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Jasalth

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About Jasalth

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
  • Interests
    reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Carnival
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Venice

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  1. This is about how I feel. You also have to take into account these are basically also OT jobs, and since they go on seniority with Union..... they are making a pretty decent chunk of change for the hours they are there w/o tips included! DH loves to talk to these guys cause DH is a Teamster and well Teamsters are happy to back all Unions. It made me sad recently that I realized while I work in a skilled medical field (not nursing or doctor mind you so no high degree!) the OT hours I have been working come up to just over my DH's regular hourly wage and in working just 14 hours of OT one week, DH made only about 10% less than my normal 2 week pay, in 1 weeks paycheck. Even if you take one of the smaller Carnival ships with 1000 cabins, say those guys get $5 per cabin. If there is 25 of them working.. that is $200 each. Then you have to account if they were getting those cabins off the ship. So.. Union Wage (normally OT Wage...) + $250 or more in tips, for 8 hours of work. Even if it's not OT, tips included they look at $300-400 in a day for working a cruise. If you want to tip more, go for it! It's your choice, but personally, picking up a bag and moving it 5 feet means I should pay someone $5 to do it? Nah that's okay I can do it myself.
  2. I would say if you want to and/or are willing to spend $ on something, I would suggest doing it in Belize. While things can more than change since we were there a few years ago, it would be the place I would seriously have to consider taking a ship excursion from when we go back some day. And I would be hesitant to go w/o my DH and now my 2 DS's with me. They were smaller then, but now that they are 21 and 17.. I would feel safer with them around! A good example is our great guide who the cave tubing company called in for us because they overbooked on guides. He was the son of the owner of the big eco-extreme tourism in Belize. Like.. the ones who repel down 200 ft into caves to dive/swim/camp/rock climb for weeks tours. He was worried about time because it might be getting to dusk when we got back to the ship and outside is not where you want to be in his opinion. If you are really going on the cheap, I would say use it as a nice quite day to enjoy the Legend. Alas she isn't big and has amazing things like others, but she is my favorite!
  3. Can't say about most of your questions, but I will say something else about the airfare. If you are flying back, do not look at one way flights! Look at multi-city flights. In that case you will want to look for your flights separately. One being Home >> London, Barcelona >> Home and the other being Home >> London, Germany >> Home. I was going to do what you were on our first Europe trip, went... omg $1500 pp for a flight just to Venice? I should reconsider this... by booking Home >> Venice, then getting off the boat in Genoa and taking a train for Florence for 2 days, I ended up with less than $3000 for flights, 4 nights of hotels in Venice and 3 nights of hotels in Rome and 2 nights of hotels in Florence through the airlines "Vacation Package" (aka there TA partner). Sure there was another $100 Euro's for trains in there (cruise was round trip from Genoa but as my DH said.. when will we go back?!? 2020 dear.... lol) I think any train is doable in Europe. I would suggest though considering taking just a carry on for your portion of the trip to visit your son so you don't have to drag it with you. Account for another checked bag flying back with your DH in costs to make like easier IMO. Have a blast!
  4. Do you happen to know what coins they do use? Or if it changes with sailing? I don't want to bring say... a roll of US quarters to Europe when they change it to say.. taking Euro coins. Did it change from US coins to... whatever coins are used in Australia? I could probably assume one could go to Guest Services and get the "correct" change for them... but just thinking that this could be a real pain for cruises on the Legend who are from EU when she is there in 2020.
  5. Was on an MSC Europe cruise last November. We were 2 out of... maybe 10 American's and Canadians put together on the ship. I will say it wasn't as much about the tipping, though the daily service changes and tip lines were still there. On the ship it wasn't an issue, but as Americans there was more than one place who tried to "sneak on" tips to our bill on land though. That being said I will fully admit I removed gratuities on one cruise and it was only for the MDR staff and the room steward. Why? 3 1/2 hour dinner, not once but twice (and the only times!) we ate in the MDR. Not a big deal... but with a 4 and 6 year old and even waiting for that long for their food?!? Said something the first day, after 90 minutes and just apps the 2nd night, we walked out and explained to guest services why. Same cruise, it was an "extended family" cruise which means... 7 of us. We had 3 rooms all with the same steward. 2 out of the 3 rooms were made up each day. Consistently and it rotated which room she didn't do, so it wasn't like the room my grandmother was in who spent more time in the room/balcony than the rest of us whose room wasn't done because she was there. Now I have no problem tipping in general. Heck I am one of those people who tip more if you can tell the place is short staffed / crazy. I will generally tip even MORE if something goes wrong with food because most waitstaff will get stiffed for something the kitchen staff may have done. A waiter just recently gave us his employee discount and took off desserts that they had to make fresh dough for on my son's birthday because he was a co-worker of DH at his job. At the end of the bill (which I had $20 in rewards off also..) we actually ended up tipping him 150% of the bill because it was what I was expecting to pay! I say that all because if people are working hard, they deserve it, but if you can't do your basic job (like bring a bread basket in less than an hour, or bring in fresh towels...) then you really aren't actually working hard...
  6. I will say it can not hurt to call Carnival or your TA and ask! For those who say it isn't possible, my 2020 Legend cruise no longer offers 2 people aft balconies, but you can book them for 3 or 4 people. Well... the 3 person rate dropped below my 2 person rate! I wanted the same room I had because like you, it was a balcony issue and I wanted the non-slopped balcony on 4. My TA got us an almost $600 price drop on the cruise. No room change, no booking change, just a loss of the $50 OBC that Carnival was offering when we booked. I did go in with a backup plan of adding my DS onto the booking and just having him be a no show if it came down to it, but happily didn't have to deal with all of that. In truth if I would have asked here first, I would have been told "Nope it has to match exactly" which... really isn't the case. So call and see!
  7. A note about downloading things like that though which might not be something that is thought about. Do not let your device or phone connect to a cell network outside of Netflix or Amazon's "home" country if you do this. Even if it is something like a laptop or tablet you tether to your phone! I didn't think about it at all and tethered my tablet to my phone for something random not Netflix related and didn't even open Netflix. I was actually trying to transfer a book from my tablet to my husbands phone for him. It expired 3/4th of my Netflix content because it wasn't available in Italy. We didn't use Amazon Prime for last cruise, but I can assume it would probably do the same thing if it decides you are in a different market from what you first downloaded in.
  8. Just wanted to throw this out there because I can't ever recall seeing this info before (or I some how totally missed it!) So.. I am a typical price stalker cause of ES. About 6 weeks ago, there were no more aft balcony rooms for 2 people left. Being me.. I just kept checking thinking, they are probably just actually all gone. This wasn't true, they just were refusing 2 people to book in rooms that hold 3. In finding this out, I started checking for 2 people and 3 people. Then... booking for 3 people became a lower price than what I paid for 2, by almost $200. On the off chance something could happen (or we add one of our DS's with no plans on actually taking them) I had my TA submit a price form. Came back today with $600 in savings for the loss of $50 OBC. My TA was able to get the cruise repriced to the 1 & 2 person fare of those 3 people bookings (3rd person was only $250 + T&F) So if your category is showing sold out, that doesn't mean you are unable to get ES drops anymore! I can't even say it was because my TA went to bat and argued for me, he actually messed up the first time and did the web form with my info not his TA credentials. When I let him know this, he just submitted the form again and they repriced, so he never even called them.
  9. I assume it was probably a glitch in the system because I just checked, but last month for 9/2020 there were excursions available for our Legend cruise which isn't there anymore. I will say based on those prices I saw, I would very strongly consider researching and booking on your own! And by that I mean 2 people on a Carnival excursion were MORE than any single one I booked as a private (just me and DH with a guide and driver!!) tour last November. I mean like.. insane prices! $275 pp for Pompeii in the huge bus prices..... like our most expensive day was about 500 Euros in Athens for 10 hours. Okay.. Malta was also up there at 450, but we paid for all of our admissions and tickets in advance and had the company by them so we didn't miss out on things that are very limited tourist wise (Hypogeum). Look at the port of call boards here and you will find really reputable companies. Many of these companies work out of multiple cities even and can get additional discounts.
  10. The thing I think you are getting in most of these replies is the idea that you want to sail to Hawaii, get off mid-cruise, and then take another cruise back. I don't think that is what you want to do or at least it doesn't sound like it. According to Carnival I could do this in Europe if I wanted to, but I have to contact them just a few months before for real "permission" and then go through a bunch of steps on board. In the end it probably won't be worth it to us (still deciding) but because of your limited mobility I can understand your desire to and the want to maximize your time in Hawaii. The best thing to do honestly is call Carnival or your TA and ask for sure. It might be different since it is a US port, but they can't force you to get back on the ship. It might result in fines if not done properly though like was mentioned with the PSVA fine.
  11. I was going to say you generally have to look at reviews of things with a grain of salt, but then I googled my online TA for reviews, and they have a 3.9 to 4 star rating most places and that place the competes for your cruise business has them at a 99% rating with over 1000 reviews. In truth I adore my agent there who has been with them for 10+ years. Actually I have had a good response for everyone there, including wanting to book or change things with my normal TA isn't there, and he still gets credit for my booking and handles it all. But that being said, I never have written a formal review about them. Sure, I have my TA's cards and I give them to people I know, but word of mouth is different from the interwebs. The best question I have for you is how needy are you after you book? Do you like to change things, or want them to book things like your airfare and/or hotels and excursions? If so, then I would go with someone who is considered reliable. If you book like me and are pretty much doing it for the OBC then you can get away with pretty much anyone who can make the booking. Even though we aren't booked until 2020 right now, I probably won't be contacting my TA again until about 6-8 months out, and that is only if there are enough price drops for me to switch rooms since my category is already sold out. I will contact him to see if he can meet or beat the hotel/airfare package I find myself and give him all the details for. If he can match or beat it great! If not, we go our separate ways on it with him doing minimal work because I already know exactly what I want. That being said, my current cruise I was offered $150 more OBC by a different TA on that site that competes for your cruise. Looking into it, I just wasn't comfortable with it (even though they have pretty decent reviews they are a smaller family operation it seems and I since I have to keep 9-5 hours at work now, I can't do much during the day!) so I passed knowing if something does happen this far out, I have a TA team who will deal with it who is open 8a-11p EST. The only thing I really look for is to make sure they don't charge fees for bookings, changes or cancellations. In truth I went through 4 different TA's before I decided on the one I liked. Its just like finding a hairstylist or any other service. Sometimes its good, sometimes its bad, but as long as you get to the end result you want without to much problem, then there is always next time to change
  12. I think in general you are going to have a issue then with Venice. It isn't a very friendly place for anyone with mobility issues. If you want to stay in Venice proper, go to one of the hotel searching sites and start looking for hotels directly on the Grand Canal. Then, see which ones have their own docks you can take a water taxi to. As for reasonably priced? For your requests, probably not going to happen. A water taxi from the airport will cost about $130 Euros and the price wouldn't be much cheaper from the hotel to the port and that would be the ONLY way to not have to drag your luggage yourself. The other option would be to look at the People Mover to the dock and see if you think you can handle that yourself with your luggage. Then you could look at hotels near the train station in Venice (on the same side of the Canal only!) and see if you think you can handle that walk with the luggage. Then you could take the ferry to the train station and go from there which would save you some $$ also.
  13. I can only assume you sailed already probably, but I noticed one thing really nice about cruising Europe compared to say Caribbean. We were close enough to land even on "sea days"to get a cell phone signal with our regular carrier! This was great because we would turn our phones on to check email and text our kids and well.. make plans online (go T-Mobile!!) My husband actually had gotten a VM from work he checked and it turns out, they actually screwed up his vacation time. Sure it cost us $4 to get it fixed with phone calls, but we did it on a Sea Day passing by Sicily. We also found a lot of little island you sail by actually have a cell connection on them that you can tap into. It didn't make the internet great, but it was find for texting (even pictures) and phone calls and limited web browsing. Just be sure to check with your plan about charges. Or have a T-Mobile plan that automatically gives you free internet and really cheap calls/texts in other countries.
  14. I also highly vote for Capital One. Actually in preparation for almost a month in Europe I opened a Capital One 360 Checking Account and put $ into it every paycheck (which I still do since well planning Europe again..). Their checking actually earns interest with no minimum balance and has all the no FTF's as all other Capital One stuff. You don't even need to contact them about travel plans. IMO the best part about even having their checking account was a lot of my excursions in Europe were cash only. I didn't want to carry around a ton of Euro's from the start since we were taking a lot of trains and such. Hit an ATM and take out cash. You just have to make sure to take it out not based on the ATM's exchange rates but by your card's rates. Best thing I found out about Capital One is a lot of banks will have a max daily ATM withdraw of about $500 USD, and Capital One's was $1000. Made it easy to hit a bank a few times in one day when we needed to have a larger amount out to pay someone, this didn't stop the specific ATM themselves limits though so. What you were experiencing when you thought it was higher might have been also that who ever you used the card with charged you in your home currency for "convince". This happens a LOT in Canada and you have to choose to pay in Canadian Dollars at the POS vs US Dollars or you will be really screwed. By really screwed, a dinner bill was about $75 Canadian dollars, but for my "convince" with exchange rates they would only charge me $65 USD! Just FYI the current exchange rate is about $54 USD for that $75 CAD.
  15. While not the Pride we did sail on 7301 on the Legend with 4 people before they changed it. My kids were older at the time of 11 and 8 so not really little ones either. I loved the 9A so much that I almost just booked it for me and DH on our 2020 sailing. Actually what stopped me, is I couldn't justify how much room there is for 2 people for the price difference! The room IMO was more than enough space. Could easily walk around the whole room with all the beds down for the night. The "living" area was also really big. The balcony itself was big enough we had 3 chairs, a lounger and a tablet on it when we got there. In looking at the picture of the suite, I can estimate that the 9B has just about the same "living" space and the difference would be in that hallway there that is shown. The biggest difference would be the Obstructed Balcony in the 9B vs the non-obstructed in the OS IMO. The only thing other than the bit more space you would get with the suite is basically free FTTF. Which well.. you might as well buy instead of spending $200 if you want it. I personally love the Premium Balconies on the Spirit ships, I mean if the price drops reasonably (lol yeah right!) I will more than get one for just me and DH, but personally knowing how much space they have, it was a $1400 difference for 2 people over an Aft- Extended which wasn't anywhere near worth the space for me. Also on that note, our last 2 sailings have been in Haven Suites with NCL, and a Suite with MSC... so saying there would be too much space for just 2 of us? Yeah... keep that in mind!
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