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Everything posted by JillK

  1. 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!
  2. 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!!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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."
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. 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.
  12. Thanks all for your input. Mking8288 - I would less concerned with the configuration of your photos, where there is a side table on each side of the bed thus allowing some passage at the side of the bed. The video of the cabin we currently have booked showed no table on the side with the berth, and that is what's giving me pause. There are some sideways obstructed cabins available so we may change to one of those. We have cruised in an obstructed oceanview previously (even though there is no view, it was nice to have a sense of the time of day/weather from natural light versus an inside) so that's not really an issue and I do like that they are located on a higher deck. Appreciate all the input - these comments will help us make a much more informed decision. And no matter what, we always have a great cruise! We've never seen the point in sweating the small stuff once you're onboard and the clock is ticking on your down time.
  13. We are currently booked in cabin #5082. I generally book midship regardless of inside/out/balcony because I'm susceptible to motion sickness until I get my sea legs or in rough conditions so this one fit that bill but I am concerned about the berth hanging off the wall (have only previously been in cabins where they have been recessed into the wall).
  14. Hi All. Just looking for some advice from previous GEM cruisers... We are leaving our four kids behind with my parents and taking a getaway in December just the hubby and I. When we cruise with the kids we general get balcony (and take advantage kids sail free) but when it's just the two of us, we are more price-conscious and tend to book either inside or oceanview. As such, we booked a category 01 oceanview but I have since seen video of the cabin we selected and there is a third berth hanging off the wall right over the bed on hubby sleeps. From the video, with the bed put together in a king configuration, it was pressed tight against the wall under the berth so that hubby would have to awkwardly climb into bed. It appears as though there are no 2 passenger max cabins available in the 01 category so if we want to at least eliminate that obstacle, then we would either need to look at moving to either the porthole oceanview or obstructed oceanview. Just wondering if it's worth trying to make a change and if so, would the porthole cabin on deck 4 or obstructed cabin on deck 8 be a better choice? Many thanks to all who take the time to reply.
  15. Thank you so much for posting this work around!! I always check ncl.com but always book in USD with an agent since I don't like being locked into the cruise line's exchange rate. It appears as though the current NCL exchange rate is about 1.339. A big improvement would be if we could select between USD and CDN currency like you can on Royal Caribbean's site.
  16. The advantage you get when you purchase is on board credit for the cruise you are on. For example, I only paid $125 for $250 value each for two this past December. As long as whomever you are buying them from is willing to part with them at their cost (or any amount less than face value), then you are also getting a discount. Folks post on here regularly looking to sell certificates they don't think they'll be able to use prior to expiry so if you're interested, just keep your eyes peeled!
  17. We have been assigned connecting cabins twice when I booked guarantee cabins - once on the Carnival Victory (oceanview cabins) and once on Oasis of the Seas (neighbourhood balconies). There was very little noise from our neighbours on the Victory although on two occasions we could hear them speaking (though not clearly enough to make out what they were saying - just muttering noises). The noise leaking through the connecting doors on the Oasis however was substantial. We could hear their toilet flush, hear their shower running and make out every word of any conversation they had when they were standing near the door (which faced the bathroom). They were early risers and woke us up every single morning (we had left our four kids at home and were trying to sleep!) through no fault of their own. Vowed that I would never book a connecting cabin again unless my family was next door after that experience with RCI but like I said, there weren't any issues with the Victory so you should be ok - especially if it's your family.
  18. Yes - that's entirely possible or perhaps it was just particularly windy that day making the waves nice and big. It was aggressive in a fun way for me and hubby but it battered our little guys around quite a bit so we had to be nice and close to them (which they *LOVED* of course). In any case, it would not stop us from booking the entire excursion again next time we are visiting Antigua (we left our daughters at home this past trip so it would all be new to them should we visit again in the future). I'm sure you will find an awesome excursion from one of the recommendations you've gotten - best wishes for a fantastic cruise and memorable excursions.
  19. This was a Royal Caribbean tour that I booked online when they had a sale. We really enjoyed the experience and still talk about it often as a highlight of the trip (although to be fair, there were MANY highlights). I would recommend trying tripadvisor to see if you can find something similar being offered locally if RCI is no longer offering this tour. That being said, I'm sure you can find lots of great alternatives as there is so much to see if Kilkenny doesn't pan out. Enjoy your cruise!
  20. We were in both St. Kitts and Antigua in early December. Although we have an impressive track record of booking ship excursions, for both of these islands we did book independently. We went with the "Captial and beach splash" excursion in St. Kitts through Thenford Grey as we have been to St. Kitts twice previously and already done the extensive island tour. We thought it was a nice beach day but be aware that everything at the beach is going to cost you extra (lounger, umbrella, etc) so bring plenty of extra cash. We had an incredible experience on Antigua though -- definitely the best tour we have ever been on in our many cruises. We booked the "Best of Paradise Island Tour with BBQ Lunch" with Gordon Finch tours (http://www.tourguidegordon.com/). We were very fortunate to have Jerome as our guide for the day. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about his island. This tour was extensive and included Nelson's Dockyard, Shirley Heights, lunch right by the ocean (my oldest son still says this was his favourite meal of the cruise) and a beach stop. I can't remember the name of the beach we stopped at but it was just ok. The waves were very assertive (making it difficult for our 7 and 9 year olds) and it was covered in crushed shells so it was unpleasant on your feet and in your bathing suit. There is a bar where the other couple on our tour spent their time instead of getting wet. You also had to pay to use the toilets and the attendants were quite aggressive about it. That being said, we would highly recommend this company and Jerome in particular - a really wonderful day that has made us want to go back to Antigua again. Enjoy your cruise!
  21. My parents took me on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas for my university graduation in 1998. It was my second cruise (first at 17 aboard the Norway) but this is the one that got me hooked. Of course cruising was an entirely different experience back then with formal nights, meeting the Captain at the Captain's dinner (and getting a photo), formal sittings only, midnight buffets, etc, etc.
  22. My first few cruises in the Caribbean back in the 1990's we (as Canadians - not sure if Americans did as well) did have to go through a process of dropping off our passports at the start of the cruise and then picking them up at the end. Before everything was digital I suppose it was the most efficient way to get everyone through passport control. We have been able to keep our passports for many years now but we did have a repeat of this handing in and picking up passports when we sailed on the Brilliance to the UK last year, and it was for everyone aboard regardless of nationality. Handed them over before making our first port and got them back toward the end of the cruise so it does still happen. The upside was that we got some great entry stamps!
  23. Oh my goodness - this had me laughing. We were on the Escape this past December and there was one particular gentleman that seems to have been branded as the "Washy Washy" guy. He was most prominent at the main entrance to the Garden Cafe encouraging us all in song to sanitize our hands upon entering the buffet. He often times accompanied himself with a tambourine. Sweetest guy - anytime he was about the ship and not singing, someone (who usually sounded like they'd put back a few) would inevitably shout "hey - sing the washy washy song" and the poor guy would always stop whatever he was doing and sing. We frequently saw him "performing" for people while they filmed him and I'm sure you saw him on youtube (I do not want to go down that rabbit hole so I'm not about to try to find out). Even now a few months later, every now and then, my 7 year old will bust out with "washy washy make you happy" so it's definitely stuck!
  24. We did exactly the same thing a few months back for March break 2020 for our family of six and we are very curious to see what it's like. I have cruised primarily in insides and oceanviews and only switched to balconies when booking with NCL and Celebrity under 3rd/4th pax free when booking that category. The only exception was when we booked a neighbourhood balcony on Oasis and were able to get this category (guarantee) for a nominal amount more than we could selecting an inside cabin. I agree with many people in that I prefer to be able to cruise more often rather than have a balcony on every cruise. For those that I did cruise in a balcony, I really didn't use it that much but do appreciate the larger size cabin. Our last inside was on the Brilliance in the UK last year and it was a generous size with a comfortable seating area and a drape to separate the bed from the rest of the cabin. We really liked the cabin and like most other people, find we don't use it alot during the day. We are more interested in being out and about on the ship and can always find a nook or cranny to play cards or read. You won't know until you try it if you like it or not of course but whatever you decide, happy cruising!
  25. Agreed... it's been extended for months now and can't imagine they'll change it as long as they are happy with their booking rate.
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