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TAD2005

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Posts posted by TAD2005


  1. The selection of wines available under the $8 limit is limited. That item has been the biggest shortcoming of the regular Signature Beverage Package. So, to satisfy the people asking for higher limits, HAL has come out with the "Elite Beverage Package". That costs $54.95 per day, (a $10 increase) plus 15% service charge, and it increases the per-drink limit to $15. That would cover most wines by the glass, and a lot of even the most top-shelf liquors.

     

    Strange though.... on the website, HAL does describe the $5 per day increase if you purchase the regular SBP onboard. But there's no mention of a bump in price for the Elite package, purchased on board.

    Note, that with both packages, you cannot "pay the difference" if you order a drink that is above your $8 or $15 limit. You pay the whole thing, plus 15% SC on your room account, as if your beverage package didn't exist.

    The question has been asked on CC, but no one has given an answer yet, if you can upgrade an Explore-4 provided bevarage package to the Elite level by paying the extra $10 per day.


  2. I suppose if you order a more expensive wine, or a pricy brand of liquor, you might go over the limit, but I'm not picky. !:D

     

    The selection of wines available under the $8 limit is limited. That item has been the biggest shortcoming of the regular Signature Beverage Package. So, to satisfy the people asking for higher limits, HAL has come out with the "Elite Beverage Package". That costs $54.95 per day, (a $10 increase) plus 15% service charge, and it increases the per-drink limit to $15. That would cover most wines by the glass, and a lot of even the most top-shelf liquors.

    Strange though.... on the website, HAL does describe the $5 per day increase if you purchase the regular SBP onboard. But there's no mention of a bump in price for the Elite package, purchased on board.

    Note, that with both packages, you cannot "pay the difference" if you order a drink that is above your $8 or $15 limit. You pay the whole thing, plus 15% SC on your room account, as if your beverage package didn't exist.

    The question has been asked on CC, but no one has given an answer yet, if you can upgrade an Explore-4 provided bevarage package to the Elite level by paying the extra $10 per day.


  3. I suppose if you order a more expensive wine, or a pricy brand of liquor, you might go over the limit, but I'm not picky. !:D

     

    The selection of wines available under the $8 limit is limited. That item has been the biggest shortcoming of the regular Signature Beverage Package. So, to satisfy the people asking for higher limits, HAL has come out with the "Elite Beverage Package". That costs $54.95 per day, (a $10 increase) plus 15% service charge, and it increases the per-drink limit to $15. That would cover most wines by the glass, and a lot of even the most top-shelf liquors.

     

    Strange though.... on the website, HAL does describe the $5 per day increase if you purchase the regular SBP onboard. But there's no mention of a bump in price for the Elite package, purchased on board.

    Note, that with both packages, you cannot "pay the difference" if you order a drink that is above your $8 or $15 limit. You pay the whole thing, plus 15% SC on your room account, as if your beverage package didn't exist.

    The question has been asked on CC, but no one has given an answer yet, if you can upgrade an Explore-4 provided bevarage package to the Elite level by paying the extra $10 per day.


  4. Everybody keeps hammering on the 15 drink limit. Forget that. As others have said, it's not all alcoholic beverages. But, think of the package this way. The break-even point is 6-1/2 drinks at $8 each. After that, everything you consume, water, soda, specialty coffees, and yes, even more booze, is all free !!! We have had the package 4 times now, twice with Explore-4 and twice by purchasing it. We have never hit the 15 drink limit, but we have come close, especially with bottles of water and coffees in the Explorer's Lounge. We have done totals of our consumption, based on the actual beverage prices plus the 15% service charge, and we have saved money all 4 times. These cruises were all long ones, over 21 days, and had many sea days where your lunch beverages come into play. We feel it's well worth the cost, even if you purchase it.

    Note: If you do purchase the beverage package, HAL has recently raised the price of purchasing it on board. The price is $44.95 per day purchased online, and $49.95 purchased on board, both prices plus 15% service charge. I don't know why this penalty for onboard purchase, they don't do this for other packages. Has anyone experienced this increase recently ?


  5. Another "improvement ???" with the dry dock work will be the changeover from small, intimate piano bar to the huge, structured Billboard Onboard Dueling Pianos. Sad to see the good 'ol piano bars going away. We will never see the great piano bar entertainers again on the HAL fleet.


  6. We have experienced both the smaller, intimate piano bars with such great entertainers like Jimmy Maddox, and also the Billboard Onboard dual pianos on the Oosterdam. There is no comparison. IMHO, HAL can scrap the dueling pianos. But that will never happen, because of the obvious statement in one of the posts above: "Billboard Onboard has been a ''home run" for HAL where it has been implemented ". The key words are "for HAL". Of course it has. The seating area is twice as big as the old, smaller, intimate piano bars. More seats generate more thirsty guests in those seats, and more bar revenue generated by the new system. Plus, the area is sponsored by Billboard Magazine, which also generates more revenue. Every square meter on a ship has to carry it's own weight, financially. The smaller piano bars were not hacking it as far as bar revenue was concerned. If you have the opportunity, experience the great experience of the old style piano bars on the few ships that still have them.


  7. You can prepay for unlimited laundry with ship's services. I have done it many times. And, it may be a savings for you to do it that way. I have no idea why, but laundry by the bag is $20 in North America, but $30 per bag in Europe. The unlimited plan is $7 per day in North America, but $9 per day in Europe. Maybe the soap cost more there ??? .:D

     

    However, if you book and prepay your unlimited laundry package for your entire cruise with ship's services, ahead of your departure, you only pay $7 per day no matter where your ship is sailing. Make sure ship's services sends you a receipt for the package, and definitely bring it when you board. I have never had a HAL ship in Europe balk at my prepayment of the unlimited package for $7, but you never know. As many CC members have found out, what Seattle says is gospel, sometimes has no impact on the individual ships. They kind of do their own thing.


  8. We just got off of a 21 day HAL cruise in December, 2016, and it was not included in the Explore-4 promotion, so we purchased the Signature Beverage Package (SBP) on board, the first day, for $44.95 per day plus 15% service charge. We found the package works well for us. We were handed a one-sheet form by the bartender in the atrium bar which described the standard SBP at $44.95 per day and the new Elite version for $54.95 per day, both plus the 15%. The Elite package increases the maximum drink price from the regular $8 to $15 per drink

    While on board, we booked our next cruise with the Future Cruise Consultant for a 25 day Med/TA in October. This cruise was also not part of the Explore-4 promotion, so we intend to purchase the SBP as before.

    Looking at the HAL website, where you can purchase specialty dinners, shore excursions, and wine packages, I noticed the SBP was also there. They show the SBP at $44.95 per day BUT only if purchased online, prior to the cruise. It's $49.95 a day if you wait to purchase it on board. Why is only the SBP purchased on board penalized by a $5 per day extra fee while all other purchases are the same cost purchased on line or on board ? $5 a day doesn't seem like much, but for 2 persons on a 25 day cruise, that is an extra $250.

    When you purchase it on board, it goes against your ship account, and is finally paid at the end of the cruise like all other on board purchases. Has anyone who has recently purchased the SBP on board seen this $5 penalty ?


  9. While attempting to pre-purchase the Signature Beverage Package (SBP) for an upcoming cruise, I ran into this on HAL's website :

     

    Our convenient, affordable Signature Beverage Package allows you to select from a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails (including non-alcoholic), sodas & coffee! Includes any beverage priced at $8.00 or lower (up to 15 beverages per day). Prices are per day at $44.95 if pre-booked online compared to $49.95 if purchased on board. 15% service charge is not included and will be automatically applied to your purchase. The package must be purchased for the entire duration of the voyage.

    On my last cruise, Oosterdam, November 2016, Caribbean, 21 days, when I wanted to signup for the SBP onboard, right after boarding, I was given a sheet of paper describing the options. There were only 2 options that included alcoholic beverages, the regular SBP priced at $44.95 per day and the Elite version at $54.95, both packages were plus 15% for the prepaid service charge.

     

    The options above in blue appear to be something new. Has anyone experienced this price increase recently ?


  10. We will be flying to Venice for a cruise, connecting in LGW, London Gatwick. I would rather get my supply of Euros while I have a 4 hour layover in Gatwick. Does anyone know if you can get Euros at the ATM's in the UK ? I would think that with the number of people commuting from the UK to the Continent, that both currencies would be available in the ATM's, especially in airports and train stations. Our bank can get us Euros, but the sell commission plus service fee gets ridiculous for a small amount.


  11. Thanks again JT, however on the deck diagram the cabin I'm asking about looks smaller than the one in the picture you sent me which is more towards the middle of the stern. I really wanted a sofa or loveseat to sit in to watch the amazing scenery go by if I want to be inside for awhile. Also still wondering what people think about the noise factor.....

     

    We always select stern cabins because of the beautiful view. However, we do avoid deck 8, immediately under the Lido deck due to the noises from moving chairs, workers cleaning etc. Also, we select cabins in the middle of the grouping of stern veranda cabins, because the ones on either end are definitely smaller than the ones in the middle. This is our experience on the Vista class ships, Zuiderdam, Oosterdam. Check cruise deck plans.com and you may find that someone has posted a picture of your exact cabin.


  12. If you are flying from Alabama, why not have your TA change your flight to go into Vancouver instead of Seattle ? We live in Florida and did a repositioning cruise on HAL from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale. We got our own tickets for the one-way flight and we were routed from TPA to DFW, then direct to YVR (Vancouver), costing only $276 p/p. The transfer from Vancouver airport to the cruise port by taxi is about 30 minutes and between $35 to $40 for 2 people and luggage.


  13. We have been on late departure times and HAL did not change the dining times.

     

    Maybe you should consider eating in the Lido on departure day if you want to be outside for sail away.

     

    Be careful not showing up for your assigned table if you have a specific fixed dining table assigned, like a 2-top or 4-top next to a window. On the first night of a cruise, if you don't show, they may give it to someone else on the wait list. Best way to avoid a problem is to visit the matre'd after boarding and let him know that due to an 8:00pm sailaway, you will be dining in the Lido but you will use your table reservation the next night.


  14. I doubt it. When sailaways are scheduled for 17:00, they never alter the early dining time, so I would not expect them to do anything for the late seating either. There is too much in the background going on with crew scheduling, food preparation, show times, and that all hinges on the 2nd seating dining starting at 20:00 and most people finishing around 21:15 or 21:30. They certainly would not push the 22:00 show in the Main Stage back an hour due to dining being pushed back.


  15. Any thoughts on whether this will be offered again soon?

     

    We thought it was really good value on our HAL Alaska cruise this year,

     

    Usually, HAL applies the Explore-4 promotion in July for the following year's selected cruises. It also drops off in mid November. But, the cruises it is tied to also experience a significant price increase, which mysteriously goes away when it drops off in November. There is no free lunch !!!

     

    We always try to ask our TA to price an Explore-4 associated cruise both ways, with and without the promotion.

     

    We agree with you that the biggie of Explore-4 is the Signature Beverage Package (SBP). Depending on your "thirstiness", the SBP is well worth the cost or a waste of money. We have found it to save us a bunch of money. People always say "I'll never drink 15 drinks a day" so they feel it is not worth the money. Remember, the break-even point with SBP is 6 or 7 drinks, not 15. After you have 6 or 7 drinks (of anything) you are drinking free. $8 drink price divided into the $52 per day cost equals about 6.5 drinks. After that you are saving money. You can also get 1 liter bottles of water, cans of soda, specialty coffees (with alcohol) and every beer on the menu. The only shortcoming of the SBP is the wine selections. You can get many selections of wines. Not included are bottles of wine, nothing from your in-room mini-bar, and no water heading off the ship for excursions and any drinks from room service. Also no drinks are included on Half Moon Cay.


  16. Most of the newer ships don't have a self-service laundry. But they have a very good service that returns your clothes ironed and on hangers. Even your socks and underwear are ironed. You get a bag, and you can stuff it to the top for $20 per bag. Or, you can get unlimited laundry for $7 a day. However in Europe and the Med, the charge is $30 per bag full and $9 per day for unlimited. For the unlimited laundry, you pay $7 or $9 for every day of your cruise. A money saving hint for long cruises in Europe. Call Ship's Services before you leave and purchase the unlimited laundry for $7 per day, even for a European cruise. Get a printed receipt, and show it once onboard. If you are on a 30 day cruise, saving $2 a day will almost buy you 2 Pinnacle Grill dinners.


  17. My favorite drink before dinner in the Ocean bar is a double Vodka Gimlet, on the rocks, with a lime. Pretty basic, but the vodka is Gray Goose. And I have no problems getting a double on the SBP. They just charge it off as 2 drinks out of my 15 for the day. Gray Goose is definitely included in the SBP. So are double shots of most any drink, as long as a single shot is $8 or less. And there's not too much in the line of liquors that exceed $8. And, if that is still not good enough for you, you can pay $10 a day extra and upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package which tops out at $15 per drink. I usually purchase the SBP first day onboard. I got it once with the Explore-4 promotion, but I never tried to upgrade it when it comes "free" with Explore-4.


  18. We usually go to HAL Facts dot com, and download the MDR PDF's for our ship. We always book late seating fixed dining, and we come up with a list of good table numbers and pass them onto our TA. She sends them to HAL Dining, and we have always gotten one of the tables we selected. Unfortunately, tables for 2 are getting rare.


  19. It worked for us too...

     

    We're booked on a casino rate in a Signature Suite and to add Explore4 was only $89pp...so and extra $180 for a 10-night cruise. We got the beverage package and Pinnacle dinner PLUS gratuities and $200 of internet credit. That's a lot of value for very little additional cost.

     

    The prices on the suites have not come close to what our rate is, so even with the drops after Explore4 ended, we're still way ahead.

     

    I have heard CC members speak of "casino rate". What is that ? Is it like the same thing that Las Vegas has for their best customers ? We play roulette and craps in the casino, maybe blowing through $500 on a 3 week cruise, sometimes we are ahead, sometimes not. Does that level of play qualify for the "casino rate".


  20. We always order the distilled water from ship's services, pre-cruise. It's now $2.95 for a 5 liter jug, which is more than enough for a 3 or 4 week cruise. Yes, you can wander around the port town, looking distilled water, but then you have to hump that 7 lb jug all over town and onto the ship. You spend multi-thousands for a cruise, why go through that hassle carrying water all over town, along with your hand carried luggage ? Spend the $2.95 and it will be sitting in your room upon arrival, and there's no 15% SC.


  21. Actually changed my cruise so that I could once again enjoy the Piano Bar. As a solo traveller, I enjoy meeting folks there and making friends of the regulars each night. Does anyone know who will play on the January 29th sailing?

     

    Enjoy the wonderful, intimate piano bar on the Nieuw Amsterdam while you can. After the April 2017 dry dock, say hello to Billboard Onboard's dueling pianos. We will never see talented entertainers like Jimmy Maddox or Paul C. McD playing in this new venue. I miss the old piano bars.


  22. There are some references to the piano bar and "sing-along" that I believe has changed. Also some of the venues described. Is this video outdated or up to date?

     

     

    During the Oosterdam's Dry Dock in spring 2016, the smaller, intimate piano bar, plus the sports bar, both across from the casino, have been combined into the new Billboard Onboard. It is a much bigger area, the walls dividing it from the casino taken down, and there are now two pianos, back-to-back. They usually have 2 piano players, but the atmosphere is much different from the old piano bars. You can hear the constant noise from the casino, and the serious casino table players can hear the music from the dueling pianos. Some people like it, some feel it destroyed the intimate piano bar environment. Yes, they still have and encourage sing-alongs, and they also have one of their three 45 minute sets devoted to requests. I feel that HAL has made these changes because the older, smaller piano bars did not generate enough drink revenue to justify the space. The new Billboard-Onboard is twice as big, with many more seats for thirsty guests. I'm sure that HAL did not name this venue after Billboard Magazine because they felt generous one day. The Billboard company is sponsoring the area, just like the New York Times sponsors their area in the Observation Lounge. And, I'm sure the B-B-King Show is not named after that great artist because somebody at HAL likes his music. Every square meter on a ship has to pay for itself or it's gone. I do Like the BB-King shows, they are usually well preformed by talented musicians. Loud, but good.


  23. We were just on the recently dry-docked and renovated Oosterdam. At the desk in our veranda cabin, next to the electrical outlets, there were 2 USB plugs for charging my devices. Also, next to the bed light switches there is one USB charging port on each side of the bed. Pretty neat, and we didn't need to use any charging adapters, we just plugged in with a USB to USB cable.


  24. I do not know anything about C-Pap machines but if the machine is prescribed by your doctor and distilled water is needed to run the machine, shouldn't it be reimbursed by your medical insurance?

     

    DON

     

    I use a CPAP machine and it does suggest distilled water be used in the reservoir. In a pinch, you can use any water you can find, but you should rinse the reservoir after each use. Also, water of questionable quality should not be used, because you breathe the vapors of that water while you sleep.

    As far as reimbursement from health insurance, my distilled water at home costs me .99 cents a US gallon, which last about 2 weeks. On the ship, 5 liters costs $2.95 delivered to your cabin, and lasts 3 weeks. If I put a claim in with my medical insurance for .99 cents or $2.95, I think i would ridiculed out of existence. Also, in addition to your luggage, who wants to be schlepping a 7 pound jug of water around town until you board the ship ? If you can afford the thousands of $$$ to cruise, pay the $2.95 and stop complaining. HAL does the schlepping for you !!


  25. I agree totally with Ruth. The Billboard-Onboard Dueling Pianos is a wide open area, right next to the casino and the bar. So, instead of an intimate piano bar, you have many more venues competing with the noises of the casino and the TV's in the bar. Not a very bright move, but it's all about every square meter paying for itself. Small, intimate piano bars don't generate enough bar revenue to justify the space. So, they open them up, double the space, and contract with Billboard magazine to help subsidize the area.

     

    Also, channel 39 or any channel number has no meaning on the renovated ships with the new TV's. Channel selection is done now by menu selection, and they have a limited number of channels for live TV. ESPN and ESPN-2 are dedicated to 24 hour sports, and they has a "Special Events" channel for whatever they feel is of general interest to the guests. No regular US or Canadian broadcast networks, just a bunch of news channels and BBC World Service.

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