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About JennysUncle

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    Holland America

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  1. No deck plan yet online. Wonder if it will have a traditional Crows Nest like the Koningsdam or the EXC version on the Nieuw Statendam.
  2. Do some research, look at a map, assess how much you want to handle your own luggage. Walking anywhere will entail going over bridges - most only a few steps, but an effort with suitcases. The vaparetto (ATAC water bus) is currently 7.50 euro single ticket. Water taxis start at about 60 and can cost 80+. Porters are available but not cheap - (think of manhandling a load of luggage on a hand cart over canal bridges). Water taxi to the airport will be 100+, but there is frequent bus service by ATVO for 8. Venice is expensive, and you trade off cost for convenience. But it is a wonderful place to visit and wander around.
  3. Captain Albert has posted on his blog a photo tribute and full list of the crew finishing the last cruise of the Prinsendam. One member of the food services team is called the Dining Room Greeter, so that is probably the official title.
  4. Larger ships seem to be restricted now to the Wusongkou (Baoshan) Cruise Terminal. In 2017 on the Volendam we did dock at the Bund. It's a much better experience - no coordinating of bus rides to get in and out of the city, and an amazing light show at night. Here is a link that has the terminal schedule: a tour operator's site with the terminal schedule
  5. Barry posts his schedule on BarryFromBoston.com
  6. The HAL coffee is "name brand" - but from the Netherlands. Coffee varies a lot from brand to brand. When it's too weak, try adding a packet of Swiss Miss cocoa - different, but tasty.
  7. FYI, one of the few institutions in the US that issues a true chip-and-pin Visa card is Andrews Federal Credit in Maryland https://www.andrewsfcu.org/ We have had no trouble in Europe using our regular chip-and-signature cards, except at unattended machines - like in train stations or at gas stations. Visa and Mastercard both 'require' any attended business to honor all cards and accept a signature, but there is the occasional tale of a merchant who refuses. Mostly now the terminal automatically spits out a signature copy of the receipt. Actually, the chip is capable of encoding a series of 16 different validation methods, e.g. signature, or pin, or none needed. The bank sets its hierarchy: US banks almost all put signature first; european banks almost all put pin first. But when the machine reads your card, it negotiates with the bank servicing the machine. So, for example, NJ Transit machines will accept a charge even without being able to get a signature, and we have had success sometimes in europe. (We always try our regular card first because of better cash back.)
  8. Be prepared to go to a service window at the train station to buy your ticket from an agent. In 2017 we found that the ticket machines at the station would not accept our US chip-and-signature cards, they required a chip-and-pin which most US banks do not issue. Might be different now, but that is typical of charge points in Europe with no person to collect a signature since all the European cards are chip-and-pin.
  9. How did you discover that the cost of your flight had dropped ? There have been warnings posted that browsing flights has resulted in mysterious cancellation of what had been booked.
  10. In Jan/Feb we were on the Koningsdam. There was a new staffer - the Digital Communications Manager (named Moses). His job was to help anyone with their phone/tablet/computer problems. He was available for much of the day, either at a desk by the Front Office or a desk in the Crows Nest. He said that this was a test and encouraged feedback. It is an attempt to deal with all the problems that other staff who don't have appropriate skills have had to deal with. He was very helpful, so I hope that this is rolled out to all the ships. (Sort of offsets the loss of the librarian.) Anyhow, back to the point of this thread: he said that "they" were well aware of the dissatisfaction of a lot of passengers with the new internet pricing. While it is a good deal for the serious internet users, it is way overpriced for those who only need a few minutes now and then to check email. He said that some sort of low usage rate is being considered. I hope that comes through - I'm one of those 4-minutes at 0.75 users, and not about to spend $25 a day, or even $10/day net. Adding a bunch of low-volume users would not affect the throughput for those on the high tier. It may be that there is a technical problem. Given what has been reported about the "limits" on the tiers, it seems that they do not really have a way to throttle or limit the usage by account.
  11. Can anyone report whether the street cabs are set up to take charge cards, or dollars cash, or only yen ?
  12. In 2017 we joined a group of 9 that was put together in our Roll Call that arranged a small van transfer from several Tokyo hotels to the Yokohama cruise port. We arranged for several sightseeing stops too along the way in Kamakura. The agency was www.tokyosakuratour.com and our driver/guide was Yoko Fukuda - she speaks very good english. The cost was about 68,000 yen. Everything went very well - except for the rain.
  13. The performers do get replaced when their contracts expire, but how hard could it be to update a cast list ? They update the activities list every day in the daily Navigator, and the Menus too (just kidding, the menus repeat and repeat). Actually, it's not clear that the performers are still random pick-ups. The Lincoln Center group was a pre-existing string quartet who won an audition. The Rock Room group were all on the same contract, and it seemed (based on the Meet the Artist Q&A) that they had been assembled by their leader. Not sure about the BB King group. Definitely, the HALcats used to be hired independently and thrown together to gel or not, but HAL is now outsourcing the entertainment.
  14. On the Jan-Feb 2019 cruises (at least) on the Koningsdam, the CD Thomas Weber has been hosting a series of "Meet the Artist" sessions. These were about an hour long, and consisted of Thomas asking a few background questions and then taking questions from the audience. These featured the Lincoln Center group, the BB King group, the Rolling Stone Rock Room group, and the Billboard duo. Attendance was good, the questioning was lively, and the performers seemed happy to participate. Thomas said that this was somewhat of an experiment. Through the years I have noted on the HAL after-cruise surveys that it is unfair and disrespectful that the performers in its entertainment groups are not identified. Who were the HALcats, and the Neptunes, and the Adagio, and the Singers and Dancers ? At any other entertainment there would be a playbill, or handout flyer, or at least a poster naming the performers. There has been some progress on this - there now are occasional flyers with short bios of the Lincoln Center performers, and on the Koningsdam one of the video panels cycles through these. Due to an overlooked comment card I was able to meet the HD Santosh and he connected me with Mikey, the Entertainment Coordinator. He said that this issue has been discussed and some thought is being given to it. The Lincoln Center info is available because it is produced by RWS Entertainment (the contractor for LC Onboard) and given to HAL. BB King and Rock Room are contracted from Beale Street Blues Co, and they have not been providing that sort of directly usable promo material. The "Meet the Artist" sessions are nice, but they do not really address the need to identify the performers. Artists deserve that recognition. Clearly HAL knows who they are - it would not be very hard to put a poster with their names in each venue - even it it had to be updated every three months when the contracts changed. And it shouldn't be too hard for the HAL IT department to put up their bios on the video panels since they have the LC as a template.
  15. The Koningsdam floor light is confusing to describe. Here is a picture. Too bad it is not on the Nieuw Statendam.
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