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About Bluewake

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  1. As we prepare for a fall cruise which stops in Limon, Costa Rica, I've been looking at potential excursions. This will be our first time in Costa Rica. We've been looking at a tour which includes a walk in the Tortuguero National Park as well as a boat trip along the Tortuguero Canal. However, there are several different rainforests in Costa Rica. We'd love to hear from anyone who has taken the boat trip along the Tortuguero Canal and walked in that particular park. What did you think of the excursion? Was it enjoyable? Would anyone recommend a different rainforest? We are aware that some rainforests (such as Veragua) have a tram ride but have heard conflicting things about it. Some say it was wonderful. Others say it was nice but you really didn't see much. Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions!
  2. Perhaps I'm uninformed but I don't necessarily think that MSC has a nefarious motive for the bidding program such as intentionally holding out cabins in a certain category and enticing people to compete for them as a device to drive up prices for those cabins. Could it simply be a reasonable "best business practice"? The reason I tend to think this is because I am booked for an MSC cruise in August. I recently happened to check the prices for that cruise and saw that balconies and oceanviews were available only as guarantees, not for direct booking. However, some YC interiors and even some YC balconies were still available....apparently, the YC wasn't filled. Seemed to me that MSC needed to find a way to open up some more balconies and oceanviews if they were going to be able to honor those guaranteed bookings. A couple of days later, I received an offer to bid for an upgrade to the YC. My guess is that there must not have been potential customers willing to pay the full YC price for those cabins. So, the bidding process enables the cruiseline to "move" a few passengers to rooms that, for some reason, have been left unbooked and possibly could go empty. Although the cruiseline won't receive the full "asking price" for those cabins, the bidding process generates at least some additional revenue for the line....something that simply offering free upgrades to already booked passengers would not accomplish. But even more importantly, that also allows the cruiseline to open up standard interiors, oceanviews, and balconies for which there may be waiting and interested customers. And, of course, the more people they can get onboard, the more people there are to buy drinks, purchase excursions, and pay gratuities. Furthermore, I once saw a TV program on CNBC called "Big Money on the High Seas" in which NCL exec Andy Stewart was interviewed. I recall him saying that alcohol and other onboard purchases account for a significant degree of the profit for a cruise. It's all about getting people on the ship because they know people will buy drinks, jewelry, perfume and specialty restaurant dinners. So, allowing cabins to go empty is simply unacceptable from a business standpoint. The article at the following website states that about 28% of revenue from a cruise comes from such sources. https://www.cruzely.com/heres-how-much-money-cruise-ships-make-off-every-passenger-infographic/ To the more informed, this all may be obvious but I'm still learning!
  3. I've had PCC's with three different cruiselines including NCL. Two "self assigned" (NCL and Carnival) after calling me unsolicited and one (MSC) was assigned to me after I reached her when I called the cruiseline to book a cruise. My friend does have a PCC whom he finds to be very helpful but he and his wife are gamblers who spend a lot of money in the ship's casino. I think that is why their PCC is so accommodating. That, unfortunately, has not been the case with me. My experience with PCC's has been that they were very enthusiastic and helpful with the process of booking the cruise but when I've called with subsequent questions or seeking assistance, the response has consistently been underwhelming. In one instance a few months ago, I sought the PCC's help with a cabin change and waited 3 days for a response. I finally received an email instructing me to call the cruiseline directly. I also monitor price drops and special deals and call the cruiseline when there is a significant offer. I've found that some lines instruct you to contact your PCC in such situations, meaning you have to wait for them to get back to you. And, sometimes you miss out because those price drops and deals are good for only a day or so. Again, I am sure some PCC's are very effective but I've never received any sort of great price, credit, or information from a PCC that was otherwise unavailable. I don't mean to impugn the effectiveness of all PCC's...some may be helpful for new cruisers. However, as a veteran cruiser, I haven't experienced the purpose or value.
  4. Thank you for such a great review and pictures! We will be on the Seaside in August. Not only is your review getting us excited about our own cruise but your advice is incredibly helpful. One question I do have is about the cabin. We also will be in a Bella balcony on deck 9, one that is directly over the infinity bridge. It looks like your cabin may be a bit forward of that but have you had any problems with noise or other issues because your balcony is so close to the walkway on deck 8? Thanks for your thoughts on this. Please keep the review going!
  5. We are booked in a Bella balcony cabin on MSC Seaside. The cabin we are in is 9176, essentially midship. From the deck plans, it appears that the balcony directly overlooks a walkway on Deck 8. Just wondering if anyone who has had a cabin located in that area of Seaside has found the closeness of the walkway to be a problem.
  6. This is exactly the info I needed. I had assumed/hoped that NCL offered excursions in Panama just as the other lines do. Now I know that is the case. Thank you all very much!
  7. We are booked on a NCL cruise that includes a partial transit of the Panama Canal....goes into Gatun Lake, turns around, returns back through the canal, and briefly stops in Colon. Having never before taken a Panama Canal cruise, I am trying to get information concerning any potential excursion opportunities to see the canal and/or other activities in Panama. Nothing is posted on the NCL website. Accordingly, I am reaching out on CC to anyone who has done a NCL partial transit. Were any excursions offered by NCL while the ship was making that partial transit to/from Gatun Lake? Or, is it that passengers simply have to remain aboard until the ship is back in Colon and there is a 3 hour stop? Much appreciated!
  8. As I read the various posts reporting problems with MSC service reps, I have to say that my experience with MSC reps has been, on the whole, quite positive. The only glitch was minor; that was when I applied for the initial status match. It seemed to be taking longer than expected. In fact, friends who had applied on the same day received their response and a week later I still had heard nothing. The personal vacation planner to whom I'd been assigned turned out to have little interest in helping out. I finally just called the main MSC number myself, was told that the person who had been assigned to process my case had fallen ill and had been out for a week or more. It was fixed by the person I reached within 24 hrs. Since then, I've called MSC on multiple occasions, had no problems reaching a rep, and all of the reps with whom I've spoken have been very helpful. Maybe I've just been lucky but I've been very pleased.
  9. I read the reviews but tend to discount reviews or posts that don't demonstrate any sort of balance...where the reviewer characterizes everything as being all good or all bad instead of pointing not only the negatives but also the positives. There are so many different factors that contribute to the quality of a cruise...itinerary, cabin, price, excursions, service, food, activities and amenities, entertainment, condition of the ship, service reps/agents, fellow passengers, debarkation, and other aspects. Each of us places a different priority on these various factors...some matter more and some matter less. In 25+ cruises, I've never been on the perfect cruise or the perfectly bad cruise...it has always been the case that I've been pleased with some of those aspects and less pleased with others. However, for some folks, there can be one particular "make or break" factor that colors their overall perception of the entire cruise or even the cruiseline. I just don't view a cruise or cruiseline in that way.
  10. We were on the MSC Divina in February and looked for a private "Death in Paradise" tour but the ones we found seemed to be quite expensive for just the two of us. We settled for the ship's Botanical Garden Tour. The garden - which is beautiful - is located about a mile from the town of Deshaies. And, it was in the botanical garden where the original inspector met his demise! The tour also stopped at the Langley Fort Royal beach resort where the hotel in which many of the crew and cast members stay is located and where some episodes have been filmed. I also think that this same beach area is relatively near where the inspector's shack is set up during filming (it's removed when filming stops) but we weren't able to confirm that. We truly wished the bus would have stopped for a few minutes in Deshaies but that wasn't on the schedule...although we later heard that some of the drivers will briefly stop for a photo op if time allows. However, we drove past the police station, Catherine's bar, and other sites from the show. If you just want to see the general area where the show is filmed and are okay with passing by the main locations in Deshaies instead of stopping, the Botanical Garden tour is a possible (as opposed to a private tour) alternative.
  11. The posts concerning no water in the MDR surprise me because we were on the Divina (out of Miami, FL) in February and were served water at every meal in the MDR. Since it was poured from a pitcher, I assume it was "tap water", not from a bottle. My only complaint was that it was served room temperature without ice. I suppose it's rather like being served cellar/room temp beer in English pubs. We Americans seem to prefer it ice cold! Is it possible that the practice/policy on water differs by ship and/or region?
  12. While such comparisons are interesting, I think it's important to keep in mind that statistical inferences are only as meaningful as the data upon which they are based. In this case, the "data" is the summary score of Cruise Critic reviews which are voluntary, posted only by those who are aware of the existence of CC, and - I think can reasonably be assumed - are likely to be from posters who are motivated to submit a review because they either are highly pleased or displeased...although I certainly realize that not every poster falls into those two categories. Still, without any sort of randomization, the review data is inherently biased which gives rise to serious questions about the accuracy and value of any conclusions about the results. Kind of fun to read and discuss but not something on which to base spending your hard-earned money. What I do find helpful are detailed reviews about various aspects of the cruise. It's interesting to read the subjective "take" of the reviewer about those things because it usually tells you what their expectations were vs. what they found...and that is what makes one person love a cruise while another comes away hating the same cruise.
  13. One really cannot rely on a single post to decide if any cruiseline is "good" or "bad". Similarly, for most of us, no single factor is the sole determinant of whether a cruise or cruiseline is "good" or "bad". I do, however, understand that there are some people who place so much importance on a particular aspect that it makes or breaks a cruise. In my opinion, you first must decide which factors on a cruise are most important to you, investigate each one, and then make your own decision. If your standard is how one particular line does something and are disappointed if another cruiseline does it differently, then you likely could find MSC not to your suiting. Although our experience with MSC is limited, it has been very positive when compared with the other lines on which we've sailed in our 25+ cruises. MSC does some things a bit differently than other lines but those, at least to me, are relatively minor...they simply don't significantly affect my experience. Hence, we are now looking at MSC over some other lines when considering cruises.
  14. We have had good and bad experiences with Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean....no line is perfect. We very much enjoyed our inaugural MSC cruise and are returning for our next one. We found a more sophisticated and international group of passengers, superior entertainment, a beautiful and well-kept ship, fine food, and helpful crew. Was everything perfect? Of course not. I don't doubt that someone can have a bad experience on any cruiseline and can respect the fact that they can honestly be turned off to that line because of that experience. But don't be deterred by someone else's' negative time/review. See for yourself. We are glad we tried MSC.
  15. Another cruiser here who is Platinum on NCL but whose "test cruise" experience on MSC was so good that we booked our next cruise on MSC and are looking at others further out. We like NCL and do have one NCL cruise scheduled (largely because we have to use a future cruise credit by Jan 1st). But as NCL's prices keep rising, we feel the value of an NCL cruise is lessening. Kind of gets you thinking about looking elsewhere. Of course, everyone has their own tipping point.
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