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  1. I agree totally, Sverigecruiser. Until masks are not required by passengers or crew members, and until there are no other protocols with which to comply, I will not book a cruise. Cruising has been my preferred vacation in the past, but I am looking at other options for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, there will be enough people willing to sail under any condition to keep the companies afloat until the situation is back to the pre-2019 situation.
  2. Yes. I noticed the same thing. When doing a comparison of Caribbean cruises from several lines, the port charges and fees were significantly higher on NCL. In one case, NCL's fees were nearly double that of a competitor with almost identical ports. With this being the case, I wondered why no one had started a thread on this issue.
  3. I agree with JamieLogical and others that reservations are not needed in the main dining rooms. That is one the great advantages to NCL's Freestyle concept. I have been on five NCL cruises and I have only had to wait twice to be seated. If one of the three main dining rooms is full, a strategy that works well is to see if you can be seated at either of the other two. As I mentioned, I have only had to wait twice out of 35 times when all three dining rooms were full. One time, the wait was five minutes, the other time about ten.
  4. When one looks at the port charges and fees on NCL's seven-day Caribbean cruises $150 seems a bargain. For two people, NCL's fees are nearly $500, the last time I looked.
  5. Add me to the list of those who will not cruise MSC if masks are required on board. I am looking to sail on the Seashore this winter, but unless MSC changes this requirement, I will be looking at other cruise lines that do not require masks. Some people might not mind the restriction, but for me, it is a complete deal breaker. I haven't cruised in almost two years, but I am prepared to wait until the experience is what is was prior to 2020.
  6. This is a wonderful reference guide. Thank you for creating and sharing it.
  7. We have frequented all three of the thermal spas that you mentioned. By far, the Escape has the biggest and the best. In fact, the thermal suite on the Escape is what made us loyal NCL fans. Now if the Escape had the Caverns nightspot with a Beatles tribute band, the ship would be perfection.
  8. For some background on me, I have Diamond status with Royal Caribbean. In 2016, we decided to do a cruise with friends who had an opening in their schedules. We had only two weeks to book a cruise. NCL offered the best price and included a drink package, so we booked the Escape out of Miami. Once onboard, we did a tour of the spa area and were bowled over by the Mandara Spa Thermal Suite. While the weekly pass to the spa cost an additional $400 per couple, the thermal suite experience made us loyal NCL enthusiasts. We absolutely loved the Freestyle dining experience and discovered that the food in the main dining rooms was on par with Royal Caribbean. (Of course, others will disagree, as food is so subjective.) NCL has an another edge over Royal Caribbean because of several complimentary dining venues. I cannot compare non complimentary dining options, as I have not eaten at any on either lines. The Manhattan Room, one of the three main dining rooms on certain ships, offers a dining room experience not found on Royal Caribbean. On certain days, live music is played during dinner, and diners are able to take a break from eating and dance if the spirit moves. Shows in the NCL theaters were of the same quality as found on Royal Caribbean, but Royal has an edge because of the live music during the performances. NCL, in my opinion, has better overall entertainment on the ships that have the Cavern nightspot, as Beatles tribute bands play there almost every night. If one is not a Beatles fan, this would not be important. Although the Atrium on the NCL ships get crowded, the variety of audience participation game shows In that area, is a welcome change. Other factors where NCL holds a distinct advantage are the Waterfront and Spice H2O. These two areas are only found on certain ships. When we weren't in the thermal suite, we were enjoying either the Waterfront or Spice. If the main pool experience is a must, then NCL is not a good choice, as their main pool is small and the area surrounding it overcrowded and loud. If one likes beer, then NCL is a must as certain ships have The District Brewhouse. This venue had over ninety different beers available with a sizable number on tap, and most all were included in the basic drink package. Nothing remotely similar is available on Royal. I rate the service on both lines equally. While I think Royal Caribbean ships are beautiful, and the Promenade is unmatched, I haven't sailed with Royal Caribbean since finding NCL. If future Royal Caribbean ships have an area similar to the Mandara Thermal Suites, I would sail the line again. Until then, NCL is the choice, but only on certain ships.
  9. Of all the posters on Cruisecritic, you are perhaps the most logical and persuasive. Unfortunately, I believe you are correct about those who are stuck in the lockdown mentality. I foresee that present-day restrictions will be with us for years to come. Once SARS-CoV-2 is no longer a threat, influenza will be the new rallying cry. Masks mandates will continue, despite the plethora of older studies showing the ineffectiveness of surgical-type masks in preventing the spread of influenza. Masks have become so politicized that no one acknowledges studies that call into question effectiveness of wearing cloth or surgical-type masks as it pertains to SARS-CoV-2. So much political capital has been invested, that no one will be willing to admit being wrong on that issue despite the "science."
  10. You would be well advised to wager a small bet. I can assure you that I will not spend money to cruise on a ship that requires passengers to wear masks. Unfortunately, until cruising returns to what is was in 2019, I will not book.
  11. I agree with you. A cruise where one feels like an extra on a hospital television show is not an experience that I would enjoy or pay money for. Until cruising is like it was in 2019, I won't be on a ship. Cruising was my favorite type of vacation. If there are many others like me, the prospects for the cruise lines are not good.
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