cord will reach either side of the bed from the desk outlets.

  14. We have had aft balcony cabins on the Zuiderdam, Oosterdam and Westerdam. We have also booked an aft cabin on the Eurodam for the 28 day March 9, 2019 Hawaii, Tahiti, Marquesas sailing. We always book deck 4 aft cabins because they are at the extreme back of the ship. Aft cabins on decks 5, 6, 7, & 8 all look down on the balconies below due to the tiered structure of the aft section. Deck 4 cabins have only the water and prop-wash to look down on, also all the marine life. When you lean on your balcony railing and look down, instead of looking at the tops of the heads of all the other decks, on deck 4, all you see is water. The MDR is below you and there is no noise from that. Deck 8 aft cabins have the aft Lido pool area above and there may be noise from sliding chairs. We never have had any problem with soot from the stacks. We occasionally would see a small chunk of soot on the balcony floor, but never a problem. The balconies are huge, and the cabins are definitely longer by a few feet. You usually get one lounge chair, a regular chair and a table. There is room for a 2nd lounge chair, and we have asked our cabin steward to get one for us. It was there the next day. The deck 4 aft cabins have minimal overhead coverage, so if you plan to spend a lot of time out there in hot climates, wear a hat and shirt.

    I saw the OP's comment that they waited too long and the aft cabins were booked. That tells you something about the popularity of the aft cabins, they usually are the first to go, as there are only around 26 - 30 of them on Vista class ships. Keep checking the HAL website, especially close to final payment date. There are cancellations around that time, and you may snag one that was cancelled.

  15. If you purchase the SBP either online at $44.95 per day or onboard at $49.95 per day (both prices plus 15% SC), you can upgrade to the Elite package priced at $54.95 per day plus 15%. If you upgrade an online purchased package, you pay an additional $10 per day plus 15%. If you upgrade an onboard purchased SBP, you pay an additional $5 per day plus 15%, because you have already paid the $5 penalty for purchasing the SBP onboard. In both cases, upgrading any SBP to the Elite package will end up costing you $54.95 per day plus 15%. Upgrading an Explore-4 provided SBP usually ends up costing $10 plus 15% more per day. But you may have to beat-up on a few bartenders to get a sympathetic one who will allow an Explore-4 SBP to be upgraded. I never understood why they give people a hard time about upgrading Explore-4 SBP's to Elite. HAL is always happy to take your money, so why balk now ?

    I call the increase in price from $44.95 to $49.95 for the SBP if you purchase it onboard a penalty instead of a discount, because HAL wants you to use your own cash to buy the SBP, ahead of the cruise, instead of using HAL provided OBC to purchase the package when you are onboard. They would rather you use HAL provided OBC for higher markup items like shore excursions and SPA treatments. It's interesting that the Elite Beverage Package, has the same price, purchased online, ahead of the cruise or purchased onboard.

  16. We book onboard many times to get the double onboard cabin credit. Whenever we book, that same evening, we get an envelope in our mailbox with a printout of the booking and the details. Part of the details is the cancellation policy. They specify the date when you can cancel without any loss of money. If the deposit is non-refundable, the 100% loss date will be the date of booking. If that was not specified in your documentation delivered to your cabin, then you have a case. If it was specified as 100% forfeiture on booking date, then you may be out of luck.

  17. This is our third cruise on HAL and overall the Signature Bev Pkg is pretty good. You can get almost anything for cocktails as long as you don't need really top shelf liquors. The wines are ok, but I recall several good wines that are probably covered by Elite and would incur an additive charge to the Signature. HAL is good that way; you just get charged the incremental amount over the allowed package limit. Many cruise lines (like Princess I think) charge the whole thing if you are over. Hope that is still the case.


    So since we are California winos, a modest up charge for Elite is something we are interested in. Say$10-12 per person per day.


    Please check the HAL website rules for the Signature Beverage Package. I have had that package on every cruise for the last 4 years, last was in March, 2018. If you order a drink, wine, cocktail that exceeds the $9 base menu price (not including the 15% SC), you do NOT pay just the difference over the $9, you pay the full drink price. If your drink exceeds the $9 base menu price, HAL acts as if you don't have the package and they bill the entire drink price, with the 15% SC to your cabin account.

    If this has changed since March, it would be great to know, but this must be confirmed or people will get a rude awakening when they see their final cabin account folio.

  18. Sometimes a cruise will depart from a particular port, do the normal cruise, then return to the same port, and then leave on a different cruise. That was considered to be a B2B, because it is 2 cruises from the same port, and you are staying onboard for both. HAL sometimes sells these B2B cruises as one continuous cruise. A Collector's Cruise is when there is a long cruise leaving from one port, and ending up in a totally different port many days later. In the middle on that long cruise, there will be a stop where people who only booked the first segment disembark, and others who booked the 2nd segment get on. If you booked the whole cruise, you stay on board at that midpoint, experiencing the "Collection" of the 2 cruises.

    One minor point, is if your midpoint of a B2B or Collector's cruise is a US port, you must leave the ship, (just you, not your luggage), to allow US immigration to get a "Zero Count" on the ship. You can take a tour of the midpoint city, or just get off and hang out in the terminal for the ship to be "Zeroed out", and then you can reboard.

  19. We always book aft cabins when available. The minor soot problem from the stacks usually doesn't get down to our favorite deck 4, where there is nothing below you but water. We have had some soot on higher decks, but the cabin stewards seem to be aware of this problem and wash down the furniture and deck each day. The soot we had, however, certainly wasn't bad enough to cause us to stop booking aft cabins.

    There is usually one lounge chair, a regular chair and a table. We have asked for a 2nd lounge chair and it always was delivered by the next day. That's the beauty of the aft cabins. The balcony is usually 8 to 10 feet deep, plus the cabins have a few feet more depth.

  20. There was the RCL Anthem of the Seas in 2016 that was cruising from Bayonne NJ to Ft. Lauderdale. There was a tropical storm further out to sea and was forecast to pass them to the east. So the captain figured they would "beat it" and not be impacted. The storm didn't pay any attention to the captain's wishes and the ship had to return to Bayonne, cancelling the rest of the cruise. The unexpected very high winds caused damage to the ship and sickened many passengers.

  21. Strange, I was on a B2B, also twice from Amsterdam on Koningsdam, and we got a letter that we did not need to attend the second one.


    That is the current policy for B2B and Collector's cruises. You only are required to attend the muster drill at the port where you first boarded. You do receive a letter in your mailbox telling you that you are exempt from the next drill. However, on cruises longer than 30 days, you will be required to attend an additional muster drill as scheduled.

  22. Gratuities are included on HAL cruises ONLY if your particular cruise was booked under one of HAL's promotions that includes gratuities as one of the perks. The recent "Ready, Set, Sail promotion did include prepaid gratuities. Other promotions include the beverage package. You also have the option of declining a particular promotion by asking your PCC or TA to get you a price excluding the current promotion.

    You cannot specifically pre-pay the hotel service charge (HSC). But it's easy to cover this by purchasing onboard cabin credit on the HAL website (if you can get it to work). Just multiply $13.50 X the number of cruise days per guest and buy that amount of cabin credit. The daily rate is higher in suites.

  23. Hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee houses, are all land based, and in the US and Canada, a proprietor can get 50 - 100 mb/s internet for maybe $75 a month for his 50 or so customers. Cheap !! Keeps the customers drinking, happy and draws more in. Totally different on a ship at sea where 100% of the onboard internet bandwidth is via satellite. Satellite delivered bandwidth is expensive, because of the limited capacity of the satellites and there's loads of marine operations that are using it. I am an IT manager for a small resort in the Caribbean. With government controlled internet, we are paying $370 a month for 45 mb/s service. Yes, it's robbery, but there's only one undersea fiber optic cable bringing the internet to the island, and it also has limited bandwidth. With just 12 villas in the resort, in high season, I have seen 50 or more connected devices to the system, because everybody brings a phone and a tablet, they are powered on all the time, and they all want to watch HD movies. Why not, they do this at home with their 100 mb/s internet for just 4 prople in a house, so what's the difference ? We offer free internet, but the system really gets loaded down when all guests are using their multiple devices.

    Same on a cruise ship, but multiplied 1000 times over. That satellite downlink is being shared by Marine Operations (the captain and crew), Hotel Operations (hotel manager, food & beverage manager, shore excursions, sales, casino, shops, etc., and finally the guests. And you know which groups take priority !! If the internet was totally free to every guest, the system would be so slow, that no one could access anything, and there would be thousands of complaints. To prevent that kind of disaster, they charge for their precious bandwidth to make sure the system works for all who are paying. Also, when you are on a HAL ship, and connected, enter this URL www.iplocation.net. You will see that no matter where in the world you are, you are connected through Carnival Corp. in Miami. Your computer thinks it is in Miami, no matter where your ship is. Carnival's internet is shared by all Carnival Corp. companies.

  24. I agree with CrewNews for aft cabins, but I always prefer deck 4 on Vista class ships. On deck 5 and above, your view over the railing of your balcony is the balconies below you. On deck 4, the only thing below you is the beautiful prop wash and water. Yes, the balconies on deck 4 are mostly uncovered, so wear a shirt and hat or you will be a red as a lobster after canal passage.

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