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About jimdee3636

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Tucson, AZ
  • Interests
    Good food and wine, interesting conversations, gym workouts, exploring places on foot.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL, Silversea, Oceania, Princess, Cunard

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  1. Since you live in L.A. and are budget-minded, why don't you sign up for Princess' "Drop & Go" specials? They're usually for cruises 30 to 60 days out, which might make last-minute air travel expensive for some people but you don't have to worry about that. I've gotten those deals three times out of L.A., which is only a one-hour, usually inexpensive flight from Tucson.
  2. Norwegian charges a 20% mandatory gratuity on the "free" drinks package. The drinks package is "valued" at $99 a day, so that means you're charged about $20 a day, per person for the (supposedly) free package. When Princess includes the alcoholic beverage package, there is no added charge for the gratuities; they're included in the price of the cruise. By the way, the Norwegian package does NOT include bottled water or espresso drinks, both of which ARE included in the Princess package.
  3. I'm curious to know what, if anything, you've done. The advice you got in September, while probably well-meaning, was hopelessly optimistic. and that's not just hindsight. The Hong Kong protests had been going on since June and getting more heated by the day, and are still going on. The current coronavirus scare just adds to the reasons to avoid the place. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the Taksim Square analogy one guy mentioned. Yes, it was a fairly short-lived event, but only because of the brutal suppression of it that left several dozen people dead, including my best friend's daughter. My guess is that he and his wife aren't laughing at it as "nothing," the way one commentator, above, did.
  4. Assuming there's a long (and I mean LONG) prison sentence imposed, this is probably as close to justice as the dead woman's family could expect.
  5. I agree 100%. The big jump is from three-star to four-star. Our first cruise after attaining four-star status was only for seven nights, but we put the benefits to use immediately (free laundry twice and a six-bottle wine package at 50% off). Our next HAL cruise will be for 28 nights, so these perks will be a Godsend.
  6. The doctor's report will be crucial. He or she should make it clear that traveling by air and/or sea is off-limits at this time, and explain why. If you can't get sufficient medical documentation, you can still file a "cancel for any reason" claim, but that will only get you future cruise credit, not a monetary refund. As for air, unless your flights are on Southwest you'll probably be looking at change fees, although, as coral has pointed out, maybe the credit card you used to pay for your flights might offer some protection.
  7. I'm reminded of a comedian on a HAL cruise a few years back. He said: "I just got off a ship named the Dead Weight of the Seas. it's so big it can't move. They have to tow the islands to the ship." We all laughed, but I'm wondering if he was foretelling the future.
  8. I meant to say in my response, above, that I took two NCL cruises in 2019 (not 2020).
  9. I'm a 4-star Mariner with HAL (meaning 200+ nights onboard), but in 2020 I took two short cruises on the NCL Bliss and Joy. There are definitely differences between the two lines. First of all, virtually all NCL ships are bigger. The Bliss, for example, holds 4004 passengers (vs. around 2,100 for the Eurodam), assuming two to a cabin, but at holiday times people with kids on NCL will often sail with three, four, or more in the cabins.There could be 5,000 or more on some sailings. Although NCL will always have lots more families and kids kids, the one time of year that HAL will have more kids than usual is Christmas/New Year's weeks (and sometimes spring break weeks in the Caribbean). I usually avoid holiday and spring break weeks, but I would certainly think that HAL would still be relatively "saner" than NCL during those periods. As for MDR evening dining, HAL gives you the choice of either fixed dining times (5:30PM---I think---or 8:00PM), or anytime dining (I believe it's from 5:15PM to 9:00PM, but don't quote me on that because we always opt for the late-seating fixed dining). From what I understand, early fixed seating is more in-demand than late seating, so if that's your choice you should request it at the time you book your cruise. If a table for two is important to you, be sure to request that, too. In general, MDR attire tends to be dressier on HAL than on NCL. I was surprised to find that the MDR food on NCL was as good as that on HAL, although I think the HAL service is usually better, at least in the fixed-dining section. The specialty restaurants on NCL are more numerous than those on HAL, and are probably better, too. For me, the good aspects of NCL (the dining, the cost-to-value ratio, the cabins) are very good, but the bad aspects (the generally zooey atmosphere) are pretty bad.
  10. I should have added to the final paragraph, above, that if the things I mentioned aren't all that important to you, or if you're concerned that Silversea may be beyond your budget at this time, by all means go with Oceania. It offers a superior and satisfying cruise experience in most respects. I'm definitely open to sailing with them again if the itinerary is right.
  11. My wife and I have been on three cruises with Silversea (two on the Spirit, one on the "old" Cloud) and three with Oceania (two on the Marina, one on the Riviera). All six of these cruises were great in their own way, partly because we were realistic enough to know ahead of time that the O experience wouldn't be simply a less-expensive version of the Silversea experience. The larger O ships carry twice as many guests as the largest Silversea ships. The O cabins---although very nice---are smaller. The dress code on O is decidedly more informal (a plus for some, a negative for others). The quality of the MDR and specialty restaurant food, though, is very good on both lines, maybe equal. The one big advantage of Silversea, at least for martini and wine drinkers like us, is that it's alcohol-included. We always bought the alcohol package on O ships, but that adds about $75 pp, per day, and it requires you to constantly have to take your card out and give it to the server. The other annoying thing about O's pay-as-you-go drink policy is that it seems to attract a lot of cheap drinkers, i.e., people who will flock in droves to the free-drink events (the Captain's welcome party, etc.) but then never show up in the bars before or after dinner. As a result, the bars on O were either feast or famine, usually famine. Bottom line: if you can afford Silversea, if you like to dress for dinner, and if you enjoy eating and drinking in a relaxed and sophisticated ambiance, go with Silversea.
  12. My wife and I typically cruise together (about 25 so far, with two more booked, mostly fairly long cruises on HAL, Cunard, Oceania, and Silversea). But once a year or so we each take a "solo" vacation, my wife usually to some big city, and me on a Princess ship. I've done three short (four or five day) solo cruises over the past few years, on the Crown, Emerald, and Ruby, and all three times I booked an inside cabin, partly to save money but mostly to get me out of the cabin for most of the day. I'm an early riser, so I'll start every day lingering over espressos and breakfast sandwiches at the International Cafe, watching the ship come to life and chatting with some of the other breakfast regulars there. I'll also have my lunches there, and hang around the Piazza to chat and people-watch. I'll go to the gym every day, sometimes more than once (I'll do weights for, say, a half hour, then go walk around the outside decks, then return to the gym for another half hour or so). In the early evening I'll have a martini or two in Crooner's or a glass of wine in Vine's. For dinner, I'll eat alone at a table for two in one of the specialty restaurants, which I think are (on Princess) head-and-shoulders above the MDR. I love conversation but I also love being alone with my thoughts and enjoying the great food---and more people-watching. I might go back to Crooner's for a quick after-dinner drink before heading back to my cabin. I've never been bored.
  13. If you think three gala nights in two weeks is a lot, sail on the Cunard Queen Mary 2. We did a 21-night cruise on that ship this past July, and there were seven formal nights. And people really took it seriously: I'd say that 90% of the men wore tuxedos or white dinner jackets, and 10% wore dark suits (I'm not including those who ate dinner in the Lido on those nights). It actually was fun, and there's no quicker way for a man to feel like the second coming of Cary Grant (even if he looks like me!).
  14. I'm not sure if the above link will work, but a CC member named "VMax1700" compiles a monthly list of upcoming Holland America charters (full-ship and partials) and drydocks. Maybe he or she can tell you how it's done.
  15. Although we enjoy meeting people in various venues on our cruises---bars, the gym, the observation lounge---and we have sometimes asked our "new friends" to join us for dinner, we don't like being forced to share a dinner table with strangers. We've had some good experiences but some bad ones, too, and the bad ones seem to stay in our memory longer.
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