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Storylady

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Everything posted by Storylady

  1. Good question. All I know is that they are treating Lincoln Center like a group booking. I will try to find out on our next cruise. https://www.cruisehive.com/holland-america-line-makes-major-entertainment-changes/92269
  2. We were on the Oosterdam for the Transatlantic crossing. Lincoln Center is on the main stage with better times for their performances. They did several shows including one afternoon program. Also due to the sea days, we had two excellent speakers, plus an excellent CD with Port Talks and other travel subjects, So if Lincoln Center wasn’t on your ship yet, they will be making the rounds of the fleet.
  3. There is room for only two big ships. The smallest ship has to tender. The Norwegian Bliss and the. Arrival Splender have over 4000 passengers. We have been to PV 3 times this year. And the smallest ship of the 3 or 4 had to tender.
  4. If any President needs a bonus, it would be Gus Antorcha. We just encountered him on our recent cruise. He is visiting all the ships for several days. He was dealt a bad hand when Orlando abruptly left when COVID disrupted the cruise lines. He is working hard to turn things around. But this isn’t going to happen overnight. Most of the HAL ships have not been sailing for two years. And the ships that were only idle for 1.5 years were sailing with only 50% passengers. It is really going to take time to get back to what HAL was before. After all it had only been recently that the ships are at almost 100% capacity. I don’t work from HAL. I am just a HAL cruiser who loves the HAL crew. The crew always make my cruise. My comments about the HAL President is from what I observed. He was onboard from SF to SD, 3 nights and 3 days. He ate in the crew mess with the crew. That was told to me by two of the awesome Maitre D’s onboard in Lido and DR. Since I was a Children’s Librarian, I asked about libraries onboard the Vista and two Pinnacle Class that don’t have the nice new library similar to the Rotterdam. Also, I was interested in longer itineraries with more variety of ports. He did mention that COVID is still making it difficult to visit certain areas as they want to test everyone onboard which isn’t feasible in a short day visit. But he trying to bring back some of the cruises that HAL is known for (roundtrip US).
  5. We just had a wonderful cruise on the Koningsdam. The staff made sure I had a birthday to remember. Yet, we encountered passengers who had a list of complaints. We had excellent service and wonderful food in the dining room and two of the 4 speciality restaurants onboard. Our room was great. I couldn’t believe we did the same cruise as they did. We also were lucky enough to met Gus Antorcha, the HAL President. He has incredible credentials. And he does care about the crew, the ships and the passengers. He was dealt a bad situation when Orlando left. He had to save the ships and the crew. He is spending time on each ship. He makes his way around without onboard staff shepherding him. He even ate in the crew mess with the crew. You need to give him a chance to turn things around. This isn’t going to happen in a couple of months. Everyone that is able to go cruising should be thankful cruising is back. And that Holland didn’t go under like Crystal did!
  6. We were offered one liter for each cruise. We are wine drinkers, but do enjoy a cocktail. We didn’t use it as we knew we would only have a couple of drinks. Plus, we had trouble drinking our wine that we exchanged for a the Champagne. We had so much wine to drink onboard that we told our butler we didn’t need a another bottle for the second cruise. Also, forgot to mention the bathroom. I discovered after we booked that the tubs were on the port side and showers on the starboard side. Plus, we too were concerned about the small bathrooms that I saw in photos. Yes, the bathroom is small, but Azamara has an area indented into the wall between toliet and sink for plenty of toiletries. When you take a photo from the door, you don’t see it. Plus, there were several very large drawers to store clothes that you don’t hang in the closet. I also loved their round table that swiveled. Our butler would place a table cloth on the table and then lay out the items we ordered. The table could be rotated to reach items on other side of the table. Having been used to a suite on our preferred line, we really liked the Continental Club Suite we chose. Now all we have to do is find another itinerary we like when we have time to do it. Right now, we are totally booked for the next 1.5 years.
  7. Thanks everyone for the likes. I really appreciate your liking my review and recommendation to try. Azamara. I. Hope you all realizes, I left out “not” interested in shows and “not” interested in port talks and speakers, especially on a short cruise. I also made another mistake. We visited 3 Greek Islands on our second cruise. Corfu (the only day in two months it rained), Zakinthos and Thanks everyone for the likes. I really appreciate your liking my review and recommendation to try. Azamara. I. Hope you all realizes, I forgot to include “not” interested in shows and “not” interested in speakers on short cruises with hardly any sea days. I also missed a Greek island on our 2nd cruise. We actually visited 3 Greek islands, “Corfu, Zakinthos and Kelafonia. We had been to Corfu numerous times, but not Zakinthos and Kelafonia. Both were very interesting and in both, we were in short walking distance of town. I must add Zakinthos was a tender port. With less than 500 onboard, it doesn’t take long to tender. Also, I for got to add that the suite comes with 240 minutes of free WI-FI. I used those in conjunction with T-Mobile which by the way in Greece was 5 G. Also, we got a free bag of laundry and one free pressing for the room on each cruise. We also received a bottle of champagne which we exchanged for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. We also could have had liquor, but we quickly realized we weren’t going to drink it so we returned it. When I said experienced travelers, I was referring to almost 20 years of cruises. “So when I look at itineraries, I am interested in ports we have never visited”. Viking and also Oceania, except for their World Cruises, don’t fit the bill for us. As they visit the same ports of call that our preferred line goes to. There I get a suite for the same price as Viking, plus other amenities due to the number of years I cruised with them. If you haven’t been cruising long, pick a cruise line you are comfortable with and at reasonable price. But if you are looking for a small ship experience (which we love), great itineraries specializing in one country, friendly staff (waiters are basically from the Philippines), a ship without long lines to board and disembark, great shore excursions, great restaurants, visible officers and less people to get COVID from, you can’t go wrong with Azamara. Seaborn has great itineraries also, but they are a luxury cruise line thus you are paying more for the same experience. And for those who want free shore excursions, you might consider Regent (another luxury cruise line). All of their shore excursions are free, not just the 2-3 hour highlight tours.
  8. Alan discovered the travel books about when our cruise ended. Glad to see Azamara values books! P.S. We had a wonderful time cruising with you. Thanks for hosting the wonderful Cruise Critic M&M on our 2nd cruise.
  9. We just came back from our first Azamara Cruises. We are experienced sailors and our preferred line is Holland America. When Viking jumped into ocean cruising, we thought we would take a Viking cruise. But I quickly realized that their itineraries are cookie cutter itineraries. They go to all the same ports that the big ships do. They build a ship for an itinerary. As for their free excursions, we have done all of them on previous cruises. The reason we didn’t sail on Azamara before as we were aware of them since 2008, was we sailed on the Prinsendam which was actually built by the owner of Viking Cruises. But unlike Viking, the Prinsendam went to lots of small ports all over Europe and South America. You could stay on her for several months with very few repeat ports. Unfortunately HAL sold her in 2019. So we looked at Viking again. Unfortunately for us their itineraries are not exciting. So we tried Azamara, booking their Continental Club Suite which came with a butler. The butler was like a concierge on HAL. He booked shore excursions, restaurant reservations. Our room was much larger than the 175 sq Ft balcony/veranda rooms. We were very pleased with it. The itineraries for both cruises included 4 on the first cruiseand 5 ports on the second we have never been to. They also included two long shore excursions that I have never seen offered before. The one from Kusadasi which we have visited numerous times took us to Pamukkale and Hieropolis. And the second tour took us to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both tours were great as were the others we took. All the new ports were great. As suite people we had use of the speciality restaurants for no fee. All the wine onboard is free. If you would like a better wine than the house wine, you can buy a package. We also loved their Windows Cafe which quite often had a set menu for say, France, Germany, Greece, Grest Britain. I can’t comment on the shows and other entertainment as we were still being careful due to covid still lurking about. Also, we have seen so many shows over our almost 20 years of cruising that we are interested anymore. Same is true of the speakers, plus 10 port calls does leave much time for speakers. We loved the White Nights even though, we aren’t party people. Our first White Night was Santorini and it was a perfect evening for the event. We found a perfect table overlooking the Pool area. I must also add, we are not young so partying into the night wasn’t for us. They also have a wonderful library. Azamara speciality is immersive cruises. On our Greek Cruise, we visited 9 Greek ports, plus Turkey. On our Mediterranean East Cruise, we visited Slovenia, four ports of call in Croatia (Pula, Zadar, Hvar and Dubrovnik), Montenegro and two more Greek Islands. Another thing we noticed was that Azamara doesn’t often dock in industrial ports. We docked on the Main Street of Thessaloniki. And the real plus was we anchored off the old port of Dubrovnik. We were lucky we did as another Azamara ship had to dock at the new port. We were told, they dock in downtown Seville, Bordeaux and several other cities due to their size. You won’t be disappointed in Azamara, especially if you are interested in seeing unusual places.
  10. @The-Inside-Cabin Pete your post of your experience at the Gala Dinner was fantastic. Great photos of the entire meal and wonderful photos of You and Judy. We loved the portion size and the pace of delivery of each of the dishes. It gave us plenty of time to enjoy each entree. We have done it twice and definitely would do it again. Thanks for sharing!
  11. Some European countries are requiring your last vaccination shot be less than 270 days. We had our 1st booster in October which would have put us over the limit. So we recently that our 2nd booster.
  12. It is still required for boarding in Greece,
  13. Viking includes tours of about mostly 3 hours that are free for each of their ports. For those who have already been to that port, they would be interested in other tours that Viking also offers. But the Viking charges for those tours and the prices on Azamara are similar.
  14. We have avoid the aft verandas due to the vibration that we heard in one of our friend’s Neptune. We have been in SA, SB and SC. If you SC, get an SC near the glass elevator, but not next to it as people see you on your deck. Not that it matters in Alaska. Also, do port side as the Captain spends more time viewing Margery Glacier in Glacier Bay on the port side than on the Starboard side.
  15. Thanks, I really meant tested two days before boarding cruise ship not only for Alaska cruise, but also for our European cruise. We have recently had our 4th booster shot. No side effects. The testing site in the Fairmont Hotel mentioned that $50 of our fee will not be returned. So not worth the bother of cancelling.
  16. The reason they didn’t get vaccinated at home was due to other commitments. As for why they didn’t get vaccinated at the airport, it was due to being picked up by HAL to be taken to their hotel. They didn’t think HAL would wait for them, plus they were on a very late arrival. They were able to get their vaccinations to board the ship at the Fairmont across the street from Canada Place. Another poster posted the address to make the appointment. Fortunately, vaccinating is now not required for air flight home. Although, I booked an appointment just days before the actual announcement.
  17. Interesting. I love the Canaletto’s Spaghetti Alle Vongole, pasta with seafood. And I love their calamari so much that we ordered a second dish to add to the Spaghetti. We have had this same main dish on the Rotterdam and the Koningsdam. Not every Italian dish is always made to the way you like it. My brother complained about the Pizza in Italy. I am really sorry someone brought fleas or bed bugs onboard one of the Pinnacle Class ships and that you got bitten. Sounds like HAl solved that problem. As for the bronchitis, we wear masks onboard ships so that we don’t catch bronchitis due to people not covering their mouths when coughing. I would recommend doing this when you cruise during the cold and flu season on any cruise line. Better to mask than spoil your cruise.I know what it is like to be quarantined due to chronic coughing due to passengers thoughtlessness. As for the entertainment, HAL used to have big production shows, people complained so HAL has finally dropped them. If you are cruising for production shows then you need to cruise on a cruise line that has a lot more passengers than the middle size ships HAL has. Good luck finding another cruise line that has excellent food and Las Vegas show productions. We have cruised a lot and have had quite a few cancellations of shore excursions, especially lately. Most of the recent ones are due to lack of staffing by the people HAL books the excursions with. They are not a HAL company despite HAL taking care of shore excursions. And sometimes there aren’t enough people on the shore excursion. The operate has a minimum requirement. We always book another excursion. You can still get one even if you have last minute cancellations. A lot of this you learn from cruising. As for us, we cruise on the Pinnacle Class ships for the itinerary, the crew and the wonderful restaurants such as the Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s,Tamarind and yes, even the Canaletto. I suspect you shouldn’t have been so negative in your title of your posting that is why you are not getting the sympathy you feel you should get. As someone else said life is too short to stew about the minor discomforts.
  18. No need to book an appointment or do a test on the ship as US has dropped the negative test requirements. Unfortunately, I booked an appointment several days before it was dropped. We will probably go ahead and do the test as it is a nuisance to try to get our money returned, plus there is a $50 fee for doing so.
  19. Kazu, I don’t even post the message. I just write it and then delete the message I have written. It makes me feel good. And as I said it hurts no one. I guess I don’t have patience with some of these posters who are constantly complaining. Posts on Cruise Critic have mentioned docking at Venice would probably be moved to Trieste and Ravenna since last year. I am sorry if some people did get the word. Too bad their TA didn’t inform them.
  20. But lately they have been really poisonous. I comment then delete my message as I don’t want to get want to get entangled with then. It almost seems like they have an agenda. Deleting my comment before sending makes me feel good an hurts no one.
  21. We had Mariner’s Reception on the Rotterdam, but it maybe because we were high mariners. They are only doing small groups so as to avoid staff and passengers getting COVID due to people not wearing a mask while drinking their wine or cocktail. All those receiving a medallion were invited.
  22. Captain’s party’s haven’t happened since COVID for obvious reasons. We did have some very small, but nice Mariners Receptions. Captain’s parties won’t come back until covid is gone. If the Captain got covid, everyone he was in contact with would have to be quarantined and that would cancel the wonderful cruise you were looking forward to. Please ignore the negative comments that are appearing on this main HAL board. Just go and enjoy your cruise. I guarantee you will have a great cruise. The staff are eager to serve you.
  23. I believe the Lido closes early so that their hardworking staff can have a break in the middle of the day as they will be working from about 4 PM until 10 or 11 PM cleaning up from late evening service and resetting tables, etc. I don’t think anybody is starving on a cruise ship. If you are so desperate to have a meal and you know you are back late, have something to eat onshore. I go on a cruise to enjoy the destination and the sea. If the complainers are happy with the cruise lines they are cruising, they should post on those board not on the board that they aren’t cruising. I never understood the reason why they come back to complain when they haven’t been on HAL for years. I like the crew, my accommodations, the wrap around promenade deck, the sea and destinations. I just don’t seem to see all the problems that everyone is nit picking about over and over again. For the record, we have been on the Koningsdam in November for 2 weeks. We were in the Zuiderdam in January for 2 weeks. We spent a week on the Rotterdam for 1 week. And we just departed the Zuiderdam after 3 more weeks. All of our cruises were great, we got plenty to eat and fantastic ports of call and really enjoyed being at sea again. As for the ships, they all looked great. And I am sure the Oosterdam will look also fantastic when we do sail on her. And yes, we are HAL fans for many of the reasons stated above.
  24. HAL hands out KN95’s that are very effective. But it would be wise to bring some of your own as these masks are generally one use on,y.
  25. We had planned to get our test done there, but now I don’t trust them to honor their appointments. Will get ours elsewhere. Not comfortable with doing it ourselves over the internet.
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