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About DrKoob

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    Redmond, Washington, USA
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    Travel, Photography, Cooking, fitness, theater, film
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity, Azamara, HAL
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    Anyplace a ship can go...except the Caribbean
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  1. You are in luck. You haven't made final payment yet. Cancel or better yet, there are Solstice class ship in the Med at that time. Have your TA find you one of those. That way if you already have airfare, you can just switch to a Solstice or Millennium class ship.
  2. If you loved Reflection, the best tip I can give you is...try and talk your husband out of it.
  3. Start by saying we are long time X cruisers as well and I only want comment on the service in the MDR and some of the bars and lounges. We experienced the same thing on the Summit in the fall of 2018. We were on a 15 night New England and were in the Rendezvous almost every night. Pre-dinner you all know how it can get packed. On at least 10 nights there were only 2 bartenders and 2 servers working. For more than 300 people. We experienced the same service in the MDR as the OP. It would take 10-30 minutes to get a glass of wine and FORGET about getting a second glass. Orders for food were often wrong and/or cold or at best warm. All this was because of one thing no one on this thread has mentioned. Rapid expansion. Our cruise was just before Edge came online. We had conversations with our Sommelier and our MDR waiter on one night of the cruise when I looked like they were now covering even more tables. They told us that about 1/4 of the dining room staff had left the ship in Québec and sent to Edge. The server/pax ratio had been bad before but it got a lot worse. We were also told by our stateroom attendant (when WE asked) that he now had no assistant and had to clean about 50% more staterooms now than he did when he started with X. The biggest reason was that X cannot find enough staff for their ships. Which brings us to the fact that the entire cruise ship industry is rapidly expanding over the next four years (and counting the last 2) more than 100 ships on all cruise lines will come online. Where are the crews for these ships going to come from? Sure, you can hire unqualified people and train them but as the OP mentions, sommeliers don't grow on trees. It takes few years to train them and once they are trained, what's to stop them from taking a land-based job in a restaurant for much higher pay. This is the where the cruising industry is headed and it may take time for the big lines to adequately staff their ships in the future.
  4. One other thing to think about. The shareholder benefit can NOT be combined with other offers. So if X (or RCL or Azamara) are having a sale that includes extra OBC or a free perk, you have to choose between the perk or the $100 shareholder benefit. We had the stock for a long while. We bought it when it was around $6 a share. Yup, $6. Sold it at well over $110. Paid for a 14 night cruise. We sold the shares because we hadn't been able to take the benefit on our previous 10 cruises. Jim
  5. First, we have not sailed on Edge and we do not plan to. The interesting thing to me is something you don't even mention in your polls. Everyone of our friends who have sailed the Edge have told us that there are just not enough small places where you can go and sit and talk with friends while having a cocktail or glass of wine before or after dinner. We belong to a group (founded in 2005 on Infinity) called the Martini Mates and we are not pleased that our beloved Martini Bar as been turned into a huge, central area. Where are the lounges (if you aren't in a suite with access to Michaels) where you can go just talk and enjoy the company of others? We have seen entire videos of the performances in Eden and frankly, they do nothing for us. We have been to so many Cirque-type shows on ships we can't begin to count and we skip them on every ship now. If I want to see a Cirque show, I will go to Vegas and see one—they are amazing there. Not so much on ships. . Also not thrilled with any stateroom with an Infinite Verandah. My wife likes to sleep in. I like to get up early. IVs take away my ability to take my laptop or a book and step out onto our verandah. I also wish that they just called them what they are; outside cabins with windows that open (at the Captain's discretion). Every single friend who has gone on Edge has told me that if they were able to get a reservation to eat "On the Edge" on the Magic Carpet it wasn't the greatest experience. Wind, the temp and the distance from the kitchen were the problems. I will admit that the other reason we have not or probably won't sail on this class of ship is that we don't like the itineraries. We have never been Caribbean people and the idea of going all the way to Europe for a 7 or 10 day cruise does not work for us. It's just too short a time. If I am going all the way to Europe I want a 12-15 day cruise. All that said, I fully understand why X built the Edge class. They are looking to change their demographic by moving from aging Baby Boomers (like us) and trying to attract younger Gen X, Z and Millennials. Unfortunately, it hasn't work. Edge is sailing with many empty staterooms and prices have dropped. We have three future cruises booked on X, all on S-class ships and Flora (where we specifically requested a NON-infinite balcony stateroom) and one of the best things we think they have done in the last two years is the massive rejuvenation of the S and M class ships. As long as they exist, we will sail with X. Jim
  6. That is entirely possible. We get alerts all the time that are predominately about Edge and when I check there are always a number of empty staterooms. The biggest reason is that many long-time X cruisers are not interested in Edge. It is a try by X to capture a new demographic that so far has not lived up to the expectations. It has garnered all kinds of critical awards but not the full, sold out ships that X was hoping for. And so far, Apex is selling about the same. Before Edge came out we priced the first TA coming back from Europe and the price for a basic verandah was more than $4K. This cruise was recently on the X specials sheet with those same staterooms under $2K. I fully admit I have not tried the ship yet but that's because every X cruiser I know personally who sailed on her hasn't been that impressed. Give me the S or M class anytime. Jim
  7. Amen to that. Le Petit Chef is about the show. Qsine was about the food.
  8. TA here with more info You are correct. Premium package does not have an extra charge. What we used to call Go Better (2 perks) now has the $14 per person, per day charge. It is built into the cost when you want two perks. Also, suite guests do not pay this charge. Jim
  9. You must never have been in a regular aft cabin on an M class. They have HUGE verandas. You could play football on one. The aft Aquas were add-ons and not in the same ballpark 😀
  10. We have experience with this, and we had it on Summit last October. Three couples, two in Blu and one (us) in the MDR. It was our worst cruise. Every night we would go for drinks and then we would go off to dinner. We felt totally left behind. We only did this because we had an aft cabin and if you have been in the aft cabins on the M-Class you understand. If we had it to do again, we would NEVER do this. It really made our cruise much less than it could have been. We have sailed with the other two couples (one of whom is my brother and his wife) on other occasions and all been in Blu. Wonderful cruises. Make sure the couple not in Blu see this and understand how alone they will feel (especially with three other couples) when you walk off to Blu. Since we (and our friends) also love Blu for breakfast, it also meant we ate breakfast alone every day as well. This sucked. Our aft cabin (which we have had on every M-Class we have ever sailed) just wasn't worth it. If we had to do it again, if we weren't in Aqua, we would not go. Jim PS: Unless your friends are in a suite they will NOT be allowed to join you in Blu for breakfast or lunch.
  11. Internet speed on cruise ships is more related to ship position than pretty much anything else. We were told that the RCL Voom Internet was awesome but when we sailed Ovation of the Seas in Alaska last summer, it was the worst we had seen. Yet less than two months later we were on Allure of the Seas and had the best ever. Our experience says that when ships are further from the Equator (where satellites are positioned) the speed deteriorates the further north you go. Many people have told us that Reflections was pretty good. When we were on her last June in Iceland, the speed was horrid. Kind of depends on where you are going. Jim
  12. Good day kingcole! We too are just about to book Flora for this summer. We have been doing a TON of research and my wife and I are both travel professionals so I hope I can address some of your questions. First, if there are no guarantees, then the lowest category you can book is the normal balcony "suite." It's not really a suite but they call it that. Keep in mind that the stateroom is almost 350 square feet so about double the size of your regular cruise stateroom. I can't answer your gambling question as we are not gamblers but my guess is that there won't be any discount for that. Right now there is a BOGO sale going on with a $750 PP air credit as well. As to a discount for being Emerald, we are Elite Plus on Celebrity and there is no discount for us. Other than their regular discounts on these cruises, Celebrity does not differentiate between passengers. You won't get any credit towards your RCL status. You don't get credit either way although on a regular Celebrity/RCL/Azamara cruise. Your status will carry over from one line to another but it does not increase. We have recently taken two RCL cruises and it didn't affect our Celebrity status at all. We are booking a guarantee and it is about $650 pp less than booking a chosen suite. We figure that since all staterooms are the same size (other than the true suites) we will be OK. The difference between the pre and post packages (10 days) as opposed to just buying the cruise is about $3000 for the two of us. But there is NO WAY I would do it any other way. One reason is that past cruisers on Flora have said that if she is late getting back to Baltra your self-booked plane will not wait for you and you are your own. If you book with Celebrity, they wait for you and get you back to Quito. Also, that 3K includes transfer from airport to hotel, hotel (JW Marriott), all meals, full day of small group tours in Quito on the day before the cruise, transfer to airport for flight to Baltra, flight to Baltra, transfer from Baltra airport to Flora, then all the in reverse plus another night at the Marriott and transfer back to Quito airport. Lastly, unless you do the 10 day package, you can't book air with Celebrity and that means you can't take advantage of the $750 air credit. As far as the weather, the Galapagos sit on the equator so they have pretty much the same weather all year long. The bigger decisions are do you want the inside or the outside route in the islands. They do each, every other week. Do some research. The best place to do that is this thread: It is an AWESOME thread and you can ask past Flora cruisers whatever you want. We have read every thing on the thread and you read every word before you buy. Hope this helps, Jim PS: You are right about the Origin. When I launches, it will be more expensive.
  13. I'm totally with you on this. A TA would have fixed the whole thing and cost you nothing. With the way the websites for all the cruise lines tend to mix up stuff, why would you not use a TA? Also, I don't know what a cruise credit is but I would say that if I were getting two perks on a 14 night cruise, OBC is the LAST thing I would take. Gratuities will be far more than the $150 if there are two people in the room. Always add up gratuities and see which is a better deal. Jim
  14. People, people, people. The show is awesome. Go for it and let someone else order and drink the flights. Order yourself an actual martini. The reason that you should avoid the flights is this: martinis are made to be drunk when they are ICE cold. Thus, the ice bar that keeps them cold when you sit at it. When you order a flight, the first one you drink is at the correct temperature. The second might be close depending on how fast you drink the first one. But from the third on through either the six or seventh (depending on how generous your bartender/waiter is) is usually at best, lukewarm. So many people over the years have done the flights and then said, "I don't really like martinis." It's because they taste terrible when warm. Do yourself a huge favor and watch the show and then order a single one to try. Or, if you have to get the flight, try a sip of each one as soon as you get it, then order the one you like best as a single martini.
  15. That is not correct. It is not a gratuity. And it is never added to your bill at the end of the.cruise. We (all travel agents) have been thoroughly briefed on this. It is an add on charge when you book to cover increases X has had in the the cost of beverages since they started this program. So it is just a straight price increase. Where we (TAs) used to have three different pricing tiers to look at, (the old Good, Better, Best) we now have five (Good, Better, Better with beverages, Best, Best with beverages.) And none of this applies to anyone in a suite. The pricing with the additional $14 per day is still a MUCH better bargain than outright purchasing a beverage package. And anyone who purchases a cruise or has purchased a cruise prior to October 10, it will not apply to them.
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