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TAD2005

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  1. 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..

  2. 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.

  3. 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 ?

  4. 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.

    http://www.askbte.com/RedlineNews/RedlineNews1/EU_Decision_on_Suspending_US_Visa_Waiver_Set_for_J_73909.aspx

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. A couple of points.

    You can order the same wine in the Pinnacle Grill that you order in the MDR or any bar onboard. And there are decent whites and reds available under the $8 limit.

    The SBP covers anything you can drink, that you would normally pay for if you didn't have the package, under $8.

    The price on Martinis, or any mixed drink, is based on the price of the base alcohol that is used. Even mixed drinks that require multiple types of alcohol are included. eg., a Black Russian, with vodka and Kahlua still costs $7.95, with Grey Goose.

     

     

    The relatively new "Elite Beverage Package" is available on most HAL ships. It works the same as the regular SBP, except your per-drink limit is now $15 instead of $8. See the attached handout we received on the Oosterdam in December. The Elite package costs $10 per day more.

     

    Something new concerning purchasing the SBP. (If you got it with Explore-4, this doesn't apply to you). If you purchase the SBP on HAL's website, before your cruise, it costs $44.95 per day plus 15% SC. A new change... if you decide to purchase the SBP onboard (during the first 48 hours), HAL has increased the cost by $5 per day to $49.95, plus the 15% SC. This was apparently done to prevent guests from using their OBC to buy the SBP. They want the cash upfront. Also, if you do purchase the SBP onboard, HAL will still hit your credit/debit card for the $60 per day hold. They will not reduce the hold.

    1351232644_HALBeveragePackage.jpg.8d294b2e55e8d40370423cc43c65dcc9.jpg

  10. My husband and I also prefer a table for two. We'll be on Koningsdam this spring for two weeks and we wanted late seating with a table for two by a window. I emailed guest services and received an email confirmation two days later. I've printed this out to take with us, but I doubt if that would be necessary. Easy, peasy!

     

    Hi Lady Arwen... I would like to try to reserve a 2-top, late fixed seating in the Westy MDR for an October cruise, 25 days.. Looking at the MDR PDF dining room layout, 2-tops are pretty rare, only 15 of them. So, I want to get my request in early. Would now be too early, and if not, what e-mail address did you use ? I checked the HAL website, and I cannot see a specific e-mail address for Guest Services. They do have a Guest Services option, but that is for complaints or comments from a past cruise. What address did you use ? Finally, we have booked through a TA, not directly with HAL. Can we request an MDR table assignment, or must my TA do it for me ?

  11. We have had 3 aft cabins, VB grade, on Vista class ships. One on the Oosterdam, deck 4, one on a Panama Canal cruise on deck 5 and a trans Atlantic on deck 5 on the Zuiderdam. The balconies are huge compared to the port & starboard sides of the decks, also the cabins are longer. Much more space between the bed and the sofa/desk. The views off the back of the ship are wonderful, especially going through the canal locks. We only experienced vibration during the mooring process when the Azipods were being maneuvered for steering and the props were out of sync. otherwise, no vibration. And, being on the lower decks, 4 & 5, we never saw any soot or ash from the stacks.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 ?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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 ?

  20. 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 ?

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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