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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We will always try to book an aft cabin on any of the Vista class ships. We were in 4174 on the Oosterdam and it was perfect. Great views, very quiet, no noise from above, you are at the absolute back of the ship, so when you look over your balcony railing you aren't looking down on other balconies or passengers, you only see water and prop-wash. The only time we felt any vibration was during docking and un-docking, where the azipods were being turned to maneuver near the dock.

    We have a 25 day Med/TA on the Westerdam and we will be in 5188. We have never seen any soot from the stacks, but we have had some cigarette butts land on our balcony from inconsiderate passengers on decks above us. They seem to forget that you're not supposed to throw your butts overboard. Hopefully that has stopped since the balcony smoking ban kicked in.


    You will definitely love the views of the canal lock operations from your aft balcony.

  2. I don't know is anyone has seen the latest "improvements" on the Carnival fleet. I mention this here on the HAL board in the hope that the bean counters at Carnival corporate don't implement this on HAL ships.


    When you arrive in your cabin on embarkation day, you are given a card to select if you want morning, evening, or both cabin services. You can select to have your cabin cleaned in the morning, or at night when you go to dinner, or both. You can clearly see what's happening here. Carnival will monitor this process for a half year, and then discharge a good number of cabin stewards, and load additional cabins on the already overworked staff. Then, the BOTH option on the card will quietly disappear.


    Another one.... Carnival is now implementing "American Table" on some of their ships. With that, you get NO tablecloth in the MDR. They dump a basket of rolls and a huge pitcher of water on the table, plus a stack of silverware and napkins. So, you are now eating on a bare table, that was just wiped down with a rag that wiped many other tables and chairs earlier. Your silverware sits on that bare table, your water or ice tea glass condenses puddles of water all over that bare table, and on rough days, plates start sliding on the wet, bare table. You don't have an option on this "improvement". If your ship has implemented "American Table" you are stuck with it, except on their "Elegant Nights", where they break out a tablecloth. This is another way to reduce the number of MDR wait staff and save on laundry costs, especially in Open Seating dining, where a single table may be cleaned and reused many times a night.


    What's next on Carnival ??? Do you get a choice of lunch or dinner, but not both ? Will they start charging your account if you request some cloth napkins to put your silverware on ? Maybe you'll get a paper napkin ? Will the silverware be replaced by plastic-ware ? Maybe paper cups instead of glasses, or paper plates ? Pretty soon we will see "Golden Arches" outside of the MDR.


    The worst part of all of these cuts is that the Carnival cheerleaders say "Wow, this is great" !! "I didn't like to have to leave my cabin for that early cleaning." Or "Who needs a towel animal anyway" at the late partial cleaning and bed turndown ? Other comments like "most restaurants I eat at on land don't use tablecloths, so it's fine with me". Or, "tablecloths and tank-tops and jeans don't go together". It's like that movie Animal House where Kevin Bacon was being wacked on the ass by his fraternity and saying "Thank you sir, may I have another". Carnival slowly keeps taking away all of the unique things that make cruising special and unique from our normal day-to-day lives, and the passengers say "Wow, that's great, take more stuff away". Let's hope that HAL stays insulated from the Carnival morons who devise these cost cutting measures.

  3. When we switched from Inside to a Verandah we had the option to drop our Explore 4 promo and switch to the Views & Verandah promo for about $70 less plus $100 OBC and opted to keep the Explore 4. Calculated the break even on drinks would be about 6 (out of 15) per day. On vacation with someone else "driving" we can hit that pretty easy. Bloody Mary with breakfast, beer at lunch and a beer in afternoon and we're half way there before dinner. :cool:


    sequim88, you nailed it perfectly. The break-even point when you are drinking free is just under 6 per day. Many people think they have to drink 15 beverages a day to make the package pay for itself. Not true. 6 drinks a day is easy to do, especially on sea-days when you want to wash down that Dive-In burger with a few Grolsch beers. And maybe a Bloody Mary for late breakfast, and a few cocktails before dinner (doubles are allowed, it just counts as 2 of your 15 for the day) and a glass of wine with dinner, and a few drinks in the casino or showroom. Plus a bottle of water to take back to your cabin. We have found that we easily break even or better on the regular package. We have never seen it necessary to go for the Elite Beverage Package, ($15 max drink limit vs. $8 on the regular package for a $10 per day extra cost). And, as you say, the captain's driving, you're on vacation, so enjoy yourself and not sweat the final bill at disembarkation day. Nothing like ruining your cruise by seeing that final bill and saying "Holy KaKa, did we drink all of that" ??

  4. Hello Baddabing. Was te package price you found for the 22 day elite signature beverage package or for a different cruise


    Hey Hunch, The regular signature beverage package (SBP) is $44.95 per day purchased ahead of the cruise on the website. It costs $49.95 a day if you wait to buy it onboard. (I guess they don't want you using OBC for the package). The Elite Beverage package is $54.95 per day, and it appears to be the same price, purchased online or onboard. Naturally, all prices are plus the 15% service charge. They charge you those rates times the number of days of your cruise. Everyone in your cabin over 21 must purchase it, unless you can show a medical document that you can't drink alcohol. I don't think a chip from a recent Bill W. meeting will hack it..

  5. If all you are looking to do is charge the iPad, then it might be very easy. I was just recently on the Oosterdam, post dry-dock, and there were USB charging jacks at the desk and near the light switches behind your bed. (in a veranda cabin). You would need a standard USB to mini cable to use it, but they were active.

    And the new TV's are fed by an ethernet-type cable, so it is interactive. If you are watching a movie and you have to head to dinner, you just hit STOP. When you return to the movie, the TV will ask you if you want to resume where you left off or start at the beginning.

  6. The new TV's on the ships that have been through a recent dry-dock, are mounted extremely close to the wall, and you would have a hell of a time trying to get a USB or HDMI cable plugged into it without partially removing the TV from the wall. And yes, the remotes have no capability to change input sources, even if there was external inputs available. If you really want to try this, bring a long cable, a universal remote, and some tools. Then hope that your room steward doesn't notice the strange cable hanging down from the back of the TV.

  7. A good way to check your speed that you have, either at home or on a ship, is to log into speedtest.net. It's a site by Ookla that is used worldwide to do an independent test of your internet service provider (ISP). When you run the test, it gives you 3 numbers. The first, the Ping rate, is a response time, it tells you how fast the system will allow a response from any sites you access. This is a critical number for any interactive sites, like games or Skype. The number should fall well below 100, ideally under 30. If you have a Ping rate over 100-or 150, you will experience sluggishness in site response. The next number is the download speed, and that depends on what plan you are paying for. When an ISP advertises a 50 mb/s internet speed, they are referring to your download speed. The upload speed is usually far under the download speed, usually in the area of 1 or 2 mb/s. A very slow speed here, (under 1 mb/s) will affect your Skype or Skype video calls, because Skype is a 2-way service. It will also affect you if you like to upload lots of pictures of your cruise. Anyone on a HAL ship should run this test once and report what they see.

  8. I think ships have to be careful with unlimited and cheap internet. When the 2 Carnival ships recently had engine propulsion problems that caused them to severely cut short the cruise and miss a bunch of ports, Carnival tried to appease the passengers by, among other things, giving free, unlimited internet. Everyone jumped on the internet and it quickly ground to a halt. There were so many passengers connected that the system was overloaded and unusable. I think that due to the limitations of satellite delivered internet, the cruise lines price it high enough so they don't get totally swamped by overuse. That satellite internet connection is not just for passengers, marine operations uses it, as well as all departments on the ship.

  9. I'm on the Westerdam right now and have signed up for the unlimited Premiere Plan. It is very good speed and reliable.


    Here is a picture of the offering for the 19 day cruise we're on.





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


    Thanks Shrimpboat, that's exactly what I needed.


    I remember the days when a cruise ship was in port, anywhere, even in FLL or MIA, the coast guard and the ships own lifeboats were used to patrol the exposed side of the vessel. This was a reaction to the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, in 2000. No other vessels, even rowboats and jet skis could come within a specified distance. I guess restrictions have been loosened since then. But a jet ski could easily carry a few kilos of C4 and would put a nice sized hole in a cruise ship.

  11. I've done some searches on CC for answers to this question, but the latest info I could find is mid-2015.

    What are the details on the Westerdam internet service. I understand that you can buy it by the minute, or in blocks of 100 minutes, 250 minutes, 500 minutes, and higher levels. Do they have an unlimited rate ? I saw $299 for unlimited back in 2015, but they didn't mention the length of the cruise. I would assume that unlimited would be sold like the unlimited laundry at a certain rate per day. I also heard that on some HAL ships they have 3 levels of service, based on bandwidth offered.


    Does anyone have some current info. The Westy goes into dry-dock in Palermo in April, and we sail for 25 days on her in October.

  12. I sure hope that the Amsterdam never converts the piano bar into the new Billboard-Onboard. If they do that would be the end of the wonderful talents of Debby Bacon that we have experienced many times. I think that Billboard Entertainment does the talent booking and Debbie is most likely not on their list of dueling piano artists. She doesn't need any help from a 2nd singer/musician.

  13. We were recently on the Oosterdam and we had no problems writing in items on the breakfast menu door hanger. Actually, we had more write-in items than were printed on the door card. Pancakes, bacon strips, sausage links or patties, chocolate milk, oatmeal (with brown sugar),eggs any style. We never had anything that was written in, refused. Try it, they can only say "no". We also provide a cash gratuity to the person who brings the tray in the morning. He definitely deserves it, for having to look at me in my shorts when delivering the tray. :D

  14. We prepaid online for a dinner for 4 in the PG last Novmeber. We are 4-star Mariners. The PG matre'd had our pre-payment, and we had our dinner. We waited a few days to see the discount applied to our onboard account, but it never happened. We approached the matre'd of the PG and he said "the 50% mariner discount applies only if you book onboard". We disputed that with the front desk, and they originally said that the PG matre'd was wrong and we would see the 50% credit applied to the credit card we used to book the dinner reservation. We didn't agree with that either. The front desk sent a message to Seattle, and they told them to immediately credit our onboard account for the 50% discount. Seattle said that in the future (who knows when) when you book any specialty dining on the website, they will immediately apply the mariner discount to the purchase. It appears that it is a royal pain to keep track if you actually had your meal, and to order the credits. So they will do it automatically when you book it. Who knows when this will actually be implemented on the website ?

  15. We booked a future cruise while onboard the Oosterdam last December. Just a $100 P/P deposit for a 21 day cruise in Sept 2017. The 2 of us got a $800 cabin credit for booking onboard. We did book a VB grade veranda. After getting back home, we found a better cruise for October, 2017, a 25 day Med/Trans-Atlantic from Venice. We asked our TA to switch us, and the deposit was transferred, and the $800 in OBC was also applied to the new cruise. It worked out perfectly. We will do the same when we get onboard this October.

    One point, if you simply make a deposit, but not on any particular cruise, you don't get all of the OBC. You have to book a specific cruise, and your cabin credits are based on cruise length and grade of cabin. If you book a specific cruise, and change your mind later to a different one, then, you may lose some of that OBC if your cabin is different or the cruise is shorter. Conversely, you could gain more OBC if you upgrade to a suite or a longer cruise than originally books. And there is a time limit to make these changes.

  16. Why would anyone give Carnival the excuse to load more cabins onto the already overworked cabin stewards ? By selecting AM or PM, Carnival will develop a pattern over a few months, and that will be the basis of adding a lot more cabins to the steward's load. Your cruise fare and mandatory gratuities pay for a morning cleaning and an another service while you are at dinner. If you want to sleep in or just hang around in the cabin in the morning, just put the "privacy" tag on your door. The major cleanings happen in the morning, but the evening cleaning does just about everything the morning one does, except possibly vacuuming. The towels you used are changed, your ice is refilled twice a day, your bed is made in the morning and then remade and turned down in the evening. I can't imagine why anyone would select anything other than BOTH.

  17. No DVD in room player? DARN! I was hoping to bring a movie series (aka Marathon) in case I couldn't stand the available on demand or library offerings. We are on the Westerdam which is scheduled for dry dock in a month.


    All ships in the fleet have been going through upgrades. The new flat screen TV's are now mounted on the wall near the foot of your bed (in veranda cabins) and they are mounted very firmly, so I was unable to see if there were any USB or other input jacks available. But even if there was, the remote control is unique to their system and it doesn't allow any switching of input sources. So, even trying to use a laptop to play DVD;s into the TV will not work.



    The movie selection is very good, all types and genres. Most (but not all) movies that are shown in the theater will be on the "New Movies" tab of the on-screen menus the next day. Once there, they remain for the entire length of your cruise.

  18. We were on the Oosterdam in November & December for 21 days. After the 2016 drydock, they have eliminated the in-cabin DVD players and the DVD loaner system at the front desk. They now have a totally digital system where everything is an on-demand basis, except for the live TV channels. They have a very extensive collection of all types of movies, some TV series, and some PBS series. Most movies that they advertise in the daily program which will be shown in the theater will be on the in-cabin TV movie list the next day. There are exception to this, and the Front Desk's reasoning is that some of the theater movies are supplied on DVD's and the AV staff cannot upload a DVD into the video server that has all of the in-cabin TV movies. In addition to the recorded stuff, they have some live channels, depending on the quality of satellite reception. The have the usual cable news channels, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News, BBC World Service, ESPN and ESPN-2 and others. Note that they do not have any of the US major TV broadcast networks anymore (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, NBC). They also have bow and stern cameras, and a ship position channel and weather channel for your present position and future port forecasts.

    We found the on-demand movies are a big improvement over the DVD lending library. However, over a 21 day cruise, they did not make many changes to the movies offered, except the addition of the theater movies the day after they were shown..

  19. You can't use a propulsion system "over 100% capacity". And the systems are designed to operate at 100% capacity 100% of the time. For those ships with shafted propulsion systems (non-pods), each propulsion motor typically has two sets of windings in them, each providing half the power the motor is rated at. These two windings are fed by two separate systems, so in effect you have 4 propulsion systems. Each can operate independently of any other. So, the ship may, in fact, be operating on 3 out of 4 systems, which would still not give full speed, but gives multiple redundancy.


    All the technical kaka aside, I don't think very highly of a cruise line continuing to run a ship with a partially defective propulsion system and asking the paying public to just "suck it up" and deal with the total change in itineraries, and by the way, here's $25 bucks to appease you. That redundancy you mention is designed to prevent total disasters where a ship is stranded at sea and needs to limp home at 5 knots, or worse, be towed home. You don't blow off a 25% reduction (your estimate) in propulsion power just to avoid cancelling cruises and losing money. This is playing a craps game with your guest's comfort, enjoyment and possible safety.

  20. Paradise has external twin ABB Azipods, the Splendor has internal twin-shaft Converteam electric drive motors. If one of the 2 propulsion units is defective to a level that the ship cannot make it's rated nominal cruise speed, then it should be taken out of service for repairs. There is a possibility that Carnival is using the 2nd, fully functioning propulsion unit to a higher level to compensate for the defective one. Dumb question..... what happens if you are hundreds of miles from shore and the 2nd, fully functioning drive system develops problems ? Yes, they do have multiple power generating systems on board, but if the propulsion problem is one of the 2 actual drive systems, then there is a possibility of a much more serious problem than just slow speed. It appears that Carnival cannot get service on the failed system until June, or..... and much worse, they want to try to hope that the remaining systems will continue to function at over 100% capacity until June so as to not lose any revenue. Would you fly in a twin-engine jet if the right engine wouldn't make full power ?

  21. I don't know if anyone has seen a news article today saying that the EU has voted to drop the visa-waiver program for US and Canadian visitors to EU countries. This is a reciprocal agreement between the US, Canada and the EU. US and Canadian citizens can visit the EU countries without a visa, and EU citizens can visit the US and Canada without a visa. Five countries that have joined the EU, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania are not yet allowed to visit the US and Canada visa-free. This was supposed to be approved 2 years ago. However the news article says that the EU Parliament must vote to approve this action, which they feel is unlikely. Requiring US and Canadian tourists to have to obtain a Visa for entering the EU would be financial suicide for the tourism industry, and for a continent already suffering from reduced tourism due to terrorist attacks in the past. See news article at this link.


  22. In the past few years, Explore-4 has been bundled with selected cruises starting in July. If HAL continues past practice, they will add it to cruises for late 2017, and 2018. The promotion lasts usually until mid-November, when the promotion ends. At that point, the cruises it was bundled with will usually drop in price. The Explore-4 promotion has one major feature, the inclusion if the signature beverage package. They also give you a dinner in Canaletto and Pinnacle Grill, valued and $15 and $35 respectively. Another benefit is a reduced deposit.

    You have to judge if the additional cruise base price, due to the addition of Explore-4, is worth it to you. You can request a cabin price with Explore-4 and without. Purchasing the Signature Beverage Package outright, would cost you about $51 per day for every day of your cruise. The break-even point is about 6 alcoholic beverages per day, based on a $7.95 drink price and a 15% service charge. If you think that you may consume 6 drinks, or an equivalent amount of wine, beer, soda, specialty coffees, and bottled water, then the package is a good deal for you. If not, then ask HAL, your PCC, or your TA for a cabin price without the Explore-4 promotion.

  23. We departed the Oosterdam in Tampa at the last call, and there were still long lines for immigration and customs. However, there were 4 of us and a lot of luggage, so we flagged down a porter. He came with his hand-truck, piled on our luggage and told us "follow me". He took us to a very short line labeled as "Porters Only". There were about 3 families in front of us and we got through in minutes. It makes perfect sense. No porter wants to pickup your piles of luggage and then wait in line with you for an hour or more to clear immigration. He wouldn't make any money. So, the ports have a system in place to expedite small groups who choose to use a porter, so they can get you and your luggage out to your ground transportation as fast as possible, and the porter can come back in for the next group. We tipped him $20 for our 8 large pieces of luggage. I would assume that Ft. Lauderdale has a similar system. Definitely worth $5 for each of us to not wait in a hour-plus long line.

  24. Another advantage we really enjoy with a fixed table and time in the MDR is that your waiter and assistant get to know your likes and dislikes, your beverages, your favorite type of dinner roll, if you like extra helpings of certain entrees, etc. This is a nice thing to experience, especially on a longer cruise. In open seating at the busiest times, you usually get a different wait staff each night.

  25. For alcoholic beverages, (beer, wine, mixed cocktails), your break-even point is 6 drinks per day. After that, you are drinking free. Specialty coffees, and some beers are lower than the $8 limit. Most folks don't approach the 15 beverage limit, but a lot if people think that you have to drink 15 drinks (alcohol, coffees, sodas, water) to make the plan pay for itself. That is not true. At $44.95 per day, plus 15% service charge, you are paying $51.70 per day for the package. A typical $7.95 cocktail, plus 15% SC and you have a drink that would cost you $9.14 if you didn't have the beverage package. If you are paying $51.70 per day divided by $9.14, and you get just under 6 drinks before you break even. You will have to calculate in the lower costs of soda, specialty coffees, and bottles of water, but you don't have to concern yourself about a shocking bar-bill on disembarkation day. You can order doubles of any drink, it just counts as 2 of your 15.


    The beverage package does not cover anything you grab from your in-room mini-bar, room service drinks, HMC beverages, and bottles of water as you head off of the ship for an excursion. A tip there.... stop at any bar on your way back to your cabin the night before an excursion, and use your beverage package to buy 2 or more bottles of water (1 liter or 2 liter) and pop them into your fridge for the night.

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