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Everything posted by Donald

  1. Check this out from Page 3 of the Windstar CC Section.
  2. HAL switched quality and cost on Elemis in 2012, when I was working on Oosterdam. When they delivered the new Elemis products (mostly in new bulk containers) we noticed the packaging and smell had changed significantly. Then we looked at the invoices and noticed the cost was much lower. We first assumed it was an error in delivery. But when we contacted Seattle, they admitted it was a cost-cutting measure. "Carnivalization"
  3. Most cruise passengers do not realize the legalistics behind visitor visas. When your cruise ship enters the national waters of another country, it typically receives a blanket visa for all passengers and crew onboard (there are some exceptions to this practice). So long as the ship remains in port, this blanket visa is valid. When the ship departs, the blanket visa is cancelled. If you happen to be a passenger or crewmember on the ship that has just departed - and you are not on that ship - then you are illegally in the country - unless you have contacted local immigration authorities and received a proper visa to be in that country. Canada is one of the countries that operates this way. There are other details at play, however. A closed loop cruise from the USA (starting and ending in the same US Port) enjoys more relaxed immigration and customs procedures when it returns to the USA, as all passengers originated and ended their voyage in the same US Port. But if even one passenger joined the ship or left the ship in any other port on that particular cruise, the US Government requires far more complicated clearance procedures for the ship when it ends its voyage in the USA. This can possibly cost the cruise line more money and result in clearance delays. As a result, some cruise lines will not allow deviations except in cases of emergency.
  4. HAL originally supplied Elemis products in the cabin bathrooms. Then they went into cost-cutting mode. The dispensers and containers still say "Elemis". The supplier is the same company that manufactures Elemis products, but they make a cheaper version for HAL. The quality and smell are not quite the same as the real Elemis products.
  5. If you don't do it aloud, they will not hear your order. I suppose you could write it down. You are allowed to do it, however.
  6. Contrary to popular beliefs, there are only 2 islands in the Caribbean. Both are nearly square in shape, with 4 distinct ports on each island. Every day your ship leaves one side, sails in circles in the ocean, then returns to the same island, but to a different side, with a different name. The island has shuttle buses for the employees, who are bussed around to different sides as demand increases or decreases. All the staff have several different name tags, and pretend to speak several different languages, depending on which side they are working that day. In the end they are all poor islanders, selling useless trinkets, t-shirts, cheap rum, and marijuana to the unsuspecting sunburned tourists.
  7. It is technically possible. Not easy, nor cheap - but possible. In the current mass market cruise industry, one of the biggest complaints is the price of a coca-cola. Many of your fellow cruisers and fellow CC posters are constantly discussing ways to save even a dollar on their cruise fare. You are proposing to increase those fares. Far too many of your fellow cruisers are quite willing to inconvenience others and take a calculated safety risk in order to increase their pleasure (opening the balcony doors) rather than actually paying for a safer, more polite alternative. Your proposal will never fly.
  8. The vent on the bottom of the front door of your cabin is designed to allow the overpressure air in your cabin to flow away from your door, carrying smoke and flames away from your cabin door in case of fire. Leaving the balcony door open defeats the overpressure air in your cabin by allowing it to escape to the balcony. The vent on the bottom of your front door then allows smoke and flame to readily enter your cabin in a fire. If the wind is blowing past your open balcony door, it could create a lower air pressure in your cabin, resulting in smoke / flame being sucked into your cabin via the vent on your front door (if there is a fire outside your cabin). Quite a few ships are designed with shared ventilation ductwork between cabins. If you open your balcony door, lowering the overpressure air in your cabin, the overpressure air in your neighbor's cabin (including cold air, hot air, cigarette smoke, other smells, music, TV noises, fire, smoke, etc) is pushed into your cabin via the shared air duct system.
  9. "Premium Tequila" fits into the same category as - "Premium" American Beer - Bacon flavoured vodka - "Formal" blue jeans - "Dress" Running Shoes - "Formal" baseball caps - "Fine Dining" Restaurants with pink tablecloths - "Bottomless salad bowl" at Olive Garden - "Dress" Polo Shirts - Clip on ties - Shirt pocket protectors - Underwear for the deaf - Facial piercings - Tattoos
  10. If you have ever eaten in a land-based restaurant anywhere in the world, you have experienced anytime type dining. Just like in a land-based restaurant, if you have a group of 7, the polite thing to do (just like on land) is call ahead to ensure that there will be a large table available for your group at the time you prefer. Scanning of your sea pass card is a non-issue. They my ask your cabin numbers for logistical reasons. They may scan your cards to get the cabin numbers. There is no cost involved unless you purchase something -or visit an upcharge restaurant..
  11. VSP does not test for air quality on ships. But most modern cruise ships do have quite good air filtration systems.
  12. Actually the FDA Inspectors in Hawaii were not able to tell me from memory the required cooking temperatures and holding temperatures that are listed in the VSP Manual - and are required knowledge for every food preparation employee on a foreign flag ship. (Lack of this knowledge is a 3-point deduction with VSP).They were also unaware of potable water and recreational water requirements and regulations that every hotel engineer on every cruise ship is required to follow. (That's another 3-point deduction). Their public health knowledge was not complete enough to allow them to even be employed in my floating hotel. On every issue I asked about their only reply was, "just follow whatever the VSP Manual tells you". The American steamship we were on was very old with many deficiencies. We would have been very lucky to pass at all with VSP. The FDA gave us a perfect 100 score and congratulated us on the excellent condition of the vessel !! When I signed this perfect inspection report, the inspectors and I were in the galley, standing in a pool of stagnant water that was leaking out of a bulkhead - a major health violation, and a 5 point deduction. Very sad really.
  13. As luck would have it, I spoke with the lead Commander of the Vessel Sanitation Program today. She assured me that my Bahamas flagged cruise ship can only be inspected by two or more of the 11 USPH Officers (Commanders, Lieutenant Commanders, and Lieutenants) currently assigned to the VSP Offices in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. There are currently 2 open Inspector positions at VSP. If you know anyone who is qualified, they are hiring.
  14. FDA inspects airplanes, trains, and buses in the USA. They also inspect American flag cruise ships (the very few that still exist). They are not allowed to inspect foreign flag cruise ships. That responsibility goes to a sister organization - The United States Public Health Service - USPH. USPH has a slightly different and more stringent set of rules and regulations about health and cleanliness than their colleagues at FDA. Years ago I was working an an American Flag cruise ship in Hawaii. FDA came aboard for their annual inspection. They asked me if we were following the VSP Manual (Vessel Sanitation Program of the USPH). I showed them my copy of the VSP Manual. They admitted that they were not familiar with the manual, but urged me to continue following the VSP guidelines. I tried discussing some of the finer points of the VSP manual with them, but they were unwilling to get into it.
  15. You might be surprised to learn that much of Southeast Alaska - where the majority of cruise ships visit - is known as a rain forest. I will leave it to your imagination to guess the reason they call it a rain forest.
  16. Amsterdam is currently being inspected. No word yet on the score.
  17. It must have been a bit uncomfortable, sitting in the rain, wearing just a sports bra and shorts.
  18. I worked on HAL ships for many years. After the current President arrived, we had endless meetings on how HAL - now completely Carnivalized - could slowly and gently get rid of the older regular crowd that spent so little money onboard, and at the same time appeal to a newer, younger, free-spending demographic. This had to be accomplished gently, so that the older crowd did not realize they were no longer desirable, and so would desert the cruise line slowly. At the same time, HAL would slowly introduce new concepts that would appeal to a younger crowd, who would gradually replace the defecting oldsters. All of this had to be done with a careful eye to protecting profits and reducing costs during the entire process. Very sneaky, but thinking about all those meetings and looking at the current state of HAL, they appear to be quite successful in their scheme. It will take a bit longer to complete, but their bottom line appears to be holding steady while slowly convincing the old crowd to look and book elsewhere. This year, for the first time in decades, the average age of a HAL cruiser has dropped. Personally, I do not see anything positive in these developments.
  19. A shockingly high number of cruisers report that their Cabin Attendant's name was Stewart. I have personally had several Stewart's cleaning my cabins, but I tend to get them mixed up.
  20. Cruise ships, like just about every hotel on the planet, offer sharps boxes to anyone who requests one.
  21. That was a great PR stunt, but is anyone out there really so naive to believe that the Captain of a cruse ship is allowed to order food from ashore for passengers? Yes, better cruise ships do this quite often, but it is the Hotel Manager who orders the food. The Captain orders potable water and fuel.
  22. CLIA has nothing to do with it. Many countries see cruise ships and cruise passengers as the golden goose. They want to take as much advantage of cruise ship visits as possible. That explains why Canada and the USA agreed to allow US Immigration Officials to work in ports like Vancouver - pre-clearing passengers on cruises to Alaska, so they will not have to waste precious time going through immigration formalities once they arrive in Alaska. The sooner they get ashore, the sooner they start spending money. Most countries do not have the same sunny opinion of airplanes and airplane passengers. An airplane sends a manifest to the next airport just a few hours before it arrives, giving the authorities very little time to investigate any possible trouble-makers. A cruise ship sends a manifest several days before arrival, giving authorities much more time to look for and prevent trouble.
  23. This special deal has been in place for several decades. Most countries realize that the vast majority of cruise passengers are not actively trying to immigrate to the country the ship is visiting. Most just want to spend the day - and a wad of cash, before sailing away to the next country. If the ports required face to face immigration inspections for each passenger on a 5,000 passenger ship, people would be standing in line so long that they would not have any time to go ashore to spend money. Aside from that, many countries simply do not have the manpower to conduct comprehensive immigration checks on such large numbers. If you investigate the history of cruising, the number of passengers intentionally "getting lost" while on a cruise is very low. If that situation changed, you would probably see a change in the procedures.
  24. These one-nighters are a nightmare for ship employees. The bulk of the clientele takes the word "frugal" to new heights. Walk into the Lido and see the eating contest; how much can we eat to get our money's worth?? We see people carrying away entire trays of shrimp cocktails to their cabins. In the morning, we have to go through each cabin to count missing towels, pillows, sheets, blankets, robes. At the gangway, we post extra security to chase passengers who try to run down the gangway before paying their bar bills. The number one question at the reception desk is, "What is the cheapest way to get to the bus station?" Its like spending 24 hours at Walmart.
  25. Immunizations are like life jackets. You only need them when you need them. If you are feeling lucky, you do not need immunizations or life jackets.
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