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  1. The CDC has decided to recognize all WHO-approved vaccines (https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/travellers-us-who-approved-vaccines-1.6205865), meaning that those of us who received Astra-Zeneca are now considered fully vaccinated. Only a matter of time before we hear new policy from the cruise lines.
  2. I have a cruise for March 2022 booked. Since we currently run afoul of HAL’s silly “mixed vaccination” ban, we’re hoping a change is made before late December or we’ll have to cancel and either switch to another cruise line or head to Mexico for an AI.
  3. The answer is a whole lot simpler: Make prices cheaper for the first little while. People won't be able to help themselves.
  4. While the three music areas (Rolling Stone Rock Room, Billboard Onboard and the BB Kings/Lincoln Center Stage shared space) are all right next to each other, they are never active simultaneously. Each group has 45 minutes and then they hand over to another room, who picks up instantly. I can completely understand how someone might feel the Rolling Stone venue is loud. It is. While perfect for me (I have been to many, many live performances where this is the norm), it is the loudest venue I've ever attended at sea.
  5. Recently got off the Konigsdam and thought I would share some details an opinions. We are a family of three, my wife and I (mid 40's) with an 11 year old daughter. We were also with my parents who had been on the ship since early January. This was an 11-day cruise, scheduled to hit Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Thomas, HMC, St Maarten and Martinique. Of course, it was on this cruise that all the craziness began with the Coronavirus. We were impacted, but only minimally. We missed St Kitts (and scheduled dolphin swim), but no one was too upset as we understood. I'll break this into sections but I don't want to do a day-by-day as I want this to be a quick-ish post. The Ship Beautiful. Very well appointed and I enjoyed the music theme for the art and decor. Things seemed to be laid out well and it was easy to get everywhere. Everything was clean and well-looked after. I can't think of a single thing I noticed that I wasn't happy with. The Room We had upgraded our room to a Verandah with an obstructed view (#4139). This was a very nice stateroom, with plenty of storage space. Normally, we are not ones to spend time in the cabin but I did spend a fair amount of time on the verandah itself. The obstructed view was exactly that. We had very little to look at other than a lifeboat, but I didn't really mind. Our stewards were good, though our cabin was not vacuumed when we arrived and had sand everywhere. We also asked for a broken glass to be cleaned up but had to go back after the steward and finish the job. TVs are a big improvement with the new on-demand movies and such. Dining We dined in the MDR 8 times, and once each in the Pinnacle, Tamarind and Canaletto. The MDR was fine, nothing really special. I found the starters and deserts to be quite good but the main courses to be light on flavour, sometimes undercooked and always lacking in amount of side dishes. Vegetables seemed to be a luxury. Seafood items fared better than beef or chicken. One night we had to send my daughter's chicken dish back twice due to it being shockingly pink. The supervisor stepped in and comped the whole table Tamarind dinners and was extremely attentive toward us the rest of the trip. Canaletto was ok, as it always is. Pinnacle was a step down for me this time. My filet was unseasoned and had no sear on it. Tamarind was fantastic though, the best meal I've ever personally had on a cruise. Staff were excellent, atmosphere was great and the food top notch. The Lido was of course a mixed bag. We had breakfast here ever day and also had a few lunches. I never found we waiting in line much, and the variety of choice was good. Odd that lemonade seems to be both hard to get a hold of and very watered down now. Used to be there were machines with lemonade, water and iced tea. They've limited that to just iced tea and water now. Had the Dine-In a few times, fine for what it is. The pizza was good as was the Ruben at the pizza place. We had room service for breakfast one morning and had no complaints. Activities Never a strong suit on HAL so I'll be kind. Honestly, we found it a struggle on sea days. Good stuff: Rolling Stone Rock Room was fantastic. Best thing on board. Wish they had a main stage show. BB King's was good too but this group a little lighter in energy from others we've seen. The EXC presentations can be good, but I wish they has more variety. On the main stage, the comedians were good and the dancers were fine too. The BBC Earth show was great No-so-good stuff: A few of the main stage shows seemed like someone was making a parody of cruise ship entertainment. The clarinetist was embarrassing enough that a good number stood up and left in the first 10 minutes. The pianist put folks to sleep. The real problem here though isn't what they are offering but what they aren't. During sea days, the whole ship falls asleep. On deck, people are sleeping. In public rooms, people are sleeping. In bars, folks are sawing logs. If people cruise to sleep, well I'm not going to tell them they can't, but that doesn't mean some activities couldn't be drummed up for those of us conscious during the hours the sun is up. Perhaps some of the great music performers could play on deck? Maybe some informational lectures? What happened to the cooking demonstrations, the steel drums, etc? Casino: I'm not a casino guy, but I'd heard that on day one, the odds on the slots are good. Curious, I tried it. Deposited $40 in a one cent machine and quickly hit a $100 jackpot. Cashed out $147 and didn't look back. Ports Generally, we'll pick an itinerary based on the ports and the lack of sea days. This cruise had an extreme number of sea days (3) for us, but the ports were all interesting. St Maarten - Took the ships Top 10 Sights tour. It was rainy for the first part of the day and the bus leaked on some passengers. We couldn't hear the driver over the audio system. Overall, not a good tour. Martinique - First time here. A Sunday, when everything other than McDonalds is closed. Why HAL would schedule us on a day when everything was shuttered, I don't understand. We overheard some people getting hot at the front desk about this while we were retrieving a forgotten room key. I made a strong statement about this on the post-cruise survey. Barbados - Went to the Boatyard beach club. Fantastic day! Don't miss snorkeling over the shipwreck! St Kitts/Antigua/Nowhere - St Kitts said no, so did Antigua, so it was another sea day! (yay...) St Lucia - One our first visit here, we loved this island. Had a great private tour that I'll never forget. This time we walked around port for a bit then got back on the ship. I feel like we wasted this day. St Thomas - Over to Magen's Bay of course! Being the only ship in port this day, the beach was much less crowded than usual. Love this beach HMC - Excellent beach and water as always. Bit chillier water than normal, but whatever. I will take a minute to call out the BBQ here though. In our 4 visits to HMC, we've never been happy with the food at the BBQ. The burgers are ALWAYS raw. They need to rethink whatever it is they're doing there. Coronavirus Issues Obviously, we missed a port due to concerns. A few days into the cruise, we went into the state where you cannot serve yourself and must wash and sanitize everywhere. There was a lot of concerns with the passengers day-to-day, wondering if we would be allowed to get to each port. Each day it seemed dicey was there delays each morning. Then of course everyone began to wonder what would happen in Ft Lauderdale. Other Items Navigator app - Interesting new tool. Daily schedule, Shore Excursions, Daily News, My Account, Ship Location - all great tools. Would recommend that the Chat feature enable phone notifications though, because its pointless without it. HAL Club - With so few kids on board, my daughter abandoned this after day 2. No real feedback here. Evacuations- We learned during our bridge tour that there were no fewer than 3 helicopter evacuations on this cruise. We actually learned a great deal about the evacuation procedure from the watch officer. He told us most cruise lines see these very rarely but HAL has them more often than anyone else Debarkation Shockingly simple. Customs officers wanted nothing to do with anyone. A quick glance at the passport and no questions. Clearly they didn't want to be there. That's it! Overall, a relaxing cruise with great weather and smooth sailing. Not sure HAL is in our immediate future though. Its a little puzzling how HAL makes strides with the Rolling Stone Band, which suggests they are trying to attract a younger group, but they don't seem to be ready to go all in yet. I suppose they are simply preparing for inevitable replacement of Baby Boomers with Gen X-ers as clients
  6. And we’re the only ship today so we have the island to ourselves. Speaking with an an officer in the Lido this morning, the upcoming K’dam cruise could be interesting. Seems they are already planning on missing multiple ports
  7. Antigua being our replacement port for a last minute cancellation of St Kitts. We’re told the local authorities are concerned about the health of passenger but the Capt has said over and over that we are all healthy. This is both concerning and disappointing obviously. There’s been a lot of changes in the service since the start of the ship with people being stopped and told to wash hands, no serving themselves with anything and constant reminders to stay healthy. the cruise director, captain and medical staff are holding a briefing for all in the main theatre at 10:00am. While I feel that we are indeed healthy here, this new wrinkle of ports being denied opens a new consideration for those thinking about cancelling upcoming cruises.
  8. There are an awful lot of people posting things as absolute facts without any sources to back any of it up. Much of it is contradictory too. Tipping culture is weird.
  9. People who were staying on for back-to-backs today were all told they had to disembark for the day for a deep clean. $100 OBC for each affected cruiser.
  10. My parents are on the ship. Haven't heard from them in a few days, which is probably a good sign as they would send a message if they were ill.
  11. We were slotted, three of us, in an interior "I" class room for an upcoming 11-day cruise on the Koningsdam. After seeing some pictures, we realized how small it was. A quick note to our PCC at HAL and we were offered a VH Verandah for a total of what would be $450 USD equivalent. That's two giant leaps in cabin classes for a very low price for 11 days. Very pleased and couldn't thank our PCC enough.
  12. Happy to see the libraries being phased out and replaced with new technology. HAL needs to be sure they prepare for the next group that will be their bread and butter. The Baby Boomers won't be making up the bulk of their clientele for much longer and the smart lines will begin looking to see how to better serve Gen X-ers
  13. In the event of a real emergency out at sea only the fittest and fastest passengers stand a chance. Those who think the cruislines have a plan to save everyone are fooling themselves.
  14. Sounds like a blast! This would be something my family would do as soon as possible. More things to see and do, means more bang for your buck. We've been on the Oasis twice. It is huge, and there is less waiting than on HAL usually. To be fair, the people visiting the HAL forum are generally not the intended crowd for a ship like this.
  15. Because it is among the few options those of us from the north have to escape the cold for a week or two in the winter. All-Inclusives are fun but the areas we enjoy have really gone up in price in recent years. Condos are just... iffy. You never really know what you'll encounter, especially in a foreign country. Cruising gets us to a new place every day and is the most affordable of all the options.
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