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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Losing cruise ship port calls and tourism in Acapulco and other Mexican Riviera towns represents a huge loss to the Mexican states, the country and the businesses that have investments there. With those kind of losses, and the bad press resulting from the many travel warnings, you would think that the Mexican government would launch an all-out war on the drug cartels and gangs. But they don't seem to be able (or want ) to try to control it. Look at Bogota Columbia. Pablo Escobar destroyed the reputation of that beautiful country back in the 80's and early 90's. Once they finally eliminated him, and cleaned up the country, tourism is back. Mexico could do the same.

  2. We boarded the Oosterdam on Friday, Nov 25, the day after Thanksgiving, and decorations were already started, mostly in the central atrium. The decorations continued for the following days and the Poinsettias were placed around Dec 9. Very pretty. The ship's PA systems in the public areas, (deck 2 & 3, and Lido deck areas) had non-religious holiday music playing, (Rudolph, Santa, etc). But a political group boarded for the last 7 days, and complaints were lodged with the Front desk, the music reverted back to 100% rock-n-roll. More complaints were made and the ship then did a mix of holiday music and rock-n-roll. It's nice to be onboard at the holiday time

  3. My previous comment "barfing over the railings" may be offensive to some, and certainly not aimed at all CCL passengers. But we made the poor choice of booking a CCL cruise in summer, 2016, just for a week getaway. The ship was there, we were there, and we had a week to kill, so why not. It was not even springtime. On the open decks we saw young teens, drinking beer and liquor. Older, young adults were purchasing it for the younger teens. And many drank to excess, there was no supervision, and the natural result was the disgusting scenes we experienced many times. I don't know where their parents were, but they were definitely consuming alcohol (and smoking what they purchased in Nassau, and it wasn't Marlboro).

  4. Carnival is more of a budget cruise line with a younger clientele than HAL. The carnival "demographic" has different expectations than the experienced HAL cruiser. The CCL demographic wants to be totally casual and not be bothered by stewards in the cabin more than once a day, formal dinners, or anything else that might restrict their "freedom"

    See my comments above in red.

    In my estimation CCL delivers what their demographic seem to want, If that's not the degree of informality you want then don't book Carnival. IMHO:D


    Summersigh, My OP was not aimed at Carnival Cruises and the people who enjoy their brand of service. As you said, Carnival is ultra-casual, and aimed at the younger age groups who enjoy casual dining, casual dress for dinner, belly flop contests, hairiest chest contests, and spring breakers barfing over the railings. My OP was addressed to the folks at HAL who set policies and the hope that they read these boards once in a while and realize what may be enjoyed on CCL would never fly on HAL. We can only hope !!

  5. I'm sure that Jimmy saw the writing on the wall with the adoption of Billboard Onboard. Jimmy doesn't need a 2nd musician to put on a good show, and he probably said "no way will I do duel pianos". Plus, he would have to switch his marketing agent to Billboard Entertainment to get a new contract, and he excels as a solo artist. Sad news, we will miss his performances and the many other great musicians we have enjoyed in the intimate piano bars of the past.

  6. All good things must come to an end: elycelynne has reported the sad news that with the end of Jimmy's current Nieuw Amsterdam contract he wiil be retiring from cruising. See this thread.


    Very sad news. I'm sure that Jimmy would rather retire from cruising vs. contracting with Billboard Entertainment and appearing in the dueling pianos. Jimmy doesn't need a 2nd person to put on a good show. Once the NA converts the good old piano bar to Billboard Onboard, that will be the end of Jimmy's appearances and all of the other great piano bar talented musicians we have enjoyed over the years.

  7. A 30-day Signature Drink Pkg costs $1550 X 2. We probably don't spend that much on booze in a years time! What about the $250.00 beverage card? It's good for "a variety of alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverage selections from wine, beer & spirits to soda and espresso." They also have a $50.00 "Soda fountain value card" for $25.00. We are not big drinkers, but we do like wine, some soda, and water, oh yeah, Margaritas. This seems like a reasonable amount for these cards. Any comments from you experienced HAL cruisers?


    The $250 beverage card and the $25 soda card will get you $250 in beverages and $50 in sodas. There is no discount for the universal beverage cards. The $25 soda card gets you $50 worth of sodas., It's more of a way for someone to buy you a gift onboard. They might as well have given you $250 or $50 in cash. The Signature Beverage Package (SBP) is the only universal package that actually saves you money. Remember, any $7.95 drink includes a 15% service charge, so you are looking at $9.14 for every drink. The SBP break even rate is just under 6 drinks, and anything after that you are drinking free. Many people think you have to have 15 beverages a day to break even. That is not the case. But is all you usually drink is a glass of wine or two at dinner, the SBP is not for you.


    On shorter cruises (under 21 days) you are on vacation, so let it rip !! Enjoy yourself and don't sweat the bar tab, so the SBP is worth it. On longer cruises, people tend to settle down to the same beverage rate they do at home, so the SBP for a 30 + day cruise might not benefit you.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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" ??

  11. 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..

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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 ?

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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