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Everything posted by kayteecat

  1. For all there is to be said about the sundeck, I am very excited about what's inside the ship. The restaurants based on what we know sound great, I'm quite excited for the Cavern Club having not sailed on a ship that has it, and I'm pumped for both Choir of Man (which I tried to see on the Escape last year but waited too long and it was sold out) and Kinky Boots. Personally, on a Caribbean itinerary I'm more interested on spending my time in the sun in ports, not on the ship - but I am fair-skinned and burn quite easily, so have started to limit my sun exposure.
  2. Could be! I didn't actually check for myself - once I'm upgraded, I'm done with mock bookings. This is now my second upgrade around that 50-day mark, and from my small sample and the feedback from those on my roll calls it seems like this is around the time where they like to make more insides/outsides/balconies available for last-minute bookings.
  3. Upgrade awarded 53 days out! We got our spa balcony at $150 pp for the December 8th Encore to E. Caribbean (from a mid-ship balcony). With the sun deck situation, I am quite happy to have a quiet place to read my book and look out the aft of the ship. Someone else on my roll call was also moved from an inside to a balcony and it's now being reported the spa balconies are sold out. Also, @SailBreakaway, this was rated a fair bid if this helps you.
  4. I did not have the same issue as you, but had something similar with my December 8th Encore booking. Others on my roll call reported not being able to book dining for quite awhile, when it was finally opened up they were able to book but I simply had the option to add my preferred date, time, and party size to my cart. When I went to my cart, it would tell me "some items have been removed from your cart as they are now unavailable", and yet I would continue to have the option to book the same restaurant, date, time, and party size. I figured it was a glitch and decided to call NCL and make my bookings that way. Of course, by the time all of this happened, about 10 days had passed and I was only able to get 5:30 bookings for dinner. We prefer to eat later on cruises (around 8 PM), so I will likely end up rebooking for our preferred times once we get onboard. Choir of Man wasn't at all available for me to book online, but I was able to call NCL and book through one of their agents. I know people report mixed results with calling NCL, but I have to say each time I've been on hold for a reasonable amount of time and gotten perfectly friendly service with the results I called to achieve. I think it may be worth giving them a call to give yourself the peace of mind.
  5. My thought is that if NCL adjusted the minimums, they would be underbidding themselves. Remember that they can potentially be collecting bids every day between when the emails go out until 2 days out before sailing, so I find it unlikely that they wouldn't have enough bids even at the current minimum to fill the rooms they'd have open. If anything, I think in that case it would become more likely that a minimum bid would be accepted if the rooms fail to sell. So I guess I would say theoretically possible, but practically unlikely.
  6. Finally, at 64 days out from our December 8 Encore sailing, we received the Upgrade Advantage email! We're booked in a mid-ship balcony on Deck 10, so we put in $150 pp for a spa balcony, a minisuite, and a spa minisuite. Poor range for both the spa rooms, Fair for the plain old minisuite. We had a similar offer for the minisuite accepted last year at around 50 days out on the Escape in a similar scenario. Last year's Escape cruise was an NYE cruise that sailed at or near capacity, whereas this one is during a slower week in early December where school hasn't let out yet. Nothing is sold out yet at this point, just a couple of Haven categories and the large balcony. I didn't take a deep dive into inventory - not driving myself crazy this time. 😉 All of the "basic" Haven rooms were starting at $400 pp. I asked my boyfriend (who has been hounding me about the Haven since my parents who only sail in Haven/suites gave him the upsell) if he wanted to throw in a couple minimum Haven bids just for kicks, but he doesn't think he'll enjoy it enough to warrant an additional $800. I tend to agree with him. I love the shower in the minisuite so I'd be pretty happy if we got that, and of course would be thrilled with either of the spa rooms. Our current room is also pretty nicely located so I wouldn't be mad if we kept it either. Basically a recipe for a good cruise with no disappointment! His sister and her fiance booked through Costco so I am assuming they will not be offered to upgrade. They're saving for their wedding anyway so probably wouldn't want to sink extra into a room since this is their first cruise, they don't even know what they're missing.
  7. Interesting. I'm fine with the location of my mid-ship balcony but was looking forward to putting some bids in.
  8. I will try to get good pictures of the ship for you and those who follow after! I am also hoping a couple of posters on the first couple Encore sailings do lives or get pictures up quickly so that I can get some inside information before we sail!
  9. Has anyone on the first few Encore sailings received their upgrade email/banner yet? I'm at 73 days out on December 8th and haven't gotten anything yet, and I check my NCL account daily. A couple people on my roll call have said that they've been told by NCL agents that they'd go out at 60 days but I always take the agent responses with a grain of salt. If that's true, those on the November 24th inaugural Eastern Caribbean should have been offered to bid in the last day or so. Just getting curious as it seems that the established ships are still getting theirs around 80 days and I wonder if this is just an Encore thing.
  10. Got it! We sailed away from NYC on a rainy day in December, so no pool deck party or if there was, it was sparsely attended. I honestly think I won't mind having those moved to the pool deck - if I want to feel like I'm in a night club, the Skyline Lounge fits the bill nicely. We'll of course see how it works out in practice. I think I will only miss Spice during the day, I loved going back there for a drink and some aft views.
  11. Has that changed recently, or are you talking about recent ships? We were on the Escape last December and (weather permitting) all the parties were held at Spice. We were on an NYE cruise, so there was a New Years party on the pool deck running concurrently with the Spice part (and other parties held at other venues on the ship) but Spice was where GLOW, the 80s party, etc were held.
  12. I was in a mini-suite on the Escape, it was not a family mini so it had the large shower (the family mini has the tub). I am not sure how wide a shower chair is but I think the large shower would be able to accommodate it. The mini suite also has double sinks so it is wider than the typical balcony bathroom. Some will tell you it is not worth the extra money to upgrade to a mini-suite, but for someone with mobility issues the larger bathroom would probably be a big benefit. Since you only have to pay the bid amount for the first 2 people, it could actually be quite the bargain if you do get it. I will personally bid for a mini again on my upcoming Encore cruise - even though there were only 2 of us, the larger bathroom allowed us to both get ready for dinner/dancing (or bed!) simultaneously so contributed to our peaceful, stress-free vacation experience and that is priceless!
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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...
  17. 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.
  18. I think he meant $200 pp for himself, his wife and his daughter (x3).
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. 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!
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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