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About JillK

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Interests
    Reading, Travel, Toronto Blue Jays, Cross Stitch
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, RCI, Carnival, Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Go on to NCL.com and go through the process of searching for the cruise(s) you're interested in. When you toggle down to see the sail dates, the promos show up with colour-coded tabs - Orange is the free/reduced air promo (see below). I also continue through the booking process to where you select your perks and input your gateway info to see if the air for that particular cruise is "free" or reduced. I currently have two cruises booked taking advantage of this promo and for us, even though I have to give up control regarding what airline/flight time/etc. it is worth it financially. For example, earlier this week I received my flight information for a cruise in December. I priced out those exact flights and they are cost $1040 Cdn to buy outright. Hope this helps! I
  2. The only place where I can see notification of my actual flights is in the email sent by NCL. Actual flight information does not appear anywhere on NCL.com. Only thing I can see under Vacation Summary at NCL.com is the summary as BostonGal35 shows above.... and then again under the "Air, Hotel, Transfer" tab it shows city and airport code (that's how I knew we'd fly into LGA as opposed to JFK). Thought actual booked flight information might be populated into the vacation summary but that does not appear to be the case.
  3. Imagine my surprise when I log into email this morning and see my "Air Confirmation" for my cruise in December. Flights are direct, coded United but are in fact Westjet flights - one of the airlines I collect points with so that's a bonus. Times are actually good - we arrive at 4:00 pm so will be able to get settled into our hotel and have a nice pre-cruise evening in the city. Our departure time is a little late at 6:00 pm so since I have a lot of lead time, I may call and see if we can get switched to an earlier flight as there is another one at the same price that leaves mid-afternoon (no doubt my parents will be happy to be relieved of watching my four kids sooner rather than later!) That being said, if no change is able to be made, I am happy. To OP - to book these exact flights today would cost me $1,041.44 (cdn) so that is my savings. You should look at flights and see how much you will save and whether you can live with giving up control of your flight bookings and the uncertainty. If you don't feel comfortable not being able to chose your flights, then it may be worth the expense of booking your own flights. Regardless of how you get there - happy cruising!
  4. I have the "free air" promo booked for my cruise in December. I realize fully that the price of the air is baked into our fare. That being said, everyone is paying for the promo since there is no lower cost to booking "cruise only" (minus the NCL transfers that are automatically added to the total price). I have paid the $25 pp to add air deviation in order to fly in a day ahead as we prefer to have a bit of breathing room and cancelled the incoming portion of the airport transfer. Am I expecting to be booked on my preferred airline at the best time of day that is convenient to me? No. Am I hoping we get direct routing? Given its a short-haul flight (Toronto - LGA), yes but I know it's possible I will be routed through Montreal. Am I prepared to live with the above, and the uncertainty of not knowing until closer to the cruise? Yes. I am a planner and usually like to retain control of all aspects of my travel bookings, so this is a big step for me. Since the kids aren't coming on this getaway, we feel more able to undertake the uncertainty and welcome the savings (cheapest fare available today is $885). Ultimately you need to decide if the uncertainty and probable inconvenience of routing/schedule is worth whatever savings you will be able to realize.
  5. We did the same thing with the air promo for an early December cruise flying into LGA. Paid deviation fee and cancelled the incoming transfer (keeping only the post-cruise transfer from pier to airport). We are planning to use a shuttle service to get from LGA to the hotel I booked on my own. It will likely be easier to get directly from your hotel to pier unless you are staying near the airport of course. Good luck!
  6. I recently booked an 11 night cruise and figured out based on the gratuity I was charged that we were given 5 nights as the dining perk so you can expect the same. Enjoy!!
  7. Hi there. We have cruised with two of our kids in our cabin on five cruises. One inside with Disney and the other four have been balcony cabins: 1 with Celebrity and 3 with NCL (once on Epic, twice on Escape). Out of all these cabins, the inside with Disney was the most generously sized but then again, the kids were smaller! We find that the NCL cabins themselves are tight for four, especially in the evenings when the additional beds are fully deployed. As another poster mentioned, the only difference between balcony and minisuite is a larger bathroom and the balcony will be smaller than your current category so there's no benefit to you switching to minisuite. No sure what category you are referring to with family room - I know some of NCL's cabins are called "family" but I believe that generally indicates that they are located close to the kids' club with no real difference in the cabin size itself. If you want more space, you are left looking at a suite which I have always found financially unpalatable. You are likely best off staying right where you are, it is nice to have a balcony to escape to and you won't regret having it - particularly the larger one where you can get a lounger or fit more chairs than the standard balcony can.
  8. Have to agree with those who voted for BBC. Hubby and I don't typically drink frozen drinks but I sent him to the bar on our last cruise on the Escape and it was love at first sip. We really enjoyed them when we were in the pool area - very refreshing on a hot Caribbean day.
  9. I know Carnival introduced an easy pay program last year but I believe it's interest-free (not 100% sure what their program looks like)... have to assume NCL must have thought they could make money doing something similar.
  10. Wow - this is so disappointing! That mac and cheese looks absolutely disgusting. Our experience there in December was so outstanding that we booked a second night for later in the cruise that was just as excellent. So sorry that you didn't get a fantastic experience - which everyone should every time they go to a specialty.
  11. I believe you are correct. When I use NCL to price, the cruise rate is the same whether or not I input my info to select my gateway. It's only after you select the airport you are flying from that you see the cost of air (if any) and the airport transfers that they add automatically (but which can be cancelled). Price for the cruise itself remains unchanged.
  12. I used the same TA (not the one above) to book both my previous 12 night NCL cruise and the upcoming 11 night NCL cruise so I would have to assume the change is with NCL. I do see that when you click "learn more" on NCL's splash page regarding the current offer, under "specialty dining" it does read "Guests 1 & 2 receive a dining package with up to 5 free meals at our Specialty venues."
  13. I really like NCL but have also enjoyed wonderful cruises with Royal, Carnival, Celebrity and Princess. When I look at a cruise vacation I always check NCL, Royal and Carnival and will book what represents the best fit (sail date/itinerary) and what is most cost effective for my family of 6. When hubby and I are travelling solo I also price Celebrity and Princess. Hubby and I recently booked a cruise without the kids on the GEM and we are cruising with the whole family split in two cabins (no romance there) over the next two years, one with Royal and the other with NCL. Like many others, I'm not impressed with NCL constantly raising their prices for this and that, but at the end of the day if the date, itinerary and price work, that's who will get my vacation money. Yes, it would be great to focus on one line and built loyalty points but sometimes NCL's offerings don't work as well as another line. In terms of NCL specifically I agree with the OP that the welcome back to the ship with cool towels and drinks at the pier have been so, so nice. Because we have kids and avail ourselves of the kids club, this is a huge factor for us right now and we also find that NCL has a great kids program that our boys (7 & 8 at the time) really loved on our last cruise on the Escape. I'm curious to see how they and my teen daughters (8, 10, 13 & 15 at time of sailing) will find the kids/teen program with Royal next year. Experiences like the kids offerings, service and general atmosphere also greatly influence our decision.
  14. I think this promo really requires research to insure you are getting the best deal. Until recently most of the airfare from Toronto was reduced but several cruises out of Boston, NYC and Florida now offer "free" airfare. I booked a cruise for hubby and I in December out of NYC under this promo and the air is in fact free. We won't know for some time what flights we will be assigned and they likely will not be ones I would have chosen if I was paying out of pocket, but I was willing to take the chance to get the savings. I did opt to pay the $25 USD pp deviation fee to come in the day before we sail and also was able to easily cancel the NCL transfers that are automatically put on your booking ($70 USD pp return for NYC). As of today, the lowest airfare from Toronto to Laguardia (myNCL shows that is where we'll be flying into) on the dates I am flying on Air Canada (Delta code share partner) are $822 (cdn) to $841 (cdn) on Westjet (United code share partner) so I am saving at least that much vs. buying the flights (around $650 usd). These are our nation's two carriers so we have far less choice in terms of finding discounted air than our friends to the south. Considering that everything costs us Canadians 30% more given our poor exchange rate, I'll gladly take that savings!
  15. I think this is very new. We cruised 12 nights on the Escape in December and had four meals when we selected the dining package as one of our perks. I recently booked an 11 night cruise on the Gem and assumed I would get four nights as well. Thanks for posting this - checked my fare breakdown and we have been charged the five night gratuity so looking forward to an extra night specialty! You could double check your fare breakdown for your cruise in January to see how much gratuity you paid- that would tell you whether you had 5 but only used 4 or if you did indeed only have the 4. Keep in mind that depending on when you booked the January cruise you may have been grandfathered in to 18% gratuity (as we were for our cruise in December) so you might find the amount you paid doesn't align perfectly with the chart above.
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