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About kayteecat

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  1. I am on the Encore sailing after you (December 8th) but also had issues making dining reservations. I was unable to make any reservations at all until about 110 days out, and then I was able to add reservations "to my cart" that then were removed from my cart as "no longer available" and yet it would still display those same dining times for me to try again... Eventually I gave up and called Customer Service to ensure I at least had dining reservations at the 3 restaurants I wanted on the days I wanted, but by the time I got there the only times that were still left were 5:30 (we tend to eat later, around 8:30 PM, on cruises so that we can keep up the momentum to go to the parties or dancing in the lounge later on). I'll probably end up changing them when we get on board, but I recall the process being much smoother when I did this for our Escape voyage this time last year. I get that they only reserve certain times for online bookings, I'm just a little annoyed that others on my roll call were able to make their reservations and I had to wait to be able to potentially be on hold forever to make mine with Customer Service. That said, the representatives I've called at Customer Service have always been very helpful to the best of their abilities. But it seems like the problem usually has to do with communication between the decision-makers and the front-line customer service reps, being given incomplete or sometimes just plain wrong information.
  2. Agreed. I am BUMMED about the loss of access to those top sun decks because I spent decent time there last January on the Escape. But I am super fair-skinned myself, so am realizing that I don't think I'm willing to pony up the cost of Vibe just to be able to be in the sun. What I really want is a nice place with ocean views to read my book...and since I booked a balcony cabin, I will have that. I enjoy the Waterfront too, but if that gets crowded I'll take myself to District where I can basically achieve the same thing (without the ocean breeze, which on some days is a good thing!). For all of my disappointment with the pool and sun deck situation, I am going on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary meaning I will get my fair share of sun and the ocean in port. I am super excited about Onda, The Cavern Club, and sharing in my boyfriend's sister and her fiance's first cruise experience. We really liked the Escape so the Encore may not become my new favorite ship...but we'll have a great time nonetheless!
  3. My understanding is that if you book the excursion through NCL, everyone at that excursion is usually given a meeting point on the ship (say, the Theater at 8:00 AM if you're doing the 8:15 option) and the group leaves the ship together. We're on the Encore in December and are planning on doing this excursion, I think with our $50 excursion credit doing it through NCL makes the most sense.
  4. Thanks everyone for posting your experiences - I'll make sure to give my group a heads-up before we travel to OSJ in December. None of us normally give money in any case but just in case anyone is feeling the Christmas spirit...
  5. I agree with you Jamie, but as someone whose bid was accepted 50 days out I'd say that earlier is better. We didn't feel that our bid was all that extravagant (balcony to mini-suite, $150 pp on the low side of fair) but we were upgraded pretty early out. So if you feel good about the amount that you bid, I'd put it in as soon as practical because theoretically people can get upgraded before you if your bid isn't in yet. That said, I would agree that the majority of bids are processed later but there's always the slight chance that you may get picked early.
  6. I think he meant $200 pp for himself, his wife and his daughter (x3).
  7. Trying to do the same calculations for my group. Personally, I am fair-skinned and burn very easily so not being in the sun won't really bother me, but I do want to have a quiet place to read my book and listen to the sea. That said, I also have a balcony so maybe I'll just be spending more time there. We're on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary in December, so with a port night in San Juan and two beach days in St. Thomas and Tortola that will probably be enough sun for me. We also used the Deck 19 space on our Escape cruise last January and I'll be sad to not have easy access to a quiet outside area near a bar again. That said, we're cruising with my boyfriend's sister and her fiance and she is a sun-worshipper, so I think she'd probably enjoy Vibe. I was considering getting the two of them Vibe passes for the cruise but considering I'd have to drag them with me to make a run for it, it seems like it's just easier to do something else for them instead. It's just tough because we also used the Deck 19 space on our Escape cruise last January and I'll be sad to not have easy access to a quiet outside area near a bar again. It would've been a nice compromise for the group of us to hang out there instead of some of us paying to get Vibe and others hiding out in other areas of the ship. I'm sure we'll all have fun hanging out in District or something instead though.
  8. Still not "free", but four dishes per person at Food Republic is now covered by the Specialty Dining Package. The prices per dish are still reasonable enough that I prefer to pay a la carte for lunch on a sea day, but at least there's the option of using SDP!
  9. We did the Islandz Tours rum tasting tour in January earlier this year and had a blast. Plus the tour starts at Pirate Republic Brewing right on Roger Woodes Walk, so I highly recommend getting there a bit early and grabbing a pint before the tour. We spent a good 2.5 - 3 hours seeing Nassau beyond that first bit off the cruise ship, and I'm glad we did because we had a lot more fun!
  10. Good point. Unfortunately my cruise leaves December 8th and the company on Viator I found that offered sunset sails leaves at 4:30 PM on the date we'll be there. From what I've seen, most of the available options (either offered through NCL or a third party) are food or rum tours, Casa Bacardi or the LED or bioluminescent bay kayak tours.
  11. We were in a mid-ship mini-suite on the Escape on Deck 11 and I loved it. Very quiet and near the stairs. The most noise we ever heard came from our direct cabin neighbors (and they weren't even particularly loud). I think the only reason I wouldn't book a mid-ship cabin in the future is to try to get an aft balcony to experience that.
  12. I am trying to decide between the LED kayak or the rum tasting tour with salsa dancing lessons included. But neither of those will take more than an hour or two and I'll probably walk Old San Juan as well.
  13. That is the normal San Juan port schedule for the Encore this fall/winter. It doesn't seem to have changed for the holiday. To answer your question, I was on the Escape last year for NYE and on the night, we were sailing from Port Canaveral to Miami. There were several different parties around the ship depending on the vibe you wanted - I know we went to one on the pool deck and one at Spice H2O (which the Encore doesn't have). These were typical loud DJ parties with glowsticks, the Captain even appeared to count us down to midnight! I think there were more low-key parties in the Atrium and Skyline Lounge. Throughout the ship there was festive New Years wear, the photographers were circulating and taking pictures, and someone mentioned the champagne at midnight. It was tons of fun and I think everyone should get to experience NYE at sea!
  14. I doubt the demand for Haven upgrades ever dips low enough for that to occur but I'd imagine they would drop the minimum bid or reduce the booking price if they were that close to sailing with them empty.
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