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Everything posted by Selbourne

  1. I think there’s always been the risk of people selling their shares once the OBC has been applied, but prior to the cruise. I’ve not tested it personally, as my shares have appreciated in value by 50% since I bought them and, on top of that, I’ve had about 150% of the outlay back in OBC in less than a year, but given how poor the IT systems are that Carnival use I have no doubt that this would be possible.
  2. It’s extremely rare though and I don’t think that the OP needs to worry about that with Iona. Oriana left P&O 5 years ago!
  3. Have a great cruise Andy. Are you doing Club dining this time?
  4. To be clear, normal disembarkation doesn’t always start as soon as self disembarkation has finished. There can be a pause, for safety reasons, whilst the porters are moving large pallets of luggage around the luggage pick up hall. During this time, nobody is allowed off the ship. If you want to self disembark (which given your train time you will) then you cannot wander off at your leisure. You have to leave within the designated time slot (it’s at least a 30 minute window, but always early). The good news is that you don’t have to register for self disembarkation, so you could wait to see what disembarkation time you are allocated and then take a view, but if you wish to use normal disembarkation then you have to put your luggage outside your cabin as you go to bed the last night. If you are travelling light and will be time limited, I would just self disembark as you are guaranteed not to have any delays in getting off the ship, trying to find luggage, getting through customs etc. We went on Iona in the August school holidays with 5,750 others and whilst the ship felt crowded, disembarkation was very good. One of our daughters decided to self disembark and was off the ship, collected her car and on the road by 7.30am. She was very impressed with it.
  5. They always get back on time, so you needn’t worry about that! The ships are usually docked by around 6am. We’ve never done self disembarkation, so others can confirm the precise timings, but I think it’s usually between around 7.15 and 8am. If you intend to stay in your cabin until 8am and then go for a quick breakfast you will be too late for self disembarkation and will have to wait for regular disembarkation. Your best bet is to grab a very early breakfast in the buffet and self disembark. It’s quite a walk to the station, especially with luggage, but you will be fine with a 9.30am train if you self disembark.
  6. If booking within the 3 months prior to the cruise (after balance due date - when the bargains can sometimes occur) isn’t an option for you (which I quite understand), booking at launch will usually be the best option. The general pattern tends to be that once the launch period has ended, prices go up. Thereafter, until the balance due date, prices will usually be higher than at launch, and sometimes by a very large amount (double the launch price isn’t at all uncommon). The best you can then hope for is an extra OBC offer that effectively takes the net price down towards launch price territory. It’s important to re-state that the two bargain fares that I secured were both after balance due date (so 3 months prior to departure). Booking a 2026 cruise in 2025 is almost certainly going to cost you a lot more than booking it now. Hope that all makes sense.
  7. Yes I completely understand that. Neither did I until retirement, hence why we always used to book at launch. Obviously booking at launch gives the satisfaction of having secured your first choice and being able to look forward to it over a prolonged period. Usually it also has the added benefit of being the best time to book, price wise, which was another reason why we always did it. It was a pleasant, but unexpected, surprise that we managed to nab two cruises at short notice at bargain prices. No idea if we will be as lucky again, but booking over 2 years out is no longer sensible for us given my wife’s health, so it’s a chance we’ll take. In the end, we all have to do what’s best for our circumstances. As we often say, there’s no right or wrong answer.
  8. Exactly. No lottery at all in our case. On both occasions that we booked after balance due date we were told the cabin numbers prior to paying, and they were cabins that we would have chosen had we booked on launch day at a much greater cost!
  9. We were definitely lucky Dai. On both cruises where this happened, I had enquired on a couple of previous occasions for each, and there was no availability of accessible balcony cabins, yet on the third time of asking (after balance due date) we managed to get one (in fact we had a choice of 2 on Britannia). As we know, a lot can happen in the two years between launch and balance due date that may affect people’s desire to go on the cruise. Obviously I have no idea why those 3 bookings were cancelled, but logic would suggest that those requiring accessible cabins may be more likely to have to pull out due to health related issues? Naturally I have no way of knowing if this will happen again as it’s supply and demand. This is now the second launch in a row where we haven’t been wowed enough by any itineraries to book so far out, and the few that have slightly appealed have been more than we’d be prepared to pay. However, I’ve kept a note of the launch prices and will monitor up to sail date. If the price becomes more attractive I might enquire, but I’m fully aware that luck would need to be on our side.
  10. I didn’t even look at Arvia and Iona as we aren’t interested in them. It’s possible to get within that price on Britannia and Ventura, and I found a few but, as mentioned we aren’t interested in booking that far out. I strongly suspect that more will become available within our target price if we book after balance due date, as we managed successfully with 2 cruises last year. As mentioned, launch prices aren’t always the cheapest nowadays.
  11. Pre-Covid we always used to book at launch because we have to have an accessible balcony cabin. It was a double win, because we secured one of these cabins and the launch prices were never bettered. Last year we booked cruises on both Britannia and Aurora after balance due date, paid less than the launch prices and still secure accessible balcony cabins. That experience has made us completely re-think our approach, especially as I’ve never been entirely comfortable having to book over 2 years in advance.
  12. I meant to add that exact point in my response. OBC is a marketing ploy to make people feel that they are getting a bargain when, in reality, they might not be. Periods of high OBC are usually accompanied by higher cruise prices. Clearly an on board offer of double or treble OBC makes it a better deal than booking at the same time ashore but, as evidenced by the recent example given in my post, it may well still end up being a poor move. People on board our recent cruise were chuffed at getting £1,200 OBC (treble OBC offer) on next years Grand Voyage, only to find that the cruise price dropped £2,000 afterwards, so that ‘offer’ cost them £800! Like you, in order to see through these marketing tactics, I simply work on a price cap, in my case £100 pppn for a balcony cabin. I calculate the cruise price as the quoted price minus OBC. So a 2 week cruise in a balcony cabin at £2,700 for the two of us, with no OBC, would get my interest. However, an on board offer of £500 OBC at a time when the cruise price was £3,400 wouldn’t! Then, of course, there’s the further complication that you don’t get loyalty discount off on-board spend when you have OBC, and on our 65 nighter people were ‘using up’ large sums of OBC on daft things just to get rid of it. Our total on board spend for the whole cruise was less than half the amount of OBC that some people had, we got 10% loyalty discount and, above all, we’d paid less than half the price for the cruise that those who’d got the ‘free’ OBC had paid 🤔
  13. As Phil says, there are usually offers but fluid pricing can often trump them. On our recent 65 night Grand Tour, lots of people booked next years Grand Tour whilst on board. There were some perceived very good deals like triple OBC. However, during the last week of our cruise, the price of that cruise dropped by about £2k, which suddenly made all those bookings extremely poor value!
  14. They do exist but are few and far between. We had the full questionnaire after our 65 nighter. I diligently filled it all in, but in all honesty I don’t think there’s a shred of evidence to suggest that they take a blind bit of notice of them, which I guess is why they’ve cut right back on them!
  15. Technically no, it’s meant to be after the balance has been paid, but I’ve applied for a November Cunard cruise and the OBC has been added!
  16. I”m always tempted to shout out “Hi-di-Hi” when they say that 🙄😂
  17. Yes. It’s only on Iona and only on one night of the cruise. It was fabulous. It often sells out on the day that reservations open though (14 days before the cruise?), so you have to be quick.
  18. The ‘British Vibe’ is one of the biggest reasons that we like P&O 😂 As others have said, tips are now included, which is a big positive. You can get drinks packages, but as on board drinks prices are very reasonable it’s much cheaper to pay as you go for many people. If you haven’t cruised with P&O for some years you will notice that they have repositioned themselves as a more mass market cruise line, with all that entails, and lots of little touches have gone, but the prices are keener than ever, especially if you can book late, so the value, if you book at the right time, is unbeatable.
  19. Interesting. As a number of us how now worked out, the days of launch prices never being beaten are long gone. I’ve looked through all the itineraries for Aurora, Arcadia, Ventura and Britannia. We aren’t interested in Iona or Arvia and Azura is fly cruises only. There are a few cruises that we’d be interested in but, with the exception of a couple of cruises on Britannia, they are well over our maximum price that we will now pay for P&O (£100 pppn balcony cabin). We shall wait until balance due date and see if we can snap up a bargain for well below launch prices, as we did twice last year.
  20. That would be my question too. I wouldn’t have thought that regional departures compensate for all of that. Frankly, neither line appeals to us at present. Fred Olsen due to their relaxed attitude to smoking and vaping and Saga as we wouldn’t get our moneys worth from the considerable extra cost of the ‘included’ extras. On our last few P&O cruises we have been struck by the number of passengers talking very positively about Ambassador Cruises and comparing them very favourably to P&O. We haven’t looked at them seriously as they have very few accessible balcony cabins (I think that some are just suites) and I find their pricing structure to be off putting (everything seems to offers rather than straightforward transparent pricing).
  21. Well I’ve had the email from our specialist TA (the one that many of us use) and none of the links work 😡 In reality, I think we will struggle to convince ourselves to book 2 years in advance. Chances are that my wife’s disability will have worsened by then, and also we made 2 late bookings last year that were cheaper than launch prices - and that was for accessible balcony cabins - so I’m struggling to see the benefit of booking this far in advance.
  22. We went on Britannia last summer (4th time on her) and aside from some problems with Freedom Dining, we enjoyed the cruise and the ship. The lack of promenade deck is an issue if you don’t have a balcony (which we always have). Having recently returned from the Caribbean, I would always pick the ship that visits the most ports. Arvia and Iona cruises tend to be somewhat ‘port lite’ compared to the other ships, and as we aren’t as keen on sea days we would always book the smaller ships over them (not that Britannia is small)!
  23. I said that these cruises “aren’t popular with everyone” which is factually correct. A repositioning cruise wouldn’t remotely appeal to us as we try to avoid long runs of sea days. For this reason, these cruises are usually keenly priced to start with. I also said that prices will be adjusted to get the numbers up if needed, as is the case with every cruise, which is why most cruises always run at, or close to, the quoted capacity. It’s also worth bearing in mind that ‘sold out’ on Iona and Arvia can mean around 5,000 - 5,200 passengers, as all cabins may be sold. However, these ships can, and do, accommodate 6.200 passengers in school holidays, which is a world of difference in terms of on board experience, which was the specific question that the OP had. So no porkies here!
  24. 5,000 is about the minimum that Arvia will ever sail with, as P&O will heavily discount prices in the 3 months before departure if numbers are still below that level. We haven’t been on Arvia but we’ve been on sister ship Iona with 5,750 others and it felt extremely busy, but these ships can go up to around 6,200 I believe if all upper berths are occupied. Those who have been on these ships with around 5,000 to 5,200 passengers have reported that it’s been OK. I should think that the repositioning cruise would be OK as there will be hardly any kids and those cruises aren’t popular with everyone, hence the lower prices.
  25. Arvia is supposed to be 100% Freedom Dining, yet it is possible for people to book a table at a fixed time for the entire duration of their cruise, if they are prepared to dine early. On other P&O ships, in consultation with waiters or restaurant managers, it is now sometimes possible to arrange the same once on board (same table, same time, every night) again, in Freedom dining restaurants. Having the same table at the same time every night is, in my opinion (and I’m sure most others), fixed dining, yet this is happening in Freedom dining restaurants, resulting in issues for those who wish to use Freedom dining as originally intended. This is nothing to do with Club dining, which is fixed because it’s meant to be. I cannot explain it any clearer than that, so won’t engage any further.
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