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Explore 4 Signature Beverage Pkg upgrade??


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Has anyone had on board offers to upgrade the Signature Beverage Pkg to the Elite?? or asked about it?? Sailing on the Eurodam. I understand most cocktails are covered. Want to upgrade for better wine options. much thanks for any info..

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We were able to upgrade by paying the difference in December. They weren't pushing the EBP upgrade, and the first few people we spoke to told us that you could not upgrade. We asked at the Ocean Bar. They said no. We asked the concierge. He said no. We asked at the Front Desk. They said no.

 

At this point, my wife was a little bummed out because she really likes Pinot Noir and there isn't any under the SBP limit. (There's a Shiraz that would have worked as a substitute in a pinch, but I decided to make purchasing the upgrade my quest.) I finally found a server in the Crow's Nest who was willing to get a beverage server to make the override so they could sell us the EBP upgrade.

 

Other people on other ships have reported that they were actively selling the upgrades to the Explore SBP, so your experience may be different. Be persistent and keep trying.

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We have never had a beverage Package on HAL and usually bring our own wine. Paying the corkage fee is a bargain when you consider you are actually drinking wine you like. Otherwise you are paying ~$30 (low end) for a bottle that costs roughly $7 in the grocery store. Our experience on the lines we have sailed is that the wine by the glass included in any tier of a beverage package is very limited and not that great. When logistics or the cruise line inhibit brining our own, I have a small over the glass aerator that helps make the wine a bit more palatable.

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Prior to our December cruise on the Eurodam, we always brought our own wine and paid corkage. We had the Explore SBP on that cruise, so we decided that the difference in the cost of the upgrade ($10 + 15% service, per person, per day or $11.50) was well worth it. The upgrade cost $161 for the two of us on this 7 day cruise. Our normal wine allocation is 2 bottles per day, with a bottle of Champagne added to the mix on formal (gala) nights and often on the first night (to toast the start of our cruise) and the last night (because.) This wine allotment is for our whole party, not just my wife and I.

 

That means we'd be packing 16 to 18 bottles, and corkage would be between $288 and $324. So, we're about $127 to $163 ahead with the upgrade - on corkage alone.

 

When we take our own wine, my cost per bottle averages just over $42, before corkage. (Our selections tend to be quite tasty and most are ranked 90+ points on a 100 point scale.) So, we have a wine cost of $672 to $756. Tack on corkage and we're in the neighborhood of $960 to $1,080 "all in."

 

Most of the wines on HAL's By the Glass list are in the Good to Very Good range, with two Champagnes and one Chardonnay cracking the 90 point barrier and making it into the Outstanding range, based on the industry standard 100 point rating scale where:

 

 

 

  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended

Sparkling:

 

 

  • Cantine Maschio Brut Prosecco Treviso, Italy - $6.25 - Crisp and stony, with floral, white peach and slivered almond notes riding the lively bead. 85 points WS
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne Réserve France - $12.50 - This balanced Champagne is ripe and juicy, with crème de cassis and Honeycrisp apple fruit flavors accented by details of honey, smoke and biscuit. A fresh and creamy aperitif. 90 points WS
  • Domaine Chandon Brut California Classic - $13.00 - Lively and crisp, with user-friendly flavors of tart apple, lemon and spicy vanilla. 89 points WS
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne - $17.50 -Bright and lightly toasty, this elegant Champagne layers flavors of cassis, crushed hazelnut and lemon meringue pie on the creamy bead. 90 points WS

 

White Wine:

 

  • Zonin Pinot Grigio Latisana del Friuli Albola - $6.25 - A simple white, with some apple and banana character. Medium-bodied, offering good acidity and a light finish. - 84 points WS
  • La Terre White Zinfandel - $6.25 - No rating found.
  • Ruffino Pinot Grigio - $11.00 - Intense, clean notes of meadow flowers, pears and pleasant hints of golden apple. The bouquet is fresh and fragrant, yet complex, showing refined notes of sage and mint, with a nice touch of minerality typical of Pinot Grigio - Mid 80s
  • Gruber-Rosh1tz Riesling (Spelled wrong on list) - $8.50 - Subtle, fruitful Riesling which reveals its subtle charms rather slowly. The nose is shy but the palate shines with ripe, aromatic apricot fruit, accentuated by lemon freshness and centered around a concentrated core of fruit and zest. This is slender but generous, refreshing and lasting. - 88 points Winemag.com (I had to spell this wine with a one in place of the letter i. CruiseCritic's ever-vigilant profanity checker censors the name.)
  • Snoqualmie Select Riesling - $7.25 - Moderately sweet, offering apricot and pear flavors that remain ripe as the finish lingers. - 85-87 points
  • Zonin Moscato - $8.50 - Excellent as dessert wine it matches perfectly with jam tarts fruit salads and pastry. Low alcohol 7% - 84 point avg
  • Domaine Laroche Chablis - $13.50 - Lovely balance and expressive flavors of apple, peach and lemon highlight this juicy white. Leaves a mouthwatering impression on the stony finish. - 89 poiints WS
  • Formation Monterey Sauvignon Blanc - $9.75 - I can find nothing on this Formation's Sauv Blanc. It was fine though, probably around an 84-86 if I had to rate it.
  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc - $12.25 - Lean, with grass, citrus zest and ruby grapefruit flavors that are juicy and vibrant. Toasted herb and floral details linger. - 87 points WS
  • Santa Carolina Chardonnay - $6.25 - A fruity style, with Gala apple and pear tart flavors that are clean and direct. The spicy finish has some smoky notes. - 86 points WS
  • Vina Santa Carolina Chardonnay - $6.50 - This was the Reserva di Familia. - Rich and well-crafted, with concentrated ripe pear, apple pastry and almond tart notes. The buttery finish is long and spicy, supported by fresh acidity. - 89 points WS
  • Penfolds Chardonnay South Australia Koonunga Hill - $8.50 - Refreshing, with lime zest and tangerine flavors that have a spicy edge. Compact and intense. - 87 points WS
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle, Mimi Chardonnay, Washington - $9.75 - A lightly oaked, elegant style, offering apple and pear fruit character with bright natural acidity. Refreshing yet complex.90 points, Wine Enthuisiast

 

Red Wine:

 

 

  • Santa Carolina Merlot - $6.25 - There's plenty of freshness to the juicy red plum, dark cherry and black olive flavors, accented by appealing green herbal notes. Finishes with hints of dried mint and chocolate. - 88 points WS
  • Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon - $6.25 - Zesty, with dried green herbal notes to the fresh red plum and berry flavors. Olive and mineral accents show on the finish. - 88 points WS
  • Luigi Bosca La Linda Malbec - $8.50 - A zesty style, redolent of cherry and licorice flavors, with notes of pepper in the mix. The juicy finish has some paprika details. - 87 points WS
  • Greystone Cellars Merlot - $9.25 - Jammy and soft, with simple cherry and cola flavors. - 84 points
  • Batasiolo Barbera D'asti - $9.75 - High-toned boysenberry and raspberry flavors, with bright acidity and slightly chewy tannins. Moderate length. - WS 84 points
  • Meridian Pinot Noir - $9.75 - Fresh, with snappy cranberry and wild berry flavors that are pleasant and easy-drinking. - 85 points
  • Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - A crunchy red, showing good cut to the dried berry and cherry flavors, with plenty of savory details. Dried green herb hints show on the finish. - 86 points WS
  • Light Horse Jamieson Ranch Pinot Noir - $9.75 - Smoky, oaky aroma leads to meaty flavors with notes of rhubarb and red cherries. The texture is on the soft side and the body is medium. On the finish those oaky notes meld with the fruit for a soft finale. - 88 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Line 39 Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - Big and brawny, this has bold, ripe fruit aromas and flavors that are shaded by thyme and dill, and backed by very firm tannins and good acidity. The mouthfeel is full and astringent, and the mouth-puckering tannins last on the finish. - 86 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot - $12.25 - Broad and generous, with expressive cedar, blueberry and cream flavors that glide over polished tannins into the long, precise finish. - 87 points WS
  • Niebaum Coppola Claret - $13.50 - Seriously tasty and full-bodied, this inky-colored wine is packed with ripe fruit, fine tannins and firm texture, and needs a juicy steak or tender roast as a table mate. A core of black cherry and black plum is shaded by spicy oak. - 88 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Peter Lehmann Portrait Shiraz - $14.75 - Bursting with blueberry and plum flavors, this offers chocolate and Earl Grey tea accents. Velvety and smooth on the long finish - 88 points WS
  • Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - There's a brambly fresh herb detail to the berry and plum flavors, with impressive minerality, chewy tannins and notes of fresh earth. 88 points WS.

 

Some notes:

 

 

  1. The price limit on the SBC was $8 per drink in December 2016 when we took the cruise. So, if you're looking for SBP-eligible wines, use $8 as your cut off.
  2. If you have the Elite Beverage Package, you can have anything but the Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label.
  3. Chances are that some of the selections on the Eurodam 12/2016 list have been swapped out due to changes in availability. Based on my experience, HAL substitutes very similar wines. Your list might be different, but it should be similar.
  4. When you see WS in the ratings above, it means Wine Spectator Magazine. I didn't want to type it over and over.

In case you haven't guessed, we take our wine pretty seriously here at the National Institute of Cheer. Because we knew we were going to have the SBP as part of our Explore 4, I grabbed the wine list and "ran the numbers" while we were still in port and I had cellular data access. I have several wine magazine subscriptions, so I was able to look up the wines using several online databases.

 

There's a big difference between a wine being "no good" and "not to your liking." For example, my wife does not like Pinotage or Mandilaria. It could be a 95+ point example, and she still wouldn't like it. When you read a post that says that "none of the wines are very good" but you see that professional tasters - from actual wine magazines - rated the wines in the 85-89 point (Very Good) range, you have to ask yourself, "Self. Who is more trustworthy?"

 

The bottom line is that you'll do fine on the SBP. Your choices are more limited, but you can get by. If you have the EBP, you're in great shape - and you get to have real Champagne.

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The upgrade cost $161 for the two of us on this 7 day cruise. Our normal wine allocation is 2 bottles per day, with a bottle of Champagne added to the mix on formal (gala) nights and often on the first night (to toast the start of our cruise) and the last night (because.) This wine allotment is for our whole party, not just my wife and I. .

 

I am confused a bit by your comment above. It appears that you are saying that you upgraded the Explore-4 Signature Beverage Package to the Elite Package by paying an additional $161 for 2 people for a 7 day cruise. Then you said you are getting 2 bottles of wine per day and a bottle of Champagne on Gala nights. Does the Elite package allow the purchase of full bottles of wine ? I thought that both of the packages only allow wines by the glass. Did I read your post incorrectly ?

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I am confused a bit by your comment above. It appears that you are saying that you upgraded the Explore-4 Signature Beverage Package to the Elite Package by paying an additional $161 for 2 people for a 7 day cruise. Then you said you are getting 2 bottles of wine per day and a bottle of Champagne on Gala nights. Does the Elite package allow the purchase of full bottles of wine ? I thought that both of the packages only allow wines by the glass. Did I read your post incorrectly ?

 

Sorry if I wasn't clear. When I was writing about the bottles of Champagne, I was referring to when we take our own wine.

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POA1, Great listing, thank you! When the wines posted price out to $10-20 a bottle it pays to buy the bottle and pay the corkage over buying by the glass or paying for the beverage package for us. However, if there is a great deal on a package "perk" we could be convinced. It's all about price, quality, and logistics.

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POA1, Great listing, thank you! When the wines posted price out to $10-20 a bottle it pays to buy the bottle and pay the corkage over buying by the glass or paying for the beverage package for us. However, if there is a great deal on a package "perk" we could be convinced. It's all about price, quality, and logistics.

 

You're welcome. Some of the wines on the list are in the $25 - $30 range at retail and the Nicholas Feuillatte Champagne is about $35 at our Total Wine. However, as you said, most wines are sub $20. The advantage to us was that we could pair wines to each course. Normally I have to pick a couple of bottles out of our in room "stock" and try to pair the best I can. It usually works out pretty well, at least until the last day or two.

 

The EBP worked out well. I wouldn't pay full price for it, buy with the $11.50 per day up charge from the Explore 4 SBP, all we had to do was drink a glass of Champagne every day and we were making money. ;)

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I thank you all for your information and time to make my cruise more enjoyable. If POA1 says I will be fine with SBP I believe him. That being said, still makes sense to take some wine aboard. 17 days from Seattle - Hawaii - Vancouver. My plan is to take 6-8 bottles on board.. enjoy the SBP and cocktails.. (what is not to like about Tanqueray?) then indulge with my stash I bring on board. Went to the Santa Carolina winery in 2015 on our cruise around Cape Horn and I remembered the wine being fine. Much thanks for all your suggestions! Truly appreciated...

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I was on the Eurodams trip to Alask on April 28th. They were pushing the upgrade really hard the first night and next morning, probably asked 10 different times if we wanted to upgrade. After that they stopped pushing.

 

I will note that at least on the eurodam the bartenders were extremely generous. They encouraged people to bend the rules. They would make doubles and just put it on as 2 drinks and it would be covered, we could by more than one drink at a time. I think by the end I was getting a ton of sunsicles with double the rum and they were all covered.

 

So unless there are a lot of drinks between $9.01 and $15, there is no need to upgrade.

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POA1 .... wish you were the next HA Beverage director!! You would have my vote.. Thanks again posting.. would be great to sail with you and "she who must be obeyed" we would get along fine.. i completed that course as well..

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I was on the Eurodams trip to Alask on April 28th. They were pushing the upgrade really hard the first night and next morning, probably asked 10 different times if we wanted to upgrade. After that they stopped pushing.

 

I will note that at least on the eurodam the bartenders were extremely generous. They encouraged people to bend the rules. They would make doubles and just put it on as 2 drinks and it would be covered, we could by more than one drink at a time. I think by the end I was getting a ton of sunsicles with double the rum and they were all covered.

 

So unless there are a lot of drinks between $9.01 and $15, there is no need to upgrade.

 

Were they requiring both people in the cabin to upgrade, or if only one wanted to was the other allowed to stay with the standard SBP? I'm traveling with my Mom next year on Zaandam and she only wants/needs the SBP and I would be better served with the EBP :D Then again on a supposedly "premium" line like Holland america the requirement for both to have the package and a 15 drink/day limit seem silly. Carniaval - yeah, makes sense, Holland America not so much

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I will note that at least on the eurodam the bartenders were extremely generous. They encouraged people to bend the rules. They would make doubles and just put it on as 2 drinks and it would be covered, we could by more than one drink at a time. I think by the end I was getting a ton of sunsicles with double the rum and they were all covered.

 

We many times order doubles with the SBP and have never had any problems. They simply charge you for 2 of your 15 drinks for the day. So, just because you can order doubles, don't think the bartenders are doing you any favours. Now if you want to order 2 totally different drinks on the same account at the same time, you would probably have a problem. Doubles or even triples are allowed, as long at you are drinking it yourself, (not pouring half of it into a friend's empty glass)

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We are doing the 18-Day Circle to Hawaii in December. We usually bring our wine onboard because we live in Florida and drive to the port. We dine at the PG a lot and have no issues paying $40 on land for a bottle of wine and paying corkage fees. This cruise we booked with Explore4.

 

I think we need to upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package just because I think there will be more options of us in terms of the quality of wine and cocktail choices. This is going to be our most elaborate trip yet on HAL, so why not. Life is short and I am already putting aside all my extra change for the upgrade. I have plenty of time.

 

Just the champagne option in itself is worth it. Never too early for a Champagne breakfast/brunch - lol.

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on our last Holland cruise, we would stop by the sea view for a night cap to take to our room. The bartender always poured a double. On the last night, he tried to pour triples. Of course, we always dropped a dollar or two for a tip.

 

We did have an Explore Four package but we will never do that again. We've tracked our spending on previous cruises and we only spend $350 for beverages. It makes much more sense for us to pay as you go. We also prefer our own wines.

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They removed the restriction on "doubles" a while ago. We've had doubles as far back as 2014. In late 2016, we were able to order all our wine for dinner at once and receive it all at once. It still counts toward your 15, but there was no waiting between drinks or glasses of wine.

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We many times order doubles with the SBP and have never had any problems. They simply charge you for 2 of your 15 drinks for the day. So, just because you can order doubles, don't think the bartenders are doing you any favours. Now if you want to order 2 totally different drinks on the same account at the same time, you would probably have a problem. Doubles or even triples are allowed, as long at you are drinking it yourself, (not pouring half of it into a friend's empty glass)

 

They let us order multiple drinks at a time without a problem as well. My husband and I both got two drinks each to bring back to our room and there was no problem. In fact one of my drinks was a regular the second was a double and they just took off 3 drinks from my 15.

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