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Caribbean Chris

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About Caribbean Chris

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Osprey, Florida

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  1. Thank you for these videos!! I think my heart is still pounding from that refueling. Watching these rescuers go about their business in such a skilled, yet matter-of-fact, manner makes you think about how much training they must go through to perform these maneuvers! And by the way - it is mind-boggling to remember that earlier this year, HUNDREDS of passengers were airlifted in this way from the Viking Sky off Norway’s coast.
  2. Will be looking forward to your feedback on the Edge class sunset verandas. We are going the same route on Apex in 2020.
  3. Our cruises during the past ten years have been divided about 50-50 between HAL and X. HAL room stewards overall have done a better, more consistent job. My main hope is to have the morning bedmaking etc service completed within an hour or two from the time we depart for breakfast, which usually seems to be no problem. So true that some passengers are more high maintenance than others. I worked for a resort hotel in the Caribbean and occasionally had to enter guest rooms to open safes for people. I soon gained an appreciation for the chaotic messes our maids had to deal with sometimes.
  4. As a point of information, when Celebrity rolled out Luminae dining room for suite guests around 2015, they did not necessarily wait for drydock, but actually delivered pre-fab wall panels to the ship, along with all other materials, furnishings, and a work crew. I recall reading a thread from one of the Solstice Class ships by one long time Celebrity passenger who observed the process and posted a lot of photos. I think the wall panels went in on a turnaround day, and after that all the interior work installing the pretty light fixtures etc took place in daytime hours when passengers were not in the main dining room. They created a new separate entrance at one side of the MDR. (Some Luminaes are on the lower level, some on the upper level.) The process was a fairly rapid and complete transformation. Once complete, the effect was seamless as if it had always been that way. We’ve eaten in Luminae in Solstice Class ships, and anyone walking in there would never perceive that it was originally a part of the MDR unless they knew it beforehand. (I believe they did the same thing earlier for adding Blu restaurant to existing ships, though I didn’t follow it at the time. Some Solstice-class ships have a purpose-built Blu location away from the MDR.). Whether HAL will go a similar route is anyone’s guess. I would not like a roped off section of the MDR, though apparently Princess has this for Club Class.
  5. Oh dear, I hope she is all right and that the maneuver can be performed safely. On our cruise up the US coast last spring when the Veendam was repositioning from Florida up to Montreal, the captain diverted off course to get close enough to Charleston so a Coast Guard helicopter could airlift a passenger to a hospital. We lost a scheduled port day in Boston (the Captain did pull in long enough at night to take on passengers who were boarding there) but I never heard anyone grumble.
  6. FYI Holland America also allows 2 bottles of wine per cabin brought aboard in your carryon. $18 corkage fee if you bring it to a dining venue. Wine steward at dinner recently charged us for corkage once but not for the second bottle.
  7. No (on the Nieuw Statendam last week). MDR was open. As far as I know, CO was never open at lunch.
  8. Dramatic end to our vacation cruise on Sunday. Bob opened the front door around 5 p.m. after I fed the dog, and this is what greeted him! A trapper eventually came a few hours later, a neighbor told us today, and carried the gator off to release him in an undeveloped area.
  9. Roz, you are right,and I keep meaning to bring along some fake grass. HAL has done the sod right in the past (or fixed it fast one time, even in Kodiak, Alaska) so I was lulled into false confidence that all would be well!
  10. I did think she was quite stunning with her medallion! and she never pawed at it or complained when I tied it around her neck. Truth be told, she hasn’t had 100 nights on HAL, but - what the heck, right?
  11. Yes, it was a suite perk for booking a Neptune. My husband thinks it would be worth $50 pp per day, though I would probably consider carefully on anything longer than ten days. You are right, it will be interesting if/when the other COs roll out.
  12. I agree with you. What’s that saying? “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.” Before our N Statendam cruise last week, I must admit I wasn’t convinced I would like the setting, but was pleasantly surprised with how peaceful and cheerful it was, and how much better the sea view actually was than I expected through the frosted glass “fork window.” 😀 The very professional and congenial staff got an A+ in my book and we thoroughly enjoyed it enough to skip the specialty restaurants all week.
  13. That’s amazing - I wouldn’t have thought that was possible, so congratulations to you for working everything out! Your mother no doubt knows she is fortunate to have such a diligent daughter.
  14. So here’s our report for Cindy and anyone else interested. We returned Sunday from a one week cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale to the Western Caribbean on the Nieuw Statendam, HAL’s new ship. We got a good deal on a Neptune Suite, so had a lot of space in our room, as well as use of a new suite dining room called Club Orange for breakfast and dinner. The staff there was A+ and set aside a perfect 4-seat table against a wall for the two of us to use. The main dining room host did the same when we ate there for two lunches. The ship has numerous good features. There are lots of tables against walls (to keep the dog out of foot traffic) in several large entertainment lounges with dance floors on the “Music Walk,” and we actually went to performances every night. In the big theater, we sat in the back beside an open space good for stashing the dog. There was a sensational dance performance on the first gala night with all kinds of lighting effects, and Raylene snoozed peacefully through all the noise every night. Outside, the two pool areas had multi levels with a lot of lounges, seating and food outlets. Indoors, the Lido buffet was always pretty crowded at lunchtime and had heavy chairs and tighter seating, harder for maneuvering a dog between tables than other HAL ships. The pool areas had automatic door access. Elevators were fast and the ship has three sets (instead of two like the Celebrity ships). Much, much better access via elevators to public spaces and seating on this ship than on the new Celebrity Edge. Nieuw Statendam is a more comfortable, well-organized ship. On the promenade deck, though, I believe that only the mid-ship exits had automatic doors. Our cabin was near the forward elevator, closer to the relief box, and the three sets of forward doors by the theater leading to the promenade were very heavy wooden ones like on the other HAL ships. Hard to pull or push open alone and wrangle the dog through. They would not work well for a wheelchair user. There was one other service dog on board, a guide dog for a man with a visual disability. The relief area was forward on the port side and not protected as it has been on the other HAL ships, since the bulkhead had large openings letting in a lot of wind and spray. The faux teak deck covering was very slippery when wet. Box filler was very unsatisfactory, unusually so for HAL, which in the past has provided a full box of fresh green sod. The two 4’ square plywood boxes contained only small, dry, withered sod patches, which the dogs were reluctant to use. The rest of the box had leftover dirt from previous sod, so when the dogs peed, the liquid ran off into the dirt and turned into mud under their paws. So of course they tracked it onto the deck. Very messy, unsanitary, and disappointing, and my numerous requests never resulted in any improvement. None of this was typical of HAL in my past experience. On a more fun note, Bob and I were invited with a lot of other people to receive a bronze medallion from the captain for 100 days sailing with HAL, at a reception before the Mariner's Club (repeaters) luncheon. One of the Mariner staff women decided that Raylene should also receive a medallion (see photo) which she wore proudly as she slept through lunch. Four ports - We went ashore on Half Moon Cay (yes, we needed our Bahamas permit) and sat on the beach loungers for a while - always enjoy doing that. We wrote on the form 7001 that we would not disembark in Jamaica or Grand Cayman (because of the paperwork hassle). The ship docked at Ocho Rios where both of us had climbed Dunn’s River Falls years ago. On Grand Cayman day, the captain called back the tenders and cancelled our day there due to swells that caused tender damage and safety issues; we left by 10 a.m. and HAL later gave everyone a $50 pp on board credit so I think there must have been a lot of grumbling. For Cozumel, Raylene and the guide dog had to appear before the Mexico officials at 7:45 a.m. for a body check with attention to ears and skin. We brought just the standard 7001 form (not endorsed) and the vet’s bilingual statement signed on her letterhead, with the language provided by Mexico (see APHIS website). The inspector was happy with that. Later we went ashore and after getting past the mobs (lots of big ships in port), we found plenty of nice grass for Raylene and two big margaritas for us. Embarkation was very easy - we were escorted onto the ship before general boarding, which was the case on our HAL cruise last year, directly to the front desk to hand in our dog paperwork. Disembarkation was busy but very smooth because we got a porter - he took us to the Global Entry booth (we don’t have GE) and then whisked us across the street into the parking garage up the elevator to our car! Bottom line, we had a great cruise, with the only glitch being the lack of customer service to do with the skimpy, inadequate box filler. The dog eventually adapted to the reality, of course, but it took extra unnecessary trips, and I was wishing I had traveled with a bag of garden mulch.
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