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About JillK

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Interests
    Reading, Travel, Toronto Blue Jays, Cross Stitch
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, RCI, Carnival, Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. On the Brilliance last year and the Oasis a few years back, they showed up mid-cruise. They were advertised in the daily planner and most of the bars also had a sign advertising them. You were able to buy them at any bar and for the mixed drink card it was $89 plus tip. Can't recall the exact price of the draft beer card which was only offered on the Brilliance. Perhaps they only show up if booze sales aren't going as expected?
  2. Hey! Rates are terrible and I was reading a few months ago that they are expected to get worse over the next year. Hopefully that will change. It makes cruising so much more expensive right off that bat! I still fondly remember when I travelled in 2007 AT PAR. Those were the days! We use the card you've mentioned, TD USD Visa. I know CIBC has a card at the same annual fee as TD, BMO has a USD Mastercard for $35 and Royal Bank also offers a card but for $65 plus a fee for a secondary card. Another route I have seen discussed elsewhere on these boards is the Rogers Mastercard. It is in Canadian dollars and they do charge a fee for conversion (2.5%) but you get it back (plus a bit extra) in cash back (3% on foreign transactions purchases). They don't have an annual fee. Good luck and happy cruising.
  3. That is very frustrating - especially that you have to be on the watch for and correct their mistake. I agree with the other posters who suggested you try to seek a correction even though you are now home. I had something similar happen on a Princess cruise where even though I had booked and paid for the cruise in CDN dollars, I was using a USD Visa for onboard expenses so ticked the box NOT to convert to Canadian at check in (before it was all done online). They still went ahead and charged all our onboard charges in Canadian dollars to my USD visa. That meant I got hit with the double whammy of Princess converting from USD to CDN at their exchange rate and charging the conversion fee and then the credit card converting from CDN to USD at their exchange rate and also charging a conversion fee. Very costly in fees as you can well imagine and I remember us being really miffed but can't remember if we ever took any action so probably didn't. For the most part I now book in USD and have never had the problem again, but I would reach out and try to get the cruise line to refund the conversion fee at the very least if it ever happened again. Good luck and please do let us know if you were able to get a resolution!
  4. It does seem to be all over the place with no real rhyme or rhythm. When it first became available for my March Break 2020 cruise it was $67/day. Last week it was down to $57/day and now it is back up to $61/day. Although we certainly like our libations when on vacation, we've done the math and for us at the current price, it's not worth the expense... on the Brilliance over the course of 13 nights last year, my husband and I had a bar bill of just over $400, including soda. Hard to justify spending over $900 on a 7 nighter just for the convenience of the package. We were able to economize on the Brilliance as we took advantage of the punch card where you get 10 mixed drinks for a set price (believe it was $89, including gratuity) and we also got a similar punch card for 10 draft beers for a discount (if memory serves, $56). Those only came out mid-cruise but definitely helped us to save over buying all week a la carte. We're hopeful to see those again in March!
  5. As you may be aware it is around 1 hour from the port to the Orlando area. Presumably you will also have to factor in disembarkation time and time waiting for transportation (whether that's getting on a bus and waiting for it to load or picking up a rental car). You also have no way of knowing what kind of line ups the park will be experiencing that day. One trip to Disney that we did pre-cruise in early December we were able to walk right on to most rides, with at best a 5 minute wait throughout the day (heaven!). The last time we went to Disney in December 2016 post-cruise we had much more significant wait times and weren't able to accomplish as much of the park in a day as we had been able to the trip before. Depending on your all-aboard time, your actual park time will be limited. Epcot is awesome but there is a lot of walking as it is an extensive park (especially if you try to tackle the individual countries around the back). Plus there will be wait times for popular rides like Test Track and Soarin'. Obviously it's up to you guys to decide if you will be satisfied possibly only seeing a portion of the park for full day price tag and the travel time involved. Whatever you decide, enjoy your cruise!
  6. You won't know how you like it or don't until you go. We have done several standard 7 nights, a 10 night, a 12 night and a 13 night. I find that I am never ready to go home when we cruise 7 nights and dread the last night when you have to pack up. The longer cruises feel just right for my husband and I. We have had a chance to fully relax and find that we are ready to go home when it's over.
  7. It's really easy for a Canadian family of 5 to be pushing $10,000 without having the Haven experience. We have to factor in 30% more due to the unfavourable exchange rate that we've been experiencing the past few years. We are a family of 6 so we always need two cabins and have chosen to cruise out of NYC for the next few cruises just to save on airfare which is ridiculously expensive. We only have two national carriers so there isn't the same kind of competition as Americans can benefit from. For example, we cruised with two of our kids last December and switched to a 12 nighter out of NYC so we could drive since the airfare from Toronto to Miami was almost as much as the cruise fare for a 7 nighter (airfare was $3000 for four, cruise fare was approx. $3200 Cdn) The 12 nighter even with gas, meals and one night hotel was less expensive than the cost of 7 nights with air. When looking at the cost of a cruise, I always have my TA include daily service charges as well as perk gratuities on the quote so I know the actual cruise cost (and I do use a US agent so it is in USD and I then convert). I then build my budget with related expenses for the vacation such as air, hotel, meals, onboard expenses, shore ex, etc.) Only when I have an accurate picture of the costs associated with the vacation can I evaluate it. An increase of $0.50 per person per day is relatively negligible over the course of a week's cruise for my family ($21) so I have no issue with it even though it's gone up over the years fairly regularly. As a stay-at-home parent, I really appreciate the cruise experience where everything is done for me. It's truly a vacation for me and I am so grateful to be able to have a break from the things that I do daily at home that for me it is money well spent. When will it be too much? I don't know. For us, if we can no longer afford the overall price of the cruise then something is too high, whether it be the base fare or service charge or perks gratuity or related costs (airfare & related fees, hotel, wifi, shoreex, etc.)
  8. We have stayed at the Intercontinental and Marriott previously and they are both nice and well located. Lots of folks choose the Holiday Inn as it is probably the closest to the port but it's always been full when I've been booking! As tallnthensome mentioned, try the florida departures board when you have some time to do a bit of reading. You will get lots of recommendations and insights there that will provide you with tons of guidance. Enjoy your cruise!
  9. Have a look at your cruise planner to see what the price point for the deluxe drink package is for your particular sailing. Someone already mentioned that it's priced at $52 per person but for my cruise in March it is $65 per person. It was originally $62 when it first became available (we've had this cruise booked for a while) but went up a few months back. For us, it is not worth the cost to get the package but you would have to do some math to see what works best for you. Onboard the Brilliance last spring since we did buy drinks a la carte... draft beer was in the $7-9 range and cocktails ran the gamut of $8 -14, before gratuities. On that cruise we did purchase the 10 drink punch card when it became available mid-cruise. We had previously purchased a card on the Oasis so were looking for it on this cruise. One was for draft beers (can't recall price) that made it slightly cheaper than buying one-off and if memory serves the cocktail card was 10 for $89 (in that ballpark). Not sure if this is available on the Anthem but perhaps someone who has cruised on her already can advise as I'd like to know too! My husband and I have cruised Royal several times but this will be the first one for our four kids so we're curious to see what they think of the experience (previous cruisers with Disney and primarily NCL). My parents also booked a cabin beside us and while they are very seasoned cruisers across many lines, this will be their first with Royal in about 15 years so I'm *very* interested to get their thoughts (they cruise primarily Celebrity and NCL these days). We are looking forward to our Anthem cruise and wish you a happy sailing!
  10. Hi MamaToMany! It's really easy to add the air deviation to your booking. If you booked through a TA, just advise them that you want to purchase the air deviation to come in the day before and you will be charged the $25 fee per person. You may also want to cancel their transportation at that point (assuming it was charged automatically at time of booking). Hubby and I are going on a solo cruise on the GEM in December and we did this, no problem. In fact, we were given our flight information for that cruise already (Toronto - Newark) and realized a savings of over $1000 CDN for the two of us so it was worth giving up control of picking flight times (they are good, but not the ones I would have chosen). We also have a cruise on the books with our four kids for March break 2021, taking advantage of the free air. We are split 3 per cabin in two oceanview cabins so we will be paying $199 for pax 3 in each cabin for the air. As of now, we have not purchased a deviation but will likely do so in the future. By the time that cruise rolls around, our kids will be 16, 14, 11 and 9 so I'm not overly concerned with us all being seated together as I would have been when my kids were little (one flight they had moved our then 3 year old on her own for a six hour flight if you can believe that!) Enjoy your cruise!!
  11. You could try to comb through some of the long bidding thread that exists and see what kind of bids people made who were successful in winning but as the previous poster mentioned, it's difficult to know for sure as each sailing and each ship will be different. The best advice on bidding I have seen on here is to only bid what you are comfortable paying. Good luck!
  12. I think it's safe to assume that you will have one or possibly two stops. Just checked Air Canada's site and there were several flights listed with a layover in Toronto and a few on offer with layovers in Toronto and Montreal. Hope you get an the best itinerary possible and enjoy your cruise.
  13. This was my experience as well. Whether or not I added the air when pricing made no difference other than the addition of the NCL transfers which I manually cancelled. We have already been assigned our flights for our cruise in December and although schedule-wise they wouldn't have been my first choice, they are decent times, direct and saved us just over $1000 CDN vs. booking it on our own. You guys south of the border have more choice when booking airfare and I am amazed at some of the low fares I read about here on these boards. Last December we were going to book a 7-night cruise with our sons out of Miami until I shopped for air --- the cost was slightly under $3000 for four from Toronto.... since we were going to use the "kids sail free" promo, that pricing meant that the air would have been more expensive than the cruise itself! Instead we did a 12-night out of NYC which we were able to drive to and ended up being less expensive than the 7-night with the air. Since I'm already paying for the "free" air promotion in my cruise fare whether I take advantage of that perk or not, I was happy to sacrifice control of the air booking to be able to save what I would additionally have had to pay out of pocket to buy the airfare outright.
  14. We cruised aboard the Escape twice as well. Once in December 2016 and again in December 2018. Exact same broadway style shows were on offer for both cruises and would have been the same as you saw last August. Not sure what the usual turn over on this type of a production is generally in the industry but I would imagine they keep the same shows for several years.
  15. Hope you come back and advise how this was resolved. Very strange and have to assume it's an error on NCL's part.
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