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TAD2005

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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. We book our own. Found that for the price we were quoted for coach we could get 1st class on the same flight. We saved on baggage fees and in air food. Hey 1st class is great!

     

    Most times when we need air travel for a cruise, it's always one-way. We have tried to get quotes ourselves on one-way, but the prices are outrageous. One way, coach from TPA to VCE ranged from $1100 to $1600. A round trip between the 2 cities was $795. Many people will book a round trip and throw away the return ticket, because they are saving a ton of money. Some airlines will strip your miles if you walk away from a return. But FF miles are mostly useless these days unless you are a million-miler. We have always found that the cruise line can get a cheaper ticket if you are only travelling one-way, internationally. Domestic round trips to Ft. Lauderdale and other US cruise ports are probably cheaper booked on your own.

     

    But however you book, NEVER book a flight to arrive the same day your cruise is scheduled to depart. With overbooking, cancellations, and ATC delays, you always need an extra day pad just in case Murphy's law kicks in. And if you do book your flight yourself, and you miss the ship, you are SOL, they won't wait for you. Try to get a one-way flight from FLL to St. Thomas. You will pay far more than the cost of 1 night in a hotel.

  2. I will note that at least on the eurodam the bartenders were extremely generous. They encouraged people to bend the rules. They would make doubles and just put it on as 2 drinks and it would be covered, we could by more than one drink at a time. I think by the end I was getting a ton of sunsicles with double the rum and they were all covered.

     

    We many times order doubles with the SBP and have never had any problems. They simply charge you for 2 of your 15 drinks for the day. So, just because you can order doubles, don't think the bartenders are doing you any favours. Now if you want to order 2 totally different drinks on the same account at the same time, you would probably have a problem. Doubles or even triples are allowed, as long at you are drinking it yourself, (not pouring half of it into a friend's empty glass)

  3. The upgrade cost $161 for the two of us on this 7 day cruise. Our normal wine allocation is 2 bottles per day, with a bottle of Champagne added to the mix on formal (gala) nights and often on the first night (to toast the start of our cruise) and the last night (because.) This wine allotment is for our whole party, not just my wife and I. .

     

    I am confused a bit by your comment above. It appears that you are saying that you upgraded the Explore-4 Signature Beverage Package to the Elite Package by paying an additional $161 for 2 people for a 7 day cruise. Then you said you are getting 2 bottles of wine per day and a bottle of Champagne on Gala nights. Does the Elite package allow the purchase of full bottles of wine ? I thought that both of the packages only allow wines by the glass. Did I read your post incorrectly ?

  4. Sometimes in open dining you can reserve a table in a section. You can sometimes do it for the cruise. The "even better" comment has me confused as well. It sounds like you have a situation that suits you well. On my recent cruise we were sent upstairs a couple times to the set dining when diners were not using their table. It was after 6 pm in both situations. One time the service was very rushed. He served main courses when some were still eating their salad. Another night we sat there for at least 45 minutes before he took our order and he was very passive aggressive with us. Both waiters seemed annoyed with the situation and I don't blame them to a point. After that I requested not to be seated upstairs again. The service in open was much better on that cruise and ranged from very good to excellent.

     

    The key word used twice in your comment was "sometimes". We don't want to go to dinner and hope that there's an acceptable table that we don't have to wait. And your experience of poor service when you were moved upstairs to fixed dining has never happened to us, because we know our wait staff and they know us. We have been cruising since 1977 and we have experienced everything to a 2-top near the kitchen door on Costa's Flavia to the Captain's table (remember when they still did that ?) on Cunard's Vistafjord. We have finally settled into a dining style that works best for us. To each his own, and whatever floats your boat (pun intended).

  5. You can get the same thing....even better....at open seating...if you go after 8pm. We always get a table for two, so we don't have to talk to anyone else...plus service is much less hectic. Yes...yes....you will have to go to the 10pm show....if that is important to you. A table for 2 works so much better than a table for 8 especially if one or two of the tablemates are tablemates from hell.

     

    How can you guarantee the same waiter in open seating ? We always get fixed dining, late (8 pm) seating, and we can sit and chat over glasses of wine as long as we want. We never get a table for 8. Why would we ? We reserve a table for the number in our group, usually 4, long before we board the ship. Service is never hectic in the late seating. We have had tablemates from hell in the distant past, and that exactly why we always choose late seating, fixed table assignment. I can't imagine how open seating, with a different table (for 2 or 4) every night, and a different wait staff would be "even better". If you want privacy and consistency at dinner in the MDR, the only way to go is fixed dining, late seating. And we often do go to the 10 pm show, we love it, or the BB-King show, or the piano bar.

  6. I recently purchased unlimited laundry for my upcoming Baltic cruise. The HAL rep told me that it was $7 per day everywhere but Europe, which is $9 per day, and the reason for the higher cost was that Europe has higher gray water standards than other places.

     

    I have always wondered why the unlimited laundry in Europe costs more than the rest of the world. But this lame excuse about gray water discharge takes the cake. Compared to the amount of sheets, pillow cases, and towels that are washed each and every day from 1200-1500 cabins, the amount of laundry for guests is minimal. Yes, they do take extra care for guest's clothing, but that level of care should happen world-wide. The extra amount of gray water caused by the guest's laundry probably amounts to 5% of the ship's total, but they charge a 22% increase for the daily rate and a 34% increase by the bag. My guess for the higher rates in Europe is similar to the airlines extra charges for everything. They do it because they can.

  7. I'm not a big beef eater so I usually get no steak and two lobster tails. Most if the wait staff is pretty accommodating. I generally do open dining so different wait staff nightly. You don't have to make them your bestie :p.

     

    We usually take 21 to 30 day cruises, so we enjoy the friendship and familiarity with our waiter over the long cruise with many sea days. We love to come into the dining room and my 2 glasses of ice tea are waiting for me. Also, the exact type of dinner roll I like is in the basket. When I order an entree, my waiter knows exactly how i want it, and if I want 2 of them. He knows my patterns, likes and dislikes, and it makes dinner so much more enjoyable. The last thing we want at dinner is a table of strangers every night, with the usual questions of "how may cruises have you been on, where do you live, what do you do, how may grandkids do you have", etc, etc. Some people want to meet lots of people on the ship. That's not our thing, to each his own.

  8. You really don't need a plug strip. Just a plain vanilla extension cord. The closest plug is usually at the desk, and there are multiple 110 volt US type plugs and 220 volt European round prong plugs. Get a cheap plug adapter (not a voltage converter) and you will be able to plug your CPAP machine, with extension cord, into any of the outlets. Just about all electronics these days are happy with any voltage from 100 to 230 volts.

  9. We always make sure we are in the MDR for the last Gala night so we don't miss the lobster tails. Make friends with your waiter, and you may be able to get 2 lobster tails. We always reserve a 2-top or 4-top in late seating so we get to really know the waiter and assistant. Pays off in the long run. And we take care of them ($$$) on the last night.

  10. Very easy.. Don't pay the ridiculous prices for mini-bar cans of soda. When you get onboard, go to any bar and buy 6 cans of ginger ale and put them into your fridge. If you need room take out the items that you don't want and put your stuff in. Or ask your cabin steward to clear your fridge. Keep doing that for the whole cruise. Why fight with a system that wants you to have 2 cans of coke, 2 cans of tonic, 2 cans of whatever ? Buy your own ginger ale at a bar, and if you have the beverage package, they cost you nothing.

  11. Some CC members ask the cabin steward to completely empty their mini-bar fridge upon boarding. That way the fridge is open and available for bottles of water or any sodas you bring back to the room. Plus, there is no hassles about mini-bar items being charged to your account days after you leave the ship. We have had that happen multiple times, and we have had to call HAL after we got home to dispute the charge. No problem getting it taken off, but it is a hassle you should not have to go through.

  12. Future Cruise Deposits offer reduced deposits and OBC on all cruises. Also, you normally receive and email from HAL soon after your cruise offering to double the OBC if you book within 60 days (promo code ZPM).

     

    The OBC varies based upon the category you book and the lenght of the cruise.

     

    We booked a 2017 21 day Panama Canal cruise while on board the Oosterdam in Dec 2016. We got $100 deposits, and double OBC, which was $800 for the 2 of us. After we got home, we transferred the cruise to our TA. Then,we found another cruise that would work better, 25 days Med/TA. Our TA switched us, we kept the double OBC of $800, got pre-paid HSC, and a Pinnacle Grill lunch & dinner. We are extremely happy with the onboard booking process, and you do get lots of benefits. Because we booked an actual cruise, not just a future cruise deposit, we can cancel anytime before final payment with full refund.

  13. I don't plan on cases of soda just a few bottles. I like my root beer. We have the beverage package. Just want a few in the room so I don't have to run to the bar all the time. Not planning on a lot of snacks either. That would be great if we can get to our room right always, we always had to wait to get to our room on other ships. Not sure what time we will get to port. I. So ready to get away just need to get though the rest of the school year.

     

    We usually cruise with the signature beverage package (SBP), either purchased, or through Explore-4. Sodas by the can are included, and they do have root beer on the ships we have been on. (no guarantees) We usually stop at a bar on the way back to the cabin at night and pickup a few 1 liter bottles of water and a few cans of ginger ale. We stuff them into the fridge and take the water on our next day shore excursion. The SBP covers just about anything you can drink, under the current menu price of $9.

  14. We are on the Noordam on May 21st. I have a few questions since we never sailed on Holland before.

    1. Is it still ok to bring pop on your carry on?

    2. Is it ok to bring small amounts of snacks on board in you carry on or checked in ? ( such as chips, beef jerky)

    3. What is the best time to go down to port to go through customs and get on board

    4 how soon does it take for to be able to get into your room and how soon does your luggage arrive?

     

    Thanks for any help.

     

    We usually get to the port about 11:00 am even though HAL recommends 1;00 pm. Also, you don't go through customs to get onboard, just a quick security check and scan of your carry-ons. Customs clearance happens after the cruise is over.

     

    HAL doesn't care if you bring food items onto the ship, but they have a big problem if you try to take food off. Most countries you visit, including the return to the US prohibit any food, fruits, plants, etc. We were allowed to bring in some spices back that we purchased in Turkey and Greece. I think HAL only cares about alcoholic beverages being brought onboard. Wine is OK, but beer and liquor is a no-no. Soda is OK, but who wants to lug around a couple of cases of soda ? You spent a couple thousand for the cruise, so buy a soda card and save yourself a lot of work.

     

    When you are allowed onboard, your cabin us usually ready. Your luggage will show up at your cabin door any time between boarding and departure. Usually before the muster drill, but not always.

  15. yes those pictures are beautiful but I think OP was wanting pictures of interior. We have been hoping for more pictures of interior as well. Based on the few I have seen the arrangement of the TV above couch takes away the better seating that I had hoped for by getting a suite.......looks like the only non-bed seating is a small straight back chair......disappointing after paying for the small suite rather than just getting a regular verandah room with small sofa facing TV. But we will smile and enjoy it since it is still great to get out of town on vacation.

     

    I was curious about regular veranda cabins. We were just on the Oosterdam, which had gone through a drydock renovation last year. The tiny flat screen TV's above the desk were replaced by a large 42" flat screen mounted in a kind of shadow box frame right at the foot of the bed. It was a perfect location for viewing the TV. I certainly hope they did the same on the Westerdam reno. We also had friends who were just in a veranda cabin on the Eurodam, post drydock, and the TV was also on the wall at the foot of the bed.

  16. You are hard pressed to find a liquor that is not covered. Even Grey Goose vodka is included. Yes, the single malt selections are above the $8 limit. Wines are the only area where the SBP comes up short. But now, with the increase to $9 for most cocktails, they have raised the SBP limit to $9. In the past, the cost of the SBP (if you actually purchase it, not get it through Explore-4) would get you about 6-1/2 $8 drinks per day. After that you are drinking free. With the drink prices raised to $9, and the SBP limit raised to match, the break even point is now 5 drinks, and anything above is free.

  17. Hey.. we are in adjoining Deck 7aft cabins with good friends, is the partition removable?

     

    Yes. You will see it opened when they hose off the balconies occasionally during the cruise. They take a hose and pass through all of the balconies with the passage doors open. Ask your cabin steward to open it and leave it open for the duration of your cruise. The partition doesn't go away, but the little door does allow easy passage between balconies.

  18. Thanks for the fast replies! Sounds like we will be just fine.

     

    Unless you will settle for nothing short of the top of line single malt, you will have no problems with any cocktail. Even drinks like Long Island Ice Tea, or Black Russians, where there are multiple shots of alcohol in the drink are still included in the package. All beers are included, even Grolsch, which is a premium 16 oz bottled beer. The only shortcoming is in the area of wine. They do have some acceptable reds and whites, but if you have favorites, you would will have to pay individually by the glass or get a bottle. Now that the SBP price has increased to $9 per drink, that may include a few more wines by the glass. We consider the SBP a deal for us. The breakeven point used to be 6-1/2 drinks before you are drinking free. Now that the average drink price has increased to $9, the breakeven point is down to just 5 drinks (5.1 to be exact, $8.95 X 15% SC = $10.30. divided into $51.70 daily cost of SBP and you get 5.1 drinks). Of course, that only holds true if HAL keeps the SBP daily price at $44.95 per day plus 15% service charge.

  19. We and our travelling friends will be on a 25 day Med/Trans-Atlantic on the Westerdam in October. We both enjoy the extra sized balconies and great views of the aft cabins on the Vista-Class ships. Our cabin is on deck 5 aft, and our friends are on deck 8 aft. On another site that shows actual pictures of cabins taken by guests, we saw a video review of the deck 8 aft cabin where they say that every morning, crews will hose-off the Lido open pool deck above of all of the dirt and soot that accumulates from the ship's stacks. This cruddy water was flowing down onto their deck 8 balcony and the furniture, making it wet and black with dirt. I would assume that since then, someone would have complained and they would modify this practice or somehow direct the dirty water into drains instead of over onto the balconies below. Has anyone experienced this issue with a deck 8 aft cabin ?

     

    Also, looking at a side photo of the Westy, it appears that the deck 5 aft balconies are almost 100% covered by the deck above, while deck 4, 6, 7 & 8 have a tiered effect, so that each aft balcony has only a partial cover. Is that true ?

  20. We have the HSC paid as part of our booking for a 25 day cruise which is a $675.00 benefit. Does HAL add that amount on your portfolio the first day, and they deduct the $27 (for 2 people) per day ? With the SBP, your daily drinks are debited, and then immediately credited back, one-for-one. There is no specific base value to work off. With the pre-paid HSC, there is a specific value that is debited each day against your account. I would feel better if I saw the full $675 as a credit to our account, and work it down each day.

  21. As many CC members will advise, NEVER book a cruise immediately before or after a dry-dock refurbishment. Many times, crews will board a week or so before dry-dock and start work in some areas. And cruise lines rarely schedule enough down-time in dry-dock, so they keep crews onboard to continue the upgrades after the ship leaves dry-dock on a cruise with paying passengers. The same has happened this time with the Westerdam, but it appears they won't be totally completed until May 24, which is outrageous. They usually end up giving OBC for the disruption and loss of access to certain public areas of the ship. Good rule of thumb.... check CC for dry-dock schedules, charters, and groups on-board.

  22. Thank you...great info. Can you purchase it in advance calling ships services if you used a travel agent, or does the TA have to do it for you? We will be on a cruise in Europe for 14 days plus 4 days on land. $7/day would be worth it, $9/day not so much.

     

    We always use our favorite TA. And we have had no problems contacting Ship's Services directly for things like the Laundry Package, distilled water for CPAP, or even MDR table requests. I think you must go through your TA if you are trying to make any changes to your cruise, upsell, cabin change, HAL Flights, etc. And yes, anything you spend onboard, even laundry by the bag or the unlimited package counts towards your Mariner spending credits.

     

    Also, the Unlimited Laundry Package is $7 (or $9) per day for the whole cabin, not per guest in that cabin.

  23. On NA last week, "Hidden Figures" was such a popular movie that it was shown in the screening room on three separate days. I did not see it offered on the on-demand system in the cabin though.

     

    We were on the Oosterdam for 21 days last December. There were a few, maybe 3, movies that were in the theater but did not show up on the TV's in the "New Releases" tab of the menus. The Front desk checked with the AV department and said that some of the movies they get for the theater are on DVD, not a digital file, so they have no way to convert that DVD to an MP4 or .AVI file, or whatever format they use and upload it to the in-room movie server. Seems pretty simple, but at this time they can't do it.

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