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upgrading beverage package onboard


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I'm thinking of buying the Signature Beverage Package beforehand and using OBC to upgrade to the Elite package onboard, but I've read on these boards that people have had issues when trying to upgrade. I wasn't sure if that was just for people who have the package through a promotion or if they just don't like to do upgrades in general. Will I have a problem trying to do this?

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There have been several posts about people doing this. Some of them have conflicting information. Best thing I can say to do would be to call Holland America line shipboard services. The phone number is 1-800-541-1576. They will be able to tell you if you can do this.

 

 

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If you are BUYING the SBP, you shouldn't have any problem upgrading. The restriction - when it exists - is only on the complimentary SBP included with Explore 4. We were told that we couldn't upgrade our SBP, but through hard work, persistence, and dedication - along with a willingness to to keep asking everyone until we got what we wanted - we were able to upgrade. Other people have reported that some ships were actively selling the upgrades to the Explore 4 SBP.

 

However, if you are buying the package, there's no restriction on upgrading.

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We had the SBP as part of the Explore4 in January on the Rotterdam. Asked the bartender in the Lido who called the Beverage Manager who came and agreed to do the updgrade. It took 4 days for them to get our account correct and everything fixed. At first the full price of the EBP appeared and then the drinks were listed individually. We were patient and it was corrected.

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  • 7 months later...

I'm wondering if there has been any change to HAL's stance on upgrading from Signature to Elite beverage package since the postings here last summer. We are on the May 12, 2018 sailing Rome - Venice with a "Signature Beverage Package Promo" listed. Since we enjoy wines, the Elite seems like the way to go. Anyone have a recent experience that might help us out?

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This is our third cruise on HAL and overall the Signature Bev Pkg is pretty good. You can get almost anything for cocktails as long as you don't need really top shelf liquors. The wines are ok, but I recall several good wines that are probably covered by Elite and would incur an additive charge to the Signature. HAL is good that way; you just get charged the incremental amount over the allowed package limit. Many cruise lines (like Princess I think) charge the whole thing if you are over. Hope that is still the case.

 

So since we are California winos, a modest up charge for Elite is something we are interested in. Say$10-12 per person per day.

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I was recently on the Rotterdam and was able to upgrade the "free" SBP to the Elite package on the first evening without any problem.

 

Sounds like what I need.

 

How much did it cost to go from the "free" package to the elite?

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  • 5 months later...

Question for recent cruisers - have you been able to upgrade the Signature Beverage Package to the Elite once onboard easily, or has it been a hassle? Seems for a while the policy was varying from ship to ship with mixed results.

 

I'm considering switching to the Explore4 promo when it comes out late this month (provided fare increase is not extreme) and would like to then be able to upgrade from the included Signature Beverage package to the Elite, as it opens up a MUCH broader selection of wines by the glass for us over the span of a 14 days cruise, and would be worth the extra $11.50/pp/day for us to do so as we would each drink 4-5 glasses of wine per day plus a few beers, water, coffees, etc. We are not big spirits drinkers, so it mainly about the wines.

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This is our third cruise on HAL and overall the Signature Bev Pkg is pretty good. You can get almost anything for cocktails as long as you don't need really top shelf liquors. The wines are ok, but I recall several good wines that are probably covered by Elite and would incur an additive charge to the Signature. HAL is good that way; you just get charged the incremental amount over the allowed package limit. Many cruise lines (like Princess I think) charge the whole thing if you are over. Hope that is still the case.

 

So since we are California winos, a modest up charge for Elite is something we are interested in. Say$10-12 per person per day.

 

Please check the HAL website rules for the Signature Beverage Package. I have had that package on every cruise for the last 4 years, last was in March, 2018. If you order a drink, wine, cocktail that exceeds the $9 base menu price (not including the 15% SC), you do NOT pay just the difference over the $9, you pay the full drink price. If your drink exceeds the $9 base menu price, HAL acts as if you don't have the package and they bill the entire drink price, with the 15% SC to your cabin account.

If this has changed since March, it would be great to know, but this must be confirmed or people will get a rude awakening when they see their final cabin account folio.

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Please check the HAL website rules for the Signature Beverage Package. I have had that package on every cruise for the last 4 years, last was in March, 2018. If you order a drink, wine, cocktail that exceeds the $9 base menu price (not including the 15% SC), you do NOT pay just the difference over the $9, you pay the full drink price. If your drink exceeds the $9 base menu price, HAL acts as if you don't have the package and they bill the entire drink price, with the 15% SC to your cabin account.

If this has changed since March, it would be great to know, but this must be confirmed or people will get a rude awakening when they see their final cabin account folio.

 

I would be very interested in clarification on this, too. I've purchased the Signature Beverage Package a few times and my understanding has always been that if you order an item that's more than the per-drink limit, you pay the entire cost for that drink. Not just the difference. It would be great if they changed the rule and we only had to pay the difference.

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So we did the Rome to Venice run in May on HAL. And upgraded to the Elite bev pkg the first night at dinner. I think the cost was a bit higher than I planned, maybe $15pp per day. Maybe plus the tip too.

 

But in retrospect, I would sure do it again. We were always into the pricier wines, and as noted above it you go over the limit you get billed for the whole wine enchilada. One tip: don't do it at dinner. Find a bar that you intend to frequent and do it there. They know what they are doing!

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WhereOWhere - thanks for the update on your recent experience. As HAL corporate office continually deny this is possible, and the new "improved" website is less than helpful in so many ways, it's nice to hear firsthand what is actually happening on the ships.

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If you purchase the SBP either online at $44.95 per day or onboard at $49.95 per day (both prices plus 15% SC), you can upgrade to the Elite package priced at $54.95 per day plus 15%. If you upgrade an online purchased package, you pay an additional $10 per day plus 15%. If you upgrade an onboard purchased SBP, you pay an additional $5 per day plus 15%, because you have already paid the $5 penalty for purchasing the SBP onboard. In both cases, upgrading any SBP to the Elite package will end up costing you $54.95 per day plus 15%. Upgrading an Explore-4 provided SBP usually ends up costing $10 plus 15% more per day. But you may have to beat-up on a few bartenders to get a sympathetic one who will allow an Explore-4 SBP to be upgraded. I never understood why they give people a hard time about upgrading Explore-4 SBP's to Elite. HAL is always happy to take your money, so why balk now ?

I call the increase in price from $44.95 to $49.95 for the SBP if you purchase it onboard a penalty instead of a discount, because HAL wants you to use your own cash to buy the SBP, ahead of the cruise, instead of using HAL provided OBC to purchase the package when you are onboard. They would rather you use HAL provided OBC for higher markup items like shore excursions and SPA treatments. It's interesting that the Elite Beverage Package, has the same price, purchased online, ahead of the cruise or purchased onboard.

Edited by TAD2005
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Customer to HAL: I'd like to spend more money with your company and increase your corporate revenues

 

HAL to Customer: We appreciate you wanting to spend money with us, and as a token of our appreciation for your business we'd like to make it as difficult to do so as possible

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  • 1 month later...

We were hoping for a clear policy from HAL regarding upgrading the Explore 4 drink package by now.

 

We had heard the same maybe, maybe not and it depends on who you talk to, before our cruise in January 2017. We went right to guest services when we boarded and asked. We were told to ask any bartender could do it, no problem. The first bartender had no idea what we were asking him - we had a terrible language issue with him. We tried another bar, the bartender didn't know and he called his supervisor. The supervisor said no, we asked why we were told by guest services that we could. We went back and forth (amicably) every time he said no, we just asked why we were told we could. He seemed to really want to help us, he just had no idea how. Eventually he came up with an answer. He would charge us the entire amount of the premium package, then credit us back for the basic package amount. YEAH! - seemed simple enough

 

Of course after a few days the full charge was still on our account with no credit - one more trip to guest services took care of the issue.

 

We are going on HAL again this January -- two years since this story. We are hoping it will be easier this time. We prefer the expanded wine options of the premium package.

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We were hoping for a clear policy from HAL regarding upgrading the Explore 4 drink package by now.

 

 

 

We had heard the same maybe, maybe not and it depends on who you talk to, before our cruise in January 2017. We went right to guest services when we boarded and asked. We were told to ask any bartender could do it, no problem. The first bartender had no idea what we were asking him - we had a terrible language issue with him. We tried another bar, the bartender didn't know and he called his supervisor. The supervisor said no, we asked why we were told by guest services that we could. We went back and forth (amicably) every time he said no, we just asked why we were told we could. He seemed to really want to help us, he just had no idea how. Eventually he came up with an answer. He would charge us the entire amount of the premium package, then credit us back for the basic package amount. YEAH! - seemed simple enough

 

 

 

Of course after a few days the full charge was still on our account with no credit - one more trip to guest services took care of the issue.

 

 

 

We are going on HAL again this January -- two years since this story. We are hoping it will be easier this time. We prefer the expanded wine options of the premium package.

 

 

 

We just returned from an Alaska cruise on the NA and had a similar issue. We had to remind staff to only charge the up-charge fee rather than charge everyone the entire fee. I blame it on headquarters. They should be able to add a button to the website allowing you upgrade to the Elite package before boarding. Luckily our concierge was able to assist us.

 

 

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CRUZBUDS - see my post right above yours and wash, rinse, REPEAT!!!!!!!!!

 

I love the HAL product but they are one of the most inconsistent and frustrating cruise lines to work with. As a corporation they just don't seem to "get it". Prior to the current management team they seemed to be backward focused and stuck in the late 80's/early 90's, and the current team seems to be focused on anything and everything BUT a remarkable customer experience! I guess this is what happens when you hire an HR manager to run a cruise line. Such a shame, as they COULD be the best premium mass-market line out there ........ but they aren't.

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How does HAL know if its complimentary or if you just bought it yourself before the cruise?

If you are BUYING the SBP, you shouldn't have any problem upgrading. The restriction - when it exists - is only on the complimentary SBP included with Explore 4. We were told that we couldn't upgrade our SBP, but through hard work, persistence, and dedication - along with a willingness to to keep asking everyone until we got what we wanted - we were able to upgrade. Other people have reported that some ships were actively selling the upgrades to the Explore 4 SBP.

 

However, if you are buying the package, there's no restriction on upgrading.

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CRUZBUDS - see my post right above yours and wash, rinse, REPEAT!!!!!!!!!

 

I love the HAL product but they are one of the most inconsistent and frustrating cruise lines to work with. As a corporation they just don't seem to "get it". Prior to the current management team they seemed to be backward focused and stuck in the late 80's/early 90's, and the current team seems to be focused on anything and everything BUT a remarkable customer experience! I guess this is what happens when you hire an HR manager to run a cruise line. Such a shame, as they COULD be the best premium mass-market line out there ........ but they aren't.

 

DW does not follow the boards, but was by my side while we went through the upgrade ordeal on the Westerdam almost two years ago. She was absolutely incredulous when I told her that HAL still seems has no policy for the upgrade. -She is an accountant with an MBA - inefficiency like this both baffles and irritates her. It seems like it should be incredibly easy to fix this. (if they cared to)

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How does HAL know if its complimentary or if you just bought it yourself before the cruise?
It's coded on your account as Explore 4. Just remember that I'm referring to our experience in 2016. I'll know more in December when we try again. Our 2016 SBP was truly free. We're paying for this one. Not full price, but definitely not free.

 

This is a 2017 thread, so much could be wrong.

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Thank you for your response. Will be sailing on HAL after 20 years away so this is all new to me! Please let me know if you successful in trying to upgrade to premium.

It's coded on your account as Explore 4. Just remember that I'm referring to our experience in 2016. I'll know more in December when we try again. Our 2016 SBP was truly free. We're paying for this one. Not full price, but definitely not free.

 

This is a 2017 thread, so much could be wrong.

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Thank you for your response. Will be sailing on HAL after 20 years away so this is all new to me! Please let me know if you successful in trying to upgrade to premium.
Oh, we'll be successful. It's just a matter of whether or not it's easy. ;)
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