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About Freshycat

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Alberta, Canada
  1. Thanks, that's handy. We're porting in Germany, Estonia and Poland so I will look for a signal if we are close to shore.
  2. We're porting in Warnemunde in Germany, Gdynia in Poland, Talinn in Estonia and St. Petersburg. Orange is supposed to work everywhere except St. Petersburg so the cards will be useful in port at least. I read a thread where somebody said they were sometimes able to pick up a signal at sea. They must have been close-ish to shore when it happened but I wondered if the range was known.
  3. Thanks, hallasm. I read some people say they could get a spotty connection in some parts of the Baltic Sea at sea sometimes, but I guess I won't count on it.
  4. We're cruising the Baltic Sea on the NCL Getaway this August. Anybody know if Europe SIM cards will work on a cruise ship (e.g., is there any interference in the signal), and whether there's any signal in the Baltic Sea or part of it? I'm planning to get "Orange" SIM cards. Just to be clear, I'm not wondering whether it is worth it, as we'll be travelling in Europe for a couple weeks prior to the cruise and will need the SIM cards anyway. I'm just wondering if they'll be any use on board the ship. We're travelling with teenagers (14 and 15) and I'd like to give them independence but also keep in touch. Also, if the SIM cards work, we'll stretch out the flat amount of data a bit longer. Thanks for any responses!
  5. From my own experience and what others are saying in this thread, it does not seem rare at all with NCL. I'm not looking for a guarantee nor do I want one -- safety first, please! -- but I am looking for reliability and I don't think a cruise line that likes to significantly change the product after they start selling it is reliable. Changing Stockholm to Gdynia/Gdansk is not the same thing as moving my dinner reservation from 6:00 to 6:20, which is a closer equivalent to the types of changes airlines make. Lopping off two days is a different vacation entirely. Also, any airline that I have flown on that makes a change of significance usually offers me the option of a full refund even if it's a non-refundable fare. That's what happened when my direct flight got converted to a connecting flight four months before the time. (And I did cancel -- I couldn't handle a connecting flight with young kids at that time.) For some people it was an inconsequential change. For me it was the material aspect of the flight. If travel companies want reliability as a selling point, they have to make changes only very reluctantly and compensate heavily to show they take it seriously. If they don't, they signal that this is not a core aspect of the product they sell. I do expect to have a great time on the cruise (my needs are pretty simple: hot coffee, daily shower, good company) -- but when it comes to cruising again, we won't be able to look at NCL without discounting the reliability of the itinerary. And when somebody asks me whether I will recommend NCL, even if I had a great time, I'll have to warn them that it's an unreliable cruise line so don't pick it unless the itinerary doesn't matter to you. I mean, that is what even the NCL boosters here say -- don't count on the ports. So if that's how NCL chooses to market itself, it should be aware of the consequence.
  6. You mistake me, I am not the least bit upset. I am actually quite happy about the itinerary change because it resulted in a price drop that saved my extended family collectively over $12,000 on about $50,000 worth of cabins. I feel more than compensated for the change. Nevertheless, in the future I will choose a more reliable cruise line because that is one of the aspects of the product I am looking for. It is difficult to organize an extended family vacation with many moving parts. This cruise is also just one part of a month-long European family vacation for us. Many of our bookings and deposits were made a year ago to ensure we could coordinate a large group and get the right mix of cabins close together. A cruise line that demonstrates frequent changes for no good reason is unreliable and not one that offers me what I need. NCL is appropriate for people who have no need to plan ahead or who are comfortable with a high probability that their plans will be put in disarray. That's just not me, so I will find a cruise line that suits my needs better.
  7. You might say objectively the ports have the same value, but that doesn't help if somebody chose a particular cruise over another because they were looking for an overnight in Stockholm. On our 9-day Baltics cruise in August 2019, NCL changed the originally scheduled port of Stockholm to Gdansk. This was long before final payments so I think tons of people must have switched cruises because the prices fell by about 25%. We couldn't switch because we are travelling with extended family and couldn't reschedule so we got the benefit of the price drop. But if it happens after final payments, it doesn't seem fair. I know the contract specifies they can change whatever, and I completely understand changing for emergencies and weather, but changing willy-nilly for no apparent reason other than poor planning becomes unfair and disrespectful to customers. It's a question of trust and goodwill. This will be our first cruise ever, and if we keep cruising after that, I have decided based on this thread and my own experience that we will not book on NCL again. A company that does not respect its customers is simply too risky. The money is the least of it. My time and plans are precious too.
  8. I'm on a Baltics cruise in August and NCL cancelled the Nynashamn/Stockholm port altogether and replaced it with Gdynia/Gdansk. I wonder if they're having some issues with porting in Stockholm. The itinerary change doesn't bother me too much because Gdansk will also be interesting and I think the decision caused the 25% price drop, which we were able to take advantage of. Also, the main attraction on our cruise is a 2-day visit to St. Petersburg and that appears to be intact. (If they changed that for reasons other than mechanical breakdown or weather emergency, I would be extremely annoyed, however.) If you can't feel fairly secure about the promised ports, then to me as a cruise ship newbie that indicates that cruising isn't a good way to see desired cities, it's mainly about the cruise ship experience with ports as just a bit of bonus/distraction. If you really want to visit a city, you better just do a land-based vacation there.
  9. For Canadian travellers, this site might be a good place to look? https://www.canadiantravelagents.ca/ It lets you search by location of agent, destination specialization (including cruise specialists) and there are reviews and ratings too. Of course there's a lot of self-selection involved, but I think travel agents who take the trouble to build up a good profile and good reviews are more likely to take the trouble to provide good service. I would be leery of going with an Internet travel agent outside of my province or country. Legal recourse outside of your jurisdiction if something goes wrong is tough and much more expensive. I think my brother-in-law's mistake was using his corporate travel agent who sets up his conferences and work travel. (For our NCL cruise for extended family.) He swears by her ability to get him swanky hotel and resort deals, but that's because she has expertise in that setting up his conferences. Based on my family's experience, I don't think she had any special knowledge about cruising. For now, I'm content to DIY online. It may cost me 5-10% in perks, but until I have the time to do the research properly, it seems risky going with just any TA. They could just as easily be bad as good, and agencies go under a lot more frequently than cruise lines. Plus, I got tons of important emails direct from the cruise line, which the TA does not seem to be forwarding to my family members who went through her. E.g., they didn't know that one of the ports of call had been changed, and missed the two large (20-25%) price drops and additional perks offered, like free airfare. My family booked $35K worth of cabins through the TA, so if she didn't get the price drops for them that I got DIYing, that's a loss of about $7-9K. I expect to have to hold my family's hand through the reservations and buying extras, because their TA does not seem to be keeping them informed.
  10. OK, pending first-time cruiser here so I don't pretend to know anything at all. I am speaking only from my own personal experience. My extended family are going on an NCL cruise -- 5 cabins over 4 families. My brother-in-law offered his big-time corporate travel agent for the whole family (all cruise newbies) and initially I said thanks. However, the price she got was the exact same as the price I got going through the website. In addition, she put us all in for the unlimited free booze perk without asking, but since we hardly drink it did not make sense to pay the 20% gratuity, which would have added about $700 per booking. In the end the rest of my family went through this travel agent (dropping the booze perk once I told them about the autogratuity) and I booked direct with NCL because I wanted an alternate route for comparison purposes. Since that time, I have seen two price drops and taken advantage of both of them by calling NCL directly (5 minute phone call each time), for a total savings of $2,000 on my own initial $8500 reservation for the exact same cabin. The travel agent did not volunteer either price drop and seems to be unaware they occurred -- it took prodding from me for her to check for my family members and I still don't know if she was able to get the price drops. She also has not volunteered any OBC or other perks to anybody in the family, including my sister and brother-in-law, who are getting the $20,000 luxury cabin ( for the exact same price I saw on the website). I am waiting to see if she even sends them some wine or chocolates or something. I have no doubt that some travel agents can get big volume discounts and work the system like a grandmaster. However, based on my own experience, I would just say NOT ALL TRAVEL AGENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL. As a newbie, I would love to get advice on how one gets in with the amazing cruise TAs or how one can tell the TA they are working with is not just going through the motions. Maybe they don't exist in Canada (where I am)? Or do you have to do a certain volume of business before you can get in? Edited to add: I didn't have a chance to read all the other posts when I posted, so I missed that some people did have tips. I'll be checking them out.
  11. Thank you! That's very helpful, thank you! I will be calling them asap.
  12. That's a great idea! I tuck gloves into ski boots, but never thought to tuck things into regular shoes. That's way better than just squishing them really flat as I've been doing.
  13. Hello, my family group of 14 is travelling on the NCL Getaway's Aug 18-27, 2019 Baltic Cruise. We have several and various food issues in our group: - My nephew (21) has a severe peanut allergy. He's used to handling it and travels with an epi pen. - My DH is gluten sensitive. - Several members are sometime vegetarians. - Several members are lactose intolerant. - My sister is an organic foodie. The only real medical concern is the peanut allergy, but dealing with the other options would greatly enhance everybody's enjoyment of the cruise. On the other hand, we don't want to cause a big headache for the staff and don't want a lot of special meals made (especially because they are sometimes awful). Is there clear food labelling? Does anybody have tips on how to handle it that will make it easiest on us and the staff? I booked directly through NCL online and didn't use a travel agent. Should I call them up now or wait until we're onboard to deal with it? Also, does anybody know the policy for bringing food onboard? My DH loves his coffee but usually drinks it with lactose-free cream. If we can find some in Copenhagen I'd like to bring it onboard. (I found the policy that says no food aboard to store in their kitchen, but we could put the LF cream in our mini-fridge.) Thanks in advance for all replies.
  14. Haha, true, but bathing suits are small. You can get a lot of them into a carry-on. :) It's the extra shoes and multiple jackets, sweaters and jeans that will kill you.
  15. I hear you! Between DH's kids and our own, we used to travel as a family of 7. It was a lot easier to keep track of baggage when everybody had just the one carry-on! Every time you look at a kid, he better have his bag somewhere close at hand. I suppose that's another reason I've learned to travel light -- it's hard to squeeze luggage for 7 into a single vehicle if they all start bringing extra bags.
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