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sarajean

Help me understand

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Whenever I book a cruise I go on cruise critic and read reviews and posts, especially the cruise line I am going on.

My next cruise is with NCL.   To my dismay the NCL post are so negative.  People feel they nickel and dime,  change things constantly  and have raised the price of the cruise considerably.  

 

So I started reading some of the other cruise lines post.   People seem to not be so negative about the other cruise lines.  They seem to ask questions more for information than knocking the cruise line they are sailing on.

 

My first question is why do you still book NCL cruises if you are so unhappy?

Are they really that terribly about their charges?

Hasn’t cruising just changed in general?   Haven’t times changed?  Cost are crazy all over the place (just think when you go to the grocery store).

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I am about to head out 38th Norwegian cruise in 11 years.  Have I had a cruise that did not go according to plan?  Yes, did I complain about on Social Media NO.

 

There are some costs that seem a bit much for me--- specifically VIBE at $200 a week.  Not for me even when the price was much lower.  

 

Cruising has changed a lot especially with the Mega ships.  Every company is trying to come up with new attractions like a theme park.

 

Am I going to quit cruising---No

 

Each cruise is what each passenger chooses it to be. 

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18 minutes ago, sarajean said:

My first question is why do you still book NCL cruises if you are so unhappy?

 

Very good question.

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We look for the best deal for the time frame and itinerary we are interested in.  Believe me, there are Negative Nellies

on all the cruise forums for the three lines.  Some folks wouldn't be satisfied with anything.  

We have sailed several times on Carnival, twice on Royal, and in May we will sail for the second time on NCL.  

We prefer Royal over the other two lines, but in searching for our cruises in Sept and February, we found much better

deals on Carnival, so we will be sailing with them again.  NCL is our least favorite so far.

In our experience, there is more upselling on NCL.  Maybe that was due to being on the Escape with it's many specialty restaurants.  We also paid to see Choir of Man (well worth the price).  

We sailed on Independence and Adventure of the Seas with Royal, so maybe their newer ships have more upselling.  DH did want to go to Johnny Rockets, and IMO that was not worth the money.  Good food, but not worth what we paid.

We haven't sailed the newest ships on Carnival, but the Breeze had more upcharges than the other Carnival ships we have sailed, but still not nearly the amount of NCL.  Carnival has more free dining options on their newer ships (Guy's Burgers vs Johnny Rockets, for example).  

 

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We have never been on a bad ncl cruise.  Much of the frustration you read about is paying for one thing and then need to pay more once onboard to get a semblance of what you think you already paid for.  Knowing the perks you have will likely have changed their value from booking to sailing date will alleviate your apprehension. 

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We go on NCL mostly because it leaves from NY & is usually in our price range. I've been on Celebrity, Carnival & NCL. Celebrity is probably my favorite service wise, but I like the freestyle of NCL, I know others do it, they just do it very well. I'm on vacation, I worked hard & saved hard for this so I'm enjoying myself no matter what happens. As for the nickel & dining - we don't usually go for the :extras" (specialty dining, Vibe, etc.) so I feel as if I know what I'm getting & what I paid for & no one asks me for more once on the ship. I agree with you about costs being crazy all over the place, but I have to be honest, I started cruising almost 30 years ago & I don't feel as if prices of cruises have gone up as much as others say. I took a cruise 25+ years ago to Bermuda from NY, there were 4 of us in a cabin & we still paid almost $1000 each. Fast forward to our next cruise, 2 of us in a balcony, & it's costing us about $1200 each with drinks included. I find that a good deal, but to each his own. I'm sure you'll have a great time, let the bad things go, remember it's still better than any day at work and enjoy your cruise!!!

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22 minutes ago, littlelulu01 said:

We have never been on a bad ncl cruise.  Much of the frustration you read about is paying for one thing and then need to pay more once onboard to get a semblance of what you think you already paid for.  Knowing the perks you have will likely have changed their value from booking to sailing date will alleviate your apprehension. 

That’s a pretty scathing indictment of ncl even though I know that wasn’t your intention.  When I buy something I expect exactly what I paid for, not to have its value change after payment.   

 

My my own experience has been just fine because I’ve educated myself here on cc.  I’ve found I do get what I’ve paid for; I’m aware of what items have up charges etc but I wouldn’t have known without reading cc as I’ve been misinformed by my first ta and even by ncl phone reps. I doubt that part is different though even across cruise lines. I was thinking of trying msc and their phone people are so bad I gave up. 

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1 hour ago, NLH Arizona said:

Very good question.

I don’t much anymore. It’s been several years. I finally booked another for next year. After that I plan on trying MSC. I’m sure I will have an awesome time on any cruise I book. But I no longer am a loyalist for NCL. 

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I’m of the mind if you go into any cruise thinking you’ll not get your money’s worth or have a bad time, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

I can tell you unequivocally I’ve NEVER paid significantly more for an NCL cruise, in total, like-for-like, than the last few cruises I’ve taken on RCCL or MSC.

 

 In short, if you want to cruise NCL, then do it.  If you have any misgivings, don’t sail NCL, (or CCL, RCCL, etc).

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34 minutes ago, erdoran said:

That’s a pretty scathing indictment of ncl even though I know that wasn’t your intention.  When I buy something I expect exactly what I paid for, not to have its value change after payment.   

 

My my own experience has been just fine because I’ve educated myself here on cc.  I’ve found I do get what I’ve paid for; I’m aware of what items have up charges etc but I wouldn’t have known without reading cc as I’ve been misinformed by my first ta and even by ncl phone reps. I doubt that part is different though even across cruise lines. I was thinking of trying msc and their phone people are so bad I gave up. 

I don’t mean it to be scathing.  I think most bad reviews are due to what I mentioned though.  It’s just their model of doing business.  Anyone who reads up and has a heads up on the changes from when they book to when they sail is not surprised and will likely have a fantastic vacation.  If you booked a couple months ago and are just boarding a ship thinking you’re all squared away it might come as a surprise that the perks you think you have don’t include what they did when booked. Some are just fine with it. Some will never notice and some will be irate. Certainly not for everyone but  It all works out in the wash If you get past their business model. Unless you’re reading threads and discussions about changes the changes could negatively affect your vacation.  

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After three NCL cruises, I still don't understand most of the complaints, especially that NCL is "nickel-diming" with extra charges for everything. What things entail extra charges is no secret. Personally, I'm happy that things I will probably never use aren't built into the cruise fare.

 

For what it's worth, NCL does not charge extra for second main courses in the MDR, but Holland America--with base fares that are generally higher to begin with--is starting to. NCL does not tantalize you with extra-cost main courses on the MDR the way RCI does. (If there were anything to complain about in that, it would be that similar items aren't available in the MDR at all.) NCL does charge for alcohol and soft drinks if you don't have a drink package that includes them, but is there any mainstream cruise line that doesn't? I gather that some of the luxury lines include them, but I am certainly not going to pay two or three times the base fare just for that.

 

And it's no secret that, while the fitness center is free, classes or a personal trainer are not. How is that different from anywhere else? Equally, it's no secret that there are charges for spa access and services. There are passengers who don't drink alcohol or soft drinks, don't use any extra services, don't purchase shore excursions, and leave with a bill of exactly zero. I'm not one of them, but I don't object to paying for things that I want but not everyone does.

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We sail 5 to 6 times a year. Mostly on NCL and RCCL (we’re on NCL this month and RCCL next month). Are there “issues” on both lines that we could pick on every cruise, sure. Do we complain online, not so much.

 

People book casual cruise lines and expect to be treated like royalty. And then complain that the got a casual cruise line experience,,,, Pretty annoying. 

 

Complimentary dining and zero additional cost cruising is 100% possible. We do it all the time. No need, ever, to pay any Nicole’s or dimes. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

You have to remember.....Cruise Critic is just that......it's a place where people can complain about every little and big thing, regardless of the cruise line.  I read for entertainment.  Sometimes I find useful information.  I really like NCL ships.  I've never had a bad experience on one.  Take everything you read with a grain of salt until you have your own experience.  Then come back and tell us what a great time you had!

Edited by Diver2014

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All cruise lines charge tips and service charges.  All offer drink packages and specialty dining for extra charges.  Point being, it’s not like extra charges are hidden.  You can chose to buy the extras, or not.  There is a lot tha’s included in the base fares.  You want the extras, you pay foe the extras.

 

None of this is exclusive to NCL.  

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Briefly, NCL tends to lead the charge on raising prices while reducing the value of the product you’re paying for. They tend to be first on things like removing complimentary room service, adding mandatory “service charges” to absolutely everything, cutting back on staff, and moving higher-cost or beloved food items from the “complimentary” column into the “upcharge” column.

 

(The pithy dismissal of “self-fulfilling prophecies” is borderline magical thinking. If you possess the ability to think yourself into a perfect and blissful vacation through sheer willpower, why not just check into a cheap motel? At least you’re not at work, right?)

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I like NCL, and other lines too, never have I felt any pressure to spend more when on board...unless you wanted to..

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4 hours ago, sarajean said:

 

4 hours ago, sarajean said:

 

My first question is why do you still book NCL cruises if you are so unhappy?

Casino cruise, so fare is free. We just pay port taxes and daily charges.

4 hours ago, sarajean said:

Are they really that terribly about their charges?

Yes. I expect to pay a premium. Their prices are well in excess of premium and far exceed their competitors. This is beverage pricing, service charges, daily charges, shore excursions, etc.

4 hours ago, sarajean said:

Hasn’t cruising just changed in general?  

Yes. And not in a good way. Used to he a great value. Now, not so much. 

 

 

Haven’t times changed? Of course, they have.

 

 Cost are crazy all over the place (just think when you go to the grocery store).

Again, price increases are generally tied in to inflation. Price increases on NCL on bar menu and specialty dining menu have been 20 to 30%. 

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1 hour ago, graphicguy said:

All cruise lines charge tips and service charges.  All offer drink packages and specialty dining for extra charges.  Point being, it’s not like extra charges are hidden.  You can chose to buy the extras, or not.  There is a lot tha’s included in the base fares.  You want the extras, you pay foe the extras.

 

None of this is exclusive to NCL.  

 

NCL has the highest prices when compared to what you get. Highest service charge % in the industry. Highest priced beverage package for very limited inclusions. Highest price pay as you go bar menu. Highest priced shore excursions when compared to the exact excursions on other lines.

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If you don't want to be nickel and dimed, then don't purchase anything...no one is forcing you.

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Just now, NLH Arizona said:

If you don't want to be nickel and dimed, then don't purchase anything...no one is forcing you.

Well that goes without saying. When I sail NCL, my onboard spend is zero. The spirit of my post was to help the OP understand, as she requested.

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EWe have booked our first NCL on the Encore. We have cruised many lines but prefer Celebrity. When we take grandkids we do the big RCCL ships. Thought we wanted to try new but rethinking after reading about NCL. I understand the usual charges. However, I’ve never paid extra for entertainment. Also, no extra charge on a RCCL for flow riders, rock wall,ice rinks, etc. The cost of the cruise was no less than RCCL. I haven’t heard good talk of food on NCL unless go specialty. Not going to do that for 6 people. Wavering about changing back to RCCL. But, as my grandson says, “How bad can it be? It’s a cruise!” Lol

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Thank you all for your input.

I think sometimes i read too much into what people say.

I am not a seasoned cruiser but I have not been on a bad cruise, only one of the ships I was on I did not like but still had a good time.  I do agree that if you know what is extra then don't go for it if you don want to pay.  

The only thing right now to me is that it does seem like NCL is making a lot of changes lately or is that becauseI have been researching a lot lately.  Some of them I can live with and don't let it bother me like the $5 shrimp cocktail, if I want it I will pay for it.  The increase in service charge....they work so hard on the ship the increase won't break me.  I just hope it goes to to the workers and not management.  Will we ever know where it goes?  When they increased liquor prices but they went back on that increase on call brands.

I guess it boils down to everyone is entitled to their opinion.

If you are going on a cruise in a the future "Have a great time"

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Well sometimes the extra charges might be a secret unless someone reports here on cc.  I see nothing wrong with folks reporting changes and new extra charges that surprised them onboard.  It’s not a matter of expectations being too high for a casual vacation.  If I’m traveling on a budget, which the majority sailing on ncl are, they might very well do their research. They might come on this board and ask about specialty dinner package inclusions and be told there’s no extra charge for extra side dishes.  Just extra charge for main dishes. Then they read the t&c’s on ncl website prior to purchasing a couple specialty Dining Packages. They see in plain English the t&c’s includes all menu items and no mention of a charge for extra side dishes. So they purchase packages for family and make reservations.  However when they order food they are told the plan is different now.  The menu specifically has a $6 up charge for shrimp cocktail and only one side dish is now included. Everyone orders what they want and the bill has an additional $24 in charges for the meal they purchased and thought was inclusive. ncl website currently says is inclusive, long time posters on this site said its inclusive.  If that’s not nickel and dimes than what is the definition of nickel and dimes? This might never be noticed if you don’t eat seafood.  Might never be an issue if you are content with the few wines on the ultimate beverage package. But if you want a drinkable wine or have a specific brand of whiskey you might need to now upgrade for an additional $35/day to get the drinks you thought were included in your $20/ day pkg. You might pay an up charge to have a special dinner at their signature seafood venue on the Bliss and once there realize they don’t have any lobster onboard, you  pay extra up charge on top of the package purchased,  and then pay extra again when you order.  

 

Sure you can sail and not pay anything extra.  Ncl used to offer up charge lobster in the mdr after they removed lobster from the specialty venues.  They did away with it.  I would love to have an opportunity to pay extra to have lobster but it’s not an option anymore. 

 

The list goes on.  Ncl used to let you bring water onboard.  They stopped the allowance for security reasons at the same time they introduced water packages at insane prices.  There was a pretty big outcry and they reduced their water packages to a reasonable rate. 

 

Folks discussing these changes doesn’t make them evil ncl haters who just expect too much.  It’s part of what to expect on an ncl cruise and if informed, can lead to a more pleasurable vacation.  When other lines have a free beverage package that costs $55/pp pd or $155 pp pd oop, we can then say all the lines do that.  Right now it’s just ncl though. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, perditax said:

Briefly, NCL tends to lead the charge on raising prices while reducing the value of the product you’re paying for. They tend to be first on things like removing complimentary room service, adding mandatory “service charges” to absolutely everything, cutting back on staff, and moving higher-cost or beloved food items from the “complimentary” column into the “upcharge” column.

 

(The pithy dismissal of “self-fulfilling prophecies” is borderline magical thinking. If you possess the ability to think yourself into a perfect and blissful vacation through sheer willpower, why not just check into a cheap motel? At least you’re not at work, right?)

I think NCL has enhanced their experience. Waterslides, ropes courses and rock climbing walls are fee free. Bowling lanes, race cars and laser tags have a fees. If they didn't could you ever get to enjoy them, lines would be so long.

 

People are quite caught up with the Specialty restaurants and as if they're a must, not so. We had our first Specialty meal on our recent cruise, great experience. However, we've always had lovely meal experiences on NCL with the complimentary options. I really don't feel that NCL charges for every little thing. I understand what's included and extra before my trip. I think those that assume or haven't researched may feel that things pop up. My one surprise was that gratuities were added to a yoga class fee, that just feels so wrong so I'm unlikely to book a class again even if I'm using OBC to pay. Now there are also no fee classes offered so don't read that as NCL charges for fitness classes, kind of complimentary and specialty dining.

 

While I haven't sailed other lines yet, I'm quite spoiled and comfortable with NCL and Freestyle cruising. I'm eyeing RCCL, and I'm already doing research to understand some differences to NCL so I won't be one of those "and they did this" cruisers.

 

Our bill is usually due to shore excursion expenses, onboard shopping, a drink or treat my Mom has snagged, upgrade activity like painting or Bingo and photos.  When I sail solo its just excursions and shopping. I use the casino drink card for my sodas (not really a drinker) and I'll usually buy some t shirts and maybe gifts at the $10 sales. I bought a watch on my Christmas cruise but ended up returning it when it stopped working.

 

Personally, I don't think the posts here are super negative, but I don't spend a lot of time on other boards so I cannot offer a comparison.

Edited by Nola26

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