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TAD2005

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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. You have 3 options with HAL ships laundry. (ignoring the few older ships that still have coin operated do-it-yourself laundries).

    You can do an "ala carte " service, where you get billed for each piece you send out. Most expensive way.

     

    You can do "Laundry by the Bag". That service is where you stuff all you possibly can into a pretty big bag, and the laundry will return it washed, pressed, on hangers or in a basket. $20 per bag in North America, $30 per bag in Europe. This service is offered on all ships.

     

    Or, you can purchase the Unlimited laundry Package. With that plan, you can send out a bag full or just a pair of socks and it will be returned in the same way as above. If you ask for a 2nd bag from your cabin steward, you can fill that too. $7 per day for the total number of days of your cruise in North America, or $9 per day in Europe. (Don't ask why laundry on a ship costs more in Europe than North America. No one has been able to explain why.)

     

    If you put the bag out early in the morning, many times, your clothes are returned the same day, around 5:00 pm. Or the next day. With any of the 3 methods, you cannot use it on the last day before disembarkation. Usually, the cutoff is the 2nd day before you leave the ship.

     

    You can pre-purchase the "Unlimited" package by calling Ship's Services ahead of your cruise. That will be $7 per day, no matter where your cruise is sailing. If you purchase it on the ship, you will get hit with the $9 per day rate in Europe. Make sure you bring your pre-purchase receipt that HAL provides with you when you board.

     

    To keep track of who's underwear is who's, the laundry puts little sticky strips on some of your pieces. They are still there when you receive them back. Make sure to pull them off carefully, they stick very well, and you could rip a very delicate article. But, it's fun, 6 months after the cruise, and you wonder what has been scratching you in your privates, and you find a laundry sticker from your last cruise. Fond memories.

  2. The regular (non-elite) beverage package works well for us. We have found the break-even point is 6-1/2 drinks, based on typical $7.95 cocktail prices plus 15% service charge. After the 6 or 7 drinks, you are drinking free. Plus we can sample anything we want and if we don't like it, toss it and get another. The only shortcoming is the selection of wines under that magic $8 limit. Even though you have the package, HAL still posts your drinks on your daily folio, that you can see online, while onboard. The charges are added, then immediately credited back. We have used that at the end of the cruise to justify purchasing the package. Every time, we have come out ahead.

    It is annoying that a non-drinking partner in the same cabin cannot opt out of purchasing the package, unless you show a doc's note. But some people always find a way to scam the system. It's tough for the bartenders and waiters to make sure you are not sharing your drinks with others, but that is the reason for the mandatory purchase requirement for 21 and up guests.

    One thing I do have a problem with is the $5 per day surcharge that HAL has added this year to ONLY the regular package, if you purchase it onboard instead of online before sailing. It appears that HAL doesn't want you to use your HAL provided OBC (non-refundable) to purchase the package. They would rather you use it for shore excursions, Spa services, specialty dining, etc, where the markup is much higher. No other item that you can purchase online has a surcharge if purchased onboard, just the regular beverage package. Even the elite package is the same price online and onboard. HAL's ship coordinator could not (or would not) give me a reason for the $5 surcharge.

  3. Are there veranda cabins that have more footage than others? Not including aft facing or accessible.

     

    Are the VB Veranda cabins on deck 10 noisey? Do they have privacy issues?

     

    Finally, is there a spreadsheet with details about cabins on HAL ships on this website?

     

    The new balconies on the Zuiderdam's deck 10 were added during the dry-dock a year ago. These new veranda cabins are nicknamed "Juliet Balconies" because they are so small that all you can do is stand out there at the railing. There is very little space between the glass door and the railing. Do NOT book one of these cabins if you want a decent sized balcony. The aft balconies are the biggest unless you want to step up to a suite. Also, steer away from the VA grade veranda cabins on deck 5 mid-ships. Because of the lifeboats, the deck width is reduced at that part of the ship and so is are the balconies. Also, you have the additional enjoyment of looking at the tops of the huge orange lifeboats hanging just below your balcony. The best site I have seen for cabin dimensions and actual pictures of the cabins is cruise deck plans dot com.

  4. Thanks for all of the advice. Buying OBC in advance makes it easy. I always seem to get his with a few mini-bar purchases that I never used. On this long (25 day) cruise, I also have the HSC prepaid. Do they credit my onboard account with the $675 for the 25 days, or do they just do a debit and credit wash each day? Do I actually see the HSC applied to my account, or is it charged and then credited back on a daily basis ?

  5. Yes, done it many times. You can also buy OBC in advance by calling ships services so you don't have to deposit any "cash" at all - it is already there.

     

    Thanks. Most of my OBC is from booking this cruise while onboard with the future cruise consultant. The remainder is from my TA. Can 100% of the OBC, no matter where it comes from, get applied to reduce the cash deposit ?

    Thanks also for the tip about pre-purchasing the OBC so no cash is needed to be paid at check-in.

  6. We have a fairly long cruise coming up, and we usually place a cash deposit with the front desk upon boarding instead of a credit card hold. On this long cruise we will have a considerable amount of OBC from HAL and our TA. Does HAL allow one to reduce the cash deposit based on the amount of OBC one has in their account ?

  7. Lucky for you that price does not matter and you can afford a better location.

     

    We are retired too, but if we are going to spend 15 - 30 days at sea in a balcony cabin, we want to SEE the SEA !! We are not short people, but we have had a steel railing cabin only once, (and never again). We simply don't like obstructed views. And other CC posters are correct, you can get a plexiglass balcony veranda cabin for the same price as an obstructed view cabin on deck 4, just on a higher deck. The balcony size is a consideration, but if you are going to spend any time on your big balcony, why have to crane your neck to see anything ? We also turned down a VA cabin upgrade on a Vista class ship. The VA grade cabins on deck 5, mid-ships, all have huge orange lifeboats hanging right under your balcony. You can see straight out, but looking down, all you see are orange lifeboat tops. We kept our VD grade cabin on deck 6 forward instead of accepting HAL's "upgrade" to a VA cabin on deck 5 mid-ships. Sometimes an "upgrade" is not all it's cracked up to be.

  8. My understanding is that your deposit is refundable all the way up until the full payment is due. I believe that is 90 days prior to sailing.

     

    On most cruises, except the Grand Voyages and World Cruises, the final payment is due 75 days out from sailing. And the deposit is fully refundable up to the 76th day. Or you can earmark it for a future cruise. But you cannot re-book a deposit for a future cruise that is about to go into default from the first cruise and get another refundable period. If you cancel this 2nd cruise, you are SOL and have lost your deposit.

  9. Just curious...what is the cost of a beverage pkg?

     

    The SBP (Signature Beverage Package) is $44.95 per day plus the 15% service charge. That's $51.70 per day, total for everyday of your cruise. It will get you any drink menu priced at $8 or less, and don't consider the service charge, you have already paid it. The break-even point is about 6-1/2 drinks per day priced at $8. Yes, Grey Goose vodka is included. Most cocktails are priced to be within the SBP price limit.

    A new thing this year (not on the Oosterdam last December ) is a $5 per day surcharge if you buy the SBP onboard instead of purchasing it online before your cruise. HAL doesn't apply this "surcharge" to any other purchased item, like wine packages, specialty dining, shore excursions, or even the "Elite Beverage package", which ups the per-drink limit to $15. Ship's Services cannot explain why they are penalizing onboard SBP purchases, they just say that's the way it is. I guess they want your money for drinks up front.

  10. You will find that cabins with steel railings (instead of plexiglass) are on the lowest deck with cabins, usually deck 4 and forward. The reason is that of if you experience heavy seas, the plexiglass railings could be cracked or shattered by waves when the ship is pitching up & down. Deck 5 and above, forward cabins, do not have steel railings. Even the new K-Dam has steel railings on the Beethoven deck 4. Look for the black diamond (steel.gif) on the ship deck plans. That signifies a solid steel railing, Yes, some of the balconies are bigger, but what good is that if you can't see anything unless you are standing up ?

  11. There's a very good reason that steel railing veranda cabins are the lowest grade HAL offers, category VH. You paid for a veranda cabin, and one of the main reasons was the view out to the sea. If you are seated or on the bed inside your cabin, you see nothing but sky. If you are seated on the balcony, you also see nothing. You must stand up and look over the railing to see anything water related, like dolphins, whales, etc. You are not getting what you paid for..... a view of the sea. That's why they are the cheapest grade veranda cabins. IMHO, book something else, if you have the opportunity. If your plexiglass railing is dirty, ask your cabin steward to clean it. They will be happy to take care of that for you..Why accept anything less ? .

  12. During docking and un-docking procedures, the azipods are being rotated for directional control, and the props are not synchronized, meaning one is rotating slightly faster than the other. That is the reason for the slight vibration felt during close maneuvering near docks. Once the ship is clear of the docks, the props are rotating in sync and no vibration is felt. This will date me a bit, but flying back in the 50's and 60's in prop-jet aircraft, the pilot may not have the 2 or 4 props in sync and you feel the vibration in the cabin until they are synchronized.

    On the aft cabins, the very short vibration felt during docking is a minor inconvenience compared to the huge balconies and beautiful views.

  13. We saw the "Yum Yum" guy on both the Zuiderdam and the Oosterdam in 2015 & 2016. He starts out on deck 2, heading towards the bow, then up to deck 3, heading back to the MDR. He usually stays on the public decks, #2 & #3. He carries a small 5 or 6 note chime, that he plays, going up & down the scales in no particular order. I remember the Phillip Morris TV commercials in the nighttime variety shows, like Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Dean Martin, etc. And the last line was "Call for Phillip Morrr a' uus" The Morris was extended.

  14. That "not available" is "netherland." Interesting that is was released after 3 days and before you paid up - you could go hog wild and run out your debit card account before you close the cruise account ;)

     

    For the Aussie couple - my associate was supposedly trained by the last manager to "authorize" whatever amount automatically comes up. Had a huge argument with him about it - he never took responsibility for the error. I always tell people they will see a request for authorization for a specific amount.

     

    Exactly what I was saying. I see no point in putting $2500 of a person's funds on hold for 3 days. After the hold drops off, you could go hog-wild spending on a shore excursion, buying that $10,000 Rolex you always wanted, and when you closed your account and left the ship, HAL would be hung out to dry trying to collect on a maxed-out card. The hold should last for the duration of the cruise, both on debit and credit cards. And holds on credit cards have the same effect as debit. If you have a card with a $5,000 limit and HAL puts a hold on that card for $2500, your attempt at charging a $3000 purchase will be declined. Of course, Amex cards do not have specific limits.

  15. The 'gangway water" mentioned is the guy standing right before the actual gangway, or at the bottom of it, on the dock, selling bottles of water. There, you must give a cabin number and sign a receipt. That is charged to your cabin account, because they have no way of determining if you have the SBP. Yes, you can argue that later at the front office and try to get it reversed. But, while waiting for your shore excursion to be called, and you are nearby an open bar, you can get bottles of water on the package. The determining point is if the crew member has a computer terminal available to check your beverage package validity. No terminal.... you pay for it. That's why the drinks on HMC are not included, no computer terminal.

  16. I have used a debit card on a HAL ship, on a 21 day cruise. They put a hold on my debit card for $2520. Those funds were not removed from my account, or placed in "netherland". They were just not available for me to access for the duration of the hold. That hold lasted 3 days, certainly not for the duration of the cruise. Maybe my bank is different, but it was only 3 days. On another 21 day cruise, I purchased the beverage package for a cost of $2100 for 2 people. HAL didn't care, they still did a full $2520 hold on my credit card. The only way to use OBC instead of the hold is to have the OBC plus added cash to equal that $60 per person/per day amount. On a Windsurf cruise, I chose to use cash instead of a credit card, but also purchased their beverage package for cash. The front office person said that I didn't have to deposit the full cash amount for the onboard spending because they realized that beverages amount ot a considerable amount of spending. The cash deposit was supposed to be $1650, and they were happy with $800. Depends on the cruise line.

  17. We think the elimination of self-serve in the Lido, has been a great move for helping the spread of bugs. However, there's one place that it doesn't help. It's the Taco bar next to the Dive-In. That area is still serve-yourself. We have watched passengers taking spoons of sour cream with the provided utensil, and then licking it off before putting it back in the tub of sour cream. Absolutely gross !!! We went over and took that spoon to the Dive-in manager and told him to replace the sour cream. I can't believe that people would do that. Maybe they do that at home, but come on !!!! I guess Forest Gump was right, "stupid is as stupid does". You can't fix stupid !!!

  18. We have used credit cards, debit cards, and cash on various cruises. On HAL, they will do an "authorization hold" on your credit or debit card within the first 24 hours after boarding. The rate is $60 per person, X the number of days of your cruise. That is for cruises of 25 days or less. 25 days or more, the hold is $30 P/P, according to HAL's FAQ's on the website. When I used a debit card, the "hold" dropped off the card after 3 days. For a credit card, it stayed on for 7 days, on a 25 day cruise. On one 21 day cruise, they took the hold, and I charged the signature beverage package for 2 people for the 21 days. That was about $2100 out of the $2500 hold. HAL tried to put a hold on my card for the standard hold of $2500 PLUS the $2100 for the SBP, but the hold request failed because I told my bank to limit any charges to $3000. The Front Office sent me a note a few days later. I went to the front desk, and they said that this was "just their automated computer system" and not to be concerned. They ended up being happy with the $2500 hold and we owed them about $1400 more at the cruise end.

     

    The hold on your debit/credit card is just to make sure you have sufficient reserves for typical passenger spending for the duration of your cruise. That includes beverages, hotel service charge (tips), shore excursions, internet, etc. But considering that the hold drops off after 3 or 7 days, you could still go out after the hold drops off, and buy that $10,000 Rolex watch on a shore shopping spree and totally tap your card down to zero. So, I don't really see the actual purpose of the hold, other than to determine that you do have the reserves, on embarkation day. After that, and the hold drops off, all bets are off.

  19. There may be a dress code, but in many instances it is ignored by the matre'd or his assistants. On a recent Oosterdam cruise in December, there was a large (400 pax) political group, and on Gala nights, (and all other times) they wore their tacky, logo emblazoned Tee-Shirts in the MDR, even on Gala nights. These were not "Polo-type" shirts, just plain old cotton tee-shirts, no collars. The waiters were noticing, but the group manager was speaking to the matre'd and nothing was done. It appears that money talks, and any dress codes walk.

  20. On disembarkation day, "it's all hands on deck". Most crew members are assigned to facilitate getting the guests and their luggage off the ship. There's not a bunch of room service waiters hanging around waiting for your call for coffee when you decide to wake up on disembarkation day. Any other day, sure, no problem. But when they are trying to get 2000 passengers and 4000 bags off of the ship, and prep it for 2000 more coming onboard, you should order the night before and set your alarm or wake-up call. We have always had our usual full breakfast room service on disembarkation day, BUT, ordered the night before.

  21. I think if you are officially off the ship, like a HAL Alaskan land tour, you will get a break when they calculate the SBP cost.

     

    I had a friend who purchased the SBP for a 21 day cruise, and he always ordered double Tequila shots with salt and lemon wedge. These doubles counted as 2 of his 15, and with other beverages and water, he did exceed his 15 drink limit on a few days. They don't tell you anything,, and they simply charge your room account for the full price of the drink, plus 15%. So, you don't get cut off, you can keep on drinking. But if you know you are close, hold off until midnight in the BB-King club and your 15 drink limit resets and you can start over. The only problem at that point is making it back to your cabin.

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