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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Just like the SBP and EBP, the beverage cards can be used wherever there are computer terminals to record the purchase. That is not available on HMC, or at the gangway when leaving the ship for a shore excursion and you grab a bottle of water. Those purchases are manually signed for and manually entered into the accounting system, and onto your onboard account.

  2. I remember Maypo. The TV ad featured a kid saying "I want my Maypo !!"

    We usually do have breakfast in the room. And we don't allow the limited menu card selections to deter us. I write-in whatever I want, like oatmeal with brown sugar, sausage and bacon, chocolate milk, cheese danish, donuts, eggs Benedict, (regular with Canadian bacon), and sliced fruit, and anything else we want. I have never had a write-in item turned down and usually I have more write-in items than the checked, printed items on the menu card.

    Love the HAL room service breakfast, even on disembarkation day !!

  3. Try this link. I was able to use it just now to get into the old site. I found my booking, and from there I was able to see the tours for my cruise. I was able to click on "buy now" for a tour I looked at, but I didn't take it beyond that. Also, the old site still has reviews. They didn't make it onto the new site.




    I have been using that link for weeks now. It takes me to the old site, with full features. However, today, it only partially loads and just sits there. Is anyone having this problem with the link posted by 3rdgen above ?

    I think the new site is being setup to favor touch-screen usage like tablets and phones. I see many areas where you need to wipe across the screen to reveal more info. I guess HAL is forgetting us dinosaurs that still use full-sized laptops and desktops.

  4. Yes, it does appear to be a waste of time. You will only be onboard for a total of 14 hours. You shouldn't even unpack your luggage. You will only see the main dining room for dinner, and then breakfast. Or room service breakfast. Then your off the ship. There's no way to get a real impression of any ship in 14 hours with 7 or 8 of those hours spent sleeping. A 3-day cruise would be the minimum to get a real feeling for a ship.

  5. We have had stern cabins on the Oosterdam and Westerdam, cabin 4174 on both ships, one was a TA. We particularly like deck 4 cabins because when you lean on your balcony railing, all you see is the beautiful prop-wash and wake. You are not looking down on any balconies below, you are at the extreme back of the ship. We have only noticed noise and vibration when the ship is maneuvering into and away from docks. Once the ship is underway, and the props are in sync, there is no unusual noise. When the seas are rough (10-12 ft swells or greater) there is a little bit of side-to-side motion as the ship climbs over the swells.

    Deck 4 stern balconies have the most sun exposure. Decks above have less sun and more coverage of the balconies. The balconies are 8 ft deep and the cabins are about 4 ft longer.

    We have never had a deck 8 stern balcony, but we have heard that there is more noise from the Lido deck above.

    The only negative is the long walk if you are heading to the Main Stage, casino, or the Crow's Nest for a specialty coffee.

  6. Flying back in the 60's and 70's with DC-8's, B-727's, and B-707's was a pleasure. Passengers would actually dress up to fly, and they actually took a shower before coming to the airport. No bare feet, no pants down to the "plumber's crack", no smelly tee-shirts or hoodies. Meals were delicious, in both coach and first. No security lines, luggage was checked for free, you could visit the cockpit during the flight and get a quick tour, and seats were comfortable with decent spacing between rows, giving good legroom, even in coach. No change fees, tickets were refundable, and transferable. Today...... it's like taking the city bus, but for many hours. Things change, but not always for the best.

  7. There are 2 docks that ship tenders call at. The main dock is 800 ft below the town of Fira. That dock is for all private and DIY tours. The dock at Athinios is for most ship tours. That dock has a road going down to it, so ship's tours that use vans and buses drop you off there. You cannot return to that dock because there are no tenders to take you back to the ship, except for that one unique tour that begins and ends in Athinios.

    The town of Oia is a great distance away from both Fira and Athinios. You can buy a ticket at the Fira dock that will get you a boat ride to the Oia dock, a short bus ride up to Oia, and then a bus ride back to Fira. All tours must end in Fira, and the requisite cable car ride down, or a donkey, or a huge bunch of steps down. There is only one tour that is allowed to bypass Fira and end in Athinios, and that one is very short. There are no tenders heading back to the ships from Athinios or Oia dock, except that single tour.

  8. Hal charging extra for booking an airline ticket ??? I needed a one-way Tampa to Venice. The cheapest fare I could find on many sites was $840 economy and $3900 business. HAL got me $388 economy and $1240 business. If they are tacking an extra fee onto my ticket, I sure didn't see it. Plus, by booking air with HAL, you get a confirmed reservation with a record locator immediately upon booking. But, you don't have to pay for that airline ticket until final cruise payment. If you have to cancel before final payment date, you lose nothing. Try that by booking yourself.

  9. We did the ferry to Oia last October. You take a tender from the ship to the dock below Fira. There are two ferry operators who will take you to the dock below Oia. The ticket includes a bus ride from the dock up to Oia. There are no buses that will take you back down to the Oia dock. The only way to get back to the ship is to use the return bus ticket supplied with your ferry ticket, and they drop you in Fira, for the usual trek through the town in the line for the cable car. The bus from Oia to Fira leaves every hour, up to about 14:30. This whole system is planned to force all cruise ship tourists to have to walk through the town of Fira to reach the cable car, donkeys, or the 800+ steps to get down to the tender dock. Only one exception is allowed and that is the single short tour that uses Athinios for arrival and departure.

  10. Yes, that is the only tour that avoids having to use the cable car (or donkeys). The tenders drop you off at Athinios and a bus will take you on the tour, and they drop you back there after the tour. All other tours drop you at Athinios, but at the end, they drop you off near Fira, where you are forced to walk through the town (and past all of the shops) to reach the boarding station for the cable car. That's not too bad, unless you are unlucky and your ship is one of 4 or 5 for the day. Then you can prepare for a 2 hour or more wait for the cable car line. The merchants in the shops love it, and I think that may be part of the grand scheme of forcing all ending tours to wind their way through Fira to reach the cable car (or donkeys).

  11. I have been ordering doubles of mixed drinks using the SBP for years on multiple HAL ships. Never a problem, they just hit you for 2 of your daily 15 drink limit. We have also purchased 4 bottles of water (1 liter) to take back to our cabin, 2 bottles for each of us, and no problems. Drinks with multiple types of alcohol are also counted as one drink. You can actually a Wang Wang, (weng weng) which has vodka, tequila, scotch, brandy, rum & bourbon, plus pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine and it will count as only one drink with the SBP. As of Jan 2017, if you wait to purchase your SBP onboard, you pay $5 per day more, $44.95 vs. $49.95, both plus 15% service charge. Strange... they don't impose this penalty for the Elite package, it's the same price, online or onboard. Many CC members have posted comments that they were successful in upgrading a SBP to the Elite package by visiting different bars until they hit a bartender who wanted to help them and knew how to do it.

  12. My only concern about flying is getting deep vein thrombosis. The seats are so darn close together that you have no space in front of you to stretch out your legs and move around a little. On long distance flights, airlines encourage you to stand up and walk around every few hours. If you are in a middle or window seat, and your seatmates are sleeping or have their tray tables down, how do you accomplish this limited exercise ? I always try to book early and pay the fees to get a bulkhead seat where you have a little more room to stretch out. Otherwise, flying is much safer than driving and few people ever think twice about doing that.

    I was a corporate pilot (King Air 200, Citation II), and I had to practice and was FAA tested on engine-out landings, and, even more critical, losing an engine on takeoff. When you are heavy, full fuel, low and slow, and trying to gain altitude, the worst time to lose one is after V1 (go/nogo decision speed) on takeoff. All commercial jets are designed to fly for many hours on one engine. As long as that other engine on the 737 was fully functioning and no flight controls were affected, a safe landing was almost assured. The scary part of this incident was the explosive decompression of the cabin after the engine debris penetrated the cabin. We always practice emergency descents from cruise altitude, and it is perfectly safe, but when you have to do it for real, that really gets your attention. You have to get down to 10,000 ft to allow normal breathing, because the oxygen generators in the overhead only last for 10-15 minutes. So a rapid, but safe descent is needed. Coming down at 5000 ft per minute is a little scary compared to the usual 1500-2000 ft per minute. The plane is designed for that high rate and even more.

  13. The ship with the $55 port charges may have a long term contract with a specific port and receive a favorable rate. The ship with the much higher fee may not have the same arrangement. St. Maarten is a good example. Multiple cruise lines invested many millions of $$$ towards the construction of the dual piers to accommodate their larger ships, and also the terminal. They invested again to rebuild the terminals after hurricane Irma. I'm sure that Carnival and RCI didn't make those huge investments in a foreign port's infrastructure just to be nice guys. They received a very favorable rate for pilot services, stevedore services, supplies, immigration fees, etc. Other cruise lines who have not made such generous investments will pay the regular port charge rate that is considerably higher. Airlines have the same arrangements for the landing fees at airports where they make big investments in the terminals.

  14. We just got off the Rotterdam on March 25. We received 14 cruise day credits and 14 days spending credits. I know that your spending credits cannot exceed the number of days of your cruise. But there's no way we spent $4200 (14 X 300 = $4200) in pre-boarding or onboard spending. There must have been some serious rounding up going on. Same thing for an Oct/Nov TA on the Westerdam. 25 cruise day credits, and 25 onboard spending credits. 25 X $300 = $7500. Again, no way we spent $7500.

  15. Back in 2015, the max drink price with the SBP was $8. Average drink prices were $6.95. They raised the average drink price in 2016 to $7.50 - $7.95. HAL also raised the SBP limit to $9 at the same time. Because both prices and limits were raised simultaneously, it had no impact. The cost of the SBP has been $44.95 per day (plus 15% SC) for many years, provided you purchase ahead of the cruise, online or with Ship's Services. They added a $5 per day penalty for purchasing onboard in 2017. They don't want you to use your HAL provided OBC to buy the package.

  16. Actually, each time you lock the safe you set a new combination ... which need not be the combo you used before. That's why it's not necessary for a steward or you or anybody to clear "your" combo or reset anything when you vacate the room.


    That was exactly my point. If you routinely use 1111 for your safe combo (for example), and, in a hurry, relock it with 1112, and you don't notice the error, you will be not be able to open the safe.

  17. Realistically, not all of the items may have existed or were known at the time of drydock.


    I was the OP on this review. The rusted davits they were grinding and cutting did not all of a sudden develop this rust since the Nov. 2017 drydock. That rust has been there for years, and they chose my cruise to do the repairs. You can't develop this kind of rust in 3 months.

    The water leak from the galley above has happened multiple times before. When the water came pouring down the wall, through the picture hanging at the foot of the bed, my DW noted that the matte portion of the picture had extensive water damage BEFORE our water incident started. Both pictures had visible water damage before the water started to come down the walls.

    It does a disservice to minimize incidents like this. Cruise lines must know they can't schedule intensive, extremely annoying work like we had on ships with paying passengers. Perfect example is the current mess on the NCL Sun, just going into drydock. Those passengers had no knowledge that large sections of the ship they paid to be on would be unavailable to them. NCL offered a puny 25% credit for a future cruise, but upped it to 100% of the cruise fare after much negative press, but only a credit for a future cruise. That is a rip. Cruise lines make about 50% of their revenue from the onboard spending. They want "heads in beds", and they can still make a profit with severely discounted cabin prices. This 100% "raincheck" NCL Sun passengers received is simply an invitation to come back onboard an NCL ship and spend more money. They should have offered a 100% refund to passengers who desired it. In my case, Guest Services offered us a very generous cabin credit (basically cash) for the problems we had. That was an immediate compensation for us, not a raincheck we may or may not use sometime in the future. As annoying as it was, I still give kudos to HAL for the way they addressed and settled the problem.

  18. As Ruth wisely said, you don't have to drink 15 beverages a day to make the SBP pay for itself. With the average wine and cocktail price of $7.50, plus the 15% service charge, you are drinking free after only 5 or 6 drinks. Sure, if you only have a glass or 2 of wine with dinner, the SBP and EBP are not for you. Both packages include just about anything wet you can drink, up to the $9 and $15 limits respectively. And those prices are menu prices, the 15% service charge is covered in your package, so you don't have to worry about that when you are looking at menu prices. We find the SBP covers our needs and we always make out by hundreds of $$$ with the package vs. paying as-you-go.

  19. I wasn’t on the Sun so I don’t really know how bad it was. I feel that for whatever the reason that NCL is extending the olive branch. I would gladly accept this. Hey guys, everyone makes mistakes.




    Cruise lines do this all the time. They schedule 4 weeks of work into a 2 week drydock. The folks who are not frequent readers of Cruise Critic's boards book these cruises just before and after drydock work. They usually find many workers onboard, prepping for drydock work or finishing many items that did not get completed.

    This is hardly an "Olive Branch" This is a rip off ! These passengers who were subject to a ship that was only partially available for their use, did not get what they paid for. As you should know, cruise lines make almost as much money from the onboard spending as they do from the basic cabin price. Getting "heads in beds", even at severely discounted prices, is still a money-maker for a cruise line. These passengers got zip from NCL. All they really got was the permission from NCL to come aboard and spend lots more money on drink packages, shore excursions, casinos, extra tariff restaurants, spa treatments, etc.

    A 100% refund is 100% of your money back. Not a "raincheck" which is a subtle excuse to get you back onboard to spend more of your money.

  20. The Signature Beverage Package (SBP) used to be $44.95 per day (plus 15% service charge, or $51.70 per day) no matter if you purchased it in advance online or onboard. That was the rule until Jan 2017. Too many people were using their onboard credit from HAL to buy the SBP. There is a much greater markup on the Spa, EXC tours and other onboard purchases than beverages. So HAL decided to discourage guests from using HAL provided OBC to purchase the SBP, and they want you to buy it online, ahead of the cruise with their own cash. They did this by adding a $5 per day penalty (some call it a discount) if you buy the SBP onboard. Strangely, that same penalty is not applied to the Elite Beverage Package, which is $54.95 per day, plus 15% SC, online or onboard.


    Yes, the various beverage cards are just like gift cards. For $100, you get $100 in drinks, and the 15% service charge is included in each drink charge. You can use them for any beverage, even bottles of wine, which can't be purchased with the SBP or EBP. The only beverage card that offers a discount is a soda card. For $25, you get $50 worth of sodas.

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