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mking8288

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About Me

  • Location
    "Big Apple" NY
  • Interests
    Travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, CCL, RCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Bermuda/Caribbean
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/5nup7xtw3ell4g0/CruiseCritic%20Abstract%20-%20mking8288%20-%2011.2018A.doc

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  1. Thanks, see that and bookmarked, if not this Fall then sometime in 2025. It is a hard life, you know, trying to decide ... looking at a possible last minute Alaska option on Cunard - balcony option priced less (not just a little) than NCL. Real afternoon high tea & white glove service onboard, waiting on twice nieces /SIL's mom to clear their calendars. As for being at a park bench somewhere in WSP, are you bringing your home furniture outside to reserve a spot ? IC is a joke, really ... and I gathered both Robert & you received the post-cruise eSurvey from NCL. Have you look at Viva or Prima prices lately for 2025, OMG - 5 grand's for steerage (Insides for next Spring's TA 😳 - gotta be kidding or some "systems errors"
  2. Hahaha, for real. No, we never made it to TPIR this time, was a "sold out" game and didn't want to waste time talking to the onboard "concierge-like" cruise assistance at CruiseNext (unless I happened to buy 8 more CN certs, or at least 4 or more) as they would've just say, do the virtual queue thing on the NCL app or just show up earlier and join the standby line, odds are one would get in or wait until someone walks out early. Have you look at NCL prices ahead for 2025, it is NOT a game, rather it's real life and even the lowest prices for Insides are simply, really, truly ridiculous. Mrs. M said hell, ain't no way that we'll spend that kind of money for 7 to 10 days for our "convenience" of embarking out of NYC to help "sail & sustain" the bottomline revenue. Case in point - take a look at Prima's 14 days TA for April 2025 ... steerage (Insides & OV) NY to Southampton (UK) at Haven-like prices, not that we want to repeat the TA on the Prima again ... nope. No Deal, for sure. Aside from the 2 NCL cruises booked, there is nothing of further interest. Looking at possibilities, dates & itineraries on Princess, HAL and even Cunard (Alaska) - in addition to MSC ... since we are looking at least booking 3 to 4 cabins, pretty sure we'll get to 5 cabins in 2025 since my brother is retiring soon and wanted to join us to celebrate his transition. NCL wants to play, it's No Deal since The Price is Wrong. As for the Inner Circle thing - whoopie - anyone that's taken Statistics 101 from the college days know the tricks ... in surveying and getting the answers NCL is looking for. Anyway, niece's pooch always like to sit besides me whenever we visit them ... body language speaks for being trusted and part of the Inner Circle, huh.
  3. We're shocked and I don't think most pax onboard the TA expected a quick, smooth & super, super early disembarkation on arrival into UK. Flying agents out, house & feed, and get them to process all the pax & crew is NOT something NCL is known for. We booked a private tour to spend 3 to 4 hours, originally planned to see Windsor (not the Castle & its grounds) before the ride to London Gatwick Airport for our evening non-stop flight home (to NY's JFK Int'l) and did NOT want to spend hours at the airport lounge (4 hours max pre-boarding is the usual rules in the U.S.) with 4 day passes - or to get a day rate at a nearby hotel - our pickup time was 9 AM as we wanted to play it safe and not be rushing in the morning to get off ... as it turned out, the marginal costs for the taxi tour w the driver-guide was well worth it, we walked and saw a lot; and, our luggage was stored. Peak summer travel is the prime "suspect" on your Prima cruise coming up ... there're several other ships in SH that morning, but each ship docking at a seperate berth/terminal and the port's layout & design made it very easy. Just words of caution, the gangway for the Prima to exit was on Deck 6, and it was (is) a long series of descending gangways to reach street level, and not necessary easy or fun if you are traveling with more than just carry-on luggage. With a 24" rollerboard and a carry-on, we opted (as always) to put them out the night before and it worked (Airtagged ours, just in case) - by 7:15 AM, we watched from our balcony, essentially all the luggage were taken off the ship and move into the terminal ... by the time we got "out" below to find our colors, around 8:30'ish, only 2 dozens bag with our "Yellow" tags remained there & unclaimed (color was called very early, between 6:45 to 7 AM ... and by 8:15 to 8:30, nearly all colors were called - no lines or wait to get past ship security w the final scan. Enjoy your Prima cruise ... and if you haven't seen our Live TA review posted, you should easily find it here on the forum, plenty more info & details that you should find useful. Caution - it is long, sit back & have coffee/tea or a nice, cold beer to browse & skim thru it - some of the port info are same as yours.
  4. We got off the Prima TA earlier this month, UK immigration/ border police pre-cleared everyone onboard several days while at sea, between Iceland & Amsterdam with 2 other port stops, easy & quick. Scheduled arrival into Southampton from Le Havre, France was 6 AM but we're docked earlier and ship was cleared, express walk-off started around 6:30 & easy as walking off a ferry. We went to breakfast & leisurely vacated our cabin by 8:15 and off the gangway into the luggage hall, collected our bags and outside for M&G with our taxi-tour driver, and off to Portsmouth by 9 AM. Folks that left early were at London Heathrow Airport by then as traffic was light on early Sunday morning. See below for details - it depends - in part - on your sailing's scheduled arrival time and whether there are UK immigration check there or prior, as that really speed things up. NCL apparently made arrangements & flew the UK agents to Iceland & houses them on the ship to process 3000+ pax and crew while en route 👍
  5. Finally, got around to completed both of our NCL post-cruise e-Survey online ... short with a different focus, asked about FAS offers, whether we could made specialty restaurants of our chosen dates & preferred time (booked ours at 125 days), show reservations ("No" not really ... annoyed) and whether we upgraded our 300 minutes x 2 to unlimited/premium WiFi ("Yes" but still not as advertised to be considered anything like fast ... and pricey, RC and Princess, even Cunard & HAL, or Carnival is less than $20 a day) Asked about their shorex - no, we did NOT use NCL at all, absurd prices and highly inflated, deceptive prices and not worth spending $$$ for. << Our motto is to just go with the flow and "wing" it once we are 99.95% of being at the port, if we didn't plan ahead & reserve semi-private or shared tours by local, etc. >> Zeebrugge, Belgium and Le Havre, Paris on your own is something like $99 p/p - basically port shuttles to town & back ... taxi and/or Uber (where available) is a fraction of that for 2 to 4 ride-sharing, faster & quicker. Just make sure to plan & re-confirm port and ship time, allow for delays & unexpected traffic surprises, etc. (even NCL transfer to Paris & return were running late and tied up with motorway traffic) and have the port agent's contact info, mobile # and email address saved, kept & take along when leaving the ship into the port - and - have local/roamming cellular services. Toward the end of the short survey, taking no more than 5 minutes, maybe 7 to 8 minutes at most - there is a box for other comments - used it to say we're not pleased and annoyed at the NY embarkation issues ... NCL could've handled it better with "on scene/on pier command" to oversee & monitor how things were go with 1 or more striped officers - granted that the Right whales and speed restricted delayed repositioning cruise arrival known to NCL at least 22 days prior, could've been managed smartly & differently ... that's the challenge and tasks for management to come up with contingencies. Gave NCL our peace of mind about the MDR issues and silly, annoying show time scheduled once - only - during the latter part of the TA with port days, at 6:30 PM ... prime slots for most cruisers to be in the restaurants, and/or in lines waiting to get in. The pop-up after closing the survey is whether one wish to provide feedback to NCL, to be added to the "NCL Inner Circle" here's that screenshot ... question was asked recently (again) on NCL forum here about it ...
  6. Haha, have you check out any of the BK joints (they seemed to be everywhere tourists are spotted, haha ? We thought KFC were more popular as in Iceland ?? Several suggestions & favorites to us: Pho Hanoi (4.8 rating on Google) Little Foodie (4.7 rating) Hello Pho (new, 5.0 rating ...) several doors from Little Foodie, around the corner from H10 Casanova Hotel, our choice to stay when in town - a great boutique hotel w rooftop swimming pool & bar/lounge, great view of the city into the late evening. Of course, lots of cafe w excellent pastries in that area but I'm sure you'll come across plenty, everywhere ...
  7. La Cucina on the Epic was the overflow seating for us in our Spring 2023 TA crossing, it served as the Observation Lounge on sea days for many, until the crew started getting it ready for specialty dining services in the evening. There were signs posted in the buffet and also mentioned in the FSD as the ship was sailing at full capacity (double occupancies w lots of solo) Epic also has a bridge viewing room, starboard side that's open dust to dawn to passengers.
  8. Nice find and those are local prices vs. tourist & visitor menus, LOL. Are you staying in/near that area or just riding the buses & trains/subways to get around ? If you head toward the Universitat just south of Catalunya, lots of good & inexpensive places to eat, where beer costs less than a small can of soda. What's new in your land adventure today ?
  9. Exactly, my understanding is edible food that must be properly disposed of - not that maritime regulations allow cruise ships to just "dump" matters into the vast ocean - processed onboard, sorted out and turn into "feeds" for marine life at sea, I don't recall whether they're liquid and/or patties. Ever wonder why birds and fishes are often attracted to cruise ships near ports and not just pods of dolphins in their hunt for food. BTW, it is Memorial Day ... thank you to those that serve and protect.
  10. It depends on a # of variables, aside from looking at the maritime and weather forecast for the ports; and, which NCL ship you are sailing on. Pool(s) might be closed while hot tubs might stay open, partially as long as sea state aren't rough. Outdoor dining options might be zero and not just partially limited, that hit our Prima TA crossing last month with respect to several specialty restaurants where NCL replied on 20% of the given seating to be outside in the evenings, NOT. It extended to the ultra small Surfside Cafe a/k/a buffet, at a fraction (25%) of the mid-ship Dawn/Jewel/Gem class ships despite using Food Republic across the hallway. Indoor seating were harder to find or come by, the pool hogs moved inside to stalk prime space in the Observation Lounge, and the ship's inherent design to sail in warmer climate amplified & worsen the availability of some of the shared, public space while other prime retail shops took up, IMHO, valuable real estate that could've been multi-purposes. And, with the latest "changes" (to not call it "reductions" and cutbacks for the cheerleading folks here) to onboard live entertainment and the absence of a library, just not the near ideal, full sea day experience on the ship. However, since you are sailing Norway & Iceland, ports should be your prime focus in terms of sights, sounds and things to do ... not necessary as important as using the ship as the destination. Enjoy your cruise.
  11. Here's a super quick video clips (10 seconds) for the Norwegian Joy at Dockyard that Dan a/k/a "The (infamous) Fall Guy" (LOL, just poking fun among CC friends) ... hot off private messenger as my gang of 4 had no choice but to disembark this morning after an express breakfast in the MDR ... uneventful week, smooth sailing to/from Bermuda, calm seas and all. Arrived into NY last Sunday early, no speed restrictions or whales restrictions in place (they've "migrated" north already for the season, perhaps ??) and left basically on time, got there early on Wed & sailed, made it back to NY ... super, super and I mean, really ultra early sailing up the Hudson River by 1 AM to dock again at Pier 88 while most slept until 6'ish. NCL Joy Dockyard, Bermuda 22 May 2024 Z1E.mp4 They had wheelchair assistance to disembark and wasn't in any rush, and with porter's help, cross 12th Avenue to the unofficial pickup address at 660 12th Avenue, waited 20 minutes for our local car service to pick them up around 9'ish and already home, unpacking. Thus far, Fleet Week isn't adversely affecting these 2 week's Joy sailing, nor the Right Whales speed restrictions that impacted on all 3 NCL TA sailing during the month of April - still not happy with the last minute announcements & the embarkation/disembarkation mess created for those on the repo and our TA boarding ... "ship" happened but other cruise lines sailing in/out of NY in April clearly did NOT have any issues with delays and last minute changes. Except, NCL 😤 Old friends from work days getting on the Joy soon, and they will repeat the 7 nights run to Bermuda ... will hear from them and their adult daughter's update about Starlink WiFi onboard, as she needed to use it once in a while to remain somewhat connected, as a matter of choice. While we aren't big fans of Food Republic onboard NCL, I must admit ... the food photos they uploaded looked quite good, especially the lamp chops. Hola, now that you are in the City of Barcelona ... a world of cuisine awaiting for you, including bubble teas ... not just cafe with the Portuguese goodies.
  12. No, no and no - girl, you gotta get that mindset out of your head. When you wake up in the morning, go to the MDR to relax, enjoy breakfast and let others rushed off the ship first ... be among the last to disembark; and you begin planning for the next cruise ahead ... BTW, the mid October one is too far away for you at 148 days out, assuming that you've locked that in your cruise calendar. Come up with something else in between, we know you can do it.
  13. FWIW, we associate Tilapia with going to IHOP in the old days, cheap & simple, easy on the wallet. Wild Alaska salmon - rich is Omega-3, is my / our favorite fish anytime and anywhere if red meat isn't desired, farm salmon is okay but not the same ... and, of course, good smoked salmon gets my full attention. There are frozen salmon fillet in our freezer all the time, just in case but Tilapia, not a chance - I rather keep some canned sardines around. Sea bass, tuna, trout, flounder and Mahi mahi - those are fine when dining out (incidentally, did NOT once see Mahi mahi on our recent NCL 15 days TA onboard ... not going to call them major cutbacks but changes in the wrong direction) Will speciality restaurant be replacing Dover sole or other fillet with Tilapia next. Imagine the horror if they start showing up in the Haven everyday dining menu.
  14. Nailed it for some that've sailed her already and others that aren't booking these new ships, Susan & I have been going back-n-forth while on last Nov's TA and ... well, let's say if we played NCL's "The Price is Right" game "correctly" and for a last minute, bargain priced 7 or 8 nighters out of NY - our homeport, stacked with CruiseNext DoubleUp and Latitudes extra point(s) during off-season and even peak hurricane season ... we'll take an Oceanview (as that's Deck 5 & often mid-ship, as assigned) - ship as the destination, take the unlimited WiFi path minus Day 1 (as that's not needed & often "wasted") LOL, mucho "qualifiers" ... and we still got some FCC to use up by end of 2024. Off-line chatting yesterday w another Diamond CC'er, she's just not happy w NCL's latest round of faked NOT near off-B'dway style entertainment onboard, but hard to resist when a stone's throw from Pier 88/90. Something else when it's just 2 of us in the cabin, that low back sofa is good to have as I rather not sit on the "stool" to do things on a sea day. It is not all "negatives" with the odd design & layout, I see it as the new "Epic" replacement, one and only built for modern times under FDR, laughing all the way in retirement w his stock options & compensation for keeping NCLH afloat over the last 3 to 4 years. This article, among several others on another NCL forum post - explained what's taking place behind the scene - https://www.seatrade-cruise.com/ship-operations/how-nclh-reined-costs-dining-shows-housekeeping-purchasing Still, I see us leaning more toward the *away/plus ships and the older mid-sized/small NCL ships, upgraded with newer & leaner furniture. By all means, enjoy "Escape" in the Med and when you are in between cruises again. yes - do post your pictures from the TA and add your thoughts, more than a few words and sentences. Your barely live report is a big hit among all of us, bravo and I mean that.
  15. Look back, quick recap - tips, tricks, surprises and the unexpected for this TA: Since both DW and I reached Diamond status in 2023 and both of us owned NCLH stocks held in different brokerage accounts, with 2 others sailing along ... we strategically booked 2 cabins, one under her name with the niece (Gold, now Platinum) and the second cabin under my name with the sister-in-law (Gold, now Platinum) to leverage those Latitudes perks or benefits, mainly the dining and laundry; and, $250 OBC for each of the cabin - total of $500 non-refundable OBC. We found out on Day 2, that since the Bank of America credit card (joint account) that we used can only be used to pay for onboard charges on one of the cabin, not two - it's NCL's system restrictions or limitations. The workaround at Guest Services, the cardholder signed the release and agreed in writing to be responsible for charges on the other cabin as well, thus the charges will show up in the "other" cabin only, "mine" balance subsequently were showing zero. It didn't stopped the niece from paying for her own expenses or onboard charges posted, as she used a different credit card while doing the pre-cruise, online check in. Whatever ... I made it a daily habit to review and check all the accrued charges and keep tab on offset against the $500 OBC, as they're pooled together as well. We spend a good amount against the unlimited basic WiFi upgrade, 13 days worth plus another fraction shopping duty-free ... the rest were spend mainly for sodas and specialty dining upcharges, misc. fees like 3X Breakfast Room Service delivery "fees" and 2 gangway photos. I've mentioned in the beginning that we booked 2 Oceanviews (OB) and upgraded both of them to Balconies (BB) - preferring midship and chose Deck 10 ... BOA agent offered us a good # of cabins, including Deck 11 but we opted for one deck lower, for a better & smoother ride, just in case. The 2nd. balcony that was given to us as the complimentary one-time Diamond upgrade was further back, AFT & overlook the Ocean Walk, not really what we requested but acceptable as given. Except for Day 15, there wasn't much, if any at all, to see and look out below by the loungers & Infinity Pool ... aside from a few bundled up joggers & walkers braving the outdoor elements while we're at sea. While others took advantage of using NCL Air, we booked our own one-way return airline tickets. Non-stop (Sunday evening - embarkation "day") flight using Norse Atlantic Airway, including priority check-in & boarding, 1 checked bag and 1 carry-on bag each plus 1 basic meal in-flight. Very reasonable & fair prices and at a fraction of what NCL Air quoted, not counting ground transfer ($75 p/p from Southampton to LHR or GTW as offered onboard) We shopped & purchased third-party travel & medical insurance online for the trip, a fair to good amount in savings; which covered us the moment we leave from home until our return, unlike the coverage offered via NCL. Shorex – Halifax, NS - we Uber around town on our own - quick, easy & inexpensive as we've been to Halifax quite a few times ... not interested in spending hours on a bus going to / from places ... Google AI mapped a nice place for lunch in town, popular with off-duty ship crews, within easy walking distance from the ship terminals. No fresh lobsters for us on this run ... just had them earlier in the month. Iceland – rented our own Toyota 4WD that seats 6, shared cost with 2 others and sightsee/explore on our own, mainly doing the semi- Golden Circle route, 2 stops at the Þingvellir National Park, headed south to the Kerio Crater with a nice late lunch stop, then headed east toward the Valley in the direction of Reykjavik thru downtown & as far out as the lighthouse at the western tip, before going back to the ship for a brief rest. We went back on around 9 PM toward the waterfront again, stops at landmarks like the church and did a bit of shopping at one of the few grocery/mart that’s open late on a Sunday, before calling it a night. Next morning, after early breakfast - we went into town again, more pictures & sampled the famous hotdog, brought souvenirs and then dropped off the pax at the ship before filling up the gas tank, and return the rental – driven back to the ship by the nice folks at car rental, a quick 4 to 5 minutes drive. KFC is apparently a useful reference point in Iceland, LOL. Amsterdam – arranged & joined up with CC’er on a private van tour to see the flower show, saved money & had plenty of spare time once back in town near the ship. We can see ourselves easily spend 2 to 3 days exploring the city and landmarks nearby in the countryside. Zeebrugge: non-NCL shuttle bus to Bruges, arranged by another CC’er’s TA, a slightly longer walk from the designated bus parking area once dropped off – definitely not for those with mobility issues & challenges. Famous for its Belgium waffles and chocolate – checked & sampled, brought & eaten, plenty of scenic photos, worth the effort. Downside, shuttle bus did NOT turn on air conditioning, only natural air via the roof vent, pretty warm but we managed, very few coughes onboard the bus (yes, we masked up, just in case) Le Havre, France – nothing planned, long train or bus ride into Paris for 3 or 4 hours aren’t our cup of tea. Just took the port shuttle bus to down, 7 Euro per person round-trip, with 2 stops … town centre and shopping area. Lunch locally and ran into ship crew again – found their secret spots to dine when not working, hahaha. Back to the ship by late afternoon and began packing. Southampton, England - disembarkation was precision clock work and very early. We took our time, went down to the Hudson MDR at 7 AM to enjoy a sit-down hot breakfast, and reluctantly joined others to queue for the gangway exit around 8:30 AM. By 9 AM, we had collected our luggage waiting inside the terminal, used porters to help haul our bags and met up with our taxi-driver/guide ... Adrian from Paragon Taxis, based in Southampton ... and spend the next 6 hours seeing Portsmouth & Chichester, before a relaxing ride to not rush on the busy motorway to LGW for check-in & going airside after security, to get ready for the 7 hour non-stop flight to get home. Overall - expenses-wise, we came in under or below budget, especially when factored against NCL's fees & charges for excursions and transfers, etc. Having full cellular services abroad including 5G and 4G LTE ("roaming") services in all the ports also made a difference and our live easier, able to call, text and use WhatsApp to communicate and reconfirm, etc. Between Susan and I, we only spend an "extra" $40 USD on cellular charges or expenses vs. our regular monthly charges for both lines - it was a little higher than expected with the continuous MiFi tethering once we moved away from ship's Starlink signals.
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