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Hi, we are first time cruisers heading to Alaska on Nieuw Amsterdam in June 2019.  Is it worthwhile pre purchasing a Beverage package, are they good value?

 

Thanks

 

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I too have had this dilemma.  Unless you are a heavy to excessive drinker, not worth it.  Do remember, most cruise lines cap the number of drinks per day...for a reason...they don't want you falling overboard.

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Thanks for the quick response.  I don't think I'll do the beverage package.  We would only have a couple of drinks per day.

 

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We had been on five HAL (and one NCL) cruises since 1999 and I was a firm nay-sayer for the SBP... then we got it last summer on the Explore4 promotional and it was very nice. 

 

After the fact I determined that pre-purchasing the SBP would pay for itself with two "boat drinks" and three glasses of wine with dinner (or two wine and one cordial with dessert). That is by its pre-sailing price of US$45pp/day, and is not what I would judge excessive on vacation.

 

Your SBP price may be different.

 

Anyway, at that point any additional beverages, including espresso drinks, soft drinks, beer with lunch, or additional cocktails at the piano bar, -- are gravy.

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It depends on the cost. We price the cruise both with and without the package. There was very little difference on our 7 day Alaskan cruise for 2019 so we got it. This will be the first time. We like the specialty and will have some drinks. Nowhere close to the 15 per day allowed but enough to make the package worthwhile.

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It really depends on how much you would use it.

 

We've purchased it for our last 3-4 cruises, and have the Elite one for our upcoming Eurodam cruise.  It's not necessarily a cost savings move for us, but more one of convenience.  To make it make sense financially, you'd have to have a minimum of 6-7 drinks per day, which is the break even point for most people.  That's about our average (some days more, some days less).  I typically have a "pool drink" or two during the day.  At night, we like to have a cocktail before dinner, and a glass or two of wine with dinner.  Add to that an after dinner drink like port, Baileys, etc.  And maybe another cocktail while at a show...  But not everyone will drink that much, and we dont do that every night.

I'm sure if we didn't do the beverage package, and paid per drink, we might save some money.  But it wouldn't be that big of a difference.  And I'm willing to pay more to have the predictability of having it included and pre-paid.  I also like the feeling that I can experiment out of my cocktail comfort zone by trying different things I probably wouldn't order if not for the package.  But I'm a cocktail person, somewhat of an amateur bartender at home, so the appeal of trying different combinations and new tastes without having to pay incrementally for each is very appealing to me.

 

If you're a wine drinker, the package may or may not work well for you.  The wines are only by the glass - the pro of that is you can pair them with your courses, ie start with a glass of sparkling wine, a white with the appetizer, a red with the entree)  - BUT the wines by the glass are limited in selection, and you might prefer a bottle.  Bottles aren't a part of the package.  If you do drink bottles, there are wine packages that include that.

 

So you can see, it all depends on what you like, and what your goals are (ie motivated strictly by what makes most sense financially, or something else) - as well as by what you like to drink. 

Edited by WeLoveCruising

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Our cruise comes with two Signature beverage packages.  Our TA told us they will upgrade us to an Elite package when we are aboard (for an extra cost, of course).  Has anyone done this, and is she correct in this assertion?

 

Thanks

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@CruisinShips

From other threads and not from doing so, it appears this is true BUT two caveats. (1) you may have to go additional bars to find a bartender who will do it (I am not explaining this, just relating others experience), and (2) you MUST upgrade before using the SBP on your accounts at all -- i.e. before sailaway for most of us!

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We find the SBP is well worth the money.  The break-even point is 6 drinks (beers, wines, cocktails) priced around $7.50 plus the 15% service charge.  After that you are drinking free.   We always take very long cruises with many sea days, so it definitely works out to be a big savings.

I have a problem with some posts that categorize all people who purchase the SBP must be classified as "heavy or excessive" drinkers and should be attending the Bill W. meetings onboard.   Please do not judge others by your own personal standards.   

Edited by TAD2005

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3 hours ago, crystalspin said:

@CruisinShips

From other threads and not from doing so, it appears this is true BUT two caveats. (1) you may have to go additional bars to find a bartender who will do it (I am not explaining this, just relating others experience), and (2) you MUST upgrade before using the SBP on your accounts at all -- i.e. before sailaway for most of us!

 

Is this new? We had trouble upgrading in 2016 when we had the SBP. It took several tries - and we ordered several drinks in the meantime. They did not prorate the one drink that DW had that was above limit (Belvedere & Tonic) but other than that we had no problem because our drinks were SBP eligible.  It wouldn't have made a difference for me, since I was drinking Maker's Mark and that's covered on both plans.

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Hi POA --

I just repeating what I have heard on CC -- as I did not upgrade last summer's SBP. Your personal experience takes precedence over my third hand rumor!

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22 minutes ago, crystalspin said:

Hi POA --

I just repeating what I have heard on CC -- as I did not upgrade last summer's SBP. Your personal experience takes precedence over my third hand rumor!

No problem. I'll research it in depth in a month. I'm hoping that we have a better upgrade experience this time. Last time we got shut down by two bartenders and the front desk before our Crow's Nest server, whom we knew from a previous cruise, went to bat for us. She found an a bar manager who could make the change for us. We had to eat the cost of one $10.25 cocktail that couldn't be prorated, but in the grand scheme of things, that was a small price to pay. (I should add that I probably could have argued to have it reversed, but it did not seem like a good use of vacation time. We just banged out a few extra glasses of Champagne throughout the cruise so that we felt we had made up for it.) 

 

I've read a lot of people saying (typing?) that the EBP upgrade was actively marketed on their cruises. I hope that's the case for us. I hate to have to beg people to take extra money. 

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On 11/19/2018 at 8:09 PM, POA1 said:

No problem. I'll research it in depth in a month. I'm hoping that we have a better upgrade experience this time. Last time we got shut down by two bartenders and the front desk before our Crow's Nest server, whom we knew from a previous cruise, went to bat for us. She found an a bar manager who could make the change for us. We had to eat the cost of one $10.25 cocktail that couldn't be prorated, but in the grand scheme of things, that was a small price to pay. (I should add that I probably could have argued to have it reversed, but it did not seem like a good use of vacation time. We just banged out a few extra glasses of Champagne throughout the cruise so that we felt we had made up for it.) 

 

I've read a lot of people saying (typing?) that the EBP upgrade was actively marketed on their cruises. I hope that's the case for us. I hate to have to beg people to take extra money. 

 

Would you please report back here on your experience?  We have Explore 4 on an upcoming cruise and also want to upgrade to EBP.

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Hi all. Sailing Nieuw Statendam this month. We are Platinum NCL guests and trying HA for the first time. We always purchase or elect the beverage package in Haven in NCL. I think I will purchase the SBP, my question is having never sailed with you guys before, are a majority of your typical mixed drinks and boat drinks and such at or under 9$ on HA? My wife is a Jack and Coke fan, old fashioned, etc and I usually am a Tangueray, Dark and stormy, typical rum and mid grade vodka type of client on cruises. I don’t think we really need the Elite package for the 15$ Cap, but what kind of drinks exceed the 9 to the 15? It’s not much of a difference but figured I’d ask. 

 

Thanks all. 

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11 minutes ago, SailBreakaway said:

Hi all. Sailing Nieuw Statendam this month. We are Platinum NCL guests and trying HA for the first time. We always purchase or elect the beverage package in Haven in NCL. I think I will purchase the SBP, my question is having never sailed with you guys before, are a majority of your typical mixed drinks and boat drinks and such at or under 9$ on HA? My wife is a Jack and Coke fan, old fashioned, etc and I usually am a Tangueray, Dark and stormy, typical rum and mid grade vodka type of client on cruises. I don’t think we really need the Elite package for the 15$ Cap, but what kind of drinks exceed the 9 to the 15? It’s not much of a difference but figured I’d ask. 

 

Thanks all. 

 

For most drinks, the SPB will cover you.  Most mixed drinks are $9 or under.  (Service charge is not included in the $9 limit).

 

Where the EPB makes a big difference is the wine choices and the very expensive after dinner drinks (brandies, etc. - SPB is fine for the standard after dinner drinks) and a couple of brands of hard liquor.

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We have the drink package for our Alaska Cruise next July thanks to the Explore 4 Promo. We would not have paid the regular price if it had not been part of X4. I like an expresso after diner so that is covered as well as the HAL Signature after diner drinks in souvenir glasses at $6.95 each. We should be able to also get a decent wine by the glass for the $9 cap. We have 3 full days at sea on the cruise so I think the drink package will be handy and a nice addon.

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2 hours ago, kb4683 said:

 

Would you please report back here on your experience?  We have Explore 4 on an upcoming cruise and also want to upgrade to EBP.

Oh... I'll report back. You can count on it!  Just watch for my "Live From" starting on the 15th.  Upgrading to the EBP is one of our top priorities and first tasks planned for embarkation day. In order, more or less:

 

  1. Board ship
  2. Confirm MDR Dining Times & Specialty Reservations. Make PG Lunch Reservation
  3. Eat Lunch/Put Carry-Ons in Room
  4. Upgrade to EBP

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On 12/2/2018 at 9:18 AM, kazu said:

 

For most drinks, the SPB will cover you.  Most mixed drinks are $9 or under.  (Service charge is not included in the $9 limit).

 

Where the EPB makes a big difference is the wine choices and the very expensive after dinner drinks (brandies, etc. - SPB is fine for the standard after dinner drinks) and a couple of brands of hard liquor.

Thank You that was most helpful. SBP it is. 

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On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 12:10 PM, POA1 said:

Oh... I'll report back. You can count on it!  Just watch for my "Live From" starting on the 15th.   …..

 

Breaking news for the Institute of Cheer:

 

Basic story:  The Signature Beverage Package has been discontinued.  Only Elite Beverage Package is now being sold.  POA1, little information is available on board, and I ask your assistance to help us all understand the changes.

 

Longer version: We are on Rotterdam on a 21-day Collector cruise.  Our first 7 days were on a Western Caribbean itinerary.  We purchased the SBP before sailing, and were able to get drinks as normal, and noticed the beverage staff selling the SBP.  Odd notes were that they had substituted the Danzante pinot grigio for the Zonin that DW usually has, and that Black Opal Shiraz was not available, but my usual McPherson's was, priced at $8.50.  Our dinner wine steward told us that HAL has hired a new wine manager, and that the packages are changing, with Danzante being phased out from the lower-priced package, so that's why they were serving it as the house pinot grigio.

 

On Sunday, we had turn-around day in Tampa and sailed as usual, with our usual tipples in the Ocean Bar.  Yesterday we went to the Ocean Bar and the bartenders told us the prices had changed and the Danzante was now priced at $10, and so not included in the SBP.  McPhersons was now priced at $9.00 and so within the SBP limit.  The bartenders also said they were told to honor SBP packages bought online, but were no longer selling them on board, but only were selling the EBP.

 

In further discussion with the Ocean Bar bartenders, with whom we have sailed before, and with the Cellar Master who came by, we learned that the new wine director was in the process of changing the wines to be offered.  Also, they were given a list of wines that they could sell in the bars and the new prices.  There was no info available as to what the new wine packages would contain.  Interestingly enough, at dinner last night, I looked at the wine by the glass list in the MDR and saw McPherson's for $7.75.  

 

Here is the list of the wines by the glass now offered in the Ocean Bar:

 

Whites:

La Terre White Zinfandel ... $7
Santa Carolina Chardonnay ... $7
Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc ... $9
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay ... $9
Beringer Pinot Grigio ... $9
Danzante Pinot Grigio ... $10
Ch. Ste. Michelle Chardonnay ... $10
Ch. Ste. Michelle Reisling ... $11
Simi Sauvignon Blanc ... $11
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc ... $12
Zonin Moscato ... $12

 

Reds

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon ... $7
Santa Carolina Merlot ... $7
McPherson Shiraz ...$9
Greystone Merlot ... $9
Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon ... $9.75
Columbia Crest Merlot ... $11
Sextant Zinfandel ... $13
Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti ... $14
Arboleda Carmenere ... $15


Another fact - I went to my bookings on HAL for our next cruise, and there are no beverages at all listed for pre-purchase.  My surmise is that the data base is being updated and the info, I hope, will be listed before we sail in April.


My biased opinions:

 

- Very little information has been shared with us onboard, either the bar staffs or the passengers.  We were presented with a fait accompli.  It seems to me to be another self-inflicted HAL problem.  A little advance info goes a long way, and I wonder sometimes about the competence of the HAL communications and marketing departments, who should have prepared literature, explanations, etc. instead of just hanging us all out to dry.

 

- I don't mind that prices go up, they always do, but would appreciate a bit of notice.  An email before we sailed that explained that our SBP choices were going to change mid-cruise would have prepared us.  

 

- We have not asked about the possibility of shifting our SBP to the EBP at a pro-rated price, but that info should have already been provided.

 

- We have booked a cruise about a year or so out that was under the Explore 4 promotion.  No information has been provided as to whether the package will be changed to EBP and/or the price to increase.  Again, there are no doubt a lot of people who want to know, and it is something that absolutely should have been anticipated at HAL HQ and answers available.  Again, a very poor communication effort in my opinion.

 

- And, I hope the new wine guy actually adds a mix of wines, instead of all high-end ones, for us wineaux who enjoy McPherson and Zonin.  Perhaps even the addition of an Oregon pinto gris or two would be welcome.  I just hope he doesn't turn out like the cocktail guy who added a whole lot of high-priced drinks that very few people want (We call them Dale Gack-tails).  At least (for now anyway) we can still get a real cocktail like a margarita or a grasshopper, etc. so if we similarly have a choice of a range of wines in the future, we'll be happy.

 

Bottom line -- POA1, as you can see, there is a lot of churn going on here on Rotterdam, and anything you and the Institute can do to assist with the information flow would no doubt be appreciated by all on the HAL CC fourm.

 

Thanks,
Dave
 

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44 minutes ago, RetiredMustang said:

Bottom line -- POA1, as you can see, there is a lot of churn going on here on Rotterdam, and anything you and the Institute can do to assist with the information flow would no doubt be appreciated by all on the HAL CC fourm.

 

Wow. Thanks for the heads up, Dave! Hopefully they'll have their act together in two weeks time. I'll let you know what we find out. Heading over to my online HAL account to see what they're selling. 

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@RetiredMustang - OK, Dave. I wanted to go to my computer to look up the available beverage packages on the HAL site - because as "user-friendly" as it is on a PC, it's even less so on a phone.  They're still selling both the SBP and the EBP as of right now. (We have the SBP as part of Explore 4.) You can't buy the upgrade prior to the cruise, but according to a HAL phone rep, we can upgrade on the ship. I'll reserve judgement on that until we actually accomplish it.  For the teetotalling public, there's the Quench Package and the deceptively marketed Unlimited Coca Cola Package.  The reason I'm saying it's deceptively marketed is that they show you soda in cans & bottles in the picture (lower right) but the offer description says: "Enjoy unlimited refills of fountain soda for the duration of your voyage. It includes a souvenir cup that you can take home with you." They're also showing Fanta Orange which I've never seen in gun soda. (In all fairness, I've never ordered a "Junior High School Screwdriver," so I might have missed the fruit sodas in the gun.

 

bev-pkg-haal-site-2018-12-04.thumb.JPG.24d0d92b115e319d33ee44667e2ced83.JPG

 

I really hope they have this whole thing nailed down before the 16th of December. I hate to do a write up and have it be incorrect as soon as the ink dries.  Again, thanks for the heads up.

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13 minutes ago, POA1 said:

@RetiredMustang - OK, Dave. I wanted to go to my computer to look up the available beverage packages on the HAL site - because as "user-friendly" as it is on a PC, it's even less so on a phone.  They're still selling both the SBP and the EBP as of right now. (We have the SBP as part of Explore 4.) You can't buy the upgrade prior to the cruise, but according to a HAL phone rep, we can upgrade on the ship. I'll reserve judgement on that until we actually accomplish it.  For the teetotalling public, there's the Quench Package and the deceptively marketed Unlimited Coca Cola Package.  The reason I'm saying it's deceptively marketed is that they show you soda in cans & bottles in the picture (lower right) but the offer description says: "Enjoy unlimited refills of fountain soda for the duration of your voyage. It includes a souvenir cup that you can take home with you." They're also showing Fanta Orange which I've never seen in gun soda. (In all fairness, I've never ordered a "Junior High School Screwdriver," so I might have missed the fruit sodas in the gun.

 

bev-pkg-haal-site-2018-12-04.thumb.JPG.24d0d92b115e319d33ee44667e2ced83.JPG

 

I really hope they have this whole thing nailed down before the 16th of December. I hate to do a write up and have it be incorrect as soon as the ink dries.  Again, thanks for the heads up.

I just looked at my booking for next July on the Noordam and under purchase beverages it still shows both the SBP and the EBP available to purchase.  I am planning to upgrade from the X4 promo SBP to the EBP once on the ship just to have more variety of better wines by the glass for the MDR meals.

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We're sailing Eurodam Sunday with the SBP as part of our X4 promo. I suppose we shall see if anything is awry with our current set-up. Will certainly not appreciate being surprised after getting onboard.

 

We have not heard a peep from HAL regarding any modifications to our X4 SBP deal, but that doesn't surprise me either.

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1 hour ago, KroozNut said:

We're sailing Eurodam Sunday with the SBP as part of our X4 promo. I suppose we shall see if anything is awry with our current set-up. Will certainly not appreciate being surprised after getting onboard.

 

We have not heard a peep from HAL regarding any modifications to our X4 SBP deal, but that doesn't surprise me either.

With all of the X4 promos that are booked they would have a huge law suit on their hands if they did away or modified the SBP over the next year. Plus there will probably be a lot more drunks cruising next year, which is not a good thing.

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26 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

With all of the X4 promos that are booked they would have a huge law suit on their hands if they did away or modified the SBP over the next year. Plus there will probably be a lot more drunks cruising next year, which is not a good thing. 

 

I wouldn't worry about it. They've changed the SBP in the past and it's always been for the better.  There used to be a $7 cap, then $8, now $9. If you read the cruise contract, you'll see that they're allowed to modify things. If you read the fine print on the SBP, it's supposed to be a limit of 15 beverages total. If they're making it 15 alcoholic drinks with unlimited non-alcoholic beverages - and it sound like they are doing that based on quite a few reports from very reliable posters here, then that's a very good thing. It makes sense because it homogenizes the beverage plan offerings among the various Carnival Corporation lines.

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OK, I just looked at my upcoming booking on the HAL website again, and beverages are now available to pre-purchase.  Either it was offline for a while, or (not impossible 😉) I encountered operator error the first time I tried.  It now shows SBP as an option for April on Noordam, and the now usual 3 wine bottle packages, although they have the caveat that wines may be substituted.

 

On Rotterdam, we are all wondering how this will all shake out, but think it may be rolled out across the fleet ship by ship, with Rotterdam as the flagship being the first; I just wish HAL had been upfront with info.  We will watch the issue and decide before April what we will do on Noordam.  For now, we are OK with the wines within the SBP, and the EBP covers everything currently listed in the Ocean Bar, and the bar staff are wonderful as always.  We would appreciate any insights POA1 or others may gain over the next few months.

 

Thanks to everyone,

Dave

Edited by RetiredMustang

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@RetiredMustang - I just emailed someone who is doing a B2B on the Nieuw Amsterdam to see if she's heard anything. (It's like we have spies everywhere! I can bug some people on the Nieuw Statendam inaugural if we need more data.) 

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1 hour ago, terrydtx said:

With all of the X4 promos that are booked they would have a huge law suit on their hands if they did away or modified the SBP over the next year. Plus there will probably be a lot more drunks cruising next year, which is not a good thing.

Just because someone has purchased the SBP, or received it as part of Explore-4, doesn't automatically assume they are "Drunks".   Please do not apply your personal beverage choices and habits to everyone and accuse them of being "Drunks".

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Heard back from our friend on the Nieuw Amsterdam. She's checked at two different bars and they both said no changes to the packages. @RetiredMustang, I can probably call Seattle and get a third set of answers.  🤔

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4 hours ago, POA1 said:

I can probably call Seattle and get a third set of answers.  🤔

 

No need to prolong the agony... Lol! :classic_blink:

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We just got off of Oosterdam with EBP purchased onboard. We’ve had all beverage packages on many past cruises including  EBP, SBP and explore 4 packages. We were surprised we couldn’t get ‘doubles’ this cruise. First time ever. We had to wait 3 minutes to get the second pour. New to us, and we’re 5* mariners. Was it just the ship or a new policy?

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I will be on the Konigsdam, freshly out of drydock, on Dec 10 and will look into the SBP/EBP issue as I understand it.  It is certain that I will be scanning every menu possible and collecting as much information as possible on any HAL changes since my May 2018 cruise.

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9 hours ago, Crew News said:

I will be on the Konigsdam, freshly out of drydock, on Dec 10 and will look into the SBP/EBP issue as I understand it.  It is certain that I will be scanning every menu possible and collecting as much information as possible on any HAL changes since my May 2018 cruise. 

Have a great trip! Sail away from the usual spot?   I wonder if your menu cycle for the 11 day sailing will be different than ours on the Zuiderdam for the 10 day leaving on the 16th? 

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My research associate on the Nieuw Amsterdam has been to three different bars, seeking out the most knowledgeable beverage employees. So far, no one has any idea about an update to the beverage packages. We're on the Zuiderdam next Sunday, @RetiredMustang, so that should give us another set of observations. It's like a pub crawl for science. 

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I order doubles every evening in the Ocean Bar on various HAL ships for the last 10 years, and usually with the SBP.  I have never been refused a double with the SBP.   Of course, the "double" was in the same glass, not 2 separate glasses for the same person.   I can see where they might get concerned about 2 separate glasses.   I sure hope this isn't a new, unwritten rule for the bar staff.   HAL needs to update the published rules for the SBP and EBP.   There seems to be a lot of questions about it and also individual ships have their own rules that Seattle knows nothing about.

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29 minutes ago, TAD2005 said:

I order doubles every evening in the Ocean Bar on various HAL ships for the last 10 years, and usually with the SBP.  I have never been refused a double with the SBP.   Of course, the "double" was in the same glass, not 2 separate glasses for the same person.   I can see where they might get concerned about 2 separate glasses.   I sure hope this isn't a new, unwritten rule for the bar staff.   HAL needs to update the published rules for the SBP and EBP.   There seems to be a lot of questions about it and also individual ships have their own rules that Seattle knows nothing about.

 

I'll test this for you in 10 days. I drink Maker's Mark on the rocks. They always offer me a double because a single jigger of whiskey in a glass of ice is just like sadness. It needs a friend.

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7 hours ago, POA1 said:

Have a great trip! Sail away from the usual spot?   I wonder if your menu cycle for the 11 day sailing will be different than ours on the Zuiderdam for the 10 day leaving on the 16th? 

 

Two different Culinary Operations Managers on the Zuiderdam told me that the only difference in the 10 and 11-day cruise menus was the removal of Day 09 for the 10-day cruise.  It must be noted that 10 and 11-day menus are the same for all Caribbean cruises for all HAL ships.

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We paid extra for the Explore 4 package.  It was my understanding that it was drinks priced $9.00 or less AND the 15% service charge was INCLUDED with the package.  Is that the way it works?

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