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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Same thing happened to us, but we had a VD grade guarantee. We booked a VD guarantee, but 14 months early, with full payment at time of booking. About 2 weeks before sailing, our TA told us that out guarantee was finally assigned, but still in a VD grade cabin, VD-6006. Our TA felt that because we booked so far in advance and paid in full at that time, we should get a better offer on the guarantee. HAL agreed and assigned us VA-5098, which is right next to the outside glass elevators, and right above the lifeboats. Armed with lots of advise from CC and pictures from other websites, we realized that our "upgrade" was far inferior to the original cabin we had. Our TA disagreed and said we were getting an upgrade from VD to VA and we should take it. Thanks to some kind folks on CC who told us that these "VA" cabins used to be VE because of their very narrow balconies (4 ft depth, forget about a lounge chair) and also had a wonderful view of the lifeboats below. We pitched a fit with our TA, and HAL put us back into VD-6006 and we loved it. A nice balcony and a beautiful view. We were told that it is very rare that HAL will reverse a guarantee assignment, so from then on, we NEVER select guarantee, or as HAL describes it, "Let us select your cabin for you"

  2. We were on a Round the Horn cruise on Princess over Christmas and New Year's. The weather on either side of South America was warm, bikini at the pool type weather. However, cruising the Beagle Channel we froze our tushies off. We had packed for both cold and warm climates, and we are sure glad we did. The temps out on the open decks were around 0 C (32 F). This was in 1999. I guess you never know what kind of weather you will run into so close to Antarctica. Have a great cruise, and check out the penguins.

  3. Bummer - some of my best pics at St. Martin were of the KLM 747 coming in - first at a distance, then some closer then right overhead. :eek: Sitting on the beach it seemed to be landing right on us. Later when a 767 took off we very judiciously waited on the beach side of the road - well back - and still got sand blasted. :o


    I work within a stone's throw of the giant 747 assembly plant and it is mostly switched over to 777 and soon 777x with maybe two 747s a month and those freighters not passenger models. Time and technology march on. The new composite fiber wing facility for the 777x is amazing. :cool:


    The 747-8 assembly line guys just got a reprieve. UPS just ordered 14 new B-747-8F freighters at a list price of 5.3 billion. For freight, you can't beat the good 'ol 74's. Similar to the demise of the Boeing 727, the "three-holer". Because of the noise of the old Pratt JT8-D engines, they were banned from overflying the US. But many freight companies still use them as long as they just enter and exit US airspace at Miami. Amerijet is one freight company that still flies the 72 without the mandated hush kits. They fly into St. Maarten every day. Sitting at the Sunset Beach bar, you hear this huge roar, and look, figuring it's a 74 or a 76, and it's the mighty Amerijet 727 screaming out of PJIA in it's climbout.

  4. Be very careful with the V cabins on the Veranda deck. Cruise Deck Plans warns that this range of cabins (V5051 to V5140) are directly above the lifeboats, hanging one deck below. If you are sitting in your cabin, looking straight out, you don't see the boats. But, if you are out on your balcony, and looking down, all you see are the tops of the big orange lifeboats. Some CC members consider these cabins as "partially obstructed". HAL considers it an upgrade because they are mid-ships cabins and on a lower deck, and less susceptible to ship motion. But the VE grade cabin you had on the Navigation deck is also close to mid-ships, but also close to the elevators.

    I was offered a VA cabin on the Veranda deck on the Zuiderdam, over a VD cabin on deck 6. When I saw the cabin, I said "no way". The view on the balcony, looking down, was big orange lifeboats and the balcony was notably less deep than my original VD cabin. I stayed in the VD cabin.

  5. I have watched a lot of YouTube videos and certainly have to agree with you about the morons. I have often wished I could visit the beach area to watch them from a safe distance but from what I read, the large planes from overseas don't start arriving until the afternoon and it would have been cutting it too close to the ship's departure time to depend on getting a taxi back in time.


    You are correct... the earliest large plane that arrives is right after noon. Most of the US and Canadian flights (Delta, AA, United, WestJet, JetBlue, etc) are quick turnarounds. They arrive between noon and 3:00pm, unload, take on their fuel load, reload pax, and head back north. As long as the crew can perform the round trip in under 9 hours actual flying time, and 14 hours total trip time, they are OK with the FAA. Obviously, flights that cross the big pond (KLM, AF, Caribair) cannot use the same crew for the return flight. So they get a layover, and the previous day's crew takes the ship back to Europe. Most departures, North America and Europe, are totally gone by 7:00pm.

    Even though the 747's will be phased out, Air France still flies an A-340, which is a wide-body, 4 engine transport, that makes the round trip between CDG and SXM daily. With 4 engines, they don't have to concern themselves with ETOPS (Extended Range Twin-Engine Operations) which requires twin-engine jets to stay within 120 to 240 minutes of a suitable airport.

  6. As a retired airline pilot, I've landed 757's and 737's into Princess Juliana countless times. There's absolutely NO danger at all landing there, with any size transport aircraft. except the A-380. The only real danger at that airport is to the morons that hang on the fence at the business-end of the runway. During a takeoff, they get sand-blasted, stones and rocks hurled at them, and some get blown off the fence onto the road. One person got blown off the fence, and cracked her head on the curbing. She suffered a severe concussion. She got a lawyer and sued the airport. They showed pictures in court of the many warning signs all along the fences and the judge threw the case out.

    Runway 10 there is 7546 ft long, with adequate overrun. The reason most pilots land so close to the border fence is because of the old aviation saying.. "any runway behind you is useless". Takeoff is interesting because you have some small mountains across Simpson Bay. So, once you have cleaned up the aircraft, (gear up, flaps partially retracted) you make a climbing right turn for a normal departure. Contact San Juan Center and you are on your way. No big deal !!

    But contrary to the many TV shows that claim that SXM is one of the most dangerous airports, it's all hype. It's only dangerous if you have had too many beers at the Sunset Beach Bar nearby, and get blown off of the fence.

  7. Forget about the 15 drink limit per day. You probably will not hit that limit, more power to you if you do !! Think of the SBP as 6 or 7 drinks per day. Anything over that and you are drinking free. And that does include the 15% service charge. If you go ala carte, you will pay the $7.95 drink price plus 15%.

    If you have a specialty coffee or hot chocolate in the morning, a few bloody-Marys or beers for lunch, a pre dinner cocktail (you can order doubles with the plan), a glass of wine at dinner, an after-dinner drink at the casino or showroom, and take a bottle of water back to your cabin at night, you are already saving money with the SBP. However, if all you do is have coffee or ice tea in the Lido, and a glass of wine at dinner, save your money, it's not worth it.

    I like the peace of mind knowing that my total beverage costs are paid for before I board the ship, and I won't get that "sticker-shock" when the final bill comes on departure day.

  8. Thanks Ruth & Debbie. My machine is almost 6 years old. There is an online company that you can buy CPAP machines and supplies. But, as usual, the ridiculous rules about prescriptions for durable medical equipment hinder the easy online purchase. I've been told that I will need to sleep with a CPAP machine for the rest of my life. On this website, I can purchase all of the individual parts for my nasal mask with no script. But if I want to purchase the same mask, completely assembled, I need a doc's prescription. I can buy all of the parts for my CPAP machine with no script, but the same machine ready to go requires a script. Do they really think someone will buy a CPAP machine just for the fun of it ??

    I ordered 2 jugs of distilled water for a 28 day cruise from Athens to FLL. The jugs HAL supplied were 5 liters each, a little more than a US gallon. I used all of the first jug and 2/3rd of the second one. For the $8 fee, it was much better than humping all over Athens looking for distilled water, and then carrying both of them, along with our carry-ons onto the ship. And, in a pinch, the tap water on the ship is fine, just rinse out your humidifier reservoir daily.

  9. Wow. Those machines sure are getting complex! Mine doesn't have anything that remotely sounds like that. I have a Resmed, and I know there's some sort of card in it that records information, but I don't have anything like an airplane mode.


    I'll be interested in reading what others have to say about this, in case it's part of my next machine (I'm on my 3rd).


    Hi Ruth,

    I have used a CPAP machine since 2011. A Resmed. My machine is almost 6 years old. How long do they last (since you have been through 3 of them) and what are the symptoms when they are about to die ? In the old Medicare rules, durable medical equipment, like a CPAP, was 100% covered. Now, we have to pay 50% or more for a new machine.

    I always call ship's services and order a $4 jug of distilled water. It's waiting for me in the cabin when I arrive. I also bring a 15 ft extension cord, plus a European round prong to US blade adapter for the 220 volt outlet at the desk. That leaves the 110 volt outlet open for my laptop charger.

  10. There are 3 closets on the Zuiderdam Veranda cabins. The one on the right has the safe in it, so that one does have a shelf. The middle and left closets have adjustable shelves. You can pull them up and use them or leave the closets full length for hanging full length articles of clothing. You also have two pull-out drawers under the foot of the bed. The cabin steward uses them for storage of the luggage bed protectors and other items, but there's space in there. You could put your life vests in there and gain some extra closet shelf space. Just remember where you put them in case you need them.

  11. We are 3 star Mariners and we will be cruising with 2 relatives who have never cruised before, and they are in a different cabin. If we purchase a Pinnacle Grill dinner for the 4 of us, on line, using my 3-star account, will the 25% discount apply to all 4 of us, or just my DW and I who have the 3-star status ? I understand that we pay the full $35 per person price on line, when making the purchase, then we get the discount credited back to us on our on-board account. Will I see a discount for all 4 persons, or just the 2 of us who are 3-star Mariners ?

  12. The Signature Beverage Package (SBP) includes the 15% service charge if you get the package as part of the Explore-3 promotion or is you purchase it at $51.70 per person/per day. The $51.70 includes the 15% service charge, so it is already paid.

    And remember, the break-even point is only 6 .5 drinks per day. So, anything above that, you are drinking free.

  13. We intentionally booked a stern cabin on the Oosterdam, deck 4. Deck 4 is at the absolute back of the ship with only the MDR below you. When you lean over the railing (not too far, of course), you are looking directly down to the water and the beautiful wake of the props. The rear of most of these HAL ships are tiered, with each deck above deck 4 are further back from the one below it. On deck 5, 6, 7 & 8, if you look down, you see the decks below you. Deck 4 has partial shade, which is perfect if one in your cabin likes to sunbathe, while the other wants shade. Deck 5 stern cabins have more shade, and they vary as you go up. Only deck 8 has a noise problem, due to the Lido and aft pool being above you. That's why the deck 8 stern cabins are the last to go. All stern cabins have huge balconies, and if you don't get 2 lounge chairs on yours, ask your cabin steward early for one.

    Enjoy your deck 5 stern cabin, which is definitely great for Panama Canal transits.

  14. We were on the Zuiderdam last October for a 26 day Med/TA cruise to FLL. We bought internet time on their lowest priced package and we were able to Skype (audio, not video) through the Med and also crossing the Atlantic. We had no problems with audio only Skype calls. Video calls were choppy and not reliable. At that time, the Zuiderdam offered only one speed, and you purchased it by blocks of time, or by the minute. The "by-the-minute" rate was really expensive and not worth it. But, the service was reasonably good. But, certainly not the speeds you are used to at home.

  15. In all of our cruises with HAL, we've only been bothered by balcony smoking once, and that was late at night. What really bugs us is the inconsiderate slobs who toss their cigarette butts in the water drain right at the edge of the balcony floor. It is designed to allow wave and rainwater to drain off of your balcony. There's nothing more disgusting than seeing someone's butts floating by your balcony in the water drain. They at least have the common sense not to throw the butts overboard, so the lazy bums throw then into the drain and let the rains wash them away. I've seen whole packs of cigarettes floating by, where the morons forget that it gets quite breezy out there once underway.

  16. We were on the Eurodam October 2015 and had the Signature Beverage Package via Explore4. Since we were having some problems with the Pinnacle Grill, I would go down nearly every other day to see if corrections were made for the Pinnacle Grill (didn't want to keep bothering the concierges and it was just as easy to go down there and zip my card through the Kiosk). Never did any drinks show up on any day.


    This must be something new that has started.


    We saw the daily beverage consumption on our recent Zuiderdam cruise of 28 days. The SBP was part of Explore-4. We also had some cabin credit problems, and we did notice that all of our drinks were listed, and then reversed out, but only on the daily accounting. When we got the final report at the segment end, all drinks disappeared.

  17. I have entered the US at MIA, ATL, CLT, and LAX, among other airports. 2 hours is definitely not enough time. You first have to clear immigration, and even with GE, that takes time. Then, you have to wait for, and claim all of your bags, and a luggage cart to roll them on. Then, you must clear customs, usually long lines. After that, you must re-check your bags with American. Your bags will already have the proper tags for your domestic flight, so it is a simple drop-off. Then, you have to exit the international arrivals terminal and enter the domestic terminal. Your carry-on bags and you will have to pass through security, because you have been outside of the clean areas, and also had access to your checked bags. After that, you find your gate for your IND flight.

    There are plenty of reasons for arrival delays into LAX. ATC delays, available gate delays, luggage delivery delays, etc. I arrived into LAX on an international flight with a 3-1/2 hour layover. We have GE and TSA pre-check. We barely made our domestic connection. And, after sitting in a coach seat for 12 hours from SYD to LAX, you want a little time to relax, grab a bite and a beer, before settling in for a 4 hour domestic flight. I would look for at least a 4 hour layover. Murphy's Law says that if anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible time, (when you only have a 2 hour layover). A 2 hour connection, international to domestic, is a legal connection at LAX. American is not responsible for delays out of their control, eg- gate delays, customs clearance, etc. Why take a chance to ruin the last day of your holiday by missing your connection ?

  18. No problem at all with doubles. They just want to be sure you aren't putting them into separate glasses to share with a friend. if your double is in one glass, no problem, they just charge it as 2 drinks.

    I see people on CC all the time saying "no way I can drink 15 beverages, so the package is not worth it". The break even point with the SBP is 6 or 7 drinks per day. Anything over that and the drinks are free. A typical drink is $7.95 (and don't worry about the 15% service charge, it's included and already paid for) and the package is $44.95 per day plus 15% service charge, which comes to $51.70 per day. Divide $51.70 by $7.95 and you get 6.5 drinks. Naturally, beers are less than $7.95, same for specialty coffees, hot chocolate, sodas and waters. But, we always find that we usually exceed 6 or 7 drinks in one day (what the heck, you're on vacation, so go for it) so the SBP is always worth it to us. If all you have is a glass or two of wine with dinner, then certainly the SBP is not worth the cost to you.


    If you get the SBP as part of Explore-4 or by purchasing it, you are not refunded anything at the end of the cruise. So, with the SBP, you use it or lose it !! And, if you are hearty enough to hit the 15 drink limit in one day, wait until it's 12:01am and the counter resets back to zero. You can check your beverage consumption by heading down to the front desk and use a kiosk to get a printout of your account. You will see your beverages for that day, but later on, those will disappear from your account.

  19. Get yourself a new TA. The TA is looking at the total commission they will receive, and a cruise with Explore-4 is considerably more than without. We always ask our TA to price our cruises both ways. Our recent booking for a 21 day cruise for Sept 2017 was $980 cheaper without Explore-4, in the same VB grade cabin. The cost of the SBP for 21 days is $1070. So, the savings of Explore-4 was $90, but the additional OBC we got far exceeded the loss of Explore-4, if we purchase the SBP outright. So, if your TA says there's no difference in price, get a new TA or call HAL for a PCC. There's no such thing as a free lunch, (of a free drink package). You pay for it one way or the other.

  20. Do you get upset when the first officer on your flight provides the cabin PA announcements and not the captain ? I don't. The captain is busy doing what he was hired to do, flying the plane. Same for ship's captains. Some captains are outgoing and sociable, others are strictly business. Either way doesn't matter to me. I also feel that the Costa Concordia incident, where the captain was a social butterfly, entertaining and schmoozing, mostly the women, has had an impact on all cruise ship captains. They may be concentrating more on being ship captains, and leaving the socializing to the cruise director and hotel director.

  21. The Signature Drinks Card you refer to is the Signature Beverage Package (SBP). HAL needs to improve it's website writers. Their description of this package is very confusing and generates many questions here on CC.

    There are NOT just 15 specific drinks you can purchase with the package. If you like, you can have 15 beers, 15 glasses of wine, 15 bottles of water, 15 specialty coffees, 15 shots of Jack Daniels, 15 Bloody Mary's, or 15 of any other kind of drink, or.... any combination of all of the above. If you can actually get out of bed the next day, you can start all over again. Just about any beer, mixed drink, call brand, well drink, soda, water you can imagine is OK with the SBP. Just look at the menus and as long as the menu price is $8 or less, it's yours, and don't concern yourself about the 15% service charge. That has been included in your SBP, either by you purchasing it, or you got it as part of Explore-4. About the only drinks you can't use the SBP on are wines by the glass over $8, and bottles of wine. The VSOP stuff is also beyond the package as well as anything in your fridge in the cabin, and the bottles of water in your cabin. Easy solution, pickup a few bottles of water before heading back to your cabin, and stock up. As long as there's 2 bottles there when the guy comes by to check, you won't be billed.

    I don't think HAL has a way to bill you separately for a coffee instead of hitting your daily 15 drink limit. But if you can handle 15 alcoholic drinks a day, more power to you.

  22. When you login and do a booking the rates will reflect any promotions that apply to you. I did a mock booking for a dec 4 cruise on the koningdamm with out login in and it was 1700 per person . I then login and the same cruise and room was 399.00 per person for a casino rate that I qualified for.



    Sent from my iPad using Forums


    I see references to "Casino Rate" occasionally here on CC. What is the Casino Rate? Is this similar to Las Vegas, where you have one of their preferred player cards and you build up credits based on the level of money you have in play ? You get to a certain level and you get free dinners, buffets, shows, and if you are a really big high roller, (a whale in Las Vegas terms), you get free penthouse suites, free airfare, etc. Does HAL's Casino Rate work like that ? Does the casino staff keep track of how much money you have in play, win or lose ?

  23. We are on the Nieuw Amsterdam from Sept 30, 2017 through Oct 21 for a reposition/Panama Canal cruise, starting in Vancouver and ending in FLL on Oct 21. There is a 7 day cruise scheduled from Oct 28 to Nov 4, and then the NA goes into drydock in Nassau from Nov 5 through Nov 18. But I don't see a cruise scheduled from Oct 21 to Oct 28. Our concern is what's happening in that week from Oct 21 to 28, 2017. The last thing we want is to be on a ship that is preparing for a 2 week drydock refurb. Usually HAL boards prep crews that start ripping the ship apart during the prior weeks.

    Does anyone know what the NA is doing from Oct 21 to 28, 2017, nothing is on HAL's schedule, and nothing like a charter is shown on CC ?

  24. I'd like to know the current rate of laundry service for one bag and for unlimited. Appreciate any information. Of course, this question is for those ships that don't have self help sundry mats. Thanks!


    $20 per bag in the west, and $30 per bag in Europe. And you can stuff those bags full to the brim, plus some.


    The unlimited laundry is $7 per day in the west, and $9 per day in Europe, and those rates are for the whole cabin, not per passenger. You can stuff as many bags as you want, just ask your room steward for more, and also the 3-part sheet that goes with it. Your clothes will come back on hangers and the smaller stuff in a basket. The laundry will put little green sticky laundry tags on your items. Be careful of your underwear, those little green stickers are itchy.

    If you are on a European cruise, call Ship's Services ahead of departure and purchase the unlimited laundry package. You will save $2 per day if purchased in advance. Purchased onboard, in Europe, it's $9 per day.

  25. On our recent K'dam trip, an Elite Beverage package at $54.95/day was offered that mirrored the Signature package except it allowed for higher priced wines ($15 not $8).


    That Elite Beverage Package should not be limited to one ship in the fleet. It should be fleet-wide, and just a little programming of the Food & Beverage computer system, plus some promotion of the package, would be all it would take to offer this on all ships. Poor, limited wine selection is the biggest complaint I hear about the standard SBP. That could be easily fixed.

    I am assuming that the $54.95/day price you quoted is not including the required 15% service charge. That would make the EBP, if that will be the eventual acronym for this package, cost $63.20 per person/per day. The standard SBP costs $51.70 per person/per day, including the 15% SC.

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