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


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22 minutes ago, sansterre said:

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?

For us, there will be a total of 15 trivia games. Only once, and that was on the first sea day, was there a morning trivia. Otherwise, 4 PM and 6:30 PM all the other days.  

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1 hour ago, CruiseMGM said:

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!

Yes we signed up for Port Valet so once home I will report on how this goes , we have a 12:01 flight out of SeaTac.

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1 hour ago, Copper10-8 said:

 

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 😉 

I am thinking so too, when we left for breakfast we saw our next door neighbors in the corner aft suite had their Bronze Mariner pins in their mail slot.

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1 hour ago, Copper10-8 said:

 

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

Us two, we have skipped the last three, we are having a leisurely breakfast this morning after we slept in.

What I miss the most is the days of a late morning/early afternoon Mariner party in the Main ShowRoom. Just a cocktail and maybe the fancy nuts would be great. Miss congratulating new Mariners reaching a milestone and talking to some of the well traveled Mariners. I have always felt it lost that personal touch when they started these luncheon. Officers were no longer there. 
The other two lines we frequent still do it the old way and it seems to work well, or at least they were doing it that way before the pause. 

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Talking of Mariners lunches on one particular cruise my DH and I went down to the dinning room to check the menu for that evening and realized that the Mariners lunch was just starting and that my husband was not in the correct attire. We checked the menu and got back in the lift when this (I wont call her a lady) woman and her poor husband got in the lift. She had obviously tried to get into the dinning room for lunch and been turned away as it was her first cruise on HAL. She said very loudly how disgusting it was that HAL did not value it`s new customers enough to provide a lunch in the dinning room. At which point I very foolishly said "Never mind you will have something to look forward to on your next HAL cruise"...well she went off like a rocket!!

 

My husband and I got out of the lift at the Lido and she followed me screaming how she would never book a HAL cruise again. Our loss....not

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1 hour ago, taxmantoo said:

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.  

This does not at all surprise me about Jan. I have been very impressed with her and highly respected her from the beginning of the pandemic and in her hands on involvement.

The only person up the ladder that was on board besides Seth was Rudy but I believe he may have disembarked in Juneau. He had to get over to the Carnival Mardi Gras. BTW the photos and menus I have see of the first Carnival sailings have looked amazing.

For the most part I think they have been going for the wow factor and will encourage cruisers to come back.

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11 minutes ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

This does not at all surprise me about Jan. I have been very impressed with her and highly respected her from the beginning of the pandemic and in her hands on involvement.

The only person up the ladder that was on board besides Seth was Rudy but I believe he may have disembarked in Juneau. He had to get over to the Carnival Mardi Gras. BTW the photos and menus I have see of the first Carnival sailings have looked amazing.

For the most part I think they have been going for the wow factor and will encourage cruisers to come back.

situations that are not usual for HAL that is not good ..

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1 hour ago, Cruising-along said:

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!!

Actually our cabin steward has been great. Everyone is extremely friendly. We are getting service twice a day even though we stated once a day. But it has been nice and has felt totally normal. 

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Just returned to our stateroom having had a leisurely breakfast in the Main Dining Room. service was good and I decided to try that Fancy Bread Pudding but I also had to have the Passion Fruit Yogurt. I do remember having this in the past November 2019 to be exact. For years I tend to eat the very same thing for breakfast at home. I am sort of a creature of habit. But I daily eat non fat yogurt with mangoes, frozen blueberries and protein granola. So this Passion Fruit yogurt is similar.

The Bread Pudding I think needs to be offered as a dessert in the evening. It was like he warm and I think of it was much warmer would have been better. It was tasty but way too much sweet with what I already had.

Yes Tom had two plates for breakfast 😉😂

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2 hours ago, highscar said:

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. 

 

I hear ya.  Honestly, all complaints I've heard are, to me, entirely valid, BUT...other than lack of wine stewards, they are all the same stuff as pre-pandemic.  I complained a lot before the shut-down about cutbacks.  Now, I'm just totally relieved that they seem to have picked up where they left off.  I was really fearful that things would be super bare-bones in order to make up for lost income.  

In short, I can't wait to board for Alaska in September.

 

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I have some spare time this morning so when just bring up some random thoughts.

It’s been asked about the Every day items on the menu as in the past. Rather than have a separate section they are listing them in the entrees to make it appear they are offering quite a bit. Where in fact the new items daily are much fewer than in the past. However with that being said, last night Tom asked if he could get a Baked potato that has not been on the menu all week and in the past was part of the daily options, they quickly said, “Of course”. Also not on the menu last night was the Cesar Salad which he also was able to order. So they may still offer some of the old items from the the old every day menu.

 

Ok let’s talk about Upsells/Solicitation 😂

For those that know me from the early days of our cruising I worked at a Toyota Car Dealership for 15 years. For many when you think of hard core sales a Used Car Salesman comes to mind. Although if you have never worked on commission or bonus structure and had to sell anything you may not find what I have to say as funny. 
Every time we have been in the MD well actually other places as well but mostly in the MD the servers are trying to upsell those added cost items. Even this morning for breakfast they were trying to upsell to a Lobster Benedict then after the first no they switched to upselling a cappuccino.

Anyway last night I hear our server really pushing the gentleman in the table behind us the Tomahawk Steak. So Tom could not hear the conversation I told him about this. I then stated that they must be offering a spiff (that is a term used in the car business to be rewarded immediately after making a sale so if a reward). We then started talking about we were sure with the very high amount of soliciting there must be some monetary compensation. I said I bet back in the kitchen they probably high five and fist bump when someone sells something. Then I got the idea they need a big bell, possibly the ships bell to ring when they sell the Tomahawk. You know just like at car dealerships when they make the new car owner ring the bell. Trust me the bigger deal they make if it the more commission the salesman made. But customers eat it up. So Hal needs to let everyone know you can ring the Bell 🔔 when you order the Tomahawk 😂😆👏🏻 

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3 hours ago, NCTribeFan said:

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.

I'm paying quite a lot for my next cruise.  I work hard for that money.  Without searching your posts and relying on my memory (never a good thing) don't you get deeply discounted casino rates?  I'd be delighted if that was my case.

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Lisa, I know it's just a bit early but I want to thank you for your live from thread.  It was very informative.  The challenge you faced with the wifi just added to the fun.  You've never failed to answer questions and you are/were incredibly timely considering all the obstacles.  I've enjoyed every minute and I want to thank you so much for dedicating so much of your vacation to keeping us informed.  It's been a pleasure.

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12 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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Lisa I can’t believe tomorrow is your last day. This has gone by so quickly.

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2 hours ago, sansterre said:

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. 

 

What a thoughtful idea!!  

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20 minutes ago, boze9999 said:

Lisa - Do you know if you can still buy FCDs onboard? 

Yes, today the Future Cruise Desk is open 9:30 to 12 then 2 to 5. I also seen a box to place your request for a Future Cruise Deposit. We currently have two HAL cruises booked but on our next one will probably buy another FCD.

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22 minutes ago, Pia1913 said:

 We just returned from the mariner reception. The captain advised us that this reception was for the top 20 mariners. 2 people received their platinum medals.

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Pi’s, what did the invite look like for the first Mariner party that we should have been invited to?

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20 minutes ago, Florida_gal_50 said:

I'm paying quite a lot for my next cruise.  I work hard for that money.  Without searching your posts and relying on my memory (never a good thing) don't you get deeply discounted casino rates?  I'd be delighted if that was my case.

 

Only on HAL (for whatever reason; I'm not a high roller).  Not on my 30 Carnival cruises.  None from the other lines I've sailed.  I work hard for my money, too, and wish I could retire (I'm 68).  I'm frugal.  I book inside cabins as a solo so I can sail more often.  But I also realize that, although there have been changes sine I began cruising 20 years ago, cruising is still a very good use of my vacation dollars. 

 

Would I prefer that Carnival still had tablecloths in the MDR?  Yes.  Does it really affect my cruise?  No.  If doing away with that extra laundry expense keeps their costs down so they don't have to make cutbacks elsewhere or raise prices, I'm fine with it.  I haven't cruise HAL long enough to have seen the cutbacks that others talk about.  I'm sure they've happened, but I try to understand why they have to happen and to realize that things change over time.

 

I'm also a CCL shareholder, so want their lines to do what they need to do help their bottom line(s).

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3 minutes ago, LAFFNVEGAS said:

Pi’s, what did the invite look like for the first Mariner party that we should have been invited to?

Very similar.  I don’t keep these things. 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, NCTribeFan said:

 

Only on HAL (for whatever reason; I'm not a high roller).  Not on my 30 Carnival cruises.  None from the other lines I've sailed.  I work hard for my money, too, and wish I could retire (I'm 68).  I'm frugal.  I book inside cabins as a solo so I can sail more often.  But I also realize that, although there have been changes sine I began cruising 20 years ago, cruising is still a very good use of my vacation dollars. 

 

Would I prefer that Carnival still had tablecloths in the MDR?  Yes.  Does it really affect my cruise?  No.  If doing away with that extra laundry expense keeps their costs down so they don't have to make cutbacks elsewhere or raise prices, I'm fine with it.  I haven't cruise HAL long enough to have seen the cutbacks that others talk about.  I'm sure they've happened, but I try to understand why they have to happen and to realize that things change over time.

 

I'm also a CCL shareholder, so want their lines to do what they need to do help their bottom line(s).

Thank you.  I'm glad my memory isn't too bad.  It doesn't matter whether a person books an inside room or a neptune suite (I don't).  I'm sure you can understand that if a person spends $5K that they might have higher expectations than someone spending $500.  Frankly I couldn't  care less if there are tablecloths on the table.  Service and decent food is higher on my list.

Edited by Florida_gal_50
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46 minutes ago, Florida_gal_50 said:

I'm paying quite a lot for my next cruise.  I work hard for that money.  Without searching your posts and relying on my memory (never a good thing) don't you get deeply discounted casino rates?  I'd be delighted if that was my case.

Why not complain about cutbacks like no wine steward, you're paying for it.

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