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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We have a 25 day Mediterranean cruise with 8 days Trans-Atlantic into Fort Lauderdale coming up. I intend to pre-purchase my Euros from my local US bank before departing the US. If I buy too much, can I use the excess Euros in the casino to buy chips either at the tables or the cage ? If not, what do I do with the excess ? Selling them back to my bank is a huge loser. Maybe hang onto them for the next cruise ??. I don't think the guest service counter will exchange them.

  2. Small extra explanation for nervous passengers,

    If an aircraft would lose one engine during the takeoff, even at the most critical point, there are procedures to fly perfectly safe out of SXM airport. It is not a problem at all really. As a sidenote, We normally DO NOT perform a runup on the threshhold on B747-400 unless we need to check for accrued engine icing, which will never happen at SXM 😎. We do depart sometimes with max thrust and this will result in already more than enough energy to make you go fly along the beach into your coffin.


    Hi fellow pilot !! I agree. If we did lose a mill on T/O roll, after V1, the book procedure is to (obviously) continue the takeoff, but immediately setup single engine best rate climb speed, clean up the aircraft, communicate the problem to ATC (TNCM Tower or San Juan Center), and there would be no problems clearing those 1122 hills across Simpson Bay on single engine. But just for a little extra comfort, in a B-757, I always did a partial runup at the business end, once I was in position and holding. Or, if approved, I would do a rolling T/O with partial power until lined up on the centerline. Depending on loading and temperature, our calculations for V1, V2, and VR would not normally require max thrust at TNCM.

  3. The Princess Juliana Airport runway is 7546 ft, (2300 meters) long and provides plenty of length for even "heavy" jets, (4 engine B-747, A-340). The planes do spool up their engines with brakes applied to verify that all is working well. You don't want to experience an engine-out takeoff with small mountains across Simpson Bay at the end of the runway. The departure procedure requires a climbing right turn after the aircraft is cleaned up (gear up, flaps retracted to climb setting). If you lose an engine after V1, (the go/no-go decision speed) you must continue the takeoff. You don't want to be doing any steep turns with only one engine thrusting. That's why they do an engine runup at the business end of the runway. As far as hanging into the fence for a takeoff roll, consider this. The jet blast from those 2 (or 4) engines is sufficient to propel a 300,000 lb jet up to takeoff speed of 150 kts. Why do these morons think that their little fingers (or arms locked, as one suggested) will keep your puny 100+ lb body from being blown away during a takeoff ? If you are capable of holding on, how about the absolute joy of being blasted by rocks, jet fuel, sand, and anything else on the runway ? Is it worth losing an eye, or maybe a skull fracture from a rock being blown at you at 100+ mph ? As a retired pilot, who has made many arrivals and departures at SXM, I found the facility perfectly acceptable from an aviation point of view. But when I was on the taxiway, first in line for departure, and I saw all those idiots hanging onto that fence, I always had horrible thoughts of what damage my aircraft could do to someone. But the tower said "Cleared for Takeoff", I jammed those throttles full forward and forgot about it. I had a job to do, and my passenger's safety was paramount.

  4. I think it is left up to the hotel director how to price the internet on each ship. Of course, thinking from a revenue point of view, if passengers have unlimited internet, they will spend more time with their noses buried into a phone or tablet, and not ordering drinks, contributing money to the casino, getting a spa treatment, or going on shore excursions. Could that possibly be the deciding factor ?

  5. I've been using Chrome and Firefox for years on different computers and have never had a problem with the HAL site loading. They have had some dumb coding, for instance when you had to sign in twice to see your itinerary, but that was fixed. Also the site is slow to load, but it always does load.

  6. If you have ever watched your bags being loaded and unloaded from those huge freight carriers at the port that are handled by huge fork lifts, you may think twice about putting glass, breakable items in your luggage. The stevedores that load and unload your bags are not normally known for their delicacy in handling bags. Plus, if your bag is soft sided, and is on the bottom of the carrier, with 50 bags on top of it, you may have all red clothes to wear on your cruise. And the HAL baggage people will be laughing as they wrap your bag in plastic and deliver it to your cabin, and place it into the bathtub.

  7. On very port-intensive cruises, the SBP or EBP may not be worth it, depending on your typical beverage consumption. You can't judge by what you do at home. You are on vacation, you're not driving, so you let go and enjoy yourself. Your beverage consumption on a ship will generally be higher that your normal daily life. But remember, the packages include almost everything you can put into a glass and drink. With the new SBP drink limit at $9, your break-even point is only 5.6 drinks per day, after that you are drinking free. We have had the SBP with Explore-4 and also purchased it. We will not sail without it. But, all of our cruises have loads of sea days, over 21 days, and usually trans-Atlantic or Pacific..

  8. Concerning your second bullet-point * . If everyone was allowed to "sneak in line for mashed potatoes", you can imagine the chaos. You would have fist-fights, pushing, shoving and some nasty words spoken. Also, I have seen totally open ship buffets where guests grab a spoon of mashed potatoes or sour cream, and LICK THE SPOON, and put it back in the food. The line system and servers are there to prevent you from spending the remainder of your cruise either sitting on the porcelain or kissing it. When food on a cruise ship is concerned, play by the rules, wait your turn in line, and everyone will stay healthy. It's all done to keep your food, and everyone else's, sanitary and healthy.

  9. The bar staff gets their 15% no matter which way your beverage is paid for, be it SBP, EBP, or straight purchase. They really don't case, they want their service charge. If you experienced slow service, it had to be related to a short staff situation or a full complement of guests. But short staffing in beverage service makes no sense from a business point of view. The more drinks you sell, the higher the profits in the food & beverage dept. If you intentionally short-staff a bar, you are only cutting your own department's profits. Not a good business practice.

  10. The SBP is $51.69 per person, per day, ($44.95 + 15%), not $55. With the increase to $9 per drink on many ships, the break-even point is 5.6 drinks, based on a typical $7.95 cocktail + 15% service charge. After 5.6 drinks, you are drinking free. Just about anything you can drink is included, bottles of water, sodas, mixers, beers, wines, and almost all cocktails, under $9 menu price. We find the SBP to be very beneficial, especially on long cruises with many sea days. If you are a very port-intensive cruise, it may not pay for itself, depending on the lengths of your off-ship tours. Everyone can judge if the package will be beneficial to them based on their holiday beverage consumption. When you are on holiday, you usually let go a bit and leave the driving to the captain. So you enjoy yourself. You can't use your typical work-day beverage consumption as a judge if the SBP will benefit you.

  11. We are on the Oct 14, 25 day cruise to Ft. Lauderdale on the Westerdam. We booked a hotel on the Giudecca canal that will arrange for a private water taxi from the airport for 110 Euros. There are 4 of us, and we have exclusive use of the boat. Out hotel has its own dock, and the staff will be waiting for us to pull our bags off of the boat and take them into the hotel. If you use the public water taxis from the airport, they will drop you at the nearest dock to your hotel, but not guaranteed. You may have to drag your luggage for quite a distance to reach your hotel. That's why it is important to book a hotel that has it's own dock, and will coordinate with you on the private water taxis. We have the same deal a week later to get to the ship.

    A relatively new feature at Marco Polo Airport is a people mover moving walkway from the baggage claim area to the water taxi docks, which is quite a long hike.

  12. I know it's tough, but I wish someone who was successful in getting to Flight Ease on HAL's website could post a few screen shots (hit prt sc) of how they navigate to the Flight Ease section. I have a booked cruise, final payment in 28 days, out of Venice, Italy. I have a flight already booked by my TA, using HAL's air dept. I can see the flight info on "My itinerary", but I cannot see anything about Flight Ease. Maybe because I already have a flight booked ???

  13. We are just off the Zuiderdam and were disappointed that the Trivia games were not held in the Crows Nest like on the pre-refit Westerdam. It was a pleasant two hours coupled with Happy Hour. IMO Perhaps if passengers would not ensconce themselves all day in the comfy chairs to just read, there would be more turnover and passengers would frequent it more often.


    I don't mind people reading in private area like Crow's Nest, or lounges. What bugs me is at high noon, on a sea day, on the Lido deck, one person taking up a whole table reading, when there are hundreds of people looking for a place to sit to eat their lunch. Before or after dining hours, fine, but during peak dining hours, find someplace else to read and leave the tables available to people who want to sit and relax for 20 minutes while they eat. It's kind of like a person who goes into a restaurant, orders a coke, and sits for hours freeloading off of the free internet. Have a little courtesy for people who want to sit and actually spend some money eating.

  14. I wish someone would settle this issue of Flight Ease on the HAL website. Once you have booked and deposited a cruise with HAL, you get a booking number. On their website, you login with your username and password, click on "My Reservations" and they show how many days until your cruise, and there are 3 options.

    PURCHASE, meaning shore excursions, dining, wine packages, etc.

    VIEW MY ITINERARY, which shows any pre-booked shore excursions, dining, etc. If you have a flight pre-booked with HAL, it also shows up. Same for any pre/post cruise hotels booked through HAL.

    CHECK-IN ONLINE which is where you fill out your personal info, passport, credit card, contacts, etc.


    Will somebody PLEASE do an actual screen capture (hit prt sc) and paste that into a post showing where Flight Ease is accessed on HAL's website. Not phone, not PCC, not TA, not anybody else's website, on the HAL website. At the top of your screen, it should say https://www.hollandamerica.com/myAccount in the URL area.

  15. It's like making a reservation at a nice restaurant, and just not showing up. Sure, somebody else might luck out and get a table when the place is fully booked, or maybe not. The restaurant gets stuck with an empty table and lost revenue. Same with airlines. If you throw-away the return or a round trip, and you only fly that airline once or rarely, you will not suffer any consequences. But it's a carrier you use for business trips, you may get some problem if you use them again.

    Cruise lines can purchase bulk fares for passengers at extremely low rates due to their volume. This is for one-way and open -jaw tickets, mostly international. Domestic one-ways are easy to book yourself and not too much different than the cruise line fares.

  16. If you pre-purchase any amount of OBC, it's yours to use any way you want, including casino. If you want chips for the tables, you can go to the cage and purchase against your OBC. There will be no 3%, if you have OBC. For the slots, just use your key card and top up the machine. If you want to purchase OBC, don't use the website. I think the highest amount you can purchase in one transaction is $100. When we want to pre-fill our OBC prior to a cruise, we call Ship's Services, and they will sell you whatever amount you want in a single transaction.

  17. You can order Black Russians and White Russians, and they count as one drink. You can order a Long Island Ice Tea (which has 5 types of liquor in it) and it still counts as one drink. You can order a Wang-Wang, which has just about anything the bartender can find in it, and it's still ONE drink. Unless you want a double Wang-Wang, in which case you will need to be carried back to your cabin, at no extra charge.

  18. I know folks who have done the "throw-away" of the return flight. The airlines hate this. They have stripped passengers of their FF miles for doing this. We have found for one-way international flights, HAL can do much better than even the round trip throw-away. One-way domestic US flights are not so bad. We just got one-way from Tampa to Venice for $399 coach and $789 British Airways World Traveler Plus service, which gets you a 20" wide seat, 38" of pitch, a meal and free drinks for the Atlantic crossing. Ask HAL to quote you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  19. HAL will allow this, with loads of prior approval, as long as they can arrange for Spanish immigration and customs to accept you as a tourist for more than the usual 8 hour port call. They may impose a fee for this special service. Make sure you have everything in writing.

  20. You make a great point.


    Disregarding gratuities, a Maker's rocks, my preferred drink, is $7.95. With a $44.95 pre-pay package price, that's 5 1/2 drinks for the breakeven. Very doable. That leaves 9 other drinks, from evening Bailey's and coffee, to morning mimosas, to bottles of water. Or more Maker's! Does that sound right? OTOH, I'm not sure I want to put my liver through all that, for 7 days. :confused: Committing to buying the package also depends on whether we do any part- or all-day shore excursions, which depends on the expected weather. Such a dilemma.


    I'm guessing the beverage card is a separate card, since it is ideal for children? Does it also require that I pre-purchase the full 7 days?


    You are correct. With the new, $9 limit on drinks (on some ships, not fleet wide yet) the break even point is now down to 5-1/2 drinks. With specialty coffees in the morning, a few beers at lunch, pre-dinner cocktails, after-dinner drinks, and a few ginger-ales or bottles of water to take back to the cabin, you are still under the 15 drink limit. Unless you like doubles, Then, it is possible to run over the 15 limit, and HAL's bartenders will not say a word to you. They will keep pouring until you say "when". They just add the over 15 limit onto your room tab at regular drink prices. We usually take long cruises, 21 days or more, with lots of sea days (trans-Atlantic, Trans-pacific), and that's when the beverage package really pays for itself. If you have one of these 7-day "If it's Tuesday this must be Martinique" cruises, with all port days, it might not be a good deal for the SBP. You have to judge for yourself.

    For your kids, you would either have to purchase a beverage card ($25 for $50 of sodas) or just pay the menu price. You cannot put their sodas on your adult beverage package account. With the SBP or EBP, you don't get a separate card, it's just coded into your room key. The beverage cards for your kids are separate cards, just like a gift card.

  21. HAL bartenders will keep on pouring as long as you can fumble your room key out of your pocket. I know a guy who had the SBP and figured he was all set. He ordered doubles of tequila, plus morning coffees and bottles of water. He went over the 15 drink limit a few times because doubles are happily served, but charged as 2 drinks. HAL will not say anything, they just add the extra drinks to your bill as a normal $7.95 + 15% drink, or in the case of doubles, $15.90 + 15%. I think if you wait until past midnight, that resets the 15 drink limit. As the old saying goes, "if you can reach the bar, they will happily take your money". I hear that recently, the SBP limits are $9, not $8. So far, they haven't raised the average drink prices to match.

  22. It depends on when and where the ship leaves' date=' .��[/quote']


    Not always true. We live on the west coast of Florida. When we cruise out of Port Everglades, (Fort Lauderdale), we usually rent a car, drive to the port, and drop off the car. Much cheaper than the parking fee for a long cruise. Multiple times, we have been delayed on the 75 freeway or even US 41 trying to cross the state and had to turn back. It's only a 3 hour drive, but when there's brush fires or serious accidents that close those roads, there is no easy way to go. So, even if we are driving to the port, we leave a day early. A night in a FLL hotel is hundreds of $$$ cheaper than a one-way flight for 2 people to St. Thomas or some other island. You are spending thousands on your cruise, so take an extra day vacation and spend $100 in a hotel for the night.

  23. 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.

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