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Old December 9th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Default First time with HAL

This is our seventh cruise, but first wtih HAL. We've sailed Carnival, Princess and RC (with RC being our favourite until now).

I booked Eurodam on a whim yesterday as present for the fam, sailing in Mar 2011.

A few questions:
1. Is the buffet any good (just came off Grandeur which had a horrible buffet)
2. Is the MDR open for lunch on port days? I like to avoid the buffet at all costs.
3. I think I understand how the soda card works, but is there an unlimitted package, like on other lines?
4. Is the kid's club any good? My kids are 3 and 4.
5. According to the HAL website, it appears that you can bring wine on board, and there are no limitations. I certainly don't want to carry 7 bottles of wine on board, but is that allowed? Is there a good wine store near port everglades to stop at? Or at FLL?
6. What time is the early dining? I havent finalized my preference yet. We generally like to eat around 6:30, but I am thinking of trying AYWD. With two young kids though, i don't want long waits. The travel agent seem to think that the early seating was at 5:30 which seems to early.
7. Are the shows any good?
8. I've been to San Juan before and remember it as being quite industrial - we will probably stay on ship. For the stops in T&C, is there a beach nearby, if so, is it walking distance? I think Magen's Bay is on St. Thomas, in which case we will probably cab it there.

Thanks,
Queen
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Old December 9th, 2010, 07:52 PM
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It's been awhile since I sailed HAL,and I am sure many things have changed, but I will answer one question... if you cruise on a Sunday, Lauderdale liqour stores do not open till noon...There is a storer ight in the Harbor shops, next door to Hyatt Place.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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I'm not sure where the Hyatt is .... will have to google that. Noon isn't tooo bad. Our plane lands at noon.

I read on HAL website that on embarkation day, Mariners can eat in the MDR. I love this .... I'm not a buffet fan in general .... but the first day buffet is always the worst. It would be nice to sit and enjoy a meal after a long morning of travelling.

On our last cruise (Grandeur) ... we woke up at 4AM for our travel day. I ate a granola bar on the plane. We boarded Grandeur around 11 and ate at the buffet. I picked at the food, it was mostly inedible. We were set for late seating at dinner. It never ocurred to me that I was hunrgy because my stomach wasn't rumbling. I guess I was going on adreniline. I had a massage booked for 5PM and as I started my massage, the worst headache started to build. Around 7PM I send DH to the infirmary for some ibuprofen, which I took on an empty stomach. I was nauseous. Only then did it occur to me that I hadn't really eaten all day. DH grabbed me some pizza from the lido deck, and I spent the rest of our night in bed. THAT was our 10th anniversary. Poor DH sat by himself in teh MDR (I made him go!) when the MaitreD arrived with a cake for our anniversary
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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Queen, the Hyatt is right on A1A...right next to the Embassy suites..It used to be Amerisuites, you might remember it's placement that way...right near the port..

http://www.theharborshops.com/?page_id=2
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:44 PM
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If you are a past passenger of HAL, you are entitled to partake of the embarkation luncheon in the main dining room. However, that being said, we arrived at 1:25 PM and the dining closed at 1PM. Throughout our cruise, the MDR was only open from 12-1PM.

This schedule was on the Zuiderdam on Nov. 3-13, 2010. So, we wound up in the Lido which was the usual chaotic situation. However, we found a table and then went about finding something to eat. Not too bad.
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Old December 11th, 2010, 02:31 AM
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You are allow to bring Wine on board, how many bottles I don't know. I usually bring 2 bottles and never had a problem!!
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Old December 11th, 2010, 10:53 AM
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Default Hal lunch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skipper's Mom View Post
If you are a past passenger of HAL, you are entitled to partake of the embarkation luncheon in the main dining room. However, that being said, we arrived at 1:25 PM and the dining closed at 1PM. Throughout our cruise, the MDR was only open from 12-1PM.

This schedule was on the Zuiderdam on Nov. 3-13, 2010. So, we wound up in the Lido which was the usual chaotic situation. However, we found a table and then went about finding something to eat. Not too bad.

My TA said it will be at noon and I should be on line outside by 11AM
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Old December 11th, 2010, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by earl View Post
You are allow to bring Wine on board, how many bottles I don't know. I usually bring 2 bottles and never had a problem!!
On our last trip on the Zuiderdam, 11/3-11/13/10, we took 8 bottles of wine, plus champagne for sailaway, in our carry on bags. A little heavy but lighter on the return home. !

They never opened our bags, just scanned them through the machine.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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Wow, that many? Good to know! I also have two kids in tow, so we need to keep light ont he luggage.

We're first time with HAL, but because we've cruised with Carnival and/or Princess, we get a 1* rank. I have a mariner number, and I got a repeat customer deal on my fare ... I hope I get MDR lunch too!

IS the MDR open EVERY day, even when the ship is in port? Other lines shut down the MDR when the ship is in port.
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Old December 13th, 2010, 05:08 PM
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IS the MDR open EVERY day, even when the ship is in port? Other lines shut down the MDR when the ship is in port.[/QUOTE]

In port, they generally closed the MDR. The Lido is really not that bad and the selection is pretty good. I know with small children it can be a challenge but just try to find a table and then one of you go up and get the food. One problem is the fact that they have done away with trays so it's a pain trying to juggle plates, drinks, etc. (probably why you enjoy the dining room). I did see some clever ladies taking large plates and using them as trays for their drinks. They also send around wait staff with a beverage cart but that is catch as catch can. You sound like you are pretty well organized so it should not be much of a problem for you.

I was on the Eurodam last February and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went with my mother-in-law and she did, too. She hadn't been on a cruise in probably 25 years! You'll love it!
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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Thanks Skipper! My M-I-L is gone, but I would love to take my own mom on a cruise. She used to cruise all the time with dad, but now that she is alone, she can't afford to cruise, nor would she want to - alone.

We are frugal cruisers, and we always take inside cabins. We don't plan on doing anything other than sleeping in the cabin and when we do - we love the blackout effect. Mom, would insist on an outside cabin ... so we'd be paying a premium to take her. hmmmmm, maybe if I win the lottery!
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Old December 18th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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Queen, the Eurodam , like all HAL ships is beautiful.
  • The buffet is quite good.
  • I think the main dining room is open for lunch on port days, but I'm not positive.
  • We don't have small children any more, but Club HAL seemed very nice.
  • You can bring wine aboard but maybe not 7 bottles. there are nearby liquor stores but they are not very convenient.
  • I think early seating is 6:00. the food in the dining room is very good. The food in Tamarind, (Asian, Pacific Rim) and the Pinnacle Grill, (steakhouse) is extraordinarily good, and well worth it for a special night.
  • if the ship docks at Oldtown San Juan it is NOT industrial at all.
  • Don't know about your cruise, but we were on the Eurodam for a trans-Atlantic crossing last spring and the shows were the best we've ever seen at sea. Very good!
  • I see you go for inside rooms. Perhaps that is wise with small kids, but certainly NOT our cup of tea. Most of the staterooms on Eurodam are verandah rooms and they are very nice.
Bon Voyage!!:-D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
This is our seventh cruise, but first wtih HAL. We've sailed Carnival, Princess and RC (with RC being our favourite until now).

I booked Eurodam on a whim yesterday as present for the fam, sailing in Mar 2011.

A few questions:
1. Is the buffet any good (just came off Grandeur which had a horrible buffet)
2. Is the MDR open for lunch on port days? I like to avoid the buffet at all costs.
3. I think I understand how the soda card works, but is there an unlimitted package, like on other lines?
4. Is the kid's club any good? My kids are 3 and 4.
5. According to the HAL website, it appears that you can bring wine on board, and there are no limitations. I certainly don't want to carry 7 bottles of wine on board, but is that allowed? Is there a good wine store near port everglades to stop at? Or at FLL?
6. What time is the early dining? I havent finalized my preference yet. We generally like to eat around 6:30, but I am thinking of trying AYWD. With two young kids though, i don't want long waits. The travel agent seem to think that the early seating was at 5:30 which seems to early.
7. Are the shows any good?
8. I've been to San Juan before and remember it as being quite industrial - we will probably stay on ship. For the stops in T&C, is there a beach nearby, if so, is it walking distance? I think Magen's Bay is on St. Thomas, in which case we will probably cab it there.

Thanks,
Queen
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Old December 18th, 2010, 06:13 PM
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[*]You can bring wine aboard but maybe not 7 bottles. there are nearby liquor stores but they are not very convenient.

On our last cruise on the Zuiderdam (11/3-11/13/10) there were people with cases of wine carried onboard. I know because we saw them in the hallways when the luggage was delivered, along with cases of bottled water and soda. We only carried enough for the 10 days and for the 2 of us.

Frankly, the water on the ship is fine with us and we don't drink soda.
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Old January 4th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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Let me see if I can answer most of your questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
This is our seventh cruise, but first wtih HAL. We've sailed Carnival, Princess and RC (with RC being our favourite until now).

I booked Eurodam on a whim yesterday as present for the fam, sailing in Mar 2011.

A few questions:
1. Is the buffet any good (just came off Grandeur which had a horrible buffet)

It is OK. Nothing special. Usual type of variety compared to other cruise lines. There is a grill for burgers etc as well.


2. Is the MDR open for lunch on port days? I like to avoid the buffet at all costs.

Not too sure, that may depend on the port.

3. I think I understand how the soda card works, but is there an unlimitted package, like on other lines?

No. The rules are slightly different. Check on the HAL website for the type of card, there are a few different options. You can get a card that is not strictly soda, but you can get smoothies as well.

4. Is the kid's club any good? My kids are 3 and 4.

It will depend on the sailing. Hopefully you are going during March break, otherwise HAL generally caters to seniors and very few children sail on their ships (aside from major holidays). We have had great luck on March break cruises on NCL and Princess where hundreds of kids where sailing and our lads had a blast. On a Maasdam sailing with the lads, there were 5 kids on board, the kids program was dismal.

5. According to the HAL website, it appears that you can bring wine on board, and there are no limitations. I certainly don't want to carry 7 bottles of wine on board, but is that allowed? Is there a good wine store near port everglades to stop at? Or at FLL?

Yes you can carry on a case if you want. You will pay $18 corkage in the dining room if you BYO wine. You can drink you wine in your cabin without corkage.

I cannot remember the name of a good wine store in FLL, I have been to a couple.

6. What time is the early dining? I havent finalized my preference yet. We generally like to eat around 6:30, but I am thinking of trying AYWD. With two young kids though, i don't want long waits. The travel agent seem to think that the early seating was at 5:30 which seems to early.

AYWD is the BEST for kids. You can go in when you like and you can just sit with your family. As I remember when my lads where that age they seemed only to eat the dinner rolls and chicken. Long, drawn out dinners make uphappy kiddies. The lines are never as long as some people whine about, usually you can seated right away, especially earlier than 7PM. There is the Cannaletto area of the buffet, can't go wrong with pasta for the children. The Tamarind and Pinnacle are great, but more "adult night out". If you can get a babysitter (if no Mum with you, then ask at the front desk, there may be a staffer who will babysit for a fee - usually very expensive BTW) then you and your hubby can go on a "date"

7. Are the shows any good?

No, kinda crappy and cheesy. Sometimes you may get a good comedian. Entertainment is not HAL's strong suit. If there is something with dancers all dressed up in feathers and sequins, your little ones will be enchanted.

8. I've been to San Juan before and remember it as being quite industrial - we will probably stay on ship. For the stops in T&C, is there a beach nearby, if so, is it walking distance? I think Magen's Bay is on St. Thomas, in which case we will probably cab it there.

San Juan is one of the coolest ports! Lots to do. Usual stuff like walking around Old San Juan (very interesting), El Morro etc. However, we hired a driver to hike to the tallest peak in El Yunque rain forest (too much of a hike for the wee ones I think) where it rained UP as we were above the clouds! It was nothing like a ship's tour at all. Hiring a driver is great, you can set your pace for the family and see what you like (we have done this in many ports). Never been to T & C. Magen's bay is very popular in St. Thomas. We have chartered a sailboat in St. Thomas and sailed to St. John. Very cool! For a 3 year old though a fun beach day would be great!

Thanks,
Queen

I hope that helps!!

Sheila from Ottawa
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Old January 4th, 2011, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
1. Is the buffet any good (just came off Grandeur which had a horrible buffet)
Food is always subjective, but in my opinion the Lido Buffet on HAL ships is excellent. The variety is usually sufficient for most people, and on the Eurodam they have multiple stations with several different nationalities of food available (Asian, Italian, American, etc). Their burgers and pizza are excellent, and it's hard to beat a good sandwich or wrap and they have those made to order. The lay out of the Lido may take a little getting used to, so when you first go there wander around a bit and see what the various stations have to offer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
2. Is the MDR open for lunch on port days? I like to avoid the buffet at all costs.
The MDR is open on port days where there is a late arrival. If it's an early arrival, it's usually NOT open. In other words, it varies from port to port.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
3. I think I understand how the soda card works, but is there an unlimitted package, like on other lines?
I wish there were, but there's not. At least, there hasn't been when I've been aboard, and I was last aboard a HAL ship in July/August 2010.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
4. Is the kid's club any good? My kids are 3 and 4.
I'm told that it varies from cruise to cruise. On the Eurodam, however, you DO have an excellent Club HAL facility, and if the itinerary is anywhere near spring break the chances are there will be a lot of kids onboard. I don't know about your age of children, though. Someone else with kids will have to remark on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
5. According to the HAL website, it appears that you can bring wine on board, and there are no limitations. I certainly don't want to carry 7 bottles of wine on board, but is that allowed? Is there a good wine store near port everglades to stop at? Or at FLL?
Yes, you can bring your own wine aboard ship. If you want to drink it in the MDR you'll have to pay a corkage fee (I think it's $18 per bottle). As for wine stores in FLL, I'm sure there are some ... I've never done the "buy wine and bring it aboard" thing, though, so I can't say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
6. What time is the early dining? I havent finalized my preference yet. We generally like to eat around 6:30, but I am thinking of trying AYWD. With two young kids though, i don't want long waits. The travel agent seem to think that the early seating was at 5:30 which seems to early.
I think early fixed seating is 6 pm. I prefer 8:30 pm of second seating. With kids, I think the best dining choice would be the Open Seating ... if you go before 6:30 I think you'll be fine. I know sometimes there's a short wait. At least, that's what I've been able to discern from what people have said, but that will vary from cruise to cruise depending upon the likes and dislikes of your fellow passengers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
7. Are the shows any good?
Well ... that depends upon what you like in a show. Some people really enjoy the song-and-dance routines and the acts by the entertainers who are brought aboard ship. Others don't like that kind of entertainment at all. Some consider it sub-standard relative to other cruise lines, while others like it nevertheless. Personally, I enjoy seeing how the ship's cast interprets a show I've seen a dozen times on prior cruises, so that's not an issue for me. However, Broadway it isn't. The entertainers DO try very hard, and some of them are very talented.

I hope the above helps. I've not answered your last question because I really don't know.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 01:44 PM
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thanks for all the info - I am SO excited! It is probably at the tail end of March break, but yes we are sailing during March break
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Old January 7th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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Have sail with HAL several times it still ranks as my favorite cruise line. The food has always been good and like you do not normally care for the buffets but when I was on the Westerdam was very good.
I love the afternoon teas often with a string quaret or harp..it is very relaxing
Also I have seen some of the best shows in the theater than on other ships. You might want ot take the backstage tour if it is offered to you. We have taken the back stage tours on several ships and HAL has the best.
Enjoy yourself!
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Old January 7th, 2011, 10:18 PM
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I never knew that HAL offered backstage tours ,very interesting .
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:09 AM
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WHat do you mean "if it is offered to me". Is this published in the daily newsletter, or specifically offered to some guests? That would be very interesting to see!
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Old January 10th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
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WHat do you mean "if it is offered to me". Is this published in the daily newsletter, or specifically offered to some guests? That would be very interesting to see!
If it's offered it will be in the daily program.

When we were on the Eurodam recently, they offered, for $150pp (limit 10 people) a tour of the bridge, engine room, kitchen, backstage tour and maybe a couple of other venues. I don't know of anyone who took the offer.
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Old January 10th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Thanks DeeDee - I would not want to see it for that price!

I thought he was referrign to backstage of the theater. I've always thought it would be neat to go back stage and see how what it looks like back there.
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Old January 10th, 2011, 07:32 PM
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That $150 is to see a number of various venues.

The backstage tour is free if they have one. I don't remember seeing one listed on 7 day cruises - usually it's on longer cruises. Check your daily program.
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