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About Swice

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    Charlotte, NC, USA

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  1. Been on HAL in Alaska twice (most recently a year ago) and bow access both trips. We were told it depends on weather conditions.
  2. We have been to several countries in Europe over the past few years and have not had any problems with our cards. All american issued credit cards now have a "chip." However, the card is designed so that they do not require a "pin" to use. I happen to have pins for mine, but have yet to use the pin except at ATM machines. I do appreciate in Europe how they bring the credit card device to your table at a restaurant and YOU complete the transaction yourself-- in other words, the waiter never touches your card. Wish it were that way here in the U-S.
  3. For the sake of this thread, I'm not sure I'm comfortable using the term "production" shows. There is no way HAL is not going to have something on those huge stages. They're building the new ships with additional technology for lighting, computer set movements, stage rotations, etc. One of the best shows I've ever seen on a HAL cruise was Cantare' on the N.A. ...that was about seven or eight years ago. It was not what I would call a "production" show. It featured four EXCELLENT male singers with the changing LED background and some physical set pieces of Roman columns/ruins. There was no dancing, no feathers, no sequins of typical "production show." But it was dynamite. I'm assuming the show was a rip off of the success of Il Divo (https://ildivo.com/). Since then, I've seen a return to the traditional "production shows" but with limited sets and so-so singers (I LOVE production shows when they are quality-- but hate them when they are cheaply done). I actually liked the BBC nature film because it included a live orchestra-- BUT I would not want that on every cruise. Give me variety. So I'm not caught up on the "production show" label (I come from a theme park production show background!). All I ask is a show full of "talent" that is worthy of filling the big stage -- and the theater. Sometimes it's a full "show" with costumes and feathers (!) and sometimes it may be just a few singers.
  4. Another thought today: This appears to take away one of the things that made cruising a special kind of vacation. What they are really taking away is the illusion of a floating fantasy where passengers are treated like royalty. It’s not so much that passengers “need” a second entrée (breathe holier than thou health police), it’s the knowing we “could” order the second entrée that was a part of the allure of cruising. It’s like the now-gone Chocolate Extravagana late night buffets where they used to set up those massive beautiful dessert displays. They were photo ops to show your friends and family the edible works of art that you would only see and taste on a cruise. At some point, a debate started internally about costs. Slowly, the displays became less extravagant. Some of the displays were even fake – cardboard cakes covered with icing for photos only. The desserts the passengers were allowed to eat were the less fancy and bland. The allure had been broken and people stopped going. They also stopped taking pictures and showing them to everyone when they got back home. So now, instead of the free word of mouth advertising, the marketing department has to spend more on slick commercials and photo shoots to create a new illusion. Cost cutting sometimes ends up costing more.
  5. Sorry, I can't help myself. I have come up with the solution!!! Next time you are seated-- place your order, and while you are waiting for your food, one person at the table can get up and go to the Lido and return with a plate piled high of just entrees. This should probably be done by using the complimentary HAL tote bag or a big purse because I'm sure they would stop you if you carried the plate in plain view.
  6. This is just dumb in so many ways. Yes, we've done it. We've ordered a pasta entree for all to share at the table. But there have been plenty of meals where we have all skipped dessert or an appetizer. So if we order a pasta to share, will HAL reduce the $10 fee to allow for the desserts we skipped? Of course not. I have no doubt there are some who order A LOT of food. But I would argue there are plenty who eat like birds and order very little. I volunteer at a homeless shelter and there are some who come through the line and ask for extra and then throw it away after eating only two bites. There also some who eat every single morsel. And third, there are those who come through the line and ask for smaller portions or will ask you to leave something off their plate. You'll never get me to believe this doesn't even out. How many on here eat a lot on the first couple of days and find yourself eating a lot LESS by the end of the cruise (especially on a 12 or 14 day)?
  7. This has been interesting reading. We've sailed both. Our last cruise was a year ago in Alaska on Princess (we had previously sailed Alaska on HAL). My youngest son, a 15-year old, mused the whole time about how Princess was not as nice as HAL. EVERY night he complained that the butter on Princess was the foil wrapped rectangles instead of the cut-cubes of butter in a cold dish (with with ice in the bottom to keep it cool). Everybody has their "thing." Generally speaking, we do think the food is better on HAL. In Alaska, the Princess Lodges are better. BTW, I'm concerned reading that HAL is now charging for an extra entree'??? There were a number of nights when we skipped an appetizer or salad and ordered the pasta entree for all of us to share and taste. On other nights, I've ordered two or three appetizers and a salad and skipped the entree. I can't imagine THAT many people order two entrees' and impact the cruise line's bottom line.
  8. I actually have a different opinion. I'm "thrifty" and my wife is "cheap." 😉 We are not big spenders. We've done two cruisetours... one with the meal plan (Princess) and one without (HAL). If you take Denali out of the mix, the other lodges (hotels) are in more remote areas. You are stuck with eating at the cruise line owned hotel restaurants. The menu prices are expensive. It made our experience so much more enjoyable to "ignore" the menu prices when we were on the meal plan. We were able to order "anything" we wanted. Honestly, if I was looking at the menu prices, I would have order the least expensive items (seriously, the prices are outrageous). We found the food at the Princess lodges far superior to the food on the ship! The food was truly excellent. By the way, the Princess and HAL lodges are right next to each other at Denali and you can use your meal credits at either location. Extra bonus opinion: - We liked the ship experience better with HAL - We liked the land experience better with Princess
  9. Sorry, but I strongly disagree with this statement everytime I see it. HAL is for kids and ours have had wonderful experiences in Club HAL over the years. I would argue NO cruise line is "for" kids when school is in session. In addition, no matter the time of the year... the longer the cruise, the higher probability the passenger list will skew older. All of the cruise lines schedule kid programming based on the number of kids they have on the manifest. It is quite common for a cruise line to fly a "camp counselor" in for just a week because of a high number of kids on the reservation list.
  10. Typically when sailing Europe, we go a few days early and may stay a couple of days after the cruise. The $9 daily rate totally removes the stress of packing and washing in the room/cabin. We tend to walk a lot and are active (some of those European cities are hot!), so it's nice to board the ship and immediately send out our traveling clothes and the clothing we just wore pre-cruise and start "fresh." We typically don't pay for a lot of extras on a cruise but the laundry is worth every penny in my opinion. Reduce your stress and go for the unlimited.
  11. Thanks... I noticed later and couldn't figure out how to "edit."
  12. pasting partial response from another thread: Please, please, please do shore excursions! We looked for more active ones to take, but still all were tame and suitable to almost anybody. Booked all ourselves and in almost every case, they came to the ship to pick us up at the gangway. I used Cruise Critic and every recommendation turned out to be terrific: Ketchikan: islandwings float plane Juneau: Coastal Helicopters Dog Sled with Extra Landing *******off the charts excellent experience Harv and Marv whale watching Skagway: Dyea Dave tour van/ white pass railroad return from Yukon Interior Alaska: Talkeetna flight over Mt. McKinley ***** one word, "wow." One other Alaska note: We are a family used to doing things on our own, but we ended up booking the cruise with an "escorted land tour." It's not so much that we needed a "guide" but these escorted cruise/tours include food (just like on the cruise ship). The cruise line lodges are remote for the most part and it's not like there are other restaurant options nearby that you can walk to, so you will end up eating at the lodge restaurants. The menu prices are expensive. In my opinion, pay for the escorted land tour because by the end of your trip, you very well could end up paying the same price as the escorted tour but with more hassle and consternation (once you see the menu prices). Use your cabana money for the escorted tour!!
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