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About AstoriaPreppy

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  1. Yes, but at least Princess has the good sense to shove the pandemonium into a dining room.
  2. Overall, Royal Caribbean is a more "traditional" line, in how they present entertainment, food and beverages. NCL is a bit looser, but still similar in many ways. Royal Caribbean places a much higher emphasis on the MDR experience. On most of the RCI ships, you're getting multi-floored spectacular main dining rooms that seat thousands simultaneously. This is compared to NCL, which allocates a ton of space around the ship to more intimate speciality uncharge restaurants. Even the biggest complimentary main dining room on an NCL ship would barely be a single floor of a Royal MDR. Service on NCL tends to be adequate but impersonal. The other mass market lines tend to place an emphasis on friendly interactions from the crew. NCL is a lot more about efficiency. For example, the last time I sailed on the Norwegian Gem out of NYC, they'd permanently removed stools from the pool bar, and installed a queue line with ropes and stanchions for people to line up for drinks. Efficient, yes, but not something you'd see on other lines. NCL allocates a lot more of the deck space to their suite/Haven guests, where Royal is mostly open to all with a ton of pools. NCL has a reputation for feeling crowded, although I've seen a $10 sale on a Royal Promenade before which was like a scene out of Fight Club. The main theaters on NCL are tiny compared to Royal ships. Royal also places a big emphasis on the main theater show each night, as the "thing" to see, where NCL doesn't really have the capacity (or passengers) who want to do that. Broadway productions on Royal are fully-licensed shows, where on NCL they're scaled down. That means if you see Cats on Oasis of the seas, they're doing one show a night with a full intermission in a giant theater. NCL does Priscilla on the Epic, but it's a scaled-down 90 minute version with no intermission in a much more intimate venue. Drinks: the wines included in the NCL drinks package are pretty awful. Royal at least has a number that are drinkable without regret. Cabins on NCL also tend to be a bit smaller than most other mass market lines, including Royal.
  3. We sailed on the Gem and Pearl both pre/post refurb. They're both pretty similar, however the Gem refurb was definitely more extensive and reads a bit more sophisticated. This is definitely minor stuff for most cruisers, but the Gem is more my style. For example: Pearl's Bliss lounge still has the old bordello theming and bowling alleys. Lots of burgundy and purple with the odd naked women support columns. Bliss on the Gem is black and metallic, with the bowling alleys removed and much more of a contemporary nightclub feel. The Garden Cafe buffet on both ships originally featured a ton of fake flowers and etched glass. When they did the refurb on the Gem, they completely replaced those elements with new light fixtures and panels. The Pearl still has the glass, and the vase-like light fixtures. La Cucina on the Pearl still features the fake brick carpet and faux tuscan villa vibe. La Cucina on the Gem got a new tile floor that elevates the space. Again, it's minor stuff like this, but the Gem seems like a fully-fleshed out version of a refurb and the Pearl seemed a bit more half-done. If I had a choice and the itineraries were similar, I'd pick the Gem.
  4. I do have to give Del Rio credit for his insistence that Gem get heavily redecorated during the last refurb, and that NCL focus more on design and finishes across the brand. Living in NYC, the Gem is essentially our hometown ship for longer voyages. Our first NCL cruise was in 2013 on the Gem, and we found the ship comically bad in terms interior design: a vaguely asian bordello theme in Bliss, clashing neon colors everywhere, and unusable furniture in the Spinnaker. It's made the Joe Farcus Carnival ships look like masterworks in comparison. From reports I've seen, Del Rio agreed, and major changes were made to make the ship more sophisticated for the tristate area market. While certainly not a Celebrity-style ship, it's probably a much easier sell now. We certainly appreciated it during our last trip on the Gem in 2018.
  5. One thing I'd note is that the Haven restaurant on NCL has a static menu that doesn't change for the duration of the cruise. There may be a special some nights, but it's the same entrees offered each day. This is compared to Luminae or Blu which is a completely new menu every night (and whatever off menu from the MDR you want).
  6. The biggest difference we've discovered amongst all the lines is that service on NCL tends to be the least personal. It's not bad, but largely just efficient. For example on Celebrity, the martini bar staff will learn your name, favorite drinks, suggest new options, perform flair, etc. Princess staff will go out of their way to stop and say hi if they see you in a different part of the ship. Compare that with the last time we sailed on the NCL Gem out of NY. NCL had removed stools from the pool bar and instead installed a queue with ropes and stanchions for people to get on line for a drink, like they were waiting to ride Space Mountain. While logistically logical, it's not something you'd really see on another line.
  7. Wait, NCL extended the 25% for you for a Nov 2021 voyage? This is incredibly frustrating.
  8. Please keep us updated if you get the extension. If I know other passengers are able to use the discount after they've told me no, I'd love to go back to them and yell 😉
  9. As a former college newspaper copy editor, this is a new level of public shame 🙂 Your point here is well-noted. The 25% discount provided by NCL after the Jade sailing never came as a document with terms and conditions, and also doesn't show up in our accounts on the website. When we asked, guest services just told to call them to book, because only the NCL reps on the phone could see it. This is how the whole "book by February" thing got started, as every rep I talked to said we just needed to book by February 2021... but when we went to use it, they were unable to apply to anything later in 2021 because the discount has a sail-by date of Feb 2021.
  10. I covered this in another thread, but we got a 25% discount from the aborted Jade sailing in February. Originally, NCL told us the discount was valid as long as we booked by February 2021. When I called to make a new booking for Nov 2021, NCL said the discount was only good for sailings THROUGH the start of February 2021... not bookings made by. NCL guest services on the phone suggested that I make the booking, and then ask NCL (using the form on their website) to extend the discount to use on that specific booked sailing in November, which I did. NCL guest services then wrote back with their "oh, that definitely isn't something we could do for you" response. I tried arguing that we've been given a discount that we're unable to use because of suspended sailings, and they were clear that it wouldn't be fair to everyone else on the sailing if the discount was extended, which is a logical (and customer service) argument that I still can't figure out.
  11. Exactly. Apply the 25% discount by February or loose it. They were so oddly dismissive to my request that it really seems more like a kick in the teeth compared to proactive customer service. Can you explain how you managed this? In my emails back and forth with guest services, they were very direct in the stance of "if we did this for you, we'd have to do this for everyone who was on the aborted sailing and we can't do that because it wouldn't be fair to other guests who haven't asked for this." It made no sense, so if they have done this for other guests, I'd appreciate details.
  12. No. Attempted booking a fall 2021 cruise with a 25% discount we had from NCL (from an aborted sailing) that expires in February 2021. They informed us the discount expires in Feb, and we have to sail by that date to use the discount. Went back and forth with guest services... but it was a total fail in getting them to extend it.
  13. I've heard about the propulsion issues, but what's wrong with the plumbing?
  14. This will be bad news for the transatlantic passengers, because they're going to make horrible time with a boot on the back of the ship. Again, the Epic is only off the schedule for a few weeks, which is why I was asking. I've checked again, and right now the last bookable Mediterranean cruise return is the Barcelona round trip that disembarks on 31 October. It then disappears from the schedule before the transatlantic from Rome on 20 November, when it heads to NY and then down to PR for the winter season of southern Caribbean cruises.
  15. We've had our eye on some Epic Mediterranean cruises in November 2021, but they seem to have disappeared from the NCL (and all other cruise booking sites) the past few days. These were the standard Barcelona/Rome 7 day trips. Currently, the only November voyage I'm seeing is the Transatlantic from Rome-NY at the end of the month. Any thoughts/info on this? Drydock? Charter cruise? Heading to the scrapyards? 😉
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