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About ronbe65

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  1. People are getting stuck in the Bliss water slide from time to time. This is so different from the experience I've had on other NCL ships. Do some believe that getting stuck and crawling to the "emergency" hatch is even more fun? Will the Encore have the same issue/fun?
  2. Why not switch to Getaway or Escape then? IMO I wouldn't touch the Encore with or without kids. Happy cruising!
  3. We have just returned from Italy and France. The food experience was one of the highlights of the trip. However it's a big mistake to expect "European food" from MSC. The real European food is haven. MSC food is budget (low-end mass market) food that helps (along with other factors) keep fares low. That said, we've had good cruising vacations with MSC (both in Europe and the Caribbean). However we focus on other things that MSC does well, not the food. Video: MSC Preziosa Buffet Tour (Mediterranean cruises) The food on the Seaside was slightly better (not "americanized", but more variety). We loved some bakery items. I will post a review when it's ready. Happy cruising!
  4. The Oasis in 2020 will be a pale shadow of what it was originally. The ship will retain the entertainment vibe, but what once made this monster ship a real ship will be gone. The "improvements" started from the rear open decks (aka "secret balconies"). They were too good to be used for free. These areas are suites now. Then the iconic "Crown and Anchor" lounge was transformed into a "suites only" venue. The latest "update" is scrapping the forward viewing deck in favor of added cabins. For those never cruised on RCI, the changes can be explained this way: imagine the Crow's Nest converted into cabins, the Tamarind & Lounge converted into Neptune lounge, and the aft end of the pool deck closed off (suites only). RCI greediness has no boundaries (as seen both in RCI and Celebrity changes). I always keep this in mind while reading about "HAL cutbacks". Happy cruising!
  5. Sorry to hear that. It sounds to me like half of the ship was not explored and enjoyed. The Independence of the Seas is the best ship ever built for RCI, and one of a few best mega ships at sea overall. By its original design, this was a magnificent ship with amazing open spaces and fantastic bow to stern full circle promenade deck. I can continue, but in one word: that was a wow ship. The ship has suffered some improvements recently, such as adding cabins and exterminating "nooks and crannies" this wonderful ship had. Even wounded and covered with scars, the ship is still one of the best and most spacious at sea.
  6. The Oasis class ships (the Harmony included) are #1 entertaining ships at sea, and that is what they have been designed for. Happy cruising!
  7. Thanks for a well put thoughts and tips for dedicated Haven guests. My note is for the rest of cruising passengers. Please note that "Haven" product quality varies dramatically from ship to ship. I personally wouldn't consider paying an extra dollar for the Haven unless it's Bliss/Joy/Encore, i.e. ships with the observation lounge. None of 7-day Caribbean cruises is worth more than $800.00 pp. No exception. There is nothing superficial or magic in the Haven experience. It all depends on the personal perception of exclusivity and privacy. A luxury price tag is often a pass to so-called "luxury" ships or "ship-within-a-ship"gimmickry, but not always to 5* cruising experience. That said, I confirm that NCL haven product (limited to Bliss/Joy/Encore) is an excellent product that exceeds 4.5* mark. yes, this product is among a few best at sea. Another key to understanding the Haven experience: we cannot evaluate it separately form the rest of the ship. The Haven is just an enclave has to be complemented by other amenities on the ship (spa, fitness, pools, open promenades, dining options, shows). As to the Bliss/Joy/Encore Haven experience, the lack of adequate pools, crowded fitness center, and horrible open deck design (in case of Encore) prevents it from being 5*. Dreaming of a luxury cruising? Look around. A 5* cruising experience (instead of "luxury") may be next to you and cost you some 50-70% less.
  8. I wouldn't either. The ship is important. My favorite option for the Canary Islands itineraries was the Independent of the Seas 14 days from Southampton. Other than that (actually best options) are German lines (TUI, AIDA) that are "expert" lines in that area and operate better ships. Happy cruising!
  9. IMO Jan/Feb is too early for the Eastern itinerary (too cold). For the Southern itineraries, the best ship in Feb 2020 will be the Mein Schiff 2. The 14-day itinerary is fantastic. The prices at the moment are unbelievable - from $1600 pp. Included: All tips on board Softdrinks, beer, sparkling wine and a selection of wine, cocktails, longdrinks and spirits Specialty coffees and teas This is a German ship (the crew speak perfect English). Unfortunately departure from La Romana. Date Port Arrive Depart Fri 14/02/20 La Romana / Dominican Republic 22:00 Sat 15/02/20 At Sea Sun 16/02/20 Fort de France (Martinique) / Lesser Antilles 07:30 19:00 Mon 17/02/20 Bridgetown (Barbados) / Lesser Antilles 07:00 23:00 Tue 18/02/20 At Sea Wed 19/02/20 St. John's (Antigua) / Lesser Antilles 07:30 19:00 Thu 20/02/20 Roseau (Dominica) / Lesser Antilles 07:30 19:00 Fri 21/02/20 Port Castries (St. Lucia) / Lesser Antilles 07:30 19:00 Sat 22/02/20 Grenada / Lesser Antilles 07:30 19:00 Sun 23/02/20 At Sea Mon 24/02/20 Willemstad (Curaçao) / Netherlands Antilles 07:30 19:00 Tue 25/02/20 Bonaire / Netherlands Antilles 07:30 19:00 Wed 26/02/20 Oranjestad (Aruba) / Netherlands Antilles 07:30 19:00 Thu 27/02/20 At Sea Fri 28/02/20 La Romana / Dominican Republic 07:00 The second best option is more affordable (but offers less value) : 10 days on the Koningsdam. Departure from Florida. For the Southern itineraries, the best ship in Feb 2020 will be the Koningsdam. 10 days from $940: 10 Days Caribbean-Southern Holland America Line • Koningsdam Fort Lauderdale, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Bonaire, Willemstad/Curacao, Oranjestad, Fort Lauderdale 2 departure dates: Feb 2, 23 2020 Happy cruising!
  10. Havana pool won't be a "pool" to any extend. I call this a " large tub". Please scroll down to 10:25 mark in this video tour. Happy cruising!
  11. The ships may seem similar, but the difference is significant. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a different league - a unique ship in terms of personal space, privacy, connection to the sea. The NA also features better spa. On the positive side, I like the improved Lincoln Center Stage and the addition of the Dutch cafe. Unless we decide to travel in Europe, our options for the Caribbean cruise in March - April will be the Nieuw Amsterdam or MSC Yacht Club. We don't consider the NS at all. However, I can easily recommend the NS over any of Princess Royal class ships, Celebrity Edge, or "revolutionized" Solstice class ships. Happy cruising!
  12. Itchy&Scratchy, Have a great cruise vacation!
  13. They peeled all iconic Princess features off like potato skin. The rest is a generic floating hotel with no soul, no character. The Meraviglia is a bold statement in its price/quality category while the Royal class is nothing in particular about nothing in particular. Happy cruising!
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