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About ajtaylor29

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Dallas, TX

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  1. ajtaylor29

    Very Low Carnival Rewards?

    We're also formerly loyal to Carnival, but due to diminishing offers we're trying HAL and RCCL this year through URComped. Better offers by far. I think Carnival is going to regret how many players they're losing, but maybe they don't need us after all?!?!
  2. On our very first cruise, 6 or 7 years ago, very first port! We were in Jamaica and chose a private excursion to go zip lining. There were about 10 people in a van, and everything went fine until the end of the tour, when they had dropped us off for shopping and (1) couple went immediately to a bar to start drinking. Time to meet back at the van and they weren't there. The tour operator kept saying "just a few more minutes", several times, while the rest of us sat in the van getting more and more nervous. Especially my family, since this was all so new to us and we'd never even experienced getting back on a ship?!?! Finally, after people were practically yelling at the tour operator to leave, the couple showed up, happy and drunk and not at all concerned that we were all waiting for them?!?! We raced to the ship (considering all the traffic it was a slow race), finally pulled up and we all jumped out and ran. Or course, everybody on their balconies was yelling and whistling as we raced to get back on. I was so relieved and happy to be back on board. I was mortified and swore never again!!!! And after 9 cruises, i have never been that late getting on again EVER! And, we still take mostly private excursions. But i will say i have a little sympathy when i see people racing to get back on - sometimes it is NOT their fault.....now, if they're falling down drunk i have NO sympathy?!?!
  3. ajtaylor29

    New Program called "The Key"

    Good point! Definitely better than $32!
  4. ajtaylor29

    New Program called "The Key"

    FYI, i've been considering The Key for our May cruise on the Anthem. I saved it in my shopping cart a week ago but couldn't decide to pull the trigger for $32 a day. Yesterday it was still $32. Well, i just looked in my cruise planner and the price has dropped to $25!! Now it's "on sale".....i think i'm going to snag it. For us, priority boarding is huge (we use FTTF on Carnival), embarkation lunch away from the buffet is a plus, and having access to special hours at some of the activities seems well worth it! I'm wondering if the price drop is for everybody today or just certain ships/dates??
  5. Although all the information i see from HAL boards clearly states that the casino DOES allow smoking.....so i'm not sure who to believe!!!!
  6. I talked to someone yesterday who just got off the Statendam after it's second voyage. She said the casino was no smoking....
  7. Just got off a 10 day HAL cruise (Zuiderdam) and i didn't realize until after we booked it that after dry-dock last year they converted the casino to non-smoking (HAL's website wasn't clear about this).The only smoking area on the whole ship was Lido, rear pool area. (casino was 2nd level, forward). That was a long haul everytime i went up for a cigarette!!! I made the best of it, but i'll admit that in the future i'll make sure the casino has a smoking area before booking. I'm sure the non-smokers love a non-smoking casino, i get it, but fwiw - the casino was pretty dead all week.....
  8. ajtaylor29

    UR Comped experiences

    Thought i'd share my experience so far with URComped. For background, we have done (9) cruises with Carnival over the last few years, most were comped because of our casino play. Then for some reason, this past year the offers from Carnival dried up, so i started to look around for options and heard about URComped. I set up an account, loaded other offers (land and sea), and the offers started to appear on URComped. WOW! Lots of options, so i contacted a host w/ URC and requested (2) cruises, both were accepted and booked! One 10-day Panama Canal cruise on Holland America (comped oceanview, we paid to upgrade to a balcony so with port fees paid about $800 total), one 5-day to Bermuda on RCCL Anthem of the Seas (comped balcony, so only paid port fees). New ports for us plus (2) new cruiselines to try out! Per URC, we would receive free drinks in the casino and waved fees for cash withdrawals on both cruises. We just returned last week from our HAL Panama Canal cruise, so a brief report: When we got to our cabin on embarkation day we found a letter from the casino that they had given us both the Signature Drink Package (drinks all over the ship for 10 days, NICE!!!) That was definitely a surprise. The casino was not great. Pretty small, very empty most of the time, older machines. Of course, we tried our best and were in there a lot, (over 12k points each) but honestly it wasn't that fun. The casino staff were all great, very friendly, but it was too quiet for us! Overall, we didn't love this cruise as much as our other cruises, mainly because of the older demographics on the ship. We knew that HAL catered to an older crowd, and that's ok. We're 60-ish but like to have fun, and after a few days we were sort of bored with the ship. On a positive note, the ship was pretty, the food was very good, great itinerary, and we had plenty to drink!!! 🙂 I think we went from one extreme to the other (Carnival to HAL) and hoping that somewhere in the middle is closer to our taste, hopefully that will be RCCL!!! That one is in May. We received a letter from the casino on the last night, telling us to "contact our booking agent to learn about any upcoming casino offers" so i have no idea what they will offer us (or what URComped will offer) after this. It'll be interesting to see....
  9. ajtaylor29

    Help? Will we like HAL?

    We just returned from our first HAL cruise, and while there was a lot to like, we will probably not cruise with them again, honestly because of the older demographics of the passengers. We are 60'ish fun couple, love to cruise, gamble, enjoy the sun and the ports. We just found this cruise rather boring, other than the port days. The food was very good - i was especially impressed with the Lido buffet. The staff was great, the ship (Zuiderdam) was very nice. We have only cruised with Carnival before this, and we're looking for an alternative to them (we're definitely over the hairy chest contests! 🙂) but this was one extreme to the other. We're going to try Royal Caribbean next, hoping that's a little closer to our tastes.
  10. Yes, i enjoyed reading your trip report, thanks for all the information!!! FYI - since the drink package seems to be a hot topic, and i've watched your videos on the policy/not policy in place....We debated back and forth and finally decided NOT to get it for this cruise. I've ordered vodka and beer for the room, taking 2 bottles of wine on board with us, and the rest we'll just pay as we go. We also have free drinks in the casino. So, i'll figure out after the trip whether i made the right decision or not.....I've done it both ways on Carnival. Thanks again for your great report!
  11. Perfect, thank you so much! 5 days to go, we're so excited!
  12. Sorry, i'm sure this has been answered many times in other threads, but of course now that i need it i can't find it! We're leaving this Sunday, our first HAL cruise. Can someone explain the boarding process for me? Our boarding passes say 1 pm. Is this a "suggested" time for everyone, or do they assign staggered check-in times? We've only sailed on Carnival before, and for them you select your boarding time and everybody is staggered starting at about 11 am. I'd like to know whether we can arrive earlier and be allowed to board, or will we have to wait until at least 1? Thanks in advance for your help!
  13. Thanks for sharing this! When the Zuiderdam returns in 11 days, I'm getting on!!!!!!! 😎😄
  14. ajtaylor29

    Getting Excited

    18 days until we board the Zuiderdam for 10 days and a partial Panama Canal! So excited, this is our first HAL cruise (8 previous cruises, all with Carnival).
  15. ajtaylor29

    Panama Canal Partial Transit and Ferry

    Let us know what you decide, i'm having the same dilemna about our January cruise!!!