My finace and I are new to cruise. We are planning to go for the Rotterdam in Nov (Europe 12 nights) for honey moon. We are now trying to figure out any possible expenses onboard for preparing our budget. Some of the messages mentioned HAL wine package. What is it and how much is it for a 12 nights cruise? And how much does it cost for an average bottle of wine at dinner? Would any HAL experts give us advice on this issue? Many thanks.
I have no idea what people are referring to about the "Wine Package". I can tell you though that we had no problem what so ever in taking our own wine down to dinner.
Our travel agent had a bottle of wine delivered to our room before we sailed and we took this to the diningroom where they happily put it on ice in a bucket and served it to us. Later, we bought wine in our ports of call, and again, they served this with no questions or problems, not even a raise eyebrow. It was just a case of my husband putting our bottle on the table and as if by magic an ice bucket would appear and the wine steward would come by and open the bottle.
So if you want wine with dinner and prefer not to pay the higher price for buying HAL's wine, take your own and leave the wine steward a tip at the end of the cruise.
I'm not a big fan of "wine packages" for a couple of reasons. You choose "x" number of bottles and, if you don't write down what you chose somewhere (and remember to take the list with you to the dining room) it's a recipe for confusion.
Secondly, if you can even remember what you bought you may end up with a bottle of white at the end when you want red.
There should be a wine steward somewhere on the pool deck around lunch time with the evening's menu offering something like 10% off your choice for that evening. This means you have to decide what you want for dinner at lunch time. I don't like that very much, either.
On my last HAL cruise (Rottie, with my sister-out-law) we discovered a fabulous and INEXPENSIVE Chardonnay that the whole table decided was Just The Thing. We took turns ordering on the pool deck for the entire table. Whatever is left over at the end of a meal is corked and brought out the next night. Of course I don't remember the name of it.
Marion's suggestion is a good one. We often self-supply wine, bringing some of our favorites, but a cruise is a good time to test-drive new wines as well.
If we're in self-supply mode on HAL (or any other cruise line) we tip the wine steward $20 the first night with a "bonus" at the end of the cruise.
You will LOVE the Rotterdam. At least, I did.
Be sure that the Social Hostess or the Guest Relations people know that you are honeymooners. There is usually a special cocktail party for honeymooners and you just might get invited to the Captain's table although HAL usually saves that "honor" for people who have sailed with the line a gazillion times.
The Crow's Nest Lounge is the happening place for the younger and friskier set.
I'm sure you're totally excited about the wedding and what sounds like a fabulous honeymoon.
All the best,
pamda -- First-Time Cruisers Editor and total romantic
p.s.pop over to the First-Time Cruisers area to see if there's anything there that's helpful and let us know if we can answer any other questions.
Thank you very much for your advices. We are no wine experts and have no idea on how to choose wine for dinner, let alone planning beforehand. Could we trust the wine steward to choose for us? Particularly if we tip him in the very first night? It's nice to learn that the left over wine will be corked and served next night, coz we could hardly consume a whole bottle of wine in one single meals. Of course, it would be our pleasure to share with our tablemates.
I have already gone thru' the first-time cruiser section. It's really helpful. But one thing I didn't mentioned before, that is we are not Americans nor a native English speakers. Will it be a problem on the cruise? We are from Hong Kong, can only read and write English. Speaking English is often a problem for us. (Some native English speakers laughed at us, as we speak like reading essay with funny accent.)
Both of us are really excited about going on to the Rotterdam. We just can't wait.
All of the stewards on HAL are Indonesian or Filipino and English is not their first language. The vast majority speak Very good English but they certainly will be empathetic to passengers who are struggling with speaking English. They will be patient and helpful and will do their best to understand your wishes.
Rest assured, it would be the rare HAL steward who would not do their best to understand what you want.
Seeing how well you write and understand English here on the bulletin Board, DO not WORRY, you will do just fine.
Just a guess on my part, but I suspect you speak far better English than you think you do. Your posts above are very clear and easily understood.
Congratuations and Best Wishes for your wedding ...you have chosen a wonderful trip for your Honeymoon.
In reading a few threads on another web site we heard that the price of the 6 bottles of wine in the special package went from $99 to $119. The 4 bottle package went up as well but we don't remember what the new price is. Will find out in less than 2 weeks when we go on the Ryndam.
I've never met anyone in Hong Kong who didn't speak very good English. Of course, most of them were trying to sell me something Or were in a service industry position.
Cute story: We were on the subway from Kowloon one day when the train lurched. It was rush hour and we were standing. My husband reached out, reflexively, to grab me and, in an echo reflex, I reached out to this very tiny Oriental lady in front of me.
I immediately worried that I'd given Occidental offense and began a profound apology. She answered in a Midwestern accent even purer than mine. Turns out she was from Omaha, Nebraska -- less than 100 miles from where I grew up.
We often let the wine steward choose for us. They are very knowledgeable on HAL and enjoy showing off their knowledge.
You are under no obligation to share your wine with your tablemates and there is no expectation that you will. The situation we had on Rotterdam --- taking turns buying for the table -- is not the norm.
We are just off the Zaandam. The wine navigator package was $69.00 for 4 bottles and $99.00 for six bottles of wine. There were 14 wines to choose, reds and whites. We did not pre choose the wine until dinner to go along with the food menu. Our wine steward brought the wine navigator menu to us and we selected at that time. An average bottle of wine in cost from the actual wine list ran $19.00 to $24.00 a bottle. The wine package was a good deal. The wine steward was very helpful in a selection. There of course were more expensive wines.