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About goldengatecruisers

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    San Francisco
  • Interests
    Travel and cruising
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Crystal Cruises and Silversea
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. @TurtleMichael; thanks for confirming. I hope you and yours have a fabulous voyage. I do remember Dale and Jacob. That was a great cruise with some very nice people on board.
  2. I have watched you all sail in and out and around the bay at various strange hours over the past two days and kept wondering what was going on. I am so happy TurtleMichael explained what was happening and how unfortunate a passenger had their WC experience cut short. Let us hope they are able to rejoin very soon. I will be following along with envy as you embark on an amazing adventure. Hello to TurtleMichael, I think my husband and I sailed with you on a Pacific crossing on Regent in Dec 2009. Please do let me know if that was you. It was an Auckland to LA itinerary on the Mariner. Mysty your suite welcome looks so inviting. Ration yourself with the candy! Safe travels to all on board. Ashley
  3. Have a wonderful cruise on Symphony over the holidays with your family. Many of us will be 'coming along' with you.
  4. Thank you so much for clarifying this for me. So, Elite package it must be for me this weekend!!! It has not gone unnoticed that you have answered mine and others questions up till the very last minute. Very kind and I am very grateful. It has helped me immensely and it has also been a pleasure to follow along. I am only sad that you are not staying on so I can thank you in person. Have a safe trip home. Ashley
  5. Fatcat04 - that is what caused my confusion too. I wonder if the drinks list posted on the Nieuw Statendam thread is the official 'new list' and therefore soon to be fleet wide? The poster on that thread was taking photos of an actual drinks list book from one of the public bar areas. It did not show Nicholas Feuillate. Post #15 in this thread is the drinks list that I am familiar with and was once on the HAL website (although for the life of me I can not locate it now on the website). It seemed bizarre to me that on their brand new ship there would not be a champagne that fell within the Elite package. It also seems strange how the drink prices have gone up and yet the limit for Signature was not raised from $9 to $10. I can see the business rationale for upping wine prices to encourage wine drinkers to upgrade to Elite but it really makes no sense to basically 'cut out' wine and sparkling from the Signature package by the mere addition of $1 to the price of sparkling.
  6. Speaking of bubbly.... When I looked at the new beverage list posted on a Nieuw Statendam thread I did not see Nicholas Feuillate champagne. On my last Hal voyage not too long ago it was included in the Elite Package and we really enjoyed having a glass of champagne (admittedly almost daily!!!!). From the list posted on the other thread I only see Veuve Cliquot which, although delicious and superior to Feuillate, is priced at $18 and therefore not included in the package. Is Nicholas Feuillate still offered as a champagne and is it still priced within the $15 limit? Keeping my fingers crossed that Nieuw Statendam will have a decent champagne that falls within the Elite package.
  7. OK - that burger looks delicious :) One final question for anyone on board. When I looked at the new beverage lists posted I did not see Nicholas Feuillate champagne. On my last HAL cruise last year it was included in the Elite Package and we really enjoyed having a glass of champagne (admittedly almost daily!!!!). From the list posted I only see Veuve Cliquot which, although delicious and superior to Feuillate, is priced at $18 and therefore not included in the package. Is Nicholas Feuillate still offered as a champagne and is it still priced within the $15 limit? Keeping my fingers crossed that Nieuw Statendam will have a decent champagne that falls within the Elite package. Have a safe trip home everyone and to those staying on continue to enjoy the short 4 night cruise.
  8. Thank you Kazu for answering some of my questions. I think I will do the Elite package on board. Adding my thanks, once more, for the wonderful posters who gave of their time during their cruise to help us all understand Nieuw Statendam.
  9. Thank you so much for posting the new beverage list. Very thoughtful and extremely helpful in our planning. I probably should know the answer to this but to all of you experienced HAL guests who enjoy an adult beverage, as we do, I have two specific questions. I have not yet purchased my beverage package and having had Elite in the past I am wondering if I need it this cruise or whether I can get by with the Signature although I am concerned at the lack of wine choices with Signature. Any and all advice welcomed. Here goes: If I have an Elite Beverage Package and wish to enjoy a glass of Veuve Cliquot priced at $18 per glass, how am I billed? Am I presented with a drink chit to sign for the additional $3 plus gratuity or because the drink is in excess of the allotted $15 am I charged the full amount? Secondly, with regards to a classic martini I have the following question. On a Signature Beverage Package you can get almost all vodka within the $9 limit. How is a classic dry martini priced out and would that fall within the signature beverage package limit or by having a martini (which requires more than one single shot of spirit) is the price therefore higher and only available with the Elite? EDITING: to add one more follow up question. I realize the Signature is priced $5 per day less if purchased in advance of the sailing. Is the Elite package charged the same pre-cruise as it is priced on board the ship? Trying to work out if I should buy the Signature pre-cruise to take advantage of the savings and then simply upgrade once on board to the Elite if we decide to do so. On a side note, thank you to all for the detailed posts from Nieuw Statendam. We board this coming weekend and are very excited about this new vessel. Really do appreciate everyones insight and feedback 🙂 Ashley
  10. Thank you Caribbean Chris. I am sure, like most things, we will have to continue to rely on our fellow travelers to provide us with accurate information. It certainly seems to be a missed opportunity on the part of Holland America to make this an attractive suite benefit. They only have to look to Celebrity to learn a few pointers. It makes no sense at all to have a 'pay your way' approach to the Club Orange offering. It completely takes away from the suite experience. Strange that there is no official information on the website.
  11. I realize one has to hunt for information on the HAL website but can anyone direct me to the page which describes Club Orange? Thank you to members currently on board providing valuable information. So it is only Neptune Suite guests that access Club Orange on a complimentary basis or does this new offering extend to Signature Suite guests? Has it been confirmed that the Pinnacle Grill suite-only breakfasts have been eliminated? My questions are specific to the Nieuw Statendam as I have an upcoming voyage and I have not received any information about Club Orange. Thank you in advance.
  12. What an impressive itinerary and we are excited for you both for many reasons. This will truly be an epic adventure and we will look forward to seeing you along the way 😉
  13. I wasn't planning on taking a cruise this month but I was playing around online and stumbled across a 5 day Pacific Coastal on HAL. The days fit in perfectly with my work commitments and best of all it was on Zaandam. For a long while I have wanted to try this class of HAL ship having previously sailed on the larger vessels. She did not disappoint. I know much has been written about Zaandam so I won't bore you with every little detail but I would like to share my thoughts of the ship. I literally booked this a couple of weeks ago and was trying to find information about the interiors since dry dock. I had done a fair amount of research for this class of ship and was familiar with what they ship looked like prior to this recent dry dock (thank goodness for the internet and for Youtube videos). There was very little out there on the new decor so I have taken a bunch of photos which I will upload at the conclusion of this review. I hope that it will excite those of you with Zaandam bookings and I hope it will encourage some of you to book a Zaandam voyage. Embarkation: What a breeze. One of the joys about joining a cruise mid-way is the pleasant boarding experience. Only a handful of us were joining for the 5 day San Diego-Vancouver itinerary so we were processed very smoothly and went on board around 1:30pm and into our stateroom. Accommodation: We have only sailed on larger HAL ships; Westerdam and Eurodam to be exact. For our prior three HAL trips we booked Neptune Suites. However, for this short trip we had a mid-ship Vista Suite. Upon entering it felt like a calm space. You could tell instantly the room was recently refreshed. I only had internet images to compare to but I could identify the new components easily. It had that new room smell which I love. New bedskirt, new bed accent throw, new sofa or possibly just new upholstery (I could not get a straight answer out of anyone!), new curtains, new net curtains (very pretty ones), new accent pillows, new desk chair (or newly upholstered). I found the entry way a bit cramped. The hallway as you entered the stateroom was narrow and I felt the many closet doors were awkwardly placed especially when trying to access the bathroom. Overall storage in the Vista Suite is really good. The bedroom and living area can be separated almost completely by a curtain which is always a nice feature. The living area is spacious and very comfortable. The cocktail table was incredibly heavy and took some effort to move it. It did not raise in height so dining ensuite as a couple might be challenging. We only had room service once for breakfast and found the table height an issue. The new TV (I think it was new) was very small and it was screwed into a large black platform that you could pull out and swivel. The whole thing looked like a make-shift improvement and was not thought out well, in my opinion. The balcony furniture was comfortable and clean so I wonder if that was also new. I did not take specific photos of the balcony furniture but when you see the images I will upload at the end of this review you can see it through the balcony door. Dining: I will keep this brief as we all have different tastes, different levels of expectation and different ideas of what constitutes good food. For context, I live in San Francisco where we are spoiled with amazing restaurants. I also primarily sail on Crystal, Silversea and Oceania so my cruise cuisine expectations are impacted by my personal experience. we dined one night in Pinnacle Grill and one in Canaletto. Both meals were very good and I regretted not booking Pinnacle on the last night for the chef tasting menu (next time!!!). The main dining room food was good, but to me it looked and tasted like banqueting food - like you would get a a nice wedding. I have no complaints I just didn't feel the food was outstanding. In saying that please know we had lovely evenings in the dining room and enjoyed our meals. Beverages: We purchased an Elite package. I know there have been many threads discussing the beverages on board. Here are my two cents... I certainly don't need 15 drinks a day but I really loved the fact the package included large bottles of Evian and the specialty coffees from Explorations Cafe. I would have two or three coffees throughout the day and two bottles of Evian which made life very easy with the EBP. Throw in a cocktail before dinner, maybe a glass of champagne and a couple of glasses of wine and we were ahead of the game. On paper the beverage packages always seem to be a bit pricey but for us it worked out nicely. I think the water and coffee could easily add up so it made the daily rate for the beverage package worthwhile. I felt the splurge for Elite was worth it alone for the champagne and better choice of wines. For others it may not be necessary to upgrade. Entertainment: Sadly we did not participate in any shows or events. For us we wanted a quiet relaxing time at sea enjoying each other's company and having some nice meals. It would have been nice to see the production shows but we opted not to. We also did not visit America's Test Kitchen. Next time we will. Zaandam: LOVED it. I know its an old ship - that does not worry me. I know there is rust if you look closely - again that does not worry me. I know there are pipes on the promenade deck that are wrapped in old white sticky tape - does not worry me. I know there are occasional smells and issues - again that does not worry me. Why did I love Zaandam? Firstly the size. 60,000 tons is perfect. I am used to sailing on smaller ships - its just my preference. Despite the fact we sailed full I did not feel crowded. The public spaces were laid out well and there seemed to be plenty of little nooks and crannies where you could curl up with a book and a coffee and enjoy a calm day at sea. The Lido, at times, was a bit busy but name me a ship where this isn't the case. We timed our visits to the Lido accordingly and did not have to battle crowds. I love the promenade deck. It is wide and was never busy. We would walk and talk for 'miles' with the sea surrounding us and breathing in fresh clean air. I could not be happier. I also liked the new decor in the areas that have been refreshed. I am certainly used to the brighter and more colorful HAL interiors so, for me, it was refreshing to see the new color palette. I found it calming and the blue/grey/gold resonated with me. Carpet has been changed out in many places such as the elevator and stairs, the main dining room, Pinnacle Grill, Crows Nest and I was told more carpet is on its way but apparently it was not all delivered during dry dock. I am sure some of you know more details than I - but that is what I was told when I asked the crew. The newly reimagined Crows Nest is welcoming with lovely seating areas which have been refreshed (I never saw the old one, remember, so I did not have the image of the DJ booth and dance floor of yesteryear). They changed up the bar in Crows Nest apparently and this new one is really nice. The Explorations Cafe and new library is really lovely and well laid out and its a great social spot or perfect for a quiet read and a coffee. I am not sure what was in this area before but I was very happy to see this new-to-Zaandam feature. Disembarkation: A breeze! We decided to spend the day in Vancouver seeing friends and visiting the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens so we were able to disembark around 9am. Being independent and being able to choose from a selection of disembarkation times was convenient. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast ensuite and then walked off the ship when our color was called. Overall: Were there a few things that could be improved - of course there were, but overall we had a great time. I loved the ship, we met some nice people and we will be back for another HAL cruise and most likely sticking with the smaller vessels. I would like to sail on Rotterdam and Amsterdam. I also have my eye on Prinsendam as that is one I really want to experience as she is steeped in so much history. I will upload some photos of our cabin #6166. I will also include some photos of the newly renovated spaces. There are two photos of the main dining room carpet and a couple of photos from the Pinnacle Grill. The chairs and carpeting in Pinnacle are really elegant. If anyone has questions I will be more than happy to try and answer but please remember this was my first Zaandam so I won't be the best resource if you have specific questions about what she looked like before the dry dock. Thanks for reading, Ashley
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