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xitappers2bx

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Everything posted by xitappers2bx

  1. I have a good friend who owns and runs a spa and massage school... I asked him a few months ago about pregnancy massage for one of my sisters to surprise her with and he was basically horrified I would even entertain the idea and then I got some lecture about the whole "they have to be specially trained." Someone not trained in pregnancy massage could accidentally induce labor. I would probably skip the massage and go for a mani/pedi. That was something I LOVED doing when I was the *sober* one of the group. Also, make sure they aren't going to be too far along, there's a pretty strict limit on pregnancy and cruising.
  2. I haven't sailed on the Joy, but I can give you some insight into the differences between Carnival and NCL.... Freestyle Dining. That's it. And you can now do that with my time dining. We did our first NCL in the Med, there were no Carnival ships, and it felt like cheating. And my kiddo (then 13) and I loved it. It was the NCL Epic, and it's a great wonderful ship. The staff were great, the rooms were awesome, the food was outstanding, not a single complaint from either one of us. Then we decided we wanted to do Bermuda, and CCL didn't have anything that worked with my birthday, so we did the NCL Escape. And I brought along my parents--loyal RCCL-ers who also do enjoy Carnival (they've been on the Sensation, Splendor, and the Magic--they're a little jealous we're going back on the Magic for Hanukkah/Christmas and they weren't invited). My parents LOVED the Escape. We all loved the staterooms. The service was PHENOMENAL. We found quiet places around the pool deck that were perfect for napping and reading. They also LOVED the boardwalk area; every morning while they waited for me and the kiddo to wake up they would stick a note on our door and let us know where to find them--happy and relaxing with a light breakfast on the boardwalk. They loved the experience so much they're going to do a transatlantic for their anniversary next year. We also really do enjoy the specialty dining on NCL. For full disclosure. The ONLY thing that I found annoying on NCL was the daily ask by the dining room team to fill out a comment card about their service. I did it, but it just felt like a lot. I guess it's no different than the pushy drinks on the lido on CCL though.
  3. The other option would be to move to Quantum or Spectrum, but they offer even fewer port options if I don't want to stay on the same ship for a full month.
  4. Yeah, ultimately, that's the thorn in my side is this deposit, I hate to waste the dollars, but I didn't think NCL or Princess would drop enough to actually be doable.
  5. This is a story all about how I turned my summer vacation upside down. And then I wrote a book about it. Feel free to scroll to the end. So, let's start with, everyone on this part of CC has been beyond helpful, and ya'll have all given me a lot of great info to this point. I did something I shouldn't have done, and now I need someone's help to make the "right" decision. We are avid travelers but this will be the furthest we've gone, and it's a special trip so I want it to be perfect. Originally, when I got this cockamamie idea to surprise the kiddo with a trip to Japan for her sweet 16 I really wanted to book with either Princess or NCL. I loved the itineraries, and thought they were more what we would want to see and do than RCCL. Needless to say, I'm a single mom who works for government, and there was no way right now that I could swing Princess or NCL. Then RCCL had a great "deal" (I feel like this is highly subjective for RCCL as everyday they have the same "deal") and I booked the 9 night RT Hong Kong (Hiroshima, Kobe, Kyoto, Kochi) and then a 5 night Vietnam (Chan May and Nha Trang). I figured we'd fly out a week early and hang out in Tokyo for 5 days before jetting to Hong Kong for two nights. This was 100% settling. So yeah, the great fare has a catch (of course). Non-refundable deposit. I read the fine print, and thought that since there's no way I can drop 8-10k on a cruise that this was a great second best. I'm also concerned by the lack of apparent shore excursions in Asia with RCCL. Not that I am tied to the cruise line, but I do like having the option to book through them. Turns out, the Voyager's reviews are pretty much terrible, and while I follow the cruise director on social media, it's not like she's telling me about the food and cabins. I know that she's going into dry dock this fall. But still. The majority of the reviews are just terrible. But, was totally accepting of them (and we're pretty laid back people). Did I mention this is a total surprise for the kiddo? (How laid back are we you ask? At the end of our summer spend living in Paris, we took a Med cruise... and got off the ship exactly one time, to eat pizza in Naples and see Pompeii. And it was the perfect vacation.). Well... to go on a brief but important tangent, my mom booked a transatlantic on NCL and mentioned that they're having a 20% off sale. Then I totally forgot about it. A friend is joining us, and bringing along one of her friends on this trip as well. She shoots me a message about the NCL itinerary that I REALLLLLLY wanted to do and the price has dropped significantly; (Hakodate, Sapporo, Kanazawa, Busan SK, Sasebo, Beppu, Kochi, Kyoto--overnight, and Mount Fuji) and it's RT Tokyo... so we'd get out there still several days early, but we'd be able to spend two days at Tokyo Disneyland. With all four perks added (it helps that the kid isn't 21, so I only get charged the gratuity for the soda package...) and a random $100 OBC that appeared after I put the kiddo's information into NCLs portal it works out to like, 650ish more dollars. That's a lot.... except we love specialty dining, wifi is always necessary (I do freelance work to supplement my government salary so this is nonnegotiable, and it's pricey on RCCL), I don't drink a lot, but it does add up quickly, and while $50 credit for shore excursions isn't a lot, it's something. So I feel like price wise it all evens out? In the post I made earlier today, a big box TA told my friend that she's going to spend 2000 on excursions, I would never be able to spend that much, but those are also things that I book in advance so I don't have to worry about a huge bill at the end. The fine print. Royal will take $100 pp of the deposit paid and keep it, and then give the rest in a future cruise credit (or whatever the RCCL equivalent is). I don't typically cruise Royal so I don't even know if I'd use the future cruise credit. I obviously know what I want to do. I just feel like i need someone who has done Japan to be like "Harmony, chill out, you know the better vacation is the one that actually circles Japan, and not the one that goes to a few southern ports." I hate losing the money, but I also know this is an adventure and I want it to be special for the kid. I feel a ton of pressure to get it right, this kid of mine has been wanting to go to Japan since she was knee high, I've been telling her for years when she turns 16 I would take her, and then the Olympics and I told her I can't afford it, she was so sad, and she totally thinks we're going to on a cruise to the Baltics for her Sweet 16. She also hasn't stopped talking about how it's exciting she's going to go to Japan for her 18th birthday. I guess i should mention, the websites she's pinned of things to do in Japan... the NCL cruise goes to many of them or is close enough to them that it wouldn't be impossible to make all her actual dreams come true. Basically, now that I've laid out all my cards, I need someone to just affirm that I am not a total idiot for essentially throwing $700 away.
  6. Question for those that have taken NCL to Japan. We just cancelled our RCL cruise to Japan for a much better and now more affordable NCL Japan cruise (13 nights to all the places my kiddo really wants to see). A big box travel agent told my friend who is also going with one of her friends) that NCL doesn't let you off the ship until 2 hours after arrival and then you have to be back on the ship 2 hours before departure from ports. I've never heard that before, but granted, I've *only* cruised Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, and the Med--the more "mainstream" places to go. They didn't say you always lose those four hours, but then they suggested a land tour instead (which I won't do--my kid, as much as I love her, even though she is turning 16 during the cruise will definitely not survive a land tour, too much doing everyday, she would hate it). They also said we'd be spending about 2k in excursions per person, which is insane. Is this all true, or is this a big box travel agency's ploy to get a better commission on a land tour? (I would ask my TA... but she has had a death in the family, and I refuse to bother her right now).
  7. Question for those that have taken NCL to Japan. We just cancelled our RCL cruise to Japan for a much better and now more affordable NCL Japan cruise (13 nights to all the places my kiddo really wants to see). A big box travel agent told my friend who is also going with one of her friends) that NCL doesn't let you off the ship until 2 hours after arrival and then you have to be back on the ship 2 hours before departure from ports. I've never heard that before, but granted, I've *only* cruised Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, and the Med--the more "mainstream" places to go. They didn't say you always lose those four hours, but then they suggested a land tour instead (which I won't do--my kid, as much as I love her, even though she is turning 16 during the cruise will definitely not survive a land tour, too much doing everyday, she would hate it). They also said we'd be spending about 2k in excursions per person, which is insane. Is this all true, or is this a big box travel agency's ploy to get a better commission on a land tour? (I would ask my TA... but she has had a death in the family, and I refuse to bother her right now).
  8. You can find the menus online and see if they are interested in the food. My kiddo has been "fine dining" since she was little, and never has ever had any trouble finding food she loved in all of the specialty dining restaurants onboard NCL.
  9. The 8D's are the same as any other 8D... I feel like the staterooms are all the same across the fleet. Same storage, nothing remarkable that I can think of. I think the food on Carnival has stayed pretty good, we've been on other lines and I think CCL's are consistently on par or better than the other major lines. I feel like this is subjective though, so there will be people who tell me I'm totally wrong and have no clue. I do believe that they rotate more menus out on longer cruises. And I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't assume juice is free at dinner. I feel like after breakfast nothing is free.
  10. We only book with a TA... and every single time we have cruised during my our birthdays she has sent a cake, berries, and other goodies, and then usually the ship will send the same. With another line it almost got comical the sheer volume of cake they sent me for my birthday over the course of the week. It was unreal. And quite hilarious.
  11. If you have a TA close to home, why not use them if they've always been good to you? If you only care about that 10 or 15, then follow the dollars, but remember the TA works for you whereas the PVP works for Carnival. So if you end up with a problem, then you won't really have someone with the incentive to go out of their way to help (nothing may happen, but the one time I've had an utter disaster occur my TA moved mountains to fix it, I highly doubt a Carnival employee would have been so inclined to do so. If you're not set on your date, your TA should be part of a consortium... this has allowed me to get hundreds of OBC for cruises (as much as $400 for a single week cruise). I don't always get OBC, but I always get a bottle of wine, and a thank you card from my TA. The letters and numbers are just the categories, 4's are insides, 6's are ocean views, 8s are balcony and then OS JS and GS for the suites (and I guess CS?).
  12. I think you'll have more trouble consuming the wine on the beach than getting it off the ship. Before you do that, first and foremost I would check the local laws because that is a truly terrible time to find out that you can't drink on a public beach (and if you're going to a private one, they probably sell liquor, and wouldn't want you to bring your own). I'd really just be care about that, or if you want to be like my mom friends, pour the wine into either a hydroflask/yeti or kids cups work really well at keeping it cold (just make sure you don't let a kid actually drink it. that would be terrible).
  13. Schwartz is one of my absolute all time favorite cruise directors! He's awesome.
  14. Thanks everyone! It's so easy to use at airports, and I'm happy to know it's just as easy. I feel better with the airfare that I want to purchase knowing it'll be easy to get off the ship.
  15. We've had Global Entry for a few years now and love it. The interwebs are saying that Port Everglades is the only cruise terminal that has Global Entry lines; but it seems like everything I'm finding is from 2018. Has anyone with GE used it at Port Everglades when getting off a Carnival ship (if it matters we will be on the Magic)? Is this something they have in all the terminals? I'm working on figuring out the air situation back home and if there's a GE line to breeze through that changes things a bit for me.
  16. Generally speaking, only you know if this is a deal that you would enjoy. Is the location better or where you'd rather be? Would you prefer the deck? Personally, I LOVE the Upper Deck on the Fantasy and Spirit Class Ships, so I would probably stay put. But only you know if the price you paid and the price they are offering for the upgrade is really something you want or is even worth it to you. If it feels good, do it. I definitely would not do it if you didn't get the same room for the b2b... packing and unpacking is the opposite of fun.
  17. If you have TSA precheck you should be fine doing self debark... we get through security pretty quickly with global entry.
  18. It's probably luck of the draw... we cruised the Med on another line, having come from 6 weeks in Paris, I had some wine and a bottle of whiskey... the whiskey (for a good friend) was in my carry on bag, figuring I'd plead with them to check it until we got off the boat the following week. All of the liquor made it on board. Someone a few staterooms down... none of their liquor made it on board.
  19. You need to find a better travel agent. Mine doesn't work much with Carnival, but she ALWAYS finds the information that is needed without question or argument. On the one hand, it's great she was going to find out, but on the other, it's kind of annoying not to do it quicker. You can also book online, using the e-z pay option, and then move the booking to a TA painlessly. (I do this all the time, I tend to book super late at night, when no TA in the US is awake).
  20. You're an awesome parent. You aren't actually switching rooms, you're merely getting extra S&S cards. One way to do this would be to have ALL the charges go to you, and then all of the "credit" goes to you. Have your daughter and her friend give you cash (if the arrangement is for them to cover their own expenses) and then you just be in charge of it all. You'll get the $500, and then the cash they spend to cover their spending. If you don't spend the whole $500, you still get what they spent back.
  21. If the $500 OBC isn't expiring, then whichever itinerary pleases you is a good choice.
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