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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We have had the same experience. At booking, we request late seating, fixed dining (usually 8:00pm), and that does show up on our booking record from the TA.

    If you don't make that request when booking the cruise, they usually assign you "As You Wish Dining" which is commonly called AnyTime Dining. If you are early enough, you can request early or late fixed dining and specify a table size (2,4,6,8). Closer to the departure date, the fixed dining availability get booked up and they will wait-list you.

  2. My itinerary for this cruise shows its completion at the Ft Lauderdale cruise port as 7:00 AM. Any other TA's voyagers out there who could venture an educated, or experienced, guess as what might be a "safe" time to book a flight out from the airport?


    Another consideration is which airport you will be departing from. There is Fort Lauderdale (FLL) which is only 4 miles, 6 km from the cruise port. And Miami International (MIA), which is 33 miles, 53 km, south of the cruise port. And that is using the 95 freeway, which is sometimes like a long parking lot. Depending on a weekday or weekend arrival into Port Everglades, the Miami morning traffic will really lengthen your time from the cruise port to MIA.

  3. We usually email the ship's coordinator 4 choices, and we've always gotten one of them.


    Thanks for all of the advise. You said that you e-mail the ship's dining room coordinator your 4 choices. Do you do that directly, or do you go through your TA ? If you do it directly, where do I get the e-mail address ?

    The ship is the Oosterdam.


    Also, how far out from embarkation day do you make the request ? We are still 200 days out. I assume that may be too far away for them to take my request seriously.



  4. Actually you can request your TA to contact the Ship Dining Room co-ordinator and request a specific table. I have done this in the past. I usually give a couple of options. I have been successful at getting the table I wanted. It doesn't hurt to ask.


    Thanks for the advice. On halfacts.com, you can get PDF's of the various ship's MDR's. I will pick out a range of decent tables and send to my TA. Hey... why not, all they can say if no !!


    We also have been lucky requesting a different table than assigned on our plastic ID card. The matre'd usually comes through. But we always tell him the evening before if we will be absent the next night due to Pinnacle or Canaletto reservations. They appreciate the notice.

  5. We always like fixed seating dining, because we usually travel with family members. We have requested from our TA fixed, late seating dining on the Oosterdam for a 21 day cruise, and have received that, but no specific table number.

    Looking at the MDR dining room PDF, I can select plenty of 4-tops that would be ideal. Would this be something for the TA or should I contact Ships Services. Is it possible to get a particular table assignment well in advance of departure ? Or is this strictly up to the ship's matre'd ?

  6. We put the CPAP into it's case and hand-carried that. We also took a 15 ft extension cord, but packed that in the luggage. We flew from the US to eastern Europe. No problems, and we did remove the cord each morning that ran from the desk over to the bed.

    We also carried a plug adapter (European round prong to US flat blades) and used the 220 volt desk outlet. We had camera and laptop chargers plugged into the 110 volt outlet. Most, if not all, CPAP machines will work from 100 volts up to 240 volts.

    We also contacted Ship's Services about 2 weeks out and requested two, 4 liter jugs of distilled water. They were $4 each and were waiting in our cabin on arrival. Our cruise was 31 days, and we used all but one liter of the water.

  7. Hi everyone!


    We are about to become first time cruisers on Holland America on May 4th. We bought the cruise during the Explore 4 promotion and got the SBP. I have read everything about the program.


    The only question I have is.....does this Explore 4 promo/SBP show anywhere on our cruise documents or on out sign in? I have seen nothing in my reservation (but I am not very familiar with the website).


    I am in the process of finalizing our documents and I do not see any reference to our purchase. Is there something I should be looking for in our documents?


    I also noticed that my reservation will still allow me to buy the SBP in gifts and indulgences. This has me wondering if I don't have the package anymore.


    Help! :confused::confused:




    If you're new to the Signature Beverage Package (SBP), you can purchase it for your entire cruise at $44.95 per person/per day plus 15% service. Or, you get it free as part of the Explore-4 promotion. When it is part of the E-4, you don't pay the 15% service, it is included in the promotion.

    You get 15 drinks per day of any type. You can have Bloody Mary's for breakfast and Zombies for a night cap if you wish. They can be all alcoholic or a mix of drinks, wine, bottles of water, soda in cans, beers, specialty coffees, etc. The per/drink price limit is $8.00. That is the drink price, and since the service is already paid, the drink can cost $8 and it's included in the package. There are rules about a time limit of 5 minutes between drinks, no sharing. However, the rules, like most everything on HAL, differs depending on the ship. I was able to order doubles of my drinks and they simply charged me for 2 drinks, but it never hit the final bill. The only problem with the SBP on HAL is the limit of $8.00 as it applies to wines by the glass. The selection of wines available for $8 or less is limited. There are other sites where you can view the total bar menu and see the prices. You cannot get wines by the bottle with the SBP.

    Some CC members say that they would never exceed 15 drinks per day. That is probably true, but with the present drink prices, the package pays for itself after 6 or 7 drinks. The rest is savings. If you like a specialty coffee in the morning, a few beers or drinks at lunch, drinks before dinner, some wine with dinner, and a drink or two in the casino or showroom after dinner, and a bottle of water to take back to your cabin, you are already up to 7 or 8 beverages.


    The nicest thing is not having to deal with all the little drink receipts each day, and that big shock when you get the final bill on the last evening. How much did I drink ?????

  8. It's just a pre tip isn't it?



    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk


    I usually tip the wine steward and the Matre'd at the end of my cruise. I see no problem giving the matre'd his gratuity at the beginning of the cruise. He knows that I'm not going to stiff him like may people do, and he is always looking out to make sure my table (fixed, late seating) is ready with dinner rolls, and my favorite beverage.

  9. It's very easy to move from fixed dining to As you Wish Dining, but moving from As You Wish to fixed can be difficult depending on the demand and how far out is your sailing date.

    In your case, just 30 days out, you should call Ship's Services and request early or late fixed seating, table for x. If they say you will be waitlisted, one trick I have used, which usually works, is to visit the Matre'd right after boarding. Greet him with a firm handshake and a palmed $50 bill. That will usually get you the table you want.

  10. I'm aware that the Le Cirque dinner is $49 pp. How much extra is it when you select the wine pairings ? I don't see that option when you try to reserve it online. Also, does the 25% discount for a 3-star mariner apply to just the dinner, or both the dinner with the wine parings ?



  11. Thanks Dennis. We will be on the Oosterdam on Nov 25 for 21 days. We have been on 3 of the Vista class ships before and we really enjoyed the Piano Bar :cool: and the hosts. We were just on the Zuiderdam from Oct 14 to Nov 9, Med & TA. That ship had the extra Veranda cabins on deck 10 and the Cabanas. But nothing was done to the Piano Bar on deck 2. It still was a separate room isolated from the casino and the Sports Bar.

    To clarify, is the old Piano Bar now called the Billboard Onboard ? And does it have twin pianos? If that is the case, how does it work with the noise of the casino? Is there still a "Piano Man" (or lady) onboard ? In some of the pictures I saw, there appears to be around 20-24 chairs around the twin pianos. Is that true ?


    I would appreciate any descriptions/pictures you could provide. Thanks.:)

  12. Here are some pics. 50e0d9e2616a68ce81e140d922c164e4.jpg



    Question:: Is the above pix (blue with Piano) the new piano bar on the Oosterdam ? If it is, it appears to be a huge improvement. The Piano Bar on the Zuiderdam had about 9 very uncomfortable, unmovable bar stools, surrounding the piano, with no foot rest, except on the chair. This pix appears to be about 20 chairs, much more comfortable, and they can move to accommodate how a person likes to sit.

    Love your posts, we will be on the O-Dam in November for 21 days.

  13. We moved up from 2-star to 3-star in the middle of a 26 day Med/TA cruise on the Zuiderdam last October. We went way over the 100 day level, 7 days into the cruise, without the on-board spending credits. we got nothing while on-board, and, 5 months later, we haven't received anything from HAL's Mariner Society. Not even the magazine. I guess it's time for a phone call.

  14. We were "upgraded" from a VD cabin on a Vista class ship to a VA cabin. When we looked at the deck views and pictures from various websites, we could tell that yes, looking straight out from your balcony, you see nothing but ocean. But if you want to see the sail-away band on the pier, or the school of dolphins passing your ship, all you see is the bright orange tops of the lifeboats. You can't look down. We stayed with our VD cabin which had a beautiful ocean view, both outward and downward. We considered the VA midships deck 4 & 5 cabins as partially obstructed views. HAL did not agree.

  15. We have VB-4174 on the Oosterdam for 21 days. First time in a stern cabin. By the picture above, it appears that on the deck 4 stern cabins, you only look out and down onto the prop wash, which we consider a real treat. Stern cabins on deck 5 & 6 appear to look down on the balconies on the decks below. Has anyone had a deck 4 stern cabin ? Obviously the balcony is deeper, how about the actual cabin ?


    I'm assuming the only drawback would be the long hike every morning to get the wife's cappuccino in the observation lounge, which is all the way forward on deck 10.

  16. Usually, the airline you depart the US on, will check your passport for the usual 6 month validity. If the country you are traveling to requires a 6 month pad, then your airline will deny boarding. The reason is that if you are denied entry into your destination country, the airline that erroneously boarded you, is responsible to fly you back to your home country at their expense. They don't want to get stuck with that expense, so they deny you boarding at your first point of travel. The same holds true for one-way tickets and pet documentation. Most countries want to be sure they won't be stuck with you if you run out of money for whatever reason, so they require a return or continuing ticket. Same for pets. If you don't have a microchip in Fido, or the proper health documents, the airline will not board you. If they do, and your pet is denied entry into your destination country, the airline must fly you and your pet back home at their expense.

  17. I assume it is $6.95. That is $8 including the 15% service charge.


    No, the maximum drink price is $8. The 15% service charge is paid when you buy the package. If you get SBP through the Explore-4 promotion, there is no 15% service charge.


    You can buy any drink up to $8, menu price, and it will be included in your package. And, many times on a 26 day cruise, I ordered doubles. No problem, they rang it up as 2 drinks @ $7.50 each. We never saw any drink charges on our final bill.

  18. Thanks.


    So, I'm guessing that a Grey Goose and Sprite would probably exceed the $8 as well...


    That's a potentially good package for people who drink moderately (or more) and are not concerned with what's on the label, to some extent.




    Out of the 15 brands of Vodka on the HAL drinks list (halfacts.com), only 2 are not included in the SBP, Chopin & Belvedere. All Beers are included, including the premium Grolsch. All Rums, all Bourbons, all Canadian & Irish Whiskeys, 8 of the 15 Scotch and Single Malts, all Gins and all soft drinks. Only 2 of the Brandy's and Cognacs, and only 2 of the 7 Tequilas. They do not double charge you for Vodka and a mixer (Sprite), it's considered one drink. Same for Rum & Coke, or any other mixer. We had White Russians many times, (Grey Goose vodka, Kahlua, and cream), all for the standard $7.95 charge.


    We had the SBP on a 26 day Med/TA and ordered doubles of vodka with no problems, Baily's, B & B. We found the SBP to be more than adequate and the break-even point was between 6 & 7 drinks. After that, you are saving money. On a cruise with lots of sea days like a TA, it's very easy to exceed 7 drinks, when you consider that specialty coffees, a fair selection of wines, bottles of water, and all cocktails are included. Plus the pleasure of not getting that huge shock when your final statement arrives on last day. If you just want a bottle of wine with dinner and 2 drinks at some other time, then the SBP is not for you.


    Yes, the purchased drink cards are exactly that, just prepaid cards. No discounts or freebies. Depending on your Mariner status you can get discounts on some wine packages.

  19. We recently completed a 26 day Med/TA on the Zuiderdam to FLL. We really enjoyed the Grolsch beers in the pop-top bottles. Is that a standard beer on all HAL ships or did we luck out ? We are on a 21 day B2B on the Oosterdam this November.

  20. We had booked a VB grade deck 4 stern cabin, 21 days, on the Oosterdam a few weeks ago. Cost was $2279 pp plus tax and port charges. We got some extra cabin credits and dinners from our TA. This week, I saw the Anniversary Sale. I went into HAL's site and checked the prices. My same cabin grade (VB) now costs $2679 pp. So, for the extra $800 for 2 persons, we would get free hotel service charges and a $100 drink card for 2 people to share. The hotel service charges come to $525 for both passengers for the 21 days. The math says that with the Anniversary Sale, we would be spending $175 more money for the same grade cabin. Simple marketing, jack up the prices and offer all kinds of free stuff. No deal here, as far as veranda cabins go.

  21. We've done the math and have decided that we're better off paying as we go. The SBP is kind of like insurance - they don't sell it to lose money. We do tend to knock back a few, but I don't think we average more than $50/day each over the course of a cruise.


    That's what we thought. But each drink is $7.50 + 15% = $8.62 per drink. Beers are a bit cheaper and specialty coffee is around $4. Just a coffee in the morning, a couple of drinks at lunch, and drinks before, wine during and drinks after dinner, plus a bottle of water for bedtime in the cabin, you are way over $50. You save money over 6 or 7 drinks per day. It really adds up on cruises with lots of sea days. The SBP has saved us hundreds of $$$ on every cruise we take. And we are not hard core drinkers, at 68 & 69 years, we can't throw them back like we could 20 years ago. Of course, we choose cruises with lots of sea days. Short, 7 day cruises with only 1 or 2 sea days, would eliminate the lunch beers/drinks and save you some.

  22. I guess I'm thinking you could do that as long as the two legs of the B2B are separate bookings. Are they (separate reservations)?


    I think you're right. Our B2B is all one booking, with a single booking number. On HAL's website, under "indulgences", the SBP is offered, but only for the full 21 days. There is no option to split it up. You may be able to talk to someone at the front desk on boarding day and buy only the first leg. They would code your room key for the SBP to expire on the last day of the first leg. I don't know if that is possible. Either way, the SBP has proven to be well worth the expense on our past HAL cruises of all lengths.

  23. The beverage cards are simply a dollar for dollar way to purchase alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. You pay $100, you get $100 worth of drinks, and the 15% service charge is added to the drink cost and subtracted from your card total. It's an easy way to keep track of your drink purchases, and you can get a bottle of wine with it. It's just like cash.


    The Signature Beverage Package is a completely different animal. You get it either as part of the Explore-4 promotion, or you purchase it online, or on the the first day of your cruise. If it's not a freebie, then it costs $44.95 per day/per person plus 15% service charge. Both passengers in a cabin must purchase it (prevents sharing). Each person can get up to 15 drinks per day for the entire cruise. These drinks include specialty coffees, beers, wines (fair selection), cocktails, sodas and bottles of water. I've heard people say there's no way they could drink 15 a day. Believe me, it's very easy to come close. A couple of specialty coffees in the morning at Explorations, 2 or 3 beers with lunch, a pre-dinner cocktail, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, and an after dinner drink in the casino, show room, or bar, and a bottle of water taken back to the room. That's 10 drinks right there.

    We had the package on a 26 day trans-Atlantic last fall, and it was well worth it. The break-even point is around 7 drinks, after that, you're saving money. I had ordered doubles many times, and there was no problem. When you have the SBP, it is encoded onto your cabin card, there is no separate card.

    The only places it doesn't work is on HMC and the mini-bar in your cabin. But we ask the room steward to empty the fridge, and then we load it up with water and sodas that we get with the SBP.


    It may seem expensive (SBP), but it works for us, and there's no big shock at the last day when you get your final bill.

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