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FiremedicMike151

Is free at sea normal?

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NCL is offering free at sea on all cruises right now.  Is this normal or is this just a promotion due to the outbreak?

 

We've cruised carnival several times and royal caribbean and I have been told that NCL is "more luxurious" than the other two.  The free alcohol and much better liquor selection adds icing to the cake.

 

I was just wondering if I should hurry and book our August 2021 cruise now or if they are always running this deal..

 

Thanks!

 

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They are not always running this deal for all categories (except sail away categories), although, it has been going on for quite some time.  

 

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Current offer IS better than the on-going FAS offers.  Says it will expire 3/31 (but sometimes extended).  

It adds On Board Credit  to the other FAS offers based on your cabin category.

PLUS FREE ONBOARD CREDIT

3 & 4 Day Cruises

Get up to $500 Free

Studio $25
Inside $50
Oceanview $60
Balcony $100
Mini-Suite $140
Concierge, Suite & The Haven $300-$500

 
 

5+ Day Cruises

Get up to $1,000 Free

Studio $50
Inside $100
Oceanview $120
Balcony $200
Mini-Suite $280
Concierge, Suite & The Haven $600-$1,000

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Posted (edited)

IMO (worth nothing) - NCL actually is not "more luxurious" than Carnival and RCL. If you want luxury, I would say it would be RCL first and then probably a toss-up of Carnival / NCL. I think what most of us like about NCL is the flexibility and lack of formality. No formal nights. No dress code. Generally, the ships a little newer and smaller.

 

FAS has been going on as long as I can remember.  The other stuff comes and goes all the time - on board credit, kids free, "reduced" airfare, etc.

 

I think important to note, IN GENERAL, is that prices are actually pretty high right now compared to what they were 3-4 months ago.

Edited by pghflyer

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37 minutes ago, FiremedicMike151 said:

NCL is offering free at sea on all cruises right now.  Is this normal or is this just a promotion due to the outbreak?

 

We've cruised carnival several times and royal caribbean and I have been told that NCL is "more luxurious" than the other two.  The free alcohol and much better liquor selection adds icing to the cake.

 

I was just wondering if I should hurry and book our August 2021 cruise now or if they are always running this deal..

 

Thanks!

 

After sailing over 25 cruises, on RCCL, Carnival, Holland, Princess, and NCL, I would not say NCL is more "luxurious".  In fact, NCL is more casual, which to me is a huge advantage.  Honestly, I find all of the cruise lines to be close to equal.  Carnival tends to be a bit more crowded, but has its advantages too.  Princess, for us, was probably the most "refined" in terms of style, and might be our favorite line; but we always remain open to all cruise lines when we book.  Look for best deal.  Lately that has been NCL.  Most cruise lines have drink and dining promotions now.

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As someone who cruises NCL, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, I would not book NCL because you think it is "more luxurious" than the others.  They are more similar than different.

 

As other's have said, the Free at Sea concept has been around for many months (years?) now.  The specific details of what exactly the deal is changes as they feel the need to tweak it.  Right now, it is a little more generous than most of the past offerings.  It is probably fair to assume they will reign back some of the benefits as the virus situation improves.  If you feel the overall price point is right, I'd probably go ahead and book your cruise.  Only time will tell if that is a smart choice.  No one can tell at this point.

 

In case it's not already known, be aware of one "cost" that is sometimes not fully realized when reading about Free at Sea.  During the booking process, they will add in automatic/mandatory gratuities for the "free" alcohol package and dining package.  You will see these costs as you approach the purchase point if you do it yourself online.  You can do a test booking and see how much these impact your "Free" at Sea.  Generally, if you drink a fair amount and like the specialty restaurants (NCL does them very well), Free at Sea is generally still a good deal even with the gratuities cost added on.

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52 minutes ago, FiremedicMike151 said:

 

 

We've cruised carnival several times and royal caribbean and I have been told that NCL is "more luxurious" than the other two.  The free alcohol and much better liquor selection adds icing to the cake.

 

 

 

 

Take anything you have heard from this source with a grain of salt. NCL is definately not "more luxurious" and you may be disappointed by the alcohol package. You have to pay a daily fee for the "free" one. You can pay an extra daily fee for the "upgraded" package. The basic package doesn't include as much as cheers does on carnival. Think it includes drinks up to $15 (and yes, you will find many many drinks over $15), and doesn't include bottled water or specialty coffee. I like NCL, can be a good option, but think you have heard someone play it up to be alot better than it is.

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34 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

 

Take anything you have heard from this source with a grain of salt. NCL is definately not "more luxurious" and you may be disappointed by the alcohol package. You have to pay a daily fee for the "free" one. You can pay an extra daily fee for the "upgraded" package. The basic package doesn't include as much as cheers does on carnival. Think it includes drinks up to $15 (and yes, you will find many many drinks over $15), and doesn't include bottled water or specialty coffee. I like NCL, can be a good option, but think you have heard someone play it up to be alot better than it is.

 

 

Does Carnival still have a limit for the amount of daily drinks on their plan?

 

Thx.

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2 minutes ago, ColeThornton said:

 

 

Does Carnival still have a limit for the amount of daily drinks on their plan?

 

Thx.

 

I do believe it's 15 per day per person, although I have heard in the past that they don't closely monitor that.. 

 

15 is more than enough for me.. 

 

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36 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

 

Think it includes drinks up to $15 (and yes, you will find many many drinks over $15),

Many many?

 

There's like  a handful of whiskies, some ultra-premium vodkas/gins/rums, and top shelf wine.  Beyond that, pretty much everything is under the $15 mark.

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39 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

 

Take anything you have heard from this source with a grain of salt. NCL is definately not "more luxurious" and you may be disappointed by the alcohol package. You have to pay a daily fee for the "free" one. You can pay an extra daily fee for the "upgraded" package. The basic package doesn't include as much as cheers does on carnival. Think it includes drinks up to $15 (and yes, you will find many many drinks over $15), and doesn't include bottled water or specialty coffee. I like NCL, can be a good option, but think you have heard someone play it up to be alot better than it is.

A little overboard on the many many drinks.  Wines?  Yes.  Drinks?  You can get almost everything you want under the limit and its not well liquor.  

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2 minutes ago, FiremedicMike151 said:

 

I do believe it's 15 per day per person, although I have heard in the past that they don't closely monitor that.. 

 

15 is more than enough for me.. 

 

 

 

Me too.  15 is plenty enough to hold me to dinner time.   🙂

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4 minutes ago, FiremedicMike151 said:

 

I do believe it's 15 per day per person, although I have heard in the past that they don't closely monitor that.. 

 

15 is more than enough for me.. 

 

Last Carnival we took the system shut you off after 15.  You can not even pay for a drink once you hit the limit.  Some bartenders will let you know that you have only one left and ask if you want to pay for the drink before using your last free one.   

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2 minutes ago, Liljo22 said:

Last Carnival we took the system shut you off after 15.  You can not even pay for a drink once you hit the limit.  Some bartenders will let you know that you have only one left and ask if you want to pay for the drink before using your last free one.   


In fairness that’s the equivalent of about a bottle of liquor per day, and carnival seems to pour heavy so it’s probably more.

 

That seems like a lot of alcohol to me..

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Just now, FiremedicMike151 said:


In fairness that’s the equivalent of about a bottle of liquor per day, and carnival seems to pour heavy so it’s probably more.

 

That seems like a lot of alcohol to me..

Believe me I know it is.  My BIL hit his limit just about every night including port days.  I topped out usually around 10.  

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Named-Tawny said:

Many many?

 

There's like  a handful of whiskies, some ultra-premium vodkas/gins/rums, and top shelf wine.  Beyond that, pretty much everything is under the $15 mark.

 

10 minutes ago, Liljo22 said:

A little overboard on the many many drinks.  Wines?  Yes.  Drinks?  You can get almost everything you want under the limit and its not well liquor.  

 

Ok. This was not my experience on my last NCL cruise and I assume prices have only gone up since then. Yes, I could get any basic drink - margarita, martini, etc made under the limit. But my experience is that every bar menu I picked up had at least a few specialty drinks over the limit and some (like the martini bar) had about half the menu over the limit. 

 

I didn't walk around the ship feeling like all my drinks were included in a luxury way. I walked around feeling like I could find drinks that were included but was limited (in a bar at home I would typically order a specialty cocktail).

Edited by sanger727

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

 

 

Ok. This was not my experience on my last NCL cruise and I assume prices have only gone up since then. Yes, I could get any basic drink - margarita, martini, etc made under the limit. But my experience is that every bar menu I picked up had at least a few specialty drinks over the limit and some (like the martini bar) had about half the menu over the limit. 

 

I didn't walk around the ship feeling like all my drinks were included in a luxury way. I walked around feeling like I could find drinks that were included but was limited (in a bar at home I would typically order a specialty cocktail).

Had the opposite from our cruise a few weeks ago.  There wasn't a specialty cocktail on the list that I saw over over $15 even the "high end" suggested drinks at the specialty restaurants were $12-$13.  My wife was ordering grey goose martini's that fell within the limit.  

 

Now wines we found few that we liked that fell under the limit.  The Cab was super sweet almost like grape juice.  We ended up paying the difference on most of our wines with dinner but the ones we liked were usually $16-$17 so it was on a couple of dollars for the upcharge.  

Edited by Liljo22

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4 minutes ago, Liljo22 said:

Had the opposite from our cruise a few weeks ago.  There wasn't a specialty cocktail on the list that I saw over over $15 even the "high end" suggested drinks at the specialty restaurants were $12-$13.  My wife was ordering grey goose martini's that fell within the limit.  

 

Now wines we found few that we liked that fell under the limit.  The Cab was super sweet almost like grape juice.  We ended up paying the difference on most of our wines with dinner but the ones we liked were usually $16-$17 so it was on a couple of dollars for the upcharge.  

 

Maybe drink prices have gone down then instead of up. Good to know. Yes, very much when I took my last cruise you couldn't find a drink menu that didn't have prices over the $15.

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I think that you'll find the same thing across all three cruise lines - the newer ships tend to be more upscale in design and finish, regardless of whether you choose NCL, Carnival, or RCCL. I would attribute the term "luxury" to be as much about service as it is the design and finish, and I think that you'll find all three offer a level of service that is roughly equal. You can pay extra for specialty restaurants, spa services, or exclusive areas such as The Haven, which will have a higher level of service, but in general, all three are roughly equal. They are mass market cruise lines. If you're looking for a more premium experience, look to Holland America, Celebrity, or Princess. 

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The nice thing about this free at sea promo is that all cabin categories get all the free at sea promos. Studios, and I believe insides, typically only qualify for 1 of them.

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