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  1. Just had my 7-day Alaska 2023 updated to show $100 more OBC.
  2. The next time you sail, you will see the jump to the new Mariner level. "For all cruises except Grand Voyages, your elevated benefits will take effect on your next Holland America Line cruise. If you cross a star level threshold while on board a Grand Voyage (based on days sailed), you will be upgraded to your new star level for the remainder of that voyage."
  3. 7:30 PM should be a good time from what I have experienced. It must be noted that there is a limit to the number of CO upgrades so there will not be a big surge in future cruises.
  4. If there are no open tables in CO, you can accept a pager and you will be buzzed when a table is open. On my last CO experience, nobody waited more than 20 minutes during the peak 6:30 - 7:30 PM hours. Times before the latter had no waiting.
  5. I do a walking tour of the ship on every at 2:00 PM to see what is new and I also am on the lookout for crew members that I have met on previous Holland America cruises. I include members of my roll calls who want to accompany me and want a head start on finding venues. Sometimes alone, I have had as many as 32 roll call members with me. Holland America has their own ship tour with hundreds of attendees so each ship venue has a representative on standby waiting for the big tour..My tour just arrives earlier and my small group has the opportunity to ask them lots of questions.
  6. I submitted for all of my cruises through May 2022 and received confirmation.
  7. Submitted my requests through my HAL PCC on Sep 10 and received new booking printouts on Sep 22d.
  8. My favorite month for Alaska cruises is May, the driest month, with just a hint of snow in the higher elevations. Southeast Alaska is in a temperate rain forest so I expect rain and am happy when i have blue skies. I avoid sailing out of Seattle because of long exposure to the Pacific Ocean and it's rougher seas. Sailing out of Vancouver via the Inside Passage is a much smoother ride. My last visit to September had 85 knot winds from the side and water over the bow while exposed to a typhoon. That said, I am returning to Alaska September 2022 with Holland America.because of the stops in so many smaller towns that do not normally see cruise ships.
  9. I faced the issue of waiting for online booking for complimentary meals and waiting to board to book the two free Specialty Restaurant. That translates to six free Specialty Restaurant meals for the occupants of my stateroom. I avoided the complementary booking issue by booking and paying full price for three meals in my name as the only passenger on the reservations and my traveling partner did the same for three meals on different days as the only name on her reservations. My traveling partner will join me for each of her three free meals. I will join her for my three free meals. The 5* Mariner benefit refund should be reflected in OBC for six Specialty Restaurant meals (3 in my name and 3 in my partner's name) on our account. The same process should work for four meals, you won't have to wait for online booking of complimentary meals, or wait until you board to book your two benefits meals. In fact, the same process should work when the "Have it all" complementary meals are not involved.
  10. Sharpen and Gigapixel have saved a lot of my "throwaways". Just wish I had not tossed so many digital photos before i found Topaz.
  11. Since the internet satellites are positioned over the Equator, shipboard WiFi in Alaska is extremely slow (like the old phone line connection speed) and long periods with no connection at all.
  12. Here is a link to the HAL cruisetour tips that will answer a lot of questions: https://www.hollandamerica.com/content/dam/hal/marketing-assets/manage-my-cruise-already-booked/faqs/Tour_Tips.pdf Just to clarify, there is no limit to the luggage you have on the cruise portion. The land portion is limited to one suitcase (no size limit - not limited to carry-on size) for those items you will be needing during your land portion. In many cases, this luggage will not be transported with you but rather meet you at each destination. That means a small backpack with camera stuff, meds, snacks, etc. will remain in your possession when you travel. The size limit in the tips document ensure your backpack (bog) will fit on buses/trains around your seat. Bags that will not fit on buses means carrying your backpack on your lap for many hours of travel. There is room by your feet on the train unless you have very long legs. As a photographer, my equipment travels by in a large camera case and I pack a camera sling bag in my suitcase. Upon arrival, I remove my backpack and fill it with what equipment I will carry on the land portion, snacks, meds, etc. I move my camera case to either the large suitcase that will accompany me or a suitcase going straight to the ship. If you have a large camera, it can be carried on a strap to leave room in your backpack for other items. Smaller lenses, chargers, flash, memory cards, etc. can be carried in jacket pockets or camera vests. As you move from place to place on the land portion, you will receive written instructions, luggage tags for the next morning, and room keys before you arrive at your hotel. For the bag you use only at night, you will attach the luggage tags in the morning, put it outside your hotel room door, and you will see it again at your hotel that evening. When you arrive at the evening destination, you will again receive an envelope with instructions, luggage tags for the next morning, and room keys. The same will be repeated on the evening before you board the ship. HAL has been moving passengers and luggage around Alaska for years and does an amazing job. FWIW food on the train is really good.
  13. I have enjoyed the Lake Bennett train excursion twice and will book it whenever I go to Skagway. The excursion has a private car and is usually only half filled which translates to lots of space on the platforms between the cars for photographs. FWIW the boxed lunch was fresh and filling.
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