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About mistertoaster

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  1. Exactly. That is what put us over the edge as regards NCL. We are not big drinkers. Therefore, the "free drink" package was costing us money unless I drank about 50 Coke Zero's which would make for a pretty hyperactive cruise. They also banned bringing your own 12 pack of soda in case you had any ideas about rejecting the drink package. Then throw in the higher DSC for suite guests and you are easily looking at an extra $500-$1000 depending on the number of passengers. Pretty soon NCL will just turn you upside down at embarkation and see how much money and cards they can get to fall out of your wallet.
  2. We've stayed in the Haven Owner Suite, H4, H5 and H7 and the YC interior, YC1 and YC Executive Suite. The Haven rooms are typically larger than YC suites. However, the price points have dramatically diverged in the past few years. Five years ago, I got a Haven Owner's suite out of N.Y. on a 7 day cruise for $5,000 for 4. Same suite now is over $10,000. We booked a YC interior on the Meraviglia when she first launched for $1,750. Obviously different rooms space wise, but the experience is very similar. The Top Sail Lounge beats the Haven lounge on every ship we have sailed. I also prefer YC dining to Haven dining. Perks are pretty similar for both experiences. On most cruises, we don't spend a lot of time in the room. For us, the lounge, outdoor deck and dining are the major issues. On that front, the YC has been as good or better than the Haven, and the price for the YC is usually substantially better than Haven. NCL used to be our go to line, but since Del Rio, they are pricing themselves out of the market when you compare them to MSC.
  3. Thanks for the response. We are on a seven day Caribbean cruise with the typical stops and no Colombia. Should be business as usual in Miami.
  4. Was this a one off situation, or does MSC/customs have issues in Miami( e.g. labor slow down, lack of staff, general disorganization)? We have sailed out of Miami many times and embarkation and disembarkation has always been efficient. We are on the Divina on the 31st and I am wondering if I should change embarkation/disembarkation plans.
  5. We have been in the Yacht Club three cruises. It's nice and convenient, but really not necessary to have a good cruise. We never used the butler or concierge. The restaurant and lounge are fine, but not $3,000 better than a non YC balcony and dinner in the MDR. We just booked a cruise on the Divina at the end of January. Our cost for a Fantastic Balcony for two was $918. This is an amazing price on a ship as nice as the Divina which we have previously sailed. As regards size, the YC balcony which is essentially the same balcony room as the Fantastic, is $4,075. The YC is still a great deal when compared to the NCL Haven, but having been in both, the cost/benefit is just not there vs. a regular balcony. While I expect I will have to deal with crowds at certain times and places, it is all part of the cruise experience. MSC is still offering great value for money when compared with its chief rival NCL. We are both Platinum Plus on NCL, but we have not sailed them in a few years. Ever since Del Rio assumed the helm, prices have gone up and service down. It is great to have MSC as a competitor.
  6. mistertoaster

    New to MSC

    We have sailed MSC four times. Three trips in Europe and one in the Caribbean. Three cruises were in the Yacht Club and one was an Aurea Suite. Some observations: 1. We sailed the Meraviglia four months after launch. We were in the Yacht Club and that made all the difference. The ship holds close to 6,000 passengers and the number of passengers is very noticeable in public areas. Shows were packed, and folks were sitting on the stairs every show we attended. 2. We were in an Aurea Suite on the Preziosa in Northern Europe. Definitely a different dining experience than the Yacht Club. Food was often cold and really not that appetizing overall. 3. Our favorite ship was the Divina which we cruised shortly after it launched. It is a smaller ship than the Meraviglia, and we liked that size more than the mega ships. My advice regarding the Meraviglia is to reserve all your shows asap. If you have my choice dining that will be useful. Unfortunately, on Caribbean cruises, deck chairs are reserved early via towels, books, shoes, etc. Like most cruise lines, there is not much enforcement of informal deck chair reservation. MSC now has auction upgrades. If you get an invite and the price is reasonable for the Yacht Club, it is a completely different and better cruise in the YC. We typically get balconies, but we stayed in an inside YC on the Meraviglia. The room is small, but with the Top Sail Lounge and spacious sun deck, we were not in our room much the entire trip. Have a great cruise. Hopefully they have worked the bugs out of the Meraviglia. It is a beautiful ship, and the LCD ceiling is spectacular. With a little planing, you can overcome the size/congestion issues on a ship of this size.
  7. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. We do like to catch lunch in the MDR, and it gets boring sitting around the hotel. I will be there at 11:30 a.m.
  8. Booked the Oosterdam this May for a trip to Alaska. This is our first time on Holland, but we have taken many cruises, mostly on NCL and MSC. We are in a Neptune Suite and our boarding documentation lists a 1:30 p.m. boarding time. On NCL and MSC we have boarded between 10 a.m. and noon without any issues. The ship arrives at 7 a.m. in Seattle on embarkation day. I know they have to turn the rooms around before boarding, but 1:30 boarding appears a bit much. I would appreciate any thoughts on strictness of HAL boarding policies from experienced HAL cruisers. Thanks.
  9. I booked a Neptune SC on an upcoming cruise to Alaska. My T/A asked if I wanted the courtesy upgrade option. She had to ask, because if you agree, they can move you anywhere on the ship as long as it is to a higher category stateroom. I accepted because my assumption is that is I get a courtesy upgrade it will be to a SB or SA Neptune suite if processed, and I did not see any particularly bad location for those suites. I doubt they will offer the Pinnacle as a courtesy upgrade, but you may get an upsell depending on availability on your cruise.
  10. I applaud HAL for this test. There is significant food waste on cruises. The buffet is even worse than the MDR. Folks choose one of everything and then you walk by tables with enough food discarded to feed a family of four. It is not like anyone ever goes hungry on a cruise. If you are still hungry after a three course dinner in the MDR, you can always visit the buffet and pile your plate as high as you wish. Then, on disembarkation day, you can complain about how you put on 10 pounds, as if this somehow magically occurred.
  11. I just booked the Hampton Inn at 28th street near Sea Tac for a May cruise. It was $100 less than similar downtown hotels. Rated very highly on trip advisor and includes breakfast and parking. I rented a car for a bit over $50 for our morning trip to the pier. Alamo has downtown drop off with free shuttle to the pier.
  12. We were on the Escape last month. We had five dinners in specialty dining venues: La Cucina twice, Le Bistro twice and Cagney's once. La Cucina and Le Bistro dinners were all excellent. Cagney's was fair. The steak has not lean and the sides were pedestrian. Nevertheless, the overall specialty dining program is something we have always enjoyed on NCL. The MDR is fine, but it is nice to have this level of variety on a cruise ship. Note: our waiter in La Cucina told us they would soon change their menu to pizza/pasta only. I would assume that may change the experience in La Cucina.
  13. I have no problem with mandatory gratuities, but those reserving a cruise before the tips are increased should not have to pay the increase. I booked a Holland cruise to Alaska next May just before the increase was announced. We are a family of four in a suite so this is a $28 increase. Not a large amount, however, there is a principle of full disclosure to the consumer on pricing at stake. I called Holland on this issue. They did not have a response for whether the practice is deceptive in advertising one price for a cruise and then charge another price for the cruise due to changes after the booking. They simply indicated they had not raised gratuities in a while (not true), and they had no provision for grandfathering passengers who already booked a reservation. Just seems a deceptive way to do business. Ironically, this is our first cruise on Holland. We were fleeing the "nickel and dime" fee incremental increases on NCL. Not a great first impression.
  14. Thanks for everyone’s suggestions. Juneau and Sitka car rental never responded to my call or emails. I suspect because we are out of season. However, I got through to Avis in Juneau and secured a downtown car rental. After doing more research on Sitka, we are going to use the shuttle which will get us to fortress of the bear and the raptor center. Unfortunately, not stopping in Skagway this time. We are traveling as a family of four, and by my calculations we will save over $1,000 in excursion costs by touring on our own and still see the same stops as the tours. Sent from my iPad using Forums
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