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FitchburgWIFamily

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About FitchburgWIFamily

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Fitchburg, WI
  • Interests
    Cruising, Traveling, Reading and herding my children
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL

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  1. FitchburgWIFamily

    "ODD" THINGS YOU LIKE ABOOUT CRUISING/NCL

    "First Dinner" the light meal you grab in the buffet before you get dressed for dinner. Butler snacks: if you stay in a suite, when you come back to your room in the afternoon, the butler will have left you a little plate of tiny sandwiches or cheese and fruit, and or cookies and or a fruit bowl. It's always fun to see what you got! Walking laps at night on the upper decks or on the promenade...watching the moon glow across the ocean, battling the gale force winds the ship generates. Having the bartender recognize me and remember my drink. Being welcomed back to the ship after a hot beach day with a cool eucalyptus scented cloth and a cold glass of water.
  2. FitchburgWIFamily

    How do you dress on NCL to Caribbean?

    I would guess more people will be more dressy for New Year's Eve than the average night. But that is just a guess. On the cruises I have been on, including 4 Caribbean I have seen that some people dress way up: I see them in the Atrium getting their pictures taken in wonderful sparkly dresses, and men in suits or nice dress shirt and tie sets. There was a wonderful older couple on the Escape in the Caribbean that dressed formally (tux, long cocktail dress) on at least a couple of nights: I would see them at Spice H2O after dinner watching the dancers and enjoying their cruise. I "dress" for dinner, but wouldn't say I dress "up". I bring black dress pants, black tops, and a black sweater or two, and then a bunch of brightly covered scarves so I don't look like Johnny Cash. During the day, it is lighter colors, shorts or capris, solid t's and maybe a scarf or two. At night at sea I have never been too warm for light weight long pants. I used to bring a few black skirts, but now I have cut back to just dress pants. My mother loves (and has for decades and decades) coordinates like Alfred Dunner, so she will bring a dressier set of coordinates and just swap out the shells, jackets and sweaters. She uses less dressy sets for during the day. She buys a whole new wardrobe for each cruise. I try the least amount possible for the cruise. My husband is convinced he will die if he wears a tie, so his dress up is a loud shirt and chinos. This is different than his daytime cruise wardrobe of a loud shirt and shorts. My daughter (age 16) looks like a million bucks in anything, and she brought more formal dresses for night (the short dress she wore to homecoming but not the long dress she wore to prom). She changes multiple times a day. My son (age 18 now) lives in sport shorts and solid colored performance T's . He brings one or two polos and a long pair of pants so he can eat with me in the main dining room a few nights. If you have dressy clothes and like to dress up in them, you won't be the only one. If you don't want to pack high heels or foundation garments, you'll be fine in more casual wear as well. If you don't want to dine in Le Bistro or the larger Main Dining room, you could get by with t-shirts and shorts the whole cruise.
  3. I am not sure what you are implying. Is it that you think there isn't a dress code for the larger main dining room on NCL ships? 'Cause there is, and it is different from the other dining venues. Different from the buffet, different from the other main dining room. From NCL's website: SMART CASUAL Dress smart casual in our more formal dining room or in our more upscale specialty restaurants. For women, it includes slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops. For men, it's jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. A FEW CONSIDERATIONS Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear nice shorts in all our restaurants. However, tank tops for men, flip flops, baseball caps, visors and jeans that are overly faded with holes or tears and worn below the hips are not permitted in main dining rooms or specialty restaurants. ------------------------------------- The more formal dining room is the larger dining room. See how it says men need to wear collared shirts and slacks or jeans? That's how we know they aren't supposed to wear shorts. To hammer it home, there is a line in the next paragraph that says Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear shorts. That's another way we know men (assuming your definition of Men is someone over 12) are not supposed to wear shorts. See, there are two kinds of people in this world: people who take the time to read, educate themselves and follow the rules. And the people who don't take the time to educate themselves and then get all defensive if someone calls them out for not following the rules. I am not sure where the whole sharia law thing comes in...or where you thought I (or anyone else) was imposing our standards on others. We are lamenting that people are not following NCL's policies. Since the vast majority of the passengers do follow the rules, it is a shame the small minority is so ignorant, callous or entitled that they don't.
  4. OK.. OK...first of all, the Venetian (or the largest main dining room of any NCL ship) DOES have a dress code, they are more dressy than the other venues...so I am not flaming you if I tell you that if you don't want to dress up on vacation, the onus is on you to eat somewhere else. Second, the reason I object to others not following the dress code is because (insert whiny voice here) it is simply not fair. If 80 or 90 or 95 percent of the people take the time and the effort to pay the price (packing dressier clothes, changing from day time outfits to night time outfits) they are the ones who should get the reward (eating in the more formal dining room). The people who are not willing to pay the price should not get the reward. I get that dress codes are hard: when my son sailed at age 13, he was turned away from the main dining room because his navy blue dress shorts. Apparently 12 year old boys can wear shorts, 13 year olds can't He ended up eating in the dining room in track pants..which IMO were much less dressy. But the point is he was made to comply. If he sails on the next ship and grown men are wearing shorts, what is he going to think? People should respect the dress code. Ship should enforce.
  5. FitchburgWIFamily

    NCL Escape Sail Dat 10/21/18 Disembarkation disaster!!

    Excursions get their own luggage tag color, and in some cases get off even before Priority. You will meet together and all get off together. You will not go through the line. You will be fine.
  6. FitchburgWIFamily

    Dining on the Epic

    Never sailed on the Epic, but did sail on the Escape (similar dining options). We don't make reservations in advance, it ruins our free style vibe. We don't know whether we are going to get back from shore late and be starving or come back on board early, eat a huge lunch, and not want to eat until later. We don't know if we will feel like dressing up a bit, or not. We don't know whether we really want to take in a show or give it a miss. I sailed on a very full Escape as a party of 10....and we had no problems getting dinner with very few reservations: and none of those were made in advance of sailing. We did make reservations once on board for Moderno for 10 for the first night, and LeBistro for 6 on a different night. Our last day on board, we were able to get reserve a table for 8 in Cagney's at 8:00pm. For the rest of our dinners, however many of us were hungry at any given time showed up to wherever we decided to eat and we were able to be immediately seated or seated after only a short wait. I know you are travelling with a larger group, and maybe you are risk adverse, but my advice is to not try to make reservations for each night, to be a little more Norwegian and go with the flow. Your mileage may vary, but we have not had problems not planning our dining ahead. There are tv screens on board that show table availability you can use as a reference. Hope this helps!
  7. FitchburgWIFamily

    NCL Escape - Escape Room Sign Ups

    Yes, the box office. We sailed on an almost full ship and had no problems. I also know that a lot of people on standby get in...so even if you forget or can’t get tickets, you just show up early one of the two times it is held and get in the standby line and you’ll probably get in.
  8. FitchburgWIFamily

    New to American Cruise Lines - help requested

    Op had questions about excursions and planning. I am by no means an expert, but I can say how it worked on our one cruise. On our Columbia River Cruise, there were morning and afternoon excursions, allowing us to eat lunch on board. There were sometimes different options, sometimes not. Most excursions were included in the fare, a few had a moderate charge. You sign up on board, no pre-planning needed.
  9. You are right. I think we learned their official name is Saint John. Somehow not abbreviating is supposed to help avoid confusion. Clearly it didn’t help me. I would correct my post, but I don’t know if I know how. It was New Brunswick not Newfoundland.
  10. More photos, with captions: Sydney Harbor: Sydney's Giant Fiddle: Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove: Peggy's Cove: Everything looks like the photos they use for puzzles: Seriously: how do they get the water that blue? St John's: Again, with the pictures that look like they were taken for puzzles: Newport on a Gorgeous Day: Boston: Union Oyster House: Mom and her iced eyeballs I mean Oysters, and our clams from raw to stewed (souped?) Lady Liberty greeting us as we headed into Port in NY:
  11. OK...love the new format...but I messed up not getting all my pictures where I wanted them. So some photos just kind of threw up on the bottom of the post there. Sorry I'll get some more photos uploaded and add some more pictures. And maybe give some context about the ones at the bottom there.
  12. Background: My mom and I originally booked this cruise, and then we later added my husband. We left our 17.90 year old at home with his 16.5 year old sister. First time leaving the kids for so long, and it was during homecoming (son plays football) and we missed a cross country meet of my daughter’s. The kids did not destroy the house, kill each other, or eat through the carefully planned stash of food on the first day. So we had that going for us. Mom and I had originally booked a mini-suite, until I saw the tub and realized my mom wouldn’t be able to shower for 10 days. Wasn’t having that, so we upgraded to an aft facing handicapped mini suite. At some point, we added my husband to the booking. I kept watching fares, and eventually, saw I could upgrade to a handicapped accessible suite for not very much money, so I did that without telling anyone. Mom is going to turn 89 in November. She broke her hip last January, but has made close to full recovery. She uses a walker for stability, can do a few stairs with good railing, and is a little myopic after all sorts of eye problems. She is a bit nervous getting on and off buses (some have better railings than others). My husband and I are in our mid-50’s. Not quite sure what we are...but there is a ton of stuff we are not: gamblers, athletes, foodies, wine snobs, snob snobs. We have gone to all 50 states, some times camping some times staying at hotels or AirBnBs. We take a couple of trips each year. This was my 7th NCL cruise, my mom’s 6th and my husband’s 4th. Getting There: This cruise started with an overnight in its first port, so we risked flying in on the first day of the cruise. We flew United from Madison to O’Hare, and from O’Hare to Quebec City. We arrived by 3:00 or so in the afternoon. Quebec City Airport is either very new or very newly renovated. It had tons of room for passengers to queue up, and no passengers to queue. Customs was self serve at kiosks. Other than taking a long time to cover the distance from plane to customs to luggage to taxi stand, we were in and out of there very quickly. We took the first cab in queue. French was the cab drivers second language, and he did not speak English at all. I showed the cabby the address NCL provided for the port on my cruise documents. Quebec City uses fixed prices to go from Airport to Cruise Port. The fare was I believe 31.00 Canadian. So for the three of us, this was much cheaper than taking NCL’s shuttle. Cab got us into Quebec City and missed a turn to get to the Cruise Port, so he went around a few blocks and got back to the Cruise Port, but there was no NCL Gem there. He asked someone there for directions (yeah, still didn’t use the address I gave him), and then tried to drive us to where the NCL Gem was (at the basin). Got there but tried to drive in the exit, was told to turn around and go in the other side, and he did, but not without saying a few swear words at the police officer who was telling him he was doing it wrong. So, after three wrong attempts, and a impromptu tour of parts of Quebec City we wouldn’t have normally seen, we finally arrived at the NCL Gem. Dock workers helped us get out luggage out of the cab. The current exchange rate is 1.30 US to 1.00 canadian. So, $35.00 should cover fare and provide at least a 30% tip. Cabby tried to get more money out of me, but the dock workers who were fluent in French and English told him to go away and told me I had paid more than enough. Embarkation: The basin cruise port is a big white tent in a parking lot. Not a building. Mom and her walker walked around the big white tent to the entrance. Because it was later in the afternoon, there were no queues at all. And also no one directing traffic. So, we walk around some barriers all the way to one end of the big white tent and ask where we should check in. They say right there, so we start the check in process. We get a little ways through and they realize that as suite guests So we walk to a different corner of the big white tent and check in. Suite/Haven waiting area is blocked off with a series of crates. It’s more decorative than it sounds: think rustic fur port or something. We have a few treats while we wait for the wheel chair that mom will use to board. We wait about 15 minutes, and we see the bar tender enter the big white tent with the wheel chair. We wave, but he doesn’t look at us. He goes to a different corner of the tent, and then back out and back up the ship with the wheel chair. Sigh. We work with the concierge to try to get the wheel chair back. But it was probably a good 30 minutes of waiting all told. At last, we have mom in her chair and we are off to get on the boat. Because we are boarding from a tent there is no elevator up or covered walkways. Just a big steep ramp. Wheelchair was a must. Our cabin is ready, but we opt for food and booze before we venture to the back of the boat. We have our wheel chair drop us off at O’Sheehans for a late lunch or an early dinner. A few cocktails, and a sandwich and we are all recovered from out somewhat bumpy start. Cabin: Our cabin was 9172, an aft-facing handicapped accessible penthouse suite. The carpets are still the green and fuchsia, and the headboard was fuchsia vinyl, but he furniture has all been upgraded and modernized. The deck has a wicker chair and a lounger one it. In the room, there are two wood/leather occasional chairs, a love seat that makes into a bed, a sofa table, and two soft ottoman type things that can be used as foot stools or seats for the desk and dressing table. The larger bathroom takes up some floor space, so there is no dining table, but there is a glass round table that goes in front of the sofa that can hold the butler snacks. The bed is comfortable, but the metal frame around it is about 4 inches bigger than the bed, so you have to be a bit careful getting in and out of bed not to bang your legs. There is a ramp up to the bathroom instead of a step, and the bathroom floor is completely flat. With the shower curtain open, it is a huge room. The mirror tilts down for wheel chair passengers, and there is not very much storage as the sink is a large basin mounted from the wall with no counters or cupboards. The handicapped accessible closet rod pulls down to be wheel chair accessible. One day while we were at lunch, it also disassembled itself (pulled out of one side) and dumped all our hanger clothes on the floor of the closet. (Woops!) Collapsible storage bins allowed us to use some of the open up high shelving in the room for clothing storage, and we managed to get everything for three people stowed away and organized. Aft balcony is sheltered from the wind, but I miss being on the balcony dock side watching the activities at port. The people below somewhere below us smoked, so we had the unpleasant smell of tobacco smoke on most sail-aways. I couldn’t figure out exactly what cabin or I would have reported them…not just because of the smell but because it is a fire hazard. And in an aft cabin, you are a long way away from everything except the Grand Pacific main dining room. It wasn’t so bad for me and my husband, but for my mom, coming home from a show or even working our way midship to get to the elevators for breakfast in Moderno’s was a bit of a stretch. Our roll call had done a cabin crawl, and we ended in our suite. We were able to fit quite a few people in the room comfortably, and everyone raved about the accomodations. There are some nice things in the cabin for looks like a little lit china cabinet in the corner that has glass doors. Ship: Loved the ship: a quiet libarary with actual comfy seats, the sunny Spinnaker by day with room to gather or relax, and the atrium with pretty good seating. The seating the theatre is not the most comfortable, and on this particular cruise we got little to no use of the Great Outdoors, but we did get to all of the dining venues except La Cuchina and Tepanyaki. Things I missed: I don’t remember ever being greeted back on board in port: no eucalyptis washcloths, no senior staff greeting me back. No music and celebration on the last port. There was no Grand Finale show in the theater like Elements: we had just a regular show the last night that the senior officers came out after. There wasn’t a staff talent show, either. Fall color: I would say we were two weeks early. Ports: Quebec City: Mom elected to stay on the boat, so husband I set out on our own. We crossed over the basin and walked a few blocks, and came upon a stop for a Hop On Hop Off tour. We decided to Hop On, so we bought our tickets. I kind of regret this: while the bus does give a good tour and provide a lot of information, we spent a LOT of time at each stop while the bus driver was selling tickets to new people getting on. The upstairs open air section of the bus was full when we got on, but even when we moved up there, it was hard to get good pictures from the weird up above angle. We went most of the way around before I got fed up and got off at the Citadel stop. From there, we walked through the upper town, taking pictures at the Hotel Fontanblue, getting recommendation for good simple poutine, and just enjoying the lovely old town. We rode the funicular down to the bottom, and saw the old walled fort, took obligatory pictures of the cannons and walked across the street to wait for a HOHO to come back. We rode it around past where we got on and back to a port-side market. We walked through there, bought some maple syrup, and walked around the other side of the basin back to the boat. We made it back in time to grab a quick cocktail before Muster. Charlottestown, PEI: Mom and I did the ship excursion Island Views and Anne of Green Gables: we picked this cruise because my mom and I are both big LM Montgomery fans (although both of us prefer Emily to Anne). This drive was lovely, the views spectacular, and the Anne of Green Gables site was perfect (although a bit crowded) and we very much enjoyed our day. Sydney, Nova Scotia: Mom was staying on the boat, so I thought my husband and I could just wing it. We stopped at an information booth, and the recommended a taxi tour to Alexander Graham Bell museum outside of town. We thought that sounded like a great idea until the taxi tour guide quoted us $220.00 Canadian. So we opted just to walk around town: we shopped from some local craftsman, walked downtown to find a closed Tim Horton's (how is a donut shop closed on a Sunday???). We moseyed back to the boat. It was a pretty but not spectacular day. We did score though on a number of very reasonably priced very nice hand crafted gifts. Nice to have something other than the Made In China coffee mugs. Halifax, Nova Scotia All of us were getting off the boat here, but I had not arranged for any tours. After our kind of blah day in Sydney, I wanted to make sure we didn’t have the same issue. Looked here and other sites for recommendations, and the best I could come up with is arrange for a Taxi Tour. There are signs advising you of the hourly rate for a Taxi Tour, so all drivers charge the same. We walked off the boat, picked out a driver and hired him for either a 6 hour tour at 50 an hour or a 5 hour tour at 60 an hour…I don’t remember the math, I know it came out to 300 Canadian. I cannot recommend this highly enough, our own car, our own pace and cheaper than the shore excursion through the boat would have been. We got a lovely tour of the city, and then headed out on a lovely drive to Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s cove was a bit crowded, but still well worth the trip. Mom got out to stretch a bit at Peggy’s cove, but the walking was not suited to a person in a walker. The path to the lighthouse is part path and part rock outcropping. The winding road through town has no sidewalks or shoulders, and when the buses go by you need to jump the curve to keep your toes. Our driver would stop whenever we asked so we could take pictures or just stretch our legs. We stopped for the ubiquitous maple syrup at a nice little store on the way back into town. We had time for a little more sightseeing when we got back into town, and had time even to do some shopping at port. Souvenir selection at port was a little less hand crafted and a little more on the commercial side, but prices were pretty good for sweatshirts and stuff like that. St. Johns Husband and I booked the ship’s 10 Highlights of St. John. We loved what we saw and did, we just felt a little rushed…maybe 8 highlights would be better. The second to the last stop is an Irish pub with a free beer and a great singer, so I don’t want to cut that out. Our excursion was billed to be a 6 hour excursion, and it was. All aboard was 5:00, and our bus pulled in the parking lot at 5:02. We didn’t have a chance to walk through the adjacent market. It was here that I almost got kicked off the boat: we had stopped to beach comb and go into the caves at low tide, and I picked up some rocks. I bring rocks or sand or shells or driftwood home from a vacation, buy a clear vase from dollar store and use it as a candle holder. Never had an issue. This time, after my bags were scanned to get back on the boat NCL security said I couldn’t bring back so many rocks. I asked how many could I bring back and he said 1 or 2. I said I need to sort through them then to pick out the one or two. I am trying to get the bag open and my husband asked what the hold up was. I explained my dilemma and pointed out the security guard wasn’t even looking. My husband grabbed the whole bag and we darted in to the atrium….contraband in hand. They never did say anything. And I got my bag of rocks safely home. Boston All three of us had been to Boston fairly recently, and the weather wasn’t perfect, so we just took it easy. I got an Uber to pick us up at the boat, and we went to Union Oyster House. Mom had a ½ dozen raw oysters and scrod for her entrée, DH and I shared ½ raw little-neck clams, some clam chowder and split an oyster roll. Service was wonderful, and we had a very good meal. We went to Faneuil Hall to do a little shopping, checked out the markets behind the hall, and got another Uber to go back to the boat. We got a few cocktails (had to pay tax as we were in port) and just waited for everyone else to get back on board. Newport Newport was a tender port, and we used the ship’s lifeboats as tenders. It was a little choppy and some people had some difficulties getting from the ship down onto the lifeboat. We went down the steps to get on one boat, only to be turned away because it was full, so went back up the steps to go down the other side to get on the other lifeboat. Only problem with that then is we were one of the first on, and we had to wait until the boat was full before we pulled away. Two great free or almost free things to do in Newport: close to where the tender let us off, you can catch a ferry that did a circle tour that took a few hours and let you see the mansions from the sea. And, the cliff walk, a free walk that you can do that lets you see the mansions from the sea side as you walk on a path between the mansions and the coast. We didn’t do either of those. We did a little shopping close to the harbor, and then set off to find a resale shop so I could get another bag to pack up all the sweatshirts, syrups and rocks I had a acquired. It was a sunny beautiful day, and after a walk through town, we headed back to the harbor to catch a tender back to the ship. Some people saw mansions, I saw the Salvation Army. Ships entertainment I know it sounds pretty lame, but we were kind of busy eating and drinking and didn’t take in as much of the entertainment as we planned on. The first night of the cruise, they just had a movie showing in the main theatre, so we skipped that. The second night, they had a short performance by the production cast, and a comedian, and we enjoyed that show. We caught the comedian again on a different night…he was still funny but maybe not quite as good as the first night. The magician was very good, we caught that show. I’ll check the dailies, but that might be it. We might have caught 3 out of 8 shows…that is not a very good record for us. There were live acts throughout the ship, some more to my taste than others, but all of them amplified up much higher than they need to be. The piano player was probably our favorite. The white hot night party was probably not very hot, I don't remember a lot of people in white or a lot of people talking about going. We didn't do too much more than play and loose at trivia with the cruise directors staff. Food/Service DH had one steak he wasn’t fond of…and I had one dessert that I thought was pretty bland. But other than that, we were impressed with the quality of the food overall. And we ate a lot of food. This is not our first rodeo, and if anything, the quality of the food on this ship was better than the quality on previous cruises. Service was very friendly, both dining and bar. Bartenders learned our names after the first few days, and greeted us by name, asked where my mom was if she wasn’t with us, and remembered our last drink or preference. Favorite bars: coming back on the boat after being ashore, the atrium bar is a great place to spend a bit of time. Before dinner, if you want to be able to enjoy conversation during cocktail hour, the quiet mojito bar by Moderno’s gives you knock out views of the sun set, comfy seating, and no live music to try to talk over. Late at night if you want to have a night cap, O’Sheeans is a friendly bar, and even if you say you aren’t hungry, they’ll sometimes put a basket of fries or potato chips in front of you just to taunt you. Benefits of Suite Life: Other than butler snacks … the biggest benefits to suite life on this cruise came from our concierge, who pointed out to my mother that she could always avail herself of wheelchair assistance on the boat or getting off at port. It was nice having someone whisk her down the corridors and off the boat when we were doing a tour so she didn’t use half her energy just getting to the tour bus. This is not just a priviledge of suites, but I don’t know that I would have known about it if we didn’t have a suite. Our concierge also arranged for expedited customs processing in Boston. Since Boston was our first US stop, we went through a pretty perfunctory customs check on the boat. Even if ou weren’t planning on getting off the boar, you still needed to show your passport or proof of citizenship to the US Customs agents that came on board. Our concierge sent a wheel chair up for mom, we had a special elevator ride to deck 6 to go into Le Bistro and get our stickers, and the whole process worked seamlessly. We never did room service (remember, no real table) and didn’t try to get priority seating at entertainment, so we didn’t use a lot of our perks. Room for improvement Mom can’t do the stairs down to the main dining room. On the Jewel and Dawn class ships, guests enter the main dining room on deck 7 and walk down the stairs to deck 6. There is only one of the three aft elevators that goes down to deck 6 . In the past, we have had to get her card “keyed” at customer service so she can put it in the card reader on any floor, and the elevator that comes for her is the one that goes to the 6th floor. I took her card to guest services and asked to have it coded so she could summon that elevator, and they told me it was already coded and we didn’t need to do that. We tried it and it didn’t work. I took the card back down to guest services, and tried again. This time they told me that she didn’t qualify to have her card coded that way. I asked how she was supposed to eat in the main dining room, and they said she didn’t need a special code on her card to make that work. I sighed, spoke a little bit slower and tried again. Our cabin is on the 9th floor. I need to get my mom to the 6th floor. If we just push the down button on an elevator, we get one that doesn’t go all the way down. We need to get out on deck seven, push the down elevator button, and wait for the one elevator that does go down. How can we avoid that? They said, and I quote, “You can’t have access to the Haven deck”. I sighed again. Louder. NCL does a good job of hiring multi-lingual staff for their customer service desk. I am sure that is of great comfort to all my fellow passengers who speak German or French or whatever language the staff across the counter from me speaks fluently, but it is a tad frustrating when they don’t speak English well enough to understand. So, my tone probably showing just a smidge of my frustration, I asked if I could speak to a manager. A manager is summoned from the back room, and I try my request on her. “Of course you can have it keyed for the aft elevators” she says, and gives me a key thusly coded. Another area for improvement. I have sailed on NCL in the Baltic and in the Adriatic, but mostly in the Caribbean. I understand economies of scale and everything, but I sometimes think that the fleet is too uniform across their offerings. Drink of the day: hey, a Bahama Mama is a great cocktail on a Caribbean cruise…but couldn’t the drink of the day in Canada be something a bit more … northern? What about cocktails with apple cider, or maple, or something more…I don’t know, Canadian? And drink of the day works great on 7 day cruises, but repeats on 10 day cruises. Can we really not come up with 10 different drinks? The bar and dining menus are completely tone deaf to where the ship is sailing. I would like to pitch either one item on the menu in all of the on specialty dining rooms be regional (New England Clam chowder for a soup in Boston? A burger with maple bacon for lunch?) or, if you wan’t to really blow people’s minds: take one of he specialty dining rooms (say La Cuccina) and flip it from Italian to Regional. Jerk Chicken on Caribbean cruises, lobster rolls on Canadian. It isn’t that hard to come up with a menu that has regional flair. It could still be specialty dining and an up-charge. I know we would patronize it. I think other people might too. Especially when you think about the potential: Alaskan Salmon on Alaskan cruises, Mediterranean fare in the Mediterranean. Disembarkation We only had two suitcases between the three of us, but we still put them on the hall so we would have hands free to help mom if needed. We were flying out of Newark, and our flight didn’t leave until 3:00, but the whole feel of the boat is Hurry Up and Get Off. Disembarkation went pretty smoothly, except we had arranged for a private car to take us to the airport. The streets outside the port were a hot mess of people waiting for cabs, drivers, etc. There were all sorts of drivers looking to add people to their cars, asking if people need rides, etc. Our driver had a hard time getting to us just because of the mass of people and because the intersection is so big, he didn’t know what side we would be on. We had arranged for our driver to pick us up at 9:30, and I think we were finally in his car by about 10:00 just because of the confusion. We more than made up for any time lost as that man drove like a crazy person to the airport. Of course, everyone else was crazy, too. I’ll never ever drive in that traffic. Ever. We were to the airport and checked in hours before our flight. We had talked about going out after we got rid of our luggage and doing something in the area … but we were pretty done vacationing by then, so we just had a long boring time in the airport.
  13. FitchburgWIFamily

    Looking for Baltic Capitals Feedback

    We did it a couple of years ago. We loved this cruise, loved all the ports. We did not go all the way into Berlin, be we loved our time on the German coast. We stayed in Copenhagen for a night after the cruise to do Tivoli Gardens and other Copenhagen sites. The next day were were able to take in Kronborg Castle made famous in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The castle if in Elsinore an easy train ride away, and there is a great maritime museum on the same grounds. Norway has a very good very low cost airline, so we also tagged on a quick flight to Oslo that evening. From Oslo the next morning we did the Norway in a Nutshell tour which was breath-takingly gorgeous. Its a Train to Boat to Bus to Train tour from Oslo that takes you over the mountains, through the Fjords and leaves you on the opposite coast in Bergen. Denmark and Norway had very easy to use trains from airports to downtown, and very helpful citizens if you stopped to ask a question. Even if we didn't' ask, if we stopped to look at a map, someone almost always stopped to volunteer with directions. Rick Steves has a great book on cruising the Baltic ports I strongly recommend. His walking tour of Estonia was spot-on, very easy to follow, and made for a very good day in a wonderful city. Even for ports where we didn't do his tour, he had a ton of information that was very useful. The Hop On Hop Off in Finland works great: ride it around once to figure out what you want to stop at and then start to get off your second time around. The Hop on Hop Off in Sweden doesn't work quite as well, there aren't as many free things to hop off at. Germany (the coastal cities in the former East Germany) and Russia were a little harder to get around as an only-English speaker, but all of Scandinavia and Estonia were extremely easy for English speakers. We did a mix of private and ships tours, and had good luck with all. We cruised in May....weather was almost too hot....but the weather is pretty unpredictable.
  14. FitchburgWIFamily

    Laundry on NCL Gem

    Yes. This is our fourth suite and our first vinyl bag. Not sure if it’s a new thing, a Gem thing, a suite thing, or what.
  15. FitchburgWIFamily

    Laundry on NCL Gem

    We are on Gem. Our paper laundry bag was actually a very sturdy vinyl bag. We boarded on Wednesday. Laundry special was offered on Saturday and delivered on Monday. You itemize for record keeping only (so you know you got it all back).
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