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  1. I love chunky, interesting necklaces so I have started buying necklaces at least once per cruise. I don't need one from every port but I do try to find one i really love and get one. That way whenever I wear it, I am reminded of that particular cruise. Our first couple of cruises we were picking up dust catchers, but realized that wasn't sustainable, we just don't have the surfaces to accommodate that many items.
  2. Yes, I already have a UPS My Choice acct, it's very useful. Thanks to both of you for your feedback!
  3. Has everyone been getting their $500 cards or greater in about a week? I just ordered $1500 worth and got them in 1 week. My parents have decided to go with us and i would like to get $3000 more to pay for their cruise, but final payment is on the 25th, and I want to make sure that I am not tempting fate ;-).
  4. So I thought i would give a small update to this. There was only one Havana balcony cabin left for this cruise, and it is next door to us. LOL. I am 100% sure this will be fine, I just think it is hilarious.
  5. We have cruised once with my parents, 2 times with my inlaws, and 2 times with our neighbors. I think one key thing for us is to NOT have adjoining cabins with the people we are cruising with. We did have adjoining cabins with my parents and my neighbors once each and we kind of felt like we were being stalked. They could look around the balcony divide and see if we were in, which kind of removed any privacy and we felt we had to keep the drape drawn. My parents weren't too bad with letting us do our own thing, but on the one cruise with the neighbors when we were only cruising with them and not their kids as well, we didn't set expectations up front and did feel like they expected us to be their cruise directors. We are going with them again in Feb, this time on the Panorama in havana cabins, but we made it clear we didn't want adjoining cabins. They were understanding and actually booked an aft baclony a floor up (still havana). I felt a little bad at being blunt with them, but since they still want to go with us i figure it was ok ;-). The funny thing is now my parents may want to come with us too, so i will have to have that conversation with them as well ;-). We are going to stick to the plan outlined by others in this thread, if we want to do the same thing, great, but otherwise we will meet them for dinner. good luck!
  6. We love the spa cabins and thermal suite on Dream class and Splendor. We were HUGELY disappointed in the thermal suite on the Vista. Not only is the little hot tub pool shallow and tiny, it's located in the room WITH the heated tile chairs. I love those chairs for quiet relaxation, but you can't get it when there are 20 people crammed into that tiny pool talking at the tops of their voices. When we were on the NY to Miami repo a couple of years ago, the casino was handing out day passes to gamblers, so that made it very over crowded and not relaxing at all. We vowed to not get a spa cabin again even though we like their locations and how quiet the are, they also usually have a more muted, soothing color scheme than other cabins. We weren't ever going to go on another vista class ship again, but we decided to try a havana cabin on the Panorama, when we booked those cabins were the same price as a spa cabin on that cruise. I am really looking forward to that experience.
  7. While almost all of our cruises have been in Balcony cabins, we had the opportunity to get a 10 day cruise for an incredibly cheap price. It was the first journeys cruise on the Carnival dream, and i think people didn't really understand the concept yet or didn't like the different starting and ending ports, so they were not selling well. We were offered the stunning price of $75/pp for an interior or $185/pp for an ocean view cabin, plus $150 in cabin credit (so the interior was basically port fees and taxes only). We didn't want an interior, but were enticed by the ocean view cabin. I asked some friends and family about cruising in ocean views and they convinced me we would be fine. They were right, we LOVED the cabin and the experience. We spent more time on the public decks, and for that cruise especially it was fine because we were about half the average age on that cruise (we were in our mid 40s at the time). Of course now the Journey's cruises are highly popular now so i don't ever expect to see an offer like that again. If the edge has more of what you want, pick that one. While we still mostly get balconies, we know we would like an ocean view cabin just fine and there may be times when we go that way if a ship or itinerary is especially enticing.
  8. 2 different experiences at opposite ends of the ship we were on, both on the Carnival Splendor. 1) We had an aft wrap balcony for a western Caribbean cruise in October of 2017 (was supposed to be eastern bur Hurricane Maria had a different idea). Almost every night we saw spectacular lightning storms in the distance. Those wrap balconies give a panoramic view of the ocean and we spent several hours each night just sitting out there watching those storms. 2) On the Splendor's repo to Long beach in Jan 2018, we had an ocean view cabin at the very front of the ship, so the window was the whole wall. We had been on a whale watching tour in Cabo and we saw some whales but I am short and it was difficult for me to get close enough to see much off the sides. While we were pulling away from Cabo, however, we saw a pod of whales in front of us breaching like crazy. It was so awesome. Our second celebrity cruise is next month so hope to have a wow moment coming up soon!
  9. This is a super helpful point. A few years ago i did my online check in about 10 days before our cruise, and discovered my passport had expired 6 months earlier. I ended up taking an emergency trip to Denver to do a same day passport renewal, so it was an expensive mistake. If i had checked in online earlier, i could have rushed a regular passport renewal via mail.
  10. I did this last night as well. We booked through the big box store with one of their Buyer's choice plans, and the cruise is still about 50 days out so my package wasn't listed on the celebrity site yet. I had to call the big box agent and they had to call celebrity, and a lot of people must have been calling because we were on hold for at least 30 minutes, but I was able to do it. My husband thought i was overreacting, but i asked him if he would be ok paying $240 (upgrade cost for 10 day cruise) +$280 (new fee for 2 peeps) if he was wrong when we could just pay the $240. I can hope they wouldn't have charged us extra but would rather have been safe on this cruise. I don't necessarily mind that they will be adding the charge for the bev package to new cruises, i do understand the value of that perk (won't say free because i know it isn't) is more than the other perks, but i would not want to pay it for something i already feel is paid in full. Careful examination of fares in the future will determine if we sail on celebrity with a bev package again. Coming from mostly Carnival cruises, we appreciated the service and atmosphere on our first X cruise last year and would like to continue on the line, but it almost always comes down to price, so time will tell.
  11. We are Platinum on Carnival, but before we reached that level we purchased FTTF a couple of times when they first started offering it. It started out relatively inexpensive for a 7 day cruise (about $50). It was worth it to me solely for being able to get on early and dump my carry-ons in the cabin, and having our luggage early to unpack was nice as well. We really didn't use any of the other perks (i don't know why people fuss about the priority guest service line, we rarely have to ever go to guest services) On one cruise, the priority guest service phone number came in handy when we were in a spa suite and the morons next door were smoking on their balcony. Regular guest services said they couldn't do anything but once i called the "special" line they sent someone right up to deal with it. This was before the smoking ban on all balconies, but the spa cabins had a ban, and you had to sign an agreement to not smoke on the balconies or pay a $250 fine. There was a lot of yelling and door slamming after security came up but they didn't smoke on their balcony again ;-). It was stupid that it took a call to the FTTF line to get appropriate service, but it worked. We also got it on a couple of the early Journey's cruises but they don't offer it on those itineraries anymore because so many platinum and diamonds travel on those cruises that the priority boarding and early luggage promises can't be fulfilled. I think they actually say P&Ds shouldn't expect their luggage early on those cruises and there is no early access to cabins because there are so many P&Ds that they can't get the cabins ready in time or deliver that much luggage that fast. Now it is $90 for a 7 day cruise and it would not be worth it for us (it's even more for their newer ships, like the Horizon and the upcoming Panorama). It's definitely a cash cow, none of the "perks" cost them anything and so it is pure profit. I have read they sell up to 50 passes for FTTF, depending on the number of P&D passengers on the cruise, and it could potentially be more. $4500 of profit for no cost isn't bad. Looking back, it probably wasn't worth it to buy, but it seemed like it was good for us at the time. I am glad we have the platinum status now so we don't need it anymore. Once we hit platinum, we decided to try out some other lines, which is why I have been looking at the Celebrity boards. ;-). I saw these Celebrity offers on our November cruise and with my now cynical eye don't think these are at all worth it, even if it is a per cabin price. I have always wanted to do the ship tour, and booked one last time they had an excursions sale so i got it for 25% off, so that reduces the "value" of the package even more. If someone else finds value in it, that's great for them, I am sure there will be buyers. The more profit that a cruise line can get with minimal cost to them hopefully slows down any new cutbacks in service/amenities. One can hope! We have only been cruising for about 10 years bu we have definitely noticed cutbacks that are mentioned on these boards and any slowdown to the decline would be good.
  12. We have booked on our own, through a friend of a friend TA, and through a big box retailer over the years. I felt the friend of a fried TA was the worst. She wasn't easy to get a hold of, didn't track price drops, and in general I had to hound her to do the things i could have done myself more quickly and efficiently. Also, even though she was supposed to be a cruise expert, she didn't know anything about the individual ship or the amenities it offered. (this was on the NCL Epic and i wanted to make sure I had a bed by the balcony in those oddly shaped rooms. She didn't know which rooms offered that and was unwilling to do the leg work to figure it out). She offered no additional OBC, although she did send us chocolate covered strawberries on the ship. Booking myself gives me the most control and works well for me. I have booked enough cruises and now am more familiar with how to find out the info i need to make sure I get the cabins and deals I want. If it looks like a good deal on its own I will do it myself, especially if the other TAs don't have any other good perks. The past few times I have gone with the big box store TA, though. Their cash card rebate is usually substantial, sometimes up to 10% of the cost of the cruise fare. The last 2 we booked had a beverage package included as well as a special event package that included extra perks such as a private luncheon in a specialty dining venue, some tours of the ship, and other perks (the last one was a film festival and the one we are going on in November is a brewers package). Sometimes the benefit is substantial through the box store TA. The benefits of booking celebrity with the box store TA are way better than with other lines right now, both for OBC and the size of the rebate card, as well as the specialty packages offered. I don't know if it changes over time, though. Contacting them is pretty easy and they are efficient at contacting the cruise line and making any adjustments. I always compare the fares to booking directly with the cruise line and if the benefit is only marginal I will go with the direct booking and monitor the fares to see if there is a price drop. Hope this helps!
  13. and also took our request to clean out the mini-bar and stock it with soda and beer from our beverage package. Can everyone with a beverage package request this, or is it only suite passengers?
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