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twonpcb
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We are avid RCI cruisers and have never been on a NCL ship.  However, current situations have made cruising on NCL much more appealing.  I have a few questions about their “Free at Sea” program.  
 

What exactly does “Open Bar” mean?  I assume this means we are given unlimited lower end drinks of house wines, well drinks, etc.

 

Specialty Dining says we can save $160.  Does this mean our onboard credit is loaded with said amount to use when booking specialty restaurants?

 

Shore excursions only says “save $50 per shore excursion.”  What exactly does that mean?

 

The WIFI portion of the package says we will save $130 on a package.  I assume that means we get the low end, very slow text only internet connection.  
 

I appreciate your input.

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, twonpcb said:

We are avid RCI cruisers and have never been on a NCL ship.  However, current situations have made cruising on NCL much more appealing.  I have a few questions about their “Free at Sea” program.  
 

What exactly does “Open Bar” mean?  I assume this means we are given unlimited lower end drinks of house wines, well drinks, etc. NO bottled water, NO specialty coffees, 2 drinks up to $15, per card per visit.

 

Specialty Dining says we can save $160.  Does this mean our onboard credit is loaded with said amount to use when booking specialty restaurants? NO, the answers in link provided below

 

Shore excursions only says “save $50 per shore excursion.”  What exactly does that mean? Find the answers in link provided below (different for different customers)

 

The WIFI portion of the package says we will save $130 on a package.  I assume that means we get the low end, very slow text only internet connection.  Find the answers in link provided below (different for different customers)

I appreciate your input.

 

 

 

 

You have quite a few questions, so, your best NCL related answers can be found in their Terms and Conditions:

https://www.ncl.com/termsandconditions/promotions

Edited by ggTexasGal
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Some of these come up a lot.  More details can be found in the linked T&C's, but here is the "short and sweet"

7 hours ago, twonpcb said:

What exactly does “Open Bar” mean?  I assume this means we are given unlimited lower end drinks of house wines, well drinks, etc

Drink all you want, drinks up to $15, 2 per order are covered.  You pay the gratuities on the package at booking.

7 hours ago, twonpcb said:

Specialty Dining says we can save $160.  Does this mean our onboard credit is loaded with said amount to use when booking specialty restaurants?

If you look at the specialty dining packages, the one you get has a value if you were to pay for it out of pocket (what that value is depends on the cruise length as different length cruises get different numbers of meals).  The T&C's cover what you get but there are sometimes some bad interpretations.  At A-La-Carte venues (most of them are) you are allowed multiple appetizers, a single entree and multiple desserts.

 

7 hours ago, twonpcb said:

The WIFI portion of the package says we will save $130 on a package.  I assume that means we get the low end, very slow text only internet connection.

No streaming, 250 minutes of use.  You can check your email and do some browsing.  I was able to load MLB's Gameday page to get game updates during the WS since I couldn't find anywhere on board that had the games on.  One thing you NEED to be aware of - you can be on WiFi and using ship-based services for free, when you go to the page and log in to your internet account it starts the timer, if you never log off you will be out of minutes in about 5 hours.  There may be a $4 activation fee, but you also might be able to get that waived.

Edited by hallux
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  • 2 weeks later...

Nothing is free!  Well, maybe the wi-fi, but when you have to pay the gratuities for the dining packages and the drink packages, that IS NOT FREE.  I hate the fact that things can be advertised this way.

 

Having said that, if you drink but do not drink like a fish it's still better to pay just the gratuities.  We figured out that you'd have to drink about 8-10 drinks a day to make it work paying full price for a drink package on any cruise line but paying gratuities only, it more realistic to drink 2-3 drinks a day.

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43 minutes ago, vadersprincess12 said:

Nothing is free!  Well, maybe the wi-fi, but when you have to pay the gratuities for the dining packages and the drink packages, that IS NOT FREE.  I hate the fact that things can be advertised this way.

 

I'm pretty certain that NCL was not the pioneer of this type of marketing.  To your point, none of this stuff is free unless the entire cruise is free (i.e. my wallet never leaves my pocket).    The rest is all just details.  Nobody is being cheated by a marketing approach that makes it very clear what is about to be charged to your credit card.

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42 minutes ago, vadersprincess12 said:

Nothing is free!  Well, maybe the wi-fi, but when you have to pay the gratuities for the dining packages and the drink packages, that IS NOT FREE.  I hate the fact that things can be advertised this way.

 

Having said that, if you drink but do not drink like a fish it's still better to pay just the gratuities.  We figured out that you'd have to drink about 8-10 drinks a day to make it work paying full price for a drink package on any cruise line but paying gratuities only, it more realistic to drink 2-3 drinks a day.

 

You're right, if you calculate based on the gratuities, the Premium Beverage Package is a good deal if you enjoy 3 or so alcoholic drinks a day. The drawback with NCL's package is that it does not include specialty coffees, smoothies, bottled water, or fresh-squeezed juices. If you're a non-drinker, paying even just the gratuities is a bad deal unless you drink a whole lot of soda and mocktails.

 

Regarding the Free At Sea thing, ignore the marketing-speak about the dollar value. That's just confusing. Think of the dining package as specialty meal credits: on a 7-day cruise, you get two credits each of which is worth a full meal. When it comes to using dining credits, most of the specialty restaurants on NCL are the equivalent of a flat-rate restaurant on RCI. One specialty credit = one dinner at Le Bistro, Cagney's, Onda, etc.

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1 hour ago, ChiefMateJRK said:

I'm pretty certain that NCL was not the pioneer of this type of marketing.  To your point, none of this stuff is free unless the entire cruise is free (i.e. my wallet never leaves my pocket).    The rest is all just details.  Nobody is being cheated by a marketing approach that makes it very clear what is about to be charged to your credit card.

Agreed ~ they are not the first, just burns my butt that so many companies market like this.  I always read the fine print 🙂.

 

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9 minutes ago, vadersprincess12 said:

Agreed ~ they are not the first, just burns my butt that so many companies market like this.  I always read the fine print 🙂.

 

The way they market it varies as well.. in Europe I notice they’ve stopped saying “free at sea” on the front page banner ads. 5 years ago the daily gratuities were included in the cruise fare, now there’s a checkbox during the booking process so we see how much it is and can decide whether to pre-pay it or not, (this may or may not have something to do with the people who insisted on having the charge refunded once on-board). 
The EU authorities have thumped travel companies in the past for misleading headline pricing so there’s a bit more transparency now. We do have to pay €99 for the promos (if we want the 2 or all offered at the time of booking) that are “free” for North American’s but we don’t get hit with extra gratuity charges if we pick the drink and/or dining packages. Also you notice the little asterisk * attached to the price for the promo and the 30% off. Anything listed as reduced has to have listed at the higher price for 30 days before it can be advertised as reduced price. 

7705E3AA-CD97-4C3B-8C05-4730B30E47EC.thumb.jpeg.f0c4c982ee138d24ec9a28dc57d37b50.jpeg

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2 minutes ago, eileeshb said:

The way they market it varies as well.. in Europe I notice they’ve stopped saying “free at sea” on the front page banner ads. 5 years ago the daily gratuities were included in the cruise fare, now there’s a checkbox during the booking process so we see how much it is and can decide whether to pre-pay it or not, (this may or may not have something to do with the people who insisted on having the charge refunded once on-board). 
The EU authorities have thumped travel companies in the past for misleading headline pricing so there’s a bit more transparency now. We do have to pay €99 for the promos (if we want the 2 or all offered at the time of booking) that are “free” for North American’s but we don’t get hit with extra gratuity charges if we pick the drink and/or dining packages. Also you notice the little asterisk * attached to the price for the promo and the 30% off. Anything listed as reduced has to have listed at the higher price for 30 days before it can be advertised as reduced price. 

7705E3AA-CD97-4C3B-8C05-4730B30E47EC.thumb.jpeg.f0c4c982ee138d24ec9a28dc57d37b50.jpeg

The US needs to crack down on this type of stuff too.  I remember the days when the ships were a decent size and there weren't all the specialty restaurants.  It's another way to upcharge the passengers.  Personally, I would rather have the fare raised a little bit and just serve better quality food in the regular restaurants.  We don't do the specialty dining as a rule because it's too long and drawn out for us.  On the couple of occasions when we have sailed with others we have done them and truthfully other than the more elegant atmosphere and the "flair" with the service, we haven't noticed much difference.

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In the latest offer prices are quoted as
 
FROM*
$5,223   This has been crossed through
FROM*
$2,216
 
Showing a supposed price decrease though I have never seen the crossed out price as the actual fare.
 
This appears in the Australia/New Zealand region.
 
Is this sort of totally misleading advertising allowed in other parts of the world.
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For the drink package, it covers more than just well drinks and house wines.  It’s any drink up to $15 which includes regular liquors like Tito’s and Grey Goose.  The wine selection included is lacking but you can find at least one of each type of wine that is in the package. If you want something that cost more than $15, you just pay the difference plus 20% tip on the difference.  
 

The dining package is a credit to use at a speciality restaurant.  You can get unlimited apps and sides and one entree.  There are a few items that have an up charge like lobster. 
 

For the WiFi, it’s 250 minutes but you can upgrade it to unlimited.  If you wait until day two, it’s not that much of an additional charge to upgrade.

 

The shore excursions credit is probably the least desirable perk for us because NCL excursions are way more expensive than booking with a third party.  It is good if you are going to their private island and want to do an activity with a charge.  At Harvest Caye we were able to get a couple of kayaks for a couple of dollars after the credit was applied.

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7 hours ago, coastcat said:

 

You're right, if you calculate based on the gratuities, the Premium Beverage Package is a good deal if you enjoy 3 or so alcoholic drinks a day. The drawback with NCL's package is that it does not include specialty coffees, smoothies, bottled water, or fresh-squeezed juices. If you're a non-drinker, paying even just the gratuities is a bad deal unless you drink a whole lot of soda and mocktails.

 

Kind of. 
On a 7 day cruise the non-sailaway cabins are $100pp more expensive than the ones that qualify for the FAS. That’s $16 per day. The UPB gratuities are $20 per day so the total is $36 per person per day.

If both yourself and your significant one drink 3 cocktails per day everyday then yes, it definitely make sense. 
However, keep in mind that you ended up spending additional around $500 per couple.

But if both of you are wine drinkers and a bottle of wine for dinner fits your lifestyle the an 4-6-8 bottle viva vino ( or $15 per bottle + actual wine price), you can save $300-400.

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9 hours ago, lixogab said:

Kind of. 
On a 7 day cruise the non-sailaway cabins are $100pp more expensive than the ones that qualify for the FAS. That’s $16 per day. The UPB gratuities are $20 per day so the total is $36 per person per day.

If both yourself and your significant one drink 3 cocktails per day everyday then yes, it definitely make sense. 
However, keep in mind that you ended up spending additional around $500 per couple.

But if both of you are wine drinkers and a bottle of wine for dinner fits your lifestyle the an 4-6-8 bottle viva vino ( or $15 per bottle + actual wine price), you can save $300-400.


Sail Away cabins can be cheaper, but sometimes they aren’t. They’re not always available, either. If I decide to a Sail Away and then want to add WiFi plus two dining credits, am I now back to the price point of a regular cabin? 

 

There’s a lot of math involved with NCL.

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On 9/23/2021 at 12:37 AM, twonpcb said:

We are avid RCI cruisers and have never been on a NCL ship.  However, current situations have made cruising on NCL much more appealing.  I have a few questions about their “Free at Sea” program.  
 

What exactly does “Open Bar” mean?  I assume this means we are given unlimited lower end drinks of house wines, well drinks, etc.

 

Specialty Dining says we can save $160.  Does this mean our onboard credit is loaded with said amount to use when booking specialty restaurants?

 

Shore excursions only says “save $50 per shore excursion.”  What exactly does that mean?

 

The WIFI portion of the package says we will save $130 on a package.  I assume that means we get the low end, very slow text only internet connection.  
 

I appreciate your input.

 

 

 

 

There is no limit on the alcohol Pkg for drink Qty like other lines have. No stop at 15 drinks PP. Look at the alcohol lists to see if you find just paying gratuities worth it. When we go this time, we are upgrading to the Premium package to enjoy bottles of wine and champagne all week. You do find that with alcohol being offered for all who choose, the lines at the pool bars can get long. 

 

The dining package is a great value. We will not be adding to this. We will eat MDR or Ala carte the rest of the time. 

 

Wifi - We have to upgrade for work. 

 

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I have to laugh sometimes. The gratuity on the drink package is not surprising and think about this point .. if you do not have the drink package you will still pay the gratuity on the drinks so regardless you are going to pay that much .. it is a given. Where it becomes questionable is when one person in the cabin does not drink. Then you pay the gratuity for 2 but only 1 drinks. |But if you do the math that tells you whether it is good or not. I look at the free at sea drink package as a good deal. Worst case scenario you break even but do not have any onboard worries. 

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 I am really not a fan of NCL's free at sea package. In my opinion, the similar package from Princess (Princess Plus) is much better and much more valuable. First of all, service charges have already been included in the premier beverage package. Also, the Wifi package is unlimited and is fast enough to use it for video streaming. Furthermore, it includes crew incentive also. There is no "save $50 per shore excursion", but Princess' excursions are usually cheaper than NCL's, so at the end of day there is really not a big difference. Specialty dining is also not included, but it is only $29 per meal at Princess anyway.

 

When I was cruising on NCL, I usually opted out of the free at sea package.

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8 hours ago, hallux said:

@lixogabyour math is applicable if you ONLY take the beverage perk, but that $16 per day gets you other perks also, reducing the "cost" of the beverage package...

Correct. But that depends what value other perks have for you.

Personally I enjoy the dinner package but for me neither of specialty restaurants is $48pp better than MDR. If I had to pay, may be $20-25pp for Cagneys and Bistro on top of the already included and paid MDR dinner.

Having few Internet minutes is nice but I wouldn’t pay for 300 minutes more than $10. NCL excursions are so expensive that even with $50 discount per couple local providers are cheaper. (Exception: Harvest key zipline that becomes free for the 1st person in the party and any cheap excursions: for example a beach transfer  that may cost $25pp otherwise NCL charges $50, making essentially the same price because the 1st person gets it free.)

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20 hours ago, Liljo22 said:

For the drink package, it covers more than just well drinks and house wines.  It’s any drink up to $15 which includes regular liquors like Tito’s and Grey Goose.  The wine selection included is lacking but you can find at least one of each type of wine that is in the package. If you want something that cost more than $15, you just pay the difference plus 20% tip on the difference.  
 

The dining package is a credit to use at a speciality restaurant.  You can get unlimited apps and sides and one entree.  There are a few items that have an up charge like lobster. 
 

For the WiFi, it’s 250 minutes but you can upgrade it to unlimited.  If you wait until day two, it’s not that much of an additional charge to upgrade.

 

The shore excursions credit is probably the least desirable perk for us because NCL excursions are way more expensive than booking with a third party.  It is good if you are going to their private island and want to do an activity with a charge.  At Harvest Caye we were able to get a couple of kayaks for a couple of dollars after the credit was applied.

 

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Posted (edited)

Wow ~ so if you take advantage of the specialty dining, they are still going to charge you an upgrade for lobster?  Add that to the reasons I probably won't sail with NCL after the sailing April.

Edited by vadersprincess12
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44 minutes ago, vadersprincess12 said:

Wow ~ so if you take advantage of the specialty dining, they are still going to charge you an upgrade for lobster?  Add that to the reasons I probably won't sail with NCL after the sailing April.

It's new since sometime over the summer in 2019.  I had the Filet and shrimp skewer entree at Cagney's in April, by October it was either not available or came with an upcharge, it's now a Filet and lobster tail with an upcharge.

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Some specialty restaurants have an upper limit on the price of the entrees, just like the USD15 limit on drinks.   You have to pay the extra and also the 20% service charge on the extra.

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58 minutes ago, casofilia said:

Some specialty restaurants have an upper limit on the price of the entrees, just like the USD15 limit on drinks.   You have to pay the extra and also the 20% service charge on the extra.

All I can say, again, is add this type of stuff to the reasons I probably won't sail with NCL again.  

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