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TAD2005

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Posts posted by TAD2005


  1. Some are saying that they can serve food out on the Lido deck, they just can't cook it there. That makes no sense. If cooked food is put out for serving, they must keep it hot somehow, like a steam table, the food will still be out there being heated. There's not much difference in cooking and keeping it hot. I think other posters are right. The BBQ nights are crowd pleasing, well attended, and a good source of revenue. They will find a way to fix any deficiencies and bring them back.


  2. The new TV's on the recently dry-docked ships are mounted very close to the wall of most cabins. You would need to bring tools to loosen the mounting bracket enough to move the TV away from the wall to access the external input jacks (HDMI, USB, audio). And if you were able to get your external cables plugged into the TV, the remote control is unique for the ship. It has no provisions to select any external input jacks. And the front panel buttons of the TV also do not allow switching inputs. You are stuck with HAL's offerings, but they are varied and plentiful. If you want to play your own sounds, bring speakers, or book a suite, some of which have sound systems.


  3. The whole point of a muster drill is to make passengers aware of where they need to go in the horrible possibility of needing to abandon ship. If the muster drill has you going to a showroom, MDR or casino, then what good is it ?? In a real emergency, and the command to abandon ship happens, there will be generalized panic anyway, but if you know where your lifeboat station is, you are ahead of the game and can head that way. If the kaka hits the fan, are people going to be content to sit in a lounge somewhere waiting for all of the stragglers to show up ? Of course not.

    The K-Dam Promenade deck design makes things even worse. They decided to eliminate all of that "wasted space" of the traditional promenade decks to allow for more expanded shops in the interior of the ship. It appears the Nieuw Statendam will be the same.


  4. First off, thank you so much for your reply. Every bit helps clarify what we can expect.

     

    We purchased the Ready, Set, Sail package which includes the Hotel Service Charge and port fees to avoid this whole tipping everybody for everything nuisance. Apparently, I was mistaken.

     

    I'm really feeling like we're being nickled and dimed to death. I'm reminded of the Beatles' "Tax Man." Do they have a service charge for breathing? I guess we'd better stick to tap water.

     

    Anyway, they have our money, so not much we can do except ask "How much?" if any crew offers anything to us. Even if they say "free," I'll say "No, I mean with all the extra charges."

     

    I hate starting out on something new like this (we've toured and had a very short cruise and did NOT get service charged for everything) and keep finding gotchas. I'll have a bad taste about it before I get on the ship. :mad:

     

    Every mass-market cruise line charges a Hotel Service Charge (HSC) and the beverage department charges around 15% on top of the cost of the beverage you order. The luxury cruise lines do not charge these gratuities but they are built into their much higher daily rates. Face it.... there's no free lunch !! Go with an El-Cheapo cruise line and you will get a cabin for maybe $40-60 per person, per night, and you really get nailed extra for everything. Go with a mass-market line, and it averages $100 per night, and you only have the HSC and alcoholic beverage gratuity. Go with a luxury line for $200 and up per night and just about everything is covered, even a few shore excursions.

    We find the SBP to be very beneficial to us. We choose our cruises with lots of sea days (trans Atlantic, trans Pacific), so the SBP really pays off. Another CC poster said it.... the break-even point on the SBP is right about 5-6 drinks a day, after that you are drinking free. It has been reported that on some HAL ships, the SBP per-drink limit has been raised to $9 which allows more wine selections. Just about all mixed drinks are included in the SBP. We would never sail without it, unless we had a very port intensive itinerary with no sea days. Nothing like 2 or 3 Grolsch beers with a yummy Dive-In burger on a sea day lunch. Why not.... I'm not driving, I leave that to the crew !!


  5. We have been on the Zuiderdam and Oosterdam recently and we always select fixed seating, late (main), which is always on deck 3, while anytime is on deck 2. We have occasionally seen anytime diners escorted up to deck 3 when there are no-shows due to Pinnacle Grill or Lido, but they usually come in at the same time as all of the fixed time diners, around 8:00 pm. We never have seen a large mix of anytime diners into fixed dining. We hope is stays that way. We are booked on the Westerdam for 25 days this October in a reserved table for 4, main seating.


  6. You can also purchase the Signature Beverage Package (SBP) during the first 48 hours you are onboard. They bump up the price by $5 per day if you purchase it onboard instead of online in advance. ($49.95 per day + the 15%). I guess they don't want you using your OBC to buy a low markup item like a beverage package and instead use it for the high markup items like shore excursions or specialty restaurants.


  7. Another reason to take your boarding pass with you is if you are flying internationally, one way, to get to the ship. Many countries require a round trip or continuing reservation to enter the country. The airlines are aware of this and we have run into a few arrogant airline checkin agents who demanded to see our return flight, (which we obviously didn't have) or a continuing reservation or they wouldn't board us. The HAL boarding pass always works for this. The countries that require these documents want to be sure they won't be stuck with you if you decide to stay.


  8. There is a world of difference between internet access on a 200-300 passenger aircraft and on a 2000-5000 passenger ship. On a plane, the internet link is either ground-based in the continental US, or KA/KU band satellite based when over water or un-affiliated countries. The internet is exclusively for the use of the passengers, the pilots communicate by a totally separate system called "Controller–pilot data link communications (CPDLC)," Totally isolated systems.

    On a cruise ship, you have internet connection via the "Maritime Telecommunications Network". That satellite link is used by the entire ship, not just the passengers. You have the ship's Marine Operations, which is communications from the bridge to headquarters, Hotel operations, Food & Beverage dept., Future Cruise Consultant, crew usage, credit card verification, Shore Excursion Dept, Hospital, Cruise Director, all using that satellite link. The live TV is delivered by a separate system also by MTN Satellite Systems, which is a separate antenna and system from the internet. Whatever bandwidth is left over from ship operations is provided to the passengers.

    You cannot compare commercial aviation and the cruise industry for internet access.,


  9. Are specialty tea drinks available like a chai latte on the packages? Also on the site it says everyone in the room must purchase the package. Could I purchase the regular and my husband purchase the Elite. Or do they have to be the same?Thanks:)

     

    The HAL website says that both (all) guests in a cabin must purchase the beverage package and it must be the same level of package. So, both must be regular or elite. I have heard here on CC that if you produce a doctor's note that one of your party cannot drink alcohol, you are excused from that rule that both must purchase.


  10. On the ships that have the 42" flat screens installed, there are no more DVD players, and the DVD lending library at the Front Desk is also gone. The on-demand movies are plentiful and a good selection.

    Don't even think of trying to plug an HDMI cable into one of the new flat screens. They are firmly mounted very close to the wall and you would need tools to pull it away enough to plug in an HDMI cable from a laptop. The remotes for those TV's are custom for the ships, and do not have any way to select alternate inputs to the TV. The front panel buttons on the TV's also do not allow external input switching. You will have to be happy with the on-demand movies, and there are plenty of them.


  11. I did not see a change. We were on the Westerdam's first cruise out of dry dock. Pizza was still served as part of the Pasta Bar area. It seemed somewhat as an afterthought. It was not NY style pizza (I live in the Suburbs of NY and was born in Brooklyn so I should know). I did not think it was anything special. I tried their pizza once in 12 days and that was enough. Nothing like the Dive Bar which was great.

     

    Too bad !! We have friends cruising with us in October on the Westy for a 25 day Med/TA and they just got off of the Eurodam, which does offer the NY Style Pizza bar. It works similar to the Dive-In, where you place your order for a custom pizza (8" personal size) and you get a pager that calls you when it's ready. I was hoping for this after the dry-dock. The regular HAL pizza at the Pasta Bar is OK, nothing special, but you have to hit it at the right time. And watch out for the inconsiderate folks who feel they didn't get enough sausage or pepperoni and start grabbing pieces off of the other slices. Gross !!!! I agree that the Dive-In is great, love the hot-dogs with kraut, the fries, and the skinny onions.


  12. Any recent Westerdam passengers familiar with the Pizzas on the newly renovated Lido deck ? Is it still the french-fry lights over a pizza stone on the port side of the Lido buffet, or is it the New York Style Pizza where you place your order for a personal size pizza and you get a pager to tell you when it's ready, like the Dive-In ?

    Last time on the Oosterdam, (Nov-Dec 2016) we saw guests grabbing slices of pizza and stealing extra pepperoni from other slices with their fingers. Absolutely Yuccchhhh.


  13. I wondered about drinks over the $8.00 limit.....it's too bad they don't let you pay the difference the way they do on Royal and Celebrity. When looking at the wine list under $8.00 it's absolutely miniscule..... it would be worth it for us to upgrade to the "Elite Package" hopefully we can do that, we also have the Explore-4 program.

     

    Recently on CC, a lot of members have been saying that they can upgrade an Explore-4 SBP to the Elite package by just paying the $10 per day/per person increase. You may have to argue with several bartenders, but eventually you will find one who will be happy to take your money.


  14. Because most HAL air reservations are bulk fare bookings, there's no way they could quote a meaningful fare online. They must contact their agents at the various airlines and negotiate requests for one-way and open-jaw fares. You usually do better booking yourself for domestic round trip reservations.

    Our TA was able to book a one-way TPA to VCE for $790 in British Airways World Traveller Plus cabin, which is BA's version of premium economy. We got an immediate record locator, so we could select our seats 7 months ahead of time, 38" seat pitch, 19" wide seats, meals, free drinks and 2 free checked bags. So, HAL Air can book premium economy if your TA asks for it. You can also get business class.


  15. On the world cruise we prebooked multiple Pinnacle dinners. Upon boarding they had already given us the credit for all the dinners in one lump sum. I had never seen that before, usually you get credits one dinner at a time.

     

    I was eventually told by the Front Desk that you have to actually use your dinner reservation at the PG before they credit your account for the Mariner discount. We did have to go toe-to-toe with them for a while, but they did get their marching orders from Seattle and we got the credits applied to our onboard account..


  16. We didn't get slips. You can tip extra if you want, but it'll have to be cash.

     

    On a recent Oosterdam cruise in December, we had the SBP, and any beverage you order, you will receive a charge slip from your waiter showing each charge. You can throw away the slip, because the charge will be debited on your room account, and immediately credited back. As long as you don't exceed your 15 beverage limit, you will see no charges. However, if you would go over the 15 beverage limit (very easy to do if you drink doubles), HAL will not say a word and happily serve you whatever you order, but you will see the full drink amount, plus 15% on your room tab.


  17. On our last med cruise in April 2016 we prepaid at $7 per day. Needed the e-mail confirmation to get charges corrected on board. The pre-pay will not show up on your booking. Stay on-line with the GS agent until you receive the e-mail confirmation and bring a copy with you.

     

    Issue with the bag approach I believe is it is fold only and not press on hangers/fold. Maybe somebody can expand upon this.

     

    The HAL laundry bag is the only way to send out your laundry. Use of the bag is not an option. If you send pants, shirts, dresses, etc, they will come back pressed and on hangers. Socks and underwear, small items, are folded and delivered with tissue paper and in a basket. That is the deal, no matter if you have the unlimited package, by the bag, or by the piece.


  18. We have sampled the different types of pizza on various HAL ships. Most recently on the Oosterdam in November 2016, they had the usual hot pizza stone on the port side of the Lido, near the Pasta Bar. Not too bad, acceptable, We have heard that recently renovated ships have a NY Style Pizza bar where you custom order a personal sized pizza and you get a pager similar to the Dive-In burger joint. We will be on the Westerdam in October for a Med/TA 25 day cruise, including 8 long days crossing the Atlantic. What is the Pizza setup now, after the April drydock in Palermo ?


  19. I was also on oosterdam in November and the maitre'd in the pinnacle was just awful. Just got off 23 days on oosterdam a couple of weeks ago and the new maitre'd is just wonderful a really good manager and very knowledgeable, a definite improvement!

     

    Hopefully that type of attitude is on the Westerdam this October. We will try again to pre-book our favorite nights in the Pinnacle Grill. We will see what happens.


  20. We pre-booked 4 Pinnacle Grill dinners as 3-star Mariners for an Oosterdam cruise last November. We paid the full $35 P/P online. After we dined, I waited a few days and checked my onboard account. No credit was there. I went to the Front Desk. They referred me to the matre'd of the Pinnacle Grill. He said "No, you only get Mariner discounts when you book onboard". I disputed that decision and went to the Front desk again. They gave me the usual "we'll check with Seattle" response. They finally came back with the credit for all 4 dinners, saying that the ship should honour the Mariner agreement no matter when or how the guest booked the reservation. Seattle said they "hoped" to be able to credit the Mariner status discount during the online booking process, eliminating this hassle of full price charge then issue an onboard credit. They want to be able to issue the Mariner discount when you first book the dining reservation. I guess the IT brains in Seattle have not yet figured out how to do this simple code change of the website.


  21. Remember that you have only one very small bathroom. If any of your family likes long showers, there will be problems with bathroom access. Depending on how many baths you have at home, for example 2, lock off one of them for a week and see how it works for you. If you are not in screaming matches after a few days, it might work.


  22. It varies so much by city of departure/arrival, supply and demand.

     

    We have had three one ways in recent times. Only one of them, Barcelona-Calgary was cruise air. Price and connections were first rate.

     

    The other two, Athens-Calgary and Toronto-Rome were much better independently priced than the cruise air options by a fair amount. The former permitted us to have 'free' stopover in Porto, Portugal for a week and the latter came with a four day stopover in Paris. In both instances the cost of the transatlantic flights plus the cost of the low cost Europe flights together were somewhat less than the proposed cruise air flights and they gave us the opportunity of great stopovers. Cruise air was completely out to lunch when we needed a one way home from Australia. We did far better arranging our own, even with the cost of two days in Honolulu factored in. Our experience....there is simply no set rule. One of the advantages we have is that we are retired and thus very flexible. Plus we have what seems to be an ever expanding bucket list of places we want to see.

     

    If we had booked for a different date our options may have been completely different. Perhaps cruise air would have been the best. Who knows? Simply comes down to airline supply and demand. No different than cruise pricing models I would guess-all driven by price/demand logarithms.

     

    When we look at one way flights to Europe we look at gateways. When we saw, for example, at $300 flight to Porto, and then a $100 flight to Rome we grabbed it. We could have well gone to some other European city than interested us if the fare had been 'right', stopped over for a time, and then grabbed a budget Europe flight or train to our embarkation point. When flying to or from Europe there are many options available if one has the flexibility.

     

    I agree that if you can fly from a major US/Canadian gateway to a major European city, even one way, you can get some pretty great deals. But I'm a big guy, and I like a little more knee room for a 9 to 10 hour flight. We usually try to book premium economy or business, and the cruise lines usually come through for us when we book all the way through to the final destination, like Athens, Istanbul, Venice, etc. Naturally there are always connections to these 2nd tier European cities. If we were flying MIA->CDG, then we would book it on our own.


  23. On our Oct 2017 Med/TA cruise, we needed one-way from Florida to Venice. The best I could get was $810 in regular economy, but that was a round trip, where I would have to throw away the return ticket. Airlines are not happy when people do that. The cheapest one-way was $1300 to $1500. My TA contacted HAL Air and they got me British Airways World Traveler Plus (premium economy, where we get wider seats (19"), 38" pitch, separate, private cabin, meals and free drinks. The cost was $780. And we immediately got our flight record locators, so I went onto BA's website, registered with them, and used the record locator to reserve 2 seats for both flights. And I do check our reservation with BA weekly. So far, no changes.

    If you are flying round trip, domestically, yes, you will probably get a better deal booking in your own. But a one-way international flight is usually horribly expensive. That when the cruise line's air program pays off.


  24. We had a $26 25 refund for each of us to our onboard account when a particular port in the Med. could not allow us to dock. So, the ship anchored and we used the ship's lifeboats as tenders to get to a different, smaller dock, closer to town. This was on the Zuiderdam in 2015. That unexpected bonus contributed to part of a Pinnacle Grill Dinner that we weren't planning on.


  25. We book our own. Found that for the price we were quoted for coach we could get 1st class on the same flight. We saved on baggage fees and in air food. Hey 1st class is great!

     

    Most times when we need air travel for a cruise, it's always one-way. We have tried to get quotes ourselves on one-way, but the prices are outrageous. One way, coach from TPA to VCE ranged from $1100 to $1600. A round trip between the 2 cities was $795. Many people will book a round trip and throw away the return ticket, because they are saving a ton of money. Some airlines will strip your miles if you walk away from a return. But FF miles are mostly useless these days unless you are a million-miler. We have always found that the cruise line can get a cheaper ticket if you are only travelling one-way, internationally. Domestic round trips to Ft. Lauderdale and other US cruise ports are probably cheaper booked on your own.

     

    But however you book, NEVER book a flight to arrive the same day your cruise is scheduled to depart. With overbooking, cancellations, and ATC delays, you always need an extra day pad just in case Murphy's law kicks in. And if you do book your flight yourself, and you miss the ship, you are SOL, they won't wait for you. Try to get a one-way flight from FLL to St. Thomas. You will pay far more than the cost of 1 night in a hotel.

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