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CHICAGOPAUL LIVE BLOG!!!!!! December 13th, 2019 - SILHOUETTE SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

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19 hours ago, maggieq said:

Thanks again Paul for this amazing review.  I found your Alaska review last night and read it again. On the fence about Alaska via celebrity.  I keep reading that Glacier Bay is the most important stop.   However, your review makes me lean back to Celebrity . 

 

Don't discount Hubbard Glacier.  It's awesome.

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On 12/27/2019 at 1:53 PM, chicagopaul said:

 

My pleasure and please do! I'm very curious about that program and would love to see it in the works, especially if we could use it plus luggage valet.

Extend your stay just showed up on our February Reflection shore excursions 

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Hi Paul,

 

I hope you and Edward are enjoying the holidays.  I've been researching our AU/NZ cruises and realized there are PENGUINS (!) in Phillip Island, AU, which is reachable from Melbourne.  Thought you guys may might want to look into it when planning your Australian cruise.

 

Happy planning!

Patti and Cailyn

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On 12/28/2019 at 6:24 PM, maggieq said:

Thanks again Paul for this amazing review.  I found your Alaska review last night and read it again. On the fence about Alaska via celebrity.  I keep reading that Glacier Bay is the most important stop.   However, your review makes me lean back to Celebrity . 

We loved Hubbard Glacier. Thankfully the fog cleared in time to view it or else it would have not been visible. But it turned out to be great! The cruise the week after ours had perfect sunny weather.

 

On 12/28/2019 at 8:47 PM, Carnevale said:

Fabulous blog!  Thx for sharing so much info in such an interesting and positive way.

 

One last question:  when there was music in the Grand Foyer did you notice if people were dancing and, if so, did the floor look crowded?

 

I did notice people dancing yes! There was not a lot of people dancing but in the evening we always noticed at least a few couple days dancing, sometimes more.

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On 12/22/2019 at 12:20 PM, dutchclogs said:

Hi Paul, very late to the party (caught up a couple of days ago) but very much enjoyed your blog. How did this cruise compare to the Equinox where we met, also on an ABC itinerary though we didn't visit Grand Cayman?

Any big difference weather-wise?

 

Gill

 

The weather seemed maybe a little cooler than we were there on the Equinox, but besides that it was pretty much the same. The occasional quick passing shower but no issues. It was definitely a little humid, but each port there was a good breeze.

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On 12/28/2019 at 8:36 PM, lkj1301 said:

Paul,

Thank  you so very much for your blog.  Loved following your cruise.  Its was so nice to read the blog from someone with the glass half full. So refreshing.  We are so looking forward to our Summit cruise in 41 days.

 

I was curious about 1 thing.  You used choice air, have you used it before?  Have you ever had any problems with flights or arrangements?

 

Thanks,

Lorie

 

Hi Lorie - So yes, we have used Choice Air or now I guess called "Flights by Celebrity" before. Have we ever had any issues with our flights? Well, funny you should ask. We hadn't had any issues until recently. I'll explain the story and to Celebrity's credit they took care of the issue.

 

Our flights for our April Hawaii cruise are booked through Choice Air. We booked our flight there on AA, non stop from ORD or HNL in Premium Economy. This was a non-refundable fair and had to be paid for right away but it was a steal at around $520pp in premium economy which on AA, premium economy uses the same seats as their domestic first class for their 2 cabin aircraft.

 

A little later we booked our return flights with Choice Air from Vancouver (YVR) to ORD. We originally had AA booked non-stop in economy. This was a book now, pay at final payment fareHowever, AA cancelled their non-stop flights so we were automatically put on a connecting flight on AA. No problem. That's fine. A rep from Choice Air called and said that they noticed the change and offered to put us on a United non-stop flight at no additional charge. It was very nice of them, but we preferred to stay with AA since we have status and was probably going to use miles to try to upgrade to first anyway.

 

Well, at some point Choice Air took it upon themselves to book us on the United flight home, but also kept us on the AA flight. So we had 2 different bookings. When we went to take advantage of our price adjustment our TA noticed this and laughed about the mistake. She told us she would call Choice Air and tell them we wanted to AA flight home and not the united flight. Well, when choice air cancelled the united flight they also DOWNGRADED our PAID fare on the way to Hawaii putting us in economy instead of Premium Economy. We were alerted to this only because Edward checked his AA app and noticed the seat assignment change.

 

So Edward called up Choice Air and Choice Air was basically blaming our TA saying that our TA told them to downgrade us, but that made no sense since we didn't get a refund. The pricing was the same. I've used the same TA for almost 8 years, she wouldn't have said that. Edward was on the phone with them for over an hour and got nowhere. But conflict management is not really his strong suit so I called when I got home and got them to at least escalate the situation to a supervisor but they were claiming they had to pull the voice recordings of the conversation with my TA before making any changes. Not acceptable.

 

Through instagram I happen to know a C level executive with Celebrity. I reached out and asked if they could look into the situation for me. This was around 4pm I believe. The next morning I had a phone call from someone named Karen. I'm not sure exactly what Karen's roll is, but she clearly was upper level and was extremely nice and knew what she was talking about. I explained the situation for her and within a couple of hours we had our premium economy seats back and many apologies from her. Situation solved.

 

Obviously I had this solved quickly by reaching out to someone I knew. Most people don't have this option. However, I think within a day they would have resolved it for me either way. What was aggravating was someone was not owning up to their mistake in the reservation system.

 

I like Choice Air mainly for one way international airfare and of course for the flight protection. Especially given we live in Chicago and if we're cruising in the winter time anything can happen. What I recommend for people booking with Choice Air is the following:

 

1) If you're on the phone with a representative be very specific about what you're booking. Reconfirm your cabin class, flight number, seat number if applicable, etc.

 

2) Use the airlines app to track your flights and any changes to them after booking. The app will alert you in real time (at least it should).

 

3) Credit Card Benefits don't always transfer through to airlines. If you're using a United Explorer card for instance that should get you free baggage on flights we've heard of this not be honored by the airline because Choice Air is the one making the payment. We've heard of people showing the card at checkin to get things waived but this is not by any means a guarantee. Your airline status of course still transfers through, along with benefits, no problem.

 

4) Know there are differences between non-refundable pay not fares, refundable fares, and fares that you won't have to pay until final payment. Choice Air offers all 3.

 

Yes, we will continue to use Choice Air but it is so important you are educated on what you're booking since whenever you're adding another reservation system into the mix, regardless of company, there is a greater chance for errors whether human or technical.

 

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19 hours ago, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

 

Don't discount Hubbard Glacier.  It's awesome.

Glad to hear this! I am going on my second Alaska cruise with X this coming summer - my Mom has always wanted to see Alaska. My husband doesn't want to go north again...says it's too much like Northern Manitoba (Flin Flon) where he's from. So it's me and my mother! 

 

The Hubbard Glacier is on the itinerary (it wasn't last time I went). We won't be going to Skagway this time (we'll miss the lovely train ride). Happy to hear that it's worth the visit!

 

Shawn

Edited by KW Cruisers

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Hi Paul -

 

Was looking over your post discussing travel medical insurance and found this very helpful. It seems to be super cost effective . Any reason why you book on your own vs. booking through the agent who booked the cruise?

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6 hours ago, chicagopaul said:

So yes, we have used Choice Air or now I guess called "Flights by Celebrity" before. Have we ever had any issues with our flights? Well, funny you should ask. We hadn't had any issues until recently. I'll explain the story and to Celebrity's credit they took care of the issue.

We have used FBC often and usually with no issues. 

 

When our Silhouette sailing was moved to Miami issues were created.  FBC tried to convince me that Delta had changed our return flight departing from FLL to departing MIA and then back to FLL departure again.  They then agreed to move departure out of MIA which was helpful.  

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Paul:  Great review!    On one of your previous cruises did you go to an all inclusive resort for the day?  If so, was it St. Kitts?  I seem to remember reading about it, but cannot locate that review.  Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

 

Shine

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Hi Paul!  I'll be on the 9 night Southern Caribbean in March.  I was just wondering if you could tell me if the show times on the main stage are at the same time each evening (7 and 9 pm)?  I can't seem to be able to get this information from Celebrity?  Thank you and Happy New Year!  

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to Paul, my New Years Resolution Is:  "To be the best version of myself in any situation"

 

Thanks for a great review and thanks for great advice to everyone.  

 

Happy New Year

Edited by ipeeinthepool

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5 hours ago, solonl2001 said:

Hi Paul!  I'll be on the 9 night Southern Caribbean in March.  I was just wondering if you could tell me if the show times on the main stage are at the same time each evening (7 and 9 pm)?  I can't seem to be able to get this information from Celebrity?  Thank you and Happy New Year!  

Paul has posted the  Daily for each day on previous pages. I would check those out, as sometimes the show time changes, eg the first day and formal ( evening chic) nights can cause a variation. 

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Cafe al Bacio for tea. My favorite African Solstice! It’s not too crowded here but there a small steady stream of people coming in and out. 

Thank you Paul for the recommendation of African Solstice Tea at Cafe al Bacio-we got the beverage package for the first time and enjoyed this a couple of times on our Equinox cruise. It's kind of an odd name for tea but I really liked it.

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10 hours ago, yoshi said:

Cafe al Bacio for tea. My favorite African Solstice! It’s not too crowded here but there a small steady stream of people coming in and out. 

Thank you Paul for the recommendation of African Solstice Tea at Cafe al Bacio-we got the beverage package for the first time and enjoyed this a couple of times on our Equinox cruise. It's kind of an odd name for tea but I really liked it.

The iced version is my DW’s favorite.

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On 12/30/2019 at 12:11 PM, PRS3191 said:

Hi Paul -

 

Was looking over your post discussing travel medical insurance and found this very helpful. It seems to be super cost effective . Any reason why you book on your own vs. booking through the agent who booked the cruise?

 

Sorry for the delay everyone, finally getting caught up on some questions here today. Happy Sunday! To my knowledge my TA offers travel insurance but usually a full travel insurance policy which covers trip cancellation, etc. which we don't need. Plus the cost is so small there is really would be no benefit to my TA to book with her so we find it easier just to book it on our own. Using InsureMyTrip it takes less than a few minutes to get everything booked.

 

On 12/30/2019 at 5:42 PM, Shine said:

Paul:  Great review!    On one of your previous cruises did you go to an all inclusive resort for the day?  If so, was it St. Kitts?  I seem to remember reading about it, but cannot locate that review.  Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

 

Shine

 

We did book Carambola Beach Club in St. Kitts. It's not a typical all inclusive as you are just getting beach chair and umbrella but they have a great full service restaurant, bar, and servers on the beach and its very private. Plus they have water sports available. Everything is a la carte.

 

Another one that opened in St. Kitts after we've been there is the Park Hyatt St. Kitts. I know people on some boards were saying they were not doing day passes, but I reached out to them on social media to check and they do offer day passes depending on how busy they are. This could be a very nice option to check out because well...its the Park Hyatt!

 

On 12/31/2019 at 8:50 PM, solonl2001 said:

Hi Paul!  I'll be on the 9 night Southern Caribbean in March.  I was just wondering if you could tell me if the show times on the main stage are at the same time each evening (7 and 9 pm)?  I can't seem to be able to get this information from Celebrity?  Thank you and Happy New Year!  

 

The main production shows in the theater were early and late seating, so 7 and 9pm though on a couple nights they did vary. However if you're trying to plan dinner, etc. it's a safe bet to assume 7 to 9pm is most nights. You can scroll back in the review on here and see the daily papers I posted each day.

 

On 12/31/2019 at 11:15 PM, ipeeinthepool said:

Thanks to Paul, my New Years Resolution Is:  "To be the best version of myself in any situation"

 

Thanks for a great review and thanks for great advice to everyone.  

 

Happy New Year

 

I love this!!! Happy New Year!

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Thank you, Paul!  We were able to arrange our dining times based on your daily newsletter postings.  That was really helpful.  

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On 12/16/2019 at 11:54 AM, chicagopaul said:

We monitor the pricing daily. It is something that Edward checks on literally every single day when he gets to the office to see if pricing has declined. By doing this he starts to understand the trend in pricing and what is really a good deal versus what is not. We tend to initially book a cabin / room category we are satisfied with. Usually that  means concierge class (since we want the extra points) and we upgrade from there. Many times we are upgrading after final payment as that is when we see pricing drop most often.

 

With this cruise, specifically, Edward saw a suite guarantee one morning and immediately put a hold on it. As soon as he held it he saw pricing jump up meaning there was likely only 1 or 2 suites they were putting on guarantee for that price. He put it on hold with Celebrity and then immediately reached out to our TA to have that hold transferred over.

 

Thank you for describing how you look for possible upgrades. I was going to post a question to you. 

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