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Everything posted by FitchburgWIFamily

  1. There is a mandatory muster drill that happens between latest embarkation and sail away. All dining and bar service will be shut down for this and many of the dining venues will be used as muster stations. The only time we had a late sail away we had a light supper when we boarded in the late afternoon and hit the buffet later that night for a snack.
  2. The assumption that only those with FCCs are booking is a false assumption. i don't have FCC and I have one cruise booked and am shopping for another. I love to cruise, and I cannot wait to get back on a boat. Not all NCL prices are through the roof.. My niece and I were looking at a 9 day cruise: Spain Italy Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia. All 5 free at sea. Flights for 2 people: $4.000 per couple. If it weren't for my fear that we would be required to take ship's excursions, I would have booked it in a second. I love NCL ships, but like to do my own excursions. I think NCLs prices always fluctuate by demand. The 02/2022 cruise I booked more than a year ago is almost 3 times more expensive now. I booked it 12/2019 when I was reading the tealeaves about my 02/2021 cruise. I think one thing that is different now is a lot of people (not just FCCers) are looking further out to book their cruise. People that would normally be booking for 6 months in the future are all looking at 12 or 18 months out. So the demand on later dates is higher than it would be in normal years. Anybody who sells anything takes a risk with pricing it: you want to price it as high as you can and still sell it. Price it too high, no one buys. Price it too low, and you have an opportunity cost of profit you couldn't have made. There is nothing unethical about that, it is how markets work.
  3. Here is a picture of the second bedroom. Hope this helps.
  4. We booked the 2/7/21 Western Caribbean on the Breakaway back in June. We picked this cruise for a couple of reasons: - we have done these ports multiple times so if we didn't feel good about getting off the boat, we wouldn't felt like we missed anything - we love NOLA, and were looking forward to taking in a few Mardi Gras parades on the weekend before Mardi Gras weekend - we can drive to this port (she says in a midwestern accent) - we figured by 2/21, things would be a lot more settled down around COVID Looking forward to that cruise was a bright spot in the middle of a pretty dark summer. Flash forward 3 months or so from when I booked that cruise...and I am a lot less optimistic about cruising in early 2021. So, I booked the same cruise for 2/20/2022. It is the weekend before Mardi Gras weekend again. The deposit is only $250, and the fare is pretty good. They have the same promotions (even for the inside rooms). My original 2021 cruise has gone up since I originally booked it...but right now, it is not as high as it has been. I check the rates pretty frequently in case I want to upgrade or rebook. Now I'll keep an eye on both cruises. I am sort of hoping since I have planned ahead and I have a back up plan, the 2/2021 cruise will go off without a hitch. Has anyone else hedged their bet?
  5. What would it take? I want to be able to cruise again, and would be willing to sail in months 3 or 4 of the first 4 months: I would not want to book in month 1 or 2 since I think there may be a bit of learning to do. I'd be looking for an attractive price (because it needs to compete against land based vacations which will also be starting up at the same time), and maybe a slightly risk adverse itinerary. By that I mean I'd be looking for a cruise with stops on private islands as opposed to stops in big cities. Or stops in places I was convinced had done a better job of containing the virus: a US Canadian cruise might appeal more to me than a Mexican Riviera or South American cruise. I am hoping late this fall I'll be back on a boat.
  6. Hey, OP...I am glad you are home safe. I think about the passengers on ships that didn't cancel. There is a Celebrity Eclipse that was supposed to disembark in Santiago that wasn't allowed to on the 15th march and might still be at sea. I know the ship seems like it would have been the safest place to be, but just because you didn't see any passengers coughing doesn't mean there weren't asymptomatic people spreading the virus on board. There is a Holland America ship that has a few deaths reported and a number of sick people that is also, I believe, still at sea. I am sorry the act of cancelling the cruise was so stressful: both to you and to your pocket book. I can't imagine how much it costs to get last minute international flights and how frantic it felt to wonder how you were going to make an unplanned trip home. When unexpected things happen in traveling, there are a lot of logistics to worry about. After ships have been redirected for hurricanes, people have cars in ports they can't get back to and no cars in ports they are taken to. I am 100% with you that NCL could do a better job with some small things that would have made this a better experience. They probably couldn't have left you on the ship too much longer because even though there wasn't a next cruise, they did still need to leave the port on a schedule. The port workers etc. are there for luggage and loading only at certain times. They could at least have staggered the departures as much as possible so the latest flights were the last to leave. They could have possibly contracted with some port staff to make the room where passengers wait to board available to disembarking passengers to wait for shuttles. The definitely could have provided the shuttles for free to any of the back to back cruisers. I don't know if I agree they should be responding with personalized correspondence. If that were a requirement with the volume of correspondence, it would be years before you heard anything. I don't know if I agree, as hard as a pill this is to swallow, that they should compensate you for your airfare home. If the cruise had ended mid cruise, I would think differently, but this cruise was cancelled, and not for a reason that was within NCL's control. When there is a weather related cancellation, I don't think they compensate everyone for their travel to or from the port. I am not trying to be a NCL cheer leader, and I really do have empathy for you. Buying two last minute international flights would put a severe dent in my pocket book, and I would have to dip into savings to make that work. I just hope that you can take a little time to reflect on all the things that are good about what happened: You are home, safe, not trapped on a ship at sea with no idea of where or when it will land; the ship had no known cases of covid19 when it landed, and no one on board died from covid19; and you were able to find flights home and are not stranded in a foreign country.
  7. There is a lot of arm chair business running going on in this thread. Everyone is assuming it is as simple as clicking a button or two for NCL, not thinking at all that there might be other factors in place. I work for a company that cannot simply "cut a check" when someone wants a refund. We are highly regulated and we need to make sure the accounting is done correctly. The money that we "refund" does not come out of the same account as the money you paid in. We have to do a number of offset transactions to move the money to the proper payable account in order to be able to issue a refund. And some of those transaction require individual approval from executives. We also have some events that qualify for insurance, and need to send paperwork through them for approval before the process of issuing a refund, because the accounting is all different if it is covered by insurance. This takes a few weeks in normal times (we tell people 14-21 just to be safe). In these times when so much is changing and so much is unknown, we are telling people to not expect things until after 28 days. And we are not in the hospitality or travel industry that just had everything upended. I hope OP gets their money back in a timely fashion. I think if they had been on cruise critic for more than 4 posts, they might have slightly more realistic expectations than instant cash and a service rep in less than 25 minutes.
  8. One of my favorite meals on board is my first lunch. Getting on board is always a bit stressful...parking, security checks, boarding groups, etc. But when I sit down at that linen covered table, unfold the fancy napkin onto my lap, and order my first beverage while I try to pick out the perfect appetizer and dessert to go with my entree...my vacation has started. For 7 or 10 days: I don't have to make anyone's meal, do anyone's dishes, or keep track of anything more important than whether it is the bushwacker or the mudslide I like better. The pace of the sit-down lunch is calm and a little slow. The buffet tends to me more stressful...like a continuation of the boarding process only with food. And, I love how the ship makes you feel like a three course meal is normal for you to consume 2-3 times a day. I feel a little bit like a kid playing dress up: pretending I set a table for lunch and plan menus and make it fancy instead of the reality: I eat yesterday's PBJ my kid brought home in their lunch bag at my desk with a can of soda which is warm because I forgot to refreeze my ice pack. That boarding day lunch is a hiatus between the chaos of boarding and the chaos of muster drill.
  9. I am hooked. I travel with my mom, she cruised with us last November at age 90. Can’t wait to read about your experiences!
  10. Dining: If you are a party of 2, unless you request otherwise, you will be seated as a party of 2. You will not be put at a big table and joined by others. Internet: We have only ever used the standard, and its performance varies a lot based on volume of concurrent users. Afternoons when everyone is getting back from shore excursions and posting pictures and what-not it crawls...to the point of not being usable. 2:00am when everyone is asleep, its not too bad.
  11. I can't add too much of value other than to say: when where and for how long you sail can have more impact on your experience than the line itself. A Caribbean cruise out of Florida on any big ship is going to be pretty similar from one line to another. But comparing a Caribbean cruise out of Florida on a big ship to a Quebec cruise on a smaller ship on the same line is going to be two very different experiences in terms of: demographics, activities and "vibe." I have sailed on the Gem out of Quebec on a 10-day cruise. The whole trip was a bit more "sedate" than 7 day cruises in the sun. Fewer families, passengers a bit older on the whole, less DJ-mixed dance music going thump thump thump during on deck parties, etc. If you wanted to itemize what specifically you did not like about RCI and Carnival, I can tell you if I experienced any of that on my sailing on the Gem.
  12. I am soooo confused. Can any of my cruise critics friends tell me what it is she wanted NCL to do differently? Not charge her for medical care? Is that the issue? Is she blaming the ship for the infection? Does she think they did something that made it go septic? She is complaining that the treatment on the ship was inadequate but she is complaining that they wanted her to seek medical care off the boat? She says she went to the embassy? There isn't even a consular office on Cozumel? Where did they go? She says the embassy advised her not to seek treatment in Mexico....because the embassy gives out medical advice now? She says she didn't want to be left in Mexico while she got medical attention? Really? So the ship was supposed to wait there for a day or two or four while they got the medical help they needed? "They did what I asked them to do." And that is bad? "They made us sign something saying we refused care in Mexico" <-- in which she acknowledged that the ship did not feel that it was correctly equipped to take care of the child. She said they only gave her two options: get off the boat and get care or stay on the boat and take the care they provided. What other option did she want to have? Was NCL supposed to fly other doctors and nurses onto the ship to provide different care? What specifically did NCL do that was wrong?
  13. You don't need to allow charging on a given card. I have sailed with my kids, their friends, my niece, her friends, etc. I never allowed charging privileges on their cards. There is not that much that costs money that it is necessary...and if they do want to do something that costs money, it is kind of nice to make them come back and find me and use my card. At least that way I know what they are spending money on...and I know where they are. Go carts require reservations, so it was easy for me to use my card. Video games are not something that they should be spending money on when on a cruise (so many better things to do with their time). Soda at cruise ship prices is not something I want to encourage my kids to buy. If I did have a big soda drinker, I would rather get them a soda package than pay a la carte. I have done this for kids from age 11 to 21. They kind of like it because it prevents them from accidentally "buying" something they thought was included.
  14. You'll get a variety of answers to the price reduction question. I can only share my own experience. Before final payment (90 days out) I have been able to call and "rebook" my cruise at the lower rate. When I do this, I have to watch what was included as options on my previous booking to what is available now, as I will be booking with today's option. So if I originally booked when they were doing "All 5 Free at Sea" and a $200.00 on board credit (OBC), but today they are doing "Pick 2 Free" and a $75.00 OBC, when I rebook I will only get 2 freebies and $75.00 OBC. Maybe the room price dropped enough to cover that, maybe it didn't. It is up to me to watch for that and to make that call. I have been able to rebook my cruise any number of times (I think I did it 5 times for my last cruise). After final payment, if prices drop dramatically, you can call and ask if they will do anything for you. They can offer you a percentage of the difference in OBC. Usually they will only do this one time. So, you booked at $3000, and after final payment it drops to $2500. If you call, you might get $250.00 in OBC. But if the price drops the next day to $2000.00, you can't get more OBC. I have never opted for the OBC. I have however, upgraded my room to a better room after final payment when the prices dropped dramatically. I was booked in a mini-suite (which is not a suite as much as a slightly bigger balcony). Prices dropped after final payment to the point at which I could upgrade to an aft-facing suite for only a couple of hundred additional dollars. I jumped on it. I love the suite breakfast/lunch and boarding process, it was worth the couple of 100 dollars even before you got to the bigger room with the aft-facing balcony. Hope this helps,
  15. I think one thing that causes some confusion is the use of the word "pool deck". On the Dawn Class ships, there is a pool deck, a deck above that overlooks the pool deck, and a bunch of loungers on different levels (risers) that go up on one side of the pool deck. So when people talk about the "pool deck" on a Dawn class ship, they are probably thinking "chairs that you can see the pool from". On the newer ships, there are not as many seats that you can see a pool from. But there are more areas with loungers on decks above the pool deck (no view of the pool, but plenty of sun). We have been able to find loungers stacked up unused in the afternoon of a sunny day and been able to find a place to set them out to soak up some rays, but we have been a few decks above the pool and maybe off to one side of the boat or the other. Maybe that confusion is why one person can say they never got a seat on the same sailing as another person said they had no problem finding a seat. One person was looking for a seat with view of the pool and the other was not.
  16. Instead of bidding and risking it, I would watch for a price drop even after final payment. If the price of the balconies goes down to what you paid for the inside (or even gets close) you can call and ask for an upgrade and then you can pick your balcony. Make sure you cross check the deck plans when you call: I have sometimes had NCL reps that didn't know which cabins were under the pool deck and which ones weren't. Good luck!
  17. I didn't think Arzeena's post was out of line at all. I agree with what she said. What started out as an expressed concern for a disabled person travelling on a ship soon devolved into a bunch of personal commentary about the DIL's father. So they eat with their hands? Many people do. It isn't done to offend anyone and it is not "bad manners" it is culturally appropriate for them. His habit of spitting into a kitchen sink is not likely to impact the OP on the cruise, so really wasn't relevant to this discussion. At the end of the day, what the OP has proven is that she doesn't like the man and she doesn't want to cruise with him. The OP can only control so much. Arzeena was recommending the OP step back and stop letting so much of this drama impact her and her husband's cruise. There is an expression: you can't change anyone else's actions, you can only change your own reaction. The OP cannot make her son, her DIL, or her DIL's father do anything different than what they are currently doing, she can only change how she reacts to it. As I see it, the OP has some choices: 1. The cruise is in May: hopefully more than 90 days out. Cancel and book another cruise. 2. Go on the cruise and make the best of it. But making the best of it means not trying to split the son away from his wife. 3. Continue to try to come up with reasons why the in-laws shouldn't go along. We've cycled through because he is disabled, because he might have another stroke, because he has bad manners and because he is unpleasant. We can probably find a few more. However, the problem with option 3 is that it could drive a wedge between the OP and her son, as it is making her son choose between his mother and his wife. I think Arzeena was just pointing out that the OP was making it more difficult for her son. Petoonya: I don't know if too much conversation has already happened, but instead of talking about all the reasons why the man should not go, it might be more helpful to your son and your DIL if you share with them what they should do so the man can go. Recommend they reserve a scooter for use on board, or at the very least a wheel chair (NCL can tell them whom to book through). If the DIL's father can't do steps, they should contact NCL and ask to get a handicapped room (remember, bathroom is step up with no grab bar to assist in a non-handicapped room). Does he need a 17 inch toilet with grab bars (only in a handicapped room)? Does their stateroom have a shower stall or a tub? Some ships, some room classes only have a tub with a shower in it. It doesn't sound as though your DIL's father is up to stepping in and out of a tub. Is their room large enough to store a mobility device (like a scooter or a wheel chair)? Most rooms are not. And the stateroom doors are not wide enough for most wheel chairs. Maybe, just maybe, you'll be lucky and they won't be able to get a handicapped room for the FIL and the problem will resolve itself. If it doesn't, as Arzeena recommended: let it go.
  18. Lots of good advice already. In addition to the dollar store storage cubes (I love the dollar store), I also bring a shoe cubby that attaches to the closet rod. It only takes up about 8 inches of closet space, but gives me a place to store shoes, clutches, scarves, caps, etc. Make sure you bring a carry on you can carry on (and off). You leave your luggage out the night before you get off and you need a way to carry off your last change of clothes and your night ware. Yes, you can use a plastic bag, but better to have a tote that is light and easy to carry. Only eat in the buffet if you love the buffet: there are a lot of other free food venues that offer very different dining experiences. You can get free continental breakfast brought to your room (you select what you want and hang a tag on your door the night before). We call it first breakfast, but it is sometimes nice to have coffee and juice before getting all dressed up and ready for the day. As to excursions: you need to do what you feel comfortable doing. Some people are go it alone types, some are not. I was on a Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Joy over Thanksgiving and here is what we did at each port. Cabo: there is a whole gauntlet of vendors hawking all sorts of excursions as you leave the tender docks. They will deal with you a little bit on price. There is zip line, 4 wheel tours, parasailing, etc. We had my girls (both age 17) talk to a few to get the best deal. We got a water taxi to take us over to the beach area (which we also could have long walked to) and sent our girls off parasailing. We sat on the beach at a restaurant while we waited. The water taxi came back for us at the appointed time and took us back to the tender dock area. Water taxi round trip (5pp, 20.00 total), parasailing (40.00 for 2), restaurant bill (2 margaritas, 2 shots, 2 sodas, chips and guac, chips and salsa 60.00) 120.00 for the day for 4. Overall impression: The weather wasn't perfect, and if you don't like vendors, this is not the port for you as they are pretty much everywhere. I didn't mind and they were very polite about accepting a no and going off somewhere else to sell their wares: hats/jewelry/tshirts/carvings/cover-ups/etc. Mazatlan: again, there are a whole gauntlet of taxi and tour vendors in and outside of the port-side market place. Right when you get off the ship, grab a map of the town. They had them by the ship but not in the little port-side mall. We planned on walking to the city center, but a pulmonia driver offered to give us a city tour for only 20.00. He stopped at the central square to give us time to take pictures of the cathedral, took us on a quick tour of the sights with stops for pictures, and the dropped us off at the beach at a restaurant he recommended. It was excellent. We were the only obvious tourists in the place, but everyone was very welcoming and helpful. They cooked fish to order (fresh caught fish cooked whole) and made great shrimp cocktail. Our girls played on the beach for a bit while we sat in the restaurant and watched. Our driver came back at the agreed on time and took us back to the port. Pulmonia and tour (20.00) restaurant bill (2 beer, 1 margarita, 2 sodas, shrimp cocktail for 4, coconut water, chips and salsa 22.00). Total for the day for 4: $42.00 (52.00 with tips). Overall impression: so glad we hired the driver and so glad we went where he recommended. Wish we would have gotten the fish. Puerto Vallarta: this of all the ports had the least pushy vendors when we got off the ship. We walked from the port out to where the taxis were picking people up by the street, and talked to someone about hiring someone for the day. They picked out who would take us, and we had a driver give us a tour of the city, stopping for pictures at some of the major sites, going up and seeing Elizabeth Taylor's house, driving a little ways out of town to see some more sites. He brought us back into town and dropped us off at a great restaurant (Oscar's) where we had a leisurely meal. He waited outside the restaurant while we ate and drove us back to the port afterwards. Driver/tour for 3: $100.00. Restaurant bill: 3 margaritas, 3 appetizers, 2 desserts 90.00. Total cost for day 210.00 with tip. Overall impression: Puerto is a beautiful city with very very steep roads and lots to see. Glad we had a private driver to get us up close and personal, and even more glad we were not trying to drive ourselves on those very steep roads. Since we were always a group of 3 or 4, NCL excursions (even with the credit per stateroom per port) just weren't affordable for us. Doing it on our own was much more affordable and it all three ports, it was really easy to arrange something on the fly. Hope you and your daughter have a great time!
  19. I know I have seen early morning coffee/tea set ups on the waterfront on both sides of the ship on the Escape. I don't know if they have them on the Joy or not (our cruise was a noro cruise so we didn't have self-service anything), but you can check on your sailing to see if they have them. They had hot water, coffee, cups, sweeteners, creamers, etc. all set up for you to help your self to. But getting a pot from room service is free, and you have them bring you a basket of pastries too and get chocolate croissants (a great way to start any day). Good luck and enjoy your cruise!
  20. For our last cruise, we bought a new combination walker and transport chair for my mother. She used it as a walker for short distances, but we used it as a wheel chair when we needed to get from one side of the ship to the other. She also used it to sit in for dining so she didn't have to get in an out of chairs. Airlines always ask if she needs assistance getting to her seat in the plane (she does not) but I am sure they would provide it to her if she did. My mom does not do tenders: she stays on board for tender ports. But I think they could help her if she was brave enough to go. Make sure you get a handicapped room: most staterooms that are not handicapped have a step up to get into the bathroom. If you don't have a handicapped room, you will probably not be able to fit any sort of scooter in it. We had a concierge inside suite (step up to bathroom) on the Joy which did have room for mom's walker/chair. Good luck and happy travels!
  21. I book directly through NCL, and have often called to take advantage of a lower fare before final payment. On my last cruise, I did it four times before final payment. One time, the rep I got tried to tell me I couldn't do it and all they could give me was an onboard credit, and I said...OK, more work for you, but here is what you are going to do: you are going to cancel me and then re book me. He must have realized that would be a lot of work (we were a party of 5 in a concierge suite). He put me on hold, spoke to someone else and then came back to me and gave me the price adjustment without the process of officially cancelling and rebooking. OP: Maybe your TA ended up talking to the same wrong/lazy rep.
  22. I am not sure I understand the concern over the twin sofa bed. Its a twin size mattress. On a frame. That's what a bed is. A real bed. A mattress. On a frame. It may be more firm than some people like, but that is how ALL mattresses work. Some are too firm. Some are too soft. There is no one mattress that will be universally deemed as comfortable. Fold out beds, on the other hand, unless topped with a good air mattress are almost universally deemed as uncomfortable. In order to have a mattress thin enough to fold you sacrifice comfort. In order to make the bed fold, you end up with hard metal bars that go right across where you want sleep.
  23. I agree with a lot of what has been said here. I only post because I think there is a little more certainty among others that the grandfather is "lying" and "changing his story" for reasons of greed. If you know anyone who has been through a really tragic event (and we can all agree this qualifies) ask them what they remember and how those memories are processed. There experience may be similar to mine. I was in a terrible car accident once. I was questioned by the police. Some of the questions they asked were about braking before the accident, were the brakes applied, did the brakes sequel, stuff like that. I answered that I was sure the brakes were applied but they did not sequel...because I had no memory of that sound at that time. About 3 months later, I was sitting in a restaurant, and a car outside jammed on its brakes, and as soon as I hear that squeal I had a flash back to my own accident and I all of a sudden could vividly recall the sound of the brakes squealing and even the smell of them. In the years following that accident, more and more little memories surfaced. Memories of things that if you asked me if they had occurred at the time I would have denied. So, anecdotally, I can see how someone's story would change and how someone would be open to the power of suggestion after a traumatic and tragic event. I believe he may not remember what really happened and his brain is protecting him right now. In the interim, he may be making himself believe a story that allows him to continue to function.
  24. Have only cruised Royal once, and that was on a small ship, but here are my observations: Royal gives bottled water with beverage package, NCL does not. NCL does a better job with food options off hours. There is a 24 hour restaraunt (O'Sheheans on the last time we sailed the Gem) that has a menu and waiters and is a great place to get a meal or a snack anytime. Royal made me sign slips for drinks even though I had the beverage package, NCL does not. Royal has better soda (coke!) than NCL (Pepsi) Royal sometimes gives you cans of soda you can take back to your room (NCL does not). NCL does a better job welcoming you back to port: cool wash clothes and cold drinks dockside, and sometimes if lines are long for tenders, Popsicles to help you cool down. Royal does a better job of disembarkation. NCL messes it up somehow every time with a long line snaking through the ship. Royal sets up a buffet for fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc. during breakfast in the MDR, NCL does not (except for the suite breakfast). Here are some Gem specific tips: Observation room to see the bridge is really cool. The spinnaker lounge is wonderful...too bad they use it for so many loud things like bingo. On a cruise with good weather, the Great Outdoors is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal or just sit and watch the ocean go by. Ask for a basket of pastries with breakfast: NCL does great chocolate croissants and other danish type pastries. Both MDRs have the same menu each night, but they have two very different vibes. Make sure you check out both to see which you like better. There is a quiet bar right outside Moderno's on the upper deck that is a great place for a before dinner cocktail.
  25. Not sure about the reservation for 4 vs. 2, but I will tell you we were on the Joy over Thanksgiving (very full ship) and had no problems being seated in Cagneys and Ocean Blue without a reservation. Just show up when you are hungry: they have so many no shows they can usually fit you right in.
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