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Posts posted by brainyblonde

  1. I hope John will do one knee replacement at a time, if he has to have two done. DH's longtime bestie (they first met in flight school), recently died from double knee replacement surgery at the same time. Because he could not walk, he developed clots in his lungs. A week after surgery he was pronounced dead. He had no other existing health problems.


    Thanks for the posts and have fun!

  2. We were on the 15 day transatlantic, very happy to enjoy old and new cruise critic friends. Thanks to Bruce and Susan for great organization for the roll call, etc.


    Lincoln Center being closed was HUGE for us, as we had loved the venue during our 24 Day April/May Eurodam trip. Not satisfactory that another musical option was not substituted somewhere else on the ship. If these musicians were contractually not allowed to play, hire a supplemental classical music duo from the old Adagio players. Had we been notified ahead, we would have changed our booking to the Oosterdam. The piano bar players were dreadful, for us spoiled by Stryker and Jimmy Maddox.


    Our Pinnacle Dinner was disappointing, the steak was only marginally better, the crab cakes appropriate but not luscious, the shrimp a tiny bit larger than the main dining room, and the volcano cake tasted like thick pudding. All this for $70 per couple more. We were not romanced with great service, had a mediocre table in the middle of the room within hearing range of the other people in the room, and felt underwhelmed. Since we are four star, we paid $35 and will not dash back.


    I can see why some passengers were bored, the lectures were either very frivolous or on boring subjects. The lack of poolside entertainment, the old Hal Cats for example, no sail aways with local food, and no special events other than the $10 Sale poolside. Two stations of a Mongolian BBQ at lunch one day was it.


    A positive was the gym, the new orbital machines were always available.


    The Bridge instruction and duplicate bridge games were another huge issue. We were told the "instructor did not show up." Fortunately aboard were passengers who came as a group to play Bridge. One took over all the logistics of running a sanctioned game and another gave lessons. That's plain crazy that passengers should "work" so that we could have our promised Bridge instruction and games.


    We did not put down money for a future cruise credit this time, despite our 470 days with HAL. While TAs are deeply discounted, that is not a reason to scrimp on the product. We saw a huge difference in our two Eurodam cruises this year. A crossing should be when Hal shines, extra activities, a buzz should be created so that one anticipates the next cruise.

  3. Thanks, Dave, for your clarifying the new room service breakfast hang tag with the staff. If we all write in what we want when we cruise, rather than the set choices, we may send a message to HAL. I imagine there will be hiccups on an individual basis. Nonetheless HAL must have a team of "experts" who determined that for efficiency or whatever, the change was a good thing for them. A very small issue, but still disappointed with the "streamlined" breakfast room service. No more whining, though!

  4. The new breakfast room service menu looks disappointing and wasteful. We always order the fruit, now will have to order yogurt and pastries to get the fruit. What is the reasoning in the charge for the salmon, when it is free in the Lido? We have been able to customize our omelet to add mushrooms, ordered toast or pastries as ala carte items. (One chocolate croissant for example.)


    I guess we will just write in what we want and see what happens. If we end up with three complete breakfasts each, HAL has defeated its purpose.

  5. We did the second day in Tianjin, a very interesting city. Take the port shuttle to the metro station, ride the train to Tianjin. Research the sites and have a walking plan. Highlights were the European Style homes and restaurants, the pedestrian shops street, and the park near the river. These are off the top of my head, one of our group of three couples planned our route in advance. Couldn't have had a nicer day. There is nothing to do at the shopping center where the HAL shuttle drops you off.

  6. Sorry, correction. I am not sure which ship was slated for April 1. We will be on the Eurodam and currently scheduled for Istanbul. Other cruises lines have either cancelled Istanbul or make a quick "pit stop" to pick up passengers.


    Again, thanks to you, Kirk. Helpful information.

  7. We were not able to use our AMEX Platinum perks on a cruise booked late January, 2015, with a TA. Our TA gives us a good discount through OBC, making the platinum perks not a good trade off. Last year we ran into a similar problem, we were not able to get platinum perks. We were told the policy change was in effect at that time, which was early 2014. Prior to those cruises, we were able to book with this same TA and HAL honored the Platinum status.

  8. In the smaller fleet cabins, the verandahs are considerably more expensive than the oceanview cabins. The larger ships have more verandahs, so the odds of getting a "good" verandah with a guarantee are better. On the smaller ships the cabins below the aft pool are very noisy. Tables scraping, bands with their amps at sail-aways, the crew washing the decks in the early morning. (Like a herd of elephants.) The number of desirable verandahs on the smaller ships is more limited. Depending on the booking of the ship, one could easily get an undesirable cabin with a BC or BB guarantee.


    We have had good luck with guarantees on the Oosterdam, Noordam, and Eurodam. Not so much on the Rotterdam and Amsterdam. We try to book above a VH if possible on the larger ships. A BB or higher on the smaller liners. We hope for a tiny upgrade away from a noise above or below us.

  9. We were on deck seven, in a balcony, just below the aft pool on the Rotterdam, 7046, I believe. 39 days of racket above us, the band setting up for pool parties, guests moving their chair to get out of the sun. The worst was the frequent scrubbing of the deck in the early morning by the staff. Then all the chairs and tables were dragged to one area and then back.


    Since we book a guarantee, I realize this is the risk one must take. On the Oosterdam we had a great cabin, only to not have A/C heating for 36 days. That was nerve wracking because the front office acted like we were crazy. They would send maintenance, who would declare it fixed, only to have nothing but recirculated air after they left. Finally one senior maintenance official admitted that the problem was with the location of the room in reference to the main system. Supposedly this design flaw was corrected in latter ships.


    We've had a cigar smoker next to us and other annoyances. Never had much luck changing cabins, so just hope that the "cruising gods" are with us each trip.

  10. I can see no "upside" to balcony smoking. We had a particularly unpleasant voyage of six weeks with a cigar smoker next to us. His routine was to light up when the ship was about to leave port. Like the rest of us, we enjoyed being on our balcony when the ship left port also. The stench, and I mean stench, was so bad that the odor seeped into our cabin, the residual smell remained on the balcony for a long time even at sea. My clothes smelled of cigar if I trespassed onto my balcony.


    Yes, we still book balconies. I breathe a sigh of relief when we do not have smokers anywhere around us. I am also resolved that I will not tolerate this condition again. The front office will know me well until I can change cabins.


    I consider second hand smoke a health hazard.



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