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About FitchburgWIFamily

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Fitchburg, WI
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    Cruising, Traveling, Reading and herding my children
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  1. I have only sailed one time on Royal one time, so I am by no means an expert. So you can take the following with a grain of salt. Things Royal does better: Beverage package was reasonably priced and included bottled water and they let us take a Coke back to our room in a can. But most of the time they make you sign a slip even though the drink is free, and that is a bit annoying. Royal has T-shirts that refer to both ship and itinerary that are affordable. NCL has over priced ship shirts but nothing for the destination. Disembarkation: I don’t know what NCL does wrong, but so many times, disembarkation is a long long line snaking through a ship. RCL we just walked off. Rewarding Status: we couldn’t take advantage of it, but the daily happy hours and designated lounge for loyal cruisers was better than the one cocktail party, bottle of water and bag of laundry on NCL. Things Norwegian does better: 24 – hour sit down dining with a menu: on Royal, off hours was limited to self-serve Pizza. I like to be able to get fries and a drink at 2:00am or a late breakfast when I slept in. And I like that my waiter can bring me a drink to go with my meal any time of day. Just sayin’ Staff: (this may be sailing specific, but I’ll tell you what I observed) I have sailed on kind-of-big and very big NCL ships and on one very small Royal ship, but I think the staff on NCL does a better job of recognizing me and remembering me. Bartenders remember my drink and call out to me as I walk by, stewards (not just mine by ones in the hall) remember me and my family and ask where my mom or my son is if I am walking without them. Senior staff roam the dining rooms and bars and introduce themselves to you and leave you their cards. On Royal we had one waiter (bar waiter) that was outstanding and remembered us and we sought him out, but to the rest of the staff we were just passenger x. Anytime dining: One think I love about NCL is making my mind up when and where I want to eat. Some days, we come back on board after a long day ashore and the last thing we want to do is get dressed up to dine at N:NN o’clock. But if we don’t dine at our assigned time, we are pretty much restricted to the buffet. I love multiple main dining rooms that will seat me when I am ready to eat. Some people on NCL say make reservations or you will never get a seat: we have never had a problem getting a seat: worse case they gave us a pager and we went and had a drink while we waited. Welcome back on board: NCL does a better job of welcoming you back on board. Hot day in line waiting for a tender? Staff hands out popsicles, water and cool clothes. They set up tents and seating so you can wait in the shade for your party. And on some ships, Senior officers come out and greet you as you get back on board. But all in all…these are very minor things. To me the lines were much more similar than they were different. The entertainment, both in large venues and small, the food quality, etc. was pretty much equal between the two. What they do and don’t charge in addition to your cruise fare was almost exactly the same. So if someone says one line nickles and dimes, the other line must, too. I hope you enjoy your first NCL cruise.
  2. On the Joy (which we are also on in November for the Mexican Riviera) the sit down option will be Savor or Taste based on my experiences on the Escape. On the smaller ships, they open the Main Dining room and not the smaller dining room, but on both of my sailings on the larger ships it was the smaller dining rooms (Savor/Taste) and not the main dining room (Manhattan on the Escape). In any event, OP, the staff will be more than willing to direct you. There will be multiple sit down options with menus and table service on embarkation day for lunch.
  3. So how do you get to be platinum plus on a cruise line and not know how GTY cabins work? There is no such thing as an Deck 8 Obstructed view GTY. When you book GTY on line there is a description RIGHT THERE that says you are not booking a deck or location. When you book GTY over the phone, they read you a blurb that says you are not booking a deck or location. When you book an Obstructed View GTY, you are booking an Obstructed View GTY somewhere on that ship, knowing that an unobstructed view is a better class of cabin and you could well be booked into that. I know I'll be lambasted for being an NCL cheerleader, but as others have posted, it just gets so frustrating to read all the "I was robbed, it's a scam, how unscrupulous, so incredibly devious" posts about NCL when the "crime" NCL commited is following their own stated policy. How dare they!
  4. Yes and...yes. They do have servers: around the pool, in the atrium, at most of the different bars. However, sometimes, it is a little faster to just go to the bar and get your own drink especially by the pool.
  5. We get my mom a bottle of wine on a cruise, and the wine steward stores if for us between dinners. When we dine in another restaurant, we turn in a claim check that says where the wine was stored, and they go bring it to us. So I am not sure if they would let us take our open bottle of wine back to our room.... I think the corking fee is only $15 per bottle...so you could bring quite a few bottles on board for a lot less than $243. And those you could keep in your room.
  6. I am by no means an expert on other lines, but I did cruise once on Royal and can tell you a few differences. On Royal we purchased the drink package (it is MUCH cheaper on Royal) and the only real differences that we noticed: Royal made us sign receipts even though we had the drink package, NCL does not. Royal as mentioned includes and kind of pushes bottled water, NCL does not (tap water on NCL does taste fine and if you bring your own water bottle you can fill up). Royal had a soda cup with their beverage package, NCL just lets me order sodas. I thought the food in the MDRs of both lines was very similar. Some people will tell you to make reservations for every night ... I have always had good luck finding a place to eat when I knew I was hungry. I like NCLs 24 hour option of a sit down restaurant with a menu better than Royals go grab a piece of pizza. I love chocolate, but I haven't found a lot of chocolate desserts on NCL that sent me into rapture. But anything Flan is excellent. Find the crepe station and have them make a crepe to order with a choice of fillings ... my choice is always Nutella. On both lines, the same broad spectrum of dress (formal to flip flops) seemed to exist, so dress like you like and you will fit in somewhere on that spectrum. We were on an older ship on Royal with an ocean view room and it was small ...really really small. But others have said NCL's cabins are smaller than other lines, so prepare yourself for that possibility. I hope you have a great cruise with your mother!
  7. We have done something similar. Two Wheels Only has the correct steps. The room key guest services will give you is just that. It is not a replacement for the key card that has your name on it that you use to purchase things on board, get on or off the boat, etc. So you and your friend’s spouse will always need to carry two cards. On to do shipboard transactions and one to get in and out of your room. Muster Station: you will muster where your real key card says. The only thing I don’t know about is the studio lounge access as in our case we were toggling between a suite and an inside on the same deck. Best of luck to you!
  8. Instead of dwelling on what you didn't get (a refund), put some effort into what you can get. NCL may offer you a portion of the difference as OBC. Or, look online at higher cabin classes and see if there is one available that is now close to what you paid for yours. Even after final booking, I have been allowed to upgrade to a better cabin. Best of luck to you,
  9. The gap between sailaway and perks varies for a number of reasons. On our upcoming cruise it is 100pp difference between sail away and the room with perks. If you choose the perks with gratuities (which are optional) add another 160pp. So, you are paying 520 more for the two of us, which is less than the OP priced out. Most cabins have different classes (mid ship, family, etc.) and if the cheaper cabins in that class are all sold out, the difference between a cabin with perks and sail away is going to be larger. This might mean you have a better chance of getting a better cabin with the sailaway rate but since people might bid up there is no guarantee. I don't quibble with the terminology of free or included, and I don't begrudge them the gratuities. I just do the math: sail away + a la carte vs. pick my room and perks. I have always come out cheaper with the pick my room. I don't want you to judge me, but it does not take long for my husband and me to drink $500 worth of cocktails on a cruise. If we only drank one drink by the pool, a drink before dinner, a glass of wine with dinner, and a drink or two after dinner at a show or at a bar, it would not be hard for that to total up to $50.00 per day pp and with the 20% gratuity, you are looking at $62.50. Per person. Per day. On a 7 day cruise, that is almost $900 for the two of us. And since we can usually drink more than one drink by the pool, have a beer with lunch, enjoy more than one cocktail before dinner, and stay out pretty late at night, we are drinking considerably more than just 5 drinks per day per person. On some port days, we drink a bit less, but on some at sea days, we drink a bit more. The only quibble I have ever had is with NCL's artificial pricing of their drink package. I don't know if anyone has ever bought it, but it is much more expensive than other lines, and at $120 (99 plus tip) per day per person we would be a little bit challenged to get our money's worth out of it every day. I am sure there are those who can drink enough to come out ahead at that price, but while I may sprint out the gate ahead of that curve, after a day or two at that pace I would be looking for alka-selzer, zantac more than more margaritas and mudslides.
  10. They have coffee (and tea) stands out on the waterfront on both sides of the ship. I don't know if they are our there 5:00am early...but they are there when I take what I used to think was early 6:00am stroll.
  11. My husband teases me about worrying about "cruise-world" problems. Like I tease people who complain about "first-world" problems like whining that Costco stopped carrying their brand of cucumber infused Vodka in the 2.5 liter bottle and only has it in a 1.75 liter size. (but I digress) And worrying about any cruise-world problem when you are sitting there with enough metal in your leg to mean you'll never get to go through airport security again trying to manage pain I don't want to imagine let alone manage seems superficial on my part at best. But...well...ACK! I can't help myself...I need to worry about this new towel policy NOW 3 months before my cruise. We are NCL loyalists who just dipped our toes into Royal Carribean with a Cuba cruise on one of their smallest ships, but one of the things I hated was the towel checkout process on that ship. Tell me NCL has not eliminated the towel exchange at port? Tell me I can still get rid of my 90 lb wet sandy stinky monstrosity and replace it with a nicely cleaned rolled up wonder before I get on the gangway? And is there any bright side to this new process? If people use pool towels to hog loungers, and people are billed for non-returned pool towels...does the new check out to the room policy have any impact on the chair hogs? Couldn't I just take their chair and their towels and deprive them of the credit for turning it in? P.S. Of course I wish you the speediest of recoveries and a belated but heartfelt thank you for all the information you provided over the years. You sailed on the Star or the Dawn (probably both) just before one of our first family cruises and my kids would ask to look at your pictorial review almost daily while they planned in their heads their days on board. "Find the picture of the giant chess board mom!" You also gave excellent information about various ports and as I snorkel, I always comb through your information to find the perfect snorkel from the beach location. Thank you.
  12. For those of you who have used NCL's free air and paid extra to fly in the day before, how does NCL handle the mandatory transfers? When I look at free air, they add $40.00 per person for the airport to port transfer which they say is required if you take the free air option. Does NCL take those transfers off your booking when you ask to fly in the day before? Or are you paying extra for the day before + paying for a transfer you can't use? Or do you have to get yourselves back to the airport the day of the cruise to use their transfer? Here is a sample booking for a January 2020 cruise out of LA flying in from ORD: Pricing Details Item Guest 1 Guest 2 Guest 3 Guest 4 Cruise Fare $1,149.00 $1,149.00 $0.00 $0.00 Govt Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses $125.51 $125.51 $125.51 $125.51 Free at Sea Offer Gratuities: $114.80 $114.80 $0.00 $0.00 Transfers $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 Air $0.00 $0.00 $299.00 $299.00 Total per Guest $1,429.31 $1,429.31 $464.51 $464.51 If I booked air independently and flew non-stop from Ohare the evening before it would be about $183 pp or $732 for the 4 of us plus the cost of an Uber or a hotel shuttle. If I take the free airfare, the cost of the other two PAX plus the transfers is $758, plus $25.00 per person to fly in a day early or $858. I don't save any money (I actually pay $126 more...which is way more than an Uber). But if they waived the transfers I would save about $60.00.
  13. We looked at free air for our party of 5 and it was not worth it. If my math for 5 didn't work, I can't think yours for 7 would be better. One: we have to take NCLs transport to the port...which is more expensive for one person than Uber for all of us. So that was $240 that I wouldn't have paid except for taking the free flights. Two: The free air is for pax one and two and what they wanted for pax 3-5 was more than what I could book air on my own. Three: without knowing airline, I don't know what the baggage charges are so that increased cost was one I didn't know how to budget for. And you are probably flying non stop, but if you aren't, you might end up with a layover that is not optimal (too short, too long, too far away in the wrong direction). You can leave the air on for now, but make sure you use flights.google.com and check Southwest when they release their spring flights to see if you can do it cheaper on your own before final payment.
  14. You are not obligated or even expected to tip, the tip was included either in the price of the package or the price of the drink. The bartenders do get a cut of the tip that is included in the drink package according to the bartender at the Mojito bar on the Escape. That being said, I always bring 100 $1.00 bills and tip one per drink no matter where I am. I don't know if it gets me better service, but it does help me keep track of how many drinks we had and helps us justify the cost of adding on the unlimited drink package.
  15. All three do have the exact same menu each night. Savor and Taste are the same layout with slightly different color schemes. SavOR is on the pORt side and TaSTe is on the STarboard. Manhattan is much larger, and has a place for live music and dancing in the middle of the venue. Different music acts perform different nights. If you like the music act, you will love getting a table closer to the dance floor so you can watch them perform. They do take breaks, so it is not constant noise. If you don't like the group, you are better off to be in one of the rooms that branches off from the dance floor and is well away from the band. Just let the hostess know your preference when you ask for a table. Some music acts inspire people (patrons) to dance. On my first voyage on the Escape there was a large party of young women from Spain who spent their whole time on the dance floor dancing and singing along with the musical duo who performed what I can only presume to be popular Spanish songs (since the girls from Spain knew all the words). I have never been lucky enough to see any cast shows perform. My mom who is darn near 90 and hard of hearing prefers the quietness of Savor and Taste. I like the more vibrant Manhattan. We compromise. As I have stated on multiple threads, I have never made a reservation for a main dining room, and have never had a long wait for a table even though we have been a party of 8, 7, 6, 5 and of 4 depending on the cruise.
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