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About BWIVince

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  1. One look at per diems — compare them with other segments in the travel industry — and it’s no wonder margins are so thin. A couple of our nationwide discount chains prove that at least in the US, people are willing to give up many of the values they usually say drive purchasing decisions in order to get cheap bling. Cruises are no different. Per diems on my Crystal Cruises the past 10 years have been similar or significantly less than what I paid when Crystal first started (without adjustment for inflation) — and Crystal in the 90’s didn’t even include soft drinks, let alone alcohol or any of the other AI items they do now. Trying to get American consumers off of luxury products created on the back of cheap labor is like trying to get an addict off of crack... And I don’t even seeing anyone seriously trying. Vince
  2. Roy, I love that you shared this pic... I took a really similar pic just downstairs from yours at the InterCon in 2016, and the moment left such an mark on me that I installed an accent light in a corner of the room and used the photo feature in the Philips Hue app to set/match the color of the light bulb and schedule it at sunset daily.. Now every night I'm reminded of that moment, in a subtle way. Vince
  3. That’s exactly the upside to Crystal’s approach, and why some of us strongly favored how they went about it. Obviously in the future when they (hopefully) have ocean ships with large alternative dining venues designed for modern alternative dining demand, many of our expectations will be different, but considering the limitation of decades-old general arrangement proportions, it’s a lose-lose deal that is going to leave some passengers angry either way. Personally, I’m fine with the fee, I’ve found It infinitely easier booking both first AND second reservations now than it was, and the convenience far outweighs the small fee for me (and the previously discussed alternatives). Vince
  4. My family booked both categories extensively over the years, I'm pretty good at this comparison. Some of these points are very subjective though -- what one person thinks is a pro might be another person's con, just a heads up. 🙂 Other than the color of accents in the room and the color of the granite ledge in the bathroom, they are physically identical in appearance and layout. Potential Advantages of D - Location is very convenient to the Crystal Plaza, Waterside restaurant, and gangway (either on decks 6, 5 or 4 depending on the pier). Also convenient to the elevators that take you up to the Galaxy Lounge (showroom), Casino, Hollywood Theatre, Palm Court, and pool. The most unobstructed views of any outside (non-veranda) cabin, since there is nothing else from the ship anywhere in your line of sight (unless something has gone horribly wrong lol). Also the most privacy from the windows, unless you are literally eye-to-eye with the pier or building when docked. A little brighter, since they lack the privacy glazing of the cabins on deck 7, and the overhangs (balconies and lifeboats depending on location.) Potential Disadvantages of D - Not as convenient to the promenade deck as a cabin on deck 7, but marginally less convenient than one on deck 8. It's hardly a hike from any cabin though. There's more foot traffic outside the doors of these cabins than most other locations, but no one in my family ever complained that the traffic translated materially into noise. In EXTREME weather conditions, deadlights may need to be placed over the windows. This is extremely rare, as witnessed by the fact that the cabins don't even have regular deadlights installed, but it could happen on on rare occasion. Some people like views from higher up. The view here is lower, so the risk of not being able to see over something when the ship is docked increases. In practice though, I haven't found that my cabin on deck 7 or 8 saw over the thing that obstructed the view from deck 5 either, so this hasn't mattered to me. (On deck 8, I usually look into the terminal building on the pier too, if there is one.) The location isn't the most midships, but it's further aft than it might look at first glance. These cabins are all well aft of the forward elevators (the most forward cabins aft of the elevators on deck 5 are no longer for sale). They are more forward than some people prefer, but are still in a pretty stable location. Personally I've found vibration to be a wash. It gets slightly more vibration than some cabins because it's lower, and slightly less vibration than other cabins because it's forward of the midships elevators. I haven't found any noise transference from above personally, but we haven't had someone stay in each D cabin either, so I can't certify this isn't a thing. What else am I missing, D and E1 fans? Vince
  5. Same here... I would sooner sneeze into the mask then try to take it off and substitute it with something that's probably less effective at containing the sneeze. As someone who has to wear a mask every day though, this is also why I have spares. I have a stack of clean cloth masks at home to grab one as I leave, I have a ziplock bag of disposable masks in my backpack at my desk at work (in case the cloth ones are too hot or gets dirty), and a ziplock bag of disposable ones in my truck in case I need a clean one when I'm out somewhere. It's really easy to be prepared, and a few masks in a bag take up no space whatsoever. Vince
  6. In 30 years, Crystal hasn't ever had sustained profitability. If you read through the historic threads here, you'll see lots of quotes from execs and references to NYK's combined cruise financial results that sometimes discussed the differences between Asuka vs. Crystal in the combined numbers, showing that Crystal has had individually profitable years, but has never (that I can recall) had a run of profitability much beyond breaking even... And most years operated at a loss for one reason or another. The reason that's been allowed varies between NYK and Genting's mission for Crystal, but the common underlying thread is that the value in Crystal to both owners was in the BRAND, and the brand was more valuable with a leading reputation of quality and pricing integrity than discounting just to fill ships and raise yields. Crystal has used variable yield pricing the past years to help fill the ships a little better to what the market would bear, but they have consistently let the ships sail less than half full instead of dropping pricing below a certain threshold just to fill a higher percentage of berths. Genting's been trying to fix some of the structural problems in Crystal's former business model to help get over some of the humps it never could under NYK, in fairness to them. One of them was trying to give Crystal enough critical mass to make its infrastructure viable for a small line. (Crystal had insane overhead because their fixed costs were divided among so few guests.) And yet, every time NYK tried to add a third ship, the numbers didn't work because there wasn't enough demand in their business model (without making changes, as other lines have mimicked) for a third big ship. Genting's path to the third ship is by bulking up Crystal through the use of adjacent markets, like river cruises and yacht/expedition. Those give Crystal more efficiency, but also support the ocean segment by growing the customer base, AND supporting the overall mission of Crystal as a luxury travel brand (for other uses by Genting.) That expansion costs money and is a long term play towards profitability though, and not a band aid fix. IMHO, Genting views things big, bold and with a long term vision. They don't make short-sighted decisions except in emergencies, but it sort of explains the thinking on why they're just as ok investing in Crystal for the long term (not unlike NYK) and being less concerned with current profitability.
  7. Wait, who is saying you shouldn't cover your nose? In my example a mask covers droplets from both your nose AND mouth. It doesn't cover a percentage of aerosolized particles, which everyone in my company knows is being a risk even if we're alone at our desks, but at least we're catching the heavier droplets which is a good start. Of course we all know the aerosolized particles are an area of concern that we don't have enough data on, but at least we're covering a broad spectrum of the risks with a properly worn mask covering your nose to chin. Vince
  8. +1 for The Bistro! I literally use it as my shipboard water cooler social area, as many of you know firsthand. 😊 Vince
  9. Watch us actually talk more about Crystal in that thread than anywhere. 😃 ...True to our off-topic nature. Vince
  10. I've known couples that have booked the second cabin for the extra closet too, besides the extra bathroom. (Seriously!) Vince
  11. Here comes one of my less popular opinions, but it comes from a point of deep and repeated frustration. I don't know if I agree or disagree where the proposed bars are set, but I have no problem with the long-established concept of 'fitness to travel.' Clearly doctors and loved ones alike have erred on the side of the passenger and been overly generous in certifying them, so I hardly call this discriminatory, but the consequences of doing that are real and costly. I've had two international flights where 200+ passengers required reaccommodation (including new flights, hotels and meals) because a passenger was boarded that visibly looked like they were in medical distress upon boarding then caused a diversion inflight. Obviously the life of the passenger is passenger is paramount, and we all survived the diversion, but at what point is someone's desire to travel beyond their fitness become selfish when it comes at the cost of time (12+ hour delays because of the time of day of the flights) and deep financial cost to both the airline and fellow guests? The same thing applies to cruise ships, and it's one thing when someone of any age is perfectly fit and experiences a random medical emergency (can happen to any of us at any time), but when someone who isn't fit to travel causes a diversion where passengers arrive late to a port or lose a port, it comes at the financial loss to the cruise line that then has to pay penalties to its suppliers and guests that lose deposits on their private arrangements -- not to mention the disappointment. A doctor's determination at least forces the conversation with a passenger about whether something is a good idea. Obviously, it never really seems to prevent the passenger from getting the certification from some doctor eventually, but maybe it makes people think about it first and maybe take a good look in the mirror. Finally, I'll add that I know this isn't easy. I've had to have this conversation with my late mother, and explain to her that she was no longer well enough to fly (according to her doctor, with her means of care, after several years of her being able to get fitness to travel certified). It was heartbreaking, and travel was her primary leisure activity, and she fought it hard, and I know that I will be in her position one day, BUT that standard is there for a reason and for protection of the remaining passengers on the plane/ship/train/balloon/llama/whatever. Ok, I'll shut up while I can still dodge the water balloons and tomatoes. 🙂 Vince
  12. I can confirm that the same traveling unit doesn’t just mean staying in the same cabin. For solos, it might be a traveling companion, family, or friend(s) in other cabins, as long as they consistently dined and did activities together and limited that exposure to others. That last part might be the deal breaker though in some cases — you would have to consistently dine with people in the same circle. It wouldn’t have to be literally with the same people, but if you created a traveling unit of 6 people, you could dine with any combination of those 6 people, but those 6 people would need to limit exposure (especially dining) to people outside that unit. The larger that group, the higher the risk though. We have a lot of people here that “co-distanced” during the lockdown and formed blocks similar to a traveling unit so they could continue socialization and interact with each other (especially for their kids), but still limit exposure to only the handful of people in their group. It’s not perfect, one person can always catch the virus at the grocery store and spread it, but you could do the same thing to your own household. Vince
  13. Interestingly, I’m seeing gloves pop up in a lot of new travel industry protocols, but in a way that’s completely consistent with what you’ve described. In cases where clean hands are needed quickly, and it’s not convenient or feasible to wash your hands, a fresh pair of gloves is being used to help get as close to that as possible. Bell staff were one of the examples that came to mind — it was the fastest way they could get them turned around and ready for the next guest. They are now (at many properties) changing gloves in between calls and use a different pair when assisting each guest and handling their belongings. Who ever imagined bell staff would change gloves for each guest the way a doctor did between patients? But this is where we are today, so I’m glad we can implement processes like this. Vince
  14. I think it docked at the shipyard some point Monday (Eastern US time). By early Tuesday morning it was showing at Sembcorp. Vince
  15. I’ve been watching every day just to see if the COVID situation changes the duration of the refit, either because of the shipyard’s needs or any change in scope of work, and she was still there last time I looked. 👍 Vince
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