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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. The rates for HAL's unlimited internet is as follows

    Social plan $8.25 per day (no browsing, only social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc).

    Enhanced Plan $12.50 per day (full browsing, e-mail, banking, social, most sites)

    Premiere Plan $16.60 per day. (All of the above, plus Skype audio & video calls, streaming, just about anything)

    These daily rates were calculated from a 12 day segment of a cruise on the Westerdam. On longer segments, the rates do get lower, e.g. a 19 day Premiere plan is $15.25 per day. To get these rates, you must purchase the plan for the entire segment (on a collector's cruise) or the entire cruise. The plan starts when you activate it and ends on your disembarkation day. There is no prorating. For example, if you do not activate the plan until day 3 of a 7 day cruise, you still pay for the entire 7 days. They do have a 24 hour rate, but it is very expensive. Not having used it, I don't know if the 24 hours is one 24 hour block, or possibly broken up into shorter time periods, such as 24, one hour sessions. Their handout does not clarify that. They do block high bandwidth sites, adult sites and online gaming. Online games like "Words with Friends" are OK and work well. The gaming they block is the intensive, interactive games that require high bandwidth and low ping rates.

  2. On HAL ships, you DO NOT bring your life jackets to your muster station. The reason for the 2nd step in the 3 part muster drill is to encourage you to go back to your cabin and find your life jacket and get familiar with it. That is what would happen in a real emergency. They stopped requiring you to bring and/or wear your life jacket because many people would put them on, but not connect the straps. After the drill, they take them off and drag the straps behind them. These long straps would trip people, especially on the stairs, and also the jackets are very warm to wear for extended periods, making the muster drill even more uncomfortable.

  3. I don't think faster internet is on HAL's priority, especially when it's targeted demographic (which is the older age group) would probably spend less time on their phone than the yonger generation. I doubt we will see anything until Carnival has it and is stable across all its fleet, similar to how Celebrity rolled out it's new internet service after being installed on RCL ships for a while.


    HAL does not have it's own internet service, it uses the Carnival satellite internet service. If you run a URL <<<iplocation.net>>> while connected to HAL's internet, you will see that you are really using internet from Carnival Corp. Miami FL . Your IP address will be a Miami FL address. If HAL is using Carnival's internet portal, then the service should be similar on all Carnival brands.

  4. You got the sequence right. However, we never wait for the final order to report to the muster station. We head out immediately so we can find a comfortable place to sit or at least lean while the attendance is being taken. It really bugs me to see stragglers coming in 20 minutes late, with a drink in their hands, making us all wait to be released. We take full advantage of the signature beverage package, and never lose money on it, but we do wait until the muster drill is over.

  5. "Fast Internet", "High Speed Internet". Both are very subjective terms. Unless you run an online speed test, which will give you hard numbers, the terms Fast & High Speed mean nothing. On a recent Westerdam cruise, I had their Premiere package and I did run an Ookla speed test. (speedtest.net). I got 5.8 mb/s download and 2.9 mb/s upload. For a single device, those speeds are more than adequate for most purposes. Skype video calls work fine with that speed, I tested it. To stream a 720P HD movie, you need between 3 and 5 mb/s download bandwidth. The only problem is the ping rate. That is the round trip time for a packet of data to leave your computer, hit the destination server, and get returned back to you. Normal web browsing, e-mail, banking, does not require a good ping rate. Interactive gaming requires a ping rate below 100ms. Because the path from the ship to the land based destination requires 2 round trips to a space orbiting satellite and back, ping rates using satellites is usually very poor, usually in the range of 400 - 600 ms, and higher.

    Another factor is the level of usage. Most ships have a single uplink to the satellite for passenger use, and sometimes, marine operations and hotel operations also share that channel. With 2000 - 3000 passengers, plus crew using a single satellite link, speeds can suffer during busy time periods. Next time you are on a ship and you think the internet is fast (or slow), enter www.speedtest.net into your browser and see what the results are. Please report back to CC, and that will confirm if the service is really fast, or it just seems that way.

  6. Yes, all the plans listed above are unlimited. Skype audio and video calls work fine on the premiere plan. Yes, they are VERY expensive compared to rates at home. But you have 2000 + passengers plus all of the Marine operations and hotel operations sharing a satellite link. If they made it free for everyone, the speed would be so slow to be unusable. I am the IT manager for a small resort on a Caribbean island, where 10 mb/s internet costs $300 per month. We have constant problems with guests who think that because the internet is free, they can all stream HD movies and then complain when they fail. Everything is relative.

  7. We sailed the Oosterdam in December 2016, after it's April 2016 drydock. The ship was in great shape, and as others have noted, the change to on-demand 40" flat screen TV's wall mounted at the foot of the bed (in veranda cabins) were a huge improvement over the tiny flat screens over at the desk and the difficult to use DVD lending library. Entertainment was good, Billboard Onboard, BB-King Blues Club, and the Main Stage nightly shows. There is also Lincoln Center for classical, and piano entertainment in the Ocean Bar. We still prefer the more intimate Piano Bars of the smaller ships, but Billboard Onboard is also very entertaining.

  8. Even though this stretches the OP's first topic of chicken fried streak, the 2nd question was about fried chicken. If I may be so bold to respond to the 2nd question..... on a recent Westerdam 25 day cruise, the Lido lunch had delicious fried chicken just about every other day. It was crispy, very tender, and the chicken breast was not dry, very juicy. They also offered it once a week in the MDR. Another MDR item that was great was veal schnitzel. Pounded, tender pieces of veal with a buttery breading. I usually asked for 2.

  9. I agree that the great plans on the Westerdam and Zuiderdam have not yet been rolled out to the rest of the fleet. We had a "Collector's Cruise", 12 days from Venice to Rome, and 13 days from Rome to FLL. We booked it as one long 25 day cruise, but the internet options were only available by segment. We paid $199 for the first 12 days and $209 for the 2nd leg of 13 days. Both segments we took the premiere package because we wanted to use Skype. The first 12 days was $149 for the Enhanced package, and the Social package was around $99 for the 12 days. That should give you an idea of the rates. I don't remember what the 24 hour rate was, but that was the most expensive on a daily basis. I guess the 24 hour plan is OK if you only need internet on a few days of your cruise.

  10. I wish one of the cool area on the Westerdam was around table 22 in the upper level of the MDR. It was very warm and stuffy back in the aft port side of the MDR, Even the waiters agreed it was warm. On Gala nights, many guys took their jackets off after sitting down.

  11. Thanks so much! After seeing the prices of the drinks on another thread, I am absolutely ecstatic that we purchased the beverage plan. I agree, with our personal habits we will easily get our money's worth.


    I had to buy the beverage plan for all four of us so we will have no shortage of options. We love specialty drinks ....cappuccinos, bloody marys, baileys and coffee, etc etc and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Our bar bill on our last cruise way back when was $1000+ for just two of us and I stressed the whole time. A bucket of beer was $40! There were people in line on the last day in hysterics with $2K and $3K bar bills.I love that we will not have to worry.


    Thanks for the heads up on the water on the gangway and in the room. Didn't know that! Glad to know prices are posted, too.


    You said to check our account online. Is WiFi available free? Is that our HAL account we check?


    You will really enjoy your cruise. And not having the dread of seeing the final statement on the last day is a blessing.

    You can setup an onboard Wi-Fi account for free, if you just want to check the dinner menus, browse shore excursions, browse the HAL website, and check your cabin onboard account. Only if you want to go onto the internet, do you have to pay for a plan. Some ships have 24 hours or the whole voyage, unlimited. Other ships still use the by-the-minute plan.

  12. I voted "NO" to a beverage package. Though dh and I do drink more than normal on a cruise we would never come close to 15 per day. Also I always order a bottle of our favorite liquor and bring ample mixers as we enjoy sitting in our cabin and having a drink together. Dh usually gets a latte in the morning we each have a drink before dinner some times we order a bottle of wine and maybe a drink after dinner. If we are on a warm weather cruise we may get a drink at the pool in the afternoon. That is about all. No way would we even come close to a 'break even point".


    That's the big mistake many people make when deciding if the SBP is for them. They see the 15 drinks a day and say "there's no way I would drink that much", erroneously thinking you have to drink 15 beverages to break even. Not even close. Do the math. The break-even point is 5 or 6 drinks, based on an average mixed drink of $7.95 plus 15% SC. With the service charge, it adds up very quick, around $9.14 per drink. The SBP is $51 per day, including the 15% SC. With the number of beverages you specify, you will come very close to breaking even or exceed it. So, enjoy yourself, and don't be concerned about sampling a beverage you never had before just because of the cost.

  13. We spent many weeks at Club Med Les Boucaniers, down in St. Anne. Rented a car and toured the island, shopped in Fort-de-France, and really enjoyed it. Loved the island and we're a little too old now for Club Med, but we always enjoy visiting the island on cruises.

  14. IMHO, you made a good decision by purchasing the Signature Beverage Package, (SBP). Some on CC will dispute that, and say it's a waste of money, but it all comes down to your personal beverage choices. You are on vacation, the captain is doing the driving, so let go and have fun. The break even point is 5 or 6 drinks, based on a typical $7.95 drink plus the 15% SC. And don't concern yourself with the 15% service charge, you have already paid that when you purchased the SBP. When you are looking at drink prices on the bar menus, the price you see is what is used to determine if you are exceeding the $9 limit. Don't add in the 15%, that is prepaid by your SBP purchase. With the SBP, you can order just about any mixed drink, any beer, specialty coffees, drinks in the MDR, wines by the glass (limited selection), call brands, soda, 1 liter bottles of water, just about anything you can drink. A couple of catches, you can't share beverages, even with your sons, unless they have also purchased the package. There are some expensive wines, tequilas, brandies and cognacs that exceed the $9 per drink limit, check the menu before ordering. No bottles of wine, only by the glass. Nothing from your in-cabin minibar, and also the 2 bottles of water placed in your cabin. No drinks on Half-Moon Cay, if you are stopping there. A 15 drink per day limit. Ordering doubles is allowed, it just counts as 2 of your daily 15, which resets at midnight. The bartenders will happily allow you to exceed your 15 drink limit and won't tell you. You will see those extra beverages on your room statement. You can check your cabin folio on your laptop or other device in your room. Do check it..... they do make mistakes. If you see a drink charge that is not automatically reversed, call or visit the front desk on deck 1 and inquire. They will reverse it or explain why they can't.

    HAL charges an automatic $13.50 per person/per day for the "Hotel Service Charge", HSC, or Tipping. ($15 P/P for suites) It will be charged to your on board account at midnight of each day. You are not expected to do anything else, but many people will give extra cash directly to a cabin steward, waiter, bar tender, or anyone who has done an exceptional job for you personally. Your choice on that.

  15. I agree, hurricanes Irma and Maria only affected islands in the northern part of the Leeward Islands, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Anguilla, Antigua, St. Thomas, USVI , BVI, and Puerto Rico. The southern Leewards and Windwards had only high surf and some beach erosion.

  16. Looking at the prices POA1 posted (oh my goodness thanks for that!) we will totally get our money's worth. On vacation it's nothing for us to get a couple bloody marys at breakfast, have a couple cocktails before dinner, after dinner, etc. Add to that bottled water and pop and we are good.


    Can anyone answer a question? Where do you get the bottled water, like the San Pelligrino 1L bottle at? The bar? How many can you order at a time? They would be nice to get before getting off the ship.


    You can get 1 liter bottles of water at just about any bar, and even in the MDR. Just ask the wine steward and he will bring it to your table. We always grab a bottle the night before a shore excursion and carry it with us. The bottles they sell at the gangway cannot go onto your beverage package, you pay for those on your room account. The 2 bottles of water in your cabin also are not covered by the package. But if you get thirsty late at night and don't feel like throwing something on to go out and buy a bottle, grab one of the cabin bottles, but remember to replace it the next day, ASAP. We have had no problem getting 2 bottles of water on one card.

  17. I agree with jtl513. Just off the Westerdam 26 days Med/TA. We had the 3 options listed. We took the Premiere plan for the entire voyage because we needed Skype. In hindsight, I wished I had tried Skype audio calls on the Enhanced plan. If HAL blocks Skype on the lower plans by blocking the URL or the port numbers, then it wouldn't work on the enhanced plan. But if they block Skype by simply throttling the bandwidth, then I may have been able to do voice-only calls. HAL refers to Skype Videoconferencing, which does use a good level of bandwidth. I don't normally use the Skype video option while on a ship, just calls to landline phones. The service was very good, and I did run an Ookla speed test. I got a ping rate of 490ms, which is really bad, but totally understandable for satellite-based internet. There's no getting around the transit time to space and back. The download speed was 4.9 mb/s and upload 2.5 mb/s. Certainly not what we are accustomed to at home, but definitely adequate tor everything we did.

  18. I did not mean bus driver as demeaning, but as a job satisfaction issue. Like an F1 driver switching to driving a Greyhound.


    And too many hours on United, listing to the cockpit radios with HOURS of nothing but "is there a smoother altitude" calls. :)


    81,000 hours? Wow, at an FAA max of 1,000 hours per year, you flew for 81 years. Not bad with a mandatory retirement at 65. :D


    I have about 1,800 hours. But less than 1 hour total time on autopilot. All the rest hand flown. From a Super Cub to jets.

    I was speaking of DUTY HOURS, not flight hours. In my 31 years of airline flight, I averaged about 35 hours per week But before my airline career started, I flew privately starting at age 19, then commercially, towing banners along the FL beaches. Then thousands of hours of private and instrument instructor time, and business flying. I retired at 60, and I'm still flying today, an Aerostar 601P.

    And I'm done with this thread, because there always seems to be a snarky comment. Let's let this thread get back to the OP's topic of ships, engines and fuel.

  19. As of right now, 18:10 EST Saturday, Dec 9, the HAL website shows a Feb 18 full day stop at Castries, St. Lucia from 08:00 to 16:00. On that same day, after departing you do a sail-by of the beautiful Pitons of Soufriere Bay. Then on Feb 20 you have a full day stop at Fort-de-France, Martinique, 0800: to 17:00. Then, on the same day, after departing, you have a scenic cruise by Mt Pelee. The OP has NOT lost any ports, this whole thread is meaningless. Please research before you get your hair on fire.

  20. Like I said, different policies for different airlines.


    I fly a lot for business, and a number of carriers, they obviously start another one on the taxi out. Yes, if there are no delays, they might start after push back.


    AFAIK, power backs were only used on aircraft with tail mounted engines.


    I just ride on a lot of airlines. I never wanted to be a bus driver. :D


    Yes, we did reverse thrust push-backs only with the "3 holer" (B-727). The wing mounted engines would throw too much crud at the terminal due to their low mounting. Some airports squashed it in the notams for certain gates or terminals due to large glass windows. And I considered my 81,000 hours flying my passengers with zero incidents as much more than a "bus driver" and I'm damn proud of it. Some guys I flew with felt that way, and their attitude on the flight deck was definitely depressing. I bid different routes when I knew my FO had a "bus driver" attitude. But many times I had no choice. .

  21. The Santorini Boatsman Union requires that their (shore-side) tenders are used for all transport from the ship to both Santorini docks. Only if there are too many ships in port that day do they allow ship's tenders. But if that happens, I wouldn't want to be in Santorini that day. The lines for the cable car can be 2 or more hours long with 4 ships in port.

  22. Maybe at your airline.


    But several airlines taxi on one, and start the other close to takeoff. Not one minute, but not more than maybe 5.


    I am former AF, and alert birds can be in the air within 5 minutes of the call out. In the old days, I remember SAC aircraft were running down the runway within a minute or two of crew boarding.


    That single-engine taxi policy started with my carrier when the price of Jet-A went through the roof. Some carriers were also saving money by allowing reverse-thrust pushback from the gate. No tugs needed. That also stopped when the prices increased. Maintenance was not happy about full thrust TO's with a partially warmed engine. So, when the fuel cost dropped, the brass cancelled the single engine taxi policy. 5 minutes is a sufficient time for application of TO power, but unless there were very long delays getting to the business end of the active, we usually started both after tug release.

  23. That's why you'll see airliners only use one engine to taxi now, and start the second engine just before turning onto the runway.




    I'm a retired pilot (B-757, B-767, B-727) and there's no way in hell I would roll onto the active for takeoff with one of my engines running for less than a minute. That is a recipe for a disaster, losing one on takeoff. We start up both engines right after pushback, dump the APU, and the pilot not taxiing keeps a close eye on the engine instruments to detect anything strange. Yes, after landing, we will occasionally shutdown one engine to save fuel.

  24. Just got off a Holland America ship in November. In the custom's area in FLL when disembarking, there was a table with the sign "Confiscated items for Pickup". On the table were 2 drones in boxes, tagged with the passenger's names. I agree with other posts, leave it home and enjoy the cruise.

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