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DaisyGoldberg

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  1. You will definitely want a jacket for the whale watch no matter what the temp is in Boston. Even in August it's quite chilly out on Stellwagen (where the whales are) - expect 50s and 60s. And never fear if it's raining - whales sometimes play in the rain, breaching, etc. Best sights I ever saw were on a dreary, drizzly day. Captain said we were in luck and he was right!
  2. Just want to assure you that when we had to cancel a cruise a week out (NCL insurance) it was all handled very smoothly. The insurance company will send an email with the documentation they need. We canceled because my sister (who wasn't one of the travelers under the insurance) developed a serious medical condition and could only be released from the hospital to bed rest under the care of somebody else (chiefly, my mother, who was going on the cruise). We had to provide a note from the doctor as well as a release of her medical records (I gather so they could verify), but I don't know that anybody ever did. Should be much more straightforward with you as the patient AND passenger., as you can provide your own records. Everything was settled within a couple of weeks - it truly was pretty painless. NCL refunded everything that they charged directly (except the cost of the insurance). Insurance then refunded the rest. Hope you feel better and can relax a bit.
  3. I booked a Breakaway sail away balcony about 5-6 weeks out and was given the chance to upgrade to Haven. They took my bid (which was just a tic into "fair" and in retrospect was probably too much). It was a changed itinerary (because of hurricanes) and the prices dropped quite a bit those final weeks. They let me know about 10 days out, as I recall.
  4. One note: Don't get your hopes up about pre-cruise requests being honored. I've never had them make a bit of difference. Just speak with the butler on the first day. He/she will explain how to reach him/her, and generally let you know what to expect. If you want room service, call your butler, not the room service number on the phone. We got yelled at for that once (not really, but room service kicked the call to him and he was embarrassed that we hadn't gone through him). Eat the chocolate covered strawberries right away while they're cold. They're not nearly as good once they've reached room temperature.
  5. Last year my sister had a group of recent college frat boys that were drinking and carrying on during the safety demonstration. Of course they ended up in the cabins next to her. The next morning she went down to see if changing cabins was possible. Basically nothing could be done. We followed their progress through the week -- security had asked her to phone any time they were out of line during late night hours. Fortunately, they called her back precisely when they REALLY ramped it up, and were able to witness it for themselves. Security arrived in person and apparently serious warnings were issued, because after that the nighttime antics were curtailed (though the door slamming intensified as they loudly proclaimed their contempt for whoever ratted them out). They even disrupted one of the comedians' routines, and she tore into them with a VENGEANCE! (Made me suspect she'd been following them all week, too!) She really eviscerated their sense of entitlement and idiocy.
  6. I can recommend the park and cruise option at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ridgefield NJ (at least in Dec 2017). Very easy to get to off the highway. At check-in they ask when you want to be picked up and taken to the pier. The next morning the driver arrives, takes your bags, and away you go! I got a towncar, but I was alone. Not sure what kind of vehicle they'd get if they had multiple families wanting to go at once. They also give you the return voucher with the phone 3 to call when you are ready to be picked up. I can't say how long it takes to get to the terminal because there was a huge accident on the bridge that morning and traffic was rerouted. Looking at the map, it's not far at all if you go direct. Hotel note: The room was very nice, the hotel was nice, and they advertised a small restaurant in the lobby, but it seemed haunted. Like... nobody was there. There were people at reception, and the lights were on in the restaurant (really a cafe) but nobody seemed to be back there cooking, or seating people... it was peculiar. I should have asked at reception, but chose not to. However, they were definitely serving breakfast the next morning (included with package) and it was excellent. The hotel itself is located in a large office-park off the freeway, so there really isn't anywhere to go, except there's a multiplex movie theatre within the office park. I was too tired after my drive, but if you want to go out, that's very close. Not a lot else seemed to be, and being alone I didn't really want to go exploring after having arrived safely after a big drive. When they drop you at the pier, they tell you where they will pick you up - it's across the street from where you will exit the terminal. I called the driver, he told me to meet him at a cross street a block away, and it worked out fine. If there are members of your party who have difficulty walking, or a big crowd of children to keep together, I imagine this aspect could be more of an issue (though there may be handicapped accommodations I was unaware of). Of course exiting a cruise terminal is always chaotic wherever you are! Biggest tip -- grab a porter as soon as you collect your bag after the cruise. They will whisk you into a customs line with virtually no wait, and when you see 1000 people in a single line waiting for customs, it will be worth the $$ you pay him/her.
  7. Tell them to wear something bright (or when they call you at the cell phone lot, describe the most vivid color somebody in the party is wearing). It's controlled chaos -- cars stopping 2-3 deep, with staties moving along anybody who isn't actively loading a passenger. So if you drive by your friends on your first go-round you can't just pull over and wait for them -- you'll have to make the loop and that could take a while given all the other cars lined up. Further along the building there are numbered signs they can stand near to give you an idea of where they are, but wearing or holding something bright and knowing what they're wearing (and having them know exactly what your car is) is your best bet. Stay on the phone with them if possible -- that way they can give you other clues, like "We're just past the blue minivan with the blinkers and the family in matching Hawaiian shirts."
  8. I've booked sail away balconies twice - both times about 8 weeks out, both times was assigned a midship balcony (I'm platinum, don't know if that helps). The second time I bid (solo) to upgrade to the Breakaway Haven and got in for about $1500 more than my sailaway rate -- 10 days for about $3300. (It was an unusual post-Hurricane itinerary and I think a lot of people bailed, so that may not be typical).
  9. They used to hand out sliders and fries in the Breakaway Haven as you waited for your rooms to be ready on embarkation day. Along with punch.
  10. Thanks! Good to know ahead of time. She'll be content with the balcony and the lounges in the Haven.
  11. When I did BA Haven they walked us out in groups (separate exit, and oh, the looks you will get when you walk past the line straight to a dedicated key card checkpoint opened just for your group!) The very best tip I got and was grateful I had was to grab a porter as soon as you find your bag. Even if you have to wait for him/her to fill the cart with other luggage, it doesn't take long, and when you see the lines of literally hundreds of people at customs/immigration and you just follow him/her to a dedicated customs/immigration line with a handful of people in it... PRICELESS (except for the $5/bag I gave him!) They will wait on the other side until you clear and push the cart as far as you need -- I took control of my bag fairly soon, but I saw other porters go as far as the street (It's quite a walk out to the street) That $10 easily saved me an hour or more.
  12. Will be staying in a Gem Courtyard Haven suite with my mother who's in her 80s. The Haven seemed like a good option for her to have some comfortable mobility outside of the usual mob scene on the public floors. I see that there is a private sundeck one floor up. In Gem Haven videos I see a set of stairs which I presume lead up there -- is there any kind of elevator access? She'd probably mostly prefer the regular Haven Courtyard, but if there's elevator access, I'd like to let her know she has the option of being outside as well. Thanks for any info - the deck plans appear to show a set of elevators forward towards the Garden Villas, but that may be exclusive to them. The elevators aft of the Haven Courtyard appear to be the ones serving Cagney's/Moderno/midship?
  13. I was on the Breakaway last December and couldn't avoid the Spa people hawking day passes - I actually started avoiding that floor, even though it was the most convenient route for me in some ways. They were RELENTLESS when it came to stepping in front of you and trying the hard sell. I put in a note to the Hotel Director about it -- hopefully it was a quirky cruise or they've changed their marketing techniques. Never had that issue on other ships.
  14. I have an acquaintance who raised a service monkey -- like service dogs, before they can receive formal training they need to grow up in a human household and become socialized to life with people. They take many more years than puppies to reach maturity however, so it's a big commitment. Because they have hands and fine motor coordination, they're able to do things like operate appliances, aid in tooth brushing, etc, that dogs and ponies could never do, which gives the person a little more personal autonomy than they might otherwise have. I've only seen one service animal on Norwegian -- a standard poodle. Not sure what kind of service he provided, but he came into the theatre and curled up tightly at his owner's feet and disregarded the commotion onstage and in the audience, which is what you'd expect of a very well trained service animal.
  15. I second the fact that the bed is extremely close to the ground. I would not put an elderly person or anybody with physical limitations in that bed. The room is fine (you can always keep the door open if you're claustrophobic) but the bed when fully opened is basically the height of a regular sized mattress on the floor. If she's a really small person, the sofa in the livingroom is quite comfortable, I thought. I'm not a small person and had quite a comfortable nap there. I contemplated moving there for the week and sleeping on it with a blanket (not pulled out and made like a bed) rather than climbing up out of the bed in the 2nd bedroom, but got used to it and dealt with it.
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