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LAFFNVEGAS "LIVE" from the Nieuw Amsterdam, First HAL Ship to Sail!!


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Sorry Laffnvegas for your problems with no invite and problems with your bill. Should never happens, but it does. I have Billing issues on almost every cruise. One time we were not invited to the Mariners thing and found out we had most days on HAL on the cruise then anyone else! So things happen to put it mildly 😭

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I wish people would stop blaming "bean counters" for everything.  Every business has to make decisions to increase prices to maintain the same level of quality, cut some expenses that they can't justify for the return they get on those expenses, cut staffing to control costs, etc., etc.  

 

People whine endlessly about CUTBACKS!!  But no one wants to pay more to maintain the same product or level of service they've had in the past.  Things have to change and businesses have to adapt.  It's just the way it is.

 

If you want luxury, you have to pay for luxury.  Nothing remains the same.  I read these comments on every board I read.  Everyone wants things to be like they were 20 years ago, or even 10.  Haven't your costs for everything in your life increased over those years?  Do you expect a business to not have experienced those increased costs as well?  The choice is to keep costs down to keep prices at a reasonable level, or continue to increase prices.  It's Econ 101.  Supply and demand.  Price points and all that fun stuff.  If you don't like a product any longer, move on to something else.

 

Sorry.  Rant has nothing to do with OP's great Live thread, which I've very much enjoyed reading.  I'll be on NA in December (but first, Eurodam in November).  As someone with only 3 HAL sailings (but about 40 total cruises), I don't have the "but HAL did it this way 10 years ago" mentality and I'm sure I'll thoroughly enjoy both my upcoming HAL cruises.

 

Would I be disappointed I wasn't invited to a get-together that I should have been?  Yes.  Would I want my Mariner's discount on purchases?  Yes.  Would I want to not be charged for drinks when I have a package?  Yes.  Those are all valid concerns.  OP, thank you so much for the time and effort you've put into keeping us all up-to-date and informed.  I'm starting to think I'd very much like to book a sailing to Alaska.

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Posted (edited)

Despite a few disappointments, everything looks and sounds wonderful to me.  How I wish we were on your cruise with you!

I saw a post or two about groups getting together for trivia and I've also seen trivia scheduled most days (maybe not on port days) three times a day.  Are all three general trivia?  Are there any prizes/awards for winning (I expect there aren't)?

Edited by sansterre
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Hi, Lisa, definitely enjoying your blog, thank you so much for taking the time. I have a couple of questions, but you may not be able to answer them until you're safely home.

 

Did you use Port Valet for your luggage? If so, how did that work, when do you get and fill out the forms, and did everything go according to plan?

 

And finally, disembarkation experience? Did you have to go through customs/border patrol, etc., despite only having visited the US, and was it a real mess or did everything go well?

 

We're on the August 21 sailing, and our August 28 disembarkation is quickly followed by a flight at 11:30am same day. We are definitely hoping to use Port Valet. We have a private transfer arranged for 8am and hope to walk off the ship with our carry on's and have our luggage already safely at the airport. First time flying, cruising AND seeing the ocean in OVER a year and a half, so my "travel-legs" have gotten a bit wobbly!

 

Thank you so much!

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4 hours ago, Alphen said:

Any word on your professional Grapevine, if tiles are still awarded on every cruise?

 

Not yet, but me thinks, Lisa will have your answer some time today on her last sea day. They (those "tegels") could be waiting on her bed later today 😉 

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6 hours ago, erewhon said:

Lisa,

Thank you for taking us all along on the cruise with you.  

Sorry to hear that there have been problems, hope that the incorrect charges for the drinks have been removed. 

Are the "Let us Know" cards still available in the staterooms?

No have not seen the Let Us Know cards like in the past. Our server in the MD did remind us of the on line survey last night and asked to remember his name.

 

 

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2 hours ago, DaveOKC said:

....................

 

OR, if they are going to make it 4/5 Star only, make it a much nicer event.  We have been skipping this anyway the last couple of cruises due to the crowds and so so menu.

 

 

So have we, the last several times. We usually have a late breakfast, finishing just before 10 on that last sea day. Then that luncheon comes an hour and a half or so later plus, like you, we have not been thrilled with the set menu for it

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1 minute ago, chicopaige said:

Looking over menus on Princess Alaska Cruise, definitely stronger than Holland.  Lobster and Alaska King Crab Legs to mention a few.

Was thinking the same thing.  

Although no one here that is onboard is actually complaining, they are definitely posting about situations that are not usual for HAL, cutbacks, lacks in service, and plain oversights on the part of the staff.  There is a lot less of that happening on the Princess boards.  Haven't heard of any HAL executives being on board other than the Brand Ambassador (not really an executive nor does he have the power to rectify anything) while Jan Swartz is on the Princess ship.  

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5 minutes ago, taxmantoo said:

......................................  Haven't heard of any HAL executives being on board other than the Brand Ambassador (not really an executive nor does he have the power to rectify anything) while Jan Swartz is on the Princess ship.  

 

That lady gets around! Good for her, the pres of the Holland America Group (HAL, Princess, Seabourn & P&O Oz). She was on a satellite feed to Marghera, Italy yesterday for the Rotterdam VII handover/dedication. 

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Re complaints. At times I have been the queen of complaints.  But right now my major all time record of complaints is that I’m not on a BHB. IF I WAS MY COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT WOULD BR CLOSED. 

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50 minutes ago, sansterre said:

Despite a few disappointments, everything looks and sounds wonderful to me.  How I wish we were on your cruise with you!

I saw a post or two about groups getting together for trivia and I've also seen trivia scheduled most days (maybe not on port days) three times a day.  Are all three general trivia?  Are there any prizes/awards for winning (I expect there aren't)?

Ah, trivia.  The main reason for cruising.  The pins are THE prize.  They have a lifetime supply of them.  We are playing with John and Marta.  Suffice to say we’re winning our share;  enough to make Gary happy 😃

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Lisa I haven't posted before but have been following every day and enjoying your blog so much!  Many thanks for taking time from your vacation to tell us all about the first HAL cruise in what seems like forever. 

 

Just a couple comments/questions -- I saw the flower arrangement in one of your photos -- it's lovely, but really, something you can only enjoy for a day or so??  I always hate leaving beautiful fresh flowers behind.

 

I recognized a face or two of the BB King Band -- thanks for the photo!

 

How has service been from your cabin stewards?  I ask because on our one and only cruise with poor service from our cabin stewards they didn't leave something for us they should have.  I don't remember what it was, it could have been an invitation such as yours.  We haven't attended for years so for us we wouldn't have gone anyway, but it does stick in my memory.

 

I haven't been impressed with the Gala night menus either.  I think we'll book specialty restaurants those nights on our next cruise.

 

Again, thank you thank you thank you!!

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Thank you so much for giving us some understanding about what to expect, on the cruise.  We'll be boarding on August 7th, and maybe some of the problems you had may be worked out, by then.  I hope, most of all, that some of the beautiful weather, you experienced, will still be available! 

Pat

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13 hours ago, jhoice said:

Question, about Juneau, what ship if any was there while you were in port?  We have a small group whale watching excursion booked thru COSTCO.  Hoping it will be just HAL folks?  

I wasn't in port personally, but in the case of Juneau for this sailing it was Celebrity Millie.  As to the bus sharing situation, that was in Sitka and I think it was one of the Royal Caribbean ships. 

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9 hours ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

Good Evening from the Beautiful MS Nieuw Amsterdam.

yes tonight was second Gala Night , they call it Gold Gala Night, the first was silver. So my question is if we are on a longer cruise is the third Platinum Gala night or does the first one become Bronze😂

yes I agree the menu items have not been exciting although tonight I did get the Club Orange item and it was actually quite good. I cannot remember what they called it but it was Scallops with a hint of lemon, over what I believe was polenta. It was actually good. My previous CO item was equally as good. 
 

Tonight we decided to not be party poopers and go out and about to check out the entertainment on the Music Walk. But after dinner we did go back to our cabin. Guest Relations on board sent us a floral arrangement which was nice. I am still a bit disappointed but life goes on. We also did get out additional 5% discount in the shops and they were sincerely apologetic.. Now just need to get the charges off that would have been covered under the Signature Beverage Package. 
In the Billboard there were a female and male pianist/singers that were both quite good performing “The Classics”. We sat there till their set ended then wanted to see the comedian in the BB King Lounge, since that was packed we act sat out on the walk area where there are chairs. Actually that was quite entertaining just watching the passengers. But the comedian was pretty funny as well. Then we listened to the BB King band for a while. 
 

Sadly tomorrow is our last day, but we actually don’t feel as bad about leaving knowing that 5 weeks from tomorrow we fly back to Seattle to do it all over again 😉😃

 

Tomorrow night we dine in the Pinnacle, we like to save the Best for last.

 

Wifi has been down most of the night again so hopefully this does upload. I will attempt a few pictures as well.

 

Note our towel animal was a whale. 

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Hate to say it, but I'd still be hungry after that meal :(,  or were the plates just ginormous ?

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Regarding flower arrangements, Lisa's recent arrangement is spectacular, nicer than most.

With flowers we have received and with flowers I've purchased in port that are still looking good, I find someone to give them to.

Often I give them to a steward.  If they don't want them, they seem to know someone to give them to.

I've also taken them up to the girl who did my pedicure, or my hair.

One time I gave them to a girl who was cleaning the elevator door;  she was delighted. 

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Did you use Port Valet for your luggage? If so, how did that work, when do you get and fill out the forms, and did everything go according to plan?

 

I'm not Lisa and just wanted to mention we have used in--in 2019 and it all worked well, EXCEPT whichever airline it was (perhaps Southwest) we flew home on, we could NOT use the boarding passes printed by the ship, but had to check in at the airport (we used a kiosk, so easy, just one more step to deal with but took time) before going through TSA to get a proper boarding pass.  The TSA person (seems as though there was someone checking at the beginning the line before we stood in it to get up to the actual screening point) told us we had to get an airport-issued boarding pass, that idea.

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14 hours ago, jhoice said:

Question, about Juneau, what ship if any was there while you were in port?  We have a small group whale watching excursion booked thru COSTCO.  Hoping it will be just HAL folks?  

If you google “ships in port schedule”, there are sites that will tell you what other ships are in port the same day you are there. I looked up our Sitka date in September and it looks like NA will be the only cruise ship that day. 

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24 minutes ago, Pia1913 said:

Ah, trivia.  The main reason for cruising.  The pins are THE prize.  They have a lifetime supply of them.  We are playing with John and Marta.  Suffice to say we’re winning our share;  enough to make Gary happy 😃

Ahhhh, the pins.  I was hoping for something a little different.

Well congratulations to all 4 of you.  

Are you playing all 3 trivia games -  a.m., 4:00 and 6:30?

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I don't really see the savings on cutting the Mariner's luncheon back to 4 and 5 star Mariners.  It's a sea day so everyone is eating on board anyway.  There is no additional staff cost.  The menu was only very slightly higher cost items than normally served in the MDR for lunch if that.  It was the kind of thing that made people feel special who were just starting out with HAL being invited to something.  Those little things build loyalty early at a very low cost.  The Alaskan week long sailings seem to always not be quite the same as other sailings though so I'm holding out hope that some of these things will improve as they get back to doing the longer voyages.  

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Thank you Lisa for all your work informing everyone about The first NA cruise, it was fun to follow along and see the sights once more. 
I would like to know which nights were gala  nights. Was it Sunday and Thursday? 

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18 minutes ago, atexsix said:

......................As to the bus sharing situation, that was in Sitka and I think it was one of the Royal Caribbean ships. 

 

RCI's Serenade of the Seas

 

Serenade Of The Seas Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | Royal  Caribbean

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