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Just off Epic - NCL losing its luster

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Just off of my favourite ship, the Epic (March 22-29) for the 5th time, and had a great time, but noticed so many changes that I was not surprised to come back and find out that they're trying out charging for room service.

 

We had the UBP/UDP from the promotion and had 5 women in a 2 BR Haven Suite. I was paying the shot as it was a "retreat" for me and my staff (we are all friends) and watched until the first week of March before actually booking the suite since there were lots of suites left and the prices were sky high for some reason.

 

We also had the KSF promo for 50% off the 3-5 passengers, which was charged at $500 / passenger. They clearly raised the price for passengers 3-5 by 50% prior to the promotion, as I'd looked at the prices before the new promos.

I agreed to the prices and paid them, so not complaining that they tricked me or anything of that sort, just noting that I'd never in all of my years on NCL seen that happen.

 

Everyone seemed to have the UDP and the specialties were "fully booked" outside of 5:30 or 6:00 PM or 9:00. We ended up booking all week's meals with David the Concierge on the first day since it looked like we'd be in big trouble otherwise. Unfortunately, some of us eat at 8:30 at home and some at 5:30, so us late eaters found ourselves at 6:00 dinners every night. We would sit through our sometimes 2 hour meals in half full restaurants. Every single night. One night we changed plans and wanted to move our 5:30 to 6:00 O'Clock due to a late excursion, and David "squeezed us in" and we sat in an empty restaurant once again. I don't understand this and I found it very frustrating.

 

We had incredible weather and spent every morning and several afternoons in Posh. It was very quiet in there and I know many people wanted Posh Passes and couldn't get them, but there was lots of space. I know the last week they either used the upsell fairy to fill those remaing suites as they were sold out, or people waited and booked, but my guess was many were low occupancy as it wasn't that busy. We loved the waiters and bartenders there, though there was no sign of the frozen grapes, fruit skewers or cold towels all week. Not sure if they've done away with them.

 

There was zero shade in Posh. Apparently they broke some umbrellas, and they've never been replaced. No umbrellas at all in the entire area, only place for shade through the hottest time of day was to sit at the bar.

 

The Haven itself had white bath towels on the loungers, and no big blue beach towels which I thought was rather odd. We opted for Posh most of the time as we enjoyed the views of the ocean and the breeze.

 

I've been booking through Casinos at Sea for years. I'm a low roller, but I play a LOT. My last cruise in the Epic Haven was the first week of January, so only two months ago. I called CAS and they would comp me an inside, but that meant no promos and with 5 people it didn't make any sense. They will no longer offer the 20% off of Haven Suites, which is what I'd done for years, so it made no sense for me to even book through them this time. I called a travel agent, booked and got extra OBC and got a good US exchange rate so saved by not taking the "free" cabin.

 

All year I've been building my points for my status with CAS. Earning period was April 1 2014 to March 31, 2015. I'm currently Golden and to remain Golden only needed another 2000 or so points, which I did earn this cruise. I went to the Casino Services desk to see if I'd hit the level and was told that yes, I had, but they were changing the system April 1st, so I needed to "re-earn" those points in the next year to reach status. You may already know this, but I was shocked! What is the point of having an earning period to then make theose points have zero value? The dealers were open about it too, saying they need to figure things out, since they've been losing a lot of good customers. They've been removing CAS perks throughout the year as well, so making their higher level players totally rethink NCL.

 

I cruise a lot. I play in the casino a lot. I haved loved NCL for a very long time, even got the pleather atlas (for reaching 250 latitudes points) to prove it and I'm beginning to look elsewhere. I still have another 4 cruises currently booked, but I'm feeling a little disheartened.

 

The dealers and supervisors on this ship are amazing and I had the time of my life making new friends as usual, the staff on the ship were great and friendly and I can't say enough about them. We still had an amazing time, but I feel the cutbacks are too much and too soon, and am going to start looking elsewhere.

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Thanks for a very nice well thought out review, glad you had a great time.

 

I will be looking elsewhere for a cruise line that does not scam it customers.

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Thanks for the honest review.

 

Like you I don't like the changes I am seeing in the CAS program or with NCL in general. Being Platinum will not keep me at NCL as I have more cruise days with other cruise lines. A great casino program and a well run cruise line would keep me coming back again and again. The dilution of both will have me making my choices as I have done in the past and that was based on itinerary. Frankly NCL does not have the variety to hold my interest to book a future cruise. I will not gamble more to keep a tier status that is a name only. There is no incentive for me to reach for that higher level. I love to play but will likely play less given all the changes.

 

Sorry to hear of your disappointment and thanks again for sharing.

 

 

Rochelle

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Thanks for the honest review.

 

Like you I don't like the changes I am seeing in the CAS program or with NCL in general. Being Platinum will not keep me at NCL as I have more cruise days with other cruise lines. A great casino program and a well run cruise line would keep me coming back again and again. The dilution of both will have me making my choices as I have done in the past and that was based on itinerary. Frankly NCL does not have the variety to hold my interest to book a future cruise. I will not gamble more to keep a tier status that is a name only. There is no incentive for me to reach for that higher level. I love to play but will likely play less given all the changes.

 

Sorry to hear of your disappointment and thanks again for sharing.

 

 

Rochelle

 

I'm with you Rochelle I am Platinum and Golden in the Casino.....After my day today with NCL and the casino downgrades and added Fees....I may save my money for my free comped Carnival suite! And I would never had said this a week ago! I have only sailed NCL. Cant wait to try something new I don't like being scammed!

 

Glad SuiteCruiser had a good time!

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I'm with you Rochelle I am Platinum and Golden in the Casino.....After my day today with NCL and the casino downgrades and added Fees....I may save my money for my free comped Carnival suite! And I would never had said this a week ago! I have only sailed NCL. Cant wait to try something new I don't like being scammed!

 

Glad SuiteCruiser had a good time!

 

Thanks Ladies. I honestly thought I'd never say it. I did have fun though, I just feel unappreciated, which is something I've never felt before with NCL.

 

The Casino Host had nothing to say, but you could tell she was having a hard time with the changes and her job will get harder and harder with the complaints she'll be getting.

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Just off of my favourite ship, the Epic (March 22-29) for the 5th time, and had a great time, but noticed so many changes that I was not surprised to come back and find out that they're trying out charging for room service.

 

We had the UBP/UDP from the promotion and had 5 women in a 2 BR Haven Suite. I was paying the shot as it was a "retreat" for me and my staff (we are all friends) and watched until the first week of March before actually booking the suite since there were lots of suites left and the prices were sky high for some reason.

 

We also had the KSF promo for 50% off the 3-5 passengers, which was charged at $500 / passenger. They clearly raised the price for passengers 3-5 by 50% prior to the promotion, as I'd looked at the prices before the new promos.

I agreed to the prices and paid them, so not complaining that they tricked me or anything of that sort, just noting that I'd never in all of my years on NCL seen that happen.

 

Everyone seemed to have the UDP and the specialties were "fully booked" outside of 5:30 or 6:00 PM or 9:00. We ended up booking all week's meals with David the Concierge on the first day since it looked like we'd be in big trouble otherwise. Unfortunately, some of us eat at 8:30 at home and some at 5:30, so us late eaters found ourselves at 6:00 dinners every night. We would sit through our sometimes 2 hour meals in half full restaurants. Every single night. One night we changed plans and wanted to move our 5:30 to 6:00 O'Clock due to a late excursion, and David "squeezed us in" and we sat in an empty restaurant once again. I don't understand this and I found it very frustrating.

 

We had incredible weather and spent every morning and several afternoons in Posh. It was very quiet in there and I know many people wanted Posh Passes and couldn't get them, but there was lots of space. I know the last week they either used the upsell fairy to fill those remaing suites as they were sold out, or people waited and booked, but my guess was many were low occupancy as it wasn't that busy. We loved the waiters and bartenders there, though there was no sign of the frozen grapes, fruit skewers or cold towels all week. Not sure if they've done away with them.

 

There was zero shade in Posh. Apparently they broke some umbrellas, and they've never been replaced. No umbrellas at all in the entire area, only place for shade through the hottest time of day was to sit at the bar.

 

The Haven itself had white bath towels on the loungers, and no big blue beach towels which I thought was rather odd. We opted for Posh most of the time as we enjoyed the views of the ocean and the breeze.

 

I've been booking through Casinos at Sea for years. I'm a low roller, but I play a LOT. My last cruise in the Epic Haven was the first week of January, so only two months ago. I called CAS and they would comp me an inside, but that meant no promos and with 5 people it didn't make any sense. They will no longer offer the 20% off of Haven Suites, which is what I'd done for years, so it made no sense for me to even book through them this time. I called a travel agent, booked and got extra OBC and got a good US exchange rate so saved by not taking the "free" cabin.

 

All year I've been building my points for my status with CAS. Earning period was April 1 2014 to March 31, 2015. I'm currently Golden and to remain Golden only needed another 2000 or so points, which I did earn this cruise. I went to the Casino Services desk to see if I'd hit the level and was told that yes, I had, but they were changing the system April 1st, so I needed to "re-earn" those points in the next year to reach status. You may already know this, but I was shocked! What is the point of having an earning period to then make theose points have zero value? The dealers were open about it too, saying they need to figure things out, since they've been losing a lot of good customers. They've been removing CAS perks throughout the year as well, so making their higher level players totally rethink NCL.

 

I cruise a lot. I play in the casino a lot. I haved loved NCL for a very long time, even got the pleather atlas (for reaching 250 latitudes points) to prove it and I'm beginning to look elsewhere. I still have another 4 cruises currently booked, but I'm feeling a little disheartened.

 

The dealers and supervisors on this ship are amazing and I had the time of my life making new friends as usual, the staff on the ship were great and friendly and I can't say enough about them. We still had an amazing time, but I feel the cutbacks are too much and too soon, and am going to start looking elsewhere.

 

I played a minimum of 4 hours a night in the casino on a 7 nighter and left with 300 points? How in the world do you earn 2000? Maybe I need to play slots haha.

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I played a minimum of 4 hours a night in the casino on a 7 nighter and left with 300 points? How in the world do you earn 2000? Maybe I need to play slots haha.

 

The slots is definitely the way to go in order to accumulate points, one point for every $5 played. Video poker is next with one point for every $10 played. Once you get on the tables you are clearing at the mercy of the pit boss as the points given are very much at their discretion. Maybe mix it up a little if you interested in gaining any points for moving up a tier level.

 

 

Rochelle

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Hi Sally. It does seem to me that since Frank Del Rio has been at the helm things are changing. On my recent cruise we had the same in Cagneys, said it was full but there was empty tables and yet service took 2hrs. It was like they had reduced numbers of staff to save a few $$.

 

I've got two Royal Caribbean cruises coming up and now Harmony of the Seas will have solo cabins with no supplement will likely book that next year.

 

I'm on Epic in Sept to take her up to dry dock but didn't think they'd stop replacing broken equipment / towels etc already! :confused:

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After reading your reviews and feedback I am concerned about my upcoming cruise. I have never sailed on NCL; so I don't know what to expect; I am going to have a good time; because I am traveling with family and friends. Since none of us have sailed with NCL we won't know what to expect. Those of you who sailed NCL many times can compare. I have been on RCI many times. I chose to sail NCL because of itinerary; ship background with all the good reviews; and time of year; May which is beautiful weather in the Med.

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After reading your reviews and feedback I am concerned about my upcoming cruise. I have never sailed on NCL; so I don't know what to expect; I am going to have a good time; because I am traveling with family and friends. Since none of us have sailed with NCL we won't know what to expect. Those of you who sailed NCL many times can compare. I have been on RCI many times. I chose to sail NCL because of itinerary; ship background with all the good reviews; and time of year; May which is beautiful weather in the Med.

 

And a marvelous cruise it will be!! :)

 

 

Rochelle

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I played a minimum of 4 hours a night in the casino on a 7 nighter and left with 300 points? How in the world do you earn 2000? Maybe I need to play slots haha.

 

I don't play slots at all, but play during the day when it's open and often all evening until 2:00 AM.

 

In January I was cruising alone, so played even more, logged 64 hours on a 7 day cruise with 3 port days. I never gamble at home, so I guess I make up for it!

 

I guess that's why these changes hit me hard as I spend so much time there and then am "rewarded" with going back to zero.

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After reading your reviews and feedback I am concerned about my upcoming cruise. I have never sailed on NCL; so I don't know what to expect; I am going to have a good time; because I am traveling with family and friends. Since none of us have sailed with NCL we won't know what to expect. Those of you who sailed NCL many times can compare. I have been on RCI many times. I chose to sail NCL because of itinerary; ship background with all the good reviews; and time of year; May which is beautiful weather in the Med.

 

Yes, you will have a great time! I had a great time even with all of the changes.

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Hi Sally. It does seem to me that since Frank Del Rio has been at the helm things are changing. On my recent cruise we had the same in Cagneys, said it was full but there was empty tables and yet service took 2hrs. It was like they had reduced numbers of staff to save a few $$.

 

I've got two Royal Caribbean cruises coming up and now Harmony of the Seas will have solo cabins with no supplement will likely book that next year.

 

I'm on Epic in Sept to take her up to dry dock but didn't think they'd stop replacing broken equipment / towels etc already! :confused:

 

I agree Craig. I'll need to start taking a good hard look at other lines. Nice to know that Royal is adding solo cabins as I really enjoyed that whole experience. Maybe next time we cruise together it will be with them!

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We were on the same sailing. We were the second people in line at Guest Services to get Posh passes and they told us the Haven was completely sold out and extremely crowded this sailing so they were not selling any passes. There were a lot of very upset people in line as most of us had gotten to the port by 8 or 9am to be the first in line. Maybe they need to realize that not everyone will be using Posh at the same time other than the sail away party.

 

We did find the quiet deck that had the same loungers as Posh but it was so far forward on the ship we felt like we were missing out on all the action.

 

The only specialty restaurant we booked was Cagneys and I can say we'll never do that again. Dinner took 2 hours and we didn't even stay for dessert. A lot of people were complaining.

 

This was our 2nd time on Epic and this time there was a noticeable decline in service. Bar servers seemed very rushed and rarely had time to chat with guests.

 

We still had a great trip but it was clear some things had changed since the last time we sailed on that ship.

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And a marvelous cruise it will be!! :)

 

 

Rochelle

 

I see you are on same b2b. When do u arrive VCE? We get in 8 may. Coming from JFK

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Suite Cruiser, I know how you feel. While we are not particularly loyal to any one cruise line, I have to admit the suite life on NCL has been hard to beat. However, we are also CAS players and book thru them, and were disappointed to learn that there is no longer a 20% discount for suites. DH had made it to VIP level only to lose it on our next cruise, then get it back on the last day of the cruise and then lose it again for the next cruise. All in the same year. I dropped from Golden to nothing. I'm still shaking my head trying to figure that out. Fortunately DH is still Golden, I think?!? We have a cruise booked with them this November so I guess we will find out then.

 

We have sailed on Celebrity two times previously and they are making more positive changes to their programs to attract more suite passengers and gamblers. We will be sailing on the Constellation this Saturday in a Royal Suite. Their Casino program gave us 20% off the room, plus an additional hefty cash back from the casino from our cruise with them in 2/14 that we applied to the cost of the room. As a result, we paid very little for the suite. Way less than on NCL. In addition we have similar perks as a non-Haven NCL suite, plus we get a complimentary mini bar to include beer, replenisheld daily, and two bottles of alcohol, along with a premium beverage package, prepaid gratuities that also include the butler, upgrade dining package, and $200 of OBC. Plus once this cruise is over, we can apply any money we receive as cash back from the casino onto the cost of the 15 day panama canal cruise we have booked for December 2016. Overall a good bargain I think.

 

While I am unhappy with the changes that NCL has recently made, it doesn't mean that I will stop cruising with them entirely, but it will cause me to pause and look more closely at what other lines are offering. As the saying goes, there's more than one fish in the ocean, And unfortunately for NCL it's swimming in the wrong direction!

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Suite Cruiser, I know how you feel. While we are not particularly loyal to any one cruise line, I have to admit the suite life on NCL has been hard to beat. However, we are also CAS players and book thru them, and were disappointed to learn that there is no longer a 20% discount for suites. DH had made it to VIP level only to lose it on our next cruise, then get it back on the last day of the cruise and then lose it again for the next cruise. All in the same year. I dropped from Golden to nothing. I'm still shaking my head trying to figure that out. Fortunately DH is still Golden, I think?!? We have a cruise booked with them this November so I guess we will find out then.

 

We have sailed on Celebrity two times previously and they are making more positive changes to their programs to attract more suite passengers and gamblers. We will be sailing on the Constellation this Saturday in a Royal Suite. Their Casino program gave us 20% off the room, plus an additional hefty cash back from the casino from our cruise with them in 2/14 that we applied to the cost of the room. As a result, we paid very little for the suite. Way less than on NCL. In addition we have similar perks as a non-Haven NCL suite, plus we get a complimentary mini bar to include beer, replenisheld daily, and two bottles of alcohol, along with a premium beverage package, prepaid gratuities that also include the butler, upgrade dining package, and $200 of OBC. Plus once this cruise is over, we can apply any money we receive as cash back from the casino onto the cost of the 15 day panama canal cruise we have booked for December 2016. Overall a good bargain I think.

 

While I am unhappy with the changes that NCL has recently made, it doesn't mean that I will stop cruising with them entirely, but it will cause me to pause and look more closely at what other lines are offering. As the saying goes, there's more than one fish in the ocean, And unfortunately for NCL it's swimming in the wrong direction!

 

This definitely sounds good :) I've been hearing good things about Celebrity's Casino program, so it may be time to give it a go.

 

It's all quite depressing, I've been a fan of NCL for a long time now, and am sad that all of this is happening.

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We were on the same sailing. We were the second people in line at Guest Services to get Posh passes and they told us the Haven was completely sold out and extremely crowded this sailing so they were not selling any passes. There were a lot of very upset people in line as most of us had gotten to the port by 8 or 9am to be the first in line. Maybe they need to realize that not everyone will be using Posh at the same time other than the sail away party.

 

We did find the quiet deck that had the same loungers as Posh but it was so far forward on the ship we felt like we were missing out on all the action.

 

The only specialty restaurant we booked was Cagneys and I can say we'll never do that again. Dinner took 2 hours and we didn't even stay for dessert. A lot of people were complaining.

 

This was our 2nd time on Epic and this time there was a noticeable decline in service. Bar servers seemed very rushed and rarely had time to chat with guests.

 

We still had a great trip but it was clear some things had changed since the last time we sailed on that ship.

 

I know! I had heard from Mindi who was behind you in line what had happened. As you said, Sailaway was full, but the rest of the week was not.

 

Cagney's was very slow for us as well :(

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I feel the same way. We have been loyal to NCL for years. I am in a comped cabin on 4/12 and have 2 more scheduled. I was golden but now will be hot. If I do not get a drink card I will be very disappointed.

 

I play a lot of hours in the casino, video poker and slots. Did the casino still comp you a dinner? I hope it is not true that there is only one platinum dinner per cabin.

 

Somehow it is the little things that always made me feel special, even down to the box of candy which is getting smaller and smaller.

 

I will also be exploring other lines if this downgrade continues.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I was wondering about getting dinner reservations myself with this current promo so you confirmed what I was worried about. Thanks!

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I feel the same way. We have been loyal to NCL for years. I am in a comped cabin on 4/12 and have 2 more scheduled. I was golden but now will be hot. If I do not get a drink card I will be very disappointed.

 

I play a lot of hours in the casino, video poker and slots. Did the casino still comp you a dinner? I hope it is not true that there is only one platinum dinner per cabin.

 

Somehow it is the little things that always made me feel special, even down to the box of candy which is getting smaller and smaller.

 

I will also be exploring other lines if this downgrade continues.

 

You should still get the drink card, but it sucks to be demoted to zero points and Hot from Golden :(

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I was wondering about getting dinner reservations myself with this current promo so you confirmed what I was worried about. Thanks!

 

James, I hope it's not that way on every sailing. I have 5 more booked cruises with NCL. Some of them may go bye bye if it continues.

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I am sorry to hear others are already seeing shortcomings on the NCL Epic. DW and I are booked for May 6, 2015 out of Rome on the 7-day western Med. One feature we were looking forward to was the Blue Man Group show. We were puzzled in that we couldn't book seats online when specialty dining and the Legends show were available. BMG has been hyped since well before our booking in May 2014 and was still appearing in promos at NCL.com TODAY, though we learned last week that the contract with BMG expired in March 29, 2015. The contract expired and the web site still advertises the show is on Epic.

 

This sounds like a BAIT AND SWITCH that the United States Federal Trade Commission should be investigating.

 

BTW the NCL land side concierge desk is a joke. Everything we asked brought the response "You'll have to talk to the concierge on-board the ship about that".

 

DW and I will earn Platinum at the end of this Western Med cruise, but I doubt we will ever cruise with NCL again. Such a shame as we thoroughly enjoyed our owners suites on the Pride of America and the NCL Star Panama canal cruise, but the disappointments and "bait and switch" (or call it less than truthful advertising) is leaving a bad taste in our mouths and we haven't even packed for the Med cruise. 2016 will likely find us returning to Alaska for a Princess cruisetour starting in Fairbanks and disembarking in Vancouver.

 

Finally, I had to come back and edit my post to include the final nail in NCL's coffin for me. Fees, fees and MORE FEES.

http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6277

 

Bye Bye NCL, it was nice while it lasted.

Edited by NLVCruiser702

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Out of curiousity, how much would need to be spent on the slots to be comped a free room? Is the free room an interior for 2 or a higher category room? Thanks for your help.

Rhonda

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We have just booked on the Epic so I am sorry to hear that they are having issues. I figured with the promotions that they dining would be full. We are planning on setting reservations right at the 90 day mark for all the days we are at sea. We are taking the 20 day western med and canary islands.

 

thanks for posting

Edited by peanutscruiser

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