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Everything posted by TAD2005

  1. HAL has no control over the time displayed on your cell phone. That is supplied by the local cell service that you were last connected to. It is much better to rely on the cabin TV for the correct time and set your watch accordingly. The ship will depart based on the time you see on the TV, not your cell phone.
  2. HAL has a policy that cuts off guest laundry on the day before your disembarkation. They cannot guarantee that you will get your laundry back the same day, and you must have your bags out by midnight, they don't want the hassles of your left-over laundry items and you are leaving the ship.
  3. Whatever you do, don't book a HAL post cruise hotel. Their prices are horrible, because they charge you per-person, and the same hotel will charge you for the room. So, you effectively pay almost double. Once you get off the ship, there are porters and water taxis that will take you to your hotel. Many Venice hotels have their own docks and the water taxi pulls up to the dock, and you get off, and the hotel staff will take your luggage. No problem. Heading back to the Marco Polo airport, get another water taxi and they will drop you right at the airport terminal where you roll your bags to the checkin counter. Very easy.
  4. If you like a Wang Wang, (and can handle it), you might also enjoy a Zombie.
  5. We have had the hold drop off after 5 or 6 days. But the hold absolutely reduces the amount you can spend on your credit (or debit) card for the hold duration. The cruise line wants to determine that you have sufficient capacity on the card you have on file to cover the normal amount of spending on your cruise. However, if they place the $60 per day/per person hold on your card, ($30 per day/per person on cruises of 26 days and up), and then you go to the gift shop and buy a $5000 watch or put $5000 in chips in the casino on your cabin account, I'm sure HAL will do another quick "authorization hold" for this higher amount, just to make sure you have the funds available to cover these purchases.
  6. DW gets cuts and coloring on our cruises. She tells me that during the whole process she is constantly barraged with suggestions for extras that really jack up the price. That is the job of the stylist. After you book a cut and color, their job is to sell you on extras like nail treatment, pedicures, and additional services. You just have to specify that all you want is a cut and color. I think bringing your own coloring agent is similar to walking into a restaurant with a raw steak and some eggs and saying "here.... cook these for me". I seriously doubt that any discount is given if you provide your own coloring agents.
  7. I agree with Taxmantoo about the destruction of the great, intimate piano bar in the "Mix" and installing Billboard Onboard. The talent that Billboard Corp provides for their dual pianos is hit or miss. Many of the musicians have never worked together before they got on the ship for their contract. Some are able to work together and put on a good show, others not so much, and the stronger musician carries the weaker one. Unfortunately, this Billboard Onboard concept eliminates the possibility of passengers getting to experience such great piano bar showman like Barry from Boston. Talented musicians like him are not welcome in the Billboard group. Such a loss !! I have heard from a future cruise consultant onboard the Eurodam, that the smaller S and R class ships will have the large, wall mounted flat screen TV's in the suites, BUT..... they will still be the older 15 or so channels of TV, not the on-demand type system that is on the Vista class ships and larger. It's a wiring issue. The on-demand system requires an ethernet cable to be run to each TV from the control room where the video servers are located. That level of wiring is beyond the capability of a 2 week drydock, according to the FCC. If that is the case, then the new, larger wall mounted TV's will still have a DVD player connected, and the front desk DVD lending library will still be operational. If someone has been on a recently updated R or S class ship, and you had a 48" or larger flat screen TV mounted on the wall. let us know how the DVD's were handled. It the DVD player still mounted at the desk ? How many channels are there on the new TV's ?
  8. Easy. In all but the suites, just pre-purchase cabin credit on the HAL website in an amount close to the equivalent of $14.50 per day, per person and you will be all set. A 7 day cruise in an inside, ocean view, lanai or veranda cabin will cost $101.50 per person. So just pre-purchase $200 in cabin credits for 2 people and that will come close to covering it. If you have any HAL provided onboard credit, you can use that too. The only thing you can't use HAL provided OBC on is casino slots or chips and cash at the front desk. Those 2 items have to come from your cash or they are charged to your cabin account and you pay for it with the credit card you have on file when the cruise is over.
  9. Even better, why sit in a cabin looking out a window, when you can be sitting on the aft Lido deck in the fresh air, with lots of views and scenery, and you can be served ice-cold draft beer from the bar, instead of canned beer. Better views, and guaranteed cold beer, same price.
  10. We always book aft balcony cabins on deck 4, which is above the MDR. We have never had any noise issues from the MDR, which is a generally quiet place after 9:00 pm. The MDR is carpeted, and any noise from chairs moving would be transmitted to the deck below, not above, like deck 4. The only cabins you have to concern yourselves with for noise issues are the ones directly above or below BB-King Blues Club. Or cabins on deck 8 directly below the aft Lido deck pool area. If you have a choice of a deck 4 aft balcony and a deck 10 Juliet balcony, I would take the deck 4 balcony in a heartbeat.
  11. The ships that have the on-demand, interactive TV's (Vista class and larger) have 2 ESPN channels and a "special events" channel on the TV's. On the smaller ships, ( R and S class) they also offer ESPN channels. So, I'm pretty sure you will get your NFL "Fix" in the fall cruises. Unfortunately, the ships that did have a Sports Bar with lots of big screen TV's deleted them in order to make room for the Billboard Onboard dual pianos. But the Gallery Bar, behind the casinos have large screen TV's and lots of draft beer. The Gallery Bar has become the Sports Bar.
  12. We have booked the Rotterdam, Oct 3, 2020 from Rotterdam to Ft. Lauderdale. The Vista suite price is $6699 P/P while the Lanai cabin is $4499. Not double in this case, but the $2200 difference is not worth the double Mariner points, IMHO. We looked at a 28 day south Pacific cruise a couple of years ago. It was on the Maasdam. A Vista Suite was $9949 P/P. The Lanai cabin was $4899. We chose to wait until 2019 to do this cruise on the Eurodam, and we paid $5049 for a aft balcony (VB grade) including pre-paid gratuities values at $812 for 2 people. Another issue is on the Rotterdam, they consider a Lanai cabin as an Ocean View as far as OBC goes. When booking onboard with the FCC, Ocean View cabins get $200 P/P OBC while Veranda cabins get $300 P/P OBC. They have no allowances for Lanai cabins. They lump Lanai cabins into Ocean View when it comes to OBC. But Lanai cabins are $700 more expensive than Ocean Views.
  13. Our experience with the new balcony cabins installed on deck 10, behind the Crow's Nest is that they are very tiny balconies. DW calls them "Juliet Balconies", like you see in some European hotels. You can open the door and stand out there, but no real room to do anything like have breakfast or a few drinks. Check out Cruise Deck Plans dot com and see the pictures of the actual cabins with balconies. They are definitely smaller than a regular Vista class balcony.
  14. Thank you KK, There's nothing more disappointing that to have your tray of food from the Dive-In and a cold drink and you want to find a table at noon, lunch time in the Lido pool area, and you see half the tables totally blocked by a single person reading or sleeping, but all other 3 chairs at that table are blocked by bags, books, and other personal stuff. There are loads of quiet places to read and sleep on the ship. The Lido pool area is one of them, but NOT at the busy lunchtime, especially on sea days.
  15. Double points... Big deal. I'm already 4 star, and the bennies of achieving 5 Star are not worth the huge cost of a balcony cabin that they call a suite. I happily take Lanai cabins on ships like the Rotterdam, save a bunch of money and enjoy the wide promenade deck right outside my cabin.
  16. Young people have to learn to exist without their phones 24/7. There is nothing more disturbing than to see a whole family out for a family dinner in a restaurant, and the whole time they are there, the entire family, even the parents, have their heads buried in a cell phone, only looking up to put a bite of food into their mouths. For the expense of that dinner, and for all the good it accomplishes, they could have stayed home and ordered pizza. "Ditching the phone" may not be totally possible for a once-in-a-lifetime (for some families) experience like a cruise, but 100% connectivity should not be the primary requirement for a DD or DS.
  17. The reason for NOT bringing your life jackets to the muster drill is because many people would just partially put them on or carry them, and the loose straps and buckles would be tripping other guests when using the stairs. You are not supposed to use the elevators during the muster drill, simulating an actual emergence, so everybody except mobility challenged people must use stairs. People were tripping and falling down on those life vest straps. The 3 tier HAL system works well, but many times, some people will order that "last drink" when the first stage of the muster drill is called. When attendance is taken, usually by scanning your keycards, everybody is standing around waiting for the "last drink" stragglers to honor us with their presence at the muster station.
  18. Years ago, before the "credit card holds" were started, many spring breakers would buy a minimum grade cabin, and board the ship with almost empty pockets. The lived it up on the cruise and ran up a huge bar bill. They would avoid the cabin stewards and MDR waiters on the last night, and disembark the ship with a huge bill left unpaid. They would be paged to come to the front desk to settle up their bill, but they never would show. As soon as the ship was cleared, they ran off. In those days, there was no scanning of your key card to enter the gangway, where today, you would be stopped if you had an unpaid balance. The unpaid balance was considerable, but usually not high enough to warrant a law suit and the legal expenses involved. So the cruise lines had to eat the losses. That is when credit card holds started. Same problem with drink sharing when you had a beverage package. It wasn't an issue when drink packages started being offered, and there was no rule that both must buy the same package. Then bartenders started noticing people ordering a 2nd drink and sliding it over to a friend, sharing the single package among 2 or more people. People will always try to scam a system. And they will succeed for a while until the cruise lines detect it and initiate policies to block it. This penalizes the honest people for the sake of a small percentage who try to get something for nothing. A lot of people would love to cruise, but it's all they can do to put together the basic cruise fare plus expenses. They have credit cards, but they are close to the limits. Once they see the requirements of $60 per day/per passenger, that kills their hopes of experiencing a great cruise. As usual, the minority tries to scam a system, and the majority of honest folks have to suffer the consequences.
  19. As others have said, if your DD wants to use You Tube, you must purchase the Premium internet package, the most expensive of all 3 plans. HAL will block any website that links to a You Tube video, and also blocks all You Tube access unless you are on the premium plan. In some parts of the world (northern latitudes) the satellite internet link is slower, and you will see lots of You Tube buffering (the dreaded rotating circle) while trying to stream videos, even with the Premium plan. Tell your DD to ditch the phone for the cruise and go out and socialize face-to-face. She will have a much better experience.
  20. I just checked tonight. I still have the Early Booking Bonus on the landing page. So I hit <ctrl> F5, which forces a reload of the home page from the website and bypasses any caching. I still get the EBB. I am using the US site. When I bring up one of the cruises that was associated earlier with EBB and the included SBP and PG dinner, that pricing information is now gone, and the usual info is there. The only mention of the EBB is on the initial landing page. Drilling down further, all reference is gone.
  21. You are right. On the R and S class ships, the Vista Suites, which passes for a plain vanilla balcony cabin on the larger ships, are considered suites, along with the doubling of the price. Any cabin that requires me to turn sideways to pass between the foot of the bed and the cabin wall to get to the sofa and desk is not a suite IMHO.
  22. Just logged into the HAL website, and the initial splash landing screen features their Early Booking Bonus. (EBB). If you click on it to see what cruises are included in this promotion, you first are prompted to "Hurry, this offer ends soon" !!! However, below that there is the message that "This offer expires on June 30, 2019". Today is July 3. I understand that HAL probably contracts out their website to an IT company. But any company that spends lots of money on a website is the one that is ultimately responsible for its content. I'm sure if you would call HAL and ask for a cruise with the EBB, you would the told "Sorry that promotion has expired". If you press the issue because they are still promoting it in THEIR website, you will get the usual company line "Holland America is not responsible for errors and omissions on their website". Nice cop-out, but it would be nice if companies took responsibility for what is being displayed in their names.
  23. In Ft. Lauderdale, US immigration will require all passengers to disembark the ship to get down to "zero count". After that, you can reboard with a transit pass you will be issued. If you are touring around Ft. Lauderdale, then when you get back to the ship, your transit pass will expedite your reboarding. You may or may not have to attend the 2nd muster drill in Ft. Lauderdale. HAL has a policy that you only have to attend a muster drill every 30 days. It works great on a "Collector's Cruise", because you have the same booking number, and same cabin. With a B2B, you may have a different booking number, and maybe even a cabin change. So, they may treat you as a brand new passenger in Ft. Lauderdale and you may have to attend the 2nd muster drill.
  24. Our experience with HAL cruises is that the $60 per person/per day ($30 per person/per day for cruises over 25 days) will fall off of your credit or debit card in 5 - 7 days. But you still need to have the available balance on whatever card or combination of cards you provide when you board. On the check-in process on the HAL website, you can use a separate card for each person in your cabin.
  25. Agreed. Even if you buy travel insurance from a 3rd party company, usually if you have a medical issue and must see a doctor either on the ship or on a land hospital, you must pay for the costs and wait to file a claim to get reimbursed from your insurance when you get home. So you need a credit card with a decent amount of reserve to cover emergencies. Yes, the hold is just that.... a hold on your credit card available balance. The hold usually drops off in 5 - 7 days, but it does tie up your available balance. And for the folks who say "I'm healthy, so who needs insurance", there is the story of a young, healthy couple with a 14 year old boy who developed appendicitis while in a Caribbean port. The ship was not equipped to perform this surgery, so they sent the couple and son to a local hospital. The hospital demanded a credit card payment of over $4000 to do the surgery and recuperation. Naturally, the ship left without the family, so they had to fly home on a very expensive, last minute, one-way ticket after spending a few days in a local hotel. They were fortunate that they all had passports. Otherwise, after the son was ready to fly, they would have the additional expense of applying for an emergency passport so they could fly home. Birth certificates and driver's licenses of any type are useless if you have to fly home from outside the US. Moral of the story, ALWAYS buy travel insurance and carry a valid passport, even for a quick cruise to the Bahamas. I know I'll get flamed for the passport topic, but if you can afford to cruise, you can afford $13 a year for the cost of a 10 year passport.
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