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About jcearth

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  1. First choice - Riviera Deck 1 Oceanview (6A) or Porthole (PT) - - most cabin space of any standard stateroom and usually a bargain. Keep in mind, these are not the Deluxe Oceanview (6L, 6M, or 6N) - which have 2 bathrooms that take up way too much space. My second choice would be Lido deck midship balcony (8F) - these rooms are quiet for their location and extremely convenient to everything on the top decks.
  2. We just got off the Magic a few weeks ago - I had two noticeable issues while on board. 1) We had connecting cabins. The temperature in our kids cabin was much lower than ours, which never seemed to be able to cool off. We like it cool when we sleep (around 68-70) but our room seemed to be more around 74-76. Our room steward was able to get us a fan, which helped considerably. 2) I noticed the "smell" a little more than usual on this cruise. I have been on around 15 cruises, and most of them have had some sewage type smells on them at various places and times, but this was probably the most that I noticed it out of all of my cruises. Outside of that, I thought that the ship was fine, and we had a great time. Again, one of our cabins had a nice, cool temp, and I am sure that many people did not have a "smelly" experience, so your mileage may vary on board.
  3. We were the first people on the first tender a few weeks ago on the Magic, but we had a Villa booked. If you want to get off of the ship early (and don't have a Villa or Cabana booked), here is what you do: around 3 pm the day before, they will put out the tender tickets in Ocean Plaza. You just need to get in line and snag the time that you would like. I was there playing trivia and the #1 and #2 tickets were there for awhile, as not a lot of people were lined up initially.
  4. We used it on the Magic last week. It worked pretty well - the capabilities and reliability of the HUB app have increased exponentially over the last year. We had a large group see it was much easier to connect and set up meeting times for dinner, shows, and keeping track of kids, etc. The biggest issue that we had is that we had to remember to keep the app open all of the time -- once you close it, you no longer get notifications. However, this was the first cruise that I no longer relied on the paper Funtimes, as the App had all of that information, plus the menus for each day at dinner, and the ability to request a table for anytime dining (but only for up to 8 people). You also have the ability to favorite certain activities, and the app will remind you when those activities are about to start.
  5. I asked about it when I went to the Steakhouse on my last cruise. Essentially, the waitress told me to not order it, that the chef really didn't think it was a good cut of meat and didn't like to make it. I went with the filet instead.
  6. For some, but not for others. I was just thinking of the most labor intensive things on the ships that could easily be eliminated.
  7. You will probably feel a difference. You may like it, and you may not. The lack of bells and whistles is noticeable, but the Fantasy class ships have a certain charm to them. You tend to see the same people more often than on the mega-ships. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Is the lack of the big screen on Lido, Red Frog Pub, basketball court, etc. going to make a difference in the enjoyment of your cruise?
  8. In order to stretch labor, you need to make it more efficient. For bartenders, I would eliminate the cans of soda and go to a fountain system. Also, a self service station for sodas for those with a prepaid package. The cans are a huge waste of time and take up way too much space. I would have the stewards clean the rooms once a day, and make it a premium (suite guest or add-on) for an additional room cleaning per day or butler services, etc. I would look to update the antiquated ordering system in the main dining room, possibly with an electronic system. Eliminate the assistant waiter position and use food runners to hustle the food out of the kitchen. Turn the MDR into more of a family style restaurant atmosphere with less "service". Add an additional restaurant where folks can pay a premium to experience a "full-service" restaurant. Increase the English-fluency of the staff at Guest Services, or just hire native speakers. Empower staff to be able to fix problems, or if not be straightforward with the guests. And a whole bunch of other stuff that may or may not work.
  9. I have sailed on: Breeze, Magic (in 2 weeks), Dream, Conquest, Sunshine, Legend, Triumph (now Sunrise), Fascination, Sensation, and Holiday. The only one that I would never do again was the Holiday - that ship was a dump. Now, we did sail it 2 months before it was being removed from service, so that may have had something to do with the quality aboard the ship.
  10. Great topic!! And definitely some good information for new cruisers to be wary of. I would have to agree with the previous posters on Bingo and Art Auctions. Your monetary rate of return on either is very low. There would be some entertainment value in each, for sure, but not enough to make up for the utter lack of value in either product. Perhaps the one item that most have missed though, is alcohol. As cruise prices have come down over the years (when factoring in inflation), alcohol prices onboard have skyrocketed. I just purchased the Cheers package for my wife and I for our upcoming cruise, and while it provides the best overall value if you plan on drinking, the cost is still enormous, almost equaling our base fare (porthole). So for my money (of which I am paying a lot 🙂), alcohol is one of the worst deals on the ship.
  11. This reminds me of a hilarious scenario that happened on another cruise line (that rhymes with Norwegian). At the time, the perks I had coming in were unlimited free drinks for my wife and I and free soda packages for my kids. Also, since my kids, we 6, 7, and 10 at the time, I did not let them have charging privileges on their card. So, my 7 year old wanted to get a "smoothie" (virgin mudslide, to be exact), and went up to the bar with his card and ordered one. He came back to where we were sitting and said that the bartender needed to talk to me. So I went to the bar with him and the following exchange occurred: Me: What's going on? Bartender: I need your card to charge for the drink. Me: Here you go Bartender: (Runs card) Sorry - I can't charge you for the drink. You have the unlimited drink package. Your son needs to pay for it. Me: Ok - son, give him your card. Bartender: (Runs card) He can't pay for it it. He doesn't have charging privileges. Let me see yours again. Me: Ok - here you go. Bartender: (Runs card) I can't charge you for the drink - you have the unlimited drink package. Your son would have to pay for it. Me: Surely there is a solution here. Bartender: Sir, can you order the drink? Me: One Virgin Mudslide, please! Oh, and a Grey Goose screwdriver.......
  12. I understand using the PSR number as a tool, but more space doesn't matter if the cruise line isn't able to effectively disperse the people within the ship. My anecdotal evidence: I was on the Disney Dream back in 2013 - it has a listed PSR of 37 (should be tons of open space!!) In fact there was lots of space (parts of the ship resembled a ghost town), except if you had young children and wanted to take them to the pool. In all of my years of cruising, it was probably the most crowded I have ever felt on a ship. Conversely, I was on the Sunshine last year (PSR of 27), and I never had trouble finding a seat at the pool, eating (while on deck for breakfast or lunch - sit near the Havana Bar) , comedy club, or shows, and I never felt crowded. Another example: Norwegian Escape - cruised on it in 2016 - PSR of 32. Sounds like a great rating, until you realize just how much space is dedicated to for pay food venues, private areas for suite guests, and adults only areas of the ship. Families were relegated to a small sliver of space on deck, and complete areas of the ship inside were off limits. Counterpoint again, Carnival Dream 2013, Carnival Breeze 2015 (and Carnival Magic coming in a few months), PSR of 29, but probably the best layouts of a ship I have ever been on. The only negative is probably the buffet (which can get a bit crowded). I think the Dream class is far superior in layout than the Conquest Class (Conquest 2014 - PSR of 31).
  13. In addition to the buffet for first day lunch, the following places are open: 1) Mongolian Wok - stir-fry 2) Guy's Burgers 3) Blue Iguana Cantina - tacos, burritos 4) Deli 5) Captain's Pasta - located in the Italian restaurant 6) Seafood Shack - (extra cost) 7) Pizzeria All are located on the Lido deck, with the exception of the Captain's Pasta which is one deck above. My recommendation on the first day would be the Pasta Bar (you fill out a form with your choices of noddles, sauce, and add-ins in addition to Caesar Salad and bread and then they will either deliver your food to you or give you a pager to pick up). This location is typically not crowded on Day 1 but will get more and more so as people discover it throughout the week. Note that on Embarkation Day and other port days, the MDR will not be open for lunch. On Sea Days, the MDR will be open for Seaday Brunch. Also, Guy's Pig and Anchor BBQ outside on Deck 5 will be open on Sea Days.
  14. Not really - just a lack of professionalism from the entertainers. It was a dueling pianos show with two musicians. They had advertised that $20 will get your song played. My wife submitted her request along with a picture of President Jackson, and then waited for about an hour and got nothing. She then wrote a little nasty gram on a request sheet and turned it in. One of the entertainers called her out and said "See this is what I'm talking about. This person turns in a request but no tip. Hey (my wife's name), if you would give us $20 we would play this song right now." My wife got furious, and in a room of about 150 people screamed at the top of her lungs " I DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". The other piano player then said sheepishly "Yeah, I got her request a while ago -- I just didn't want to play it." What followed was a rather half-hearted abbreviated attempt at the song. This happened on the 3rd night of a 7 night cruise. We didn't go back to the venue the rest of the cruise, which is a shame because we love the piano bar. So short story long, finding out on our last cruise that it merely took a Lincoln to get your song played immediately and with gusto, I was a happy camper. And it is another reason why I enjoy sailing on Carnival.
  15. I learned that $5 will get your song request played immediately in the Piano Bar. Last time we were in a piano bar on land, the going rate was about $20. And two years ago on the NCL Escape, all a $20 request got was a furious wife who didn't get her song played for an hour and then angrily confronted the Piano Bar entertainers. Fun times...
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