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RetiredMustang

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About RetiredMustang

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    Puget Sound area
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    Caribbean

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  1. Sorry I missed this when you posted, but have been busy with the holidays. We had a balcony cabin and did not find it too windy to use most days. Occasionally there was a fairly strong wind, but not often. Dave
  2. That is correct - the gratuity is added after the $9.00 limit. So, in your example, the drink listed at $9.00 would be covered by the package. Be aware that since I started this thread, some prices have gone up, so check the prices carefully before you order to make sure what you want is indeed covered by the magic card. Dave
  3. Final set of photos: I hope you enjoyed the pool party. Happy holidays! Dave
  4. We are on Rotterdam, at sea between Grand Cayman and return to Tampa tomorrow. This morning, we discovered a towel animal party going on around the Lido pool deck! We had seen something similar on Eurodam about five years ago, and were deligthed to see another celebration of the towel folding art by the talented crew. The animals ranged from old favorites from the staterooms to larger, more elaborate creations. Many were wearing small red hats for the holidays. So, I decided to take some photos and share. Here are a dozen over three posts. More in the next post, Dave
  5. It's the mini-bar list, so far as I can tell -- it's on a card hanging from a liter of Evian on the counter. The room service menu in the orange booklet refers to the card in the back of the booklet for current prices, and of course the card is not there in our booklet. Dave
  6. I am currently on Rotterdam. Here is the list of in-room beverage prices: Miniature liquors … $5.50 Miller Lite aluminum … $7 Heineken .. $6.75 Wine (187 ml) … $8 Sparkling wine (187 ml) … $9.50 Evian water (1 liter) … $5 Perrier water … $3.75 Soft drinks … $2.25 Red Bull … $5 Dave
  7. OK, I just looked at my upcoming booking on the HAL website again, and beverages are now available to pre-purchase. Either it was offline for a while, or (not impossible 😉) I encountered operator error the first time I tried. It now shows SBP as an option for April on Noordam, and the now usual 3 wine bottle packages, although they have the caveat that wines may be substituted. On Rotterdam, we are all wondering how this will all shake out, but think it may be rolled out across the fleet ship by ship, with Rotterdam as the flagship being the first; I just wish HAL had been upfront with info. We will watch the issue and decide before April what we will do on Noordam. For now, we are OK with the wines within the SBP, and the EBP covers everything currently listed in the Ocean Bar, and the bar staff are wonderful as always. We would appreciate any insights POA1 or others may gain over the next few months. Thanks to everyone, Dave
  8. Breaking news for the Institute of Cheer: Basic story: The Signature Beverage Package has been discontinued. Only Elite Beverage Package is now being sold. POA1, little information is available on board, and I ask your assistance to help us all understand the changes. Longer version: We are on Rotterdam on a 21-day Collector cruise. Our first 7 days were on a Western Caribbean itinerary. We purchased the SBP before sailing, and were able to get drinks as normal, and noticed the beverage staff selling the SBP. Odd notes were that they had substituted the Danzante pinot grigio for the Zonin that DW usually has, and that Black Opal Shiraz was not available, but my usual McPherson's was, priced at $8.50. Our dinner wine steward told us that HAL has hired a new wine manager, and that the packages are changing, with Danzante being phased out from the lower-priced package, so that's why they were serving it as the house pinot grigio. On Sunday, we had turn-around day in Tampa and sailed as usual, with our usual tipples in the Ocean Bar. Yesterday we went to the Ocean Bar and the bartenders told us the prices had changed and the Danzante was now priced at $10, and so not included in the SBP. McPhersons was now priced at $9.00 and so within the SBP limit. The bartenders also said they were told to honor SBP packages bought online, but were no longer selling them on board, but only were selling the EBP. In further discussion with the Ocean Bar bartenders, with whom we have sailed before, and with the Cellar Master who came by, we learned that the new wine director was in the process of changing the wines to be offered. Also, they were given a list of wines that they could sell in the bars and the new prices. There was no info available as to what the new wine packages would contain. Interestingly enough, at dinner last night, I looked at the wine by the glass list in the MDR and saw McPherson's for $7.75. Here is the list of the wines by the glass now offered in the Ocean Bar: Whites: La Terre White Zinfandel ... $7 Santa Carolina Chardonnay ... $7 Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc ... $9 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay ... $9 Beringer Pinot Grigio ... $9 Danzante Pinot Grigio ... $10 Ch. Ste. Michelle Chardonnay ... $10 Ch. Ste. Michelle Reisling ... $11 Simi Sauvignon Blanc ... $11 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc ... $12 Zonin Moscato ... $12 Reds Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon ... $7 Santa Carolina Merlot ... $7 McPherson Shiraz ...$9 Greystone Merlot ... $9 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon ... $9.75 Columbia Crest Merlot ... $11 Sextant Zinfandel ... $13 Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti ... $14 Arboleda Carmenere ... $15 Another fact - I went to my bookings on HAL for our next cruise, and there are no beverages at all listed for pre-purchase. My surmise is that the data base is being updated and the info, I hope, will be listed before we sail in April. My biased opinions: - Very little information has been shared with us onboard, either the bar staffs or the passengers. We were presented with a fait accompli. It seems to me to be another self-inflicted HAL problem. A little advance info goes a long way, and I wonder sometimes about the competence of the HAL communications and marketing departments, who should have prepared literature, explanations, etc. instead of just hanging us all out to dry. - I don't mind that prices go up, they always do, but would appreciate a bit of notice. An email before we sailed that explained that our SBP choices were going to change mid-cruise would have prepared us. - We have not asked about the possibility of shifting our SBP to the EBP at a pro-rated price, but that info should have already been provided. - We have booked a cruise about a year or so out that was under the Explore 4 promotion. No information has been provided as to whether the package will be changed to EBP and/or the price to increase. Again, there are no doubt a lot of people who want to know, and it is something that absolutely should have been anticipated at HAL HQ and answers available. Again, a very poor communication effort in my opinion. - And, I hope the new wine guy actually adds a mix of wines, instead of all high-end ones, for us wineaux who enjoy McPherson and Zonin. Perhaps even the addition of an Oregon pinto gris or two would be welcome. I just hope he doesn't turn out like the cocktail guy who added a whole lot of high-priced drinks that very few people want (We call them Dale Gack-tails). At least (for now anyway) we can still get a real cocktail like a margarita or a grasshopper, etc. so if we similarly have a choice of a range of wines in the future, we'll be happy. Bottom line -- POA1, as you can see, there is a lot of churn going on here on Rotterdam, and anything you and the Institute can do to assist with the information flow would no doubt be appreciated by all on the HAL CC fourm. Thanks, Dave
  9. Jacqui, Please add: Rotterdam - 25-Nov-18 - 21 day Western/Southern Caribbean Collector (R/T Tampa) Retired Mustang - wherein we earn our gold medallions Noordam - 7-Apr-19 - 36 day New Zealand/Transpacific Collector (Sydney-Vancouver) Retired Mustang Zuiderdam - 30-Jul-19 - 35 day Voyage of the Vikings (R/T Boston) Retired Mustang Eurodam - 16-Feb-20 - 14 day Panama Canal (Ft. Lauderdale - San Diego) Retired Mustang Thanks for all you do, Dave
  10. We just took the HAL bus transfer from Noordam on Aug. 12. We were given brown 2 tags in our disembarkation packet and left our bags outside the cabin the night before, as usual. We reported as directed next morning to the show lounge to wait to be called. People with transfers to YVR were also waiting in the lounge for their buses, and were called before us. We were called, IIRC, about 8:45 a.m. or so, after being delayed a minute or two until the rep got word all our bags had been loaded. We were led ashore and were not checked by Canada officials but were taken directly to our bus, which was considered a "sealed" bus and we were not allowed to stop until we arrived at Blaine border station. At Blaine, there was a long line of buses in front of us whose passengers had to take their bags and walk them inside for customs and passport inspection, so we were there about an hour until an agent was free. A CBP agent boarded the bus and went through while we held our passports, opened to the photo page, near our faces. He then collected the passports and went inside to process them. The bus driver came back about five minutes later and gave us our passports back, and then drove us away toward Seattle. We went directly to SeaTac, with some construction delays, and arrived at SeaTac around 2 p.m. There was a toilet on the bus. A couple of things -- we had to be U.S. citizens and we had to have booked this transfer before the cruise; we were told we would not have been able to book it once we got aboard. Dave
  11. I don't know the answer to that, sorry. I was never interested in it, so I never thought to ask. Dave
  12. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. We are enjoying retirement in the Seattle area very much, and also getting together with our sons often. We have been doing more cruising, now that I am retired. Hope all is well with you two. Dave
  13. Yes, the shuttles were free for everyone, it's just that I noticed that a lot of the crew took advantage of the opportunity to stock up at Walmart. So far as the Retreat, nobody asked me to pay to go there and there were no signs to make myself scarce - it's apparently now just an outside deck where you could take food or drink or just sit and enjoy the scenery, much like the Lido aft or Seaview decks. Dave
  14. Aug. 12, debarkation We approached Vancouver early morning on Sunday. We went out on the Lido deck aft to watch the passage under the Lion’s Gate Bridge: We pulled into Canada Place a short time after that. Here is the Voyage Log for the Noordam cruise. We had arranged with our PCC before the cruise to take the direct bus transfer from the ship to SeaTac airport in Seattle. Early in the cruise on Noordam, we confirmed we were going to do that and filled out the Canadian landing card and returned it to the front desk. Our disembarkation package had brown luggage tags and directions to report to the show lounge where we would be called separately from other passengers. Those with buses to Vancouver airport also reported to the show lounge. We learned the bus to SeaTac was available only to U.S. citizens. We waited until our bags had been loaded on our bus, and then were led ashore to the bus. We did not show passports to Canadian officials. We were the second of two buses headed to SeaTac. Our bus driver told us that we were now in a sealed bus and could not stop until we reached the U.S. border at Blaine. So, we drove through Vancouver and suburbs and some countryside until we got to Blaine, where we got in the line for buses. It turns out we spent an hour at Blaine, because several regular public transport buses and vans had arrived ahead of us and the passengers had had to get out and take their luggage inside for customs and passport inspection. Eventually, border agents came to the HAL buses, and checked our passport photos against our faces. They then collected the passports, went inside the building to process them, and brought them back out to us. We did not have to get off the bus; in fact, we were not allowed to do so. Luckily, the bus was equipped with a toilet. After clearing Blaine, we headed directly to SeaTac, encountering some construction delays going though Seattle downtown area. But, we arrived at Seatac about five hours after we left Vancouver. Our bags were unloaded from the bus, and we claimed them on the pavement in the bus parking area and walked into the terminal. Most of the passengers were headed to flights. DW and I were almost home, and instead we headed for the Link light rail station to catch a train to downtown Seattle. So, basically, what the deal with the bus is that HAL has worked out with the Canadian government to treat the bus as almost an elongated tunnel direct to the U.S., since before arriving in Vancouver we had spent all the time in U.S. ports. We thought that was very accommodating of Canada, and appreciated the direct transfer availability, without having to clear customs, get a cab to the train station and catch a public bus or late afternoon train. Most of the other passengers on the buses took the option because they could make better flight connections from Seattle than from Vancouver to wherever in the U.S. they were going. In any case, unless someone has questions I might be able to answer, this concludes my review of our adventure of going to Denali and back. I hope you found it enjoyable and/or useful. Thanks, Dave
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