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  1. Assuming that that there are no out of the ordinary delays, 11:45am is completely doable
  2. Set expectations in advance, and explain to the kids what the cruise and their activities will be like. If you’re planning on dropping them off every night at the kids club after dinner, let the kids know before you go on the cruise what the plans are so that they can look forward to that and so that they are not blindsided at the last minute when they get to the kids club for the first time. Some kids love the kids club but some hate it. It’s always (wrongly) entertaining though to see the one kid screaming at the top of their lungs that they don’t want to stay while clinging to a mortified parent’s leg, who is trying with one hand to pry the kid away from him while holding a cocktail in his other hand. 😂 Don’t be that parent. As far as tips and tricks, add other adults in the group besides you and your spouse to the list of people authorized to check your kids in and out of the kids club. That will make it easier to take turns and send just one adult to get all the kids at once, rather than have every parent individually get their respective kids. Traveling as a group of good friends is, in my opinion, one of the most desirable ways to travel with small children. Everybody helps each other, and the kids are happier to be traveling with other kids that they already know. We did a group cruise in February on the Fantasy and it was great. Kids had a wonderful time.
  3. They keep charging more, and people are gladly paying more and keeping the ships full. Just today I was talking to my best friend from college who was looking for advice on a Disney Cruise. He was looking at the same ship, itinerary and date as when I sailed on Disney 2 years ago. In 2017, we paid $7K for that cruise. For 2020, he’s going to pay $9.3K, and he went ahead and put a deposit down! Like him, there’s s lot of people not thinking twice about spending that kind of money on a Disney Cruise.
  4. Are you a big Disney fan? If so, then a Disney Cruise is completely worth it. If you’re not a big Disney fan, you may think differently. We are not big Disney fans, but I still wanted to sail on a Disney Cruise at least once in my life and give my kids that experience. I decided to pull the trigger when the kids were 6 and 8 years old and did a 7 night cruise on the Disney Fantasy. In a nutshell, it was a great cruise. There’s no denying that Disney excels in their customer service, children activities and entertainment. And the ship is truly a masterpiece. But, a big chunk of what you pay for goes to pixie dust and Disney magic, so if you’re not a big Disney fan, you may feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth. And that’s how I felt at times. More than once, I found myself thinking “I paid 3x as much for this and it’s not 3x better than what I’ve experienced on other cruise lines”. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful product, and the kids had a great time (although they said that they preferred the kids club on MSC and Royal). I do believe that what Disney delivers does command a premium price, just not THAT much of a premium. But many fellow cruisers that we met would disagree, and will gladly sail on Disney exclusively no matter how much they charge. They truly believe that any other cruise line isn’t good enough (even though many of them have never sailed on anything besides Disney). To summarize, I’m completely glad that we sailed on Disney, and I have zero regrets about it. I’m also glad that we did it when we did because the kids were at a perfect age to immerse themselves in the Disney experience. But for this non-Disney fans, one time was enough. When the cruise started, I was really into it. But as the week progressed, the nonstop Disney everything started getting old. With that said, we do have friends who love Disney, and they keep begging us to sail with them. If the prices ever become more competitive, I’d look at sailing on Disney again, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m trying to get them to sail with us on something else and they won’t budge either.
  5. I can tell you what we did on our 2 night pre-cruise stay DAY 1 - We landed in Rome around 9:30am and we were at our hotel around 11:00am - We checked in at our hotel, located just a few minutes walking distance from the Vatican. - We then had lunch at a local restaurant near the hotel. - We took it easy and rested at the hotel since we were a bit jet lagged after our 10 hour flight to Rome and we wanted to be ready for the busy day ahead, DAY 2 - Our first stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. We purchased early morning skip the line tickets to tour the basilica. - From there, we took a taxi to the Trevi Fountain. After that, we went shopping and had a light lunch near the Trevi Fountain. - We then took another taxi and went to the Colosseum. We didn’t go inside though (it was pretty late and the sun was setting). - We had dinner at a highly recommended local pizzeria near the hotel. Truly amazing and authentic. DAY 3 - We returned to St. Peter’s Square to watch Pope Francis give the Angelus. After that, we had a light lunch before taking our transportation to Civitavecchia to board the ship. Probably not what others would’ve done, but it was exactly what we wanted to see and do. We were very satisfied with the way we spent our short time in Rome.
  6. I’m sorry that you feel slighted, but unfortunately this is common practice among most if not all cruise lines. In your mind it should all be the same, and it should be an easy fare adjustment, but the reality can be quite different once the fine print is applied. The new fare may be for new bookings only, or as someone mentioned before, the cruise line may treat it as a cancel and rebook, or a myriad of other rules. Without looking at your original fare rules and the current fare rules, it’s hard to tell. You may run away from NCL and look somewhere else, but you will most likely find similar practices on other cruise lines when trying to reprice your booking, specially when special promotions are involved. I’ve encountered the same with Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, and Holland America. Very similar narrative as yours. Don’t allow this to sour the excitement of your upcoming cruise. Have a great time!
  7. If the HOA allows short term/AirBNB rentals, can’t deny the OP access to the until that they have rented, no matter how against them they may be.
  8. Most of the time, we get seated as soon as we get there. Rarely we’ve had to wait more than 10-15 minutes,
  9. Respectfully, not something that the OP should be concerned about on their vacation. If the neighbors have a problem with it, then they should take it up with the HOA, not the renters.
  10. This view. I can spend hours staring at this without any other sensory stimulation.
  11. Hello Bamelin: Both of my kids started cruising when they were one year old (my daughter’s first cruise was on HAL’s Westerdam in Alaska). Now at 7 and 9 years of age, they’ve sailed 10 times across 5 different cruise lines. Our next cruise is also on the Niew Statendam. So here’s our experience: To answer your question: Yes, you may get a few dirty looks, specially on HAL (our personal experience). Some HAL cruisers just cringe at the sight of a baby, more than on other cruise lines, even if they are asleep and not making a sound. But as long as your child can remain quiet, and if you’re proactive about removing them from the restaurant before they become fussy and start crying, you’ll be good to go. On HAL, our kids dined either at the MDR or at the buffet. There were nights when we ended at the buffet when our intention was to go to the MDR, fully dressed for formal night, simply because the kids were exhausted and not in the mood to sit through dinner. We did go to the Pinnacle Grill one day (my extended family was traveling with us, so they watched over the kids while my wife and I dined there). Money well spent, and it was nice to have a little romantic date. Ambiance and cuisine were both great. Overall, we had a great cruise on HAL, but of all the cruise lines we’ve sailed on, they are one of the least kid friendly. They did treat us wonderfully, but in comparison with other more family friendly cruise lines, they lag in terms of facilities, staff training and offerings, which we expected knowing beforehand that HAL is a more adult oriented cruise line. What we didn’t expect were the looks of several, more senior passengers that plain and simple acted disgusted and insulted at the sight of children onboard, even walking down a hallway or out on an open deck. A woman looked down at my daughter who was asleep in her stroller, and with a face of disgust grunted “Ugh!” as we passed her down a hallway. Really? Hopefully you won’t have to deal with grouchy, anti-children fellow cruisers, but in all of our years of cruising with our children, we’ve never found behavior similar to what I described above on any other cruise line our children have sailed on. Once again, we loved our cruise on HAL, just not the behavior of some fellow cruisers. We are now returning to HAL, this time on the Niew Statendam, and from what I read, HAL has made some family friendly tweaks to their product with this class of ship, so I’m confident we’ll have a good time. Hope you have a great cruise as well!
  12. Harvest Caye is a “private island” concept, not the Belize mainland. If you wish to explore deeper into Belize, look for itineraries that stop in Belize City, from where you can then go deeper into the country.
  13. I’m from Puerto Rico. During the last few years, San Juan has gone from zero nonstop flights to Canada to 3 airlines (Air Canada, Westjet, and Air Transat) all flying nonstop to Toronto, and two of them now flying nonstop to Montreal as well. Keep in mind that these routes are seasonal and only operate on the weekends, possibly with cruisers in mind. With that said, that these routes exist doesn’t mean that Norwegian will book you on one of these nonstop flights. As previously mentioned, Norwegian will put you on whatever it’s most affordable to them, which will most likely include a connection. Whatever you end up with, have an excellent cruise!
  14. Yes. They have cars of various sizes. We were a family of 4 with luggage, yet we were picked up every time in a small van that accommodated more, maybe 10-12 passengers.
  15. I’d take Uber any day before the train. It is a logistical nightmare.
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