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tryber

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About tryber

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    Los Angeles
  • Interests
    tennis, skiing, wine

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  1. I was with my parents, and siblings, and there were a few kids in our group, so if we had stayed in a suite, we wouldn't have been able to interact with the rest of the family. One thing I like best about Crystal is that no matter what cabin you are staying in, you will be get the same food and service. I've never stayed in a suite on Crystal. Sure, you get a few perks if you are in the suites, but they are on the margins, and I've never felt that I was treated as a second-class citizen, even if staying in the cheapest of rooms on the ship (except maybe the laundry rooms; the laundry rooms on the lower decks get much more crowded and are not as nice as the penthouse decks.)
  2. I've played in about 5 and cashed in 3 of them. Finished second once and third twice. They used to give some prizes (like shirts or gift shop credits), but now just cash. I'm not a great player, and I never play tournaments at casinos, but I've played some low-stakes limit holdem at casinos. I've found that maybe about 30% of the players are competent poker players, and the rest not so much. I don't remember the buy-ins for all of them. I think they were either $60 or $100.
  3. I went on Celebrity for the first time last year. I've been on about 5 Crystal cruises, and had previously been on 3 Carnival cruises (but those were around 30 years ago). If you care about food, service and class, and you can afford Crystal, then there really is no sense in comparing. Go on Crystal. If money is an issue or you are more comfortable around those who would eat at Applebees than Michelin star diners, then you might prefer Celebrity (I don't mean to say that Crystal quite achieves that class of dining, but that's what they are aiming for). I don't really mean either classification to be objectively pejorative or preferred, though I do have my own preference. But I do think some people would think of Crystal as too snooty for their tastes; I'm just not one of them. The average person you will run into, and the way you will be treated by staff, on each ship is very different. The staff on Crystal is pretty uniformly nice and helpful to all passengers.The staff on Celebrity mostly seem like they are at most tolerating their job (or worse, overly obsequious because they are fearful that they will be fired if you make a complaint, even if the complaint is about the food and not them). I ran into a lot of drunk people on Celebrity. One drunk woman actually pushed every button on the elevator, just like a five-year old would do. Even the children on Crystal are always well-behaved, but some people might find that boring. I did find the cabins and entertainment on the two ships to be basically comparable (Crystal is a little better laid out, especially the bathroom, but not really that significant a difference). So, if the service issues wouldn't bother you and you are fine with lower-quality food (and you would enjoy a bigger ship), then I think you might be happier on Celebrity.
  4. My last couple of cruises were on the Symphony, and they had at least a couple of tournaments on sea days. They also usually have some slot and blackjack tournaments, but I've only played the holdem ones.
  5. I'm not buying that this is an isolated incident. This is a natural outgrowth of giving low fares, and then looking to make that up with the constant selling of other services. Each of the staff is there to maximize revenue, not to provide a welcoming experience, or at least that's secondary. The selling was non-stop, obviously forced, and often dishonest. Maybe that's the direction all of the cruise lines are going, as it certainly is the case with the airlines. For the sake of everyone else who will be traveling on Celebrity, I hope you are right that this was an isolated incident. But there are enough other options out there (at least for now) that Celebrity won't be getting any more of my money.
  6. No. I expressed it to the waiter. When more than half the porterhouse was uneaten, he asked if it was cooked ok. I said it was cooked ok, but it was just not a good porterhouse. He just shrugged. I didn't see the point of talking to the maitre'd at that point, other than to insist I not pay for the steak. I really didn't feel like having the confrontation, and I really wasn't looking to get anyone fired. We were told repeatedly by our waiter in the MDR that if we give a low score for food that will reflect badly on the waitstaff. They also made it clear that Celebrity doesn't use the customer service surveys to see what they can do better; they use them to evaluate the staff. That's why I'd rather express my displeasure here. Overall, the service on Celebrity was by far worse than any other cruise I've been on (and that includes Carnival, though it's been a while since I've been on one of those). Other than the restaurant staff, there was no effort at all to make you feel welcome. Most of the staff seemed utterly miserable. The only thing the staff really seemed to care about was to make sure that you gave them your card to get a bottle of water (in, fact, in the spa, you had to not only give your card, but had to give your room number and sign for it). My impression was that Celebrity is much more concerned with making sure you don't get any free water than they are with making sure you are happy.
  7. I will give some examples of "awful food." We recently ate at Tuscan Grill on the Solstice on an Alaska cruise. First, I'll say the positives. Some of the appetizers were good, particularly the crab cakes and meatballs. We ordered a bottle of wine, which was excellent. The fig gelato was quite good. The rest was awful. I ordered the porterhouse, which has an $18 surcharge. I ordered it medium rare. It came medium well. I sent it back. In the meantime, i ate part of my son's New York ($15 surcharge). It was cooked fine, but no seasoning at all, and it was tasteless. How hard is it to use salt and pepper on a steak? I got my porterhouse after everyone had eaten (no offer to comp it). It was cooked right, but just a terrible cut of meat. Too thin and no taste at all. Again no seasoning. It was basically a steak you would get at Sizzler for $63 ($45 plus $18 surcharge). We were a group of 10, and only the two that ordered pastas had for the main course felt they had anything resembling food on par with a mid-level Italian steakhouse on shore (I would have loved to taste some of the other pastas, but the waiter, who offered to bring a couple of pasta for the table to share, didn't bring them). The side dishes were even worse. The cacio and pepe was disgusting. It was cold and stale, as if it had been made hours earlier and had just been sitting there. The mashed potatoes were also cold and stale, but cold and stale potatoes are at least better than cold and stale pasta. I wouldn't go back there if it were free.
  8. I just found out that the answer is no. After seeing these posts I went to my cruise planner to try to upgrade. Sure enough, the promotion was there on the website, but it wouldn't let me add the promotion to the cart. It said to call the customer service number. I did, and they said that it does not apply if you received the classic package as a promotion. I said that they should explain that on the website so I don't have to waste my time. They didn't seem to care. This is my first Celebrity cruise. So far, the customer services is abominable. The website is the worst I have experienced. It locks you out all the time, and makes it extremely difficult to book reservations for a big group (we are a group of 15). I just hope the experience gets better once we get on board.
  9. The regular rooms are very efficient and comfortable. Personally, I would not choose a cruise based on cabin size unless the size made the stay uncomfortable. I don't agree that a balcony is less of an issue for this itinerary. To the contrary, seeing a 2-hour sunset at 1:00 a.m. is something that cannot be fully enjoyed looking through a window. Neither is the Geirenger fjord. These are both once in a lifetime sights. I did not have a balcony, but I was fine going out onto the Promenade Deck at midnight or going up to the top deck while going through the fjords. If you are unlikely to do that, I would spring for a balcony.
  10. I think that's an amazing itinerary for the Crystal cruise. We did the North Cape Discovery this last summer, which started in Oslo and ended in Antwerp. My only complaint for that cruise---which was overall spectacular---was that there were not enough sea days. The Norwegian ports, especially those above the fjord area, start to blur together after a while, and the point of the cruise is more the scenery than things to do in the ports. This cruise starts and ends in two of my favorite ports, and has a few more sea days. If I hadn't just taken a Norwegian Fjord cruise, I would sign up for this one in a heartbeat. I have not been on Azamara or Viking, but I can't imagine you won't enjoy Crystal.
  11. Thanks to all for the responses. This is helpful.
  12. We have a group of 7 people going on the North Cape Discovery cruise, which spends most of the time in several ports up and down the Norwegian Fjords. Given the size of our group, we would like to book private tours as opposed to Crystal's excursions. But compared to other cruises we have been on, there do not seem to be very many business advertising private tour services in these ports on the internet. We sometimes book private tours through our travel agent, but she tells us that their tour operator doesn't really cover this area, and anything they booked would be prohibitively expensive. I would appreciate any leads regarding good tour companies (or individuals) in these ports. I would also appreciate any advice on which ports are worth hiring a care and guide, and which are best to just walk around the town. We have already booked the railway in Flam, but otherwise have not made any other plans. Here are the list of ports: Jul 18, Tuesday Stavanger, Norway 9 am 6 pm Jul 19, Wednesday Bergen, Norway 8 am 6 pm Jul 20, Thursday Flåm, Norway 7 am 5 pm Jul 21, Friday Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway 8 am 6 pm Jul 22, Saturday Kristiansund, Norway 7 am 6 pm Jul 23, Sunday Cruising the Norwegian Fjords Jul 24, Monday Tromsø, Norway 8 am 5 pm Jul 25, Tuesday Honningsvåg, North Cape, Norway 8 am 10 pm Jul 26, Wednesday Hammerfest, Norway 7 am 3 pm Jul 27, Thursday Bodø, Norway 1 pm 8 pm Jul 28, Friday Brønnøysund, Norway 8 am 5 pm Jul 29, Saturday Ålesund, Norway 9 am 6 pm
  13. I'm glad to hear that. The waiter did pour the wine for us on the last cruise (which was 2 years ago), but only after we asked. I didn't know whether or not that had become accepted, or he was just doing us a favor. It was still a problem, because some at our table wanted to order drinks, and the waiter could not take care of that. If we waited for the sommelier, they'd be lucky to get the drinks before the appetizers were finished. Eventually, they had to make sure to get a drink before dinner and bring it in themselves.
  14. It's hard to necessarily differentiate the cruises before and after the switch to all-inclusive, but I think that I have typically given $20 at the end of the cruise to people in the Lido and/or pool deck who stand out, and something between $40-$60 to the cabin steward and main waiter (I always forget the nomenclature for the wait staff), and something a little less than that to the assistant waiter. Usually, I will also give something to the head waiter, particularly if I've made special orders. I would be willing to tip the sommelier, but I've found the service from them to have gotten really bad over the last few cruises. I know its not really their fault, as Crystal skimped on the sommeliers after going all-inclusive. But they do ultimately make a choice of which tables to serve first, and it never seems to be ours (I really wish they would get rid of the ridiculous rule that only the sommelier and serve the alcoholic drinks, and we have sometimes convinced the wait staff to just pour the wine for us).
  15. The availability of self-service machines varies tremendously by deck (there is less demand on the higher decks and the facilities are nicer). It can be difficult to use the machines on the lower decks on a crowded cruise. But it's usually not a big problem. The laundry/dry cleaning is very good and very reasonably priced. Much closer to home dry cleaning prices than hotel prices. Between self-service and the ship service, I think it's safe to pack a little on the lighter side.
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