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Liljo22

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About Liljo22

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Houston, TX
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean

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  1. Day 1 - Traveling the Mississippi FYI...I did not take any pictures myself. My wife took a lot but most are of the kids and I don't feel comfortable posting kids on the internet openly so not sure how many I can post. After getting on board about 12:30, we toured the ship some. We then did what everyone does the moment you get on and went to the buffet. The Getaway buffet is setup like most cruises I have been on. Its at the aft of the ship on the same deck as the pool. There are two sides with a duplicate selection on both sides. As soon as you walk in(after Washy Washy), there is kid centered items section; fries, chicken nuggets and such. Then you have salad bar, carving station, misc main entrees, drink station, desserts, grill section w/ hamburgers & hot dogs, pizza, thai/indian section, and finally vegetarian options and another drink station at the back. There is also a bar at the front and back that can do basic drinks. The food quality ranged from not good to good to great. I don't think anything stood out but we ate here for lunch almost every day and there was always plenty that we liked. At nights they would advertise a different theme night like Mexican or Italian but we did not eat there so not sure how much changed. There was also the ice cream machine by the kids section that my kids hit up a lot. Cabins were ready about 2/2:30. We went down to check out our cabin. We had Family Balcony 12214 which set up as the queen bed against the balcony with a couch made up as a bed and a pullman bed. Room was nice and we were able to empty our suitcases and keep all but one under the bed. Somehow we took 5 suitcases when we could have gotten away with 4. Balcony is small so if balcony size is important to you it might be an issue. There are two chairs and a table. The only issue we had was the faucet water always started out scolding hot and if you wanted it colder you had to run it for a couple of minutes. Delfin was our steward. We didn't see him the first day as we were not in the room for long but did meet him on the second day. After that, every time we saw him he would stop and talk with me for a minutes to see how everything was. He also did towel animals every night. I know that NCL policy was to stop but it seems like if you have kids they still do it. Our friends had a different steward and got towel animals also. Now we went back up for sail away which was running a little late due to the extra screening. For those that have not left out of New Orleans, its a very different experience than cruising out of other ports. Most of your first day is spent traveling down the Mississippi River. The other family we went with are originally from Louisiana and even they didn't believe me when I said it would take almost 7 hours before we get out to sea. The kids wanted to swim so they hit the pools. It was still cold out but they were in there for a while while the adults enjoyed drinks. After getting out, we all went up to deck 16 to watch sail away. The kids were done at this point but hungry so they grabbed a large dish of fries. Funny picture that I can post. There are three kids and a plate of fries under here. I will continue with dinner and night activities on the next post.
  2. Pre-Cruise Reservations I want to backtrack a bit and discuss the reservations I made pre-cruise. As I said before, I am a major planner. For Disney, I love logging into MDE and tweaking my Fastpasses. I found myself in MyNCL a lot just checking out what was available. As soon as reservations opened up, I booked the Million Dollar Quartet and Burn the Floor shows. I also booked a Cagney's reservation for an adults only night and Moderno for all eight of us. I also went in and booked MDR reservations for the other nights. People say its not needed but since there was eight, I was worried we would be waiting every night. Everyone was right. We never used our reservation times and just walked up with no issue. I usually book my excursions with a third party since NCL prices are inflated but decided against due to the possibility of the cruise getting cancelled. We pretty much "winged it" at most ports. I knew I was going to have to work some mornings on the cruise especially with this being a payroll week for my employees. I had planned on upgrading the internet plan to unlimited but held off for the same reason as the excursions. I am glad that I did. If you can hold off until day 2 it is $30 less for the upgrade. Its $84 if you upgrade before the cruise or the first day but $54 on the second day. This is if you take the internet package as a perk. I found the internet to be fine. It was faster than Carnival's but you could tell toward the end of the cruise that people with the 250 minutes perk were trying to use up their plans. By day 6 it was running slower. The one package I did purchase before hand was the arcade package. My son always asks to go to the arcade on ships so I knew it would get good use. Plus I figured I could use it to play darts or pool in O'Sheenans at night. There were plenty of green scanner games on the Getaway. The lowest prices were $1.70 for air hockey up to $5.68 for the simulator games. There was an included VR game in O'Sheenans that was over $10 but I told my kids not to use it since you have to put the googles on. I will say to make sure your kids understand its on one card. My daughter thought it was on her card and spend $20 the first night. It was $161 for the cruise if you bought it ahead of time and it doesn't show up in MyNCL until 60 days before. If you buy it on the ship its $25/day.
  3. Coronavirus, Metairie, and Embarkation Leading up to the cruise, I was getting nervous that it would get cancelled due to coronavirus. I was watching maps of where cases were turning up and it was mostly confined to California and Washington with a few cases in spread around. No cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama and 5 in Texas. We know now that is because testing was inadequate and not because there were no cases yet in those areas. NCL enacted the Peace of Mind but did not include the cruises leaving this weekend. I know that rightfully upset a lot of people but I don't think we would have cancelled either way. It was a pretty rough year for us. My Father-In-Law passed away as well a couple of other family members. Work for both my wife and I had also become super stressful. We needed this vacation. Plus, staying home would have probably meant going to the Rodeo with 70,000 people with a good chance at exposure anyways. The other family was a go also so only NCL cancelling would have derailed us now. We would be driving over from Houston so I wanted a Park and Cruise hotel in the NOLA area. For the Dawn, we did this in the Metairie/Airport area and it worked well. I chose the Holiday Inn Metairie and paid $222 for a night and up to 8 nights parking. The reviews were very good but boy did the reviews not match up to the actual experience. The hotel was pretty run down. Carpets were a mess and there was a smell on most of the floors. It was one night so it served its purpose. The plan was that we would leave Houston early Saturday so we could enjoy New Orleans that day. Plans changed as my wife and I were super busy that week with work and didn't even pack until Saturday morning. Turns out this was probably for the best since New Orleans was an unknown virus hot spot. We didn't get to the hotel until almost 11pm and we went straight to bed. I wanted to get to the port as early as possible. New Orleans' port is usually a mess as there is only one road in for both terminals. Didn't quite accomplish that but did get an Uber at 10:30. Turns out our Uber driver was also a tour guide. He was very talkative with New Orleans facts and history. Did you know that the Superdome is second largest room in the world? The first is AT&T Stadium in Dallas and the third is the Taj Mahal. The port was not too bad by the time we got there. He dropped us on the back side of the terminal by the porters who took our luggage right away. The security line was not long and moved quickly. After security there was a line to have your temperature taken and hand stamped. We made it at the right time because the line for security was backed up down the hallway now. Also, from what people on the facebook roll call said, parking was a mess. They said was confusing and the shuttles were backed up. We got to the check-in employee and they gave us the normal health questionnaire and another pertaining to coronavirus and international travel. They also took our passports to another table and checked our stamps for countries on the no travel list. We sadly only have a Bahamas and Mexico stamp so we were good. We were boarding group 9 and they were already on 5 so it would not be long. Our friends were still getting through security so we bypassed our group and waited on them so we could take a group photo with the NCL photographer.
  4. Hello Cruise Critic. I have been holding off on a trip report because of all the craziness on the boards right now. Someone asked for trip reports to help get them through this time without cruises so decided to give it a go. A little about us. We are a family of four with a 13 yr old daughter and 10 yr old son that have always enjoyed cruising. Originally from Florida and myself from South Florida so cruising was just an easy vacation for my wife's family and my family. I started cruising in high school on the Fantasy/Ecstasy and have been on NCL, CCL, RCCL, and DCL. I probably have 15 cruises under my belt. This is our 3rd NCL cruise. Our first was on the Sky in 2012 for a 4 day Bahamas cruise. This was a cruise my Mom put together for after my sister's wedding. There were about 25 of us which made it fun(and a little stressful). Of course we missed GSC because of weather. Our second was on the Dawn for this same cruise out of NOLA. We had a blast on this cruise. This was one of the last Dawn cruises before the complete refurb. She didn't have and of the bells and whistles but still brought a lot to the table. There were a ton of college spring breakers on this cruise that made it fun at night. Also, my kids were small enough that the dinosaur pool at the back of the ship was enough for them and they loved hanging out in the kids club. There were tears running down their face as we disembarked the ship. The Dawn actually was at two of our ports this cruise and they kept mentioning how much fun they had on that ship. Overall, we like NCL but I see the three major lines as equal. Each has their pros and cons and I can have a great time on any of them. I left DCL out of that though. I am a huge Disney fan but they have a different vibe than the other lines. Nightlife on the ship is important to my wife and I and DCL is not about that. I get it. Most cabins have small children so everyone is heading to bed early but when you go to the adult area and there are only a couple of people its disappointing. Given that and the fact that we can take two cruises on other lines for about what one on DCL costs, we avoid that cruise line now. I am the vacation planner of the family. I do a ton of price shopping before pulling the trigger and then scourer the internet for everything I can find on what to do. Hence why I am on CC. Picking a vacation is all about what has the better value to me. For this spring break, I had zeroed in on doing a cruise. We did a ski trip last year that was a blast but wanted something warm this year. We now live in Houston so there were two ships I was tracking pricing on; the Getaway and the Liberty OTS. Our last cruise was on the Vista out of Miami and although we had a great cruise, I wanted a ship we had not been on. The Liberty had the advantage of sailing out of Galveston but its itinerary was the trip around Cuba. We did this one on the Vista and I was disappointed in the ports mainly because of Jamaica. A lot of ports are pushy to buy stuff but Jamaica is all about selling pot. I am not against smoking pot. I have smoked at times in my life but I don't need to be whistled over every few feet asking if I want to buy good ganja right in front of my kids. Its not a deal breaker for a cruise but I would probably stay on the boat if we did port there. As I said before, we did the Cozumel/Belize/Roatan/Costa Maya route before on the Dawn and really liked it. The Getaway had that going for it. Of course it was going to come down to value. Both cruises were pricing about the same. An inside was tracking about $3k and balcony $4k for each line. It nice having a balcony but its not important to us. About October, NCL added 3rd and 4th free with all 5 perks for a balcony and above which took the balcony down to $3,053. A balcony with the drink/dining package for $1k less than the Liberty OTS was a no brainer. Booked. We convinced another family to join us. Their only cruise was a DCL with us and several other families that didn't turn as great as it could be. Not DCL's fault. We hit a cold front after the first sea day and it was rough the rest of the way. I am talking close down the outside decks rough. They have talked about giving cruising another shot so they booked a balcony also. Now that its booked, its time for my research and price watching. I came back to CC to get your all's tips and also watched video tours to get a feel of the Getaway. Pricing-wise, there was a small drop that I probably could have gotten about $35 in OBC for but I held off hoping for more. Pricing ended up dropping a lot about 30 days out but they were no longer selling quad balconies so no OBC for me.
  5. Agreed. Since NCL acknowledged the customer is due a refund, they have 90 days to process that refund per the Fair Credit Billing Act. Any money credited back is only temporary and will be reversed if NCL responds to the dispute.
  6. They may reorganize but I don't see any of the major lines liquidating. The assets they have are not easily movable for liquidation. All the cruise lines are struggling so its not like Royal will have enough liquidity to buy the Vista fleet and its not like they would want to anyways. That means creditors will be more willing to negotiate for Chapter 11 and not Chapter 7. If that were to happen, I could see it being more of a prepackaged bankruptcy that would allow the line to keep FCC in place. It does the creditors no good if cruise passengers are upset because they lost out on FCC.
  7. I understand what you are saying but they probably only have 2-3 people that handle billing/refunds in their accounting department. They probably will train a few other business employees to help but you don't want to start bringing in customer service people to handle it. Huge internal controls risk.
  8. It will also get added back to your account. Most have reported that the expiration date will be extended.
  9. NCL may have submitted a blank response to Amex for disputes which is being used.
  10. The VIFP is just the past guest rates. You do not need to play in the casino to get a VIFP rate. I have been following a cruise price under VIFP and its $259/pp for an interior for 4 with $500 OBC. The regular rate for the same interior is $457/pp with $100 OBC.
  11. They went to this on our March NCL cruise. It takes a lot of extra crew to do this as each station needs to be manned. It really wasn't a bother to us but some passengers were upset about how long it was taking sometimes.
  12. Amex will usually resolve quicker since they take the money back from the merchant right away. If the merchant is going to dispute the chargeback, its in their best interest to dispute it sooner with Amex for that reason. For Visa/MC/Discover, the money is not taken from the merchant until the dispute is finalized but they give a temporary credit to the card holder while the case is open. Given this, the merchant probably will wait the full 30 days before submitting.
  13. They are going to learn the hard way how the chargeback system works and how much it favors the merchant. On the merchant side I have never lost a chargeback on the initial dispute unless it was a stolen card that was used. I have lost arbitration hearings but if they have to go to arbitration they are not going to fully get their money back until 3-4 months down the line when they were going to get it in 90 days anyways. Credit Card companies make it seem like they work for the card holder but its the merchant that is paying them.
  14. Here in Houston, both Southwest(Hobby) and United(Bush) built new terminals recently. https://hub.united.com/united-houston-new-terminal-c-2567373000.html https://www.aviationpros.com/airports/airports-municipalities/news/11182222/southwest-begins-construction-of-new-terminal
  15. Carnival is the only line that I have seen discount sailings so far. They are offering past guests $500 OBC per stateroom if they book right now on top of lower rates. Really want to book the Liberty OTS but prices are still about $3k for a inside for 4. I can get an inside on the Vista for about $1600 plus $500 OBC.
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