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About sparkmaster

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  1. Hello fellow Encore Maidener! I've never picked a bad studio myself. I tend to avoid the blank spaces on the deck plan if I can, but I've never had a bad one. See you on the ship!
  2. Just booked on NCL Encore's maiden voyage! No port stops, and it's cold af in November, but MAIDEN VOYAGE! There are only so many of those and I'm pretty dang excited to be a part of one! Especially at such a reasonable price,
  3. Potential deal alert: Maiden voyage of the Norwegian Encore on 11/3 has dropped substantially. Studios are now going for $799. So with the Drink package about $1050. No port stops, just a week plus of ocean voyaging. Cold too. Plus the whole "maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on giant ship" thing. So not for everyone, but I figure there aren't many times you can go on a cruise and guarantee* no one else has slept in that bed. *ignoring media/TA previews
  4. Reality check: Someone talk me out of pulling the trigger on one of the 16 day NCL Joy sailings to/from Miami and LA. The oceanview prices aren't fantastic, but for all packages and said oceanview it comes to around 160ish/day. That ain't bad for a vacation. My season has been nuts (and isn't over by a longshot) so I'll be ready for a nice long cruise come October.
  5. It's also not the season for deals, anyway. The real good deals will come in the shoulder seasons between summer and christmas (and vice versa).
  6. Man those are some gnarly interest rates. The example they used is over 15%. Better than most credit cards, but cruising without having the cash is pretty bad.
  7. On this ship as well. Driving over tomorrow from the gulf coast. Can't wait to get to the district.
  8. Yes, you can use cruisenext with sailaway rates. Availiblilty looks to be anywhere from 6-12 months, probably dependent on whatever crazy algorithm they use to price cabins. Seriously, it's crazy.
  9. Look at what NCL is doing, from the beginning. Back a few years ago they came out with this free UDP, just pay the gratuities. Every cabin category got the option of picking perks. Back in 2015 even studio cabins got 2. Then the sailaway rates come out, without the perks. Ostensibly these are last minute, heavily discounted rooms. In reality, they're what any other cruise line would call standard priced rooms, repackaged to think they're different. So now you have 2 classes of drinking passengers; those with free UBC (not really free, but w/e) and those without. Then NCL does two things. First, they widen the range between sailaway and standard (perks included) fare categories. Take a look at just about any cruise on NCL's website. Excepting last minute or otherwise strange voyages, there is a huge spread between standard and sailaway rates. Example: early march sailing on the Getaway, sailaway is $899 pp, standard is $1299pp. NCL is making $800 more from those two customers off the top. This doesn't count the gratuities (lord knows where those actually end up), which are another $277.20 from the same couple. Boom, NCL just generated an extra $1000+ of revenue for giving away a "free" perk. Now take a look at the other drinking demographic, the sail away non-UBPers. They want to have a drink or two at dinner, sure. A few frozen drinks, perhaps a mixed before dinner beverage, a glass of wine etc. NCL's core demographics are middle class folks who are somewhat price sensitive. So Mr. and Mrs. Sailaway take a peek at the drink menus and just about fall over. They want a drink, but paying for one glass of wine each is going to be almost (or over) $20. Even more for just about any sort of mixed drink. So they may pay for the drinks, or they may not. But they're surrounded by people who have the UBC and are having a fantastic time not giving one care about the price of most drinks. And here Mr. and Mrs. Sailaway are, nursing their one drink because they really really don't want to drop a jackson on another round. As they sit there, they do the math and see that 2 rounds of drinks a day will be more than the "charge" for the UBC (the explicit gratuity), and they remember that they're on a sailaway rate, which to them is a deeply discounted room. So next time, they know they want to do the UBC to save money and have more fun, not counting the near grand they're going to drop to "upgrade" to the higher fare class. The UBC perk makes money for NCL. It makes more money than people who pay for their drinks individually (or else why do it?). It promotes all day drinking (and the ancillary revenue that comes with this), and increases fun levels for most guests. They don't want people to count their pennies while they drink. By increasing drink prices across the board, they seek to increase the pain of those buying drinks individually, and drive them to fare categories that include perks. The big thing to look at here is the increasing price of certain mid and high level liquors outside of the UBP zone positions them for this new premium beverage package that includes everything. tl;dr, NCL making the UBP to seem more valuable than paying for individual drinks, making them more money and positioning their premium package for marketing
  10. Simple. NCL doesn't want anyone drinking without the UBP.
  11. Some of the decisions made on the liquor list do strike me as quite peculiar. Rolling Johnnie Walker Black above the UBP threshold but moving Jameson Caskmates down to the included level? NCL is trying to be clever by inflating standard drink prices to move people onto their booking categories that include a perk, which usually ends up being the UBP. It's clever and original for the cruise market.
  12. As a primarily beer and low end liquor drinker (I ascribe to the Joseph Stalin school of alcohol consumption), I have to wonder at what point they're going to start messing with specialty beer pricing. Only covering whats on tap etc.
  13. This is a truly awful thing. I am on the voyage departing tomorrow. I'm not sure how this is going to go. Between the late arrival and the potential for regulatory complications related to the govt shutdown, tomorrow could be interesting
  14. I think most of us agree that $100/day for a drink package is absurd, especially compared to the counterpart drink packages offered by competitors. I mean, we're talking about double the base cost (not including gratuities) compared to similar drink packages offered by other mainline companies. The big thing to consider is as of now, as long as free at sea remains in place, this is almost a purely academic discussion. With free at sea, our price goes from $17.80 to $19.80, which is still 1/3rd of the cost of other drink packages.
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