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About drlee

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Woodbury, Mn
  1. We have brought on board wine several times. But n Amsterdam, there isn't really a close-by wine shop other than the one listed above. Not like Fort Lauderdale with access to total wine. Depending on your status, if you get the wine package at a 50% discount, the bottles work out to about $13-15 each, depending on which package you buy, so economics are about a wash. The quality of wine to many on this forum isn't great, and if forced to pay full price for the packages, way too much money. Don't know your itinerary, but there are likely wine shops in most European cities. Another source is the Amsterdam airport with wine available in many shops, but don't expect great values. Consider also the total cost. If you purchase a good bottle of wine, at say $20, then add the $18 corkage fee, you're spending about what the better wines on HAL cost. We have a couple of favorites from the wine menu (not the packages) which will run $40 or so. Up to you what you do, but harder to get the best value when leaving from Amsterdam. The port is essentially next to the train station, and you may find something in there that will meet your needs, also.
  2. Also remember that if you have four star or above status, you'll get 50% off mini bar purchases, but no discount from a bar.
  3. Over the years, we've experienced good and bad Pinnacle meals, mostly good. Overall, the food has been excellent, and the service great. On the Prinsendam this summer, one of our meals had a poor wine steward, and when we talked with the sommelier, he told us that there had been other complaints, and on our next visit, he had been replaced with an excellent young lady. We have had periodic problems with meat temperature (too done or raw) but can almost always get it corrected. Yes, the increasing prices of the venues is irritating, but reflects Hal's shifting of price/cost to the ala carte side of the ledger, and we just deal with it. On this same trip, the Canalleto was outstanding, with their nightly specials. The osso bucco was out of this world.
  4. Depending on your destination, the Maui bus can be an option. $2 each way pp, it leaves from the back side of the Cinema Wharf building (east side of Banyon tree), If you are going to Kaanapali beach, the aquarium or any of the resorts on the beach, this is a good way to go. For exploring Lahaina itself, it's small enough to do by walking. If you want whale watching, scuba or snorkling, fishing or trips to Lanai, boats leave from the docks where your tender arrives.
  5. There are many options to being connected on board: 1. Use free wifi in ports. Many terminals have it, and cafes, McDonalds, etc certainly have it worldwide. I even found free wifi in the street in Shanghai and Beijing. 2. Buy the ship's internet. Pricey, but works well enough to get email. You can use the PC's in the explorer's lounge or bring your own device. 3. Buy your carrier's international plan. AT&T for example offers sharing on your home wireless plan for $10 for each day you use it. This is per device, but you can hotspot your phone, and share it with a PC or pad. 4. Buy your carrier's cruise ship plan. Again for about $10 a day, depending on length of cruise, you can access texts, and make calls, but only while at sea. In port you have to use one of the above options. 5. Forget the internet, and enjoy the cruise, the ports, and the quiet!
  6. Our experience was a $30 discount on internet packages, not 50% for five stars. (Prinsendam in July)
  7. You can always use the one device plan, (for a phone) then use the phone as a 'HOTSPOT". Then you can link your other device, laptop, pad, whatever, and share the connection. The limitation is only for the number of devices connected to the internet via WIfi.
  8. Tender tickets for four or five star mariners are generally given out in the ocean bar lounge. For our July cruise, no waiting. Show up, get your priority ticket and head out. Tendering was generally well managed, and soon (an hour?) after tendering began, announcement to just go to tender location without heaing to showroom or lounge. Smaller ship, less passengers to move.
  9. We remember the bad ones...those we never see except for at the evening show or planned events, reading prepared speeches. These are never on the pier, and don't speak to passengers in the hall. Some just don't seem to enjoy their jobs,and bristle when challenged at trivia games. One memorable "good" CD was on a Australia circumnavigation. This guy got a lot of the local entertainers on board, was proud of showing off his country, and had a fabulous sense of humor. Did what we could on the (then) cruise review forms. Lately, not so memorable. Many, except for the mandatory pre-show announcements or daily "activities" PA announcements, are invisible and silent. I do think that the reduced staff, along with reduction in activities makes their jobs harder. Nonetheless, these men and women are supposed to be the liaison between the cruise line and the passengers.
  10. You have choices: 1. As stated, enable wifi calling on your phone. 2. Use skype or a calling app Both of these use purchased wifi from Hal or a solid signal ashore where available (terminals, starbucks, etc) 3. Use carrier on board calling, like AT&Ts $60 for the entire cruise. Unlimited calling and text (no data) https://www.att.com/offers/international-plans/passport.html The last one uses the ship's cell (sea satellite) but there is no charge except for initial one time fee. This ends up being far less expensive than buying the ships wifi.
  11. When we were on the Prinsendam in July, they changed from minutes to daily packages between legs of the cruise, in Amsterdam. So a drydock is not necessary for the conversion. This particular cruise went north, so lost ALL internet connection for days. The ship provided a 20% discount on packages, and those who bought minutes (like us on the first leg) were credited back 20% plus given the daily package for the rest of the cruise gratis.
  12. As a check, your excursions will show in the HAL app's daily schedule, which should be populated when you board. We find this helpful, without having to keep paper logs.
  13. I always "tip" folks who provide exceptional services to me. If a waiter in a restaurant gives great service, I tip more. If my room steward or table waiter does more than just the basis, I give them an additional tip at the end of a cruise. But tipping those for just doing their job is a problem for me. Just like I don't tip my plumber, or tip my cable company for restoring service, just handing out extra money for those who are just doing the basic job seems a bridge too far. Tip the usher who shows you to your seat at a game? Tip the guy who cuts your lawn? The longshoremen in Florida have a defined job: to move luggage onto or off of a ship. And they are begging for tips. I don't tip the person bagging my groceries, and I don't tip a UPS driver bringing my Amazon delivery. I do tip for excellent barber service, or a great Uber driver. But especially when tipping seems more like extortion, I'll forgo it. I think the Australasians have it right.
  14. On our July cruise we were given the announcement of the sale of the Prinsendam, and were told that HAL had leased it until 7/1/19, when it will totally leave the fleet. Most of the itineraries will be reassigned to one of the mid sized ships. She will be missed.
  15. I'm ok with online surveys, with one exception. If you are on a back to back (collector) cruise, you only receive a survey at the very end. In our case, in the Middle of our Prinsendam cruise, there was a major personnel change, as contracts expired and started. On board service people were moved around, who used to be your dining steward was now in the Pinnacle, new cruise director, new band, new ocean bar trio, etc. Makes it hard to remember people and events especially from the first leg. On the other hand, over the years we have often received feedback on our surveys, once even a phone call. So they are read.
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