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Everything posted by dcipjr

  1. We're leaving for our Mexican Riviera cruise right after you'll be wrapping up this review, so following to get in the cruising mood. Bummer about the whole "thanks for redeeming your voucher but we couldn't redeem your voucher so try to redeem your voucher again later" affair. Hopefully you still enjoy the time on the Bliss! I'd take an inside cabin over a day at the office...
  2. The Joy's Family Inside Suites were actually designed for multi-generation travel when the ship was built for the China market, IIRC. We stayed in one back in early 2020, prior to the pandemic. Layout-wise, it's fabulous, and has tons of space and storage. It was priced competitively with a balcony at the time, but I'm not sure if that has changed over the years. Not going to lie: I missed having a real balcony. The virtual one is an interesting illusion, but there's no getting past that it's a screen, especially at night, when it's staticky. Sometimes you had to "reboot" the balcony by opening and closing the curtain. But I would stay in that suite again, especially if traveling with family that aren't opposed to an inside.
  3. We ate there back in early 2020 (right before the pandemic) and it was good. I remember thinking the meats were a bit salty for my taste. Q is definitely worth a try, but for me, there are other venues on the Joy (like Ocean Blue or Food Republic) that are better uses of a dining package and/or Latitudes vouchers.
  4. Hopefully not; this is a huge draw. From the crowds, you'd think the actual Beatles were playing.
  5. As others have said, you can generally get an upgrade as long as it’s a paid upgrade. Don’t expect them to give you anything for free, or to get money back. But by all means, look for a better cabin that’s selling for slightly more than your final payment price, and then call and ask to upgrade. They’re happy to take more of your money, and you get a better cabin. Everyone wins!
  6. I use the Waterfront as a promenade deck on the Breakaway / Breakaway Plus ships (like the Joy). I usually cut through the forward lobby, or just do a U-turn. The only NCL ship that doesn't have a decent promenade or Waterfront deck would be the Epic. The earlier Jewel / Dawn class ships have Deck 7. Not sure about the Spirit, but she's an older ship so I'd assume she has a promenade deck.
  7. It's a dream of mine to take a Cunard round-the-world'er. One of these days, Pete...one of these days...
  8. Have a wonderful trip, @mking8288! Always a pleasure to see one of your reviews. We were thinking of hopping on this trip, but we have to save up vacation days and funds for our cruise in April on the Jewel. Hopefully we get to be on the same boat again soon! Sure does look a lot more crowded than it was when we were there last May! 🙂
  9. Thanks! It did seem a bit too good to be true.
  10. Is the $6/day parking at Manchester Grand Hyatt still offered? I tried to find this information on their website but couldn’t. The parking rates for guests are way higher than $6 a day, so I don’t want to make an expensive mistake.
  11. On the Breakaway, they had "handy phones". It's basically a tiny little phone the size of a keyfob, that works on the ship's phone system. It doesn't have a dial pad—it can just receive calls. If they need you (and they'll explain at orientation what they could need you for), they'll call you on that phone. Each time you drop off, they'll issue you a phone on a lanyard, test it with you, and then you return the phone when you pick your children up. One reason why you could be called: the staff doesn't wipe butts (can you blame them?!). If your kid isn't fully potty-trained (as in, they can wipe themselves clean after #2), and they go to the bathroom, your services may be called upon, so plan accordingly. If you're called on the phone, you have 10 minutes to get to Splash Academy. Kids are required to eat beforehand. Splash Academy is closed for a portion of mealtimes, to make sure unfed kids aren't being dropped off. We would bring our daughter to the buffet around 6 PM, and then head to Splash Academy at 7 PM after she was done eating. Then it's Date Night!
  12. We did the same trip in reverse (Miami -> LA) and were not required to have the Yellow Fever vaccine. Per the CDC, it's not necessary if you're just passing through the canal zone. I second the recommendation to read Path Between the Seas. It is an excellent book, and greatly enhanced the canal transit experience for me.
  13. This is disappointing. We usually order a carafe of coffee, especially since the in-room coffeemakers were removed (which, let's face it, were never that great), and will miss being able to get a wake up call + coffee + pastries.
  14. They really do want you off the ship by 9 AM. I would probably go with the hotel—less stress and you can drop off your luggage in the morning, even before your room is ready. My only word of caution is that it'll almost certainly be cold in New York in mid-February. I've not been to Dublin (yet!—I will get there!) but the average temperature in February will be comparable to New York, with New York being a few degrees colder. There are plenty of indoor activities, but if hotels are exorbitant and you're cold-averse, you might try the NCL excursion and/or booking yourself a lounge pass in the airport so you have somewhere comfy to spend the day.
  15. They were open 7 PM-11 PM on your standard port days (in port from 8 AM - 5 PM). For a couple days with later port arrival / departure times (in port from 12 PM to 8 PM), Splash Academy was open 9 AM to 12 PM and 8 PM - 11 PM. For sea days, I believe they had a few sessions: 9 AM - 12 PM, 2 PM to 4 PM, 7 PM to 11 PM, if memory serves.
  16. Typically, the Beatles cover band has four shows: 1. Beatlemania ('62-66), in the Cavern Club 2. Sgt. Pepper / Magical Mystery Tour ('67), in the Cavern Club 3. Abbey Road, with a bit of the White Album and Let It Be ('68-69), in the Cavern Club 4. A theatre show with a bit of everything We really enjoyed the shows on the Joy back in 2020, and they really pack 'em in. From the lines, you'd think NCL had booked the real Beatles!
  17. It was wonderful! My daughter loved it and looked forward to going every day, and my wife and I had 5 date nights over the course of the cruise. 10/10, would do again
  18. We've always done the Lincoln Tunnel, and have found it easy to get up 10th to 55th and into the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. We've never had a significant issue with traffic on Sunday mornings, and usually arrive at the pier between 10 AM and 11 AM. I'd advise that on departure day, they use their phone's Maps / GPS app to see which routing is recommended given traffic conditions.
  19. Nope. I had $100 OBC on my account, charged $115 to the room at a slot machine, spun a couple times and lost a couple bucks, and cashed the rest out. My onboard account showed I had a balance of $115, with $100 OBC available to use.
  20. Just off the Breakaway. The Behind-the-Scenes tour and Dinner with Officers perks were not offered for Sapphire. Wines around the World was. The meeting time was 11:45 AM at the Manhattan room on the last sea day. Little early for drinking for me, so I opted out, but hey, I don't judge...
  21. Reputable folks here have, in the past, reported being able to put non-refundable OBC on a slot machine, and cash out the voucher—effectively cashing out non-refundable OBC. This doesn't appear to work anymore. You also can't use non-refundable OBC for purchase of CruiseNext certificates, which is an even bigger bummer.
  22. Just a quick note that on our Breakaway cruise last week, the Splash Academy staff told us that they are back in business for 3 and 4 year olds. Our daughter is now 5, so she was able to go either way, but we've got an upcoming cruise in April where we'll be sailing with my niece and nephew, who are in the 3-4 age range, and it's great to know the Cousin Crew will all be able to go to Splash Academy together. In terms of hours, I think they're about back to where they were before the pandemic. Our itinerary was a 7-day Canada and New England cruise out of NYC, so it was all port days aside for Day 7. Splash Academy was open 7 to 11 PM on days we were in port. For a couple ports where we had a later arrival / departure, it was also open from 8 AM - 11 AM. And if memory serves, on the final sea day it was open 9 AM - 12 PM, 2 PM to 4 PM, and 7 PM to 11 PM. DD had a great time and the staff was terrific.
  23. Great review, @graphicguy! I was hoping to be able to meet you and @JamieLogical while onboard, but it turned out to be a busier cruise than anticipated, which happens when you only have a single sea day. I did stop by Spice H20 at 5 PM on Sunday, but nobody seemed to know anything about CruiseCritic—it's Zuckerbergs all the way down these days, I'm afraid. Since it was an 18+ venue, and I wanted to spend time with my daughter (who's 5), I wasn't able to stick around. Alas. I was able to catch the World Series on ESPN Radio using my Free at Sea minutes, as well as terrestrial radio with my AM radio. The ship, as expected, did not carry the baseball Fall Classic—but if you love tennis, it must have been a dream come true. The Phillies lost anyway. Again, alas. It was a lovely cruise. The ports were beautiful, and the weather terrific. We saw, walked, and ate a lot. Maine is pretty spectacular, isn't it? We walked across the Bar Harbor sandbar and hiked up Bar Island for some great views. Many people had told me how beautiful Maine is, and they weren't lying. We'll be back. We received excellent service the whole way through, and the food and ship were terrific. Breakaway is still in fine shape almost 10 years on; I wouldn't hesitate to sail her again. I was told there were 2700 people onboard, which contributed to short / no lines. In terms of bang-for-the-buck, it's among the best cruises we've ever taken.
  24. I was on the Breakaway last week, and they were accepting 3 and 4-year olds in Splash Academy!
  25. I tried withdrawing non-refundable OBC via a casino room charge on the Getaway in September, and Breakaway last week. Was unsuccessful both times.
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