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Everything posted by Sthrngary

  1. @sassycruiser Hello, I wrote the big thread on the Haven. I have cruised on the Getaway from Nola in the Haven. Ask me anything. Happy to help. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  2. Well, it seems many think getting to know the staff on a cruise is unusual. Using the comparison of staying in a hotel and not carry about the staff the same way as some do on a cruise. Those folk gave their personal opinions and we should all allow opinions whether we like them or not to express how someone really feels. That is why it is called social media. If you disagree, you are also allowed to say something. "Nice setup, right." I personally disagree. Part of a GREAT cruise experience to me is meeting and getting to know the staff/crew. Taking an interest in their lives and experiences. Not every waking moment of every day, just in passing. I do the same thing with almost everyone I meet. It is what makes cruising different then the 1,000's of days I have spent in hotels in my business travel career. Now if it is not your thing to do that, I respect your decision. It is MY thing, I will continue to do it. I will also continue to over tip those that provided superior service. WHY, I like when people see me and smile first because I showed a level of interest in them and second because I valued their extra efforts. Now since this is a Haven Thread, I have rarely had any crew member in the Haven be anything less then outstanding with the exception of a butler or two. I fixed that with my approach which works for me but NOT everyone that tries it. If I have something to complain about it is very rude guests that think they own the place. On a cruise a few years ago, I had a guest that was a constant complainer. He said he was HUGE on CruiseCritic.com. After a while I had enough, I asked him what his name was on CruiseCritic.com. He said, "SthrnGary". That is ME? To my shock, he was impersonating, "ME". I played along just enough to let this person put his foot in his month. Then I say, "OK, I have had enough. You have been rude to almost everyone you have come in contact with. You say you are "SthrnGary", that is really funny." He asked why, "I say, because I am SthrnGary". He said, you are NOT. I turned my phone around and showed him my account on CruiseCritic.com. His face got red and I never saw him again on that cruise. Look folks, Just make your next cruise all it can be. Find people you enjoy and enjoy the people you find. It is one hell of a hobby and makes you feel like a Rock Star for a week or so a year. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  3. @ChiefMateJRK Oh, I totally get it. I see those also. If I have not had my coffee yet OR if I have had to many coffee's I write quite the response. I then delete it. I REALLY want to post it, but I delete it. WHY, because as you said, something triggered me. My trigger is different then yours. But just as triggering. My grammar and spelling well, can be challenging. A few times, some folks have rolled over me like I was trash on the street. You should have seen those emails before I deleted them. Back to your point, the Haven is nice for sure. But so is Haven Lite. Everyone needs to do what is right for them. I see your point on some of the comments. They almost sound like a cruiser is a second class person because they don't do a expensive suite. Nothing could be further from the truth. A cruiser is a cruiser. We all have a budget. The reason many of us go on NCL regardless of the stateroom is what the entire ship offers us. If we wanted something different, we would go to another brand. If I personally had all the money in the world, I would go on Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection or Regent Seven Seas. Like you, I can't possibly see how that would make my time and vacation that much better for the 8x increase in price. Yet some love it and also some were disappointed in it. Just the decision we all have to make about cruising. Hey, lets make a deal. If we ever cruise together, lets share a meal together. Meeting folks on this board can be a really fun and interesting thing. Deal. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  4. @ChiefMateJRK Some like expensive staterooms, others don't. Some share their reasoning, others don't. We all mostly love cruising, some different then others. That makes us all a community. I used to RV. I had a pull behind trailer and sometimes, the RV next to me had a Million Dollar Bus RV. Funny, when we were cooking dinner at night, we both had hot dogs. I always remember that. Kind of a reality check. I also pay WAY to much for staterooms/Suites. In my case, I do it because as I got older, I got Bougie. I admit it fully. I am a older, portly, Bougie guy. There I finally said it, LOL. Earlier in my life, like 40 plus years ago, I was in an inside cabin on my honeymoon with bunk beds. It was to us, all the luxury we would ever need. As time went on, we upped the stateroom over the four decades. My last stateroom was a Vista Suite on Oceania Cruises. It was 1,300 sft, half the front of the ship that wrapped around the side balcony, and lots of amenities. We had our friends with us and they had full access to our suite especially the full bar. Would I do it again, NO. Why, waisted space never utilized, the balcony furniture was tied down during cruising, the outside hot tub on the deck did not have hot water, and it had an exercise room we used for luggage storage. Now I know that so I will choose accordingly in the future. My point is, the the stateroom does not make the cruise, nor the cruiser. Smaller or larger does not mean better. Sometimes, as in some brands, it can mean better depending on your tastes. Expressing enjoyment of any stateroom should never cause issues with other guests. In my case, I grew up poor, had some health issues which are now resolved and simply want to enjoy my vacations the way I choose to enjoy them. Kind of like I enjoy posting on CruiseCritic.com. Most of the time, we help each other approach future cruises better. That is super helpful and has really enhance my past few cruising experience. Nice community of folks. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  5. @graphicguy Bermuda. The Joy is one of my favorite ships. It was originally designed for the Asian Market, quickly got redone to for the US market. The Pool area is a bit different but I kind of liked it. Overall, very nice comfortable ship. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  6. @NclCruiuser I am so excited for you. I personally love the NCL Joy. Allow me to help: Night Light: I always bring a night light for the bathroom. It is rumored you can ask for one but I never count on that. Smart move by the way. CPAP: Please call the Haven Pre-Cruise Desk and tell them you will be bringing a CPAP. They will provide you with an extension cord if needed and water for the CPAP at no charge. Outlets: This one is tricky. I usually bring a Power Strip that is made for Cruise Ships. Most Surge Suppressors can hurt the electrical system on a ship so they are very strict. I put the power strips in a central location with one of the multi charger cords for two iPhone and other devices. Outlets: When the re-designed the Joy from the Asian Market to the US market, they added US power sources. You should be fine. Do I also take a European converter, yes. Candy for the Crew: I have never done this but I think they would like it. I have seen some folks give out small Milky ways and such. I think they would like a gratuity better but it is the thought that counts. I have traveled all my adult life for business and every week I would bring the flight crew of the jet I was on a box of See's Chocolates. See's is a bit expensive but that is what I did. I am about to go to Europe with my adult daughter. I have ordered two boxes of 1 lbs and several small boxes for agents at the counter. Again, not needed but it is the thought that counts. Give it to those that did a good job per your question. I also have a small thank you note i give with the candy. I hope that answered your questions. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  7. @justhappy Great post. I say, "Just be Happy". Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  8. @kd1044 Well said. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  9. @CruisingSince1982 A couple of additions to Haven Lite. First, if you can gain a Cabana in the Vibe Beach Club, consider it. Second, always bid for a Haven Suite. Do your due diligence to make sure it is a bargain upgrade. You might get lucky. As the Haven has gotten more expensive, let folks grab them upfront. Who knows, the new Haven Lite by be the actual Haven. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  10. @blackwing Sorry for your experience. Addressing your topic. All I can do is give you my perspective. As you did based on your recent experiences. Pre-Covid: I cruised NCL and Celebrity. Both in and out of the Haven and Retreat. I will say the Haven and Retreat was far better then when I was on the rest of the ship. That said, it was based on over crowding more then anything in my opinion. Just After Cruising Began After Covid: My first few cruises were outstanding. Everyone was great from the crew to the guest. Even when we were told to wear masks, it did not matter. I notices back then, that the ships were 50% filled so no crowds ever. This experience was both NCL and Crystal. One Year Ago: The ships were over crowded again and with all due respect, the crazies were in full form. Pushy, rude and nasty. November 2023: I was on NCL sister line, Oceania. The ship was sold out and I never felt like there was a crowd. Every was was beyond nice. Where there Chair Hogs, yes. Was their rude guest, NO. Cruising is a group of random people going on vacation. The more you pack them in, the more people tend to be rude. That might not be a fact. It is however my opinion. To eliminate my vacation from being remembered as a bad time. I take less now, stay in the area's like the Haven, Retreat or Yacht Club. I cruise lines that cost a little more and have less people. That is my solution to avoid what happened to you. Not for everyone but has worked for me. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  11. To answer your question. I like the NCL Joy vibe because it is both sides of the ship. I usually stay in the Haven and to take the Vibe as an option. Then I did my first and ONLY Solo cruise and had a Club Suite. I took the Vibe for that cruise. The Vibe like many topics have those that love it and those that don't. I LOVE the Vibe. They have a bar, they treat everyone like rock stars and love the frozen fruit. I also stayed in a Cabana on the Breakaway in the Vibe. Nice but not close to as nice as the Joy. My opinion ONLY. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  12. @Crusing5960 You are right, gratuities is a hot bed for debate and controversial responses. So lets start with the normal response. Gratuities are personal, give what you think is right based on the experience you received. Give the Butler his/ tip on day one. Give the Butler half his/her tip on day one and the other half at the end based on service. Only provide gratuity to the butler at the end of the trip and only if they did a great job. No need to tip the Haven Concierge, wait staff or bartender. Always tip the Haven Concierge, wait staff or bartender. Never give extra to the room steward. Always give extra to the room steward. Did you get all that. Now for what I think you are really trying to do. You are new, you want to prepare, you want to be fair because gratuities is so important to the crew. I will share what I do and as so many people have told me over the many years, that does not make it right. Butler: I usually give the butler between $100 and $150 per seven day cruise. I am not sure if you will have the same stateroom and butler for the 21 days so you might want to provide the gratuities at the beginning or end of each week. You know your situation best. The Butlers on NCL do not participate in the pre-paid gratuities program. Haven Concierge: I usually give $50.00 to the Concierge staff per seven day cruise. Usually at the end of the week the day before we leave. Since you are on a 21 day cruise, you can do it three times or all at once at the end. Some pay more, some pay less, some don't tip at all. Servers and Bartenders: If you get great service or you feel it would make your future service better, provide gratuities as it seems appropriate. I usually tip the bartender on day one with $20.00. I do it again a couple of time if my service is good to great. Some guest do more, less and none. Servers are if the service was outstanding. I tend to wait to the end of the cruise to pick and choose who did the best job. I am sure other will kick in. Hope that was helpful. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  13. Because I have to much time on my hands, I look at cruise pricing almost every day. I really focus on them the first day of every month. I booked a cruise last November will cruising on the Oceania Riviera in the Mediterranean. The cruise we booked was October 2025, on the Oceania Vista, 10-Day Mediterranean Cruise that went so mostly different ports then our Riviera Cruise. By booking onboard, we got 5% off the fare because we booked it so far in advance, $600.00 per cabin off because it was a Penthouse, $250.00 OBC for the new cruise, and $800.00 of SimplyMore excursions which is now $600.00 if you booked it today. As of this morning, the rates for this cruise which is wide open went up $400.00 per guest. I was hoping to say a reduction or sale but not this time. I found this interesting and will watch in the future it a few months from now, they do a "Super Sale" reduce to fare by simply giving back what they just added. That last sentence is simply a theory but one that I will enjoy watching if it should unfold. Fare watching is a hobby of mine. In this case, I am very happy we pulled the trigger on the ship. What I am unhappy about is the darn cruise is so far away. Cruise well and Enjoy Every Moment.
  14. @Daniel A I did not want to continue to talk about Oceania on the NCL Board. Your last focus was on the drink package. I also always get or upgrade to the Full Drink Package. The now pricing on Oceania it includes an Amenities Package called "SimplyMore". That includes Wine, Champagne and Beer at Lunch and Dinner meals. For $30.00 per day per guest, you can gain the Full Unlimited Drink Package with spirits. All me also to add, you are allowed to bring both Wine and Spirits onboard (Usually 6 bottles per port). So for example, when I am in Italy, I get two bottles of really nice Italian wine for my wife to have in the stateroom. Also, you can ask your Butler (other server) to bring you a drink or wine to your stateroom. We never did that, and always had wine from the ports is the reason why. I also felt like the Oceania Penthouse was equal to the a NCL Haven Penthouse Suite in the Haven Proper. Also included are soft drinks replenished daily based on what you like. Again, you can ask me any question.
  15. @havoc315 Interestingly, in the Haven Bar, there is usually 2-4 seats with the same folks every time yo go to the bar. I am exaggerating but not by much. It is much easier to get a drink in the Haven Bar but love to sit at the bar sometime. Not a complaint, just an observation. The reason for my comment is, whether you are on NCL or ultra Luxury brand/category, folks that are chair hogs (Pool and Bar), folks that over drink (not happy drunks) and hit/miss food happen. Just my take and every ones take is different based on their experiences. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  16. @graphicguy I have done lots of documentation on Oceania. I do not want to post it here because this is a NCL Haven Thread. Just go to my profile and look at my attachments. The FYI Attachment may give you some good information. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  17. @Daniel A I will look forward to reading your review. It is different and I think you will very much enjoy it. The best way I describe it is everyone is essentially treated the same when you leave your stateroom. I never had a hard time getting a drink at any bar. All bartenders are really excellent and will make you unique drinks. I am a coffee drinker especially in the morning. The Barista Bar is open to everyone and again, never seemed to be crowded. Food is relative and Oceania in my opinion was a tick better then NCL especially in the specialty restaurants. Overall, a better all around experience from a personalized service standpoint because again, everyone is treated the same. When I want high energy, lots of activities, lots of entertainment venues, lots of bars; I go on NCL in the Haven. When I want port intensive, relaxing, upgraded service for everyone on the ship I to on Oceania. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  18. @graphicguy Happy to kick in with what I know. Oceania Cruises and other brands pricing seem to be based on starting with a standard fare and catching sales. Sometimes, if you get lucky you can catch two sales that both apply. We did that for our 10 day European Cruise on November 2023. I got a four category upgrade and another sail called the Extraordinary sales event. My point, sales on Oceania make a difference. Back to your point. Prior to booking that cruise, I took lots of brands and did a very intense excel comparison. Not the easiest thing I ever did. Every Cruise line had different amenities. The brands included, SeaBourne, Silver Seas, Celebrity (Balcony and Retreat), NCL (Viva balcony and Haven), Regent Seven Seas (Below penthouse), Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Oceania Cruises, and a few others. Oceania won and that was with only the four category upgrade to penthouse. Side note: As it came close to the departure date, the Viva started to discount the fare even in the Haven. However, the airfare was twice as high if you had to purchase it from the airline brand. When you go from a Mega Ship to a ship like Oceania that has 1200 guest, you have give and take. No slides, better food. No Broadway shows, nicer quieter lounges with better drinks. It is never the same. So when I have a port intensive trip, I do smaller better category brands. Again, and I can not over emphasize this. When you book, you look often at the sales as they come up and get your agent to adjust the fares. Let me know if you need any other information. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  19. @Lorne317 My pleasure and this will your Once in a Lifetime Cruise. As will your next one and the one after. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  20. I just picked up my mail, a nice full sized brochure from Oceania was in the mail box. This was the promotion. I looked for my cruise booked in 2025 and it was not one of them. It looks to be a lot of Asian and Australian ports/itineraries. The question we need to ask is: "Why would a cruise brand give a pre-cruise hotel?" "Are these itineraries such that they need a boost?" "Is this a kind of sale or a marketing approach to make things easier and a bit more costly?" When the website is updated for April, we will soon find out this and other answers to questions not yet asked. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  21. Not negative at all. Just realistic. However, you make a huge point I hope is not missed by others. Someone on a ship was listening. It was your wife's birthday and they made it special. That is "Personalized Service" and that is the part of cruising most often missed. The feeling it gives someone to be treated special has no words. All any of us really want is to be treated like a "Rock Star" 7 days in a year. We are just normal people but for those seven days, "Personalized Service" rings the bell. I loved the picture and love the description of your wife feelings. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  22. @McGarrett5oh Your plan is based on your past experience. It is based on lowered expectations. That makes is right for you. My Butler Letter should never have been needed. The Butlers if truly trained and committed to doing the job, should have performed their duties. Some did NOT. So My Butler letter got better results for me, not everyone obviously. A little time has passed and many butlers for me. My additional experience now shows me that better brands, have better butlers. Better brands pay their butlers so the tip that the guest provides is just an extra thank you rather then a major part of their compensation. Butlers on Main Stream Brand, in Suites or VIP area's will always be over worked, under supervised and trained. They always look nice thought. But looks can be deceiving. @McGarrett5oh in my opinion, the most powerful thing you said was, "lower your expectations". I say it another way, "Have Realistic Expectations". That is why to this day, whether on NCL or Regent Seven Seas; I still say, "Butlers are hit or miss." Same, it should not be that way. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  23. Social Media is for the sharing of idea's and opinions. When it gets messy is when different groups disagree with the opinion and it becomes combative. Instead of "live and let live". It becomes "a hill to die" on for some strange reason. A personal afront to a person because they want the entire ship access but pay for normal access. Some like the Haven, some don't for what every reason they choose to have. The cruise brands really LIKE the area's similar to the Haven. They make huge profits there. Any guest that goes on a ship that has a VIP section does so knowing there will be restrictive area's they can not go to because they did not pay the premium. If they don't like that situation, book on another brand. You knew the deal before you cruised or YOU did not do your due diligence. I personally rarely address these complaints about these VIP area's on CruiseCritic.com or any other social media site. People just want to complain sometimes about things that they feel are unfair. Just the world we live in. This time, for what ever reason I spoke out. I first tried very hard to be balanced, fair and understanding. Then I got a little more direct. Now, I am just done with the topic and people that post only when they are feeling wronged. All they want is other folks to support their point of view. They don't want to fix anything. If they did, they would take their issue to the cruise company. A truly losing battle which is why they show up here. Folks, if you don't like what the notion of the Haven, Retreat or Yacht Club does to a ship, go on a ship that does not have one. If you think it is not a value, have the common courtesy to booking before you trash it. Ask yourself a question, why did you choose a line with this area. It is not my fault or any guest in this area. We knew exactly what we were doing. We studied it, knew the costs and made a educated business decision. Some times we do not go to this area yet do a concept called "Haven Lite". Again, a well thought out plan to achieve our cruising experience objective. If you have an issue with these area, make your case and move on. Don't forget to take some level of accountability for your choose. These area's are here to stay. Now that you know that, choose a better choice for you and your family. "Live and let live." Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  24. @jleslie48 Well thank you for agreeing with my post. Spend YOUR money where you feel it will be the best value. Now and allow me to say it again. Your point has been made, you don't like the Haven. Opinions are all we really have. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
  25. @nu#1 Thank you for taking the time. It impresses me that you choose to post on your journey. You have been on CruiseCritic.com for a very long time and rarely post. That to me makes your post even more important. The noise issue was nice to hear. So was your opinion of Ember. But what I will really take to heart is the Odyssey Menu. My upcoming Vista Cruise I will make that a reservation. Thank you for that. Please post more. You are clear, fair and easy to understand. Much appreciated. Cruise well and enjoy every moment.
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