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The Traveling Man

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  1. It varies from one ship to the next. Even though NCL’s list of Latitudes perks says that you have access to the Concierge, they aren’t always responsive to those who aren’t traveling in the Haven. On one occasion I approached a Concierge, with my key card in hand and “Platinum Plus” clearly visible, and the Concierge literally turned around and walked away.
  2. You may want to double check on that. It may have been planned, but it probably will be canceled.
  3. The Spirit has had a major refurb since then. We have sailed on her twice before and really were looking forward to seeing her all shiny and new in March 2020. That one was canceled by COVID.
  4. Simply one more reason to avoid the Star, as if the Azipod problems weren’t enough.
  5. We were on the Encore last month and I hosted the CC M&G. My wife and I were invited to the Haven for the Captain's cocktail reception, even though we were sailing in a standard Balcony stateroom. A couple of years ago I was the M&G coordinator on a Dawn class ship. There isn't a Haven on those ships, but Suite guests do get to have breakfast and lunch in one of the specialty restaurants such as Cagney's or Moderno. Even though we were in a Balcony, we received an invitation to dine with the Suite people. It probably is up to the discretion of the GM to extend this courtesy, so it may vary from one ship to another.
  6. I just received clarification from NCL today on the change in policy. "We received the notification of the updated EU guidelines on Monday 10/4/2021. Meetings of any kind are no longer being offered on sailings in Europe including but not limited to: Friends of Bill W, Friends of Dorothy, Latitude Parties, VIP Parties, etc." So, yes, the new policy does apply to all sailings from Italy on all NCL ships, including the Getaway. NCL did have M&Gs on the Getaway in September, but not at present. This change appears to affect all other NCL sailings in Europe in the near future, not just Mediterranean cruises sailing from Italy.
  7. My wife and I have taken 27 cruises on NCL ships and I kept the key cards from 23 of them. Several times we took B2B cruises and the ship kept our cards from the first of the two cruises when they issued a new card for the second cruise. Sixteen of my cards are off-white with a Teal colored photo of a sand dollar in the lower right corner. Each of those cards bear the slogan "WELCOME BACK TO NORWEGIAN." A couple of them were for Inside staterooms, but most were Balconies. Three of my cards are off-white but with a lilac colored image of a sea shell in the corner. They each bear the slogan "WELCOME TO THE GOOD LIFE." Two of them are for Suites on Dawn class ships. We received the other one on the second half of a B2B on the Epic. We had been in a Balcony during the Transatlantic portion of the trip and received Teal colored keys for that part of the cruise. We moved to an Inside room for the three day continuation from Barcelona to Rome and got the lilac "GOOD LIFE" card for that one. Most of the other passengers on board had booked a seven day Western Mediterranean cruise and received the standard Teal colored cards, but NCL also offers a three day trip on the first cruise of the season, and the different colored cards are used to distinguish those on the shorter version of the cruise. I have two khaki colored cards with the slogan "WELCOME TO YOUR SANCTUARY" for the cruises we have taken in the Haven on one of the Breakaway class ships. The key cards from our first two NCL cruises, in 2012 and 2013, do not have a slogan on them. The first one has a deep purple color all over, while the second one is azure. We traveled in Inside staterooms on each of those cruises. In recent years, we have noticed that NCL uses a peach colored card for first-timers. When we notice someone with one of those cards, we like to say hello and welcome them to sailing with NCL. Clearly, then, the color of the key cards is not random. There are definite, easily discernible patterns which NCL uses to distinguish passengers by type of stateroom and Latitude status. Prior to the COVID shutdown, NCL provided cruises for more than a million passengers per year. They were buying blank cards by the hundreds of thousands for each of these colors. It's possible that a failure to reorder in a timely manner may occasionally have resulted in a shortage of one color or another on some cruises, but most of the time NCL adheres to a standard color pattern. But after all, does it really matter? As long as your key opens your stateroom door, gets you on and off the ship without delay, and takes care of your on-board purchases, do you really care what color it is?
  8. Makes sense ! The only reason I like to board early is on those occasions when I'm traveling in first class and have carry-on luggage. There always seems to be some yahoo in row 25 who shoves his bag into the first available overhead bin, whether its right above his own seat or above seat 2B up front. If he gets on before me and takes up the space over my seat, I have to stow my bag several rows back, which makes it tough getting off the plane.
  9. I agree. We felt safer on the Encore last month without masks than I did last week wearing a mask in my local deli to pick up a sandwich for a to-go lunch.
  10. For me it depends on the ship, the itinerary, and the price difference. Most of NCL's smaller ships either have no Haven or the Haven was added as an afterthought and lacks some of the amenities found on the larger ships, such as an exclusive Haven Restaurant. The service and personal attention there can be spectacular. You may find that it is less appealing to pay for the Haven on one of the smaller ships. On cruises that involve a lot of sea days, such as Transatlantic crossings, you'll be spending many more daylight hours on the ship, and probably more time in your room. That can make a real difference in deciding if the Haven is worth it. Finally, the price difference is a major factor and it varies greatly from one cruise to the next. We have sailed in the Haven only twice out of 27 cruises with NCL. The first time we had six sea days out of 14. The second time it was seven days at sea out of 10. On the second cruise our price difference between Balcony and Haven was under $100 per person per day. On our first time in the Haven the difference was just $55 per person per day. Each time the additional fare also included full access to the spa, something we would not have had with a standard Balcony stateroom. Yes, it definitely was worth it on those two voyages. On other, shorter, more port intense cruises, not so much.
  11. To my way of thinking, priority access on a ship is sort of like boarding sequence on an airplane. If you've flown a couple of million miles with a particular airline, then it seems to me that you have earned the right to be first in line (or at least among the first) to board. Even if it's your first time flying, if you have paid for a first class ticket, then yes, you should expect to be among the first on board and there should be plenty of room in the overhead bin for your carry-on luggage. Those who pay less, have traveled less, or are flying on a bargain-basement ticket should not be surprised that others get priority service. The same holds true on a cruise ship.
  12. A question came up on another CC NCL thread about the color of key cards. This is one reason for the color coding. Pax boarding the Epic at Barcelona could be issued one key card color, while those boarding at Rome might get another. A few years ago we took a two-week TA on the Epic from Florida to Barcelona. From there the Epic began its summer season of seven-day Western Med cruises. On the first cruise of the season, though, pax have the option of taking just the three-day leg from Barcelona to Rome. We did that, and I noticed that we received key cards which were a different color than those issued to others traveling in similar accommodations. At the end of the summer season, NCL also offers a four-day Rome to Barcelona option before returning to Florida. I expect that those on the four-day journey also get a different color key card to make it easy for ship personnel to know who is going where. Even without color coding, though, the dates of your cruise are printed on your key card and the info is encoded in the mag stripe and chip. The security team knows exactly who is supposed to disembark at each port and who is allowed to stay on board.
  13. A few of NCL's itineraries, notably the Epic in the Western Mediterranean, embark / disembark at more than one port of call. For example, most folks sailing on the Epic will get on board at Barcelona for a seven day cruise, then exit back at Barcelona. A few other Epic passengers will have booked a seven day cruise that boards three days later at Civitavecchia (the port for Rome). They will overlap four days with those who got on before them and three days with those who will board afterward. Since no in-transit passenger is required to go ashore at an intermediate port of call, and since one person's "intermediate" port is another person's "home" port, it is possible that there could be passengers still on board all day at a port where others disembark their cruise.
  14. Except for one time when the ship was late arriving in port, I think the latest we ever left the ship on the last day was between 9:00 and 9:30. There were still a few hundred who disembarked after us.
  15. We are booked in a standard Balcony stateroom on the Epic. Usually the Cruise Critic member who coordinates the M&G also is invited to the Captain's Reception, even if they aren't traveling in the Haven,. Since NCL has shot down the M&G for our cruise, though, I don't expect to be invited to the reception. I don't know if I'll be able to find out if they hold the reception or not.
  16. I think that may be a plausible supposition. NCL also has cancelled the behind the scenes tours as well as dinners with officers. This probably is for the same reason, to keep passengers and crew apart as much as possible.
  17. The usual process is for a Cruise Critic member to email the Special Events Department at NCL who then gets in touch with the coordinator on board the ship.
  18. It may be that this applies only to the Epic, or it could be that Italy's strict rules regarding COVID may impact any cruise in the near future that sails to or from Italy. Where did your Getaway cruise embark and sail?
  19. I just received this response from NCL about our request for a Meet & Greet on the Epic on our October 20th cruise. "Thank you for your patience during these fluid times. Regrettably, we have just confirmed with our Hotel Operations team due to current safety protocols for our current EU sailings, we will not be able to arrange meetings of any kind. While we understand this is unfortunate, the safety of our guest and crew is at the upmost importance. We are sure you and your group will still have a memorial time onboard." So it looks like no M&Gs on any NCL cruise in Europe for the time being. I wonder if this also means no Latitudes parties.
  20. We were tested separately last month in Seattle for our Alaska cruise on the Encore.
  21. For those of us who will be sailing on the Epic next month, but departing from and returning to Civitavecchia, do you have any info on the COVID testing procedures for persons leaving the ship to fly home from Rome?
  22. We were on the same sailing with you. I agree that the dinner in Onda was our best meal of the week, but the lamb in Le Bistro and the scallops in Ocean Blue ranked right up there, too. The sushi in Food Republic was very good, maybe not the best ever, but very good. Dinner in Los Lobos, especially the cactus salad, was outstanding.
  23. We do the same thing. During the year-and-a-half of COVID, we've had 15 different cruises cancelled. We might have sailed on five or six of those, maybe seven if they ever had actually come to fruition, but when one door closed we just kept on opening another. We eventually got to sail last month on the Encore, and will be on the Epic next month. We have three others on the books for 2022, and once I get my sea legs under me again, we'll probably start booking a few more.
  24. I would expect that more than 200 use the spa, but nevertheless my point is that there is a significant difference in the design of the two ships. Perhaps only a couple of hundred people per cruise make use of the race track on ships which have it, but likewise there is a major difference between those ships and other “similar” ships which lack it. Things like a spa, race track, etc., though perhaps used only by a minority of passengers, do in fact constitute major differences between one ship and another.
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