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Everything posted by vicd1969

  1. If you enjoy spicy foods, you ought to request the kitchen to raise the spice level a notch or two. My orders were milder than I expected. That said, the tempura shrimp appetizers were very good (as they're not supposed to be spicy). I didn't like the Tom Kha soup - hardly any flavor. But this was on the Nieuw Statendam a bit over a year ago - how dishes taste probably vary from ship to ship and chef to chef.
  2. It took me awhile to realize the ship on the top of the photo is not the Icon. I was thinking - that ship doesn't look so much bigger than the Zaandam - then realized those "apartment buildings" on the right was the true Icon 😁
  3. Do you get the Mariner discount applied if you pre-purchase before boarding, or only onboard?
  4. This could work for those who don't live near the ports. You don't even have to be retired. The key feature is you get to choose which cruise, and consequently which days to be off. So you can plan ahead. For me, I have friends and family in the LA and Fort Lauderdale area, so this is promising. Unfortunately, I already have two non-cruise trips this spring, but fall 2024 once they open up those bookings are possibilities. Here is how I would go about taking advantage of the standby program when still having a job: 1. Select a cruise with dates that would work for me as if I was taking time off like any other vacation. 2. Book cruise standby, arrange pre-cruise accommodations with check-out maybe same day as cruise date or one day afterwards. 3. Book airline tickets as if I was taking the cruise 4. Now here is where the optionality is valuable - If I learn I made the list, fine, take the cruise like normal since my pre-cruise hotel and air are already set. Enjoy the savings and even get a suite maybe for about half the price of an inside. Win. - If I don't make the list, still fly to LA or Fort Lauderdale. Spend a vacation week there, enjoy the area and friends/family. It's pretty easy getting last-minute hotel deals, or if staying with family, they would know there is a possibility your stay with them could be up to a week, or could be just a day or two. They would understand once you tell them about the standby cruise possibility. Win. So commit to the vacation, not to the cruise. A couple of questions, however: - Would I still get normal Mariner credits? - If they open this to foreign parts, can I book air using Flight-Ease ahead? (pretty sure no, but l look forward to the misfortune of having to spend a week in Rome or Athens or some other Europe place if I didn't get picked from standby, lol)
  5. Guess this is a good time to remind that the AARP HAL gift card costs 10% less than face value, which effectively means if you buy enough OBC, your gratuities are basically 10% off.
  6. I found that out the hard way on my third HAL cruise where the lowest spender was designated pax 2 while i splurged on spa and other stuff as pax #4 🤦🏻‍♂️
  7. It's the same trend in land-based restaurants nowadays. With increased menu prices and higher pressure for large tips, a lot of restaurants in Washington DC are struggling to get diners in the door.
  8. Have you looked at doing a southbound cruise from Whittier to Vancouver instead? In addition to lower priced hotels the days before the cruise, you won’t have to endure the loooong wait for US customs and immigration on embarkation.
  9. Another strong vote for CO on Pinnacle class ships, especially the Rotterdam. One disadavantage of the Pinnacle class ships is their lower space-to-passenger ratio, which means a far more crowded and less pleasant MDR experience for those who get anytime-dining. This can be avoided by getting Club orange and its dedicated dining room, sort of like Luminae or Blu on Celebrity. It is about 90% same menu as MDR, though with lower risk of luke-warm food.
  10. $300 is still like 2-3 extra scuba sessions, right? I wouldn't upgrade and use the funds for your shore excursions. Scenery in the Caribbean isn't usually worth the upgrade, imho, unlike if this was an Alaska or Norway cruise. The Eurodam has a lot of nice outside viewing areas on the ship. Also, unless you're an early-to-bed person, having a room above the main stage isn't as big of an issue on HAL, compared to most other cruise lines - whose shows can go late into the evening. Definitely go with private scuba operators - there may be quite a few that offer free pickup from near the cruise port terminal in whatever islands you visit. You can look up their reviews on this board's parent company, that big online review site that starts with "T".
  11. I agree with your decision. If only because the embarkation experience boarding in Whittier is infinitely better than having to go through customs and immigration in Vancouver. My southbound embarkation (albeit pre-covid) took 10 minutes. My northbound took over 1.5 hours, most of which was standing on my feet. Plus, if you do Southbound, you can spend a day earlier to do the local Whittier boat tour of College Fjord, so you can get the full experience of all the 3 major glaciers. If you wish to book a verandah, inquire on the price difference between the cheapest verandah category and the highest veranda cabin. If it is greater than the cost of Club Orange, book Club Orange and the upgrade will be complementary, saving you some.
  12. Good news - Flight Ease seems to be back up and running as of noon EST today.
  13. Just checked Princess EZ Air, site works normally for pricing flights, so it isn’t the backend engine issue. But those who already booked on HAL cannot access - HAL fail.
  14. Tried last night and this afternoon- fail as well. Anyone tried the princess flight if you just need to price flights? Didn’t have time since dinner.
  15. I’m afraid if you already made final payment, rebooking will not credit you the older fare - others can verify
  16. One plus for Club Orange is that everyone in the cabin gets its benefits, even though you only pay Club Orange for passengers #1 and #2.
  17. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, the larger interior cabins are coded as "J" and "K" on the main deck (deck level 1). Cruisedeck plans is a helpful site to determine if the location of your intended cabin is under or above a noisy public space. For instance, the "J" port cabins 1054, 1058, and 1064 may not be good cabins to get if you are a light and early-to-bed sleeper, because they are directly under the BB King music lounge with its loud performances in the evening.
  18. Does the special pop-up at $55 includes the service charge or not? Even at around $66, may be worth a try, hopefully they won't limit you to one appetizer and dessert. There also will be additional priced dishes in the MDR, cost not yet announced however. Appetizers Sushi Plate: (Vegetarian can be requested.) Nigiri with salmon, hamachi, hotate, maki with ebi tempura, Dungeness California, salmon shikai maki. Morimoto Fresh Tuna Pizza: Anchovy aioli, kalamata olive, red onion, jalapeno. Tempura Calamari Salad: (Can be served without calamari on request.) Quinoa two ways, white miso dressing. Pork Gyoza Dumpling: Ginger-scallion sauce. Tori Paitan Ramen Noodles Soup: Soy egg, bamboo shoot, hot creamy broth poured at the table. Main Courses Crispy Fried Whole Market Fresh Fish: Sweet spicy chili sauce, pickle vegetables. Ishiyaki Buri Bop: Fresh Pacific yellowtail on rice, cooked at the tableside in a hot stone bowl. Shrimp Three Way “Morimoto Style”: Tempura, panko, arare-age, tartar, tonkatsu and gochujang sauce. Angry Lobster Pad Thai: Maine lobster, rice noodles, Thai red curry sauce. Broiled Beef Tenderloin steak: Japanese-style mushroom sauce. Jidori Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Oyster Yakitori: Shichimi togarashi. Japanese Vegetables Curry: Tofu steak, seasonal vegetables. Side Dishes House fried rice, steamed rice or brown bice. Wasabi mashed potato. Wok seared bok choy. Basket steamed vegetables. Desserts Dark Chocolate Sphere: Ganache, marshmallow, milk hot chocolate sauce. Tofu Cheesecake: Mango passion, pineapple salsa. White Chocolate Lime Ganache: Coconut foam, mango sorbet, rice pudding. Sorbet and Ice cream or Trio: Chef’s seasonal selection.
  19. I have a large group (20+ people) travelling with me next August. Our cruise ends at Piraeus on August 7, and we intend to spend 2 nights in Meteora after the cruise. What would be the "best value" way to get a large group of people from Piraeus to Meteora with a reasonable time for the trip? Rent like 5-6 vehicles at the airport? Charter a bus? Train schedule looks impractical on first impression since the train from Athens to near Meteora leaves too early in the morning.
  20. I used Flight Ease for international because their fares are often flexible so you can switch flights and airlines easily before final payment without penalty. However, don’t rely on Holland America or your TA to manage your flight reservation. Apply the airline’s booking code to manage your flight on the airline’s website or app. That way you can get notified on schedule changes or cancellations, or select seats when available. Delta is notorious for making changes but they are very accommodating if you call them to revise your flights if the new itinerary doesn’t work for you.
  21. If you really want the ribeye and you have the same waiter each night, i would order it the night before to ensure it comes to you in a timely manner.
  22. Thank you for your thorough review. It confirmed to me that the next time I sail on a Pinnacle class ship, getting Club Orange to avoid the MDR experience is almost a must-do.
  23. For a 5-day sailing, you may not get the chance to really get to know your cabin attendant or dining steward. But if they exceed your expectations, a little bonus is nice but not necessary.
  24. Canaletto not opening on the first night sounds a bit suspect. Maybe they needed a night to switch to the new menu? I ate at the Canaletto on the first night on board the Nieuw Amsterdam three weeks ago.
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