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About CarrieAP

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Syracuse, NY

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  1. This week we should be sailing the last leg of our 34 night transatlantic/ Baltic/ Norway cruise. We retired (unexpectedly) early a few years ago and resumed our love of cruising. After a couple of Caribbean cruises we realized we were a bit bored and decided it was time to venture out further. I love reading trip reports (thank you to all who have shared their experiences!) so became inspired to start visiting some of these beautiful places I was reading about. Our first cruise across the Atlantic was a big deal to us because it was also our first trip to Europe! Yup we are traveling newbies, feeling like mere infants compared to many of you. In 2018 we were thrilled to land in Copenhagen 5 days before our westbound TA and remained spell bound at each port stop along the way. Needless to say we were hooked! Since then we made a goal to take 2 long trips/ year, combining land travel with our cruise. We still have a 21 yo daughter at home to watch the house and dogs so wanted to take advantage of her presence. So me, being a cruise critic addicted planner, relished my time on this site. Then of course this damn coronavirus threw all our lives off course. I spent 30+ years in healthcare so have been soaking up all the news I can learn about this horrible virus. Being human, I've gone back and forth through all the stages of loss from denial, bargaining to anger as I adjust to our new reality. Finally I think I'm transitioning into acceptance. In my head I'm starting to let go the dreams I had for each one of my trips. The world has changed and will be changed for some time to come. We all hold various opinions regarding timing and each have to work through our own reasoning and emotions. For me, personally, I can't see myself realistically planning an international cruise sooner than 2022. It has actually been freeing to reach this point of acceptance. Before, I felt stuck and frustrated with so much up in the air. Now I have a clearer idea how I want to proceed. This, finally lol, brings me closer to why I'm posting. My husband and I are not tied to any one cruise line, instead being more focused on itinerary and value. Recent past cruises have been on NCL and MSC. We do though have a Regent cruise booked for this Sept on the Navigator from Barcelona to Montreal. Happened upon it just as the ship's schedule was adjusted to accommodate a 2nd dry dock and the price reflected its late change. We booked ASAP and since then I have been a frequent reader of this board. In my mind this would be a once and done Regent cruise because while Regent sounds lovely, the cost exceeds our budget. Now of course our Sept cruise is up in the air and I'm doubtful it will sail as scheduled. We've already paid in full so will look at options when the time comes. The cruise following this one is in March of next year on NCL, from Dubai to Rome. Great price, great itinerary and I am perfectly happy sailing NCL. The timing though stinks because there is no way I can seriously plan for a cruise I don't believe will happen. I just wouldn't be able to get excited, holding my breath from now till then. So I looked ahead and don't see NCL offering a similar itinerary for 2022. Then, for some unknown reason, I checked Regent and lo and behold found a cruise from Dubai to Istanbul. It's on the Explorer in April 2022. When I saw the price though I choked on my coffee, spraying it all over my computer screen. We are talking magnitudes of $$ higher than I was planning on spending. Also magnitudes of $$ higher than I can justify spending for ONE trip. But then all your voices started talking in my head. Some of you were telling me about the benefits of Regent, others the value it offered, and some the justification for the cost adding everything up. Seriously. I could quote a few of you, but of course my mind has assigned a voice that is probably far different than reality. Once I quieted you all down, not an easy task lol, I started to think. Gradually I began justifying the cost with the savings from the cruise we should currently be on (MSC- I need my refund!), combined with the NCL one we are canceling. Add in a big dash of feeling sorry for myself for how Corona has squashed my plans and voila- I'm 99% sure we're going to book this cruise!! And now, after what feels like forever, but has in reality been a mere few months, I am excited once again to think about cruising, the anticipation, and the fun of planning. Once I sprung the idea on my husband he saw the light and that cruise glow is gradually coming back into his cheeks. This is a great itinerary that I want to make the most out of so am ready to go all in, including an overland tour to Luxor and even a post cruise tour in Istanbul. I like to maximize what I get for each dollar so usually arrange my own tours and such but given the port stops on this trip I'm eager to give Regent a go and let them do the planning, even if it costs more than I'm usually comfortable spending. Two years is a long ways away but according to the experienced cruisers here I think it will be worth the wait. I hoping you'll all share your wisdom, advice and suggestions, even a differing opinion or two. This is a tough time all around and sadly the halt to cruising has changed the tenor of cruise critic, which is understandable. Personally I'm realizing that an eye toward a more distant horizon is giving me hope that cruising will eventually return to a closer version of its former self. Booking this cruise is a huge step in restoring my faith that I'll get through the next two years and come out good on the other side. We still have a long way to go but getting back to conversations about cruise specifics with questions and answers will help. Of course there are unknowns and yes there will be changes, but some things will fall back into place and that's where I hope we can spend some time together. I'm so excited thinking about this cruise; a trip that would normally be beyond my means. Thanks for reading and I look forward to being a more active participant on this board! Carrie
  2. As others have indicated it's timing of your cruise, and I'd add destination & demographics. We were able to upgrade outright from Spa mini suite to Spa Haven for $1500 total for 16 nights on Nov Epic TA. We could have upgraded to 2 bedroom for same price. I didn't hear of anyone winning a Haven bid and it seemed the cabins were booked/upgraded as the prices dropped. This was an unusually low price point for Havens so assume most folks booking this cruise were seeking bargain rates. Also minimal children or families onboard, who I expect typically book the larger 2 bedroom cabins. Of note: our upgrade price was lower than shown on the website so going forward I encourage those interested to call NCL for a quote as you may find it even cheaper than bidding.
  3. Disappeared for our 4/12 cruise as well. Had it in my cart but wanted to check with my husband 1st, then next day gone.
  4. I've sailed in YC and have 2 weeks outside the YC booked in May. We spend most of our time onboard outside the YC and the vibe has always been upbeat with folks looking like they're having a grand vacation. MSC offers a nice product for the money and I'm certain we'll enjoy our fantastica cabin as well. I love the Divina but won't pay current YC prices so would happily book another category to sail on her again. I would love to see more non-YC posts and responses. I seek out posts that apply to whatever I'm sailing next so all you non-YC people please jump in to share your advice and experiences! (We also sail NCL so note they add 20% service charge to drink package and don't offer specialty coffees or bottled water, so it's hard to make a nose-to-nose comparison when looking at drink package perks. Each line seems to have their quirks.)
  5. We were on this past November's TA from Barcelona to San Juan in a Haven Spa Suite and loved it!! Kind of an odd cabin with the round bed in the middle, but a wonderful balcony with 2 padded loungers and 2 chairs/ stool. We were in 14147, regular size balcony, with some have larger ones. We ended up with nice weather on the sea days and loved Posh sundeck, Haven courtyard and our balcony that we only went to the spa once. Usually we spend a lot of time there but were so many places to chill. I think the Haven in general is overpriced but we felt we got value for the money on the Epic, especially when you can enjoy the amenities on a longer cruise like a TA. The restaurant is outstanding and that combined with specialty restaurants offers many great meals. Le Bistro was our favorite. The ship as whole was much better than reports indicated. Outstanding entertainment, venues, etc. We would happily sail it again, either in Haven or out. In my opinion you've made a good choice and should have a spectacular cruise
  6. We're already booked spring of 2021 on the Dawn, our 1st trip to middle east, if we weren't I'd be seriously interested in this cruise. We just started doing TA's last year (also our 1st time outside Caribbean) and are hooked, particularly when they have interesting itineraries like this one does. Amsterdam is on my bucket list so would be perfect to spend time there after. I say go for it!
  7. There's really not a lot of these and all are located in same general area. Not great being under the pool deck but that is an issue with suites on others ships and lines as well. We were in 14147 for the Nov TA which if I recall is kind of in the middle. Some noise in the wee hours of the morning when they were spraying the deck but not as bad as anticipated. The days were quiet with shoe steps heard once in awhile Big perk on these cabins in the Epic is the large balconies- some are enviously large.These are located on the ends of "bump out". Ours was regular size but still had 2 nice padded loungers and 2 chairs with small table. We used this balcony more than any other we have had. Great Haven on the Epic which is why we upgraded.
  8. I'm on the shy spectrum, yet have a yearning to meet new people. A few years ago I decided I could be the initiator by introducing myself to the closest person/family sitting near us, especially those who were sitting alone like us. I'm so glad I pushed myself! Have met so many wonderful people and now look forward to the M&G. On our last cruise I even volunteered to coordinate the cabin crawl. The opportunity to meet diverse groups of cruisers in age, travel experience, home locale etc. adds to my love of cruising.
  9. Top-Notch review- one of the best I've read!! Have enjoyed every post. Thank you for taking the time to share your amazing pictures and commentary!
  10. Did you by any chance happen to schedule more reservations than allocated in your SDP perk allowance? For example, the dinner shows count as one meal, even though there is an uncharge added to it.
  11. I've cruised out of Port Canaveral 3 times after Universal vacations, using Uber or Lyft for each. I travel alone with my special needs sister and it's been effortless each time. I check the rates to see which service is cheaper, we then gather our luggage and call for a ride on the app when we are ready at the entrance of the hotel. They arrive within minutes, the last one seemed like seconds lol, because they are usually stationed around the resort area. How exciting you're taking your 1st cruise! Welcome to cruise critic!
  12. Oh my! So glad we were able to snag a terrific upgrade price for upcoming 16 night Epic TA. If the food quality matches your beautiful pictures we'll be in food heaven. Pleased about the portion sizes because I get overwhelmed with overflowing plates. Get full too quickly but love trying a variety of dishes. We won an upgrade bid on the Getaway for 1st NCL cruise but only ate one meal each of breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Haven restaurant because our 18 & 21 yo daughters were in a regular cabin and our priority for that cruise was family time.
  13. Curious to hear specifics that precipitated such a strong reaction. We'll be in the Haven this Thanksgiving, on the Epic, so have a bit of a vested interest.
  14. Add me to the list of interested followers! Eager to hear storage hints based on your experience. Doing 20 nights in an inside on the TA from Miami back to Kiel in April. Mostly concerned about storage due to the length of our trip and need for cool/cold weather clothes. We'll be on the ship for a total of 34 nights because we're staying aboard for the following 2 cruises, St. Petersburg/et all followed by Norway. Switching to an aft fantasica cabin for those legs to have the balcony for the scenery and also save $$. Love the Yacht Club so pleased the insides offer an affordable option for enjoying the service and amenities.
  15. Loved the video- put a smile on my face! Beautiful family. Looks like you go all in on vacation, which I love (and am a bit jealous of to be honest). Thanks for sharing your vacation with us!!
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