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About PatJim

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  1. I hear you! We're also sailing this September, from Quebec City to NYC, down the Canada-New England coast. I definitely prefer warmer-weather cruises, but Jim loves it colder. Life is about compromise. Having said this, we've sailed Canada-New England a few times, mostly repeating ports. The joy of going back to the same place is that you make it 'your own.' We know where to get the best lobster rolls in these ports, where to shop, where to hike, etc. Same for our Caribbean cruises: which are the best beaches, which to avoid, how to get around more cheaply than with ship excursions, etc. We do love the NYC-Bahama cruises now. When we first started cruising, it was all about the itinerary. Now it's as much about just being on the ship. As repeat cruisers on the Gem, we've gotten to know many crew members, and some of them have become life-long friends. It adds a depth to cruising that we hadn't anticipated. Also, there are great deals on Bahama cruises, if you look. It's our experience that Bahama cruises--short and with only 3 port days, including NCL's private island--are harder for NCL to fully book, so they lower the prices. Patricia
  2. Congrats on your great turnout, but 62 people on a Cabin Crawl is just too many.😱 You risk getting complaints from other Haven passengers. It would be a shame if NCL HQ decided to ban Crawls in Haven cabins, as seeing suites is one of the highlights of a Crawl. I've led quite a few Crawls on the Gem, the Jade's sister ship. Here are some suggestions: You will have to break up members into 3 groups. Have staggered starting times @ 15 minutes apart. Get 2 volunteers for each group. One will lead the group and the other will be the "sweep" at the back, to make sure no one gets left behind. Group #1 will include everyone showing a cabin. This will have your largest number of people, because after viewing their cabin, they will stay there, and then continue the Crawl with Group #3. Group #3 will start as your smallest group, and will grow as they pick up all the people who have shown their cabin. Your brainstorm to find someone else willing to show suites that are not physically in the Haven is a good one. If you can't get the Garden Villa, Owners and Deluxe Owners suites are great to see. The first are on decks 9 & 10 forward, with 2 balconies; the second is on deck #15, with wrap-around view of the pool. The 2-bedroom suites, on deck #11, don't have Haven access, but IMHO have the best master bathrooms on the ship. Divert at least one of your groups to these suites. I've had success recruiting suite guests, even though they are not CC members, by talking it up in the VIP lounge before embarkation; an Elvis impersonator and his wife invited our group to their Deluxe Owner's Suite, and a very nice couple in the GV agreed to show. You never know, unless you ask. Everyone showing their cabin should just let their cabin steward or butler know they are expecting guests after [your starting time]. They will have the cabin spotless while you're at breakfast or lunch. For those showing suites, the butler will be happy to arrange snacks, such as bowls of M & Ms, potato chips, cake & cookies. Just let her/him know a day or two ahead about the expected number of guests. Spread out among 3 suites, it's manageable. Finally, you could try to cut the number of participants by (a) closing it out, and (b) not advertising the Crawl once on board. It's surprising the number of people who forget to show up! Do, however, leave a reminder the day before with everyone who is also showing a cabin. You don't want them forgetting! Good luck!
  3. Hey, Dan. Nice to hear from you. We do love the Gem, but somehow out of 5 future NCL cruises, only one--Dec. 12, 2020--is on the Gem. I do think she has the best crew in NCL's fleet. Sorry to go off topic, but wanted to say hi. Patricia
  4. Love the Metropolitan Museum of Art, probably the best museum in the U.S. Could spend weeks there, but it's fun to nip in and out. They still have a 'pay what you wish' entrance fee for NYC residents, but just received permission from the City to charge non-NYC residents $25 admission. So that's probably out for you. Love the High Line/newly opened Hudson Yards suggestion. They are next to each other. You'll have to get from the cruise passenger terminal at W. 48th & 12th Ave. (a/k/a West Side Highway) down to W 34th Street. After exploring a bit of Hudson Yards with its expensive shops and restaurants, walk the High Line south. It's less than 2 miles long, and ends south of W. 14th Street. It's amazing. The landscaping changes every few blocks. If you're reasonably fit, you can gage the time it would take to walk NYC blocks as 1 minute per block. Twenty blocks equals a mile. Take a backpack for the essentials you don't want to put in your checked bags (medicine, jewelry....). It's easier than trying to walk around with a roller carry-on bag. To go by taxi, go back up to the upper arrivals level of the terminal and grab a cab, though they are expensive. And NYC just added an additional congestion tax for commercial cars south of 96th Street in Manhattan. Surcharge for taxis is $2.50; Lyft and Uber is $2.75. That's on top of the base starting price.
  5. As already posted, the Norwegian Night Out ("Dress up or not" is still used to describe it in the Freestyle Daily) is Day #2, the first full sea day. It's also an opportunity to have your photo taken with the ship's captain, which is a reason for some to dress up. Just line up at the designated time to pose with him, though if you're in a suite, you'll get a photo op with the captain at the captain's reception later that same night. We do like to dress up in cocktail clothes that night, and then have dinner at the most formal restaurant. On the Gem, it's Le Bistro. It's become a tradition that we both enjoy.
  6. As mentioned, NCL has a special diet consultant on their ships, who will meet with you at lunch or dinner, to plan your next day's meals. If you are in a suite, ask the pre-cruise concierge to let them know you require this service. If you're a returning Latitudes member, call Latitudes with the same request. First time cruising on NCL? Ask your TA to let the ship know. Then, as soon as you board, get in touch with the diet consultant (ask guest services for their extension), to set up your first meeting. You don't have to have a food allergy. You may need to avoid certain foods for your well being. My husband has to avoid salt for health reasons. The special diet staff members on all our cruises were great about seeing him every day and arranging his meals. They consult with the various restaurant chefs, to ensure your needs are met. Can't say enough good things about them. We do give them a tip at the end of the cruise. It's not asked for, but they appreciate it. They work hard. Patricia
  7. We've been buying and using them for years. What we like most about the CN Deposits (besides paying 50% less) is the ability to book cruises waaaay in advance by just using the deposits, without additional out-of-pocket spending. We usually get the best price for our cabin category by booking as soon as the itinerary is listed. Then, if we cancel before final payment, the deposits are returned to our online account, without waiting for a refund from NCL. Of course, you have to think you'll be taking a future cruise with NCL....
  8. This is a bit confusing. Why not book a family inside, and tell NCL the children will be in your cabin, and book another inside for your mom? If you get an upgrade, the new cabin may not be able to accommodate 2 children, though I assume 5 year olds can sleep in the double bed-sized pullout couch found in balcony cabins.
  9. Enjoyed reading some great responses to the OP's question re the Gem. We've just finished our 16th cruise on her, and will be back on board in April. After that, we have 3 more Gem cruises booked. We just love her staff. They will do anything in their power to make your cruise enjoyable. Here are 3 more suggestions: 1. Sign up for the Roll Call on your cruise, and attend the Meet & Greet (Royal Caribbean may call it a Meet & Mingle). It's usually held Day #2, about 11 am. You'll meet the Gem's top officers, and fellow Cruise Critic members. Even if you don't want to hang out with them, it's always nice to say hi in passing to those you've met at the M & G. And you may make new friends. It's also amazing how often the officers remember you and also say hi. The officers make a point of being all over the ship, and are very accessible. 2. If you get to the NYC Passenger Terminal early, get a copy of the Freestyle Daily. It lists all the places you can eat lunch after boarding, while waiting to access your cabin, by location and opening times. (Suite members are escorted to a special restaurant.) For a relaxing meal, try the main dining room with waiter service. Or the pool area/Garden Cafe/Great Outdoors on deck #12, as mentioned. And if you really want to get into vacation mode, bring your swim suit, change in a public rest room, and jump in a hot tub or the pool:cool: Towels are available at the towel station. 3. If you like your Gem experience, do consider buying a CruiseNext coupon while on board. It's the best deal going. You spend $250, and NCL charges you half that, but you still have the $250 deposit to use as down payment on another cruise within 4 years. They are also transferable/sale-able if you later decide not to cruise NCL. We just bought 4, and used them to make $500 deposits each on two future cruises, totaling $1000 in cruise deposits. Our cost? $500. And if we cancel a booked cruise before final payment, the cruise credit goes back into our account, available to use as deposit on another NCL cruise. Win/Win:D
  10. I know it isn't ideal, but coffee and tea are set out, along with pastries, in the Haven pool area every morning. It might be easier to grab something there before your child wakes up, than brew it in your bedroom. There's also butler service. You can ask your butler to not ring your doorbell, but just come in to quietly deliver a carafe of coffee each morning.
  11. NCL's pre-cruise conciergedesk is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET and can bereached by calling 1-855-625-4283. You'll need to give them your reservation number first thing. After making your requests, they will also ask about extra towel preferences, coffee & tea preferences, pillow selection, etc. We usually, but not always, find our requests have been met when we board, but it helps to bring a copy of your requests (we like the fridge cleared out, so our wine bottles will fit:D, skim milk for tea, that extra chair or 2nd chaise lounge on the balcony...) to give to your butler. She/he will appreciate it.
  12. Yes, we were in a Haven Owner's Suite on the Gem last April, and the DVR had been removed. The biggest loss of suite perks for me, though, was when NCL changed out those great coffee machines that were able to make cappuccinos. Now it's just expresso or American style, though a butler said he would be happy to deliver hot milk in a carafe every morning. Rather than bother him, my DH kindly brought me lattes (not free) from the Atrium coffee bar. I need my caffeine fix to wake up!
  13. Congrats on upgrading to the 2-bedroom family suite. My DH and I have stayed in the "children's bedroom," and we have also given it to adult guests who cruised with us. Your master bath is the best on the ship, glass floor-to-ceiling window in the shower, with a rainforest shower head and side nozzles. The large tub has a tub-to-ceiling window, with wall tv and bath crystals (free). I always take showers on board the Gem, but in the 2-bedroom, I find time for relaxing baths. (There are blinds on the bathroom windows for privacy in ports.) BTW, the bath 'package' is ridiculously expensive. Three things about the 2nd bedroom you may wish to know: *there is very little storage space--a tiny 6-hanger closet and a couple of shallow drawers--but your master bathroom/dressing area has ample storage for all 3 of you; *the sleeper sofa has a very hard mattress--call the Pre-Cruise Concierge and request a foam topper for the sofa. Your sons will thank you! *There are no windows, so with the door closed, it is pretty dark. It's great for those who prefer absolute darkness to sleep, but awful for those who need some light. We either take a battery candle (real ones are prohibited) or leave the bathroom light on, door closed, with enough light to see to find the light switch! Enjoy the perks of being in a suite. Have a request or problem in the cabin? You'll have a trained butler who prides him/herself on spoiling you and your sons. If you want something (skim milk in the mini-fridge), just ask. Your concierge handles everything else, as already explained on this thread. Offsetting any perks you'll get, there is the additional cost of tipping the butler and concierge, who are excluded from the service charges shared by most of the crew. Finally, re Haven vs. non-Haven suites, we are definitely in the non-Haven suite camp. We've been in a Haven Owner's Suite (deck #9), with Haven privileges, and I can say that we had afternoon tea by the pool once, and checked out the private sun deck (no shade), but we preferred having tea in our cabin or at the Great Outdoors (pool deck, aft), and sunning on a chaise lounge on our balcony. You'll be invited to a captain's party for suite guests, usually held in the Haven, so you'll get a chance to see what all the fuss is about. If you hadn't upgraded to a suite, I would have also recommended that you buy a spa pass, to give you some privacy and pampering. Now that you have the master bedroom and bath, you won't need it! Have a wonderful cruise.
  14. Our nephew, wife & 2 children, ages 5 & 7, drove down from Cambridge, MA the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and rented a huge suite for two nights for $140/night at the Salisbury Hotel, W. 57 & 6th Ave.. He said it was "shabby but clean, exactly like the online reviews.” Price for size of room "was ridiculous," and they would stay there again. This might be a contender for anyone who isn't bringing a car, and wants a central location for sightseeing. Though it was funny, because I warned him to stay away from the Fifth Avenue & E. 57th Street area (Trump Tower). His hotel was one avenue away, but he didn't have any traffic problem arriving or leaving.
  15. Photos of the ship officers on the Gem are located just forward of the pool area, in the corridor near the games room, photography studio & library. Alas, on our last few Gem cruises, the captain did not show up for the Meet & Greet. Made me wonder if NCL put into effect a new policy that captains not attend. Otherwise, always thought it was a personal choice by the captain.
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