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Bluewake

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  1. After 25+ cruises on other lines, we decided to try MSC, booking an inside cabin on Divina. We were so satisfied that we booked a second MSC cruise. That was in the YC on Seaside. Once more, we enjoyed it so much that we've booked our third MSC cruise, this time on Armonia. Of course, the YC was a wonderful experience but we spent a great deal of time outside the YC and didn't find the Seaside to be any more crowded than any other line on which we've sailed. Same thing when we were on Divina. From our subjective point of view, overall, MSC is about equal to Royal Caribbean and ranks above Carnival and Norwegian. Perhaps a notch below Celebrity. Just like other lines, MSC has areas where we think it shines and areas in which some improvement/changes (at least to us) might be beneficial.
  2. “That is company policy” and “there is nothing that I can do” seems, at least in my recent experience, to have become the standard response from NCL staff. Any assumption that status and repeat patronage merits any additional consideration appears to be misguided. As others have noted, until customers express their frustration by not booking NCL, Del Rio will not lose any sleep. Customer service does not seem to be his priority.
  3. Yes, the Cuba situation certainly impacted many cruise lines and they were forced to lower rates to attract passengers. You may be correct that this year is more pronounced and, in the prior couple of years, the price drops were not as great. Admittedly, I may not be as objective as I should in my assessment of the situation because I am extremely frustrated with NCL right now. Time to step back, I suppose.
  4. Actually, we ended up ok. Ours is a Panama Canal cruise and if we booked the same cabin today, it would be slightly more than what we paid. The price drop was primarily for sailaway inside and oceanview cabins. You may be correct that this pattern of starting out high and lowering is an anomaly, thus NCL's approach may change in the spring. If, however, it does not (and I do believe NCL would be crazy to keep doing this), for those who have the flexibility, it could be beneficial to wait. As you note, it's difficult to predict the future.
  5. Unless you have strong feelings about a particular cruise or cabin what is the incentive to book an NCL cruise early? NCL's practice over the past 3-4 years seems to be to start out high and lower as time goes on and ships don't fill. We have one final NCL cruise booked and the price for that cruise has steadily dropped, twice significantly. Furthermore, NCL also changed the itinerary after the final payment deadline which certainly is their right but, I believe, was something the cruise line knew was going to happen and deliberately waited to implement. However, because we received an adjustment (moved to a slightly higher category cabin) the first time there was a drop, we were ineligible for a second adjustment. Okay, I understand that is the policy. However, Florida residents (or anyone else) who are flexible about rooms and travel dates would be far better off waiting to book. Sure, it's possible that not all cruises will drop and some cabin categories may be closed out but the savings can be substantial if you are able to wait to book. Is this really the business model NCL wants to pursue? I have no plans to cruise on NCL after this next one but, if I did again consider NCL, I would wait until the last minute. Of course, I do realize that not everyone is fortunate to have the sort of flexibility that allows them to wait like that but I'd suggest to anyone who does to hold off booking.
  6. We received an offer to bid for a balcony upgrade on our upcoming NCL Pearl cruise. We made a moderate bid but have heard nothing. On our roll call, there are posts from happy passengers saying they have been upgraded to a balcony and the amount they claim to have offered is less than we bid. We experienced something like this two years ago when friends with whom we were traveling (and who had not sailed NCL before) were given a huge upgrade and our bid was not accepted. And, on this same Pearl cruise, two members of our group (also first time on NCL) received a better upgrade (from an inside to an oceanview on a higher deck, full window) than we did in compensation for a significant price drop. Maybe I am just unlucky...which is why I don't go near the casino! But, this is becoming frustrating. You would think that having taken multiple NCL cruises would count for something but apparently it does not. Okay, end of rant....
  7. No doubt, using a TA absolutely works for some but not for others. For a few years, I did book through a TA but after experiencing three problems, I changed and started booking directly with the cruiselines. The first was a TA who was resistant to dealing with price drops. When a cruise dropped the price and we were offered an adjustment, not a problem - - but when it dropped significantly a second time after a major itinerary change , the agent expressed her reluctance at having to deal with the second drop and - I assume - a reduction in commission. The second problem I experienced was a TA who simply didn't return phone calls for a week or more. The third, and worst situation, was when a large agency (Cruise Value Center in New Jersey) I had used a few times took the final payments of many passengers (including me) earlier than they actually were due but pocketed the money instead of paying the cruiselines and then immediately went out of business, leaving us "high and dry". Those who had paid by check lost their money and those of us who paid with cards were able to work with the CC companies to get credit. We also had to contact the cruiselines and re-book. Many of the senior agents in that crooked company (because they acted intentionally, this wasn't due to some unforeseen circumstance) simply moved to a nearby community and opened a new agency under a different name that still is in operation. I don't know the extent to which they may have been aware of, or involved with, the scheme but there is no way I'd ever book with that company. Of course, I have no doubt that the vast majority of TA's are honest and credible people so in no way do I mean to impugn broadly all TA's. Friends with whom we sometimes travel use an agency that offers onboard credit and a couple of other small perks such as a gift basket in the room or a bottle of wine. It seems to work for them and they are very pleased with the service. And, the travel group in the community in which I live uses someone who seems to be a very good agent to book group trips. But, after my three incidents, I started booking directly, am in total control of my booking, make changes when I want, am able to watch and immediately respond to price drops, and don't have to work through someone else. I realize I may be losing some onboard credits and such but it works for me. Plus, I would not want an agent to have to deal with repeated requests...not fair to them!
  8. Totally agree! I have one more NCL Cruise to go because I need to use my last CruiseNext Voucher but since I "discovered" MSC, it's likely to be a while before I will back on NCL. Like you, I sailed NCL numerous times between 2008 and 2016 and felt the product was continuously improving. But, after three very disappointing experiences since 2016 and the challenges I've been having with this upcoming cruise, that is all. I am headed to MSC because my experiences with MSC have been the polar opposite of those with NCL. Enough with NCL's initially overpriced cruises, underwhelming shipboard service, and misinformation from disinterested NCL phone representatives (although I do have to acknowledge that the MSC phone reps don't always seem to be on the same page). I persuaded six friends who had never been on NCL to join me on this upcoming NCL cruise and the service we've had from NCL has been so bad that they already are saying they won't consider NCL again before they've even cruised. I don't know what Sheehan did wrong to get fired but Del Rio is going to do for NCL what the leaders of Sears Roebuck did for that company.
  9. In another CC thread ("Beware the MSC upgrade program") that is still ongoing, a poster wrote about how their bid to upgrade from a Bella balcony to YC had been accepted and expressed how there had been some miscommunication with MSC reps as to whether they would receive all of the benefits associated with the the upgrade to the YC. Several posters assuredly said "absolutely not" but others thought they would. That thread was of particular interest to me because we were in exactly the same position as the OP. And, like you, our ticket continued to say Bella Experience....although the final invoice did show we had upgraded to YC Experience in addition to stating Bella Experience. Well, upon returning from his/her cruise, the OP of that thread reported they'd received all of the YC benefits. Furthermore, we just returned from our cruise and there was absolutely no problem. We were afforded all of the YC benefits...there was no distinction between those who upgraded and those who had directly booked YC. Of course, I cannot say how your situation with the upgrade to Aurea will turn out but I see no reason why your experience would differ from ours. As others have advised, I believe you should call MSC and ask. But, be prepared for some discrepant information because not all of the reps seem to be equally informed.
  10. We were in the YC on the Seaside on the August 31st sailing. After reading some prior posts on this thread, I was concerned about the YC being crowded by hordes of non-YC people sneaking into the YC! However, that was not at all the case. On one or two occasions, I did see someone coming through the glass door separating the YC pool deck from the Aurea area but they easily could have been YC people. We never had a problem getting a chair or table on the pool deck although chairs right by the pool were sometimes a bit more difficult to find. As an aside, we had upgraded from a balcony to the YC and, starting with check-in, there was never a question as to whether we would receive all of the YC benefits. It was an excellent experience.
  11. As others have written, it does seem that booking a guarantee can be "like a box of chocolates...you never know what you will get" (apologies to Forrest Gump). In my personal experience as a platinum member, it seems to be all about the window or balcony and not other factors. For example, NCL classifies some cabins that many of us would be unlikely to want (e.g. a porthole over/adjacent to the theater speakers) in a higher category than a midship inside because it has a window. And, status doesn't seem to matter. On two different occasions, I've persuaded friends who have never cruised on NCL to join us on an NCL cruise and we've both booked sailaway rate guaranteed cabins. In both situations, those friends were placed in much better cabins than us despite them being new to NCL and us being platinum. Shockingly, one couple went from an inside guarantee to a balcony (ok, really didn't see that one coming!)/ The second time, we both had lower category oceanview guarantees. Our friends were placed in an oceanview with a full window on an upper deck while we were placed in a porthole cabin on deck 4. I called to ask (pleading our platinum status) if it would be possible to be placed nearer to our friends and was firmly told "no"...you get what you get. Well, that is what the policy on guaranteed cabins is so NCL didn't do anything that was unfair or "shady"...nothing of the sort. I was, however, a bit surprised that NCL doesn't seem to reward loyal cruisers over new ones with better guaranteed placements. But, it very well may be that NCL doesn't even consider status when it comes to guaranteed placements.
  12. Valkyrie - Thank you for the update. It is encouraging because we are in exactly the same situation as you were in that we "bid" for an upgrade from a balcony to a YC inside on Seaside. We have been assured by our PCC that we will receive all YC privileges and our reservation materials do state we have the plusgrade "YC Experience". However, given the known gap between MSC-USA and the ships, we cannot be certain until we board. As others have asked, did you feel the upgrade was worth it? Honestly, I am having second thoughts about giving up our balcony but we wanted to try the YC. I was surprised from your post that people simply wait by the door and follow YC passengers into the area. Do you mean non-YC passengers? If so, does that mean they also grab the free drinks, use the pool, and eat in the YC restaurant? If so, no wonder it's so crowded.
  13. Thanks for the advice! I didn't want to insult a butler. When we meet ours, we will let him/her know that our needs will be minimal. As you suggest, he/she might actually appreciate that so they can concentrate on other guests.
  14. In a few weeks, we will be sailing in the Yacht Club (on the Seaside) for the first time. As we have no prior YC experience, we have a few "rookie" questions and a bit of a concern relevant to this particular thread in regard to which I'd appreciate thoughts. Dining Room Questions: When dining in the YC restaurant, are you seated at tables with others or at tables strictly for those in your party? Are dining times and tables assigned or can one go whenever, and sit wherever, one wants? Is there a mandatory or expected mode of dress for the restaurant? Are men expected to wear a suit and tie or would a collared golf/polo shirt and slacks be acceptable? For women? Theater Show Questions: Are reservations necessary? Can one simply to go the theater and sit either in the YC section or anywhere? The Concern: In reading this and other related threads, I must admit that I am becoming concerned we may present a problem to our butler. Our reason for choosing the YC was for the relaxation afforded by the private lounge, restaurant, and pool as well as for the beverage package, expedited boarding, etc....not for the butler. In fact, I would find it slightly uncomfortable to have someone hovering in watch or repeatedly approaching me or our cabin to see if we might need anything. We much prefer to be independent, to move around and get whatever we may need for ourselves, and simply to enjoy the semi-seclusion of the YC. Perhaps I am misunderstanding some of the posts but to think that a butler might be disappointed or consider it a negative statement about his/her performance because we have no particular needs is a bit disconcerting. Perhaps there are certain things that must be accomplished through the butler? I actually am starting to wonder if we'd be better off in a balcony cabin elsewhere on the ship! Appreciate any thoughts.
  15. 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!
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