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About dcipjr

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    Philadelphia, PA
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  1. We went to Bermuda on the Escape last April, departing New York on April 29th. Sailaway was a bit chilly -- we had sweatshirts on departing New York. It was warm by the second sea day. We were in Bermuda from May 2nd - May 4th, and it was very nice weather: lows in the 60s, highs in the mid 70s. Great for walking around. The water temperature was 71 degrees -- cool, but swimmable for those of us used to cooler ocean temperatures in the summer. My parents took us to the Jersey Shore growing up, so low 70s water temperatures were never an issue for me -- I swam. Looking at Bermuda's weather service, it seems last year when we were there unseasonably warm, and that the average temperature for that time of year is usually a bit cooler. That site, incidentally, is the best source of info on weather forecasts for Bermuda, and has a ton of information on past Bermuda weather, averages, that sort of thing. As others have mentioned, the weather is going to be unpredictable, so you never know, but it was great for us.
  2. We were on the Gem out of NYC this month, two weeks ago. Sailaway was chilly (31°F), so we didn’t spend much time outdoors. I wore a sweater and a fleece that day. The first sea day it warmed up to about 60°F. I had short sleeves on by the end of the day, but long pants. On the second sea day, it was in the mid 70s, and I had shorts on. Even with the gradual warmup, it’s incredible how fast you get used to the warm temperatures. You basically forget that it’s not summer—until you have to come home. The reverse was pretty much true on the way back: shorts went back into the closet at the end of the first sea day, long sleeves came back on the second.
  3. Great news that they changed it. Arriving at LGA at 12:30 PM just seems too tight for me—they'd probably make sure you get to the pier on time for departure, but it's better to not have to worry about it. Plus, with your new flight, you'll most likely be onboard and enjoying lunch by 12:30 PM.
  4. 44 days, and then 82 days?! I'm so jealous. Out of curiosity, how did you book this? I've never seen such a long itinerary offered by NCL. Did you just book back-to-back-to-back-etc. sailings?
  5. Well, it's not one of the newer ships anymore -- most of the live reviews tend to be about the newest ships. That may have something to do with it. Another reason may be because the last two months have been longer-duration cruises, which I'd imagine attract an older demographic (who may not be as interested in liveblogging the cruise). Plus, longer duration means more work making the live review. There are a few reviews here: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/getreviews.cfm?action=ship&ShipID=385 Anyway, I've pretty much heard nothing but good things about the Gem on here.
  6. You get the vast majority of the benefits. What you don't get...to my recollection: Booking the Haven outright gets you double-points for the cruise; if you bid up, you just get the regular amount of points. You won't get your luggage tags mailed to you (with a welcome letter and everything), so you'll still have to print them out like everyone else. You'll retain the same free-at-sea perks that you got when you booked. Suites used to get all the perks included and not have to pay gratuities on them, but that has since gone by the wayside. Suites have a pre-cruise concierge service, to make special requests. You may still get this with an upgrade bid, but the time your bid processes, you're practically about to leave anyway, so it may not be as useful. One perk you do get over those who booked the Haven outright: if you've prepaid your gratuities prior to the upgrade (maybe even prior to sailing), you stay at the lower, non-suite rate. If you pay onboard, you'll pay the suite rate.
  7. No, just a standard 2BR suite. The Gem has both 2 BR Family Suite (category SC) and Haven 2 BR Family Suites (category H4). Ours doesn't have Haven access, but from my understanding, that's not as big of a deal on the Gem; standard suites still get the suite perks.
  8. We just got upgraded from a mini-suite to a SC 2BR family suite on the Gem. We bid $1000 per person, at the low end of the Fair range (which started at $950/pp). I bid there because the amount seemed fair, especially for a 10 day cruise, and we had a mini-suite, which I figured NCL would want to upgrade people into. We're paying less than half of what it would have cost us to upgrade outright, based on the cost of the SC before the sailing disappeared. One interesting bit of info for future upgraders: this sailing disappeared completely from NCL's page / cruise search results a couple weeks ago, and someone else on my roll call had said they called NCL and was told the ship was sold out. The individual SC cabin I got was one of two SCs that were displaying as available prior to the sailing disappearing, so it's likely they marked the ship as sold out while cabins were still available -- perhaps they were at lifeboat capacity? So, for future reference: just because a ship is considered "sold out" does not mean you cannot get upgraded.
  9. From Wikipedia, the sea state codes don't get anywhere close to 90 meters...it's an order of magnitude off! Maybe he meant 9 meters? WMO Sea State Code Wave height Characteristics 0 0 metres (0 ft) Calm (glassy) 1 0 to 0.1 metres (0.00 to 0.33 ft) Calm (rippled) 2 0.1 to 0.5 metres (3.9 in to 1 ft 7.7 in) Smooth (wavelets) 3 0.5 to 1.25 metres (1 ft 8 in to 4 ft 1 in) Slight 4 1.25 to 2.5 metres (4 ft 1 in to 8 ft 2 in) Moderate 5 2.5 to 4 metres (8 ft 2 in to 13 ft 1 in) Rough 6 4 to 6 metres (13 to 20 ft) Very rough 7 6 to 9 metres (20 to 30 ft) High 8 9 to 14 metres (30 to 46 ft) Very high 9 Over 14 metres (46 ft) Phenomenal
  10. We usually write a note using the stationary pad that's always in the room, saying thank you. For the concierge, we just go to the desk and give it to them, and say our farewells. For the butler, we'll hand it to them if we see them, if we don't, we just leave it in the room.
  11. We've usually been able to get into our rooms by around 1:30 PM -- sometimes earlier. Our standard procedure is to go to the MDR and get lunch, and usually during lunchtime (or shortly after) they announce that the rooms are ready. It's a super busy day for the crew, turning everything over, but they do a great job.
  12. Mid-ship Balcony Suites? Balconies and Suites are two different cabin categories. If your stateroom category starts with B or M (like BA, BB, MA, MB, etc.), then those are standard balconies or mini-suites, and those don't have the priority privileges unless you are a Platinum or higher Latitudes member. You will board according to your group number -- the earlier you arrive, the lower your group number. In the past out of NYC, we've gotten to the pier around 10:00 to 10:30, and we've been onboard around 11:30 or noon. If your stateroom category starts with S or H, those are suites, and you'll have priority boarding. You'll board shortly after 11. I wouldn't show up to the pier earlier than 10 AM.
  13. It didn't bother us, it was kind of fun actually. I do remember it as being rather...bouncy.
  14. Keep in mind that it's not valid for flights. If she got stranded in Bermuda, she might have trouble using a passport card to fly back to the U.S., although I suppose it's better than nothing! If she has an expired passport, it's $30 to get the passport card as a renewal. It's $65 if you have never had a passport. You can apply at the post-office; they will charge you to get your picture taken there (around $15), but they use a special camera so it won't get rejected by the State Department—we've had photos taken at a pharmacy get rejected before. Any way you slice it—worst-case (most expensive scenario), let's say she never had a passport before, and uses the post office to take the picture, it'd be $80 for the book, as opposed to $160 for the card. Last time we applied for a passport (around this time last year), we got our passport cards within a month of our application, and the books came later. We have both because my wife's family lives in Mexico near the border, so we cross by land frequently.
  15. Bundle wrapping works well—if you do it right, everything will take up less space, and it won't wrinkle too badly. The caveat is that once it's all bundled up, to get to anything in the bundle, you have to unwrap the whole thing. But that's not a big deal when you're going on a cruise, and generally just have to unpack once. If your suitcase has compression tie-downs, use them to compress the bundle—it works great! Packing cubes are good for people that either hyper-organize everything, or don't want to organize anything, and just cram-it-all-in. But my rationale is that the cubes themselves do take up space, and if I pack efficiently, I can do better without the cubes. They are good for duffels, though, which are generally just one big open compartment. Roll-packing works great for t-shirts and polos, but you gotta roll 'em tight to avoid wrinkles. You can compress a t-shirt to around the size of a pair of socks, which is useful! Depending on the length of a trip, I typically travel with a backpack and/or a suitcase. For a cruise, I'll usually bring both. I bundle-wrap for the suitcase, and I roll-pack for the backpack. I try not to bring anything I don't absolutely need, and bring clothes that you can mix and match. For a longer cruise, do the laundry bag special (you can ask your cabin attendant for this at any time, in my experience). A little strategy goes a long way: "my sandals are brown, so I should bring my brown shoes and shirts/pants that go well with brown, otherwise I have to bring black shoes and a black belt". Good luck!
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