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JamieLogical

My Serious First World Problem

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I jumped ship (finally) and sailed RCI after half a dozen NCL cruises.

After doing so, I found out there were some things RCI did better than NCL, and some things NCL does better than RCI.

However, I decided that all things being equal, I prefer NCL for the ease of their anytime dining and the number of sit down dining venues (I am not a fan of buffets).  I know some people make reservations for every night on NCL, and others just go to the buffet on any ship at anytime they are hungry, but for me, I like to decide that day when i am going to eat: based on my time ashore, the shoe that night, the activities in the daily, when and what I ate for lunch, etc.   NCL does that better than anyone.   

And, NCL does all that while making  me feel special on board by remembering my name, remembering my drink order, and decorating my mudslides with elaborate chocolate designs.

So if I were in your shoes, all things are about equal...I'd pick NCL.   

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Posted (edited)

Ok here are my 2 cents and remember...…...my opinion is the only one that matters around here anyway 🙂  (joke people)

First, I agree about MSC website.  Some complain about NCL website but its so difficult to navigate.  I almost booked Seaside and had every intention of doing so but the first several reviews about entertainment and the smell scared me away and I booked Encore instead.   However, the Seaside has completely changed their entertainment and fixed the smell.  They were very fast to adjust.  There are so many NCL former loyalists sailing MSC Seaside and I respect their opinion so much because I remember their reviews here on the NCL board.  I watch cruise videos every day on youtube and I think MSC is a fantastic ship.  I never sailed Breakaway but have sailed Getaway which is almost identical.  While nice, the ship is very sterile.  I think Escape is a far superior ship with Food republic and the brewhouse to say the least.  These things don't exist on Breakaway.  So if you already sailed Escape and Bliss, the Breakaway is going to be 2 steps back.  Personally, I would not let the amateur booking hour stuff at MSC have an impact on your cruise.  I would take Bliss over Seaside but definitely not Breakaway or Getaway.  
So you are doing Encore and Seaside or Breakaway back to back?  Nothing cooler than doing 2 megaships from 2 different lines.  What a way to truly compare. I would not want to go on the same line with the same food, etc back to back.

Edited by david_sobe

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Rou-Dyliq said:

Given that you asked this in the NCL forum and not in MSC forum, tells me where you want to be.  People on the NCL forum are probably not going to steer you to MSC, and vice versa.  I, personally, will not be sailing NCL again.  The horrendous customer service I've encountered with cruise lines is pretty much restricted to NCL.  MSC has been disorganized, and I've had to chase things down, but they've always done exactly what they promised or advertised.  The only onboard experience I can relay to you is how the MSC Yacht Club product stands up to NCL's suite and Haven experience.  I have no idea if that's what you booked, but the MSC Yacht Club experience blew the NCL's product out of the water for me.  The only area NCL has on MSC in that category is the various cabin sizes.  But everything else, including value for dollar for me, far outshone NCL.  In addition, I noticed the alcohol prices (should I want to pay for some drink not included) was considerably less expensive than NCL.  As far as the experience outside of the Yacht Club, I don't know.  I didn't do much outside of it except go the chocolate bar and the shops and the shows. 

 

I think you know what you want to do, and you should do that.  If the customer service problems you've experienced bother you this much, I think you're going to go into it with a negative mindset and if anything goes wrong during the cruise it will be magnified.  

 

Edited to add - I saw people in jeans in T shirts every night in the dining room of the Yacht Club, even formal night. No one was turned away, no one was belittled, and no one looked askance at anyone else.  

 

I'm afraid my budget won't be allowing for a Haven or Yacht Club experience anytime in the foreseeable future. I would rather take 3-4 cruises a year than blow our entire vacation budget on one cruise.

 

As for why I posted this here rather than the MSC boards, I already have an ongoing post there regarding all of my challenges with customer service for this sailing and it would be redundant to post this there as well. Most of what I posted in my OP has been discussed in that MSC thread.

Edited by JamieLogical

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9 minutes ago, david_sobe said:

So you are doing Encore and Seaside or Breakaway back to back?  Nothing cooler than doing 2 megaships from 2 different lines.  What a way to truly compare. I would not want to go on the same line with the same food, etc back to back.

 

It was never "back-to-back" but it was going to be pretty close together. Seaside Sept. 8 and Encore Dec. 1. However, we have since changed our Encore booking for Dec. 1 to the Bliss 12-Day out of NYC on that same date. So we'll be back on the Bliss for our second time in December. We are now planning to do the Encore out of NYC to Bermuda in May.

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I get that not everyone cruises in a suite, I wanted to give you the only comparison I am able to give.  

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Seaside IF (big "IF") you know what you are getting into by doing your research. You already know NCL so there won't be much to worry about. 

 

Many negative MSC reviews are the "...it wasn't what I expected....wasn't what I'm used to..." type. 

 

I jumped in with both feet onto MSC and had a great cruise (granted, it was Yacht Club) but the rest of the ship seemed to have a great cruise, too. Since it isn't "one or the other", you might as well try both lines. 

 

 

 

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Hi Jamie! I hope this message finds you well. First off, let me just say booo on you for cancelling the Encore TA! lol.  I'm just kidding, we're booked on it and looking forward to it, however it;'s not for everyone for sure. We actually booked it when it changed to NY, we live an hour away so that works.  Anyway, onto your question... Oh our First World issues we have...

 

Sooooo. Perhaps my screename had you at hello.. HAHA.  Truth be told, I believe you will have an outstanding time on BA.  She's a special ship to us, for several reasons, but she's our 'home' ship you talk about.  When she left us in NY, it was sad for us, however like manny breakups we got over it and enjoy Escape, and the other BA+ classes.  

 

The BA is going to be the safe bet.  It's not going to disappoint unless something goes unusually wrong.  Sometimes the safe bet is, safe, in your comfort zone, buuuuuut a bit, boring,  meh.  I'll share with you that I am book on the Seaside to depart a month from Wednesday.  We did book the YC, as we have travelled Haven many times, but some of our best times on BA were in a balcony.  The Aurea experience, is going to be Breakaway plus, SPA passes (or spa balcony cost) and scoring the Vibe for the week.  That is a significant cost (esp Spa).  I believe the Aurea is a great deal, and something NCL isn't offering (no middle ground from regular balcony room at 899 to Haven at 3499pp for example).  As for CS, well I've heard MSC is somewhat of a nightmare especially with the status match and the discount coupons.  Here's my answer to that and it's been great for us.  I status matched our Gold as well, and we're like three nights from Platinum on NCL.  I use a Travel Agent from one of the large agencies.   The woman I have is just awesome and so patient with me. She made our reservation, did the match, and then even got us our 5% refunded to us after final payment from the discount.  She moved our rooms and did all the painful legwork.  They have much better success with MSC than the public does, food for thought.  PM me I'd be happy to tell you more.  Remember one thing, NCL has, and does have similar issues with Customer Service.  Please don't think for a second, they would never let that happen.. My battles with Cruise Next policies and fine print and dropped credits and stateroom issues over the years have proven that.  Luckily again, I have a great TA who is our advocate.

 

Lastly, remember, cruising on the SS in Aurea, you're going to have a great time.  There;'s so much to see, check out Sean and Stef IRL on YouTube, they VLOG and did a great series on board, and having met them and spent time with them, they are grounded folks, similar in age and experiences, so I tend to use their VLOGs on our decisions.  but YMMV as they say.  

 

So if you want to talk about regrets with status match, I realized that my lifetime Titanium status with Marriott, would have landed me a lot further that my Gold with NCL, but I had no idea they honored a hotel chain.  Oh well, it's not a big deal. I got 5% back and we will get some perks, TBH, I think you're Aurea experience, will far outweigh any status perks. 

 

Anyway, if it were me, and again I remind you of my Screename, I'd book the Seaside.  Go through a TA (PM me if you'd like) and let them fight the battles for you, it will all happen behind the scenes for the most part.  I just think you're week on the BA will be in you're comfort zone, but meh.  I can tell how you first spoke about MSC and the Seaside, you were totally vibing into the ship and experience, I'd say go with that!

 

Or just rejoin the Doug show on the Encore! 😉 haha. 

 

Enjoy whatever you decide, either way, it will be great.

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I posted on your “giving up thread” on the MSC board and I’ll say again I think you should try MSC. Like you, we really like NCL but we also enjoyed our cruise on the Seaside. It’s nice to compare one line with the other and experience new things. We’ve been on the Breakaway and Getaway a total of six times and frankly when you know every square inch of the ship the adventure aspect of the cruising experience is totally absent. Sometimes it’s nice to experiment outside your comfort zone. I’m sure you’ll eventually get things straightened out with the reapplication of your discount. 

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I really don't like NCL all that much, but I also have no MSC experience.  Your experience with MSC has been lousy.  All things being financially equal, and I know from your posts you seem to be really in to NCL... I think it's a no brainer that you should stick with NCL on THIS sailing.  I still think you should expand your options in to other lines, but this sailing seems to point to NCL.

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3 minutes ago, gmbhardy said:

I posted on your “giving up thread” on the MSC board and I’ll say again I think you should try MSC. Like you, we really like NCL but we also enjoyed our cruise on the Seaside. It’s nice to compare one line with the other and experience new things. We’ve been on the Breakaway and Getaway a total of six times and frankly when you know every square inch of the ship the adventure aspect of the cruising experience is totally absent. Sometimes it’s nice to experiment outside your comfort zone. I’m sure you’ll eventually get things straightened out with the reapplication of your discount. 

I have to agree to some of this post.  I sailed on MSC Divina with my late DH and we absolutely loved our cruising experience on , so much so, that we booked the Seaside for the next year.  Unfortunately... you the know the best made plans of mice and their dice.. they don't always make the best matches.  However, though I had to cancel our Seaside cruise, I would book MSC again.

 

I have a question for you Jamie, "Did you apply for Black Card for both of you or just one? The reason I ask is that, if even one of you becomes Platinum (and I beleive it's now PP) you would qualify for that person to become BC which is all you need. If travelling together, you only need one of the pax to be BC to be afforded that wonderful BC benefits. 

 

I know you're underwhelmed with the CS you received but if you want someone who's really great to deal with..    send me an email... conniecruzesat outlook.com. I see you as someone is thinks and sees outside the box so if I'm correct... you know what to do. 

Cheers

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48 minutes ago, All-ready2cruise said:

I have a question for you Jamie, "Did you apply for Black Card for both of you or just one? The reason I ask is that, if even one of you becomes Platinum (and I beleive it's now PP) you would qualify for that person to become BC which is all you need. If travelling together, you only need one of the pax to be BC to be afforded that wonderful BC benefits. 

 

It was just me that did the status match. Unfortunately my SO is behind me in points. I earned 14 points without him on a cruise with my sister, so while I am only a few sailings away from Platinum, he has a couple more than me to get there.

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I personally would never go on the breakaway again (been on twice both in Haven) unless I was in haven. That ship is so crowded and design is not good IMO. 

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Here's my background:

 

NCL: Platinum and 15 years experience with NCL. Never had trouble with their website or the booking experience, but our last cruise left me wondering if our cruising days were over. The onboard experience was blah and the decision making staff were really disappointing. 

 

MSC: Cruised with them for the first time in January, 2019. We qualified for Black card status which was nice, but it wouldn't be enough to draw us back if the trip disappointed. We started our booking experience thinking MSC had the worst website in the industry, but their customer service folks were pleasant and always made an effort. Our problems were resolved by final payment time, and we had a marvelous cruise. MSC ranks way up there in our eyes and we have THREE more MSC cruises booked!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Marine Mom said:

I personally would never go on the breakaway again (been on twice both in Haven) unless I was in haven. That ship is so crowded and design is not good IMO. 

 

Is it different/worse than the Breakaway Plus class ships in terms of crowding and design? Were you sailing at a particularly popular time of year when there were more kids on board?

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I'm a big believer in not rewarding bad behavior so I lean towards punishing MSC for their poor customer service. In my 50 plus years of experience as both a customer and worker in service industries, I find customer service flows from the top and companies that do it well do it well at all levels and companies with poor service in one area often have it in others. Do you want to spend hours on the phone again if you have a problem with this cruise?

 

As to NCL - I've got a 50% satisfaction record with them. Hated the Breakaway (totally agree with Marine Mom that the layout is awful and the ship crowded), loved the Gem. So I can't give you great advice there.

 

No matter what happens, I hope you end up with a terrific vacation. And while I appreciate your perspective in labeling this a first-world problem, it's your time and your money and you deserve to enjoy it to the max. There are lots of cruise options and every company out there should be working hard to make their line the one dedicated cruise fans like yourself choose. If they can't be bothered to work with you in making MSC your top choice, the heck with them. Lots of other ships in the sea. 

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16 hours ago, JamieLogical said:


Huh? The membership levels for NCL are:

 

Bronze - > Silver -> Gold -> Platinum -> Platinum Plus

 

The membership levels for Voyager's Club are:

 

Classic -> Silver -> Gold -> Black

 

I am Gold on NCL. I was matched to Classic on MSC. If, as you say, that is "correct" it should be more transparently documented so I would have known not to bother submitting my match until I reached Platinum with NCL.

 

I apologize, I thought you said you were matched to Silver on MSC with 1 point 

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16 hours ago, deweytrader said:

I was Gold on NCL and matched to Silver on MSC - this was over a year ago when they were more generous with the status matching.  My guess is the Platinum on NCL will only match to Silver on MSC now.... The match disappears after 3 years if you do not continue to sail with MSC.  Also as a side note I do not dress any differently on MSC as I do on NCL - my motto is comfy...

 I matched to Gold (am Platinum with only a few points to Platinum Plus) about a month ago.   I believe it is 1 tier behind 

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31 minutes ago, JamieLogical said:

 

Is it different/worse than the Breakaway Plus class ships in terms of crowding and design? Were you sailing at a particularly popular time of year when there were more kids on board?

 

When we sailed on the Breakaway, both times were not popular times but we found the ship to be super crowded.  I think I remember alot of kids but they weren't the problem.  I think the Escape design is better.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  The Haven on the breakaway is great but if we didn't have that to escape the mayhem, I would have been miserable.  I have been on many NCL ships (we are platinum) and by far, breakaway is my least favor.  

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I am somewhat of a nervous traveler so since I never had a problem with NCL customer service

if I was trying MSC and had the problems you have had I would shy away. HOWEVER that would

probably be only a knee jerk reaction on my part and I have read some posts of the  same type

of things happening with NCL. I would read the past reviews on the ship you are interested in

on MSC (about two months worth) and see what people say to make a decision. 

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11 minutes ago, Marine Mom said:

 

When we sailed on the Breakaway, both times were not popular times but we found the ship to be super crowded.  I think I remember alot of kids but they weren't the problem.  I think the Escape design is better.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  The Haven on the breakaway is great but if we didn't have that to escape the mayhem, I would have been miserable.  I have been on many NCL ships (we are platinum) and by far, breakaway is my least favor.  

 

I find it interesting that the Breakaway felt more crowded than the Escape since the designs, on paper at least, seem so similar.

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29 minutes ago, lupaglupa said:

I'm a big believer in not rewarding bad behavior so I lean towards punishing MSC for their poor customer service. In my 50 plus years of experience as both a customer and worker in service industries, I find customer service flows from the top and companies that do it well do it well at all levels and companies with poor service in one area often have it in others. Do you want to spend hours on the phone again if you have a problem with this cruise?

 

This is along the lines of my thinking as well. When I first posted about how much difficulty I was having getting the 10% discount re-applied and what a hassle it was, several people advised me to just drop it an enjoy my cruise. For better or worse, I am not capable of rewarding a company $212 or whatever it worked out to be for their incompetence. Why should I pay the MORE for THEIR failure? It's not so much the money as the principle. $212 isn't going to break our vacation budget. But, it's also not costing a giant cruise line a lot either. Meanwhile, they are pushing me away from their product and overlooking the fact that even if I *do* still sail with them, I now will be less inclined to spend money on board. It's all around poor business practice and I have a hard time respecting that.

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14 minutes ago, JamieLogical said:

 

I find it interesting that the Breakaway felt more crowded than the Escape since the designs, on paper at least, seem so similar.

Different vibe on Escape.  Personally myself, I like the smaller ships (Gem, Dawn, Spirit) but when I travel with family, we go on the bigger ships so the kids have more to do.

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1 hour ago, JamieLogical said:

 

This is along the lines of my thinking as well. When I first posted about how much difficulty I was having getting the 10% discount re-applied and what a hassle it was, several people advised me to just drop it an enjoy my cruise. For better or worse, I am not capable of rewarding a company $212 or whatever it worked out to be for their incompetence. Why should I pay the MORE for THEIR failure? It's not so much the money as the principle. $212 isn't going to break our vacation budget. But, it's also not costing a giant cruise line a lot either. Meanwhile, they are pushing me away from their product and overlooking the fact that even if I *do* still sail with them, I now will be less inclined to spend money on board. It's all around poor business practice and I have a hard time respecting that.

for me it would be all about the money (and nothing about the principle), $212 is a lot of money.  I dunno we have been on over 40 cruises, sometimes things go wrong either during booking, on board, meals, the front desk, it just happens.  Our first 5 cruises was on NCL then a few things occured and we tried a different cruiseline, since then we have booked the best overall deal for us, we  did not marry a cruiseline. (my 2 cents but I cant afford more than that) 

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