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About JennysUncle

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    Holland America

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  1. 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.
  2. Can anyone report whether the street cabs are set up to take charge cards, or dollars cash, or only yen ?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The Koningsdam floor light is confusing to describe. Here is a picture. Too bad it is not on the Nieuw Statendam.
  7. The outlet in the Koningsdam bathroom is horizontal (outlets side-by-side) and has a spring-loaded waterproof lid that tilts up. I stuck my nightlight into the socket and let it hold the lid up.
  8. Magnets worked on the walls of our deck 5 cabin on Koningsdam.
  9. The Koningsdam has a strip light at floor level at the bottom of the angled unit that transitions from the closets to the TV wall. It is controlled by a motion sensor that looks along the floor across the foot of the bed and along the side of the bed towards the bathroom. It is very effective at lighting your path at night without lighting up the whole room. There is not a nightlight in the bathroom, but the outlet by the sink is always on, not controlled by the lightswitch as on most of the older ships. I assume the Nieuw Statendam is the same.
  10. As I said, I haven't been on the NS, but virtual tours show that the EXC desk and interactive tables are up there replacing the Explorations Cafe on the starboard side along with the pitiful 'library', and the center section fairly bare except for the big status screens. Not really similar except in dimensions. On the Koningsdam the Captains Corner was generally open for sitting, but sometimes closed for private social functions.
  11. tThe Nieuw Statendam seems to be almost a duplicate of the Koningsdam (aside from the artwork) except in one place. As I understand (haven't sailed it yet) the Crows Nest on the NS has been fitted out in the new style, with the Explorations Cafe merged into the bar, the Excursions office move up to the starboard side, the Captain's Room converted to a lecture space, and big video screens in the middle. We were afraid that the Koningsdam would be retrofit in that style during its December drydock, as has been happening to the older ships. Fortunately not ! The Koningsdam Crows Nest still has the traditional layout, except for being carpeted all the way across instead of having a dance floor. There are a large number of comfortable chairs of various styles in various groupings. A very pleasant place for a lot of passengers to relax.
  12. We are recently back from the Koningsdam, where we ate at Tamarind and walked past Club Orange. As many have already commented, Club Orange in the former Culinary Center looks sort of like a cafeteria, and many (most?) of the tables are right up against the clear glass wall that everyone traversing deck 2 walks past, checking out your meal. Now, it seems that the idea was that Club Orange would be a private perk for the upper tier of passengers, sort of a dining counterpart to the Neptune Lounge - and they missed that mark. My suggestion is that HAL swap the Tamarind and Club Orange spaces. (They seem to have about the same table capacity.) The advantage for Club Orange -- the Tamarind location is almost isolated up on deck 10, but has an attractive view, and the possibility of open-deck dining. Nice and private and discrete, a real perk. The advantage for Tamarind -- this would make deck 2 the Dining Walk as well as the Music Walk. It would put Pinnacle, Rudi's, and Tamarind in a row on the walkway back to the MDR, encouraging 'premium dining'. The open glass wall would be less of an issue for Tamarind (and anyhow could be partly opaqued). And the open kitchen, rather than a drawback, would accommodate Nami Sushi, and make that more accessible to the general public.
  13. The food side of the menu was still the same. I didn't pay any attention to the wine list because we had a Cellar package. There was a friendly sommelier who checked with us right away every night.
  14. We are recently back from the Koningsdam - 2019 Jan 23 - Feb 13. We were not impressed with the menus or the preparations in the MDR (as compared to previous HAL cruises) and so took advantage of Rudi's Sel de Mer. (Rather than Pinnacle, since we are not big steak eaters.) HAL launched the Sel de Mer (by Rudi Sodamin) concept on the Koningsdam, as a companion to the Pinnacle. As I recall, it was pitched as a seafood brasserie, an alternative to the steak-heavy Pinnacle. On the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam it is a stand-alone space entered around the atrium from the Pinnacle. They share an access hall to the kitchens. On the older ships Sel de Mer is a pop-up in the Pinnacle space with a special menu. We have not experienced it that way. It would seem that the 'primarily seafood' concept was not popular, and on the Koningsdam this restaurant is now pitched as "Rudi's" - with the Sel de Mer in small print. It now has a very varied and interesting menu. For some reason HAL made Rudi's menu a la carte, as opposed to the fixed price in Pinnacle. However, the cost of a meal is about the same. Rudi's offers the same discounts as Pinnacle for 3/4/5* Mariners. The a la carte pricing seems to be a psychological deterrent. Rudi's space is smaller than Pinnacle, feeling like a small fine restaurant. It has about a dozen tables of various sizes. When we were there, there were two very attentive hostesses (Lise and Rahul) and four waiters, all European professionals. In our six visits it was never full, and some nights some of the staff was detached to help in the MDR. Regardless, service was very good. Finally, to the menu. Roger Jett's scan of Rudi's menu It has enough variety for repeated visits - we ate there six times. The portions are large, so on the first visit we learned that an appetiser and main, or main and dessert, was plenty. The Fruits de Mer was a tower and more, and needed an auxiliary table. Looked great if you like that sort of thing. The Foie Gras was more than generous (by US restaurant standards) and expertly sauteed. The Pot au Feu is a meal - cast iron pot of rich broth and braised beef. The ratatouille side dish was very good, and a whole bowl, not a dollop. On the fish side of the entrees, the Branzino and the Dover Sole were both excellent and the moules (a pot with enough for two) very good. On the meat side, the cassoulet and the rack of lamb were excellent. We had the roast chicken in the MDR on "chef's night" and it was a full half chicken - very tasty but too much. Of the desserts, we liked the chocolate pot de creme best. The others were all big enough for two, and very good. Only the cheese plate fell down - just the same assortment as in the MDR. We would have sampled more of the menu if we had time. (Admittedly, as 4* we ate at 50% off) We encourage you to try it out. We are worried that HAL might decide to swap some bigger revenue-producer into the space if dinership does not pick up.
  15. Check out the 'port' sections of other cruise line websites. Some of them provide a lot more than HAL.
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