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BWIVince

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    Crystal

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  1. It sure is, and that's why the agent should be cutting the check to you. I know it used to work differently, and I know policies are still a little inconsistent as PCI and accounting auditors tighten the regulations differently from each other each year, but I can't think of a single other industry left where you can buy something, transfer it to another person, and the other person can then have the merchant pay out the third party in cash without reporting it. If I bought you a gift from Macy's with my AmEx, gave it to you, and you returned it to the store, you'd either be able to get a store credit to spend there or it could be credited back to my AmEx. There's no option for cash to go to a third party (the recipient), and that's for everyone's protection. (Now the credit not carrying over or going back to the agent in our case, THAT'S the potential cash grab.) Anyway, everyone gets my point, sorry to keep harping on it but it's a hot button. I just wanted to add that MalbecWine is right, OBC's are not intended to be a financial instrument for cash transmission. We have just too many rules around that in financial processing these days. Vince
  2. BWIVince

    Toilets

    +1 to what Keith said. Once in a blue moon something will break on its own, but 99% (figuratively) of the time the toilets not flushing is because they had to shut down part or all of the system for a "user error" issue of people not following directions, unfortunately. It's not just cruise ships too -- it also happens with the vacuum toilets on airplanes. I've had two flights so far this year delayed because they had to switch out arriving aircraft with another plane because someone on the inbound flight tried flushing something they shouldn't, and the waste system on the plane needed to be taken apart. Vince
  3. I disagree... In my industry we once thought we didn’t need to obey the same standards of online credit card processing and security as e-commerce, and then we realized we were being scammed as much as everyone else — if not more — because the crooks realized that we were expected to be more generous around credit handling than retail was. Not even 15 years ago we were doing things like issuing check refunds for credit card transactions, and issuing refunds for credits. Today under PCI these things are considered completely insane. The credit doesn’t have to expire — that part can be the cash grab (though I think it would be unmanageable for Crystal passengers to have a rolling credit balance on an ongoing basis across its passenger base) — I don’t think they could legally pass the money on to a different party under today’s security standards. An agent can gift it as a credit like you would a gift card, but I don’t believe you could ever turn it back into cash. Otherwise you could use it as a dodge for any other kind of payment that would normally need to be reported — among other legal and ethical challenges. (And like everything else with PCI I’m sure not all companies are there yet, but you’ll find exceptions dropping off every year.) They could, however, definitely refund it to the original party that paid if it went unused. If YOU wanted to pass that back to your client, then you would be free to cut the check. Those may sounds like subtle differences, but thats the tip of the iceberg of training that many of us have to sit through now every year in order to interact with the ever-changing rules of the payment card industry. Vince
  4. Just out of curiosity, what's the value of being able to look directly down off the veranda? If you're planning on water-ballooning the walkers on Promenade Deck I could definitely see that being an issue, but how often do you look down in that direction otherwise? If anything I would think having a sound shield/deflector from the Promenade might be a tiny plus. Vince
  5. Although it may seem like a cash grab to some people, there are legal and risk implications to a company selling a credit and then paying it out at a later date in cash. There are many reasons gift cards (and that's essentially what the onboard credit is) are not redeemable for cash. By requiring spend or forfeiture, you avoid people using them as a means of shelter or skirting regulations, oversight, transport, laundering, etc. of funds. You'd be surprised what kind of loopholes people have figured out how to piggy back on for nefarious purposes. It's sold as an "onboard spending credit" so I don't feel there is really any bait-and-switch there personally. I was fine with this rule when it changed. Vince
  6. Thanks for one of the most epic trip reports I think I've ever read on Cruise Critic, Keith. I can't imagine how much time it took out of your journey to share all of that with us, but I sure appreciate all of your efforts. What an amazing trip! Vince
  7. That's my thought too... On shorter drydocks the non-technical list of work usually consists of numerous smaller-scale projects -- the type that either happen or don't happen (like the wrong parts were sent, or pre-manufactured items didn't fit, etc.)... They aren't usually the kind of projects that run over and leave an area unfinished. We'll have a better idea of potential risk when we eventually hear about any customer-facing enhancements they may be doing, if any. Vince
  8. Thanks for posting the update and photo of Josef, Keith! My family and I first had the pleasure of meeting him in the mid-80’s when he still worked for Princess, and he was the first familiar and friendly face we saw when we first sailed Crystal almost 30 years ago. I’m so glad to hear he’s doing so well and see he’s looking great — his retirement is well deserved after making so many vacations for so many of us so special. Vince
  9. NJBelle, I hope your father-in-law has a speedy recovery and hope your husband has smooth travels. That is quite a plot twist, and great support to his family that I’m sure will be appreciated by all. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever been to Shanghai on a sunny, clear day? I’ve seen pictures of sun there, and I’ve only been for a few days so I have no idea if my experience is typical, but every trip report I’ve ever read from people I’ve known was similar to my experience — overcast and/or fog or rain. I can’t tell if the sunny pictures are just #fakenews. 🙂 Thanks for everyone’s updates and reports. Vince
  10. So well said, Patty. If I do book a trip for a bucket list reason, I try to remind myself that nothing in life (and especially travel) is guaranteed. These days we as travelers have such relative reliability and accessibility that I'm always disappointed when I'm sitting next to someone in an airport having a thermonuclear meltdown over some change or delay for some reason completely out of mankind's control. As good as we have it, travel is still unpredictable. I'm so jealous! Do they still not have the crème de violette? (Are they whitish instead of purple?) Ken -- fingers crossed, please let us know if it works! Terry and everyone onboard, sending you all positive thoughts for clearing horizons. Vince
  11. Thanks Tracey! It looked likely given the timing and location, but I just hadn't seen confirmation of that yet. Vince
  12. I’ve been wondering the same thing about Singapore. I don’t remember Crystal ever using that shipyard before, but Genting does a history of using them in the past. If it is a drydock and not a charter, we should start to hear details this fall. 10 days is a pretty short drydock for Crystal, I wouldn’t hold out hope for too many big projects simultaneously (aside from the ships potential proximity to retirement.) The carpets on 6 are kind of interesting, since they were just re-trimmed in the last refit to match the new decor. I can’t tell what the thinking was — if they were trying to stretch the replacement to the next drydock, or whether they felt that was all that was needed to coordinate the old carpet with the new decor long term. Id love to see Crystal update the remaining cabin corridor carpet to match the new carpets outside the suites (even if they don’t do the rest of the corridor updates they did on 9). The current carpet was just changed a couple of drydocks ago so I don’t hold out a lot of hope, but I’d love to see it. In terms of cycle the guest rooms would be up next for updating. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for anything extensive given the ships age, and 10 days isn’t long enough for anything major anyway, but they could do some impactful changes with lighting and minor decor that would really help. That’s my wish list. Vince
  13. It actually IS an affogato, but it's meant to be a play on tiramisu -- the pivot being they're both laced with coffee. IMHO it works pretty well for a reimagined dessert, I thought it was delish. Here's a pic of it from last year to give you a visual -- this is after they poured the coffee at the table (you can see the waiter's hand with the little pitcher), but before they removed the top: Vince
  14. I might be the one Glen is referring to... This is one of my biggest Crystal breakfast pet peeves. For as long as I can remember (spanning dozens of executive chefs), Crystal has thrown the MDR/Waterside eggs benedicts (all varieties) under the broiler after they plate the hollandaise. This has two catastrophic effects -- it cooks the eggs more (usually overcooking them and resulting in them no longer really being "poached":), and it coagulates the hollandaise. WHY they do this, I have no idea, because both are deal breakers for most benedict aficionados. When you order the sauce on the side they skip the broiler, and it saves the dish, since the components themselves are usually on-point until the procedural misstep. Vince
  15. Symphony's rooms have been extensively renovated once and partially renovated four other times, but there are elements of the E1 rooms that are original and kind of dated. IMHO they're minor, but each person probably assigns a different weight to them. In the prior two dry docks, the carpet, desk chairs and some accents like throw pillows and lamp shades were replaced, as well as large interactive HDTVs installed. In my eyes, the wear comes into play in some very minor but noticeable places -- the faded pictures in the room, some specific accent tiles in the shower that have lost their finish, and the finish worn off of some small places in the woodwork. The lighting is also a little bit dated looking, but all in good shape in my experience. Although Serenity is newer, her standard rooms have had a more extensive refit, so there's a bit more of a contrast and it gets some comments. If Crystal updated the lighting and the pictures, I'd actually be pretty happy with the rooms (given the ship won't be around forever, probably). Vince
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