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About MarkWiltonM

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Wilton Manors, Florida
  • Interests
    Tennis, dogs, cooking, reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL and Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. I am afraid I agree with you. As much as I love cruising, I'm not going to cruise again if the only way it can be safely done also takes the fun out of it. At home here in South Florida, I adhere vigilantly to social distancing and mask wearing. I only go to grocery stores very early and as seldom as possible. I havn't been in a restaurant in months (except to pick up takeout), etc. It's not fun but it's necessary. Although I feel I have no choice in my daily life except to adhere to guidelines to protect myself and my family, if I can't do the things I most enjoy about cruising (which is to escape the daily grind and be carefree for a couple of weeks at a time) I won't cruise until the pandemic passes. I hope the cruise lines are around then. I have cruises booked for April 2021, November 2021, and January 2022. I think it's very unlikely there will be an widely available effective vaccine in time for next April, and possibly not before the other two as well.
  2. I was on Silhouette in March and there was a Breitling store. And a dedicated Cartier watch store as well.
  3. We mostly sail Solstice-class ships on Celebrity, but we also like the new HAL Pinnacle-class ships, in particular because of the food in the buffet, which is better than on Celebrity, and because of the Crow's Nest, which is a favorite of most HAL cruisers. It's equivalent to the Sky Observation Lounge on Celebrity, but the lounge on Celebrity is routinely off limits in the evenings because of special events (such as Happy Hour for Captain's Club members; we don't drink alcohol so this is of no benefit to us). The Crow's Nest, which has a nice coffee bar that Sky Observation Lounge lacks, is always open as far as I know. When they have private parties or events they tend to restrict them to a portion of the Crow's Nest but don't close it entirely. HAL was ahead of the pandemic in eliminating self-service in the buffet, which works great. I can't speak to entertainment in the theaters because we find shows lacking on all cruise ships and rarely go, but in general the rotating musicians on Celebrity in the atrium and pool, etc., tend to be better than the musicians on HAL, except that we like the classical quintet that performs on Lincoln Center Stage. We don't go to the casino but we do have to pass by it and the smoke is the grossest thing about HAL. The staterooms and the service are comparable on both lines, but the new HAL ships have notably excellent water pressure in the large showers. I have recently looked at HAL pricing and the Pinnacle-class ships are a bit more expensive than Celebrity's Solstice-class ships, and HAL is not as generous with perks. HAL's new Pinnacle class ships may be comparable in price to Celebrity's new Edge class ships, but I'm not sure.
  4. I don't see any information on this vaccine being proved safe and effective. AstaZeneca just started enrolling subjects in a combined Phase 2/3 trial on May 22. I find it extremely unlikely (impossible) that they have results. The news today is that they have decided to ramp up production before they know if the vaccine works.
  5. I also miss planning my cruises. I miss the excitement of embarkation day. I miss getting on the ship and then not having to make any decisions except for what fun, effortless thing we want to do next. I miss not having to cook, clean, and walk the dog (even though I love and miss the dog when I'm on a cruise). I miss being at sea, on the water. I miss waking up early on port days to watch the ship come into the harbor. I miss watching people go crazy over "flash sales" of silly junk (what fun!). I miss walking by the Park West art gallery and marveling at the prices for such incredibly bad art (especially compared to the high-quality art by well-known contemporary artists that Celebrity owns and is displayed on the Solstice-class ships). I especially miss Cafe al Bacio--the best coffee and service anywhere. I miss looking at all the food in the buffet and figuring out what I want to eat--even if I'm disappointed by half of it. Who cares? We're on a cruise! (I do not miss the food in the main dining room or the specialty restaurants. We are eating much better food at home!)
  6. I don't think an extra day of deep cleaning at port is likely to help. The primary transmission route of of influenza viruses, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, etc., is through the air (sneezing, coughing, or even talking). Extra cleaning of the ship may help reduce fomite transmission (contact with objects) but that isn't going to help once people board the ship and fail to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer and begin shaking hands, sharing utensils in buffets, touching elevator buttons, using handrails, etc. Of course, shaking hands and sharing utensils (in buffets) are unlikely to happen when cruising resumes. I think people will be much more careful with elevator buttons and handrails as well. I am an expert now at pushing elevator buttons with my elbow, and opening doors with the bottom of my shirt, etc. For those who need to use handrails on stairs, etc., bring gloves!
  7. We consider ourselves foodies and frequently dine out on land. But I don't think any of Celebrity's specialty restaurants are worth a visit. We never had a decent meal at Tuscan Grille even though the menu sounds good. We mildly enjoyed Murano for a few years and then got bored with it. It has had the same, now rather tired, menu for years, but it's the best of the bunch. We had a surprisingly good dinner once at Qsine, but that has turned into the gimmicky Le Petit Chef, which I wouldn't go to even if it was available at no extra cost. On the Silhouette this past February/March, we had very slow service and ho-hum food at Murano, an all-but-inedible meal at the Lawn Club Grill and horrible service (even though the alfresco atmosphere is nice), and a fair-to-middling lunch at The Porch (also alfresco and good service because no one else was there!). Can't speak to the quality of the food at Luminae because I don't book suites. It's not that the food is better in the main dining room or the buffet. But the quality of the food and service at the specialty restaurants is not high enough enough to motivate me to go there any more, even if there wasn't an additional fee.
  8. There can be less privacy, especially if you get a cabin right where the hump begins. This is generally only an issue when you are are near the railing of your veranda. Because of the extra depth, you have more room overall that is private to relax in your deck chairs. I used to always book these but lately I've been booking regular verandahs that are closer to where I want to be on the ship. I don't really miss the slight increase in space, and I value privacy. As pointed out, wind can also be an issue as pointed out if your angle faces forward.
  9. If Celebrity turns its buffet into a dining room with menu service, we will be unlikely to ever sail with Celebrity again. We love the convenience and variety of the buffet. We usually go to the main dining room for a few nights for dinner and then get bored with it, or disappointed with the food, and start having dinner (as well as breakfast and lunch) in the buffet. Not everything in the buffet is good, but we can always find something we like. Not so with a set menu. The buffet is especially appealing at night because so few people are there.
  10. I used a TA for one cruse. She was not attentive and I resented having to ask (more like beg) her to do things for me like re-faring my cruise during a promotion rather than my being able to call the cruise line directly. Ever since, I've booked directly with the cruise lines and had no problems. I may have lost some additional OBC but it's worth it to me to be able to control my fate. I have heard there are amazing TAs out there but no one has ever told me the name of one. It's kind of like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. People swear they exist but...
  11. I called Celebrity and they said I can disregard the line on my booking confirmation that says a deposit of $900 is due May 22, 2020. An exception was made because of my pending $900 FCC. They collected $236.74 for taxes, fees, and port expenses when I booked and I can call when I get my FCC (from a cruise I canceled) and that will be applied to satisfy the remaining $663.26 of my deposit. Celebrity seems to be making it as easy as possible for us to book new cruises now rather than just canceling and taking a "wait and see" approach. I also used the Captain's Club loyalty savings promotion to save $500 on an existing Jan. 2022 booking on Apex. Got to keep the three perks I already had.
  12. I just cancelled an 11-night cruise on Reflection for Jan. 2021 to the ABC islands and Cartagena and booked a 9-night cruise on Equinox to the ABC islands (no Cartagena, alas) for November 2021. Both cruises also visit Grand Cayman. I did not use Lift and Shift because (1) the original 11-night itinerary is not offered in 2022 on a Solstice or Millennium class ship. However, the new cruise is less expensive on a per person per day basis than the original one ($186 pppd vs $212 pppd for C2) and I got the same three perks I had on the earlier sailing. Also, the earlier cruise was NRD, and the new cruise is RD. With the new policies, I am getting back the $900 NRD as a future cruise credit (within 45 days, they said) and I did not have to forfeit the $100 per person change fee for the NRD because of the new policies. The only thing I'm not sure of is Celebrity said they only had to collect port taxes from me now, and then they would apply the FCC to the new sailing when I receive that. However, my booking confirmation says a $900 deposit is due by May 22, which is a week from today. The vacation planner at Celebrity explicitly said I can just call them when I receive the FCC and the'll apply it to the new booking, and didn't mention anything about this $900 deposit due date in a week. Do you think I need to call back to check on this?
  13. The rules state that Millennium and Solstice series ships are interchangeable under the rules, but you can't change from a Millennium or Solstice to an Edge series ship.
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