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About darkpixie08

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  1. darkpixie08

    Covered Balconies on Noordam and Westerdam

    Thank you, alas there are no pictures that I see that answer my question.
  2. I'm looking for information on the Signature Suites on Noordam and Westerdam. Can anyone tell me if the balconies for those rooms are covered on any of the decks? Thanks!
  3. I'm considering booking 2 club class mini-suites for our family of 4 for an Alaskan cruise. I'm trying to figure out if there's any way to book two club class mini-suites with connecting cabins. I looked at some deck plans, for a few ships but I can't seem to find anything with this sort of information. Can anyone help guide me? Are there specific minis that are designated as club-class, or is it just an extra perk that you purchase, and then take your pick of the available mini-suites? If you can help point me to which ships have this, then I can match up the itinerary I'm looking for to see if it's feasible. Thanks!
  4. I feel rather silly for asking, but is there an easy way to compare itineraries on the HAL website, or are the options perhaps listed on some other enterprising site? I'm looking at various Alaska land and sea itineraries, and I can't seem to find a way to easily glance at the order of ports and port times.
  5. darkpixie08

    Small Ship with Kids

    I'm starting to try and plan out our next cruise and we've decided on Alaska, for my husband and I our two kids (they'll be 8 and 10). And I need some help choosing a line. A must see for us is Glacier Bay, so anything that doesn't go there is almost automatically out. I found Alaskan Dream and Uncruise and I love the idea of taking the kids on a smaller ship that is really able to access the wildlife and scenic views. I'm far less concerned about kids clubs, casinos, and shows. Our children know how to entertain themselves, and love wildlife watching. However, my big pause is that it looks like there are no connecting cabins, which would force my husband and I to sleep apart, so that we could have one adult and one child in each cabin, and I'm not super wild about that (we could make do for the week, but it's not my favorite idea). I looked briefly at Crystal which seemed like it might be an ok fit, it doesn't look as though you are able to get quite as close to everything (Seabourn does not seem to hit Glacier Bay). Passenger makeup of the cruise is also fairly irrelevant to us, I don't mind sailing with a primarily older crowd, or having almost no other children on board. Our kids are quite adept at entertaining themselves, are well mannered enough that I don't mind taking them out and knowing that they will act appropriately, especially if there are plenty of options to get out and explore during the day. I'll admit lack of wi-fi is another issue. My husband's job does not usually permit him being out of touch for an entire week. It gives him great flexibility, but the downside is that he usually needs 15 or 20 minutes a day to check emails and oversee things. It is not insurmountable but it would be a giant point in favor if there was a smaller ship that had wi-fi. So basically I'm looking for a smaller boat, with an option for slightly nicer appointed cabins that connect, that hits glacier bay, and allows us to rough it, but also has a few more luxury amenities. Is there something that fits? Perhaps another small line that I'm unaware of? Or are we better off sticking with something like Alaskan Dream or UnCruise, and making our peace with slightly less roomy and well-appointed cabins. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  6. I’ve seen a few older posts on this subject, and I’m hoping to find some more updated info. We have a 5 and 7 year old, and are looking for better service and less crowded areas than we would find on a standard Carnival Cruise. I’m not looking for what will not work (Please do not worry, I will not be not be taking my children on a Silversea Cruise during the school year). But I am interested in the newer options, whether they be on a luxury line, or the “luxury” feel on a mega-ship. We tend to stick to Caribbean itineraries, as beaches and snorkeling are a big hit with the kids. We are also considering an Alaska itinerary in another couple years. And we are at a point where they can handle longer meals, though occasionally we do still have to cut the meal a bit short and either skip or get dessert to go if our 5 year old is getting restless. Rock walls and bowling alleys are of less interest to the kids. Beaches, pools, a quiet spot to read and look at the ocean (per my daughter), tend to be the priority. A few evening shows would not go amiss either, as we are getting to the point where bedtime can be pushed back past 7:30pm without consequences the next day. We’ve done the Disney cruise concierge level twice now, and have enjoyed it. But the children are starting to outgrow the desire for character meals, and the novelty of playing with Goofy on deck. Kids clubs are not as important, we usually spend most of our time together, and the children rarely spend more than two or three hours in the kids club over the course of a whole week. We’ve also tried NCL, but not Haven (regular Suite). Both products were lovely, though both still had the obvious problem of far too many people crammed into most public spaces. Disney had the concierge sundeck which was a welcome respite, and we utilized our balconies quite a bit as well. We started out doing Carnival and RCI, so we’re no strangers to the cattle calls of the mass market ships, but the Four Seasons is more our speed. So for those of you that have cruised with children, what are the best current options? Stick with Disney, try NCL Haven, a specific luxury line in the summer? Any thoughts or past experiences would be welcome.
  7. darkpixie08

    Concierge Tip Question

    Because the forum just wouldn't be complete without another tip question. Last time we were on the ship, there were a few different concierge hosts, and they were all so thoughtful and kind. Is it better to tip each of them individually, or do they pool the tips? Thanks!
  8. Concierge is very much a personal decision. Our family doesn't have the ability to take a lot of time off for vacations over the year, so we put a very large premium on our time when we are able to travel. We also put a large premium on avoiding crowds when possible. Concierge allows us to board the ship quicker, and at our convenience since there is no port arrival time. It assures me that if I want to book a spa appointment or book a cabana I can without worrying about whether the time I want will be booked up. For example, we decided at the last minute to book a cabana on CC for our upcoming cruise, I checked on-line, found everything was booked, so I emailed our concierge to see if there was a wait list we could be put on, on the off chance someone cancelled. About 10 minutes later I received an email back saying that a cabana had been reserved for us, and they hoped we would have a magical trip. My guess is that they set one or two aside just in case this very thing happens. Our trip certainly would have been fine without it, but it's nice to have a little bit more flexibility. The extra space in the room is nice to have as well when traveling with two small children. I can easily understand why someone wouldn't want to cruise concierge when they could manage to sail two times for the same price in a smaller cabin. But for us it's not a choice of choosing an extra sailing, so we splurge during the time we do have. Everyone has their own priorities. :)
  9. darkpixie08

    Cruising with a toddler

    We cruised with our DD when she was 18 months, again when she was 4 and our DS was 1.5, and will be going again now that they are 6 and 3. You know your child best but my advice has always been stick to your normal schedule. If that means they are in bed at 7pm, then they are in bed at 7pm on the ship. It does mean that you miss the evening entertainment, but it's better than the meltdown that occurs when your child is overtired. The other thing that really helped us was role playing "airplane rules" and "restaurant manners" with our kids. By the time our DD was 18 months, she knew that she was expected to sit quietly through dinner, put her napkin on her lap, etc. she also knew that if she behaved well during dinner than she'd receive a special dessert at the end. Did it always work? Nope! She was still a toddler, but she did really well most of the time, and when she didn't, one of us would take her back to the room, while the other had our leftovers boxed up. If we wanted to dine in specialty restaurants (assuming they didn't have any restrictions on small children), we would eat right when they first opened, so that we would be out by the time most other diners were coming in for the quieter and more upscale ambiance. We made sure to bring snacks, stickers, and a small toy with us to dinner to keep them occupied. And we arranged for our server to bring her dinner out with our appetizers, and her dessert out with our meal. Then we'd have our dessert boxed up, or just order something from room service. Having a balcony or suite was also really helpful, so that we had space to hang out while the kids napped. I'll be honest, I personally wouldn't cruise with a baby or toddler without a suite with a separate living area. I'd chose a land based vacation where I could get a cheaper suite style hotel for the first couple years. But of course every family is different, and plenty of families make smaller cabins work. It's just not my cup of tea. If you are flying in early consider having Amazon or diapers.com deliver baby supplies/snacks to your hotel so that you don't have to pack them all. In the end, as long as you realize that the vacation will different, and set the right expectations for yourselves you'll have a wonderful time.
  10. darkpixie08

    Considering a Disney Cruise - Help Me Sort it Out

    I can't compare the ships, as we've only done the Dream. But if you are coming from Crystal and Oceania, I would advise considering concierge level. It will help minimize the number of lines you have to stand in and the little interruptions that occur on a more mass market line. You'll have priority embarkation, debarkation, and probably priority tender tickets as well. The concierge lounges on Dream and Fantasy (soon to come to Wonder) will give you a more quiet space to retreat to, and you'll have access to the concierge sun deck area as well. With the concierge to make appointments for you and score last minute reservations or tickets to the meet and greets, it'll help make the service and amenities you receive closer to the more personalized service you receive on a smaller luxury ship. The pools, buffets, and the deck parties will be very crowded, but that's to be expected. As long as you go in with the right expectations, I'm sure your family, and your grandchildren in particular will have a wonderful time. Of course you can still have a wonderful time without concierge, but it may suit your personal preferences.
  11. darkpixie08

    What age is too young to go on a Disney cruise?

    My biggest concern is always bedtime. How does your child do staying up later? When ours were toddlers, they turned into terrors if they were up past 7:30pm. The screaming, the tantrums... it was never ever worth it to keep them up. So really the question becomes are you going to be trying to keep to a strict bedtime while onboard? If so you need to be ok with the idea that you'll miss the shows and evening entertainment. We've certainly done it, we cruised with our oldest when she was two and a half, but we decided to book a suite so that we'd have more room to hang out and a nice big balcony to enjoy the evening on after ours went to bed. Now that my two are a bit older (3 and 6 years) they can both stay out later, and the only ill effect is them being a little extra tired the next day. Second concern is dining, but by 4, they are usually old enough to sit through a quick(er) dinner in the dining room. We usually have the kids dinner brought out with our appetizers and their dessert brought out with our main course. Then get our dessert to go. This is not every kid though, so take some time to figure out if your little one will sit through the dinner service, or if you'll need to mostly eat at the buffet, and if you're comfortable with that. The other alternative is to feed them beforehand, and then put them in the kids club while you have dinner. So there are plenty of options to make it work, it just helps if you know what to expect. I think you'll be just fine. :)
  12. darkpixie08

    Renting car at MCO

    For those who are considering the logistics of whether to rent a car for two legs so as not to pay the parking fees, or just do one leg round trip, there's also a third option, renting a car dropping it off at port, and then hiring a private shuttle to take you back to the airport, which is what we did. By the time we factored in parking charges, plus the extra days of rental, it made more sense to just hire a shuttle back. It won't always work out in your favor depending on how many days, and what sort of deals you can find, but I've found it often comes fairly close. Besides, I hate the extra time it takes to get the rental car and then get our luggage loaded in. Much easier to just have a car waiting for us at the cruise terminal.
  13. darkpixie08

    Kids Robes

    LOL, glad to hear about the happy child robed sailings! :D Perfect, one less thing to pack!
  14. darkpixie08

    Kids Robes

    Does anyone happen to know if the concierge suites have robes in the room for kids?
  15. darkpixie08

    Top 3 must-haves

    1. Swimsuit 2. Sunscreen 3. A good book