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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Thanks again JT, however on the deck diagram the cabin I'm asking about looks smaller than the one in the picture you sent me which is more towards the middle of the stern. I really wanted a sofa or loveseat to sit in to watch the amazing scenery go by if I want to be inside for awhile. Also still wondering what people think about the noise factor.....


    We always select stern cabins because of the beautiful view. However, we do avoid deck 8, immediately under the Lido deck due to the noises from moving chairs, workers cleaning etc. Also, we select cabins in the middle of the grouping of stern veranda cabins, because the ones on either end are definitely smaller than the ones in the middle. This is our experience on the Vista class ships, Zuiderdam, Oosterdam. Check cruise deck plans.com and you may find that someone has posted a picture of your exact cabin.

  2. If you are flying from Alabama, why not have your TA change your flight to go into Vancouver instead of Seattle ? We live in Florida and did a repositioning cruise on HAL from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. We got our own tickets for the one-way flight and we were routed from TPA to DFW, then direct to YVR (Vancouver), costing only $276 p/p. The transfer from Vancouver airport to the cruise port by taxi is about 30 minutes and between $35 to $40 for 2 people and luggage.

  3. We have been on late departure times and HAL did not change the dining times.


    Maybe you should consider eating in the Lido on departure day if you want to be outside for sail away.


    Be careful not showing up for your assigned table if you have a specific fixed dining table assigned, like a 2-top or 4-top next to a window. On the first night of a cruise, if you don't show, they may give it to someone else on the wait list. Best way to avoid a problem is to visit the matre'd after boarding and let him know that due to an 8:00pm sailaway, you will be dining in the Lido but you will use your table reservation the next night.

  4. I doubt it. When sailaways are scheduled for 17:00, they never alter the early dining time, so I would not expect them to do anything for the late seating either. There is too much in the background going on with crew scheduling, food preparation, show times, and that all hinges on the 2nd seating dining starting at 20:00 and most people finishing around 21:15 or 21:30. They certainly would not push the 22:00 show in the Main Stage back an hour due to dining being pushed back.

  5. Any thoughts on whether this will be offered again soon?


    We thought it was really good value on our HAL Alaska cruise this year,


    Usually, HAL applies the Explore-4 promotion in July for the following year's selected cruises. It also drops off in mid November. But, the cruises it is tied to also experience a significant price increase, which mysteriously goes away when it drops off in November. There is no free lunch !!!


    We always try to ask our TA to price an Explore-4 associated cruise both ways, with and without the promotion.


    We agree with you that the biggie of Explore-4 is the Signature Beverage Package (SBP). Depending on your "thirstiness", the SBP is well worth the cost or a waste of money. We have found it to save us a bunch of money. People always say "I'll never drink 15 drinks a day" so they feel it is not worth the money. Remember, the break-even point with SBP is 6 or 7 drinks, not 15. After you have 6 or 7 drinks (of anything) you are drinking free. $8 drink price divided into the $52 per day cost equals about 6.5 drinks. After that you are saving money. You can also get 1 liter bottles of water, cans of soda, specialty coffees (with alcohol) and every beer on the menu. The only shortcoming of the SBP is the wine selections. You can get many selections of wines. Not included are bottles of wine, nothing from your in-room mini-bar, and no water heading off the ship for excursions and any drinks from room service. Also no drinks are included on Half Moon Cay.

  6. Most of the newer ships don't have a self-service laundry. But they have a very good service that returns your clothes ironed and on hangers. Even your socks and underwear are ironed. You get a bag, and you can stuff it to the top for $20 per bag. Or, you can get unlimited laundry for $7 a day. However in Europe and the Med, the charge is $30 per bag full and $9 per day for unlimited. For the unlimited laundry, you pay $7 or $9 for every day of your cruise. A money saving hint for long cruises in Europe. Call Ship's Services before you leave and purchase the unlimited laundry for $7 per day, even for a European cruise. Get a printed receipt, and show it once onboard. If you are on a 30 day cruise, saving $2 a day will almost buy you 2 Pinnacle Grill dinners.

  7. My favorite drink before dinner in the Ocean bar is a double Vodka Gimlet, on the rocks, with a lime. Pretty basic, but the vodka is Gray Goose. And I have no problems getting a double on the SBP. They just charge it off as 2 drinks out of my 15 for the day. Gray Goose is definitely included in the SBP. So are double shots of most any drink, as long as a single shot is $8 or less. And there's not too much in the line of liquors that exceed $8. And, if that is still not good enough for you, you can pay $10 a day extra and upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package which tops out at $15 per drink. I usually purchase the SBP first day onboard. I got it once with the Explore-4 promotion, but I never tried to upgrade it when it comes "free" with Explore-4.

  8. We usually go to HAL Facts dot com, and download the MDR PDF's for our ship. We always book late seating fixed dining, and we come up with a list of good table numbers and pass them onto our TA. She sends them to HAL Dining, and we have always gotten one of the tables we selected. Unfortunately, tables for 2 are getting rare.

  9. It worked for us too...


    We're booked on a casino rate in a Signature Suite and to add Explore4 was only $89pp...so and extra $180 for a 10-night cruise. We got the beverage package and Pinnacle dinner PLUS gratuities and $200 of internet credit. That's a lot of value for very little additional cost.


    The prices on the suites have not come close to what our rate is, so even with the drops after Explore4 ended, we're still way ahead.


    I have heard CC members speak of "casino rate". What is that ? Is it like the same thing that Las Vegas has for their best customers ? We play roulette and craps in the casino, maybe blowing through $500 on a 3 week cruise, sometimes we are ahead, sometimes not. Does that level of play qualify for the "casino rate".

  10. We always order the distilled water from ship's services, pre-cruise. It's now $2.95 for a 5 liter jug, which is more than enough for a 3 or 4 week cruise. Yes, you can wander around the port town, looking distilled water, but then you have to hump that 7 lb jug all over town and onto the ship. You spend multi-thousands for a cruise, why go through that hassle carrying water all over town, along with your hand carried luggage ? Spend the $2.95 and it will be sitting in your room upon arrival, and there's no 15% SC.

  11. Actually changed my cruise so that I could once again enjoy the Piano Bar. As a solo traveller, I enjoy meeting folks there and making friends of the regulars each night. Does anyone know who will play on the January 29th sailing?


    Enjoy the wonderful, intimate piano bar on the Nieuw Amsterdam while you can. After the April 2017 dry dock, say hello to Billboard Onboard's dueling pianos. We will never see talented entertainers like Jimmy Maddox or Paul C. McD playing in this new venue. I miss the old piano bars.

  12. There are some references to the piano bar and "sing-along" that I believe has changed. Also some of the venues described. Is this video outdated or up to date?



    During the Oosterdam's Dry Dock in spring 2016, the smaller, intimate piano bar, plus the sports bar, both across from the casino, have been combined into the new Billboard Onboard. It is a much bigger area, the walls dividing it from the casino taken down, and there are now two pianos, back-to-back. They usually have 2 piano players, but the atmosphere is much different from the old piano bars. You can hear the constant noise from the casino, and the serious casino table players can hear the music from the dueling pianos. Some people like it, some feel it destroyed the intimate piano bar environment. Yes, they still have and encourage sing-alongs, and they also have one of their three 45 minute sets devoted to requests. I feel that HAL has made these changes because the older, smaller piano bars did not generate enough drink revenue to justify the space. The new Billboard-Onboard is twice as big, with many more seats for thirsty guests. I'm sure that HAL did not name this venue after Billboard Magazine because they felt generous one day. The Billboard company is sponsoring the area, just like the New York Times sponsors their area in the Observation Lounge. And, I'm sure the B-B-King Show is not named after that great artist because somebody at HAL likes his music. Every square meter on a ship has to pay for itself or it's gone. I do Like the BB-King shows, they are usually well preformed by talented musicians. Loud, but good.

  13. We were just on the recently dry-docked and renovated Oosterdam. At the desk in our veranda cabin, next to the electrical outlets, there were 2 USB plugs for charging my devices. Also, next to the bed light switches there is one USB charging port on each side of the bed. Pretty neat, and we didn't need to use any charging adapters, we just plugged in with a USB to USB cable.

  14. I do not know anything about C-Pap machines but if the machine is prescribed by your doctor and distilled water is needed to run the machine, shouldn't it be reimbursed by your medical insurance?




    I use a CPAP machine and it does suggest distilled water be used in the reservoir. In a pinch, you can use any water you can find, but you should rinse the reservoir after each use. Also, water of questionable quality should not be used, because you breathe the vapors of that water while you sleep.

    As far as reimbursement from health insurance, my distilled water at home costs me .99 cents a US gallon, which last about 2 weeks. On the ship, 5 liters costs $2.95 delivered to your cabin, and lasts 3 weeks. If I put a claim in with my medical insurance for .99 cents or $2.95, I think i would ridiculed out of existence. Also, in addition to your luggage, who wants to be schlepping a 7 pound jug of water around town until you board the ship ? If you can afford the thousands of $$$ to cruise, pay the $2.95 and stop complaining. HAL does the schlepping for you !!

  15. I agree totally with Ruth. The Billboard-Onboard Dueling Pianos is a wide open area, right next to the casino and the bar. So, instead of an intimate piano bar, you have many more venues competing with the noises of the casino and the TV's in the bar. Not a very bright move, but it's all about every square meter paying for itself. Small, intimate piano bars don't generate enough bar revenue to justify the space. So, they open them up, double the space, and contract with Billboard magazine to help subsidize the area.


    Also, channel 39 or any channel number has no meaning on the renovated ships with the new TV's. Channel selection is done now by menu selection, and they have a limited number of channels for live TV. ESPN and ESPN-2 are dedicated to 24 hour sports, and they has a "Special Events" channel for whatever they feel is of general interest to the guests. No regular US or Canadian broadcast networks, just a bunch of news channels and BBC World Service.

  16. That's not really the case. On the renovated ships like the Eurodam games were on tvs in the gallery bar. In cabins with interactive TVs you will need to scroll past the other channels to a channel called special events (or something like that). This channel had the games.


    On the two recent HAL cruises we were on, with the new TV channel lineup, the special events channel had 24/7 music and just the logo saying "Special Events". There were plenty of prime sporting events happening, especially on the weekends. ESPN and ESPN-2 were the only channels that carried some of the games. When asked, the front desk said they would refer my request for some sporting events to be on the "Special Events" channel, over to the AV department. Nothing ever happened. However, I would assume that anything as big as a major playoff game or the SuperBowl would be carried in the cabins and in some of the bars, especially the gallery bar.

  17. The distilled water comes from the desalination process where they get all the ship's tap water. To bring you distilled water, as I understand it, somebody sticks the bottle under the faucet in the desalination machine before they add the minerals. Can anybody confirm this understanding? That's why I think it's okay to use the ship's tap water.


    The distilled water we have purchased on the ship, through ship's services, is in a sealed, labeled, 5 liter jug. It definitely does not come from the desalinization plant onboard. There is a brand name label on the jug, and you have to break the seal to open it. Most recent price, $2.95.

  18. We ordered a jug of distilled water on the Zuiderdam in Oct 2015, from ship's services, and it cost $4. It was 5 liters, plenty for a 26 day cruise. This year, on the Oosterdam, I called ship's services again to order my usual jug, and the same 5 liter bottle is now $2.95. This was a 21 day cruise, so I had plenty left over.

    I always bring my own extension cord and European to US adapter. I use 220 volts for my CPAP, and my laptop charger is plugged into the 120 volt outlet at the desk.

  19. On the ships that have been through dry dock refurbishment in the past few years, the new, flat screen TV's carry ESPN and ESPN-2. They do not carry any of the US commercial networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX). The other channels on the "Live TV" tab of the on-screen menus are mostly news channels, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC World Service. So, if the playoffs you are looking for are on ESPN or ESPN-2 you are good. As far as any Sports Bar goes, unfortunately, on the renovated ships, the old Sports Bars on Deck 2, near the casino, are gone, and the space absorbed into the newer, bigger, (and questionably improved ???) Billboard Onboard Dueling Pianos. Some like it, some miss the intimate Piano bars of old. I'm sure HAL likes it, because the new venue is much bigger than the old piano bars, so that translates into more drink sales. Every sq. foot on the ship has to show a profit.

  20. We were on the Zuiderdam 26 days Med/TA in Oct 2015, with the mid-point in Rome. We did have to attend both muster drills, once when boarding in Athens, and the 2nd, 7 days later, in Rome.

    One year later, on the Oosterdam, 21 days out of Tampa, Nov 25 to Dec 16, those of us staying on the ship during the turnaround in Tampa on Dec 9, did not have to attend a 2nd muster drill.

    HAL explained in a letter to us, that their requirements are that on long cruises, you must attend a muster drill every 30 days.

  21. We have had aft cabins on multiple cruises, one on deck 4, another on deck 5, both on Vista Class ships. We actually liked the deck 4 aft cabin, because it was a Panama Canal cruise and standing at the balcony rail and looking down, all you see is water. You are at the extreme rear of the ship and there are no balconies below you as there are on higher deck cabins. Also, on Vista class ships, all aft balcony cabins (except the Neptune suites) are VB grade, but the aft balconies on deck 8 are VC grade, and I think that is because of the noise from the Lido deck aft pool above.

  22. For us, the SBP was a good deal, no matter if you buy it or get it "free" with Explore-4. The breakeven point is about 7 drinks, over that, you are drinking free. Yes, you can order doubles of any cocktail, but it will count as 2 drinks out of your 15. Water, sodas, and specialty coffees also count towards your daily 15. The limit is $8.00 per drink, and don't concern yourself about the service charge of 15%. With Explore-4, the service charge is covered. Same if you buy the package. Just look at the drinks menu, and order anything under $8 and it will be included. HAL has started an Elite Beverage package, for $10 a day more. You can order drinks up to $15, menu price. But I'm not sure if you can pay the extra to upgrade an Explore-4 provided SBP. That would have to be discussed once onboard.

  23. We were on the Zuiderdam in late 2015 and the piano bar and artist were wonderful. We just completed 21 days on the Oosterdam and the piano bar is gone and replaced by "Billboard Onboard". They eliminated the bar next door to the old Piano bar, and also removed the walls separating the piano bar from the casino. The area is huge now, and this is obviously a way to turn an intimate piano bar into a way to sell a lot more drinks. All you hear during the dual piano sets is the ching-ching-ching of the damn slot machines across the walkway. We had a male-female pair of piano players who were, at best, passable. They could play a piano, but singing...... forget about it. Yes, they did have one of their three, 45 minute sets setup for requests, but many requests were not played or they played a short segment of the song and went back into the standard playlist.


    We will be on the Nieuw Amsterdam Sept 30, 2017, BEFORE drydock in November. We will still have an intimate piano bar with one piano, but it's days are numbered. Does anyone know who will be the artist in late September ?

  24. I'm looking at HAL's packages and they come in a different number of minutes per a certain amount of money.


    I'm going on a week long cruise. I want to be able to check a couple of sites when I have free time. It's certainly not a priority. I'm not checking business mail, the stock market or anything like that.


    With two of us and that kind of usage how much time did you find you need.


    Yes I know it's slower at sea.


    And please don't tell me to just unplug. I like to check the news and also toward the end of the cruise I need to know what the weather is like in the northeast for my flights.



    Sent from my iPhone using Forums


    On a recent 21 day cruise, we purchased the 250 minute package for $100. We used it for only e-mails and Skype voice. The speeds are adequate, and we had no problems with short Skype voice calls to friends. At the end of the cruise we had 21 minutes left on the account.

    I tried to run speedcheck.net just to see what kind of connection I had. We were getting 3.5 mb/s download and 3.0 mb/s upload with a ping rate of 90. Pretty decent !!

  25. After reading all of the above, as a 3-star Mariner, with my first HAL cruise in 1995, (had a 11 year break, out of the country) we have noticed a reduction in MDR staff, especially with a full ship. Yes, the food menu options are slightly less, but still good. Cabin attendants have personally complained to me about the increased number of cabins they are responsible for. There is only a short window of time in the mornings for your cabin to be cleaned. If you come back from breakfast too early, your cabin steward will pass you by and your cabin will be not cleaned until you head to dinner.

    However, it still is the most economical way to "get away" for a few weeks. And, other than the airline connections, the most relaxing holiday one could find.

    My only hope is that the "bean counters" at HAL do not look at the airlines and their continued process of charging for everything involved with your flight. I am still waiting to see coin receptors on the bathroom doors and on the life vest under your seat. The airline profits, just in baggage fees and change fees are obscene, and they have nothing to do with the low fuel costs. I'm hoping that Carnival will not get as greedy as the airlines have gotten and follow their business plans..

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