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Everything posted by Tapi

  1. HUGE difference between Fantastica and a Yacht Club Suite. Have you looked at the perks that come with each class of service? They are listed on the MSC website. https://www.msccruisesusa.com/en-us/Discover-MSC/MSC-Yacht-Club.aspx
  2. Airfare has become very competitive over the years as more and more low cost and ultra low cost airlines have started or increased service to SJU. Southwest, Spirit, Allegiant, Frontier, and JetBlue have multiple flights a day to SJU. Jetblue in particular is the largest airline in SJU with tons of flights to multiple cities in the US mainland and a dedicated terminal. That in addition to major airlines like Delta, American, and United. Yes, the flight is a bit longer, but it’s not horrendous. You can get to SJU from many US east coast and Midwest cities in 3-4 hours. Hotels do tend to be a bit pricier but on the same token, cruise fare also tends to bit cheaper as well so I think that it all evens out. In my humble opinion, cruising out of SJU is worth every extra penny spent. It’s the REAL Caribbean, not Cozumel or Nassau. You get to a more in-depth Caribbean experience, many times visiting unspoiled destinations that have not been overly commercialized and Americanized.
  3. I’d totally do it. In fact you may find it to be much easier and efficient than flying out of MCO (Orlando). We’ve flown out of DAB (Daytona Beach) a few times and the small airport is a total breeze, similar to MLB (Melbourne) south of Port Canaveral. The drive is super easy, and you drop your rental car in a parking lot a few feet from the main terminal. No need to waste extra time going to a remote car rental facilities like in MCO (Orlando). The security checkpoint is usually dead since there are only a handful of flights departing from DAB so that’s another huge bonus. In fact, don’t be surprised if your flight is the only one departing at the time.
  4. For us, not only did Delta change our flight time from 12:25pm to 11:15am, but MSC changed our arrival time in Civitavecchia from 7:00am to 8:00am. So we went from having 5:25 to make our flight to having 3:15 to get off the ship, collect our luggage, drive to the airport, check in, and get through all the customs and pre departure formalities. Still, I chose to leave my flight reservation the way it was. Delta only offers one daily nonstop flight to my hometown airport from Rome. I will admit that I was on edge for the last 24 hours of the cruise, until I found myself sitting at the gate a few minutes before boarding started, but it all worked out! Line at the multiple checkpoints at the airport were indeed long, and we saw several other passengers loose their cool in line when they realized that they would be missing their flights home. Next time, I will plan a post cruise stay if there aren’t more flexible flight options .
  5. One little trick about SJU is that no matter which security checkpoint you use, you can access all gates. For example, if your flight departs from concourse B, C or D and the line is insanely long, you can walk over to the dedicated Jetblue security checkpoint at terminal A and then back track, or vice versa.
  6. Can someone be more specific about what direction Mr. Ashford is taking HAL? What things or changes are happening due to his leadership? I’m wondering if this is the typical “this cruise line is going downhill” thread that appears on pretty much every single cruise line board on Cruise Critic, or if there’s some true substance to it. We will be taking our second HAL cruise in a few months. We had a great cruise on the Westerdam in 2013 but considered that the HAL product failed to stand out. So we haven’t considered booking another HAL cruise since then. But it is because of the changes, new onboard offerings, latest class of ship, and overall new image, why we were attracted to finally book another HAL cruise, this time aboard the Niew Statendam. Could HAL be headed in a direction that’s different than what some loyal customers would like, but not necessarily downhill?
  7. Is the Niew Statendam getting self serve Coke machines like on the Koningsdam?
  8. Any insight you can give us on what your likes and dislikes are, what you want to do on vacation, and ashore, and what type of cruise atmosphere you like? Otherwise answering this question is like telling a complete stranger on the street what they should eat between grilled pork chops or grilled chicken breasts. For me: Carnival Breeze for the itinerary, and Liberty of the Seas for the ship.
  9. Hello foreverinmyheart: Had I encountered the same situation, and made the same decision that you made, it would’ve never crossed my mind to seek reimbursement. You did the right thing by looking for alternate means of transportation based on your family’s state of mind and needs at the time, but it cost you extra, and in my humble opinion, that’s on you. I’m assuming that the complimentary ferry still departed later, so the cruise line did their part by providing transportation. Your refusal to take it was your decision. Last year, we were on a Mediterranean cruise which stopped in Marseille, France. We chose to take the complimentary bus service into town. Long story short, the service was horrendous. Hordes of passengers that overwhelmed the system. We stood in the cold rain for 40 minutes waiting in line. Once onboard, it was chaotic. People standing shoulder to shoulder, pushing and screaming as we worked our way to the old town. One of my kids was slammed against the well when a large man tripped and fell on him. After that, and also knowing that there were ongoing protests in France that could slow us further, we decided to suck it up and pay for a cab to return to the ship. It was the best money I spent on that vacation. I made a choice to bypass the subpar complimentary transportation for the well being of my family, and it cost me extra. But it was my decision. Even though the conditions were different than yours, I think that the same principle applies. I’m glad to hear though that besides this incident, you had what sounds like a fantastic cruise. Your situation wouldn’t stop me from selecting NCL again.
  10. I know that it was a poor attempt at humor, but if you’re going to joke about it, at least get your countries straight. Bermuda isn’t The Bahamas.
  11. We did Chachobben in Costa Maya. At the time, it was our first Mayan ruins experience. For a first timer, I thought it was great. Fairly compact site with a few fairly large pyramids. Best part about it was that it’s a fairly short drive from the cruise terminal so you don’t have to spent mind numbing hours riding a bus, something my wife absolutely hates. We’ve visited other ruins since then, some have been more impressive while others have been less impressive, but we were very satisfied with Chachobben.
  12. I believe Half Moon Cay is OK. It’s located farther south. I read on the Royal forum that Coco Cay, which is only 40 miles south of the path of the hurricane, was reporting minimal damage. Castaway Cay is the closest private island to the path of the hurricane and all I’d read about it was that Disney employees remained in the island during the hurricane and are all safe and accounted for.
  13. Good point, although anything is possible. You do remember the drunken Holland America passenger who dropped the anchor and was sentenced to jail, right? 😂 https://gcaptain.com/cruise-ship-passenger-sentenced/
  14. In the OP’s defense, I took a 4 night CA cruise (Ensenada and Santa Barbara) on Princess a few years ago and it was one of the quietest and classiest cruises I’ve ever taken. Atmosphere was resort casual. Fellow cruisers were older and well traveled. Table mates ranged from an Australian couple on a month long honeymoon which included this short cruise, a globe trotting retired couple from Canada, and two Princess loyalists who were on their 8th cruise for the year, and who had taken this short cruise as a fill in before their upcoming inaugural sailing out of Venice aboard another Princess ship the following week. Far from the booze chugging atmosphere that I’ve encountered on other short itineraries. If that Princess cruise had been my only reference point for short cruises, I too would’ve been shocked at the typical atmosphere found on short Carnival cruises (not to forget Royal and NCL as well). Give the OP a break. 😊
  15. I always question the veracity of statements like this one. Puerto Rico locals always account for a large percentage of cruisers sailing from San Juan without the need for resident discounts for the same reasons that Texas locals account for a large percentage of cruisers from Galveston, etc. I think that a lot of mainlanders who sail out of San Juan for the first time don’t realize (and are shocked ) about this and then assume and wrongly conclude that it must be because “the ship was empty and they had to give the cruise away to the locals”. Sailings out of San Juan are tailored to address their passenger composition, with music (bands and DJ’s) and activities geared towards the Latin population, and announcements made in Spanish, which definitely makes for an interesting cruise experience for some unsuspecting cruisers who’ve never sailed from ports outside of the US mainland. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and cruising was and continues being one of the top forms of vacation for people who live there. It’s easy and there’s no need for airfare. Rarely would I see resident specials. There’s no need for them.
  16. In 2005, hurricane Katrina hit Miami while I lived there. The next morning after the hurricane passed, around 10am, I received a call from Carnival offering a modified 2 night itinerary departing that same afternoon. $49pp, best cabin available. They had two ships to choose from doing the same modified itinerary, Fascination and Imagination. With no electricity at home, my wife and I decided to go on the Fascination and get away for a few days. We showed up at the port with one backpack. We were assigned an ocean view stateroom on the Empress deck. When we boarded, the ship was eerily empty. Needless to say, a large percentage of the original passengers couldn’t make it to Miami. Airport had been closed for the last 24 hours and many roads were loitered with debris from the hurricane. We had a wonderful time and at times it felt as if we had the ship all to ourselves. No lines, o let a few tables occupied at the main dining room, and a handful of people occupying the front rows at the theater. The weather was amazing. Clear skies and calm seas. First and only time I’ve sailed on such an empty ship.
  17. We are frequent cruisers who took our first Disney cruise aboard the Fantasy 2 years ago. It was a 7 night western Caribbean cruise, In retrospect, I see little value in booking a short “trial” Disney Cruise in preparation for the longer one unless you’re a Disney fan who would enjoy sailing on them multiple times. As first time Disney cruisers, we booked through a TA that offered us onboard credit and cash back equivalent to 10% of our cruise fare which we received after we returned from the cruise. With previous cruising experience, and some advance research, there were very few surprises for us. We had a very enjoyable cruise and Disney did live up to our expectations. Customer Service and entertainment were definite highlights. Interestingly, our children (5 and 7 at the time) said that they much preferred the kids club on Royal Caribbean and MSC. This came as a shock to me since Disney’s kids club and activities are so elaborate and well thought out, and it was one of the selling factors. The only thing that I hated about our Disney Cruise was the fact that, even though we booked on the day that the sailing date opened for the general public, we were stuck with late dining and were never able to change it. All early dining times had already been snagged by Disney frequent cruisers who had booked during their pre-sale window. Even once onboard, we were placed on a wait list for early dinner which never materialized. The rotating dining concept may be clever, but we absolutely hated being tied to a fixed late dining time. We are flexible time kinda people. This was the only negative surprise. Never, in all of my years of cruising, have I’ve been stuck with a dining time that I didn’t want, and more when booking so far in advance. But overall, we had a great 1st Disney Cruise and I’m glad that we had a chance to experience what this cruise lune is about. They definitely offer a great product. But to be brutally honest, we didn’t think that the cruise experience delivered justified the cost, not even remotely. A large percentage of the cruise fare is for Disney pixie dust. If you’re a Disney fan, you may consider every extra penny spent well worth it. If not, then you may feel like I do. Taking the Disney element out, we have experienced similar or better quality aboard other cruise lines at a fraction of the price. But then we have friends who love everything Disney and will only sail on them no matter what. They have never sailed on any other cruise line. We tried to convince them to join us in February 2020 on a 7 night cruise on another cruise line, but they are instead choosing to pay 3 times as much to go on a 5 night Disney Cruise. Go figure. I’m sure you’ll have a great time, on your first Disney Cruise, but once again, I don’t see the need to spend money on a trial cruise, specially if you’ll be spending considerably more than for a comparable short cruise on another cruise line.
  18. We had brown water when we sailed on the Fantasy last February. When we turned the water on, it would look fine, but if you filled up the sink or a glass with water, it always had a brown tint. Thank you chengkp75 for the explanation. But even if the water is safe, the brown tint can still be unsettling, specially without an explanation. Maybe cruise lines could issue a letter explaining this to passengers if it’s a common occurrence on a particular ship.
  19. We’ve stayed at the Hilton in the Blue Lagoon area mentioned above. Interestingly, it was cheaper than lower tiered hotels near MIA. In general, if staying near the airport, I would select a hotel in this area and avoid anything that’s on the north side of the airport along 36th street. That area can be very sketchy, specially at night.
  20. I actually feel safer riding an Uber/Lyft than a taxi or other forms of transportation. You have a digital record of who your driver is, along with their license plate. You can also track the car’s location and even share it with others so that they can see where you are as you’re riding. I was very skeptical about using Uber/Lyft until I finally tried it. I’m now a believer.
  21. I initially booked my upcoming February Niew Statendam cruise under a refundable deposit fare. But after 2 significant price drops, I switched to a non-refundable fare because that fare, in my opinion, is so ridiculously low that I can’t imagine it going much lower than that ($347pp for a balcony stateroom, 7 night Caribbean cruise, before taxes). That fare also includes a $125 onboard credit. The TA was very specific in telling me that, If the prices do go down further, I can’t take advantage of future repricing if I switched to the non refundable deposit fare. With prices that low, I took the gamble. Against my better judgement, I’ve kept checking fares knowing that I can’t reprice, but thankfully so far, the rates have done nothing but go up which makes me feel good about my decision. But normally, I would’ve avoided non-refundable deposit fares.
  22. No worries. And my apologies if I sound as if was lecturing. Friends had to explain this new mentality to me because I didn’t get it. When I was growing up in PR, the mentality was that people would beg for a hurricane to come because it meant no school or work, and an excuse to party. Supermarkets would run out of beer and liquor before bread and water! 😂Those are now distant memories. With that said, I wish that you and all your loved ones are safe, not only during Dorian, but during the entire hurricane season and beyond.
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