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Purchasing onboard vs. pre-cruise


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Our upcoming cruise will be our 8th, but our first on HAL.  I've been reading a LOT of posts here to get prepared, as I do before every cruise.  I am trying to sort out what we should purchase pre-cruise vs. what we should purchase onboard.  Tell me if this plan is the best:

 

Unlimited laundry package - purchase onboard

Internet Surf package - purchase onboard

Specialty dining (1-2 nights) - purchase onboard

Thermal Suite - purchase pre-cruise

Shore excursions - purchase pre-cruise (we usually do a mix of ship-sponsored excursions, private tours, and setting out on our own)

 

This is for an 18-day Panama Canal cruise in January on the Oosterdam.  So excited!

 

Your thoughts?

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If you want your specialty dining on specific days, like an anniversary or birthday, then I would book that in advance so you get the date and time you want.  Waiting until you're onboard may make it difficult to get what you want.  I don't know about the thermal suite; I thought I read that it might be less expensive on embarkation day.  Someone with more knowledge will chime in on that.  Otherwise, I agree with your plans.  

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6 hours ago, Alberta Quilter said:

If you want your specialty dining on specific days, like an anniversary or birthday, then I would book that in advance so you get the date and time you want.  Waiting until you're onboard may make it difficult to get what you want.  I don't know about the thermal suite; I thought I read that it might be less expensive on embarkation day.  Someone with more knowledge will chime in on that.  Otherwise, I agree with your plans.  

 

Agree with AQ on booking the dining if days or specific times are important to you.

 

As to the thermal suite, it is normally a little bit cheaper on embarkation day than the regular price IME, but those that had booked pre-cruise were able to get a refund in OBC on our cruises.

 

If any particular shore excursion is really important to you and you would be devastated if you missed out then I would book it on line.  Some of them do sell out.  Otherwise you are safe to book them on board.

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For my 2 cents:

 

thermal suite - onboard, first day special.

Excursions - beware some excursions now have a cancellation penalty.  I only pre pay the ones that are popular.  I usually have a large onboard credit which I use for shore excursions and that has to be scheduled once onboard.

 

I agree with the remainder of your list

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I plan to pre purchase the unlimited laundry so the clothes we used for two days getting to the cruise can get washed right away. It's the same price but in my senior mind if seems like we get one extra day being able to send out right away. 

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7 minutes ago, lindaler said:

I plan to pre purchase the unlimited laundry so the clothes we used for two days getting to the cruise can get washed right away.

You can send laundry the day you board whether you pre-pay for it or not. Just put your laundry in the bag, complete the invoice (keep the pink copy for yourself) noting how you want to be charged, and leave the bag on your bed for the stewards to take at turndown. 

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If the ship has cabanas--Retreat or Lido--best to pre-purchase for best selection. They also sell out on warm cruises. Loved our retreat cabanas on a Caribbean cruise last Christmas. (Already bought one for an April 2021 Panama cruise.)

Edited by oceanmom
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9 minutes ago, lindaler said:

When does pre purchases count toward the extra days for on board spending?

Pre purchases do count toward your Mariner tally just as spending it onboard.  I am speaking about excursions and dining specifically.  Giftcards and beverage cards may be excluded, I don't know.

Edited by Mary229
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14 hours ago, PJWisconsin said:

Our upcoming cruise will be our 8th, but our first on HAL.  I've been reading a LOT of posts here to get prepared, as I do before every cruise.  I am trying to sort out what we should purchase pre-cruise vs. what we should purchase onboard.  Tell me if this plan is the best:

 

Unlimited laundry package - purchase onboard  

Internet Surf package - purchase onboard

Specialty dining (1-2 nights) - purchase onboard

Thermal Suite - purchase pre-cruise

Shore excursions - purchase pre-cruise (we usually do a mix of ship-sponsored excursions, private tours, and setting out on our own)

 

This is for an 18-day Panama Canal cruise in January on the Oosterdam.  So excited!

 

Your thoughts?

Do you want to pay now and avoid a large statement balance at the end of your cruise?  Do you handle disappointment well?  Your preference may dictate whether you pay now or wait until you board.  If you pre-purchase specialty dining, you may select the date and time you desire.  You are also assured of having that reservation confirmed; whereas, if you wait until you board, the most popular days and times will already be reserved.  If a certain shore excursion marks a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see that site, pay before leaving home to avoid disappointment.  Popular excursions sell out, and limited capacity excursions fill quickly.  

 

We have always waited to purchase the Thermal Suite because of the discount on embarkation day.  Make sure you head to the spa first.  You don't have to take the tour.  Simply tell the attendant that you wish to purchase the thermal pass.

 

Internet and laundry you can purchase on the ship with no problem.  As someone already observed, you can stuff the laundry bag as soon as you arrive in your stateroom.  Simply indicate that you want to buy the package.

 

Should you purchase anything prior to sailing, bring the printed confirmations.  Sometimes, mix-ups occur.  The only way you can be assured of getting those items you paid for is to have the confirmation in hand.  It can avoid a lot of hassle should a mistake happen.  Enjoy your cruise.  What a wonderful time of year to experience the Canal!  Don't forget to sample the Panama buns, served only the day the ship enters the "zone."   

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1 hour ago, sevenseasnomad said:

After your cruise.

I know the days are figured after the cruise but a TA told me that if I ordered an excursion too soon it wouldn't be credited to my days when they figured it. I asked what too soon meant and they thought anything ordered outside of the final payment was too soon. 

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18 minutes ago, lindaler said:

I know the days are figured after the cruise but a TA told me that if I ordered an excursion too soon it wouldn't be credited to my days when they figured it. I asked what too soon meant and they thought anything ordered outside of the final payment was too soon. 

 

Everything* pre-purchased counts toward your mariner days.  It sounds like your TA has no experience with HAL.

 

Thermal Suite and Internet packages are now cheaper is pre-purchased.  Agree with all specialty dining, shore excursions, and laundry comments.  Enjoy your cruise and welcome to HAL!

 

*Casino credits do not count towards mariner days at any time.

Edited by *Miss G*
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I don't know if this is a "thing" fleet wide, but something we have observed a couple of times is that once onboard, they would only allow people to make Pinnacle Grill reservations at basically "two-sitting" intervals -- like 5:30 and 8:00 (or some times like that.)  We observed a very irate diner in the PG asking why he couldn't get in at 7:00 when the place was virtually empty.  The response was along the lines of, "That's just the way we do it."

 

When pre-booking on the cruise personalizer, there are multiple times offered, at half-hour intervals, so now it is our habit to pre-book our PG dinners for our preferred time.

 

Again, I don't know if this happens on only certain ships, or if they've corrected this situation, but we have seen it happen, so we do pre-book.

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1 hour ago, Roktory said:

as a 4 star Mariner if i pre purchase dinning will they refund me the 50% after i dine?

 

do i have to notify anyone ?

Be careful here.  If you order specialty dining prior to the cruise, your credit card statement will, of course, bill you for the entire purchase.  When you get on the ship, they deduct 50%, leaving 50% of the charge on your onboard statement, for which you have already paid, right?  Make certain you bring your credit card statement, proving payment, so the Front Desk can take off the 50% charge.  Otherwise, you've paid 100%, which isn't how the perk is supposed to work.  We had this problem a number of times, and it took a lot of explaining to make the Front Desk personnel understand.  Has anyone else run into this problem?

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41 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

Has anyone else run into this problem?

 

No never.

 

I pre-book my dinners and day 1 my 50% is refunded to me.

 

I’ve never been charged again for a specialty dinner i’ve prepaid for.

 

But, I always bring my confirmations for any pre-purchased item until I see all is in order and then they go into recycling 😉 

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1 hour ago, sevenseasnomad said:

When you get on the ship, they deduct 50%, leaving 50% of the charge on your onboard statement, for which you have already paid, right?  ... Has anyone else run into this problem?

We've never had this happen in any specialty restaurants.  We've always gotten the 50% "prepaid loyalty" credit posted on day 1 and the only charges that have shown on our statements were for drinks/wine.  The same is true for wine packages we've pre-paid.

Edited by catl331
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Not sure what goes on with our account, as they always post full charge for the restaurant and credit 50% of the charge in the second column, which leaves half as a charge that we've already paid.  It's annoying because it necessitates a visit to the Front Desk to get it straightened out.  We earned 4* status in 2015, so it isn't as though we're brand new to this level.  

 

Good to know the problem isn't prevalent.  

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