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Everything posted by Top_of_the_Cube

  1. For my Saturday cruise, I have not yet received an e-mail about the health assessment, but based on this thread I went and looked in my Planner. Behold, it was available and now marked off. Woop Woop!!
  2. Yes. We love vacationing in the mountains and have enjoyed European land adventures. Will definitely do more. I like variety, but DW and I have developed a special affinity for cruising the Caribbean.
  3. From reading other threads about people's experiences, I would guess that the super VIFP deals (not casino) being offered to some have nothing to do with loyalty status. Or at least very little. I don't recall any of these crazy VIFP rates being offered prior to the pandemic. I think they are targeting customers that fit a profile of one who would likely spend a lot of money on board. Even if you do spend a lot, there are so many other factors that might get you overlooked for a special deal. They are into generating revenue more than rewarding frequent cruisers. I probably have mentioned this on another post, but I am fine with this marketing strategy. The big spenders on board help keep my fares down. As long as I get the quality of service I expect for the money I pay, that is a win even if someone else was offered a discount half or more than a rate available to me.
  4. My wife prefers inside cabins. She likes total darkness when she sleeps. Occasionally, I even have to roll up a towel and block the light that seeps under the cabin door. She also claims the rooms are quieter, but I haven't really noticed. You would have to discount a balcony to LESS than an interior for it to be on her radar. As for me, I like variety. I have talked her into trying OV and standard balconies before, and later this month we will be taking a cove balcony for a ride. Not to cop out on the OP's original question, but my "premium" to consider a balcony has more to do with my mood and available funds at the time, not any set dollar amount. PS - since it was mentioned by someone in this thread, we LOVE the Caribbean and have yet to exhaust all the different experiences that draw us to this region. Nothing against those who don't appreciate the wonders of these islands. We all have different tastes. My wife and I can't even agree on a cabin.
  5. When I log into my Carnival account, there is a button that I can click to show me all the special VIFP rates that are available to me. I would think that if you had a deal you liked, you could book that deal and cancel any other bookings under whatever terms are associated with it. I am only talking about the VIFP rates, I know nothing about Casino specials. The deals I receive are sometimes nice, but my wife has been getting super fantastic VIFP offers. They were so good that we are sailing at the end of October and it is not affecting our budget, at all. Well, at least as far as the fare goes. For VIFP bargains, I don't think that a lot of weight is put on how many cruises you have been on, but more on where you sail from, how last minute do you normally book, the type of room you typically select, and your spending habits once on board. Oh, and a lot of other random (to us) stuff that targets the ideal money generator. They are not looking to reward loyalty, but instead increase the bottom line. Not knocking it. As long as they continue to provide me a fantastic cruise at a price I am willing to pay, I am all in, even without enticing mark downs. My wife's special rates just show that her habits on board are probably subsidizing your lower general fares.
  6. Shared my experience with the Thermal Suite on another thread, but will just say wife and I LOVED it on the Breeze. If you have a pass, you can show up any time during its operating hours. Just a heads up, the showers in the Thermal Suite are for rinsing off and relaxing, not for bathing. You are required to wear a suit. At least on the Breeze and Vista, there are no doors or privacy. Lesson learned. I have never used the showers in the locker rooms in the Workout Center (often located near to the Cloud Nine Spa and Thermal Suite), but I understand that those are open to the public. Several posts of folks using those to wash up.
  7. I have never asked for an MDR meal to go, but the wait staff has offered (and I accepted on occasion) to prepare a plate to go when they noticed someone in our party was missing. And, one time I was lusting after a certain dessert, but mentioned that I was too full. They surprised me by boxing it up to take with me. But, one crew member bending the rules doesn't mean that I should expect or require other crew members to do something they are not comfortable with. I love and appreciate them all. My philosophy on the ship is that it never hurts to ask as long as you can graciously accept a "no" answer. My other philosophy is that "extra" service warrants extra kudos and cash. My main philosophy, though, is you are on a stinkin' cruise. As long as the toilet isn't backing up into the room and the engines aren't broken, it is a good day.
  8. Had a relative who worked at Carnival in the IT department. He didn't give me much insider info on the algorithm, but would tell me general stuff. The VIFP and casino deals are separate calculations, although he didn't say there was not any cross-over consideration. For VIFP they may consider gender, type of cabin usually booked, residency, spending tendencies, bars and eating areas normally visited, etc. This is a constantly changing algorithm depending on current and anticipated bookings. Not a shocking revelation, but I would be curious to know the weight put on certain datum. My wife got five really unbelievably sweet VIFP deals (neither one of us visits the casino, that I know of) that I almost just wrote off as spam. We could have booked four sailings for the same ticket price as one of the bargain prices that I usually find. We were limited to one booking due to vacation time we had available. I must not be as VIFP as Mrs. Cube, as I got nothing. This is the first time we had to book with me as guest. That actually caused confusion in Carnival's system. Great customer service quickly resolved issues, and away we go on October 23.
  9. If you are on a ship with the Thermal Suite, you can buy a day pass for $40 a person. Try it out on the first or second day since you have "free money". You just might find yourself there many more times, especially if it a ship that has the Thalassotherapy pool. Not for everyone, but many do get hooked on the experience. You have to be at least 18, so I assume your daughter will be too young.
  10. The phrase "this is not my idea of cruising" brings up a different picture for each of us. For example, other than our enjoyment of of being together and sharing experiences, my wife and I differ on what a "cruise" should look like. For me, I want to experience the ocean. I like being pampered, being fed, being entertained, being whisked to foreign ports; but they are all secondary to just being out on the ocean. So far the protocols do not interfere with me being awed by the sight, smell, breeze, and motion of the ocean on deck or on my balcony. And depending on my level of concern for COVID, I don't see too many roadblocks stopping me from tempering my own behavior if I don't believe the ship or fellow passengers are going far enough to protect me. So, put me in the GO (not "goer") category. I will be able to test my words come October 23.
  11. While I don't have personal knowledge of this, maybe it will prompt someone who has experience to confirm or deny, but - On the Breeze, prior to 2020, someone shared with me that the bar in the steakhouse stocks the premium booze. The claim was that the only liquor by the glass that exceeded $20 was at that bar. You do not have to be eating at that restaurant in order to be served at the bar. I don't remember the name of the particular spirit, but best I recall it was not distilled in Oklahoma.
  12. Thank you sooo much for the follow-up. Reports of what people plan for, and then what actually happens, is extremely helpful. I keep thinking that it is a great time to cruise now - IF - you are flexible and can handle last second changes. And, IF you can afford the impact of not getting to board for reasons beyond your control. Otherwise, might be wise to hold off for now. I hate holding off.
  13. Are there any stories of people who are within days of their cruise but either couldn't get a test in the required time frame, didn't get results back before embarkation, or had results come back positive a day or two, or even just hours before sailing? How is it actually handled by the would-be passenger and by the different cruise lines? I am guessing that is the real concern when discussing the original post.
  14. Before cruising, I was not really familiar with tipping. My lifestyle was naturally void of gratuity-expected services, except the occasional sit-down restaurant. When planning my first cruise, the idea of the tip made me anxious (how much, to whom, etc.). Researching was rather frustrating with advice of "this is personal, whatever you feel in your heart is right." While that is really the right answer, it didn't help someone like me who's only "experience" was Saturday morning television, where some cartoon character would flick a coin to the valet. Somehow, I intuitively knew that a coin of any denomination was not adequate. I developed my own scale for any excursion. I really don't see a difference between ship-sponsored and independently engaged. Always allowing for exceptional service from any of the excursion staff, it is $5 for whoever seems to be the main guide, $3 for the driver, and $2 for any associates who help in any meaningful way. No double-dipping for those who might serve double duty. So those who just need a starting point, this is what I do on Caribbean excursions. Except for that one time in Jamaica where we forgot to take any money off the ship (thank goodness for prepaid excursions). We just did a lot of "thank you's" and gave a lot of sheepish grins at the end of the ride.
  15. Good focused responses might be had at the appropriate cruise line board, and of course checking the cruise line website is crucial for official information. If the OP is already booked on a particular cruise, the suggestions so far are very sound. Someone like me, though, who is curious about the state of the cruise industry and the effectiveness and enforcement of policies, would love to hear about actual experiences for the sake of general conversation and comparison among the different lines. Has anyone (or acquaintance or family member) that booked a cruise not been able to get the test performed, or didn't get results back in time? From problems and close calls discussed on other threads, this seems like a real possibility. I would like to know what people are doing in that situation, and how the companies are handling as I make decisions on when I might book my next cruise. Hopefully this is in line with the OP, but gets us past the important and necessary (and already offered) advice of "check a specific board or the website".
  16. I do not get into massages or any other spa treatments (not speaking for my wife), but I LOVED the Spa Thermal Suite on the Breeze. Spent some time there at least once a day on both my Breeze sailings. After enjoying the thalasso pool, I would walk out of that room into the area with tiled warming loungers, more appropriately described as cement slabs. I found them surprisingly comfortable. Some liked 'em, some didn't. You can lay a towel or two over it if you want. Then, I headed to the dry heat chamber. It was kinda nice, but it's real value is that it had the only door to get to the Oriental steam room, which we dubbed The Torture Chamber. I heard other more colorful descriptions. This steam room was HOT. Hot (did I mention hot?) water condensates on the ceiling and would drip down, giving the initial sensation that the moisture was your own melted skin. After you get acclimated, though, it was more like, um, I never really got acclimated. My wife and I would make slow movements, creeping ever so carefully to the tile bench (which, by the way, was hot) because moving too fast just accentuated the heat to an unbearable level. Controlled breathing is essential for survival, otherwise you will scald your lungs. I became addicted to this experience. I now can't imagine not getting the thermal suite package when on a ship that has this infernal contrivance. I know there are some other nice areas included in the Thermal Suite, but the steam room has seared them from my memory.
  17. Back when my 3 boys were around that age, two of them did not want to do the organized children activities. The one that did go, opted out after the first day. I understand the programs are excellent, but they just weren't interested (and they are very social). We enjoyed the mini-golf, water slides, swimming, ping pong, eating, touring the ship, and excursions. They really liked the MDR, the staff couldn't have been more entertaining and responsive. There was crying our last night as we said good-bye to the waiters. I will say, they did spend maybe an hour or two a day watching cartoons in their cabin, but then were begging to get back to the pool. One memory they still talk about is getting on the top deck and trying to walk against the wind. They would even jump and let the currents push them around. Never heard them laugh harder. My wife is very creative and came up with lots of search and find games around the ship. And yet, she and I did find many opportunities to enjoy things just as a couple. I hope that everything works out well for your cruise. It was a blast as a family!
  18. John Heald did a series of walk-throughs of the different cabin categories (Facebook > John Heald > Videos) for the Mardi Gras. I know he did a corner suite. Unfortunately, at least on his Facebook uploads, most videos are labeled as "Unknown" so not sure which video covers your cabin type.
  19. That's harsh, DON, and here I thought I was spot on in describing my purpose for traveling (Post #59), and why I like cruising. Seriously, though, I understand what you are saying, and enjoy reading your many posts. I was responding to the comment put out there by dedalus (the OP) of "I'm not sure why anyone would choose [cruising]." Who wouldn't want my input on this matter? I don't think that dedalus should feel compelled to ever cruise again if it didn't push his buttons. Taking into account the current COVID restrictions on board is a good suggestion as to why one might want to try cruising again, as many here have said. If, that is, he found other aspects of the experience to his liking. Regarding DON's above response, and to his credit, my wife often thinks I am "missing or ignoring the fact[s]".
  20. FOR ME Land vacations are adventures in which I try to schedule moments of relaxation: There is stress of where to stay, where to stop, where to eat, transportation issues, etc. i.e. Plan B when a hotel has cancelled your reservation, transmission starts making funny noises, flight is delayed, and on and on. Love land vacations, and they are worth the hassles. Cruise vacations are relaxation (once it embarks) in which I try to schedule moments of adventure: For the most part, no heavy decisions. I don't cruise for destinations, but make an adventure out of wherever the ship docks. Except for basic precautions and safety, I can abandon responsibility and just live in the moment. There are planned activities in which I can participate or not. For all my cruises so far, the crew have been way above and beyond. The main attraction, though, for me, is the view of the ocean movement in the ocean wind off the ocean smell of the ocean. *sigh*
  21. Just a different perspective, I pack for convenience and comfort. My needs are pretty simple when I cruise, but if it looks like I might need another bag, by gum I haul out an extra bag. I do drive to port. If I flew, my miserly self would beat out my liberal packing self. As for the room, I love magnets. I use those strong neodymium hook magnets on our cabin walls on which I hang wet bathing suits and all other hangable items that I don't want to rummage around for in drawers, bins, or bags. My wife's hair appliances are holstered in a caddy that is hanging on the wall (with magnets, of course) next to the mirror by the desk. Neat, tidy, and out of the way, yet in easy reach when she sits down to do her hair. Of course, there is the power bar (non-surge protected) for her appliances and our other power needs. I do think some cruise lines ban power bars, but I apparently haven't sailed those or I haven't been caught. Our luggage is stored under the bed. One of those bags is left open so I can slide it out from under the bed just enough to drop in my dirty laundry. Then slide it back under. The other side of the open bag is where I keep my shoes. I know that there are those who are already cringing at some of these ideas (including my wife), so I will stop right there. If any of these ideas work for you, great, if not, at least you know what NOT to do. PS - really like some of the other thoughts shared on this thread.
  22. I assume we are talking about a Caribbean/Bahama cruise. For now, today, at this time, Carnival and RCL seem satisfied with passengers presenting the original CDC "record of vaccination" card. My interpretation of NCL's requirement is that they also will accept the CDC card (original), but don't take my word for that one. Well, don't take my word for any of this information. I assume that when you do on-line check-in, they will guide you on what you need to fill out, what you need to upload, and what you need to bring, regarding your vaccination.
  23. It's all in marketing. Imagine an enclosed casino area for smokers. Carnival could pipe in premium first-hand smoke. The money that players will save by not having to buy tobacco products will probably go into slot machines. Hey Carnival beards, you're welcome. Obviously, the projections made by corporate indicated that revenue created by the casino bar paled to adding more machines. Maybe too many were taking up space socializing with not enough drinking and gambling. I don't know. It's a tough balance for a company to optimize profits while maintaining a basic product that is attractive on its own. Unfortunately for Carnival, I don't gamble, drink, shop, get spa-ed, or specialty dine. My wife, on the other hand....
  24. When buying the Cheers (alcohol+) package on Carnival, there is the 18% gratuity added to the package price paid at the time of package purchase. There is no additional service charge when ordering individual drinks using the package. Don't know about the other lines.
  25. I am with you, BoozinCroozin, I don't want to mess with settings on my smart devices, especially when there is no room for error. In my case, I have a tendency to forget what I am supposed to do, if I did it, and what I need to undo it. And sometimes worst, I unknowingly accidently affect other settings in the process of getting to the right menu options. Yet, my wife still lets me out of the house unsupervised. I do like some of the previous suggestions, and just to share my personal thoughts. I can't remember a cruise I've taken that didn't use ship time while in ports located in different time zones. My preference in those ports is a cheap (but dependable) time piece that doesn't have button settings susceptible to being pushed while in my pocket or my wife's handbag. Just can't stand wearing it on my wrist. That leaves me with my last challenge: Now when were we supposed to be back on board?
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