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  1. Five cruise lines, and this is the first time that I have had to do this outside of the check in process.
  2. We got off the ship this morning from the November 17 sailing. I wanted to give a comprehensive review of the ship, especially considering that it was our first MSC cruise. Here goes: Beforehand: The sailing was supposed to go to Nassau and to MSC's private island, but we were told the day before the sailing that the private island was not open yet, and we would instead be going to Cozumel. No bug deal, we love Cozumel, but it would have been nice to know more than 24 hours before departure. At any rate, they gave us a $100 OBC for our troubles, to that was nice. Check-in: The check in process seemed choppy and disjointed. We waited in line for security, Then we waited in line to check in, and received our room keys along with a number for boarding. Then we went past the pre-boarding picture area to find ourselves in another waiting area, where we had to wait about 20 minutes for our boarding number to be called. Once that was called, we were taken to the gangway which promptly broke down, leaving us stranded for about ten minutes before the crew came, got us, and took us to the other gangway. I don't blame MSC for that one, because the port owns the gangways. The next day, we found out that your credit card is not tied to your on board expense account, and that you must go to this ATM looking machine to do so. Some people didn't find that out until they tried to leave the ship this morning and were not allowed to leave. It seems to me that MSC could really do better here. The ship: It was a very clean, contemporary look. The ship looks good, reminding me of the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Lots of chrome, glass, and flash. We really liked the video ceilings on the promenade. You cannot access any forward facing window in any public area of the ship, as those areas are reserved for the exclusive use of the Yacht Club. There were plenty of elevators, and we rarely had to wait more than a minute or two for an elevator. The cabin: We had a balcony (Fantastica) cabin. The cabin was 200 square feet, so about the same as comparable cabins on other cruise lines. The only real problem with the cabin was a severe lack of storage. There was only a small wardrobe with 2 small drawers, one shelf, and 30 inches of hanging storage. There was no storage in the bathroom. We wound up having to leave our luggage on the sofa. The food: The buffet was one of the best we have seen at sea. It was well organized, there were always seats to be found, and the food was tasty, especially the pizza and baked goods. The main dining room was a bit disappointing. Here are the items we tried: French onion soup: This soup looked more like a thick gravy than it did soup. There was almost no cheese ( a dollop about the size of a quarter). Beef: Each of the three beef dishes we tried (including a bone in ribeye that we paid $21 extra for) was fatty and tough. The pasta dishes were good, with the highlight being the Lobster ravioli. The chicken cutlet that came with the chicken parmigiana was not good. It was a fried chicken cutlet with a slice of cheese melted on top, served with plain spaghetti and a side with a tablespoon of flavorless sauce. I honestly expected more of an Italian cruise line. We did not go to any of the pay extra restaurants. Entertainment: The entertainment was OK, but we didn't get to see the main attraction: Cirque du Soleil because there was an extra charge of $18 per person for it. The Casino: The casino was a bit on the small side, with half of it being dedicated to slots. On the table side, there were 7 Blackjack tables with 3/2 payouts, 1 Baccarat table, 2 roulette tables (0 and 00), and one electronic roulette table. No craps. The spa: my wife loved the spa. We spent a couple of hours in the thermal spa, and she got an hour long massage. The thermal spa had a lot of stuff: a cold room, a pair of saunas, some relaxation rooms, steam room, showers, and more. In all, MSC is a cheaper alternative to other cruise lines, and it really shows at times. Even so, I would not be against sailing with her again, but I don't think that I will actively seek out this ship.
  3. Exactly. This is also why Craps and Roulette earn very few comps. The Pass line in craps, along with odd/even or red/black on the Roulette table have the lowest house advantage in the entire casino. That is how I decide whether or not a casino is a good one or not- any casino that lacks a craps or roulette table is likely stacking the odds on every game in there- including the slots. Some cruise lines even make the craps table odds a bit worse by lowering the payouts.
  4. I waited and tried again an hour later. The website said that I had no upcoming cruises. I tried again first thing in the morning, and everything was working.
  5. I just tried to check in for the first half of my B2B, leaving June 2. Clicking on "check in" simply reloads the page. We tried it on three different computers, using both Chrome and MSIE. No luck. Call the RCCL help line, on hold for 30 minutes. The rep says that I need to log out, close the browser, and reopen it. I explain that this won't fix the problem, as we have already done that, and used multiple browsers AND computers. He insists that we HAVE to follow his script. Of course it doesn't work. He then tells us, "That must mean that your reservation is corrupted. There is nothing else I can do. You cannot complete online check in. Is there anything else I can help you with?" What a complete lack of customer service.
  6. I still get that message, and my cruise is in 29 days. They told me that you have to be invited to be able to bid.
  7. I don't believe for a second that it is really random. I do believe them when they say it is by invitation only. What I think is that they have some sort of selection criteria that sends the invitations if you meet those criteria. What the goal there is, I don't know. All I do know is that your C&A status has nothing to do with it. So much for upgrade eligibility for upper tier members.
  8. We thought so, but when we tried we got the error message. So we called. We were told that you cannot bid unless you have received an email invitation. In order to be invited, you have to opt in to promotional emails, and you have to be selected by their RoyalUp team. The CS rep said that the selection was by random lottery.
  9. We got an offer for RoyalUp for our March sailing and were successful. We are doing 3 cruises this summer: a B2B on the Freedom, and then a 3 day on the Navigator the very next day. We were waiting for the RoyalUp offer for the first cruise of the B2B. We didn't get one. When we called C&A, reservations, and the resolutions office, we were told the same thing all three times: that the people who get the offer are randomly selected by a lottery, and the fact that we are Diamond plus means nothing. Crown & Anchor upgrades are a thing of the past, because the way that the system is set up, a first time cruiser has the same chance of winning the RoyalUp lottery as a Pinnacle member. Apparently, this is a continuation of RCCL's ongoing efforts to cast aside the frequent cruisers. But at least you get a lapel pin.
  10. I can't really see how RFID could EVER work. Let's say that you are at the Craps table. You put a $5 on a FIELD bet. How would the system know whose bet it was? There is no better specific place to put a field bet. Same goes for many other bets like COME and DON'T COME bets. With that being the case, the only way would be for the casino to keep a running inventory of which chips belong to which gambler. This would require a lot of computing power, and even then this would become a problem if two guests exchange chips away from the table. For example, a person giving some chips to a spouse or other fellow traveler. I know that I frequently give chips to my wife and children. I have even given change for players away from the tables- say trading a $5 for 5 singles. That would certainly garble the tracking system up. Even Vegas casinos, who have a lot more incentive and a lot more money to invest in a system like this, do not have anything like this.
  11. If you read my post above, you will see that the slots earn points about 20% faster. What complicates the overall calculation is the difference in pay out. The odds of winning at Craps is 48.6%. The odds of winning roulette (black/red or odd/even) is 47.4%. What this means is that, when you combine points and cash winnings, you need to have a winning percentage of 38% or higher. What the player payout percentage is on slots is almost impossible to predict. One thing I am sure of is that RCCL is not losing money on the deal.
  12. The OBC is not given to you by your TA. That comes from the cruise line itself. You should have gotten a copy of your Booking Confirmation at the time you first booked the cruise. Does the OBC appear on there?
  13. We have been trying to check in for our March 1 cruise but are unable to do so. We only get a blank screen, then get locked out of the cruise. So we called RCCL. The guy told us that we were the third people to call today with that problem. It turns out that there is a problem with RCCL check in, and it no longer works with the Chrome browser. Once we switched to Microsoft Edge, it worked fine. This appears to only affect the Internet version of check in while using Google Chrome. The app appears to work just fine.
  14. The offers go out 6 weeks before the cruise. People booked with TAs get them. The TA gets the commission on the updated fees. The upgrades appear to be awarded in order of cabin class- Higher suites first, cascading down to Ocean view last. We bid on an Owner's suite and were notified of the acceptance just two days later.
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