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Everything posted by CruiseRQA

  1. Yes there is a thermal suite. Exactly the same as on the similar class ships as well as the New Amsterdam and Eurodam. Layout is of a locker room to change and then the hydrospa (or whatever they call it), essentially a large hot tub. There is also a room with about 6 heated ceramic lounge chairs. We have always enjoyed the thermal suite. For a week it was about $250/couple if I remember correctly. You can sign up once onboard
  2. What are they substituting? First night out on our recent Oosterdam cruise they showed a movie!
  3. I think lunch in the Pinnacle Grill is one of the best bargains on the ship. A quiet lunch with excellent service away from the hubbub of the Lido. What is not to like? How does it work? Make a reservation when you board, and appear at the appointed time. You will be seated and enjoy a great lunch. Highly recommended.
  4. Sad to see what is happening with HAL. We cruised on the Oosterdam in late February (cruise review is posted in the review section) and have to echo most of what the OP has said. We have been HAL loyalists for 15 years but perhaps no more. Like the OP, the cutbacks in the MDR are obvious. No cold soups, limited appetizers and YES, my wife was charged $10 for adding a lobster tail to her veal chop. First night out there was no main stage entertainment. No production shows. Parts of the promenade deck were closed almost always, making walking it a chore. We cruised HAL because it seemed to fit nicely between the main stream lines and the luxury lines. No more. HAL is now another main stream cruise line. As I said.....sad
  5. No need to worry about this. Simply put your bottle on your table and the wine steward will serve you very graciously and often with a compliment about your wine choice.
  6. Of course we don't pay $1000 or more to get into a restaurant on land
  7. So you actually do care what people wear to the dining room.
  8. Can we stop saying that dining in the MDR is "complimentary"? I think we all paid for it.
  9. Lame. So two nights there is no entertainment (port talk and a movie).
  10. Sadly you won't. There really is no dress code anymore on HAL whether it's "gala" night or not. On my recent Oosterdam cruise perhaps 10% of men had a tie the rest anything from jeans and whatever shirt that was dry.
  11. Will they refund the $10 we were charged to add a lobster tail to my wife's veal chop?
  12. Our last non-HAL cruise was on Celebrity. We might consider them. We have not been on Princess. Our travel agent has us thinking about Oceania or one of the other upscale lines. Those seem quite pricey but perhaps is the thing to do given the direction HAL seems to be going. We have friends that enjoy all-inclusive resorts. Perhaps we will look for the a fit there. Or perhaps we will just do an AirBnB in FL or AZ for a week or two in the winter.
  13. Was on the Oosterdam two weeks ago: No production show No chilled soups No smoked fish $10 charge for an extra lobster tail No library No Explorations Cafe
  14. No chilled soups on the Oosterdam two weeks ago
  15. I am a 3* Mariner and we have taken an annual cruise on HAL for the last 15 years or so. Our Oosterdam cruise has me reconsidering my winter vacation next year. A different cruise line? An all-inclusive resort? Hawaii? My list of negatives on this cruise in part are: no mainstage entertainment the first night out; an homogenization of food across the ship (no smoked fish, no cold soups, fewer menu options overall); being charged $10 for a lobster tail; the ongoing elimination of all things Dutch; ports that were literal tourist traps (Cozumel); overly expensive poor excursions. We still enjoyed the friendly and very gracious crew and the ship itself was in impeccable condition. Wonder how I will feel about it by next year?
  16. Was on the Oosterdam last week. Thought we would spring for a Neptune suite. Cost us about $1000 more for the two of us for the week as compared to a veranda suite. Was it worth it? Probably not, at least to me. The extra space was nice, but still not a huge room. We enjoyed having breakfast in the PG each morning - nice environment and great service, but essentially the same food as in the MDR. The Neptune Lounge was no great shakes, some flavored waters and appetizers available. The staff there made lunch reservations for us at the PG, otherwise as pleasant as they were, we really had no use for them. Valet laundry service was great. However overall, for a thousand bucks, not really worth it for a bigger room and breakfast at the PG. At least in my opinion.
  17. We wound up staying at the Cambria Suites. Great room and nice to have a small bar and restaurant on site. A bit of a hike to any local shopping or restaurants however.
  18. The ambiance and the service are 4-star. Sadly, if my last week's Oosterdam experience is now the norm, the food is Applebee's
  19. He explained that the extra entree would be $10 and as I was not to deny my wife her hoped for lobster tail, we said okay and he took our card.
  20. Just off Oosterdam. On one of the gala nights ($10 for extra entree), my wife wanted a lobster tail to go with her veal chop rather than the "surf and turf" entree. The entire surf and turf entree was brought to our table and we were charged $10. I actually ordered the surf and turf. The lobster tail was actually pretty good. The "turf" may have been the worst steak I have ever had. It had the appearance of a 6 oz fillet that had been slice in thirds. I complained to the maitre d who was sympathetic but offered nothing.
  21. Just off the Oosterdam and I am posting some comments about various aspects of the cruise. This will be about the food. My history of cruising began back in the late 1980s and have cruised most winters since. The last 10 or so have been on HAL. Typically we do the late seating fixed time as we like the more casual pace as well as getting to know the wait staff and having them get to know us. In fact we have enjoyed the MDR experience so much we do not use the specialty restaurants or Lido for dinner I have always been a defender of HAL's food despite reading many complaints over the past few years on this board. Sadly, I must join the complainers. I found the MDR food mediocre this cruise. Some examples were a catfish fillet that was described as lightbreaded with cornmeal and spices. In reality it was something I could get in my local Kroger's frozen fish department in a box. Overbreaded and over deep fried. The next night was a "regional specialty item" - pepper pot soup. May have been the worst cruise item I have ever had. A few pieces of overcooked meat cubes (likely leftover short ribs from the previous night) over which a dilute beef broth was poured. Yes we found out about the $10 charge for an extra entree when my wife wanted to add a lobster tail to a veal chop rather than have the surf and turf. I got the surf and turf. The lobster tail was not bad but the "turf" may have been the worst version of a steak I have ever had anywhere. It seem like a filet you might get an an Applebees and then sliced into thirds. Must have been all of 3 oz. And no cold soups the entire cruise - these used to be the best part of the dining experience for me. We had breakfast in the PG - excellent service and the food was okay but as you know nothing different from the MDR. We did lido for lunch a few times, again not too bad but no smoked fish or tropical fruits ever. My first cruise in 25 where I was disappointed overall in the food.
  22. How have passengers responded? They have spoken in droves as they flock to mega ships by the thousands with go-kart tracks and rock climbing walls. They willing pony up for worse food. Hence the comparison to Spirit Airlines. My initial cruise experience way back in the day on RCCL Song of America was elegant and without a class structure of extra charges for this and that. I am not looking at the elegance of cruising through a distorted lens. I am simply observing what has happened to most cruise lines. My Song of America cruise had no class divisions, yet we manged to wear a coat and tie to dinner twice that week and were served as much fine food as we wanted in the MDR as well as having a midnight buffet each night at 12. Forgive me for not wanting a Spirit Airlines cruise. Ultimately the people speak.
  23. Sadly this seems to be the direction of the major cruise lines. Cruising used to be elegant. However the mojo has changed on most lines to recreating a Vegas experience. I have always been hopeful that HAL would be a hold out from this and would maintain the cruising traditions so many of us enjoy: a formal night or two, a promenade deck, a movie theatre, etc. Mostly HAL still does this but sadly for some of us, they too seem to heading downscale to cater to the Vegas crowd.
  24. The menu shows that they serve "choice" beef? Nothing wrong with that but not what a premier steak house would serve.
  25. Jared, as I explained in my OP, I am aware of dedicated forums for the various ports of call. As I also explained, I am looking for input specifically from HAL cruisers.
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