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jimdee3636

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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. I was on the Bliss this past April. I didn't go to any spin classes but I went to the gym every morning and could see the classes going on (there's a window on the door leading to the spin room). My impression was there was a class every day (or at least every sea day), usually around 9:00 or 9:30AM, and that the cost per class was about $20. There might be a discount if you buy a multiple-class package. There were quite a few bikes---maybe twenty or more---and the classes seemed mostly full, but of course there are 4000 passengers. I hope someone who has actually attended the spin classes can provide more detailed info, but maybe this will help.
  2. My wife and I are on the same cruise. Assuming that the maintenance work is truly necessary, I can't fault HAL for wanting to get it done ASAP, and I think their $100 pp OBC compensation (plus a refund of the Mazatlan docking fees) is fair. My only wish is that, if they had to cancel a port, they would have cancelled Cabo instead. I'm so sick of that place, and I hate tenders! So we'll stay on the ship when we're anchored there and enjoy drinking up some of our OBC!
  3. The fact that a wine is a blend is not, per se, a sign of lower quality. Virtually all the great Bordeaux wines, for example, are blends, including Chateau Lafite, Chateau Latour, Petrus, and Mouton Rothschild. You'll pay upwards of $1,000 a bottle in wine stores for some of these. And "real" French Champagnes are almost always blends. I'm not suggesting that the NCL East-West blends are high-quality wines, but it's wrong to say that all blends are inferior to single-grape wines.
  4. I've had only the white East-West (primarily a Sauvignon, as I recall), and it was decent but not worth $17.00 a glass. However, given NCL's "pay only the difference" beverage plan policy, it would cost you only $2.00 (plus 20% tip on the $2.00), which is tolerable. However, I think there's a Sancerre on the list at $22.00 or so (basically the same grape variety but a much more complex wine), that is well paying $5.00 more for than the E-W. Of course, I'm assuming that the Sancerre is still $22.00. If the East-West price increase is part of an across-the-board wine price increase, I may be done with NCL.
  5. I've been on five cruise lines that offer alcoholic beverage packages (Cunard, HAL, Princess, Norwegian, Oceania). I never drink during the day, but almost always have a couple of martinis before dinner and wine with dinner. Occasionally an after-dinner drink, but at most one. In general, unless the package is included in the cost of the cruise, I avoid the packages. At my level of consumption, I would probably break even with most packages, possibly come out a little ahead, but I'd have to constantly be asking whether a particular brand of wine or hard liquor is included in the package. Case in point: martinis. On our 21-night QM2 sailing this past summer I came to like "Three Queens" gin martinis (especially the QV variety). However, the cost of those martinis was exactly $12.05. Unless I'm mistaken, if I had the "$12.00 maximum" beverage package, I would have had to pay the full $12.05 for each such martini---NOT just the five cent difference. That's ridiculous! The alternative would have been to order martinis made with some no-name, godawful gin, which I won't do. There are cruise lines where the beverage package is less restrictive and includes all sorts of other things I drink (espresso, bottled water, etc.), but Cunard isn't one of them. My advice is to drink whatever you want and don't think twice about it. You'll have a happier cruise.
  6. My wife and I (HAL 4-star Mariners) were on a similar QM2 21-night crossing this past summer (NY to Southampton and Liverpool, up to Reykjavik, back to NY by way of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia). There were seven formal nights. We ate dinner every night in the Britannia Restaurant (MDR) and had pre-dinner drinks every night at the Chart Room (adjacent to the restaurant). Everyone was "dressed up" in these venues on formal nights, but I saw very few floor-length gowns. As others have said, cocktail dresses or dressy slacks/fancy blouses are more the norm, as are tuxedos or white dinner jackets for men. But even on "informal" nights, men have to wear at least a sport coat in these venues (about a third of the men also wore ties), so women also tended to dress a bit more elegantly than on non-formal HAL nights. It all meant a bit more packing and a bit longer getting dressed for dinner, but it was worth it. I'd go for it if I were you.
  7. Have I misunderstood the travel agent OBC concept all these years? I've always thought that since TA OBC is (presumably) paid for by the travel agency or the TA consortium they belong to (Virtuoso, Signature, etc.), a cruise line is losing nothing by allowing the OBC amount to be whatever the TA is willing to give. I would think that the more the OBC, the "richer" the guest feels, causing the guest to blow most of it on high-profit items like reserve wines, spa treatment, and expensive onboard shops. I was on a 7-night Silversea cruise once where we had $2,000 in OBC, half of it provided by our TA and half by Silversea. People couldn't spend the money fast enough! I've never sailed with VO, but their policy seems nonsensical.
  8. How about before dinner the first night at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar (adjacent to the Chart Room)? Order a nice bottle "just to toast us and the cruise," and then...well, propose.
  9. I'm an HAL Four-Star Mariner but cruise on other lines, too (in fact, quite often in recent years). If you're looking for good lecturers of all sorts, consider Cunard. My wife and I were on the Queen Mary 2 this past summer for 21 days (New York round-trip via England, Iceland, and Atlantic Canada). Fourteen of those days were sea days, and I can say without exaggeration that there were more lectures and other "enrichment" activities on that one cruise than on all our HAL cruises combined. Yes, Cunard can be pricier than HAL, but only if you insist on a "Grills Suite." We had a perfectly-fine "regular" mid-ship balcony cabin that was about the same price per day as most of HAL's longer voyages. The ship is beautiful, too, and the MDR is at least the equal of the ones on HAL.
  10. I've had drink packages on NCL, HAL, and Princess. The latter two cost about $65 to $70 a day (including the mandatory gratuity), but DO include bottled waters and specialty coffee drinks. However, NCL has a policy that I've seen on no other cruise line. If you want a drink that's above the $15 cut-off (let's say, a $25 glass of nice French wine), you'd pay only the difference, i.e., $10 (plus 20% gratuity on the $10). The other lines charge you the full price of those "over the limit" drinks. I've enjoyed some outstanding wines and Champagnes on NCL because of that policy. All-in-all, I'm OK with the NCL policy, despite the "$99 value" being inflated, and the bottled water and espresso exclusions. Having the package means you don't have to always ask yourself: "Is this drink really worth it?" You're on vacation---simplify your life and enjoy!
  11. I'm 72 and have been on 25 cruises of up to 30 days, and have never taken an elevator on a ship. On some of the bigger ships (I've been on several 4000 pax ships), you wind up doing 40 to 60 flights a day. Even if you never go to the gym that day, at least you know you've done some exercise. But, perhaps more importantly, you get to where you're going faster.
  12. Skynight: I appreciate your explanation, and thanks as well to the others who have posted. I think I misunderstood the difference between the medallion itself and the Medallion App. I had the impression that having the app---and all the Ocean Ready stuff that goes with it---was a precondition to using the medallion, that you couldn't even get on the ship without having the app on your phone already. Unlike most people, I don't have a smart phone of any kind, and I never will. (I'm simply incapable of understanding them). I guess I could use the medallion in the way that "skynight" explains, but I still don't see the necessity for the medallion system itself. Is it that hard to open your cabin door? Is it that hard to order a drink at Crooners? Is it that hard to tell your spouse or traveling companion, "I'll be in the gym if you're looking for me?" It seems to me that Princess is addressing "problems" that don't exist, or are so trivial that they don't need addressing.
  13. I've been on the Crown, Ruby, and Emerald for short cruises in 2014, 2016, and 2017, but never on a Princess ship that had the Medallion system in place. I'm thinking of booking a Cabo Getaway cruise on the Royal this coming February, but I'm hesitating because of the Medallion system on that ship. I just don't like the sound of it. All I want to do is show my room key if I want to buy something---the old-fashioned way, and the way I've done on recent cruises on HAL, NCL, Cunard, Oceania, and other lines. Can I simply say "No" to the Medallion and still be able to order drinks and make onboard purchases?
  14. The closest I've come was after my wife and I achieved four-star Mariner status in March of this year, we got a time-limited offer from Cunard (another Carnival-owned line) allowing us to book a new Cunard cruise at a status level comparable to HAL 4-star. We actually had a Cunard cruise already booked (21 nights on the Queen Mary 2 in July of this year, which was our first Cunard cruise ever), but we would have had to cancel it and re-book to get the higher status level. The price for our cabin category had gone up, so it wouldn't have been worth it. An across-the-board status-match policy like that of RCCI would be great for us and great for Carnival Corp.. It would encourage us HAL loyalists to "stay within the family" when we're tempted to try something new.
  15. Canuker: Thanks for the explanation. On the HAL Alaska cruise I mentioned we actually DID dock in Anchorage itself, at a mostly-industrial port about a five-minute shuttle bus ride from downtown. That was six or seven years ago so maybe it's not being used for cruise ships any more. It's no big deal for us, since we've never been to either Seward or Whittier. It will be nice to see a new place. Jim
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