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RKHOOKER

Members
  • Content Count

    25
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About RKHOOKER

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Sydney
  • Interests
    Travel Food Golf Yoga
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Mediterranean

Recent Profile Visitors

117 profile views
  1. Unless there’s a vaccine there’ll be no cruising in the next 6 months. No government will open up ports & risk the virus returning in huge numbers. New Zealand have said no ports will be opening this year. Australia have said no ports opening for the next 6 months at least. Sydney has 8 cruise ships parked outside the heads with 8,500 crew on board wanting to get off the ship & the government has denied them. In Sydney NSW most of the corona virus cases came from the 2,700 people who got off the Ruby Princess. Last count over 170 tested positive & it’s estimated that they infected another 1,500 people. NSW currently has 2,300 positive cases & 10 deaths, 5 from cruise ships & we have tested 108,000 people with symptoms. We will be entering our winter season in a couple of months, so our government is taking no chances. People who get corona virus & the flu will most likely end up in hospital in a serious condition. Based on the European numbers at present the USA will peak at about 1 million positive cases before any ports will open. So USA is roughly a quarter of the way through the main crisis. To all you Americans good luck, stay home, be strong, start planning your summer 2021 cruises & god bless you all.
  2. My doctor explained, if you catch it within the first 2-3 hours once it’s outside the host, you’re going to get really sick. Possibly Pneumonia or even heart attack. If you pick it up after 2-3 days from the surface of something you’ll most likely get a mild case of flu like symptoms. However, if you’re over 70 with other health problems the virus may contribute to major health complications. That’s why it’s so important to have social distancing, to lessen the impact of the virus. Apparently it spreads very fast. I guess in 12 months time we’ll know exactly the true extent of Covid19. The government in Australia is not taking any chances, lockdown, stay at home & for most likely 6 months, so our Prime Minister keeps telling us at press conferences.
  3. My doctor told me today, as I get winter asthma & have high blood pressure, to get the flu vaccine in April & try to get out of Australia for our winter if you can, if our government allows you, & hopefully go to a Greek Island if the Greek government allows. He also said that unless there is a vaccine or at least 60% of USA has been infected by June, the virus will be in the USA for the next 12 months, so best to not plan on visiting the USA until mid 2021 at the earliest. I certainly wouldn’t be booking a cruise in any country around the world during the winter months if there is any sign of Covid19 unless I’ve been vaccinated or immune.
  4. In Sydney Australia we are in lockdown from midnight 30th March. We have approximately 4,200 positive cases from 133,000 tested, 18 deaths. Over 90% of our positive cases came from cruise & airline passengers returning to Australia. All future Australian citizens returning to Australia are escorted by army personnel from the airport to a nearby 5 Star Hotel & quarantined for 14 days & then tested for the virus before being allowed home. Our government has advised us that this lockdown may last at least 6 months with 1.5m social distancing. No more than 2 people to gather outside unless you are from the same household. People over 70 years old are not to go outside. Huge fines & even jail time for those caught breaking the new laws. No toilet paper, tissues, pasta, flour, hand sanitiser & gym equipment in any shops! You can only leave home to go to work, the doctor, supermarket, chemist or exercising. Everything else closed including beaches, parks, golf courses etc. except fast food takeaway joints & other essential services. No foreigners will be permitted to enter Australia for at least 6 months as we are heading into our flu season which starts in mid May & goes through to mid September. Australia’s economy will be crippled & the government is now paying businesses $1,500 a fortnight per employee to keep them employed. Plus an estimated 2 million job losses! It’s an economic nightmare, like domino toppling. It will take our county 25 years to recover! I just hope our government is not using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut?!
  5. I have no issues with governments bailing out any business, BUT, the bailout MUST come with one condition, the CEO/Directors/Management all have their yearly salary including bonuses capped at 10 times the current median salary for the basic worker for a 3 year period.
  6. On my recent Med cruise on Vision I had the UDP, & when I ate in the MDR I was not allowed to order from another restaurants menu. However, there are a few specialty restaurant items on the MDR menu which are chargeable, but, if you have the UDP they are at no cost to you. And yes, I could eat as much as I wanted! Surprisingly, when I ate in Chops, Giovanni’s or Izumi they were more than happy to serve me a dessert from another restaurant!?
  7. Brillo, you’re missing my point. I’m cashed up. I don’t need to use a credit card. Unfortunately, with my circumstances which have been detailed in depth throughout this thread, paying by debit or credit card at the end of the cruise will leave all the daily accrued pending charges on my account for several days on the credit card & 30 days on the debit card. For me this restricts my ability to go about my life after the cruise because my funds in those cards are tied up until RC or the bank releases them. I could pay by credit, debit or cash. However, due to the way RC operates their seapass accounts, there’s no way I’m going to give them our card details to keep on file again. Hence, a cash account will now suit us best. I’ll pay it off by debit, credit or cash whatever is easiest at the time. As long as we don’t get any pending charges on our card accounts. Also, we always pre-purchase the deluxe drink package & unlimited dining packages, so we usually don’t chalk up more than $1,000 on the cruise. So $500 credit from RC on my account & $500 on the wife’s account will definitely see us through the 7 day cruise. When I recently booked a restaurant for Fathers Day lunch, I had to leave a deposit of $100, I did so with my debit card. It showed up immediately on my banking App as a pending charge. Two weeks later after dining I paid the $720 bill on the same debit card & immediately the $100 pending charge was removed by the restaurant & the new pending charge was $720. I simply don’t understand why RC doesn’t remove the pending charges when they go to charge you the final bill. If restaurants & hotels can remove the pending charges when you go to finalise the account, I just can’t understand why a company as big as RC can’t or won’t. At least issue the customer with a signed letter stating the account has been settled in full & they no longer require the pending charges to be held against the account. That way customers like me can get the pending charges removed immediately by emailing the letter to the bank. Remember..... this is my experience & thoughts...... others may have different experiences & may well be treated differently. Cheers from Australia.
  8. It’s very obvious the RC business model is geared to cash flow via upfront payments from deposits, final payment & the cruise planner, & there’s nothing wrong with that, business is business. But, if they’re offering me a $500USD a day credit account as soon as I step on the boat, I’ll certainly accept it. Finally, an instance where the customer doesn’t need to pay up front!
  9. Banzaii, When I do my online check in I’ll advise RC that I’ll be setting up my account as cash. On embarkation RC will afford my wife & I a maximum $500 USD each per day cash account (our cruise is 7 days long). When I get notified by RC that I’ve reached my $500 credit limit, I’ll go to an ATM (preferably in a port) & withdraw the cash & pay them as & when required. I’m not sure if I’ll try & pay with my debit card....... whether it will be a pending charge or an official transaction, so, most likely wouldn’t risk it. If they don’t want to store the card details on file maybe I would risk paying them that way as a debit card is in reality cash. However, we are dealing with RC & things have been proven to be different from ship to ship or cruise to cruise. But certainly on debarkation I’ll be paying them whatever I owe using my debit card.
  10. This is how my dilemma ended. RC issued me a letter on the 8th August 2019 titled Holds Release Form. It basically said that I have settled my account with RC in full & that RC no longer requires any pre-authorised amounts to be held by RC against my debit card and advises my bank to immediately release these amounts as available funds. I forwarded this on to Citibank & within 24 hours they had removed all RC pending charges from my account. So......... the way Citibank debit card works is....... the bank has absolutely no control over removing the pending charges applied to the account until 30 days have passed, which is when the bank removes the charges automatically, unless, a letter is provided to the bank from the vendor advising them to remove the charges. My advice to people going on a cruise would be this:- Set up a cash account & when RC ask you put money on your account or to top up your account, go to the ATM take out some cash & do so. If you set up a credit card account RC will effectively charge you twice also, & depending on the bank you use the pending charges will eventually drop off automatically usually between 5 - 30 days after settling the account. You may end up with a problem when you go to settle the account if you are near your credit limit, or if you need to use the card again before the pending charges drop off. The reason I use a Citibank debit card is because of the following:- No account fees No transaction fees No ATM fees No currency conversion fees (credit cards in Australia are currently 3%) I can activate & deactivate my card via the App at any time I can set it up to alert me as soon as a transaction takes place I can use 10 different currencies on the card Unfortunately, as I travel around the world quite a lot, in the past I’ve had my credit cards skimmed & hacked more than a few times. These credit cards are linked to frequent flyer points etc. but they are also linked to all my regular bills (car, house, health insurances; water rates, electricity, telephone, council rates, strata levies, memberships, subscriptions, pay TV, motorway tolls & the list just goes on), hence, the hassle of cancelling the cards & updating the new cards is extremely time consuming, so I won’t use them overseas if I can avoid it. I simply prefer to transfer money in & out of my debit card as needed. It works best for my lifestyle this way. Cheers!!!
  11. I’ve booked the Rhapsody Greek Islands, & Greece & Croatia cruises B2B next year. We did the Vision earlier this year out of Barcelona round trip & it was fantastic. Perfect size ship for port intensive cruises. Rhapsody is a sister ship, so we’re really excited! I’m certain the smaller ships are going to the better port locations in the Mediterranean.
  12. We had the UDP on the Vision in the Med. There SDR were never more than 50% full when we were dining. There were many dinners where the waiters would give us extra meals that we knew we couldn’t finish. Once we were charged extra for the lobster in Chops, so we got smart & would to the MDR order the lobster, leave, & then go to the SDR. We even ordered a dessert from Chops while sitting in Giovanni’s. In Izumi, the waiters would go to the Centrum Bar & get the wine we wanted. We found the UDP fantastic & worth every cent! Private relaxed dining ambience, great service, top notch food & away from the hustle & bustle of the MDR & Windjammer Buffet. Up in the Windjammer you witness some very strange behaviour while people select their food & might I say unhygienic behaviour. In the end we honestly felt there was a competition between the MDR, Chops, Giovanni’s & Izumi’s for our patronage. So much so, we started to think they were on some type of bonus scheme for pushing out more meals!? We basically got whatever we wanted & more, which is exactly what I expected by paying extra for the Unlimited Dining Package.
  13. We bought the key for our 12 night Med cruise (17 July on Vision) out of Barcelona for $19USD. Embarkation:- no Key signage but told the RC security person we had the Key & he sent us through a separate line to the other dozen or so passengers waiting & this was at 10:30AM. Took 5 minutes to get on the ship. May have saved us 5-10 minutes. Probably no real value with the Key. Bag Drop Off:- once on the ship nobody knew anything about the Key Bag Drop Off. Hence, they found someone & they escorted us to the Masquerade Theatre where we left our baggage. Was great to walk around & explore the entire ship without bags. Definitely value having the Key if you board early & want to explore the ship. Got to our cabin at 1:15PM & all baggage & Key paperwork was waiting. Arrival Lunch:- got to Chops at around 11:45AM & there was only about 8 other people in there having lunch. Whilst the Windjammer was packed, noisy & very chaotic. So glad to be able to sit down & enjoy a top quality meal in peace. While we were there, I estimate only 30 people came for lunch, even though there appeared to be about 100 on the list at reception. The food was exceptional. Definitely worth having the Key for this experience. Reserved Seating:- the seating was in the upper right hand side of the Theatre which were fantastic seats. We attended most nightly shows & there was never more than 20 people in our section, which probably held 50 seats. Most shows, the Theatre was only ever half full. Only on the Beatles show & Nicola Ward was the Theatre more than half full. Probably no value on having the Key as there was always so many other good seats to choose from. Tendering:- unfortunately we only tendered once in Cannes. We were scheduled to tender in Mykonos but managed to dock & Santorini got cancelled due to strong winds, hence, we docked in Ghania, Crete. The tender queue at Cannes was probably at least 50m long over several flights of stairs. We just walked down to the front of the line (we did feel awkward) & showed our Key & were actually first people off the ship & into the tender. This was a fantastic benefit for us, as not only did we not have to queue for tender tickets, we didn’t have to rush around in the early morning & we got to maximise our time ashore. The Key was definitely worth having in this instance. However, overall as we only tendered once, probably no real value here on this particular cruise. Rock Climbing Wall:- did not use the Key for this. I did go to the rock climbing many times to watch others & there was never more than 6 people doing it. Hence, I doubt the Key would be any value on this particular ship for the rock climbing wall. Voom & Stream:- we would have purchased internet for both my wife & myself regardless. Being part of the Key was a great bonus for us. It meant basically all the other perks only cost us $14USD a day, which for us was definitely worth it. Farewell Breakfast:- Firstly, there was only about 20 people for breakfast, however, we only arrived at 8AM. Unfortunately, breakfast was a complete failure by RC. We ordered their Royal VIP signature & steak & eggs breakfasts, & what they dished out was nothing like what was on the menu. We called over the maître d & showed him the two meals dished out & asked him to describe what they were. He couldn’t. He said he’ll get the chef. 30 minutes later the head chef Ketut comes to our table. I asked him why it took so long to come here? He told me he was very busy up at The Windjammer!? I asked him who is running this kitchen in Chops & he said he was. I asked him to explain what was dished out to us. He said he doesn’t know what those meals are but they are certainly not their VIP meals, he’Il investigate. After another 10 minutes he returned & told us they had run out of many of the ingredients to make the VIP dishes. He can’t explain why these meals were served to us, but, was clearly disappointed at the kitchen & wait staff who produced & allowed these meals to be served to us. He then spent the next 15 minutes creating a special one off gourmet dish for my wife, which she thoroughly enjoyed, whilst I spent the next 20 minutes at guest services explaining what had happened. Guest services eventually decided to give me a $40USD credit against my final account. I think the Key would be worth it, by having a gourmet breakfast in a very quiet & relaxed atmosphere........... but, unfortunately this incident took the shine off a wonderful cruise. It will be a lasting memory we would rather not have. Debarkation:- at 9:25 AM we walked straight off the ship & our luggage was waiting for us right near the port exit. I don’t think the Key would’ve made any difference here, as the terminal was basically empty. So......... is the a Key worth it? If you are going to buy an internet package..... definitely yes. If not..... maybe not, unless there are a lot of tender ports.
  14. Park Cafe in the Solarium will be open late afternoon. Great burgers, hotdogs, roast chicken, fresh sandwiches, sweets & if you’re quick Kummelweck rolls! We had a snack from there nearly every afternoon after getting back on the ship during our12 night Mediterranean July cruise.
  15. So the secret is to only have just enough cash in your debit card so they have to apply the pending charges.
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