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Posts posted by Tricia724


    OP said the savings were $600pp, which would appear to be a big savings, well worth giving up a perk, especially if it's $300 or prepaid gratuities.


    Forget about the perks and discount.....just figure how much you paid versus current price and determine "real" savings. Then add in your most expensive perk, and determine whether the difference in savings is more than the perk you are losing would cost. If you come out ahead, rebook.

  2. Every cruise is a difference experience. We have been on b2b's where one cruise was lackluster and the other was really good. Sometimes it's about crew changes....sometimes it's about the onboard passenger demographic.....sometimes it's about the itinerary.....and to be honest, I sometimes think it's about your attitude.


    Maybe it's me, but I'm finding that more and more there is little consistency these days. It's why I don't recommend products, hotels, restaurants, contractors, medical providers, or anything else I really like to my friends. Chances are when they try to duplicate my experience, it backfires. It's why I'll usually give someone or something a second chance, but two bad experiences are the kiss of death for me.

  3. I've sailed Summit several times and really enjoy the size and layout of the ship, although I haven taken kids on a cruise....any cruise. However, entertaining children does not seem to be an issue with you. As you mentioned, the cruise you are researching is very port intensive, which means that shipboard activities will take a backseat to the itinerary. You will be off the ship most days, and, as someone else mentioned, on spring break all of the lines have more families and more children onboard, so the ship should have enough activities to keep you busy when at sea.


    We are older but we also choose our cruises based on the itinerary, so if Summit is going where you really want to go, I'd say follow your instincts and give it a try.

  4. I agree with the other poster who recommended that you post this question on the Alaska Board under "Ports of Call." If you can catch Budget Queen's attention, she will tell you exactly which of those tours is your best bet (if any.) She has made many, many trips to Alaska, and it seems she has taken most of the excursions offered at one time or another. There are also several Alaska residents who post there who may be able to help you decide.

  5. It's interesting rereading the old posts from one year ago on this thread....especially the ones where people report that they were told the website was being completely redone and in a few weeks/months time it would be greatly improved. Well, that never happened.


    I, too, am getting more and more frustrated trying to access my reservation and look into shore excursions. Those idiotic messages about privacy that tell me to wait and try again later drive me nuts. Fortunately, my next X cruise isn't for nine months. I doubt their website will be working any better then, but at least I can ignore it for a while.

  6. I was so pleased to come across this thread for two reasons. The first one is because you were so patient and so positive and the second reason is because you encountered people who made a great effort to help you. And I'm sure your attitude was largely responsible for bringing out the best in the people working with you. It's a lot easier to be nice when people are nice with you.


    I'm sure there are many, many people who take pride in doing a good job and go out of their way to help others, but their stories are getting lost in a deluge of bad press on a daily basis. The airlines, in particular, have come under fire because of some bad decisions, and it's easy to read them and just assume that "nobody cares anymore." Obviously some people do.


    Have a wonderful cruise and after-cruise vacation.

  7. FWIW, you can pay for a reserved seating at the cabanas on the lawn on X.

    The Sanctuary on Princess is so much more than charging for the use of sun beds. The entire Sanctuary area is reserved for those who have paid for the privileges. It is fully staffed and you can be served drinks and order lunch from a special menu; complimentary aternoon tea is offered. The loungers are top of the line, fully padded and there is a lovely small pool. It was probably one of the few things we did enjoy thoroughly on our Princess cruise - worth every penny.


    Obviously, your Princess experience was far superior to ours. On one cruise we did pay for The Sanctuary for the entire cruise, and it was a major disappointment and, we felt, a big waste of money. It seemed like every time we went out by The Sanctuary pool, there were lots of chairs saved with towels and tote bags with no bodies in sight. There were also no Princess stewards by the pool, and if you went into the spa and complained, they shrugged their shoulders and acted like it's not their problem. At one point we got angry and did toss towels aside and use the chairs for about an hour, and during that time, no one came by to claim them, so heaven knows how long they had been "saved."


    This was a few years back, so possibly Princess has improved The Sanctuary, or possibly we were just unfortunate enough to try it on the wrong ship. I did feel that they had oversold The Sanctuary on that particular cruise. We were told that there was a limited number of memberships they would sell, but judging from the number of people trying to use it at a given time, I think they took everyone's money who walked through the door and just let the passengers deal with it.

  8. We were on Westerdam in November for a trans-Canal cruise and I thought she looked lovely. Both of us agreed that the food was the best we have had on any cruise in many years. The last two years our cruises were on another line that seems to specialize in lukewarm, taste-free food, so we felt like we hit the jackpot. Taste is subjective, of course, and food is not a deal breaker for us, but in the days of cutbacks and substitutes, we were expecting less and got more. Nice cruise, nice ship.

  9. Has anyone taken the HAL-Exec shore excusion Guatemalan Rum, aged in the clouds; and Antigua sightseeing tour? It doesn't have any reviews on HAL. Or suggest a better one please.


    Yes.....we did this tour in November on our Westerdam trans-Canal cruise, and we really enjoyed it. We took several of the ship's tours on that cruise, and I went back to the HAL website to refresh my memory of the details of the excursion, but I can't seem to find the description, so I'm just going to tell you what I remember.


    It's quite a ride into Antigua on the bus, and it was really hot and humid there. Our bus had good air conditioning, and we had a great guide who spoke good English. Antigua's name is fitting....it's an old town with narrow streets. We got off the bus and went into the church which was ornate and beautiful. We didn't do much walking around the town, and for that I was grateful because of the heat and challenging cobblestone streets and also because the local vendors were there in force and were persistent....not rude but definitely determined. They had some lovely tapestries and scarves, but I bought more scarves than I will need in a lifetime in Ecuador, so that didn't interest me. I did buy a few little beaded Christmas ornaments but that was about it.


    The rum tasting went far beyond anything I envisioned. I figured we'd just go to a rum distillery and stand at a tasting bar and taste a few drops of rum out of a paper cup. Not the case. We were seated on comfortable couches and chairs, and in front of us was a table with different types of wine glasses and a plate of meat, cheese, and bread. We were given a presentation on their rum making process and then guided through the rum tasting experience, and the rum samples were quite generous, which relaxed and livened up the group considerably! I believe we sampled four different grades of rum. There was also rum to buy there, and some of our group bought a good bit. Many of them were from California and were disembarking in San Diego, so they were able to get it home more easily than those of us flying. I did buy a small $4 bottle which HAL graciously did not confiscate, so we had a rum and Coke back on the ship the next day.


    We had a very nice buffet lunch at a hotel which offered quite a variety of foods. All of the people seated near me enjoyed their meal. After lunch we stopped at the Jade Museum. It was nice and, needless to say, there were items for sale, but nothing that tempted me. The jade here is different from Oriental jade, and while some of the pieces were interesting, I didn't see anything I couldn't live without. They did have free samples of local coffee which many people enjoyed, and they also bought bags of coffee to take home. The coffee seemed to interest people more than the jade.


    All in all, I found it a very pleasant day. It was a nice glimpse into the country itself and yet was comfortable in a most uncomfortable climate. The tour to the coffee plantation that Copper10-8 mentioned was also very popular on our cruise and I heard only positive comments about it. The previous day we had gone to a banana plantation so we wanted something different, and the rum excursion filled the bill.


    I would recommend the tour and had intended to do a review on the HAL site but never got around to it. This is a relaxing tour with less walking than many others, and if you're up for some rum tasting, then you'll probably enjoy it. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  10. On our 16-day trans-Canal cruise on Westerdam, the chocolate parade was on our last Gala night. We were seated in the Explorer's Lounge area outside the Lincoln Center Stage where the string quartet had just finished their last set. The waiters stepped off the elevator with their large trays of chocolates, and a couple of them came into the lounge area and went around offering (and encouraging) everyone to sample the different candies. A couple of the waiters remained in the hallway near the elevators, so that everyone coming or going through the hallway could have had all the chocolate they wanted. We had just finished dinner and really didn't want much but did enjoy a couple of pieces.


    Everyone in our area was having a good time, and the waiters seemed to be having a good time, too. It was a nice festive touch to end the cruise.

  11. And here are two people with the opposite opinion --- but they don't name the ship or ships:



    This may have been the same cruise we sailed.....Westerdam Panama Canal. We also did the Sel de Mer, but we enjoyed it.


    Both of us ordered lobster, and for sure it was not the Maine lobster, but the tails I had were good. I no longer have any illusions about getting delicious New England lobsters on any cruise line, but I liked the lobster on HAL (both in the Sel de Mer and the main dining room) much better than the mushy ones Princess gave me or the lobster-drowning-in-bacon that Celebrity gave me for twice the price in their specialty restaurant.


    I didn't love the dessert, but I rarely eat dessert with my meal so it was no loss. However, in addition to the dessert we ordered, they brought us a "tree" of chocolate covered strawberries which was a little over the top. However, since I hate waste, I had the waiter wrap up the strawberries, and I took them back to our cabin and put them in the refrigerator, and we enjoyed them the next day on our balcony with a glass of wine. A win-win situation.


    Our only complaint, and one that we have in most specialty restaurants, was that it was simply too much food, which is why we did not return on the second night. We left feeling uncomfortably stuffed, but our food was good, the service was good, and we were glad we tried it. Since we're 4-stars, the price was definitely a plus.

  12. I have always loved room service breakfast when we sail HAL, and after 16 days on Westerdam, I'm not sure whether my favorite is room service or Pinnacle Grille. Both were excellent, and I even ordered mimosas a few times. I tried a mimosa on another cruise line and hated it, but HAL's freshly squeezed orange juice was delicious.


    I like to start the day with some coffee and fruit and peace and quiet, and I have found over the years that breakfast in the buffet is not my cup of tea, no matter which cruise line we are sailing. The options of room service, or breakfast in the Pinnacle Grille, or picking up some goodies from the Concierge are a plethora of riches.

  13. Tony.....you don't have a prayer of making this flight. Even if the ship is in early and cleared in good time, it's a free-for-all once disembarkation starts. Everyone wants off the ship, and even though people are asked not to congregate in the disembarkation area, they still do.


    In order for you to get off the ship in the first group, you would have to do self-disembarkation. That means you would have to wheel, carry, or drag all of your luggage off by yourself. Even for a strong, healthy person, that can be tough, especially under stress. I've done it several times myself, and sometimes it's a long walk through the terminal. The immigration people are there and mostly it goes well, but they can and do stop people from time to time.


    Then you have to find a cab or shuttle or whatever transportation you plan to take to the airport. Someone mentioned that the Eurodam is the only HAL ship in port but there are four other ships, so there will be lots of people trying to get to the airport at the same time. And when you get there, Ft. Lauderdale Airport is a zoo on Saturday and Sunday with cruisers flying in and out. Even if you get checked in at your airline counter in good time, there could be a backlog going through security or getting to your gate.


    The thing is, you are not a savvy, experienced traveler, and there are so many things that aren't familiar to you that could cause you delays. Please take the advice of the others who have posted and change your flight to a later time. Having to spend an extra day in Ft. Lauderdale isn't the worst thing that could happen to you (I've done that, too), but I'm sure you would rather spend New Year's Eve at home than stuck in a strange place.

  14. You have your answer but the good news is, you no longer have to fill out the Customs Declaration form when arriving at Port Everglades.


    We just disembarked in San Diego two weeks ago, and I was shocked to learn that we no longer had to fill out the form. For that matter, no one even asked us if we had made any purchases. I don't understand why but it certainly made disembarkation much faster.

  15. The most ridiculous complaining we ever heard was our trip up the Amazon River on Veendam some years ago. It seemed like there was a "Gripers Club" stationed in the Lido that were angry and very vocal about how they couldn't stand to get off the ship because it was TOO HOT! Well, yeah....it's hot. You're a hop, skip, and a jump away from the equator. For some reason they were upset with HAL for taking them there. Go figure.


    I swear there were many people on that ship that had never looked at a map or cruise itinerary and had no earthly idea where they were going or what the temperatures at the ports were likely to be. We've run into people on other cruises that were clueless, but not to that extent.

  16. Last year we made a trip to Coldfoot and Wiseman but not through the cruiseline. We drove to Fairbanks and went with a local outfitter in a van up to Coldfoot, stayed over two nights, and flew back to Fairbanks. We did go to Wiseman one night to view the aurora, but we also saw aurora in Coldfoot, Fairbanks and Denali. In fact, the best aurora we saw was from the parking lot of the Denali Park Hotel. All of this transpired between August 29 and September 6.


    We enjoyed the time we spent north of the Arctic Circle. The trip up to Coldfoot was very interesting (to us), and we only had a few people in the van going up, so the trip was comfortable and unhurried. We learned so much about the pipeline including how it was envisioned, how it was built, and how it is maintained. Stopping at those outposts along the way only emphasizes the stark reality of living in such a remote and harsh environment.


    Everyone is right that there is not a lot of activity around Coldfoot and probably wouldn't be a good option for someone who has to be doing something constantly. We did all the sightseeing that was offered, and spent some time just enjoying the scenery and talking to the people who work there and the tourists and truckers who drive that lonely, dangerous road. This was one of those "really glad I got to see it and glad I don't have to live there" experiences.

  17. September is great for touring the interior but iffy for cruising. We've done three September cruises in Alaska. Two of them were memorable cruises with ideal weather. Last year we almost drowned. As the saying goes..."two out of three ain't bad"....but even then we had almost three weeks in the interior that was the main focus of our travel, so the cruise was primarily transportation back to Vancouver. If, however, the cruise IS your whole vacation, it's a different ball game.

  18. It also depends upon when you are sailing. If it's peak season, pickings may be slim, but during shoulder season there will likely be more excursions available. We went whale watching in Juneau last year in September with 12 other people for $99/pp. Normally I prebook but we've been there a number of times and figured we'd take a chance and it worked out. It all depends on how flexible you are and how lucky you feel.

  19. I just had our TA rebook us with a non-refundable deposit a couple of days ago for our November cruise. We felt we received a good price on our original booking, but we had a chance to save an additional $700, which coincidentally is the price of the airfare I recently booked.


    I see it this way:


    1) We want to take THIS cruise and would only cancel if a medical problem arises. We have already purchased cruise insurance and if we should have to cancel, the non-refundable deposit would be covered.


    2) We know we can save $700 now, but we don't know whether a better deal will arise or whether this fare will be available later. On our Princess cruise in Alaska last year, had I passed up the chance to rebook a non-refundable deposit rate, I would have been out of luck, as the fares increased. If indeed the HAL rates go down further and we miss the chance to save more money, then we will live with it. We have a choice cabin and are satisfied with the price. If others get a better deal, then good for them.


    If we had just deposited a cruise about which we were ambivalent or were still looking at other options or were a year or more from sailing, I would not have considered a non-refundable deposit, but we don't hop from cruise to cruise. It's a judgment call. Everyone should make decisions that are in their comfort zone.

  20. I think all the airlines are equal opportunity destroyers as far as reservations go.


    Last year we had a difficult time finding decent connections out of Vancouver on any airline that would get us home before midnight, so we decided to take another day and break up the travel, and I found a very good rate on American that would get us to Phoenix where we would overnight and then return home midafternoon the next day.


    Two months before our trip, American changed our Vancouver departure from 1:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Our ship was due to arrive at 7:00 AM, so that was out. There was just no way we could use any other American flights to get us home without flying all over the country, so we were forced to cancel and the best option was with United through Denver. The good news was that American gave us a full ticket refund since they couldn't get us where we needed to go. The bad news was that the United flights were $300+ more.


    The last few years we have run into airline flight changes on just about every trip we've taken. Mostly it's been minor changes that allowed us to continue with our originally booked flights, but several times we have had to make major changes to our plans. Just another travel stress that seems to be on the increase.

  21. After several tries, we finally saw the aurora this year. We had several sightings....in Coldfoot and Fairbanks and Denali. By far the best aurora we saw was viewed from the parking lot of the Denali Park Hotel where we stayed in early September.


    I have to admit it looked different than I expected. The pictures I've seen have shown the aurora in colors of green, red, and purple. While our camera lens was able to see the green and some pink/red, our naked eyes saw mostly white....like wispy smoke or a contrail from a passing plane, although in Denali there was much more activity which produced some great pictures.


    Since we were not there at the coldest, darkest time of the year, I'm very grateful that we had the sightings we did.

  22. When I look into some of these inside units, I get claustrophobic chills. More importantly, say you get a bug on the ship, then you are going to be quarantined to your cabin, they will take care of you and feed you there. If they catch you leaving the cabin, you get put off at the next port. So, just imagine being stuck inside one of these small cabins without a window or balcony for days on end. Hey, if I got quarantined to my balcony cabin, that wouldn’t be all that unpleasant.


    I had to laugh when I saw this because it actually happened to us. Some years ago when we sailed Tahitian Princess in the South Pacific, my SO got a norovirus and was quarantined to the cabin. Strangely enough, they didn't quarantine me, but I chose to stay in to be on the safe side. All of our food came from room service from a very limited menu. Fortunately, we had a spacious mini-suite with a great balcony, and I spent most of my time out there reading and enjoying the ocean and scenery when we stopped at a port.


    As I mentioned previously, our September Alaska cruise on Coral Princess was in an obstructed view cabin. It was 160 sq.ft., one of the smallest cabins we have ever had, and was certainly adequate for a one week cruise, but when we walked in and looked around, both of us commented that we would hate to be quarantined in that cabin! Fortunately, that didn't happen, but I get what you mean.

  23. If you book now, your fare will be protected from price drops until final payment, and since your planned trip is the end of August, your final payment date will likely be the end of May or first of June, depending on the cruise line. So, yes, you would be able to take advantage of price drops between now and final payment, and if you found a lower fare on another cruise line, you could cancel and rebook without penalty. After final payment is made, all bets are off. Most cruise lines will not adjust prices after final payment, although some will allow you to upgrade. Just make sure that your travel agent, if you use one, does not charge cancellation or rebooking fees.


    Last year I booked our September 10 cruise the previous October for an obstructed oceanview cabin. The price never went lower but it did go higher and the ship filled quickly. With the world unrest, Alaska has become an increasingly popular destination.


    CruiserBruce made a good point about airfares sometimes being higher on late bookings. Airfare is a big component of an Alaska cruise for Northeasters. Last year I got hammered because my flight home from Vancouver was canceled three months out, and I had to rebook with another line at a much higher cost. Just something else to think about.

  24. I am not sure I want to know what happened with your flight. Was it your inbound flight to Alaska or going home? I'd deal better with the homebound flight, because it would disrupt things like work, not the fun. ;)


    It was our flight home. We originally had a flight out of Vancouver leaving at 2:15pm with a connection in Phoenix. American canceled the afternoon flight and booked us instead on an 8:30am flight. Since our ship was scheduled to dock at 8:00am, I thought there was a good chance we wouldn't be able to make it! After spending a couple of hours reviewing all of American's flights, I realized there were no reasonable alternatives available, and we had to cancel. Since American made the change, they refunded our money.


    The good news was that they canceled the flight the middle of June which gave me three months to book with another carrier. The bad news is the new flights cost us an additional $150/pp. No matter how carefully you plan, there are some things that just don't go your way.

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