Another day at sea. It is absolutely beautiful today; we only wish it had been this nice yesterday for our day in Fortaleza. Since I don’t have anything especially interesting to share with you to day, I thought I might give a brief photo tour of the ship and talk about some of the costs. While we were preparing for this cruise, there seemed to be little information regarding the normal everyday expenses you might incur onboard. Please keep in mind that any dollar amounts I quote is for this specific cruise (66 days) and probably will not directly apply to cruises of different lengths or at different times.
First off, for most all cruise lines today you are billed a hotel service charge (read gratuity) for the staff which is charged on a daily per person basis. For this cruise I believe the charge is $11 per person per day. One of the “perks” we received from Holland America Line by booking early was that HAL would pay our hotel service charge. This amounts to about $1400 total for the two of us. Of course we will be giving additional gratuity at the end of the voyage for the outstanding service we have received, but still the savings was quite substantial. Other perks we received by booking early was free luggage transportation by FedEx for up to two pieces of luggage each. We also each received $300 ship board credit. In addition our travel agent Cruise Specialists gave us another $150 per person shipboard credit and we received $250 shipboard credit for owning stock in Carnival (the parent company of HAL and several other major lines). My thanks to our neighbor Bob Burns for this tip! Thus we had upon arrival a total shipboard credit of $1150.00 to be used however we wished.
Now for some of the expenses. About two weeks prior to sailing we received a package form HAL which included some packages of services which were discounted if you purchase prior to sailing. Some of these are as follows:
Unlimited laundry Service per stateroom – $355.00 (an absolute must on a cruise of this duration)
Unlimited Pressing Service – $175.00
Unlimited Dry Cleaning Service –$ 530.00
Wine packages several offered ex. Choice of 12 bottles from a selecton of 12 different wines $359- $483
Internet access – 250 minutes with 25 free minutes – $100.00
Internet access – 500 minutes with 50 free minutes – $175.00
Internet access – 1000 minutes with 100 free minutes – $250.00
In addition there are many massage and photo packages.
While on board, we have a refrigerator and mini-bar in the room. The costs are as follows:
Soft Drinks (can) – $1.95
Beer – $4.45 – $4.95
Miniature Liquors – $4.95
We were also given the opportunity to purchase soda cards at half-price. You could purchase a $50 card for $25.00. This is really a good value, basically you can get a soft drink for less than a $1.00 per can.
A Beverage Card was also offered at a discount of 10%. This is good for all drinks beside soft drinks. Specialty coffees, beer, wine, mixed drinks etc. For me, the greatest advantage of having a beverage or soda card, is not having to keep a constant account of your expenses for drinks. There is no reconciling your room charges. At the time of the transaction you are given a receipt showing the cost of the transaction and the remaining balance on the card.
An interesting thing about the Grand Voyages; HAL will let you bring onboard or purchase at port as much wine as you like. You can consume this anywhere except the dining room without paying a corkage charge. If you bring your own wine to the dining room you are accessed a fee I believe of $15 per bottle. HAL will also allow you to have your own liquor in your room, unlike on shorter cruises with other lines.
I hope some of you found this information useful or at least interesting. Now I will share some photos of the ship.
Beth, our Grand Hostess, taken at the Black and White Ball. Beth is a charming young lady from Britain
One of the putting greens
On the observation deck
Another from the observation deck
A view of the Lido pool
The Crows Nest; 180 degree view.
One section of the Formal Dining Room
The Explorers Lounge, a quiet restful place!
One of two laundry rooms on the ship. We haven’t used these since we did get the laundry package, but many people do avail themselves to the services here. There is no charge for their use and the ship even supplies the detergent. Irons and ironing boards are also available.
And NO, the ship really isn’t empty. I am just an early riser and these were taken at about 6:30 AM. I realize it looks much later than that with all the wonderful sunshine, but at our longitude the sun rises at about 5:00 AM and I am usually up by 6:00. I wanted to get these photos before they were filled with people.
I am using a lot of my internet time to post this high resolution image of our dinner menu for tonight. It is nothing special; well I mean this is the normal fare for dinner. It is certainly something special; Kay doesn’t cook for me like this at home J Sorry I didn’t get the dessert menu, it’s always great too.
I think I will have the Crab and Shrimp tower to start, then the spiced peach and ginger chilled soup (I never pass up the chilled fruit soups) and for my entrée I will have the Grilled Halibut with Ancho Chili Sauce.
I almost always have the fish or seafood at dinner. My exception is when we eat in the Pinnacle Grill (which we did last night); there I tend to have their beef, it is superb.
We sail into Maceio tomorrow. That is one of the itinerary changes announced just before the cruise. We don’t have any excursions planned, but I understand it has some beautiful beaches. I will let you know….;