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  1. Does Princess still offer passengers in the main dining room the opportunity to order a steak from the Crown Grill at an additional charge? If so, what is the current price to do so? Thanks! Dr. J
  2. For those of you who may never have an opportunity to take this type of cruise, or are contemplating doing so, I produced an extensive two part phtoshow that you might want to view, based on my doing this itinerary back in 2008. One part covers the Antarctica portion of this itinerary, the other part covers the southern portion of South America and the Faulkland Islands (lots of penguins in this one). All the photography is "near professional" quality, most of it with captions and explanations of what you are seeing, and detailed information about the areas being visited. Viewing these is the closest thing to have actually taken the cruise. Of course, nothing replaces being there in person, seeing this most spectacular place on earth. Here is the link to the site where they reside. http://www.photodex.com/share/cruisedoctor (You may have to download the Photodex Plug-In to view them.) Viewing on a large screen monitor (in FULL SCREEN mode) is recommended, and don't forget to turn your speakers on. Then dim the room lights, have a big bowl of buttered popcorn ready, and your favorite adult beverage (or soda). Enjoy! Dr. J
  3. Doing back-to-back sailings on the Oasis Of The Seas...but in a different stateroom on each sailing. Could someone who has done this in the past, post how one's luggage gets from the stateroom on the first sailing, to the new stateroom on the second sailing. Thanks!
  4. That depends on your definition of the word "listen"; to whom the feedback is given to; the tone of the feedback; and if valid reasoning is included as to why the feedback benefits both the passengers and the cruise line. A cruise line is a corporation. And, like any corporation, they are in business to make a profit for it's shareholders. In order to do that, every operational decision they make, needs to weigh the consequences as to what effect that decision will positively and/or negatively effect the business of remaining profitable. Obviously, they need to keep their customers happy, or they will lose them. But, at the same time, they can not let their operational costs exceed the revenue generated from their customers. During the webinar that introduced the new beverage package pricing to travel agents, one of the points that was stressed several times was that this is being done in response to the increase in their costs. One example, is that cruise lines are switching from plastic water bottles to metal water bottles in order to keep environmentalists happy. The cost of the metal bottles is greater than the plastic. I'm sure they weighed the consequences of making this change, and felt it had to be done. They also stressed that they didn't want to raise prices for every passenger, as that wouldn't be fair, and would negatively effect their "competitive pricing" that is demanded by potential passengers. I spend a significant amount of time on cruise ships every year, and have been doing so for past 35 years. As a consumer, I have recognize how much things have changed over time. And, like many of you, I opine for the good old days. But, this decline is going on with everything we buy or do...you can't get away from it. When I put my business owner's hat on, I realize how the costs of doing business have skyrocketed over this same time period. While at the same time, the consumer demands lower prices. Unfortunately, something has to give. Two sayings that have withstood the test of time, and are as true today as when they were first said are: "There is no free lunch." and "You get what you pay for." Getting back to your original question, if done correctly, the cruise line does take serious feedback under consideration, and will implement something if it satisfies two important criteria. That the cost of doing that something will have enough of a positive effect on enough passengers, to make it cost effective.
  5. A copy of the webinar was just posted for agents to replay if they wanted to see again, or for the first time if they missed the live presentation. I watched it again looking for answers to questions posed in this topic. During the Q&A portion of the webinar there were several questions that the presenters didn't have an exact answer for. My guess is that the cruise line is using the Q&A to see what situations they hadn't thought of, and will come up with the answer before the program goes live on 10/10/19. Based on MY INTERPRETATION of one of the slides shown during the presentation it looks like the $14 pp/pd price increase for a beverage package will be applied whether the beverage package is Classic or Premium. With the bottom line price for the 4-perk option being more because the premium package in the 4-perk even now costs more. However, my medical degree doesn't give me the insight of a law degree necessary to evaluate and understand the fine print of any promotion or pricing program. If you book a cruise after 10/10/19, and choose the 2-perk option, where one of the 2 perks is a Classic Beverage package, you of course will pay the $14 pp/pd price increase for selecting that perk. Then if you want to upgrade to a Premium Beverage package, you can do so for $10 pp/pd additional (just as it has been in the past). Now, if you have an existing booking which already has a classic beverage package on it. And, if you call and have it upgraded to the premium package prior to 10/10/19, it still will only cost you an additional $10 pp/pd. But, I'm betting your question is really asking what happens if you want to upgrade that Classic to a Premium on your existing booking AFTER 10/10/19. That wasn't in the presentation, and because I didn't want to disappoint you, I called Celebrity. After a long period of consultation between supervisors, and the supervisor's supervisors, they came back with the following response: "most likely you would only be charged the $10 pp/pd additional upgrade charge". My recommendation is, if you currently have a Classic package and you are considering upgrading to a Premium, that you do it prior to 10/10/19 just to be on the safe side.
  6. Let me preface this with the fact that I'm a travel agent, who attended a webinar for travel agents last week, where Celebrity introduced this new pricing policy, for bookings where the passenger chooses the Classic Beverage Package as one of their "free perks". It does go into effect starting 10/10/19. Current bookings and those made prior to 10/10/19 are exempt from the $14 pp/pd cruise fare increase. (this added cost for the drink package does NOT apply for suites) The following how I've been presenting "free perks" to my clients the past few years, and my take on why Celebrity is taking the approach they are. Up until this point, a potential passenger wanting to purchase their cruise at the lowest price point could have done so by selecting a "no perks" cruise fare. Also, if available on a sailing, qualifying for a senior or state discount, or an exciting deal, would get you a lower cruise fare...but these to were "perk-less". Your other options were to purchase your cruise with 2 to 4 free perks. But, the cruise fare for purchasing the cruise with these free perks was higher, than the cruise fare without the free perks. And, the more perks you opted for, the higher the cruise fare was. So, every time one of my clients wanted a price quotation for a stateroom I would provide them with 3 or 4 prices. (1) Cruise fare with no perks (2) Cruise fare with 2 perks (3) Cruise fare with 4 perks (4) And, on some sailings there was also a Cruise fare with 3 perks option. I would then provide them the "value" of each of the 4 possible perks they could choose from, based on the length of their sailing. This gave them all the information, on which they could determine which of the 3 or 4 cruise fares provided them the "best value", depending on which perks they would choose, and the extent to which they would be using those perks. The point to remember is that the cruise fare with the perks, was always higher than without any perks. So even though they were "advertised" as free perks, you were still actually paying for them. The trick was to only go with the "free perks" if their "useable value" by the client was greater than the increased cruise fare (compared to the perk-less cruise fare). Norwegian Cruise Line also offers "free perks" and if you select a "free perk beverage package" a $19.80 per person per day "service charge" is automatically added onto the booking, and is payable along with the cost of the cruise. An additional "service charge" is also automatically added onto the booking if you select a "free perk dining package". These service charges appear as additional line items on the cruise invoice labeled as "service charges". More often than not, when I book an Norwegian Cruise sailing for someone who hasn't sailed on them before, and inform them about the significant mandatory service charge on the "free perk beverage package", they are unhappy and don't understand why they have pay $19.80 pp/pd for what is supposed to be a "free perk". I too wouldn't be happy if someone advertises a free gift with a purchase, and then at the time of payment, slaps on a additional charge for the free gift. I'm sure they get a lot of blow-back from passengers because of these added service charges. My guess, is that Celebrity doesn't want to make it so blatantly obvious that the "free" beverage package perk isn't as "free" as it used to be. And, having unhappy passengers because of it. So, by rolling in the additional cost of the "free" beverage package, into the cruise fare, the majority of passengers won't be aware of it, unless they read the fine print at the bottom of the advertisement; or the sales clerk at the cruise line points it out, or their travel agent calls it to their attention. Most potential passengers won't recognize the change, because it won't be a separate line item on the cruise invoice, like it is on Norwegian's. Ignorance is bliss. For the well informed, it's still up to you to compare the different cruise fares (i.e., perk-less, or with multiple perks) in order to determine which total cruise fare is the best value for your particular situation. Hope this helps! One last IMPORTANT note. If you already have a booking with a beverage package package perk, or if you make a booking prior to the change going into effect on 10/10/19. Be VERY CAREFUL if you have ANY changes made to that booking after 10/10/19. The webinar presenter commented that any change to the booking could cause the "grandfathered-in" beverage package to drop off, and be replaced with the new beverage package (with the $14 pp/pd charge) added onto your booking. Also, if at some point you ask for a re-faring because of a price drop, that involves a "rebooking" procedure, and you will no longer be eligible for the "grandfathered-in" beverage package...and the newer beverage package will go on along with the additional $14 pp/pd charge to your new cruise fare.
  7. Did Celebrity ever go through with changing all the bi-fold doors in the Infinite Veranda staterooms to having frosted glass (as opposed to the original clear glass)? Earlier this year there was a report that 50 IV's had been changed over in a test, and the balance of the rooms were to be completed by July. Also, they were supposed to change over to smaller veranda furniture in the Infinite Veranda staterooms, so as to make it easier to close the doors. Was that done? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has stayed in a IV stateroom recently. Thanks!
  8. Also, if you don't like the soups being offered on the MDR menu, you can order Tomato soup of the children's menu too.
  9. Can someone who has been on the Quest recently tell me what cable new channels are available on the stateroom TV (i.e., FOX News, CNN, CNBC etc.). Sailing will be in Alaska. Thanks!
  10. I just returned from a 15-night Transatlantic cruise on the Regal Princess. This was my first experience with the Ocean Medallion. Prior to the cruise, I read hundreds of postings here on CruiseCritic. There were reports from passengers who had already experienced the program, and commentary from passengers who had yet to experience it (and were giving their opinion about the technology). One of the more prevalent lines of thought that ran through those postings, was that the medallions were just "glorified cruise cards" and that the Carnival Corporation had wasted tens of millions of dollars developing and implementing this program. I though about this a lot during this extended cruise, while observing how I was using the Medallion, as well as how the other passengers were using theirs, and hearing verbal comments made about them. I came to the realization they are FAR more than "glorified cruise cards". While they do provide some passenger benefits, the real beneficiary is the cruise line. Those tens of millions of dollars were actually a fabulous investment, in a program to gather tons of information about what each and every passenger is doing (and has done) every minute of the day, from the second you board the ship, till the moment you disembark. Every dollar they spent, will yield significant multiples of value in the long run. Here's how. Each medallion is a GPS unit linked to your identity. Somewhere on the ship is a computer that knows where every passenger is located every minute of the day. And, depending on where you are, they have a pretty good idea as to what you are doing every minute of the day. Now, armed with terabytes of data (information) they never had before, the data-mining begins to feed the statistical analyses of a myriad number of management and sales programs. DATA = GOLD I seemed to have a lot extra time to kill, so I decided to see how many different ways I could come up with, to monetize all this data. I'd love to test my hypotheses. Maybe Mr. Donald (CEO of Carnival Corp.) would let me play with his data, if I ask nicely. Dr. J
  11. So, you are wearing your medallion, walking down the corridor towards your room. When you get close enough, the sensor screen outside your door recognizes you and unlocks your door. Great! Now you are inside your room, still wearing your medallion, and you walk close to your door, on your way to the bathroom. Does that sensor just outside the door, sense the presence of your medallion (since you are again in close proximity to it...only your are separated from it by the door itself) and unlocks the door...not realizing you are only making a trip to the bathroom? That wouldn't be safe, because anyone who would happen to be outside your door could come in. Or, another what-if. Normally, when one walks out of their room, they check to see that the door is closed and locked by manipulating the door handle. When wearing your medallion, and walking out of your room, you are again in extremely close proximity to the sensor screen. Does it again keep unlocking the door while you are standing there...until you get far away enough from your room to stop doing so? If that is the case, you wouldn't be able to be sure that the door is really locked. Would anyone who has sailed with the medallion system fully functional, and has paid attention to what happens in these situations, like to comment on your experiences. Your input would be greatly appreciated. I couldn't find anyone high enough at Princess who had any in-depth knowledge about the specific workings of this technology. The only thing the front-line on-land Princess employees know is "Your stateroom door unlocks when you get near to it.". Inquiring minds want to know...
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