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About jakers

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Lancaster, California, USA
  • Interests
    Dreaming about my next cruise.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity and Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. We were on the Maasdam last summer and had the opportunity to try the Pinnacle Grill on two separate occasions. The first was with our EXC In-depth guest chef doing a food and wine pairing, which was excellent. The second closely mirrors your experience. It took awhile before our orders were taken and even longer for the food to arrive. Without exception the steak dinners were unexceptional. Not cooked to order, poor quality and flavor. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) if you can't cook a steak to order you shouldn't cook in a steakhouse. We would have sent every plate back but like you we had already waited too long to be served. When you have a captive audience, their is no excuse for hit and miss service. They know exactly how many people will show up and when. Their is no guessing on staffing levels to meet your service goals. The only thing that that can be said is that their goals are set too low. We will be cruising again on the Maasdam in a few months and we plan on making use of the Pinnacle Grill. The only difference will be that the manager will know our expectations before we sit down.
  2. While you are on the topic, perhaps some of you well seasoned cruisers could answer my question. We will be boarding the Maasdam in Papeete, French Polynesia on March 15th, 2020 cruising to San Diego. As HAL often does, this will be one segment of multiple cruises. The ship docks in Papeete on the 14th and then overnights with some passengers leaving on the 15th and some beginning their cruise. My understanding is that we cannot board until 1 pm (although we have to leave our hotel room at 11 am) and the the ship leaves the dock at 11 pm. Does anybody know when they would do the muster drill? Do the passengers who are continuing their cruise have to attend? Since we will be docked, can we leave the ship prior to the muster drill and return for the drill? Can we leave the ship after the muster drill? What about the "crazy" passengers that are flying in the same day and don't get there until 7:30 pm? Thank you in advance for your answers.
  3. It always amuses and baffles me when people complain about "corruption" and "danger" in other countries. The main difference between "them" and "us" is that we have gone to the trouble of legalizing corruption. Would you consider it "corrupt" when you get a ticket for $1,000 for driving in the car pool lane and the only evidence that they have is a picture of your license plate. They don't bother providing you with the picture of the front windshield showing three people in the car. Do you cross the street or roll up your window when passing a homeless person on the street who is in the throes of a psychotic break? Would you stop going for walks because "those" people are dangerous? After spending a day at Disneyland with your family, do you feel robbed? I've lived and worked in the poorest sections of Los Angeles and Mexico City. Quite frankly, I don't walk around Mexico wondering if the government is going to grab me off the streets, throw me in jail, or kick me out the the country. All people and places deserve to be treated with respect and caution. Otherwise, we would all stay home and give up on traveling anywhere. Now, I will get off my high horse and address the real problem. Cruise lines are a for profit business. They are not going to sail anywhere if they can't make money, and they can't make money if the ship isn't full. Problems like the recent tragedies in Sonora feed the perception that Mexico is more unsafe than other places in the world or the USA. The more things that feed that perception, the less likely that people will book a Mexico vacation. The real question for this forum is: Do the recent events in Mexico make you (my fellow travelers) look elsewhere when choosing a vacation?
  4. We were in St. Kitts in December of last year. We took a taxi on two separate occasions. Both times the drivers were prompt and courteous. They returned to pick us up after our tours and were waiting for us when we finished. Nothing is cheap in St. Kitts, but it is best to take a taxi as they drive on the opposite side of the road.
  5. Thanks to everyone for their help. I will try to contact HAL as we get closer to the date and see what they have in store. In our family we strive for inclusiveness, especially when it comes to holiday celebrations. Passover, Easter, and a massage by Mariachi's. What more could a man desire.
  6. On our cruise next year on the Maasdam (12 Day Mexico Sea of Cortez) leaving on April 3rd, 2020 we will be on-board for two special occasions. The start of Passover on Wednesday April 8th and Easter Sunday on April 12. We will be traveling with our Jewish friends. Over the years we have gone to their home and participated in the Seder. I am fairly confident in believing that there will be a special meal on Sunday for Easter. What about the Seder? Is it possible to hold a Seder while on the ship? Will anything special be done to mark the occasion? What else can I expect on Easter Sunday? While I don't expect many children on the ship, and there will be no Club HAL, will there be anything special for kids on Easter?
  7. Copper 10-8 is spot on about the harbormaster running things in Lahaina. While we love Hawaii and Maui is our favorite island, you are "just another tourist" to many of the locals. There is a small harbor in Lahaina and local boats, no matter how small, get equal consideration. Be prepared to wait outside the harbor until a small skiff or rowboat passes by. The tenders dock at the same place as the inter island ferry and it takes precedence over the tenders. Allow plenty of time to get on the island and be aware of the ferry schedule.
  8. I have always booked directly with HAL for this very reason. They tend to have "Flash" sales over the weekend that are only available if you call them directly. These sales disappear on Monday when traditional travel agents are back at work. This way they don't have to offer the lowered prices to those who are already booked. Along the same vein, I have found that having the Platinum Protection goes a long way in convincing the retention department to offer amenities that aren't given to those who purchased nonrefundable fares or have passed the final payment date. Obviously these things only happen if they are still trying to fill the ship after the final payment date.
  9. On our recent sailing on the Maasdam in May there was an Orange Party. I heard that it is only on the longer sailings. They also gave out orange glow in the dark necklaces. Strangely, they did not have orange t shirts on sale the day of the party. Missed a marketing opportunity there.
  10. I know that it has been talked about in other threads, but there is a mistaken belief that the cast productions were only eliminated on the EXC In Depth sailings so that they could bring the specialist on board. The two things are unrelated. Holland is moving away from cast productions in order to differentiate themselves from other cruise lines. Nightly shows were at 7:00 pm for late dining and 9:00 pm for early dining. The performers included the usual mix of singers (individuals and groups), magicians, comedians, jugglers, and BBC movies. Shows ran 45 to 50 minutes and without exception were worth the time. Two crew shows were done after 11:00 pm. Throughout the three weeks, performers came and went off the ship. No performer was on the ship for the entire trip. Some performers were only on the ship for a week. The band was comprised of contract musicians from other venues on the ship.
  11. Sorry, I did not pay attention to the maitre 'd. The assistant was at our table every night making sure that any problems were taken care of. Luckily, I don't know who the Pinnacle Grill manager was. The one night that we ate at the Pinnacle Grill, we were unimpressed. Everybody at our table ordered some kind of steak and without exception there was a problem. No flavor, not tender, and not cooked to order. It goes without saying that if you are going to run a steak house, the cook should know how to cook a steak. We were very disappointed.
  12. I forgot to mention the photographer whose presentations included instructions on getting the best picture and time lapse photography.
  13. I just returned from the 1st 21 day Alaska Cruise. It is hard to condense 21 days into anything resembling a short and concise reply, but I will try by answering your questions one by one over the coming days. To give you an idea of my perspective; I have cruised 6 times on Hal, always on the smaller ships. This was our 6th cruise to Alaska, two previous cruises were for 14 days on the Maasdam and the Zaandam. The most important question is the EXC indepth program. There was a Biologist, Gloeta, she was outstanding. Her presentations were highly informative and entertaining. Unfortunately for the current cruisers she is off the ship for now but will be returning later in the summer. There was a geologist. There was an outdoorsman who spends most of his time as a guide in Alaska. There was an adventurer who has hiked all over the world. There was a native Alaskan wood carver. He spent most of his time in the Atrium on deck 6 doing carving. There was a musician, who also did Alaskan poetry presentations with her husband, the above mentioned outdoorsman. We had two chefs, each was onboard for about 10 days. They did presentations in the theater. We attended the first chef's dinner and wine pairing in the Pinnacle Grill. It was excellent. They are rotating the specialist throughout the summer. Just because they were on the previous cruise does not mean that they will be on the next one. Presentations took about 45 minutes with question and answering sessions following. They followed each other hourly throughout the day. There is a HAL staff member (Kay) who has the job of making sure the presentations do not run over and overlap the next one. Apparently there was some feedback from the previous journeys regarding the overlapping presentations. All in all, the presentations were very diversified and informative. They are making an active effort to improve each succeeding cruise. If you are looking for an adventure park at sea, this is not the cruise for you. If you want to cruise to out of the way ports, relax at sea, and learn about the land in which you are traveling, you will be delighted.
  14. Every other year we cruise over the Christmas and New Year holidays. In my experience, being in any port on Christmas is a waste of the day. Most shops are closed, restaurants are on limited staffing, and those people who do work would rather be some other place. Not to mention, that you are the reason that they are working. If you have no choice, be sure and take a tour. We try and find a cruise that encompasses Christmas and New Years as a sea day. Each year it gets harder and harder. Cruise lines try to maximized their income by splitting the holidays into two cruises. In 2020 we decided to try a back to back on X leaving out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second week of the cruise leaves San Juan on December 26th. I'm interested in how that will work as far as flying in. To get there a day before, you have to fly in on Christmas day or risk flying into PR on the day of the cruise. Even at sea, holidays are best spent with your families and that applies to the people who live in the ports also.
  15. My DD (who is disabled) had a heating pad for medical reasons. She needed an extension cord to reach her bed. Apparently, using the heating pad and a hair dryer at the same time tripped the circuit breaker and cut power to a couple of cabins. They confiscated the extension cord but not the heating pad. Go figure.
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