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About FitchburgWIFamily

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Fitchburg, WI
  • Interests
    Cruising, Traveling, Reading and herding my children
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  1. We did this with NCL. We had a great guide, and a not too full full size bus. The scenic Stockholm also included a few photo stops along the way, great narration, and a stop near the center where we got some of our own time to walk around. We saw a musical changing of the guard ceremony, and had an ice cream on the square in front of the Nobel prize museum And, the Vasa museum is wonderful. A definite must do in Stockholm. However, the skyview didn't cut it for me. It's exactly as advertised: a ride up the side of a building in a plexiglass sphere. And you are way up there. But not knowing the city, being way up there, I didn't necessarily know what I was looking out at. The plexiglass prevented me from getting any great pictures. And the sphere holds a limited number of people, so depending on how many are in your bus, you spend sometime waiting in an over priced gift shop for other groups to take their turn. For me, the skyview time could have been much better spent with a longer stay at the Vasa museum or in the city center. But if you are super into weird engineering, the mechanism that lets the sphere go over the dome without dumping you out is pretty interesting.
  2. We are sailing RCI for the first time next Monday. I printed off our SetSail Passes, and my husband's was gold. We don't even have Crown and Anchor numbers yet. I was sooooo tempted to leave it alone, but I live by the rule if you point out when something is wrong not in your favor, you should do the same when it is in your favor. I am the kind of person who waits in line at customer service when the clerk forgot to scan one of my cans of beans. So I called: My husband's somewhat common (as in frequent, not lower class) name and birth date match an existing Crown and Anchor member from another state. That member number was automatically associated to my husband's reservation, and he had 22 points before he ever set foot on an RCI ship. The call center rep corrected the mistake, and I was able to print off another SetSail pass without the gold indication. Yeah me.
  3. We used Uber to get from the Black Falcon (Flynn?) terminal to the Union Oyster House and returned back from Faneuil Hall: it was less then 12 dollars each way. The bus station I think is even closer to the terminal and would be even cheaper, I am sure.
  4. This might need clarification. In WI, an Old Fashioned is made with Brandy. And they are delicious. I have yet to find a bottle of Brandy on an NCL ship. Outside of WI, they make and Old Fashioned with Whiskey. Or Rye. And they are NOT delicious.
  5. The TV I bought at Costco before Christmas is now $500.00 cheaper. My coworker is flying to the exact same airport I am 10 days before I am, she paid 1/5 of the fare I paid. I am flying on a high demand day (Saturday) during a high demand week (last week of March) she flew out this Wednesday. I can buy a swim suit this week in the department store or I can wait until we can actually swim in this state. If I wait until June, the prices will be bargain basement clearance prices. The selection will be picked over. The department store doesn't make nearly as much profit on the swim suit sold at 40% off the sale price as it did at the sale price or at full price. In all of the examples above, the business isn't trying to maximize profit when they sell at the lower rate, they are trying to recoup the costs they have already laid out. NCL has the pay the stewards, the waiters, the bar tenders, the casino workers, the engineers, the laundry workers, the dishwashers, etc. whether the cabins are all full or 1/2 full. There is a business model somewhere that tells them the desired occupancy. For some passengers, they made profit from the higher per cabin rate. For the ones that sign on at the bargain rate, they are just hoping to cover their costs. I could be disingenuous and return my TV this week and buy a new one. But I won't. Because I knew when I bought it was I paying an early adapter rate at a high demand time, and it was worth it to me then. I can return my swim suit, lurk around until they return it to the floor at a clearance rate and buy it again, but I won't because that is a huge waste of time and has too much risk built in. I can call the airline and explain that I think they should give me the same rate as my coworker but I won't because that would be absolutely futile. Some posters on here are saying that NCL should offer the lowest possible fare to all consumers. That is not how a business makes money. If you want to say it is a customer dissatisfier and never book a cruise with them again, no one can stop you. As for the people like me who understand basic concepts of business, we will continue to book a cruise when the value of that cruise (the type of accommodation, the itinerary, the amenities) provide value commensurate with the price. If after we reach the final payment date, the price goes down, we will either not care (because the value is still commensurate with the price) or we will call NCL and see if we can get a better room now the that prices are lower (increasing the value to price ratio).
  6. We were on the Gem last fall and will be on it again this fall (different itineraries). Can't compare it to RCI because my first Royal cruise isn't for two weeks. Gem: quiet sitting area: the spinnaker is a upper deck indoor lounge with great seating and floor to ceiling windows on three sides. Sometimes it is wonderfully quiet, sometimes, they play bingo or teach line dancing. The Gem also has a nice library, bigger than the library on the Dawn class ships. The library does stay nice and quiet. The Gem has 4 free sit-down table-service restaurants you can eat at for dinner, you do not need reservations. On boarding day, the main dining room is open for a quiet relaxed lunch. You can also get a great breakfast there on sea days. There is a 24 hour pub style restaurant with a limited menu that is also great for breakfast (especially when you sleep in). Since it is 24 hours, it is also good for lunch, pre-dinner, or late night munchies. Our cruise on the Gem was a Canadian cruise, and the night life scene was different (slower) than the scene on our Caribbean cruises. Since some of those have been on smaller boats, it could be as much the itinerary as the ship. I'll know for sure when we do the Caribbean on the Gem this fall. We got to know our bartenders (and they knew us) and a few waiters (mostly at the pub), but you don't get to know your evening wait staff like you do on some traditional lines I have sailed on. Maybe if I ate at the same time in the same dining room each night I would, but because I eat at different places each night, I never even remember my waiters name (sorry). The Gem buffet was nicely decorated and laid out (compared to some other NCL buffets) but I am just not a buffet person, so I can't tell you too much about that. The Gem is nicely (re)decorated, easy to get around and has great common spaces. It has a great outdoor dining area out the back that we didn't use (due to Canadian weather) that I am looking forward to using on our more southern itinerary. While I am not a big buffet person, I love me some chocolate croissants, hocky puck hashbrowns and mimosas in the sun for a "only on a cruise" breakfast. I do think it is a little ironic, I follow the NCL board pretty closely, and lots of people post that NCL has made one change to many and they are defecting for another line. Ironic to hear the same thing in reverse. Hope you enjoy your cruise!
  7. We randomly drew one name to start. They went to table and picked gift. The giver of the gift went up and stood with them as they opened it. Explained it if needed. Then the giver went to the table and picked a gift. As "hosts" we contributed a gift but went last. If our gift was the last one on the table we were ok with that. Gifts were very clever and very different. Food was a big hit (pralines from New Orleans, cheese from Wisconsin, candied pecans from Georgia), some college team logoed stuff, and some other local goods. We ended up getting a little porcelain box and a tea towel from a couple from England…I think about them and the cruise every time I use the towel or put my rings in the little box. Having people stand up while they are getting and gifting made it easier to remember that they were so and so from such and such.
  8. The only other variable to consider is Tendering. Unless you are in a suite, you’ll have to wait to get a tender behind the shore excursions and suites. Maybe not an issue at Cozumel, but something for other readers of this thread to consider.
  9. We are on this ship on 3/25, which can not come soon enough after the winter we have had. I am traveling with my husband and two older teens. We will be meeting up with 2 other families that have smaller children, so all told we are a party of 12. The other two families are working with FerTours a combination classic car driving tour and a historic Havana walking tour. For my family, I booked with Fertours a whole day excursion: drive to the other side of Cuba, snorkel, Bay of Pigs, crocodile breeder, etc. Fernando was extremely easy to work with, emails were detailed and prompt, and he has great reviews. The second day, we are going to try to go scout out cigar factory tour if we can.
  10. Wow. I think I would have said "Did you forget to press mute before you asked that question?"
  11. Before final payment, you can re-book the same room and be refunded the difference, but you get the perks that are offered at that time. I have done this twice so far for our upcoming November cruise which inexplicably is dropping in $80.00 increments (no, I didn't forget a zero there) as the perks haven't changed. After final payment, you can use the money you paid for your room to upgrade to another room. I have done this do go from a family suite without a balcony to one with, and from a mini suite to a full-on aft suite.
  12. Dinners in specialty restaurants: You will get to order off the menu in all but the Brazilian style restaurant (Moderno). We have never made our specialty dinner reservations in advance, and have never had a problem getting a table, but we are OK with eating late some nights. If eating at a set time is important to you, you are going to want to make reservations either beforehand or as soon as you get on board for your specialty restaurants. When not eating in the specialty restaurants, you will have quite a few options. The large formal dining room in the aft of the boat and a smaller dining room that is a little more casual offer the same menu. Menu is half things that don’t change during the cruise and half things that do. Not sure if it will repeat on a 21 day cruise or not. The main aft dining room is available for lunch on the day you board and for breakfast on sea days and is a very relaxing place to have a meal. Lots of reviews talk about slow service in the dining room: either we have been really lucky or we are too busy talking and drinking to care, but it has never been a problem for me. There is also an Asian-themed complimentary restaurant and a pub-style 24-hour restaurant that provide table service. Then there are the buffets: the main buffet, which is a bit of a mad house, and then they set up different buffets pool side and in the great outdoors. On some sailings, the poolside buffet has been strictly burger sandwich type fare, but on others, it has been paella or barbecued brisket. On warmer sailings, the Great Oudoors is a great place for an outside breakfast. Internet: you can use your free minutes as a payment toward the more useful unlimited plan. Unlimited data is single user: but we have always shared the same user across multiple devices. We can’t both be on the internet the same time, but we make do. Without the drink package, there are a couple of ways to keep your liquor costs down. We buy my mom a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine, and they give us a claim check. They’ll bring the wine to where ever we are dining and pour her a glass, then cork it back up and store it again. The per bottle cost is a lot less than the per glass cost. There will be a drink of the day offered at a discount each day…that drink will repeat every 7 days, and doesn’t seem to change relative to itinerary, so you’ll have three chances to drink cheap Rebellious Fish or Bahama Mamas. There will be a couple of bag specials for laundry where you can get everything you can stuff in a bag cleaned for $10.00 or so. The bag holds a lot, and they do a good job, so take advantage of that. I wish you all the best on your cruise!
  13. We use the fill a bag special (you can fit a LOT in a bag) and have never had any issue. They do use id tags that stay on your clothes, they can be a bit itchy. However, it is fun to pull on a shirt or a pair of pants, see the little sticky, and remember where you wore it on the cruise.
  14. Whistles and bells on board really don't do that much for my kids: they love looking at the pictures before we sail and love the idea of sailing on bigger fancier ships, but once we actually sail: they really do the same stuff on the big ship they did on the little. The fancy slides or other stuff that requires lines and or planning really don't appeal to them much once the novelty has worn off. First two cruises I took my kids on were on the Dawn and the Star. My son loves the sport court, makes friends with other like minded kids on the sport court, and hangs out with them for a good part of the cruise. He loves the buffet, the pool side food offerings, and getting food at OSheeans in the middle of the night. He never went in the pool. He played ping pong and shuffle board with his friends, but not with us. When I took him on the Escape, and I honestly don't know if he ever did the ropes course or the waterslides. He just did the sports court and his usual stuff. My daughter is social: she loves the teen club. Makes friends in the teen club and then does things with them for the rest of the week: they go to shows together, hang out on the pool deck together, etc. She doesn't hang out in the teen club that much, just uses it as a way to meet people. On the Escape, she did do the ropes course and the water slides, but once she did them once, she was done. The teen club didn't work as well for her on this sailing for some reason, she had a harder time making friends. She did sail with a friend though, so they hung out together. When they were younger, they were both in the kids club as opposed to the teen club. The loved the kids club a lot, especially learning and practicing circus tricks for a show at the end of sailing. Because it is spring break, the ship will be filled with kids. Kids Club may send out an email saying they can only accommodate so many, so it behooves you to get your kids there as soon as it opens. But because it is filled with kids, your kids should have plenty of kids to meet and play with.
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