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missingmaui

To "Sail Away", or to "Free at Sea"

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We are looking at the Getaway from New Orleans for Jan 12-17, 2020.  There will be 3 couples going, and the other 2 couples have never cruised before.  My husband and I are not new cruisers, but haven't sailed NCL in years. 

 

The Sail Away balcony rate (BX)  is $972, while the "Free at Sea" rate is $1841 for a BD balcony.  For those who have sailed in the past several years, will we get $900 worth of value per couple to make the room selection and "free" options a smarter choice?  It would be nice to have rooms together, but it's not a deal breaker if we go the Sail Away route. We are moderate drinkers on vacation, and do enjoy the specialty restaurant venues when we cruise.

 

I realize that value is subjective, but that seems to be a large price jump for a 5 night cruise.  Thanks for your help!

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You are absolutely correct that it is subjective, as it depends on how important picking your own cabin is, and perhaps more importantly how much you would spend on drinks. Also, for example, I see a benefit in just not having to worry about cost when it comes to ordering drinks.

 

If you drink a reasonable amount then you could easily spend $300+ each on drinks, perhaps significantly more. Add in any dining and it gets quite close even before adding in the value of picking your room. You say that you are moderate drinkers, but what does that mean? A couple of glasses of wine, a cocktail and one other drink a day each will probably come to nearly $100 a day for the two of you.

 

Does the free at sea rate you quoted include the gratuities on the perks? That could also make a difference.

 

We can only advise, rather than give a definite answer. It would be close for me, and I would very likely go for it due to the combination of benefits, but you may find they don’t have quite the value to you.

Edited by KeithJenner

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Sailaway. Price difference between sailaway and "free at sea" isn't so free in your case.

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2 hours ago, KeithJenner said:

If you drink a reasonable amount then you could easily spend $300+ each on drinks, perhaps significantly more. Add in any dining and it gets quite close even before adding in the value of picking your room. You say that you are moderate drinkers, but what does that mean? A couple of glasses of wine, a cocktail and one other drink a day each will probably come to nearly $100 a day for the two of you.

 

 

Does the free at sea rate you quoted include the gratuities on the perks? That could also make a difference.

 

 

You're right- moderate wasn't very specific.  When we cruise with family, we generally have 2 drinks during the day and a glass of wine with dinner.  With friends, it will probably be more like 2-3 drinks during the day, 2 glasses of wine and perhaps a drink after dinner.  My husband will definitely drink soft drinks if they are already accounted for in the budget. 

 

And no, gratuities are not included, though that would be nice.  It's interesting to see how NCL has evolved since we've last sailed with them. 

 

Thanks for the replies so far!  I appreciate them. 

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8 minutes ago, missingmaui said:

You're right- moderate wasn't very specific.  When we cruise with family, we generally have 2 drinks during the day and a glass of wine with dinner.  With friends, it will probably be more like 2-3 drinks during the day, 2 glasses of wine and perhaps a drink after dinner.  My husband will definitely drink soft drinks if they are already accounted for in the budget. 

 

And no, gratuities are not included, though that would be nice.  It's interesting to see how NCL has evolved since we've last sailed with them. 

 

Thanks for the replies so far!  I appreciate them. 

My guess is that your 5-6 drinks a day could end up costing $6-700 over the 5 days (based on 11 drinks between you per day at $10 per drink). Add in a few soft drinks and the dining package and you could be there.

 

However, the gratuity on the beverage package is $40 per day for the two of you, so an additional $200. If that had been included in your original numbers then I think it would potentially have been worth it, but as it isn’t then that probably makes the difference.

Edited by KeithJenner

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The

1 minute ago, KeithJenner said:

My guess is that your 5-6 drinks a day could end up costing $6-700 over the 5 days (based on 11 drinks between you per day at $10 per drink). Add in a few soft drinks and the dining package and you could be there.

 

However, the gratuity on the beverage package is $40 per day for the two of you, so an additional $200. If that had been included in your original numbers then I think it would potentially have been worth it, but as it isn’t then that probably makes the difference.

The taxes on the beverage package actually ARE included in my price quotes above- those are the all-in (minus gratuities) prices.  :)

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14 minutes ago, missingmaui said:

The

The taxes on the beverage package actually ARE included in my price quotes above- those are the all-in (minus gratuities) prices.  🙂

It is actually gratuities that are charged on the promo packages, not taxes.

 

Anyway, if they are included in your original figures then I think I would go for it. Based on what you say you are likely to drink, you would likely be paying about $2-250 for the ability to select your room plus the dining package. Assuming the dining package has a value to you then it may be worth it.

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Let's look at the math: It is a difference of $869. On a five night sailing you get two free specialty dining nights, which they value at $79 per person. So let's take that off the $869 total, so divide that by 5 nights=$158. Divide that by 2 people per room, and that is $79 per day..

 

Is each person likely to drink less or more than $79 in drinks per day? That is probably about 6-7 alcoholic drinks when you add gratuities. NCL automatically adds these to your total as soon as you click the button adding the "Free at Sea" package, so I think (?) that the big price difference indicates it is included in the rates you are quoting already. So keep in mind, a few hundred of what you are seeing in that final quote is money you would have spent anyway on gratuities when you paid for the drinks on the ship.

 

So what it boils down to: is each person, on vacation, likely to drink on average 6 or more drinks per day? If so, then this is a good deal. If not, then you will save money with the Sail Away. 

 

As someone mentioned, add in sodas, etc., and there is more value. If you have the "Take All Five" deal, and are going to use the Wi-Fi and/or Shore Excursion credits, then you need to add in that value too. Then factor in any value you give to having your choice of room selection, if you do assign any value to it. 

 

It really comes down to what the best plan is for you:)

 

 

 

Edited by irishred

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It would be Sail Away for me with that price difference.

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Another thing to consider is port calls. If you plan to spend significant time on shore tours on say two of your five day cruise, you will be skipping drinks on the ship during that time. 

 

It is nice to have items prepaid and not worry about cost. It's not so nice to feel you must have a few more drinks to justify your investment. Your case seems to be very close but  you also have the option to buy a specialty dining package if that is something you plan to do any way.

 

When you price things out, if costs seem very close but favoring sailaway rate, it might be worth spending a small amount more for the perks and not worry about each drink or dinner. If the difference is large, say over $100 per passenger, that would be enough wiggle room for me to go sailaway.

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I switched to Sail Away for my granddaughter & I. I bought a dining package and moved up from interior to Oceanview, all for a bit less than the original price. We will be in port quite a bit so I know that my drink & her soda package would be a waste for us. It works differently for each person/cruise. Enjoy!

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How many perks are you getting at that price? You said that that was the total cost for the upgrade (so including the grats on the perks, those are the added charge at booking). In your shoes I would probably go for it. It sounds like you are talking about 5 drinks per person per day. At a price of $10-$12 per drink you are already talking about a $500-$600 value. For me personally, choosing my room also has value to me probably in the range of $300-$500. I’m a sensitive sleeper and the rooms under the pool deck/gym or above the theater would not be ok with me. And especially since you are traveling in a group so having rooms close to each other would be nice. If you are getting other perks included at that price it would be an easy yes for me.

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1 hour ago, irishred said:

Let's look at the math: It is a difference of $869. On a five night sailing you get two free specialty dining nights, which they value at $79 per person. So let's take that off the $869 total, so divide that by 5 nights=$158. Divide that by 2 people per room, and that is $79 per day..

 

Is each person likely to drink less or more than $79 in drinks per day? That is probably about 6-7 alcoholic drinks when you add gratuities. NCL automatically adds these to your total as soon as you click the button adding the "Free at Sea" package, so I think (?) that the big price difference indicates it is included in the rates you are quoting already. So keep in mind, a few hundred of what you are seeing in that final quote is money you would have spent anyway on gratuities when you paid for the drinks on the ship.

 

So what it boils down to: is each person, on vacation, likely to drink on average 6 or more drinks per day? If so, then this is a good deal. If not, then you will save money with the Sail Away. 

 

As someone mentioned, add in sodas, etc., and there is more value. If you have the "Take All Five" deal, and are going to use the Wi-Fi and/or Shore Excursion credits, then you need to add in that value too. Then factor in any value you give to having your choice of room selection, if you do assign any value to it. 

 

It really comes down to what the best plan is for you:)

 

 

 

Thank you!  This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for.  I'm not sure why, but I've been having trouble finding value/cost for specialty dining, which made the math frustrating.  I appreciate the break-down!

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18 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

How many perks are you getting at that price? You said that that was the total cost for the upgrade (so including the grats on the perks, those are the added charge at booking). In your shoes I would probably go for it. It sounds like you are talking about 5 drinks per person per day. At a price of $10-$12 per drink you are already talking about a $500-$600 value. For me personally, choosing my room also has value to me probably in the range of $300-$500. I’m a sensitive sleeper and the rooms under the pool deck/gym or above the theater would not be ok with me. And especially since you are traveling in a group so having rooms close to each other would be nice. If you are getting other perks included at that price it would be an easy yes for me.

The included perks are: Free UBP, free dining, free wifi, and shore excursion credit.  3/4 passenger is also free, but that won't apply to our bookings.  I'm really leaning towards choosing our room and takng the perks.  Thank you!

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We always do the math. Our last two cruises with NCL (7 day Caribbean Nov 2018 and 19 day Panama Canal Jan 2019) we did inside sail away because we are always looking to cruise for about $100 per person per day. We are platinum so we get some specialty dinning, laundry and internet anyway.

 

I just talked my wife into another Panama Canal cruise (16 day) next month because with the free air and prepaid gratuities promotion (things we would have to pay out of pocket for) we are sailing for $104 per person per day in a Balcony! On top of this great rate we also get a 5 meal dining package, drinks package, 250 minutes of internet and $100 OBC. Because we have sailed so much to so many places we now choose our cruises based on the deal more than the destination or ship.

 

When I have the drink package I drink. When I don't have the package I bring some wine on board (pay extra for corkage) and maybe buy a bottle or two on board. No drink package means we will go to the Latitudes party and use our platinum benefits that include 2 bottles of wine per cruise (one in our cabin and one at Cagney's). 

 

Set your budget, get out your calculator and do the math. Above all, have a great trip!

 

Peace,

Doug

 

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I would pay $900 more to select my own cabin even if I didn’t want any of the other perks. I have had a horrible cabin once (over an area where heavy machinery ran 24 hours a day and woke us up multiple times every night). I will never again let someone else choose my room location. 

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We just booked an October Transatlantic with $50 deposits, Free at sea 5 perks and 20%repeat discount.  We looked at the Sailaway vs Choosing our own cabin and chose the later.  We have been on a couple of cruises Fore & aft cabins so like to choose our cabin midships.  Based on our last TA on the Epic taking the free at sea works better for us.  Must say I went to bed a little wobbly more than once on that cruise and the drink package worked  for us.  We over drank the gratuities and will on this cruise as well.

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Getaway from New Orleans for Jan 12-17, 2020

The Sail Away balcony rate (BX)  is $972, while the "Free at Sea" rate is $1841 for a BD balcony.

 

Worth checking a booking through the UK or EU if you don't need the full set of free at sea perks.

UK free at sea is any 2 perks and include the service if you choose the dining/drinks for £49 on a 5 day cruise..

 

using £1==$1.23

 

These are PP including taxes and perk service but not the regular cabin service charge

 

For this cruise the BX sailaway price inc taxes is £579($713)  you can add 2 free at sea perks £628($773)

 

the BD is £629($774) and £678($834)

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17 hours ago, missingmaui said:

We are looking at the Getaway from New Orleans for Jan 12-17, 2020.  There will be 3 couples going, and the other 2 couples have never cruised before.  My husband and I are not new cruisers, but haven't sailed NCL in years. 

 

The Sail Away balcony rate (BX)  is $972, while the "Free at Sea" rate is $1841 for a BD balcony.  For those who have sailed in the past several years, will we get $900 worth of value per couple to make the room selection and "free" options a smarter choice?  It would be nice to have rooms together, but it's not a deal breaker if we go the Sail Away route. We are moderate drinkers on vacation, and do enjoy the specialty restaurant venues when we cruise.

 

I realize that value is subjective, but that seems to be a large price jump for a 5 night cruise.  Thanks for your help!

We are moderate drinkers and dislike the beverage packages (poor wine choices).   Also, we dislike the addition of 20% gratuities to the beverage package (not sure if NCL does that for Free at Sea).

In fact, when we don't have the Sail Away option, we bring our own wine and pay the $15 per bottle corkage and save.

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If you do not have to fly sail away rates will come down $200 to $250 per person within 30 to 60 days till sailing. Even with all free offers if you do not need to use all of them sail away is the way to go.

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7 minutes ago, waterjock said:

If you do not have to fly sail away rates will come down $200 to $250 per person within 30 to 60 days till sailing. Even with all free offers if you do not need to use all of them sail away is the way to go.

Not always.  Sometimes they rise and end up much closer to the normal rate.

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4 hours ago, insidecabin said:

 

Getaway from New Orleans for Jan 12-17, 2020

The Sail Away balcony rate (BX)  is $972, while the "Free at Sea" rate is $1841 for a BD balcony.

 

Worth checking a booking through the UK or EU if you don't need the full set of free at sea perks.

UK free at sea is any 2 perks and include the service if you choose the dining/drinks for £49 on a 5 day cruise..

 

using £1==$1.23

 

These are PP including taxes and perk service but not the regular cabin service charge

 

For this cruise the BX sailaway price inc taxes is £579($713)  you can add 2 free at sea perks £628($773)

 

the BD is £629($774) and £678($834)

How US citizens book using UK or EU offers?  

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I use VPN or US TA to price and book through US.

 

Uk agents may not be as keen as us ones to take a booking but direct through NCL UK Web site should work. 

Edited by insidecabin

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