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Everything posted by fshagan

  1. We use disposable wipes on both the airplane and the cabin. On the airplane we wipe the armrests, tray table and anything else we may need to touch. Then in the cabin we wipe down the bathroom, tv remote, phone and door handles. We wash our hands frequently in any case, and do use the sanitizers while on board. I have been sick on one cruise and stayed in my cabin until I was feeling better.
  2. Some things are exempt from the 3 ounce rule, including medication and certain life-sustaining liquids like breast milk.
  3. The State Department issues advisories about taking drugs into other countries. Here's what they link to for Mexico: https://mx.usembassy.gov/information-regarding-bringing-medications-into-mexico/ Some common things like Sudafed are illegal. State recommends you have a letter from your doctor and the original prescription bottles for any prescription meds you take; see the section "Local Laws and Special Circumstances" on this page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Mexico.html. This list is in Spanish, but you can load it in the Chrome browser and have it translate it into English: http://www.aduanas-mexico.com.mx/cgi-bin/ctarnet/notas_ex/listas_cap29.html That is the long list of prohibited drugs. You should have a copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor if you are taking those. We haven't done that in the past, and probably won't in the future. We take the risk, thinking that our cabin on the ship is relatively safe from searches while in the common Mexican ports.
  4. As everyone said, NCL charges the $15 on every bottle you bring on board. What is a bit unique is that they don't limit the number of bottles you can bring (most lines limit you to two bottles per cabin). If you favor a particular wine it's not a bad deal. You can take the bottle to dinner, and if you don't finish it, they will store it for you and bring it to your next dinner no matter where you eat.
  5. I love when that happens! We had that happen on Breakaway on our last cruise.
  6. Airports are treated differently than ports for domestic flights. The TSA isn't officially looking for drugs, and when they find them they refer the issue to the local police. At LAX, you won't be arrested or detained for taking cannabis on a domestic flight. They will warn you if the destination state is one where cannabis is illegal. But if you have a ticket to Seattle or Denver, the TSA agent says "what's this?" and you say "medical marijuana" and they usually just let you pass without even a referral. The ports are a different matter. The DEA or local police are looking for drugs. They will bust you and haul you off to jail. The ship won't let you board and refer you if they find it. In ports, the ship allows local officials to conduct searches of the ship for passengers with drugs. It just isn't worth it. If you can't procure legal opioids for your chronic pain then cruising has some special risks you won't get vacationing other ways. You should also get some narcan in case the opioids try to kill you; unlike cannabis, you can overdose and they can kill you.
  7. On our recent Breakaway cruise we missed two ports, and overnighted in San Juan. A tropical storm affected our itinerary, and then a medical emergency forced the ship to sail closer to San Juan later in the cruise for a helicopter evac, and we couldn't make it to Nassau, so we had an extra sea day. The lobby was full of people asking what was going on, with some complaining. We hung around to hear how people react. We heard things that I'm sure people didn't mean, but said in their frustration. The "white uniforms" were in the lobby in force to help explain things to people. This is how several of the exchanges went: White uniform: We had to divert because of a passenger requiring medical attention, and we were in fear she would die. Passenger: That sounds like her problem. Not mine. White uniform: Passenger: Well? White uniform: We are required by maritime law to do whatever we can to save lives.
  8. I just did mock bookings for August, 2020, on both Virgin (8/2 sailing) and NCL (8/23) for a five night cruise, both in a mid-ship balcony. VV prices per cabin, with taxes and fees is $2,660. Gratuities included. NCL price was calculated using only two promos, the wifi (free on VV) and specialty dining (free on VV). I did not include the drink package or other promos on NCL. NCL price for a mid-ship balcony, for two people was $2,519, but you have to add the daily service charge of $15 per person per day to that, so it's $2,669. To recap, ladies and gentlemen: Virgin: $2,660 NCL: $2,669 The variable here is the drinking. We don't take the drink package on NCL because they charge $19.80/day each for a gratuity on the retail value of the package, and we don't have a drink every day. That would add $198 to the cruise cost for NCL. IF the drinks on Virgin will cost you more than $198, then NCL's cruise is probably a better deal. But Virgin is not really overpriced any time I do this calculation.
  9. Andy or Vivian Ewart, the VP of Passenger Services, are both pretty responsive. Twitter works really well for contacting Andy. The character limit ensures you won't be seen as a nut job. @nclandy Most complaint emails seem to be from nut jobs. After 40 years dealing with the public I can count on one hand the number of letters and emails that look to be from sane people.
  10. I looked at beverage policies a year or two ago, and I recall a few lines don't charge a corkage fee for wine you bring on board as long as you consume it in your cabin. But, you were limited to 2 bottles per cabin at embarkation. RCL and Carnival were in this category. Princess and NCL allow more than two bottles of wine to be brought on board. I believe Princess didn't charge anything for the first bottle per PERSON (so two bottles if you are traveling double occupancy), but did for subsequent bottles at $15 per. Like the others, Princess does charge you if you drink it in any public area. NCL also allows you bring on any quantity but charges the $15 corkage per bottle. Disney allows you two bottles of wine or 6 cans of beer at embarkation, and another two bottles or 6 cans at each port (the only line I found that does this), but charges $25 per bottle corkage if you want to have the wine with dinner (the beer cannot be consumed anywhere but your cabin). So, wine drinkers pick your poison. If you like to bring more than 2 bottles of wine then Princess saves you $30 by allowing the first two without corkage as long as you consume in your cabin. NCL is next with unlimited bottles at embarkation, albeit with a $15 charge per bottle. Or, go with Disney and start with two bottles and discover local beer or wine at each port. If you drink in your cabin, there's no extra charge with Disney, but to drink in a public place you pay more - $25 per bottle.
  11. That's correct; as long as you use the balance completely within one year there are no fees. After that, they charge you an equivalent of 20% APR on the remaining balance. It's a very bad deal if you are buying them as a gift for someone who doesn't have a cruise booked already.
  12. One thing I think hasn't been mentioned is that the earnings call follows a specific format. The comment in both the NCL and RCCL earnings call about raising prices is in the first section, dealing with their revenue. In that context, they don't use "marketing language" at all. Only revenue items would be included that section. They are boring to read, and even more boring to hear, and you appreciate them getting to the point.
  13. Just to add, they will open and then store your bottle of wine for use the next night. It doesn't matter which restaurant you eat in; they will go and get your opened bottle and serve it to you the following night.
  14. The transcript of the call starts with this: The topic of the call is the earnings of the cruise line. Here's a quote from RCCL's earnings call (statement by Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CFO): Blatant talk about raising prices AND controlling expenses. I know we are all shocked (SHOCKED!) that companies try to earn a profit! In protest, I am going to try and go broke to show them how it should be done.
  15. NCL has two types of OBC, refundable and non-refundable. Refundable credit is often given by travel agents. Every time I have gotten OBC from NCL, either from the shareholder credit or if they include it in a promo, it is non-refundable. It can be used to buy anything on the ship that is sold as far as I know, but cannot be used for the DSC. Any balance left at the end is forfeited and not returned to you.
  16. We always buy some water for our NCL cruises. It's a taste preference for us, as we don't like the chlorine taste the water from the cabin tap has. We do drink the water in restaurants and bars, and it tastes fine to us. It is carbon filtered to remove the chlorine taste. We prefer to have the bottled water as a convenience in our cabin at night. A 6 pack works fine for that. We drink a lot of water, and drink very little alcohol or soda. So water is important to us. No one who has a preference for a specific soda, beer, wine, or type of alcohol should have a problem with people who have a preference for a specific type of water.
  17. I would never use a NCL gift card. From https://www.ncl.com/giftcard/faq Q: Do any fees apply to the Gift Card? A: Yes, the following fees apply: 1) Dormancy Fee of $3.00 will apply after 12 months of inactivity and every month thereafter. 2) Replacement Fee of $6.95 for Lost or Stolen cards to be reissued. 3) Expedited Shipping Fee of $15.95 for expedited shipping service. There is no reason to pay NCL $3 a month for gift cards you hold over a year. For a $250 gift card held for three months past the deadline the $3 a month would be over 20% interest if expressed as an APR.
  18. I'm just guessing, but the $300 amount and the word "incidentals" makes me wonder if it is the initial "hold" they put on the card when you start a cruise. It is a pre-authorization for "incidentals" that will show up on some cards during the initial billing period. It could be that "hold" or "pre-auth" that got transferred to your other credit card as a valid charge. Transferring a bill from one credit card to another can be a complicated process. In most companies, you would have to credit the first charge manually after getting approval from someone. Then, you have to manually enter the line items onto another invoice and select the credit card to bill it to. I'm thinking that perhaps a mistake was made if the original invoice in their computer showed the "hold" charge and the person couldn't distinguish it from the valid charges.
  19. NCL adds a mandatory 20% service charge on all drinks, so it isn't just the $9 or $10 for a "bottom shelf" mixed drink. It's more like $10.80 or $12 per drink. So at 2 drinks you are at a breakeven with the ~$20 per day drink package.
  20. We never take the drink package, and I used to tell people the 3 drink per day thing. But we did order two drinks on board our last cruise and the bill was $38 with the mandatory 20% gratuity. I had a Jamison's and my wife had a Bay Breeze. That's almost a break even on the ~$20 a day gratuity for the package. I understand why people who drink like the ~$20 per day drink package!
  21. It's a great example. We just took a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Breakaway and choose the sailaway balcony rate, at $499 pp (regular rates were about twice that, so quite a bit more). I did this only after checking what the worst balcony cabins were on the Breakaway - the partially obstructed balconies at the bow that are above the theater. We lucked out and instead got a forward balcony that was one cabin away from the mid-ship category. We were very pleased. We don't usually get the drink package anyway because we rarely drink on the ship. But we did order two drinks one evening with our "bonus OBC" we got for missing a port. My Jamison's and my wife's Bay Breeze came to something like $38 with the mandatory gratuity. So if you drink more than one drink per day I think the plan is probably worth it.
  22. I'm confused. The wording isn't very clear. I have three questions: 1. If NCL uses the tip pool for all the dealers is the only change the percentage split between local tips and fleetwide tip pool? 2. If NCL used to use the tip pool, but has stopped using it while at the same time lowering the percentage to the ship's dealers from 50 to 40%? Two changes in this one, abandoning the tip pool and also reducing the amount of tips the dealers on the ship get. 3. If NCL never used the tip pool and the dealers got 50%, then is the only change that the dealers are now getting 40%?
  23. I think all the cruise lines (except one) treat e-cigs exactly the same as cigarettes. The exception is HAL that allows vaping in the stateroom (but not on the balcony). The interesting thing is that HAL used to allow smoking on the balconies; when they banned smoking on the balconies they made an exception for vaping in the stateroom. The same enforcement rationale is given for banning vaping on the balconies. Prohibitions against vaping in the cabin are not enforceable anyway; no one is going to know that you vaped in the cabin (assuming unscented vape juice.) But, so far, I think HAL is the only one with such an exclusion.
  24. I think two things are important to remember about ship's water. Even with the chlorination it is probably safer than many municipal water systems because of the consistency of the chlorine level throughout the system. I also think that the ship probably has a lower level of "disinfection by-products" (DBP) in the water. In municipal systems there are often organic compounds from dirt seeping into the lines, tree roots, etc. that won't exist on a ship. When chlorine oxidizes these organic compounds they produce DBP that some think might be carcinogenic (like chloroform and other trihalomethanes). Your local municipal water quality report will have the levels in your water compared to the allowable levels set by the CDC or other agencies. For those who are immune system impaired, or either very young or older, the safe levels set by your municipality may still cause problems. I like to use the https://www.ewg.org data base for stricter levels and recommendations on how to make the tap water safer (filtering, primarily). Here's my city's report: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/system.php?pws=CA5610007 The chart on the bottom shows that carbon filtering, like used in bars, buffet and restaurants on the ship, removes these contaminants. I'm sure the ship also tests for these chemicals, and I suspect they have virtually zero of them due to the nature of their small, closed loop system that is meticulously maintained.
  25. Nice. I noticed they are adding more cabins and thought that usually means taking from lounge spaces like the Spinnaker Lounge on some ships. But it looks like the Spinnaker Lounge is in the video as all-new. We're not a fan of big ships with 4,000 passengers, so seeing updates to a smaller ship is nice. I know they are probably increasing passenger capacity of the Spirit with the new cabins, but I'm hopeful that the increase won't lead to the kind of environment that we don't like on the bigger ships.
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