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New to Holland America? This is for you...AKA "HAL For Dummies"

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10 minutes ago, sfarrlee said:

I have a few more questions about our cruise on the Westerdam from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver in late June. My apologies for the number of questions and my sincere thanks for the people who are sharing their expertise!!

1. Our boarding pass says embarkation is at 1 p.m., with the ship leaving port at 8 p.m.  Any tips for the best time to board? 

2. For beverages, do you have to get a beverage card to order non-alcoholic drinks at mealtimes?  Is it a better value?  I'm assuming you forfeit any funds leftover on the card at the end of the cruise?

3. If we bring wine on board, does HA let you take it to your room and then charge you a corking fee if you bring it to dinner?  

4. Is it possible to figure out which nights are the gala nights prior to the cruise (my boarding pass says there will be two gala nights)?

5. I saw in older posts that HA lets you go straight to your cabin at the time of boarding?  Is this still true?

6. Do they serve lunch and dinner on embarkation days?

Thank you!!

1. Standard boarding time is 11:30 AM, usually this time standard is met. Some people like to board as soon as possible, while others like to wait until the crowd has cleared a little.

2. You can purchase a beverage card, or just use your cabin key to charge beverages. If you purchase the beverage card there is only the one entry on your final bill, making it easier to proof out the bill. If there is any money left over on the card at the end of the cruise, it is refunded as a credit on that final bill.

3. You can bring as much wine on board as you like. At initial embarkation, one 750ml bottle per adult is exempt from a corkage fee, for use in the cabin. All other bottles are charged that corkage fee immediately (you may read of a few times when the procedure wasn't followed, but that is the standard). If you later decide to take the corkage-free bottle to a public area, the corkage will be charged then.

4. On a 7-night cruise, Gala nights are usually the second night and the night before the last night. Check the itinerary for sea days, which is when Gala nights are generally held. Otherwise, nights when you leave port early are Gala nights.

 

5. Lunch and dinner are always served! Usually the dining room serves lunch on embarkation day, as well as the Lido every day.

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If you drink soda get a 25$ soda card it is good for 50$ worth of sodas at lunch dinner or wherever...also if you don’t do alcohol have them empty the mini fridge and keep juice from breakfast etc in it...

cookies and tea at night from room service is a great way to unwind at night

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I think I read somewhere that if you have sailed Carnival and than sail Holland America- the cruise credits count.  Is this true?  We haven’t sailed Holland America but out of 31 cruises we have sailed Carnival about 8 times.

thanks

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39 minutes ago, dcruisers said:

I think I read somewhere that if you have sailed Carnival and than sail Holland America- the cruise credits count.  Is this true?  We haven’t sailed Holland America but out of 31 cruises we have sailed Carnival about 8 times.

thanks

If you have sailed any other line in the Carnival Corporation family, then HAL considers you a past passenger, but with zero sailing days to your credit.
That will get you lower past passenger rates, if thy apply to your chosen sailing. It will also get you an invitation to the past passengers' Mariner party, and a ceramic tile.

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I have a question about the beverage cards, as we have never before purchased one.

 

At the end of the cruise, is it necessary to go to Ship Services and request that any residual funds be credited to one's final bill?  Or does this happen automatically, since the cards are issued for the one cruise only?

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Just now, AncientWanderer said:

At the end of the cruise, is it necessary to go to Ship Services and request that any residual funds be credited to one's final bill?  Or does this happen automatically, since the cards are issued for the one cruise only?

I disembarked a cruise a couple of weeks ago. For the first time ever I had a few (very few) dollars left on my beverage card. I did not go to the Front Desk to see about a refund, nor did I even ask the beverage steward about how a refund is handled.
The next morning, when I checked my bill, the balance showed as a credit.

Now, that is not to say it works as smoothly every single time, but that was my one and only experience. It may be the norm, for all I know.

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Do vista suite passengers have any perks, such as priority boarding?  I’m on the volendam in juneJune

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5 hours ago, cshapard said:

Do vista suite passengers have any perks, such as priority boarding?  I’m on the volendam in juneJune

 

No priority boarding for Vista Suites.

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17 hours ago, cshapard said:

Do vista suite passengers have any perks, such as priority boarding?  I’m on the volendam in juneJune

Vista suites also get double Mariner (HAL loyalty) points . This is a bonus compared to the near suites on other cruise brands . 

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7 minutes ago, richstowe said:

Vista suites also get double Mariner (HAL loyalty) points . This is a bonus compared to the near suites on other cruise brands . 

Thanks so much everyone!  So even if we originally had an ocean view and got an upgrade to vista suite, we still get double mariner points?

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1 minute ago, cshapard said:

Thanks so much everyone!  So even if we originally had an ocean view and got an upgrade to vista suite, we still get double mariner points?

No, I don't believe so.  You only get double credits if you book that category, not if you get upgraded.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, cshapard said:

Thanks so much everyone!  So even if we originally had an ocean view and got an upgrade to vista suite, we still get double mariner points?

 

5 minutes ago, puppycanducruise said:

No, I don't believe so.  You only get double credits if you book that category, not if you get upgraded.

If you got a free upgrade , then no . If you paid for an upgrade, thus an upsell , then I believe yes . We paid for an upgrade on the Veendam and got double points . 

Edited by richstowe

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Does anyone know if it is less expensive to pre-purchase unlimited laundry prior to sailing or is it the same price if purchased once on board?

 

Thanks

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Same price. Just need to mark the laundry slip the first time you send out the blue bag of laundry for unlimited or by the bag.

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Can anyone help me understand the Signature Beverage Package?  Thank you so much. 

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9 hours ago, miss said:

Can anyone help me understand the Signature Beverage Package?  Thank you so much. 

 

In a nutshell, it covers all drinks up to a cost of $11 per drink - maximum 15 alcoholic drinks a day.

 

So, your water, soda, specialty coffees, mock tails, alcoholic drinks are included in the cost as long as you don’t go over the $11 price (gratuities do not affect the price limit).

 

Hope this helps.

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10 hours ago, kazu said:

 

In a nutshell, it covers all drinks up to a cost of $11 per drink - maximum 15 alcoholic drinks a day.

 

So, your water, soda, specialty coffees, mock tails, alcoholic drinks are included in the cost as long as you don’t go over the $11 price (gratuities do not affect the price limit).

 

Hope this helps.

 

Are gratuities included in signature bev package?

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27 minutes ago, josumello said:

 

Are gratuities included in signature bev package?

 

Yes.  They don’t affect the $11 price limit - in other words if you order an $11 drink, you are fine, the grats are paid with your package.

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We just returned from an Alaska cruise on the Westerdam and had the signature drink package.  We were told on board that drinks up to  $9, not $11 were covered in the signature drink package.   I'm a wine drinker and the $9 rate only included a few whites and reds.   Tips were included.  You may want to call HAL directly to confirm this.   It seems the cruise lines change things often. 

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58 minutes ago, LRLLSL said:

We just returned from an Alaska cruise on the Westerdam and had the signature drink package.  We were told on board that drinks up to  $9, not $11 were covered in the signature drink package.   I'm a wine drinker and the $9 rate only included a few whites and reds.   Tips were included.  You may want to call HAL directly to confirm this.   It seems the cruise lines change things often. 

Well, the Westerdam crew members had it wrong, not the first time that a ship has acted independent of corporate policy. The price was raised earlier this year, and can be found on the HAL website. I've highlighted the pertinent section:

 

Our convenient, affordable Signature Beverage Package allows you to select from a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails (including non-alcoholic), sodas, bottled water (sparkling 330ml or still 500ml) & coffee! Includes any beverage priced at $11.00 or lower (up to 15 beverages per day). Prices are per day at $44.95 if pre-booked online compared to $54.95 if purchased on board. A 15% service charge will be automatically applied to your purchase. The package must be purchased for the entire duration of the voyage. All adults over 21 years old booked in the same stateroom must also purchase the package. Participants may order only one drink at a time and must be 21 years or older. Sharing is not permitted. Excludes Mini Bar, Honor Bar, Chocolate Seduction, In-Room Dining, beverages on Half Moon Cay, Freestyle Coca-Cola and any self-service draft beer. Packages are not transferable or refundable. Beverage management reserves the right to revoke the package if misused and reserves the right to refuse service for any reason; including refusing service of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated customers.

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Last year on the Noordham, our room had a coupon booklet in it with stuff like 2-for-1 coffees in the Explorer Lounge, 25% of manicures, etc etc.    We actually used many of the offers.  I think there may have even been two of them, one for me and one for wife.

This year on the Zuiderdam, we got no booklet, coupons, or offers.   For you frequent HAL cruisers, are these little booklets standard for HAL or only some itineraries?

 

Thanks !

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We currently have 80 actual cruise days and are about to embark a 21 day cruise -- will we be recognized for 100 days cruising on this cruise or our next one?

 

Thanks!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, CTOM said:

are  year on the Noordham, our room had a coupon booklet in it with stuff like 2-for-1 coffees in the Explorer Lounge, 25% of manicures, etc etc.    We actually used many of the offers.  I think there may have even been two of them, one for me and one for wife.

This year on the Zuiderdam, we got no booklet, coupons, or offers.   For you frequent HAL cruisers, are these little booklets standard for HAL or only some itineraries? 

  

Thanks !

I've only been on 3 HAL cruises (over the last 12 mos.) and I haven't seen a coupon book, but I notice in one of my bookings for a future cruise the perks include a coupon book.    I'm glad to hear that some of the coupons are good.

Edited by Cajuntraveler

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