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  1. When I booked my Chill Island Cabana, the confirmation said "Chill Island Cabanas E". Anyone know what the E refers to?
  2. Hi -- we just booked an aft-facing CL on the Symphony (we have been in similar suites on both the Oasis and the Allure). Does anyone know if there are any notable differences in these ships (not necessarily referring to restaurants) worth mentioning? I assume the Crown Lofts are probably the same, as would be the Coastal Kitchen/Suite Lounge? Thanks in advance!
  3. Thank you. I agree with all of that. All good suite perk tweaks that don't cost them (and that shouldn't offend non-suite guests to any great extent). And speaking of Royal..their Suite Lounge/Coastal Kitchen area on the Oasis class ships is a real highlight if anyone is considering one of those ships.
  4. Cabanas are midship on Deck 11 (a little hard to find at first). They can be rented by the day, or for the entire cruise (it was $599 for the cruise). We were very surprised at how many went unused. I think there were about 6 of them that were reserved for the duration, and on sea days a few more were occupied. For us, it literally made the cruise. We were there for some span of time nearly every day....anywhere from an hour to all day. We would even go to relax after excursions. As I said in my review, the service was outstanding, it was typically comfortable temperature wise with the breezes in the cabanas (sometimes the outside was downright windy).
  5. Yes, we noticed both of those things and thought both were beautiful. The floral arrangements in particular were beautiful. By "wow" factor, I meant there was no grand central atrium, nothing that really stood out as a signature design feature. I said I didn't think this was that big of a deal, just an observation from a first timer on that ship.
  6. I have no idea how you came to the conclusion that I didn't like my HAL experience. I pointed out what I saw as pros and cons, and was pretty clear that overall we enjoyed our experience. Some people appreciate hearing comparisons without feeling the need to be defensive.
  7. It really was strange that there wasn't. I broke down once and poured myself a glass of wine to drink on my balcony, and wrote it down and was billed for it. Not a big deal I guess, but just silly given the cost of a Neptune Suite.
  8. Thanks. No one mentioned the priority tender to us, and I am not so bold as to just walk up to the front of the line and wave my card around for fear of some kind of a mass revolt.
  9. Thanks for reading it :). The answer to your question is YES, but based solely on the itinerary. For us, Caribbean cruises with the same old ports (and newer ports that look like the same old ports) are more about the ship, so we prefer newer ships on those types of vacations, whereas some cruises are about the itinerary/ports. I also failed to mention that as a couple in our late 50s, we felt reasonably young on this cruise lol, which isn't a bad thing. I love kids when they are related to me, but otherwise I don't need to be surrounded by others' kids. I mean that in a "get off my lawn" kind of way. 😉
  10. Rather than a full review, I thought I would just give some rambling bullet points of random comments. We just did the 11 day Panama Canal trip. We live in South Florida, so there was no hotel or airport aspect for us. We stayed in a Neptune suite (and typically stay in suites on other cruises, which are mainly on RCCL). The suite was very nice, comparable to a Grand Suite on a Royal ship The attitudes of staff and crew were for the most part exceptional. Workers had smiles, were friendly as could be, some had incredible memories for names and we felt recognized whenever we returned to the same venue on the ship; The ship itself was clean but tired/dated. It's hard to explain, but it lacked a certain "flow" to it. We have been on the Oasis and the Allure, which are about twice the size, and found those ships were easier to get around and more intuitive for some reason. There is certainly no "grandeur" to the ship, no "wow factor"...but that's OK. We didn't expect it; The Neptune Lounge was very disappointing. Concierges were very nice, especially on the first day or two, but we found certain suite perks were a little less than what we were used to. Example...one afternoon we decided we would prefer to switch our dinner reservation to the Pinnacle Grill. Concierge said they were full at our requested time (7), so we opted for Cannaleto. When we went to the Pinnacle Lounge for a cocktail before dinner at about 6:30, Pinnacle Grill was fairly empty. My experience on Royal was that the concierge could get us in almost anywhere. The honor bar in the NL should really work with a drink package...it would have been a good option for us for cocktails before dinner if it did. So other than grabbing a quick cup of coffee or having an occasional snack, there wasn't much of a reason for us to go there. Some other random suite-related thoughts: No priority disembarkation at ports/tenders or the end of the cruise, no designated/reserved suite seating areas in the shows. None of these are going to have any impact on my cruise, but I am merely noting they are different than what I have seen before. The laundry service/dry cleaning ROCKED. Great perk, took advantage of it and loved it. Breakfast in the Pinnacle was great and we took advantage of that as well on several occasions; Food was very good for the most part. We found the MDR food to be tasty and surprisingly good most of the time...easily better than Royal. Pinnacle Grill experiences were very good as well, as was Cannaleto. The Lido buffet was a little disappointing. We didn't go too often, but I found the selections were so so, and the quality was only fair for me. Dive-In was very good; We didn't really take advantage of the entertainment venues too much. Piano bar singers were a little cheesy, but people loved them and they served their purpose well. We attended America's test Kitchen a couple of times during the trip and it was a nice diversion; Cabana...best part of the trip for us. We reserved one for the entire cruise and were there at some point pretty much every day. Attendants were great..took good care of us. Given the serious lack of lounge chairs by the pools, we were glad we did this. Had lunch up there many days and they were super accommodating. Very surprised that so many went unoccupied; Norovirus scare- A few days into the cruise, we started to notice some procedure changes. The Lido was blocked off in certain areas, and NOTHING was self-serve anymore. Sure enough, the captain made an announcement that there were a few cases of gastrointestinal issue reported and they were going to a different protocol. Urged everyone to be more diligent in hand washing. That protocol continued throughout, and later announcements were stating that the issues hadn't seemed to spread, but they were remaining vigilant; Ports were all new to us, so that was good. Enjoyed Caracao, and the highlight was the Panama Canal of course. Loved it. Had an incident on a private tour in Costa Rica where we were about 50 yards away from the coast guard opening gunfire along the bank of a canal we happened to be sightseeing in, and our tourboat was instructed by guides to "get down" as we literally smelled the gun powder. This is another post for another time, but thankfully everyone in our tour was OK and the tour continued. Overall, HAL did a great job on a smallish, dated feeling ship and the food and crew made it a really enjoyable vacation. Happy to answer any questions if I can.
  11. Lago Mar is the best for that. A short walk down the beach takes you right to the edge of the water where the ships sail right past you.
  12. With all due respect, when i am out to dinner, on a cruise or elsewhere, the quality of my night is based on the company I am with, the quality of the food and service, and the ambiance of the establishment I am dining in. It’s not in any way impacted by what the gentleman or lady 3 tables over is wearing. I also don’t pretend a cruise on a HAL ship is some super high end dining experience. It’s nice and the food and service so far are fine, but it’s “just” a cruise ship after all.
  13. I am, at this moment, on the Zuiderdam. Morning of day 3. After 2 nights, I can safely say anything goes. This may be sad news for some, but I have seen shorts and T-shirt’s in the main dining room. Jeans and polo shirts abound. We ate in the pinnacle grill last night, and jeans, slacks and short sleeve button down shirts were commonplace. You will NOT stand out regardless. No one is looking at people’s clothes, no one is shaming anyone. Tonight is is the first of 2 gala nights. I’ll report back, but my attire will be slacks, a long sleeve shirt, and a sport jacket. No tie. I’ll let you know if I get ridiculed 😉.
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