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ghstudio

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  1. The upgrade price is $12.00 a day per person ($10 plus 20% gratuity) and you can easily upgrade your package on-board...one or both of you can upgrade...you can upgrade on separate days...etc. All tips for drinks on the classic package are included...you don't have to tip again when you order something. If you have the classic package, you only pay the difference over the classic package price limit ($9) if you order a drink that costs more....plus 20% gratuity on the difference in price. If you only drink a couple of higher priced drinks a day, it may be better to just keep the classic package and pay the difference on the drinks. If that doesn't work for your drinking habits, then you can upgrade at that point. Generally, there are lists of the brands of alcohol included in the classic package....and most drinks made with those brands are included in the classic package. Other than the Martini bar that serves larger martini's in larger glasses, most premium package drinks will cost $1-$3 +20% more than the classic limit.
  2. Don't bother to look at Celebrity....their port lectures are given by the port shopping company.....steering you to the shops that give them a % of your purchases.
  3. If we have any refundable on-board credit left, we usually see it credited to our credit card within a few days. You should call your TA and find out how much of your OBC is non refundable and how much, if any, is refundable. Generally, OBC you receive from your TA (in addition to whatever Celebrity is offering) is refundable...but not always. One additional twist I've seen recently is that a TA offers a large additional OBC, but you only get it after the cruise and you only get back what you've spent on-board...not the total "up to" amount.....and you have to submit your on-board statement within x days to even get that credit. To me that's a bit scuzzy....misleading, whatever. Once on-board, you will be able to look at your statement on the second or third day and you'll see an entry for OBN (non refundable credit) or OBR (refundable credit). Any charges are applied to the OBN credit first...that's done automatically.
  4. Our experience is that almost any 1/2 day or more private tour gives you significantly more time doing what you want to do......you don't have to constantly wait for 40 people everywhere....or have that 30 minute "free time" that you didn't want....or walk at the pace of the slowest person. For 2 people, it probably will cost more...for 4, it's usually the same or even cheaper than the ship's tour. (BTW..and off the topic but related....airport transportation by the cruise lines for 2 often costs more than just taking a taxi) Viator is usually an excellent source of guides...also Trip Advisor reviews (I believe TA owns CC so it's OK to mention them).
  5. Have a discussion with the Guest Services folks....and/or head housekeeper. Something is very amiss.... Real Batman.....sorry, but I don't agree. If you are not happy with the service, you should speak up.
  6. too bad you didn't take a picture......Obviously, that's essentially fraud.... Reality is that if it's any sort of mixed vodka drink, it's almost impossible for most to tell the difference in Vodkas...even though many will claim they can tell. I've done tests with friends with bloody marys and given two drinks with different vodkas, they get the expensive one (or their own brand) right about 50% of the time. How many times have you heard someone order a grey goose bloody mary......
  7. When we visited, we took a 1/2 day private boat trip through Halong Bay and then had a driver take us into Hanoi where we stayed overnight at a hotel (we arranged the hotel arrangements). The guide picked us up the next morning, we toured Hanoi all day and we were driven back to the ship. It worked extremely well. The price would not have been exorbitant except the night we docked was the first night of the Tet Holiday, so tour guides cost 2x the normal price. On the other hand, we were smack in the middle of the festivities at our hotel and saw the incredible fireworks....which we would not have seen had we stayed overnight on the ship. Note...you will actual sail through part of Halong Bay getting to your dock....however the 1/2 day boat trip is worth your time. If my memory serves correctly, we used Smile Tours both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
  8. We visited Mt St Michael from a Celebrity Cruise docked in Le Havre. We booked a private guide with another couple and we were able to visit Mt St Michael with a brief stop at the relatively unknown Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial which is about a 30 minute drive from Mt St Michael....and very much worth seeing. It is slightly smaller than the more well known Normandy one, it is just as memorable. I suggest you check to see if maybe a private tour will allow you to see more.....
  9. One problem you can run into using Flight Ease. We are gold on American, so we can normally select preferred seats at booking. When you book through Flight Aware and payment to the airline is delayed until final payment, you can request seats through FlightAware...but only standard seats not preferred seats. Your reservation shows on American's site, but as not yet ticketed, so their system won't allow you to change seats. The AA folks can't change your seats either because it's not ticketed...and they tell you contact your TA. flightaware doesn't know how to change seats to "preferred seating"....they can only request the seats they show you...the basic seats. If you try often enough, you may find someone who will help...but don't count on it.
  10. On our recent Veendam cruise, happy hour extended from 3:30 to 5:30 and maybe a little later some days. I ordered a happy hour drink at 5:45 one night and the bartender gave me the happy hour price for a double. It's very flexible and if you get to know the bartender, it can get even more flexible. (no tipping was involved...just pleasant conversation with the bartender during the cruise).
  11. We had no problem at all getting a table for 2 every night....dining at 7....(we had reservations for all nights). Had we come at 6pm, we would have had a long wait.....but at 7, there were many empty tables. Of course, that will vary by cruise.....and passenger set. We have been on cruises with many from Spain and the dining room was empty at 6 but you couldn't get in at 9. Our cruise had many older folks from Florida and they probably could have filled the dining room at 4:30 (early bird special).
  12. Since the $1 is refundable, there is nothing to insure....and that's actually a very real problem that most will ignore. I say most, because if you have a claim later or on the cruise, the insurance company, knowing insurance law and their fine print, may legally refuse to pay. That's true whether you insure that trip for $1 or the full amount you will ultimately have to pay.... My suggestion is to talk to one of the online travel insurance companies...not your TA or cruise line.
  13. yes, the HAL dinner buffet closes very early (8:30 or so) and ice cream is only available at certain times during the day. OTOH, the pool food includes a variety of hamburgers/hot dogs plus an excellent taco bar. HAL's ice cream is "better" per my DW....bagels are much better on HAL (they aren't rolls with a hole stuck in them); breadsticks are much better (and addictive) on Celebrity. There's a wider choice of desserts/pastries on Celebrity, but those on HAL are flakier and in many cases just better than Celebrity's current pastries....but no cafe B'cchio on HAL and those free cookies/pastries at almost all times of the day are very nice. No gellato on HAL, but Celebrity has very good gellato, however at a steep price. HAL had minimal announcements, however when there were important announcements concerning itinerary changes or expected rougher seas, they announced in the staterooms.....Celebrity never does that...if you aren't in a public area, you may miss those announcements. Both will give you printed paper advertisements in your door each day for spa treatments, art auctions, etc....no winner there.
  14. Just off the Veendam where we had "as you like it" reservations for 7pm every night. Like most things, it likely varies by ship, cruise and who you ask.
  15. We are just off our first HAL cruise on the Veendam....we are also frequent Celebrity cruisers...our last on the Constellation from Venice to Barcelona earlier this year. The Veendam is only 1350 Passengers...vs about 2200 on the Constellation. While it likely varies by cruise length, etc....I think you'll find more younger folks on Celebrity....we almost felt young on the Veendam and we're in our 70's. Celebrity offers more activities during the day, although many are either shopping events or other activities that cost extra $'s. Overall, Celebrity will cost far more on board than HAL..for example the laundry special (until you have status) on Celebrity is something like $50 for a bag...HAL is $20....drink prices on Celebrity are many $'s more than on HAL and there are no happy hours on Celebrity....sometimes there is a drink of the day for $5 or so, but it's that one drink. Food is subjective....With the exception of a terrible steak in the Pinnacle Grill, I found the food on HAL actually better than Celebrity and the seasoning much better. Specialty restaurants are more expensive on Celebrity...but, with the exception of that steak, the quality is about the same. Both have very good buffets. Nightlife is certainly better attended on Celebrity. but that's the age thing again. Hard to compare entertainment...shows on the Veendam were to canned music (size of ship, I guess)...Celebrity has a live band. both have some entertainment in the bars at times. I think Celebrity, HAL and Princess are essentially equal...each has their pluses and minuses. We would cruise on any of them if the itinerary/schedule worked for us....in fact our next three cruises are on Princess, HAL, and Celebrity. Princess with friends who want to visit their grandson during the cruise; HAL with an interesting itinerary; and Celebrity with friends who don't like to fly because of it's new, almost in our back yard, home port in Tampa although it was a toss up with HAL....the tie breaker was the perks we get on Celebrity.
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