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  1. Award winning brochures? Seriously? Now, that is what I would call pretentious. 🤣
  2. Palo is much, much better. From my experience on Crown Princess, Sabatini is not much better than Olive Garden. Palo stood out for their selection, quality, ambiance and service. No comparison at all. Palo wins hands down.
  3. I second that. The best meal and most personalized service we have received on a cruise was in Palo on Disney Magic. We enjoyed it so much we dined there twice on that 7 day cruise. Besides the excellent menu items, our waiter made suggestions and offered special items not on the menu. The head chef would even come out to each table to ask about preferences and special foods that diners might want to try. They encouraged us to try different items, and gave no expectations that we finish anything they brought. It was nice sampling several items we would not normally order. This was a decade ago, but it sure made a great impression.
  4. You should try specialty restaurants. That is where the food stands out. Prepared to order, more attentive service, smaller, quieter, more intimate surroundings. Best I have experienced were Palo's on Disney Magic and RMS Olympic on Millennium (now Tuscan Grille), and the most unique and fun was Qsine on Reflection and Constellation.
  5. According to many travel and cruise web sites they are. So are Celebrity and Princess. And also Azamara, your favorite cruise line based on your short posting history. If you disagree, then take it up with the travel experts on those sites. You might consider writing to them to voice your disapproval. 🙂 BTW: I have never been on HAL, so can't pass judgement either way like you are doing. I will leave it to the travel experts to make that call. 😉
  6. According to smartertravel.com, NCL is considered an economy cruise line and HAL is a considered a premium cruise line, so HAL would typically be more expensive and offer a more upscale experience.
  7. According to local marine experts, that is not the case in most of the struck whales we have seen along our coast this year. Over half were in good health.
  8. We have had several dead whales washing up on our beaches this year. They are an environmental problem that is expensive to resolve. Quite a bit of media time has been dedicated to these incidents. In most cases attempts are made to haul the carcass out to sea and do whatever is necessary to sink it to the sea bottom where it can be reclaimed by nature's scavengers. Occasionally, the carcass is so decomposed that hauling it away is impossible, so digging a large, deep hole is necessary to bury it far below the expected low level of the beach surface. That often is quite difficult due to access for large construction type equipment needed to dig the hole and push the carcass in. In more public beach areas, the odor of a decomposing whale can be very overpowering. Never a good situation to have to deal with.
  9. And since you have to pay much more, I would expect these and other things to be included. The "you get what you pay for" mantra works both ways. You pay little, you get little. You pay a lot, you get a lot. Nothing magical or special about this simple concept.
  10. A 3rd reason is probably just as relevant - they don't want to, or cannot, spend so much money. Not everyone has enough extra money laying around to take expensive vacations. They may want to, but can't justify the cost at the time.
  11. It was mostly meant in jest. 🙂 It's quite simple. The last time I exchanged gifts with strangers was in grade school where were forced to exchange gifts after picking random names for Christmas. Most of them were kids I did not hang out with and hardly knew. It was very impersonal. It felt like a fake "feel good" effort. Family is completely different. You know them and care about them, and can at least put some personalized effort to give them something that THEY will appreciate, not something that we like. I put effort in thinking what family members might like and knowing that they will most likely enjoy the gift. We do this every Christmas. A true gift is given for the benefit of the receiver, not the giver. At a meet and greet, if a complete stranger gave me a gift, I honestly would not give it much value. When it involves strangers, it can't be personalized so it actually means very little. So why bother hauling stuff that most people couldn't care less for?
  12. Ahh, another person allowing themselves to feel insulted. Some people are just too darn sensitive and get insulted by every little thing, and don't have a sense of humor. Sigh. Relax. Is this really worth getting all bothered about????? Laugh it off!!!
  13. No gift exchange for us. We left grade school decades ago.
  14. Well, the "no extra charge" is a bit misleading. When a passenger pays 2x to 4x the cost of mainstream lines, there better be more included in that very expensive fare, including "free" specialty dining.
  15. It's to help minimize this type of incident - a dead whale impaled on the bulbous bow of a cruise ship: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have had an unusually high number of dead whales washing up on our beaches this year. Most have died from traumatic injuries, most likely from ship strikes. These majestic animals need to be protected. Slowing ships in migration zones will give them a fighting chance to get out of the way in time. They don't realize that cruise and container ships can travel at over 25 miles per hour, and can easily misjudge how much time they need to get out of the way.
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