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  1. https://www.yahoo.com/news/cruise-lines-plan-ban-passengers-224900008.html (from freely roaming the port) One of the best times we ever had as a couple was spending the day in Key West and being able to walk around to Ripley's, get some conch, meet locals, and play in the rain. I am not spending $$ to have someone tell me what to do. You might. To each their own. I went to a Dr. recently and the office asked me if I have recently traveled to a high risk area for Covid. Talk about oblivious. I expect once there is a vaccine, and of course a requirement, this issue will self-resolve. But I don't love cruising enough to have someone Big Brother me. No cruise lines need to send me solicitations until this is resolved. So I am unsubscribing from all of them. Nevertheless, if you choose to cruise, all the best.
  2. There are in the end, three main reasons I love to cruise. 1. Water. Not just any water, ocean water, the beautiful perfectly quiet midnight stroll to the exercise deck where I can just look out and absorb and enjoy my smallness. No boss. No email. No phone. No bills. And the knowledge that unless we completely screw it up, that scene will be precisely the same in 1,000 years is comforting. 2. Ports. I love to explore, learn about new cultures, eat different foods. But now with rumors of port restrictions or refusals, that leaves only the ship. 3. And this is the biggie-social interaction. Making friends, whiling away hours after karaoke trading family anecdotes, building relationships for life. For cruising to be forced to social distance would be like selling popcorn with no salt, a Corvette with no speed, a ride with no thrill, and a pizza with no cheese. I don't get to talk to people in the "real" world. Infernal phones actually have created distance between myself and my friends. A text message has replaced a birthday card. Virtual dining has replaced family styled sharing. One big problem I continue to see? There are still no protocols to make sure passengers, you know, get home. We work. We have to be back at a certain time. We can't just cruise indefinitely, and certainly, being confined to an inside stateroom in the event of another outbreak could be scarring. So we would from now on, spring for a balcony. But that is only half of an issue. We still have to be guaranteed return to port and into country. What government is trying to make that happen? So this whole idea a working couple can return to cruising, when even the slightest rumor of an illness could delay us weeks-forget it. Another issue is Youtubers. Were I in the cruise industry I would certainly try to get a legal handle on all of these so called cruising experts spreading rumor and in some ways worse, "expert conjecture" that is more harmful than informative. Yes I need a 25 year-old working at Hooters with a Go Pro giving her opinion on how the CDC will operate. This will inform my decision. I was unsure before, however after watching this young woman who obviously shops at Sephora, well, that is just good sense to take her word for it. And of course, the concern is simple. Where there be HD cameras also flow idiots. In an effort to go viral, I fear that any sniffle, cough, even sweat could be manipulated into a video labelled "C-19 on my ship?," get a gazillion views, freak out the CDC and port authorities and cause us to be stuck. Sometimes I enjoy my tech. Like when I am taking a good picture of my family or need to bank. But other times I wish that the person who invented the smartphone had instead been encouraged to take up ballet. We are still a free country, but I am not sure if we are nearly as free as we used to be. And I want to tell some of you kids who might read this something. You have tech. You have better skin care, online schools, and thrillier rides at the amusement park. But I had potluck Christmas parties at school. I didn't view my childhood from behind a cell phone camera. I wasn't afraid of a water fountain. And I know the outright thrill of picking up a ringing phone, with a cord, and having that special girl on the other line. No I wouldn't trade my 1980's for your 2020's. I would not trade my experience for your youth. And I hope you understand that a text message is the ultimate social distancing. Yesterday I fist bumped my very own mother. Then I said this is ridiculous and hugged her and my brother. It was his birthday for goodness sakes. Geez hope I don't die. And the very idea I could, from a hug, angers me. Not sure at who. I cruise to connect. Not for go carts or Broadway or rock climbing or surfing. I cruise to connect to people, and to ports. If I can't do that, I might as well stay home, warmed by the memories of a time where people could hug and kiss and share food. (Yes I have tried a seatmate's food before, not after he ate it but still. Call the press. He might have breathed near it.) In other words I lived my human existence as a human. And I cruise to re-connect to that humanity. Good luck to all and my fondest wishes for us all to happily cruise again: Sitting together. Maskless. Singing drunk and carefree. Like humans were meant to do. As lifelong friends hours after being strangers. -T
  3. Crashing a car does not generally affect entire populations. Coming off of a cruise ship with an infectious disease could. Our opinions won't be a factor guys. These are just ideas, but by no means do I expect deference to them. The governments, if they decide to step in, are not likely to be consulting us.
  4. I love to cruise. Wife and I both do. Look at my userid! But for the foreseeable future, if there is such a thing, we will not be. Many of our friends are from cruising. Both passengers and crew. The human toll this monster is leaving in its wake is staggering. Yesterday I woke up to the thought that the infrastructure of cruising as a whole could be in liquidation by the end of the year. But it may not have to go down like this. The primary concern I have is not just the virus itself, but getting home. I had no idea that a ship could float indefinitely with no system in place for emergency disembarkation. This must change. There has to be an international treaty, agreed upon by the participating nations, for emergency evacuation and medical care, at whatever port the emergency arises. Of course this would cost, and I expect it would raise costs of cruising. Also ok. But these nations have to partner to protect their people and they are not doing so. This agreement would look like this: 1. Evacuation, containment, treatment, and return home guaranteed to every cruiser based on their national origin. To pay for this, both the lines and the cruisers would have to pay into a secondary pandemic insurance fund, beyond the normal insurance, and this to me is going to be nearly $100 per person. In the event of such an emergency, of course that would barely cover a soda, but the idea is that it is an international fund pool that is constantly added to by ships and passengers that do not have such problems. 2. All participating countries would be refunded from this fund according to personnel and passengers handled not from port nation. In other words-if the United States handles 17 Mexicans, 37 Australians, and 1500 Americans, then it would "bill" for 54 accommodations. The international fund would dole out the taxpayer compensation and then collect from the partner nations. 3. All participating countries should develop a portside infrastructure of hospitals and containment at every port. ALL. Yes again, costs should be mutually shared. ALL participating countries must protect the employment and residential status of any passenger quarantined in such a scenario where it is warranted. This also protects the port nation at large. Rather than a piecemeal approach we would then have a firm mechanical protocol to rely upon. Vaccines are a must. Goes without saying. Sanitation should be improved particularly in crew areas. Now some of you will balk because this will raise the cost of cruising. Well get used to that. Cruising will probably increase in pricing, perhaps drastically. Besides any potential commitment to a potential cost sharing treaty, the extra costs for sanitation, perhaps HVAC redevelopment, and a complete restructure of the check-in process, along with a need for full-mini hospitals onboard, and you can expect higher costs. But you can also expect safer ships in this scenario. One of the options cruise lines can look into, is the "hotel" model. If a ship does not leave port, or at least american waters, then it is my understanding that the passenger has not left the country itself and thus has not given up an automatic right to re-enter the port. This is important. Cruisers have to be confident that if they get on a ship, they will someday be able to get off of it. The situation the people on the Zaandam and Princess ships were and are facing is a waking nightmare. The idea that a virulent contagion can spread in a ship with no mechanism for evacuation or treatment is enough to terrify consumers into abandoning the concept altogether. The hotel model allows passengers to embark, drive out a few miles, see a pretty view, enjoy the entertainment, food, and camaraderie and then leave according to more personalized schedule. This could even be done by tendering. This way the ships could gain some revenue without being completely out of the ballgame. Los Angelenos, for example, could do a long weekend for $199 pp, for example, and for these purposes I would highly recommend state legislatures and Feds waive the casino rules so the people can play. If the passengers could do so knowing their re-entry to the port is not a matter for debate, even if they were to fall ill, the infrastructure to handle the illnesses would already be in place. But for these purposes, it is hard to imagine any line not requiring a certificate of whatever Covid vaccination eventually becomes part of the solution. Because the USA is a configuration of fifty kingdoms, and we now see how truly de-centralized its governance is, Governors themselves will have to cede to Federal authority if my hypothetical treaty were to work. Will it? I don't know. All of these states face particular challenges none of us can really understand, and therefore we can't really justify a critique on their response. So I am careful not to judge any of these people responsible for decision making in a real life game theory few hypothesized. The best we can do is learn from this. Will cruising survive? I think so. Like any industry it has to adapt and enhance, and it can. And at some point when we have a vaccine, and ships are improved, and my family can enter a ship knowing there is rock solid international protocol if we face an emergency, I feel we will go back on. But it won't be soon. And it may not be the brands, or concepts, we once knew.
  5. I look at it like this, I have to make a decision, do I want "big time" entertainment, that requires reservations, waiting in line, or more generic fun shows like Playlist Productions or similar on other lines designed to be fun at the time, but not Cats and something I can walk into at my leisure? When we cruise, it is to have a relaxed and easy good time. If I want big time, we go to Las Vegas. This is us: Vegas=planning=stress. Cruising=ahhh. So if the shows "suck" so what? I still watch pretty people with cool sets sing cool songs and dance around energetically enough to entertain. And if that is no good, I do karaoke. Or games. Or a poolside movie. Or see a comedian. Or meet with friends. Or go to the hot tubs. Or sit on a balcony and read. Or go to the piano bar..see where this is going?
  6. As long as your goal is to relax and have fun, a positive approach will handle it. So expect to have fun, just like I said, frame it in that context. Mission is not a perfect cruise. Mission is to have fun. i am just being objective based on 21 cruises, a rookie to some of you.
  7. I disagree. MDR food is not the same on each line. It is not even the same on each ship. Lunch in Savor was pretty good. And the burger in Savor vs. The Local was completely different meat. Yes, Beatles Tribute played in theater the last night. I did not attend. Back to MDR food-Princess is better in our opinion, but it carries recipes by Curtis Stone on Ruby and Royal, (maybe others.) It shows. However if I might theorize I believe Norwegian is the only mainstream line that does fully anytime dining. This might affect execution, whereas Princess knows upfront how many to expect at a certain time. It is certainly easier to cook, if you have a guest list.
  8. The big question first, would I book her again? The answer is not in current configuration. I would like to state that this opinion is based on preferences, and should in no way dissuade you from booking, nor give you concern if you already have. Like just about any cruise, count on having a good time. But leave it at that expectation. Broadly, just having a good time. First the Noro rumor thing. Did not encounter it. What I did find was a ship clean enough to eat from the floor. Whether there was Noro or not, I can't say. Seemed fine, and they were very cautious. Big problem 1. Buffet. Not appealing to me. Weird choices, (turkey parmigiana?) bland food, fractured configuration. The Indian food was good. The rest was an odd mismash of pork, boxed pastas, canned veggies, and believe it or not, bologna. Solution? Observation lounge. For some reason, perhaps proximity to The Haven, the buffet there, while limited, was higher quality and fresher. Nice sandwiches, meats and cheeses. Big problem 2. Daytime activities. Not enough that did not require a fee. This was a recurring theme. Solution? Go to port. Sea days were slightly better. Big problem 3. MDR was a letdown. Choices were fair, if dated, however execution we found lacking. Solution? Specialty dining. Eh, speculate among yourselves as to why the food, in our opinion, was so drastically different from MDR to specialty. Q was magnificent, as was Food Republic, Teppanyaki and Cagney's. Ocean Blue was fair but lacked the fresh fish on the menu in several cases. Some of it had been replaced with other fish. For instance, Branzino, to Rainbow Trout. Big problem number 4? Space in The Cavern for Beatles tribute. As one might expect, the show was crowded, sometimes up to an hour before. We counted 70 seats, and on one night, management actually closed access to the room. Solution? Get there early. Very early. Big problem number 5. Hard beds. Solution? Egg crate. Inelegant but worked. But compared to Princess, however, the room comfort is in our view lacking. Positives? Plenty. Cryptic Duo was fantastic, and very friendly, the Beatles tribute was good, but again, the venue is small, somewhat claustrophobic to me, and the acoustics do not compare to The Social. Clinton Jackson the comedian is a national treasure. Clean, warm, hilarious. Carl Guerra is a comedian. That is all I will speak about him. Footloose is fun. Choreography was a bit sloppy. But it was fun, so for those less familiar with the workings of theatre, the dancing will be less noticeable. Nice vocals, excellent sets. Seats we did not find comfortable. Drinks were fantastic, terrific bartenders. Service sometimes slow. Atrium is usually overcrowded, which is unfortunate, because all of the trivia and games are done there. Roberto the cruise director is very friendly. Mona and Pedro with the entertainment team are sweet but shy. Lido is lacking. Tiny pool area, huge floor area. They smartly use this as seating for pool bands. Spice H2o is a great place for hot tubs and such, but is busy. So we did not find this ship to be great for lido loungers. Also, no food whatsoever on Lido expect for buffet. No outdoor hot dog grill, burgers, nothing. For those familiar with Princess and Carnival you will notice. The local, is uh, food. Reubens are good, overall a limited menu. They do not allow to go. For $7.95 you can have room service. This is a common theme, the nickel and dime aspect to me. After a while it just gets to be grating. Room service, fee. Sauna, fee. Cars, arcade, laser tag, fee, fee, and more fees. American Diner serves much of what I remember the Local once serving when it was O'Sheehan's on other ships, but as a specialty charge. For Burgers and Mozzarella sticks, for reals? Predictably, we saw few people in there. I would guess it will close or be replaced. Venues in general we found lacking. I mean literally-there just is not enough of them. This is perhaps due to so many restaurants taking up space. We did not use go carts, laser tag, or the virtual reality arcade. We don't cruise for that. Personally, we would prefer a basketball court and some more pool options. The Social is a nice place to see comedians, do karaoke, and dance at night. Again, somewhat smallish and really, there is only that, The Cavern, and the Atrium for events other than the piano bar and Joy theater. Maltings Whiskey is a nice space you can drink in but no activities are held there. Mostly this is a ship for eating and drinking. We did step into The District, a brew pub, for the piano bar, but again, you guessed it, small. And reservations. Oh the reservations. You have to book constantly; restaurants, shows, laser tag, go carts, it is anything but freestyle to have to book ahead of time, in my opinion. So because of the venues, an unappetizing buffet, weak MDR the lack of outdoor space, and persistent upselling, nickel diming, we would not book again. However, this is my opinion. We did have fun. We did not go a whole week with no fun. We met nice people, made friends, learned new things, and relaxed. So don't read this and think your trip will suck. It will not suck. A few adjustments like the solutions I mentioned go a long way towards mitigating the issues I spoke about and it always help to not be uptight. I just feel, as a vacation investment, Norwegian does not stack up to other products in terms of offerings or consistency. It is not as polished as Royal Caribbean nor as fun (action packed) as Carnival. That said, I do not want to leave the impression that we are ruling out ever using Norwegian again. We find their Jewel class ships to be the perfect combination of amenities and size. And no reservations needed for shows is a plus. If however, you are booked on this ship don't be discouraged, it is just one opinion among many and there are plenty of good things about this ship to look forward to. Make sure to kick off your Sunday shoes when you embark.
  9. I asked a question related to how it affects my family and our cruise if the border is shut down. I did not offer my political opinions on it nor did I request any. I submit that any matter of national security that can affect the procedures of a cruise it is a pertinent question relevant to this site.
  10. What are the consequences if this border is shut down? Will we be allowed entry to Mexico? Will we be re-routed to a Pacific Coastal? What if we go to Mexico, it shuts down, and when we return we are denied entry?
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