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Everything posted by commodoredave

  1. A number of things have changed since I first wrote about Storylines in my cruise blog: https://gentlemansportion.com/2020/09/07/the-mysterious-case-of-the-baffling-cruise-line/ But I am still concerned about the ability of Storylines to pull off a successful launch of the Narrative in the timeline and cost structure as advertised. Some additional concerns since my blog include the highest rate of inflation and oil prices in decades. My advice is that anyone contemplating a purchase of a unit on the Narrative should do so with the understanding that higher build and operating costs will eventually have to be absorbed by owners.
  2. Reading this thread, I would not feel comfortable booking an ocean or river cruise with Scenic. After waiting almost 4 months to get a deposit refund on a cancelled cruise with Crystal (which subsequently went bankrupt), I am leary about giving money to any cruise line that appears to be in some sort of chaos.
  3. I think you may have meant to say that "The fare we pay does include tips for the crew", instead of does not as you go on to say that "Gratuities are included in the fare we pay." Beyond those gratuities included in our cruise fare, I see no reason to tip unless one feels they have been given a level of exceptional service or help that they wish to reward.
  4. I agree. If I tipped certain individuals in advance for service, I would feel no joy in doing so. But when I tip certain individuals for exceptional service at or near the end of the cruise, it gives me (and hopefully them) great satisfaction.
  5. I've sailed about 8 times with Regent, but none since 2012. There are a number of reasons for this, but the bottom line was that I found other luxury lines that provided more value for the price, and that were more closely aligned with my cruise preferences.
  6. Good point, but I respectfully disagree. The cruise line fare includes gratuities, which are supposedly for the crew, so I am already thanking the crew for their service. Sometimes I wish to acknowledge crew who go above and beyond by tipping them extra, which I do near the end of the cruise. This system works well for me, but I acknowledge it may not for everyone.
  7. I donated to the crew welfare fund once and the found the experience disappointing. It was back in 2013 on the Seabourn Pride. After reading on CC that giving to the crew welfare fund was a great way to reward staff, I gave a generous donation on the second day of a 15-day cruise. My donation was never acknowledged in any way -- not a card from someone placed in our cabin, not a thank you or smile from a crew member, and the charge on our final bill didn't even state the money was for the crew fund. In contrast, when we give tips to those providing good service to us, we always feel it is appreciated. Bottom line: we no longer give the crew welfare fund.
  8. We did 3 B2B cruises on the Seabourn Odyssey in February. The food in the main dining room was lovely, and we had a terrific waiter (Christo) who made every evening a great experience with his engaging personality. We had booked dinners in Thomas Keller for one night on each leg of the cruise, but cancelled our third reservation as we didn't think the food was as good as the MDR. We were travelling with another couple (first time with SB), and we began each evening at the Observation Lounge Bar to listen to the lovely piano music and chat with our favourite bar tender (Annie). Overall, we had a very enjoyable time and both us and our friends made deposits on future cruises. Would I forgo other luxury lines and only cruise with SB? No, as we enjoy several other lines including Silversea and like to compare various offers before deciding. But Seabourn is and will remain amongst our favourite cruise lines, and once we decide on the region we want to cruise to next, we will choose the luxury line that best meets our needs for value, service and itinerary for that particular voyage.
  9. Depending on how P2P pax are treated in future, I may well stick with SS as well. But I may also be incented to try new cruise lines like Explora and Atlas, or other luxury lines I have not yet tried like Ritz, Ponant, and Viking. The good news is there are plenty of SS competitors out there, and the ones that treat me the best will get most of my future business.
  10. As you note, this type of behavior can only take place with support or indifference from crew. I find it very annoying, especially when it affects me personally. On one of our Seabourn cruises this past February, we noticed a couple claim one of the few poolside cabanas at 8:00 in the morning (which my wife likes to use), and not return until after 4:00 pm just to remove the possessions they left on it. The next morning they did the same and then left at 9:30 am for the beach day party in St. Kitts. I pointed this out at 10:00 am to one of the poolside staff who said they would take care of it. They didn't. At 12:45 pm I told a more senior poolside staff member about it, and they promised to take care of it. They didn't. At 1:30 I spoke to the senior staff member again and advised that if the possessions left on the cabana were not removed I would speak with the Hotel Manager -- it was immediately addressed. The offending couple returned at 4:15 pm, found their possessions had been removed, and asked crew about it. They were told their possessions had been taken to the lost and found, and would have to pick them up there. I had a big grin on my face during the entire conversation. The next day I gave the poolside crew member who dealt with it a nice tip.
  11. I would add that cruise ships sailing out of non-US ports have different COVID policies with respect to testing, so it is always best to verify with the line before boarding the ship.
  12. We all have preferences/limits for the size of ship that we prefer. As someone who has sailed with Regent and Crystal about a dozen times, I am comfortable with the larger luxury ships and the advantages they provide (more space for activities, entertainment, more stable for trans-oceanic crossings, etc.). On the other hand, I also appreciate smaller ships and the benefits they provide (fewer people, staff remember your name, better access to smaller ports, etc.). At the end of the day, as long as a luxury ship carries between 100 to 900 people, I consider it competition for my cruise dollar and will judge it on a wide range of features including price, value, service, etc. As they say, to each, his/her own.
  13. Depends on the SS ship. Silver Nova carries 728 pax in 364 cabins, which is closer to the size of Explora and in the same mid-size class. The advantage that SS has is that it also offers smaller ships in its fleet, although they tend to be the older ones. Now, if one prefers smaller ships in the luxury class, there's always Ponant and SeaDream to choose from, among others.
  14. We did our first Norwegian Fjords cruise on the Seabourn Sojourn in September of 2010. The size of the ship (450 pax) was perfect for navigating the fjords, and there was enough to do on board that we never got bored. We are going again this summer, but this time on the Silver Whisper, which is slightly smaller (388 pax). On the first cruise we did not get as far as North Cape and the Arctic Circle, which is why we decided to return this year. Silversea is more luxurious than Windstar, but it is more formal for dress code. Silversea also includes shore excursions and alcohol (which is very expensive in Norway) in the price which may be a factor for you. However, it is usually more expensive than Wind Star. The deciding factor for us on both these cruises was itinerary, particularly the fjords and seeing North Cape. In any event, it's hard to go wrong with such a beautiful destination like Norway regardless of which ship you pick, especially if it's a small ship from a luxury cruise line.
  15. I agree that if SS can can get the credits/benefits worked out where I don't feel penalized booking P2P, they will keep my business. I don't care for D2D as I almost always prefer to book my own air, hotels and airport transportation for a long list of valid reasons. I also agree on the shore excursions. I've been on 76 cruises, which means there are many ports/cities that I've been to multiple times and have already exhausted the offered shore excursions. Like you, I prefer to go ashore without the groups and buses, and instead design my own private excursion, sometimes with another couple.
  16. Yes it is. I was surprised to learn that MSC is privately owned Swiss company and that their ships are fully paid for. It seems they are a huge shipping company that has been around for a very long time.
  17. That is a valid concern. I do not recall Crystal making an aggressive pitch for families with small children, and during my 3 cruises with them there was never an issue with children. As for Explora, they made a big thing in their presentation about having 82 "multi-generation-friendly connecting suites". I don't know how that compares with other ships that size (about 461 cabins), but I personally will not stay in a cabin with connecting doors as I find them noisier.
  18. I would have agreed with you until I participated yesterday in a webinar organized by my travel agency with folks from Explora Journeys (apparently, they are doing lots of these). The presentation was the best I have seen in several years, and painted a very attractive picture of Explora as a cruise line that will rival just about any competitor afloat when it comes to luxury, food, innovation and service. The things that really struck me were the "Crystal Cruises-like" culture they are building (even referenced Crystal), the impressive space to passenger ratios, the number of free alternative restaurant options, expanded times in port (like Azamara), and the innovative design of the ship. I also like that shore excursions are not included although they do have a range of intensive port options for sale. Explora will also have a more relaxed dress code that Silversea (country club casual), which appeals to me more than formal (I like to wear a jacket/tie to dinner, but not a tuxedo or suit). So, I have decided to give Explora Journeys a try next year after they enter the market in May. If my experience turns out to be as good as promised, and if Silversea doesn't change their approach with D2D/P2P, the 3 cruises I currently have booked with Silversea could well be my last. And the same might apply to others.
  19. With respect to three days or 72 hours, here is the email that my TA received from a regional executive at Silversea on March 16: "It is 3 calendar days, not 72 hours. For example take test on Tuesday and cruise on Friday." Unless that has changed since then, the same would apply to 48 hours -- it's two days,
  20. My understanding, received in writing from my TA, is that the time period is three days and not 72 hours, which makes the time difference less relevant.
  21. I was against what you were saying until you used the word "sophistry". Anyone who references a teacher from ancient Greece is far too smart to disagree with! 🤗
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