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  1. We were on the Elation 3 or 4 years ago..in an upper deck inside. The ship - to me at least - was kind of depressing over-all. Our inside cabin was a decent size but the only 'seat' was a little vanity stool. With one completely bare wall you'd think they could put something there to sit on! I thought maybe our cabin was just missing something it should have had and so I asked the cabin steward if he could come up with a chair. He did. It was a beat-up dinette type chair...but it was a chair!!lol We'd been cruising solely with NCL for a while but decided to give Carnival another try for a quick get away. After that went on the Jewel (very nice!) and then, this past March, we went on the Dawn..two connecting balconies with family members. Everyone was disappointed....small cabins, not up-to-par food (with poor service to boot!) and then never being able to hook my eleven year old granddaughter with the camp program. We stood in a long line in the atrium area to sign her up the day we boarded but received no further info. Whenever we went up to the kids area what she should do, either no one was there to talk to or there was 1 person with a line waiting to speak to them. We finally gave up. I will say that the entertainment was stellar!! I have to describe a kids program years ago on the Sun out of Houston. We took a then 15 year old granddaughter with us..her first cruise. She was so nervous on the drive there, will it be fun and will I make friends etc. While we were sitting in the terminal waiting to board, 2 young women were going around and approaching everyone who looked to be the age they were supervising...it was August so they found quite a few! They took Tania's name and invited her to their first get-together that evening in the teen lounge. She went and the rest is history.lol She had a fantastic time and claims to this day that it was one of her best vacations ever. What a difference between that experience and the one on the Dawn! Oh well, enough said. Now I am booked (with one of my daughters) on the Dream in December. I've read so many good things about the Dream and look forward to it!
  2. Yes, it helps a lot. Thanks for posting the spots. Whew....I'm glad no popcorn was necessary. I guess, had I been asking for myself, I might have started something. I'm sure everyone knows that preaching to your kids about their bad habits has little effect. Especially when that 'kid' is 48!!
  3. Hi all, I'll be cruising later this year with one of my daughters who smokes...her first cruise. Our cabin is near the forward elevators and I know she'll be running out occasionally to take a few puffs. Where are her options to do this? I know smoking is allowed in the casino but can she sit outside somewhere and 'indulge'. Thanks. As her Mom, I wish this wasn't a question she asked me to post!
  4. OMG...some of you folks slay me. Yes, I mentioned the pull tab sales pitch as being annoying and some of you are intent on coming back to it as if it were my major or my only gripe. It wasn't. I think I mentioned enough other things to justify my not being a Dawn fan so I won't rehash them. Loved the Jewel, sailed on the Spirit 4 times which says it all, liked the Sun (one cruise on her was a Hawaii repo which was great) and even the Sky (Alaska years ago) was a very good cruise. Not crazy about the Star so would not choose her again either. Once again, different strokes for different folks. Happy cruising on whatever your choice of ships is.
  5. Ooops, I forgot to mention the ports! !) Cozumel. One daughter and my granddaughter did one of the swim with the Dolphin tours early that morning. They opted to do it through NCL since we had quite a bit of OBC. The other daughter and I shopped a bit and then went to a restaurant called Guidos where we waited for the Dolphin tour goers to join us. Lunch was excellent by the way. We asked our waiter where was good place to go and swim. He said he's go to the 'Money Bar'. We did and were pleased. We got a bucket of SOL ($20 with tip) and the snorkeling was very good!! It's about 5 miles out of downtown and I think the cab was 10 or 12 for the four of us each way. It's a place I'd recommend. 2) Belize. Private cave tubing tour. Good reviews but not so great. They were with some Carnival cruisers who had to be back on board much earlier, so (after the cave tubing), a meal, the walk back through the jungle and the drive back to port were very rushed. They gave this a B-. 3) Roatan. Another private tour. Snorkeling on a catamaran. They said the snorkeling was fantastic. There was actually a cook on board and all the food was delicious. And all the drinks you could want ...from beer to frozen drinks. They gave this an A. The seas were a little choppy (unusually so said the captain) but otherwise they said it was all you want of an excursion. Cost? They said it ended up being $287 for 2 adults and one 11 year old. 3) Costa Maya. We all agreed we should have just stayed on board. The port area is expensive (no dickering) for both stuff and drinks in either of a couple of bars. After having a drink, we asked our waiter where we might go in town. He gave us the name of a place and we set out. We found it after a cab ride and we had very good shrimp and fish tacos and reasonably priced beer. We were on the beach but it was not a good swimming place. I'd been to Costa Maya a couple of times before but never left the port area. This is definitely my least favorite of any Caribbean port!! If you need more info on any place mentioned, I will call DD who made all the arrangements. I know the Roatan snorkeling required a deposit and the cave tubing (reasonable compared to what NCL charges) did not.
  6. I'm back. But enough said about the DR food and service. No complaints about the staff otherwise. One daughter that was along had cruised more than the other...she'd been on Holland America, RCCL. NCL several times before and Carnival...about whom she says 'NEVER AGAIN'. She and DH are booked on the Pride of America in May. Other daughter had only cruised twice before, both Carnival. Her opinion of NCL (over-all) was 'okay but kind'a boring'. Now for the good. The entertainment was excellent. Their singers and dancers were the best I've seen in my 20+ cruises. The magician show was very good, as were the acrobats. In the past I remember the Elements show being on the last night...this time it was on Friday night. On Saturday night they had 2 or 3 different shows, one performance each. If they have the 'Neil Diamond' tribute on your sailing, don't miss it!! I think it was as good a show as you'll see at sea!! Well, I did what I thought I wouldn't be doing again in this lifetime. I booked a Carnival cruise on the Dream for myself and a 3rd daughter who couldn't come along on the Dawn. I may be sorry but at least I'll be sorry in a roomier balcony cabin! And I'm rather looking forward to 'assigned dinner seating' again after the Dawn. Ciao and happy sailing!!
  7. I was at the casino several times...slots and blackjack. Won a little over all but fully expected to just 'make a donation'. What is annoying about the strips is all the hype and, yes, no one twisted my arm the two times I weakened and purchased them so that DGD could have some fun. I'll be a little more specific about the food. I let my two daughters use my specialty restaurant coupon to go to Le Bistro one night. (My DH and I always enjoyed doing that). One daughter had the duck but said it was as dry as a bone. The other had some cheese and vegetable dish but she said she found no vegetables...just a 'tower' of cheese. She said the waitress asked twice if everything was okay as she passed their table at full speed. Anyway, they were not impressed. I always liked going to the dining room on the day we boarded. When we got off the elevator on 7 to enter the Venetian DR a fellow was standing there telling us the DR was almost full and that they were serving only sandwiches and so we should go to the buffet on 12. I told him we'd chance it so we walked down the stairs and found it was about a 1/4 full and they had a full lunch menu. It was not yet 1:00 so it wasn't that they were about to close down. When we left, he was still there and I wanted to say "XXXX,XXXX, pants on fire" but controlled myself.lol And anyway, I'm sure he was just following instructions. I will describe one DR experience so that all 'doubters' will get the drift. First let me say that we tried to get in Aqua twice and always found the line too long, even shortly after 5 when they wouldn't open till 5:30. The Venetian was not only easier to get in to, we were very near the rear elevators and so it was a direct shot. This was the evening of the Element Show and we wanted to make the 6:45 show. We were some of the first to enter the DR...a little before 5:00 and our order was taken rather quickly so we thought 'all was well'. Then our waiter disappeared and was replaced. We'd gotten our starters fairly quickly but by 6:10 we'd not gotten our entrees. The table next to us, who ordered at the same time we did, were through with their entrees and we finally got our waiters attention and asked about our dinners. In a real 'smart alecky' tone he said, "Well, you got your starters" and stopped just short of saying, 'what more do you want'. Our dinners came about 5 minutes later and in the meantime the Matre'd came over and his solution to the slow service was to come back later for dessert and coffee. And - out of curiosity - we asked him what happened to our original waiter and he said that there was an emergency in the kitchen(?) I have no idea what that could have meant. If and when I come back to say more, it will only be good...enough complaining!
  8. Just back from a week on the Dawn and, for the first time, did not purchase a cruise reward certificate. But before I go on, I want to let you know NCL has been my favorite cruiseline for a while now and I'm Platinum +. We (me, 2 daughters and 1 granddaughter) had connecting balcony cabins on deck 10. Cabins were okay and kept up well although I don't remember other NCL balconies being as small as these. Entertainment was great...as always. My main gripe is with the MDR food and especially the service...very indifferent and, on a couple of occasions, downright rude. And those darn pull-tab strips they sell. On every cruise I've been on, it always gets down to the final day and 'no one has won the $2000 yet'!! I spent too much time explaining to my 11 year old granddaughter that this is what is known as a colossal ripoff!!! I promised another daughter (who could not go this time) that she and I would go on a cruise together later this year. I wish RCL was sailing from NO but since they are not, I am seriously looking at the Dream. I'm not a big Carnival fan but I think the time has come to give them another chance. As always, JMHO. One more thing. Loved the Spirit and Jewel (sailed both from NO.. the Spirit 4 or 5 times while she was here) and really liked both. Unfortunately, it looks like the Dawn is going to be parked here for a while. DARN.
  9. To the OP. you've probably gotten more advice than you ever expected! I could probably add 'want' or 'needed'...including mine!lol Back to the train. If you take the express train into Rome, yes, of course it would be faster. But then you've got to get to St Peters/Vatican somehow. So you have the choice of taxi, subway (there is a subway station downstairs in Termini station or a bus(?). All time consuming in getting to your initial destination. I'd opt for the local train from Civitavecchia which - overall - should save you time AND money. If you have time/energy left after your Vatican tour, perhaps you could find a 'kind' cab driver (who wouldn't charge you a kings ransom!) who would run you over into Rome, by a few must sees, and then to Termini station for an express train ride back to Civitavecchia. Otherwise, you could do a lot of running around in circles and waste much needed time. The last time we were in Rome was several years ago. We went to Genoa for a week, took the train to Rome and stayed there two full days before going back to Civitavecchia to board a cruise back home. (So we didn't have any of the time constraints you face). We stayed at a hotel near Termini station. On day one, we had arranged a tour to Pompeii. We got picked up at the hotel early and returned late and it was a perfect day! The bus was 'first class', the tour guide was great and very informative, lunch was very good and we even got to see some of Naples...another place I'd never been. Day two was a different story. We walked over the subway station (with an Italian husband, no problem, right? wrong). The subway was a crowded maze and we were thoroughly confused! We finally made it to the colosseum and after walking around the area for a while, decided to find a place to eat. We did some shopping in a little store and asked the owner to recommend a place. He did and it was the worst pasta I've ever eaten!!! I asked for butter and our rude waiter immediate took out his 'order pad' and wrote it down. I told DH that evidently they charge for butter...they did. Yikes. So much for traveling with a 'native'.lol I have very mixed emotions about Rome (we've enjoyed stays in Lisbon and Paris much, much more) yet it is a must-see place and so I hope you have a wonderful, safe day there on your trip!
  10. I'm back. I found a site that talked about the trains between Civitavecchia and Rome. The local train makes 4 stops between Civitavecchia and Termini station in Rome and one of those is San Pietro...or St. Peters Square. (The express makes makes one stop at a place I never heard of). The local train fare is about half that of the express...no wonder the conductor had his hand out that time!! The local train IS a little slower in addition to making the stops but getting you close to where you want to go should be a big plus. I think.
  11. My husband is from Genoa and we've been to Rome a few times and I'm still clueless about a lot of things!! We once took an early train from Genoa to Rome which stopped in Civitavecchia. Lots of people from the cruise ships got on at that stop to head to Rome for the day. And many of them had purchased 'local' train tickets and we were on the 'express' train and so the conductor was trying to collect the ticket price difference and having lots of trouble in the process. My DH tryed to explain to a nearby elderly man in english what the conductor was saying but finally just gave up. The man kept saying, 'no way....a ticket's a ticket'!!. (Traveling is such fun, isn't it?). One thing I want to point out. I don't think there is too much time difference in how long the trip into Rome is on either train (there is only a few stops on the local) but I think one of the stops is closer to the Vatican and so you wouldn't go all the way in to Rome and back-track. Maybe someone will see this and know or perhaps you check on this somehow. Many years ago we spent a week in Rome and 3 of those days were spent exploring the Vatican area...and we still didn't see everything. So I think that you may not get to see all the other stuff. You will just have to go back again some day...shucks!
  12. Someone on our Jewel roll call site just notified us that Victor Bodden is offering 3 tours in Trujillo in time for the Jewels first arrival. As of now, you can sign up for a snorkeling tour, or a lagoon/mangrove boat tour...each $35pp. There will be one more..Best of Trujillo Tour which they say they are getting ready to offer. The site I found said they will have a kiosk/assembly area on the dock and that anyone wanting to go on one of their tours should be there 1-1/2 hours after the ships scheduled time of arrival. You can sign up in advance but you do not pay until you get there and then only cash. I'm glad there will be more options than just the NCL tours.
  13. A couple of months ago I called my online TA to upgrade and gave her a CC# to use. She put me on hold and then came back to say it didn't go through and she got the CC# again and that time it worked. Shortly after she sent an email saying my card had been charged twice and that NCL said they would issue a credit to my account. Knowing how long it usually takes NCL to issue a credit, I was surprised when it showed up in 3 days. I worked at a small agency for a while and the only time the owner used her CC to book anything was if the customer paid in cash. I can only remember one person coming in and paying in full with cash on the day they booked. She did have a couple of 'regulars' that she would let book in advance and then pay her, for instance, a $100 at a time until they'd paid it off. Once they had to cancel and, since it was before final payment, she just gave them their money back and canceled the cruise. I thought she was very nice to do this for folks. Yes, she was making a sale but it was a bit of a pain to keep track of. But, back to the OP's dilemma. Based on my experience, the charges s/b off your account in a couple of days! Good luck and enjoy your cruise.
  14. A few years ago they had a coupon book that actually had a couple of worthwhile coupons...like a $5 match play coupon for a gaming table. "Those were the days..."!
  15. I got an email today from my online agency but it's re Carnival and lists all the above, 10% back etc. I guess NCL might be offering the same but that would be unusual and NCL wasn't mentioned. I hope you are right for all the folks interested.
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