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fshagan

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Everything posted by fshagan

  1. The Epic is the only ship in NCL's fleet with that cabin layout; all the other ships have a traditional bathroom as a separate room inside the cabin. Many of the newer ships stress being on the water, with the "Waterfront" on the newer NCL ships. I felt like it was a chore to see the water from Epic. We found the entertainment and the food top notch.
  2. I was going to mention this. It came up in an insurance agent's blog that I follow. None of the standard policies will cover you unless you're able to get a doctor's recommendation that you not go on the cruise. The recommendation has to be obtained on the same day you are refused at the pier. The other problem is that most "cancel for any reason" policies require you to cancel two days before the cruise, not the day of the cruise when you are denied boarding.
  3. Shipboard revenue is not taxed by the US Federal government. But the accounting for a pass-through like this is probably handled by allocating it to crew incentives and credited back when given to the crew. Net result: no tax implication to NCL at all, even without the special carve out for shipboard revenue in the tax code. $1 - $1 = $0. It's interesting that Virgin Voyages is including the DSC-style thing in their fares (no extra daily charges). We'll see how they do. I suspect its like the airlines charging baggage fees; they will follow suit because as much as we complain, we "vote with our dollars" for a base price with numerous extra charges.
  4. I did bookkeeping for several restaurants and the servers would split their tips with the host, bussers and barkeeper (who in turn split his tips with the bar back and other people under him). The tip out amounts to these people were deducted from their tips on the books so they didn't pay taxes on them (but those other employees did pay the taxes on the amount they got). So your tip in the restaurant is a kind of "tip pool" in practice, just like the DSC.
  5. I believe you should cancel and focus on other things to do on that vacation. The current situation is so in flux that I wouldn't risk it.
  6. Another common problem in customer service is simple miscommunication. What the rep says: "I don't know if the Prima will have free meals in the main dining rooms." What the customer hears: "Once again, NCL has a cut back and this time it's taking away free meals in the MDR." The rep says it because they haven't seen it specifically mentioned, and the rep doesn't have enough knowledge about the company to realize that of course, they always have free meals in the MDR. The rep is a minimum wage, call center employee who just started working at NCL and doesn't know that free meals have been a thing for the last 50 to 75 years. The customer hears the more stringent version because of their frustration with the company over the years in chipping away at things included in the fare (like room service).
  7. I took a look at the standard BookSafe policy on the NCL website. It includes $20k medical, $25k medical evacuation, and $5k for repatriation of remains if you die while traveling. I usually buy much more medical than that. Foreign hospital bills for Americans are expensive (since we're not a citizen of those countries their national health insurance plans don't cover us). Daily rates for Americans in a Vancouver BC ICU unit is over $14k CAN according to the linked source. It will vary from place to place, of course. A heart attack is a very expensive thing no matter where you are. I usually look for $50k or more of medical coverage. The medical evacuation is to the nearest facility, so the amount is probably OK, but you're still left with the cost to transfer to a hospital closer to home if needed. Air ambulance service can be many tens of thousands more than that. Repatriation of remains runs from about $5k to $10k or more, so your heirs could have some out of pocket costs there if you die while on the trip. Like many policies, if you miss the sail away the policy doesn't give you a refund on the trip cost. It gives you $500 as a stipend to "catch up" to the cruise at the next port stop. That $500 has to pay for any hotels, the last minute one-way flight to that next port, and your meals until you catch up. If you choose not to do that you don't get any refund on the rest of the cruise because you could have caught up to the ship. This isn't uncommon in travel insurance, but the amount might be a little on the low side depending on where you are and where the ship docks next. So my verdict would be the coverage is OK if you're under 50 or so. That's my "risk dividing line" for higher medical, medical evac and repatriation of remains costs. Over 50 and you have an increased risk of things like strokes and heart attacks which can be very expensive. I'm in my mid-60s so we usually go with much higher coverage, but it's all up to you and your tolerance for risk. "Self insuring" is also a thing many people do if losing the $50k isn't that big of a deal.
  8. People should be free to choose, and we'll all hope they don't get sick. The difference on a cruise is that passengers with symptomatic COVID-19 might get the entire ship quarantined for two weeks. Even though I am fully vaccinated and would not get a serious case of COVID-19, the anti-vax or vax hesitant person CAN cause me hardship. So I'm with you; I'll only cruise with a "all eligible passengers must be vaccinated" rule or until we've had a few months of sailings without a single quarantine taking place on any cruise ship.
  9. I'm in the "least favorite" camp with the Epic. The bathroom situation is one issue that I think is more of a problem with a family with shy teens or unrelated people, but for a couple it was tolerable. Still, seeing your partner sit on the toilet is not typically on your vacation short list of great things to do. They did do a good job of ventilation of the little transporter tube that has the toilet, so while you can see the outline of the person, and hear the grunts, at least you can't smell it too. My other problem with the ship is that it is almost entirely inward focused. It's hard to see the ocean, even from the small promenade decks on either side. The lifeboats, instead of being over your head, are positioned at eye level beside you, so you have to peak between them to see the ocean. You can get a better view at the fore and aft ends of the promenade deck. The more open design with the newer ships, where you can see the ocean easily from the promenade deck and even eat outside on them, shows how much of a mistake this was in the original design. At least for us ocean lovers. But, we enjoyed the cruise overall. I don't recall problems with getting off the ship for excursions, or embarkation and dis-embarkation. We did run into crowding "pinch points" from time to time, but not as much as I expected. The staff was wonderful, and the dining options, etc. were all up to snuff, and the shows were great. I probably wouldn't sail the Epic again, but I can see that it could easily be people's favorite ship that have different priorities than I do.
  10. I applied for his job, but they didn't give it to me. I think I am worth every penny, but I'm not sure about him.
  11. The most disastrous thing for a cruise line would be for one of the "start up" cruises to be quarantined due to covid-19 cases on board. I think, at this time, RCL is going to accept children with vaccinated adults, banking that no child will have a symptomatic case of Covid-19 while on board. NCL is hoping that the vaccine is as effective as has been reported, and that no cases will arise on their start up cruises. That will pave the way for more cruises with less restrictions in the future.
  12. Just booked a 7 night N. Europe cruise on the Magic from Dover for Aug. 2022. They are releasing itineraries to Castaway Club members now.
  13. Just look at excess deaths for the time period. It takes months to compile the data so we don't have it for recent months, but already there are deaths above the expected death rate for months in the early part of the year. They exceed the official Covid numbers. In a year or two we'll also have the "years lost" from early deaths. Many of these objections are debate club arguments that don't bear on reality. It's fun, but not useful. Cruise lines will figure out a way for people to identify as having taken the vaccine, because even if people who CAN'T take the vaccine are excluded, like pregnant women, people with health issues that prevent vaccines, etc., there will be more people boarding than there are now.
  14. It's false advertising! I'm going to insist they charge me the promised $1,025 per night instead of per voyage! This shows these mistakes do happen, and are often not intentional.
  15. Click the link at the bottom of every email. Or, in Gmail and some other email readers, there's an unsubscribe link at the top too.
  16. They had several multiple choice questions about the type of benefits you would prefer if you paid an annual or monthy fee for the extra perks membership. The choices were things like points that accrue that you can use elsewhere like the airlines do, cash back, OBC you can use on board, or reduced cruise fare cost.
  17. They should at least refund you the gratuity that you paid for that third night.
  18. I received a survey from NCL for their loyalty program, which I rate as very poor and not a factor in choosing to sail with them over any other cruise line. What was "interesting" is the number of questions about a "paid add on" to the loyalty program with an annual or monthly fee to increase the benefits of the program. It's not hard to read into this program as another revenue choice for the line. With the poor performance of the Latitudes program I wonder how many cruisers would pay extra for what amounts to a real loyalty program.
  19. How can they ply you with cheap booze so your inhibitions are reduced, so you will then spend too much money gambling? They could ban smoking, but they want the customers to "have fun" (be drunk and carefree).
  20. That makes sense. Thanks. On the vaping issue, I am on the opposite side of the fence, but that's off-topic, so we should not discuss that aspect here.
  21. Sorry. Gave you too many words. Shorter version: Cruising will not resume until the CDC says it can. Florida isn't leading anything in regards to being able to cruise.
  22. NCL did hire former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD to consult with them. He should be able to help them navigate the CDC bureaucracy. I'm looking to see if the CDC extends the no-sail order, or amends it, at the end of July. I'm worried they might put a maximum age on cruisers, with no one 70 or over allowed on board (or whatever arbitrary age they set based on high risk). They could try to implement age, weight, blood pressure and respiratory standards; no overweight people, no one 70 or older, no one with high blood pressure (over 130/80 in the US), etc. The CDC rarely shows restraint in these things, and often acts politically once the main crisis is over (as they did with vaping).
  23. Depends on the mask type. The ones that loop behind the ear are easy to put on, but the N95 masks with multiple head straps can be harder to get on correctly. So it makes sense if you have two or three stops to just wear the mask while driving. I wear a mask when I go somewhere now, but it's the easy surgical style mask. Not a big deal at all. Not sure why people object to it; I'm more concerned that I HAVE TO wear shoes in all stores now. What right do they have to tell me I must wear shoes? It's offensive and violation of my god-given right to go barefoot.
  24. No, that's not how this works. The Federal government has no police powers for health issues, and they cannot order a state to shut down or open up. The states can decide that on their own, due to the police powers for health issues reserved to them through the 10th Amendment. BUT, the Feds can intervene in a specific jurisdiction granted by law - like at ports of entry. The state cannot interfere with the Feds at the port, and if the Feds say you are not disembarking or taking on people at our ports, no one but the Feds can change that. The party the governor belongs to has no bearing on when the Feds say you can disembark people.
  25. The port is dependent on the Federal government to say they can host cruise ships again.
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