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About WeLoveCruising

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    Holland America, Windstar
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  1. Our embarkation was chaotic, too - but not once we were at checkin. It was more related to the drop off area and luggage porters. Our taxi driver tried to drop us at the main street. We had 4 suitcases, my husband not fully recovered from back surgery, and it was pouring rain. I had to ask him to drive is INTO the pier area, which he didn't want to do. He tried to claim they wouldnt let him in (no one even questioned it). Once he drove us in, it was very difficult to pull up and find a porter. Some of it was the small area, and some was the weather. Once we were inside the building and in the check-in line, it was smooth.
  2. I understand this totally. When my son was that age, we cruised a lot with him, or even took his friends with us. The only rule my husband always had was they could do whatever they wanted during the days, but he wanted the family together at dinner. However you decide to use the credit, I'm sure you can keep it or convert it to whatever suits you best.
  3. We were also on this cruise. We were with friends, and had a great time. Still, my review of this particular cruise is mixed. There were a number of things that weren't up to usual HAL standards. I think this speaks to a management problem on this ship - while many individual crew members were fantastic, there was an overall lack of training or attention to detail noticed. As an example, our breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill had some of the worst service, ever. Getting a cup of Earl Gray tea was difficult, more times than not on 10 different days I was brought black or green tea. Our food was wrong nearly every time (something missing, something other than we ordered). The server that always comes around with the pastry tray only came to us a few days. The butter on our table was used with toast crumbs in it (just plain gross). The bartenders also seemed to have issues. My favorite drink is a Coral Drop - it's on the HAL menu and I've ordered it in every bar for at least 10 years. No one knew how to make it - not in the Ocean Bar, Crows Nest, or Pinnacle Bar. And speaking of the Pinnacle Bar - one night we were served drinks in plastic martini glasses. I asked if they had real ones, and was told they were out. For a restaurant that used to pride themselves on the Riedel stemware, it's a shame to serve a $12 drink in plastic. These things were glaringly wrong to me - but there was a lot that was right. The food, even in the Pinnacle, was excellent. Most of the staff was, as well. Our cabana, and cabana attendants Marco and Alvin were top notch. None of these issues ruined our good time. We noticed because we know how good things can usually be. Still, something felt "off" on this particular cruise. I was with a group of 4 people, and 3/4 of us left sick as well.
  4. WeLoveCruising


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  5. In our experience, this restaurant can have some of the biggest Hits and Misses of a cruise. We've eaten in Canaletto on at least a dozen different ships, and the quality can widely vary, even among what you order on the same ship. We're fresh off the Eurodam, where we at at Canaletto 3 times. Our favorites were: The veal meatball appetizer, the gnocchi with beef short ribs, and the chicken parm which was a special one night. The misses were: Spagetti vongele (with white claim sauce - much TOO spicy), and the Veal Saltimboca special - much too tough. We like the laid back atmosphere and personalized service. It's hard to judge this restaurant a winner or loser based on a few dishes, it's really very up and down.
  6. It really depends on how much you would use it. We've purchased it for our last 3-4 cruises, and have the Elite one for our upcoming Eurodam cruise. It's not necessarily a cost savings move for us, but more one of convenience. To make it make sense financially, you'd have to have a minimum of 6-7 drinks per day, which is the break even point for most people. That's about our average (some days more, some days less). I typically have a "pool drink" or two during the day. At night, we like to have a cocktail before dinner, and a glass or two of wine with dinner. Add to that an after dinner drink like port, Baileys, etc. And maybe another cocktail while at a show... But not everyone will drink that much, and we dont do that every night. I'm sure if we didn't do the beverage package, and paid per drink, we might save some money. But it wouldn't be that big of a difference. And I'm willing to pay more to have the predictability of having it included and pre-paid. I also like the feeling that I can experiment out of my cocktail comfort zone by trying different things I probably wouldn't order if not for the package. But I'm a cocktail person, somewhat of an amateur bartender at home, so the appeal of trying different combinations and new tastes without having to pay incrementally for each is very appealing to me. If you're a wine drinker, the package may or may not work well for you. The wines are only by the glass - the pro of that is you can pair them with your courses, ie start with a glass of sparkling wine, a white with the appetizer, a red with the entree) - BUT the wines by the glass are limited in selection, and you might prefer a bottle. Bottles aren't a part of the package. If you do drink bottles, there are wine packages that include that. So you can see, it all depends on what you like, and what your goals are (ie motivated strictly by what makes most sense financially, or something else) - as well as by what you like to drink.
  7. Will you be on the Nov 29th sailing, by any chance? I think I would be star struck to meet you in real life, after all these years 🙂
  8. I'm sorry that this cruise didn't live up to your expectations. We're also booked on the Nov 29th cruise, and really looking forward to it. We've sailed on HAL hundreds of nights, with many times on the Eurodam, so I have a good idea what to expect. Your comments comparing the ship to a resort on the Mayan Riviera really hit home for me. A HAL cruise, and a stay on the Mayan Riviera are our two all-time favorite vacations, and we continue to go back and forth over pros and cons. While in Mexico, we stay at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, which is a 5-diamond top of the line property. It's all-inclusive, but when we add up what we typically spend on a HAL cruise (especially if we book a Neptune suite, cabana, etc), the pricing between the two are very similar. Like it seems in your review, we agree that at the land based resort almost everything is better - clearly the food, the room, the pool, the service, the spa, less crowds - certain things you just cant duplicate on a ship. We could also do the ship probably for less money if we didn't splurge. However, even with all that - we are still "drawn" to a cruise. There's nothing like being out on the ocean, and we like the different ports and entertainment. We also like the feeling of totally disconnecting from the world. I've often wondered if we should try a smaller luxury line, like Seabourn. My husband worked for HAL (Seattle office) for 10+ years, back when they owned Windstar, so we spent plenty of time on the Windstar ships and loved it. But for us, HAL carries a lot of nostalgia and the feeling of home. I like many of the new changes, and there are some that I dont, but I still cross that gangway every bit as excited in 2018 as I did in 1990 when we first started sailing.
  9. Thanks for taking the time to do such a detailed blog of the ship. We’re sailing in a month, and even though we’ve been on the Eurodam several times, I still get excited to see the photos. I noticed a few recent changes, especially in the atrium area as you described. I agree with your fondness for the old style cruising photos in the stateroom hallways, and other common areas. My husband and I made a point to walk a different passenger deck every night before dinner, just to look at them.
  10. We ate at the pop up SDM twice on N Amersterdam, on a back to back cruise. We really enjoyed it. We also used to like Le Cirque. The bouillabaisse appetizer was exceptionally good, IMHO, as was the dover sole. It's a seafood heavy menu, so it wont appeal to everyone. If you like the menu, I'd say try it. If you only have one special meal, and are more steak, potatoes, veggie, you cant go wrong with the Pinnacle either.
  11. Online purchases can trigger a denial with the credit card company, if it's outside your normal use pattern. They may waiting for you to call them, or to validate the charge. This happened to me (not at HAL) yesterday. While I was on the phone with AmEx, I saw an email come through alerting me to the denied the charge, and looking for me to validate that it was me. All I had to do was either reply to the email, or call. I didn't have any problem calling and it was resolved in under 5 minutes.
  12. Thanks for taking the time to give us your comparison. We're pretty much creatures of habit, and have sailed exclusively on HAL for at least 20 years. However, if we were to try something new it would be Celebrity.
  13. I dont know what kind of cruise experience you want, so it's hard to give you advice on if you're on the right ship or not. First of all, your fears as expressed, aren't warranted IMHO. All ships can have power surges - just like any airplane can be delayed for mechanical problems. Ships are not the same as hotels. They move, they're only in port for major work to be done on turn around days, etc. Most times power surges are simple fixes. But being in a "floating" hotel does require some flexibility in expectations whether the ship is 1 year old, or 20 years old. As far as NYE - I've been on plenty of HAL ships on NYE and no - they are nowhere near "dead". In fact you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in their stateroom. The lounges are hopping with live music, champagne is pouring, and most ships set up little buffet food stations. It's a fun time! We've been sailing on HAL for 25 years, and I'll tell you when I get to be 58, because I'm not 58 yet (that's 4 years away). Now, is the Veendam, or HAL the right cruise for you? Depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for something like you see in the Royal Caribbean commercials (ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, 20 restaurants, etc), probably not. You wont find that. You will find a more laid back cruise. The food and service will be great. The ship - it's a matter of personal taste. What is dated and dark to someone is elegant and refined to someone else. Look at photos and videos on Youtube and decide if it's for you. For us, I wouldnt have it any other way. Let's take those other cruise lines - what others might see as exciting, very active with plenty to do, lots of options, etc. - I see as too many people, too busy, too impersonal, too sterile, too generic. All depends on what you like.
  14. We go with the Elite package, not necessarily because I think it saves us money, but because I like the freedom to try different drinks outside of my comfort zone, and because I like pre-paying and not having unknown costs at the end of the cruise. The Elite package is worth the extra, over the Signature package, for us. We like to have glasses of wine with dinner, and the Elite has more choices. I also like some of the signature cocktails that go over the limit of the Signature package. We order pretty liberally, and haven't ever exceeded the 15 limit. To answer your direct question, if you had a day where you were close to the limit, you could always purchase your smaller ticket out of pocket (ie pay for a bottle of water or latte), and save your 15 count for higher cost items. I'm not sure if your daily total shows on your receipts or not, as you go along with the day, but any server can tell you if you ask. As I said, I've never felt limited at all by the 15, and we do order quite a bit. It's more likely we dont hit the limit (the breakeven point between getting the package or not is somewhere around 6-7 drinks, depending on what you order). We've had very helpful servers try to help us maximize the package. For example, a wine steward in Canaletto noticed on the last night of the cruise we had like 6 drinks left, and she gave us 6 HAL shot glasses. The Lemoncello came with a HAL souvenir glass - we couldn't possibly drink that much, so she just gave us the glasses. A typical day of drink count for us on the Elite package would be: -A few cocktails by the pool during the afternoon -An iced coffee drink late afternoon from Explorations cafe -A pre-dinner cocktail or two at the Ocean Bar or Pinnacle Bar -A glass of sparkling wine to start dinner -A bottle of Pelligrino with dinner -A glass or two of wine with dinner -An after dinner drink, like port with dessert, or maybe Lemoncello -Maybe a cocktail at the show, or listening to music That would be a full day, and as you can see that's not even close to the 15.
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