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Some basic pros & cons questions


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Sometime this winter, ideally in February, we'd like to do a cruise around South America and have been considering a variety of itineraries between Buenos Aires and Santiago or Lima. 

Does it matter whether we sail from the east coast to the west or vice versa?

We'd have more cruise options if we ended or began the trip in Chile instead of Lima, but we hope to visit Machu Picchu while we are on the west coast.  Therefore, we wonder about compensating for the missing sea segment between Santiago and Lima, and would like to hear from others who have done this, etc.

Thank you!  

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Do you really want to cruise or could it be a fly/land/whatever it's called.  Many years ago, my husband was working a lot in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  I joined him and we visited Rio, Iguazu Falls, Santiago, Lima and Machu Picchu.  Flew into Rio and out of Lima.  In a few weeks we'll cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires with pre and post days in each place.

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While some land and air travel is necessary to visit inland areas,  I generally think it is more restful to travel by ship than by air & land, other things being equal.  Sleeping in the same bed every night has advantages!

  

Edited by kaymoz
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Thanks, l'l look into it.  Are you going on that one, Heartfelt? 

We aren't committed to any one line although we would generally avoid MSC and Costa.  Lately we've been going for the under 1000 pax ships, but we did the Hawaii circuit with NCL Pride of America (about 2000 pax) last February and it was fine.   A little crazy in the cafeteria sometimes, but with no days at sea that really didn't matter much.

Edited by kaymoz
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19 hours ago, kaymoz said:

While some land and air travel is necessary to visit inland areas,  I generally think it is more restful to travel by ship than by air & land, other things being equal.  Sleeping in the same bed every night has advantages!

  

Whatever floats your boat!  LOL.  Except or Iguazu we spent multiple nights in each place so not really an issue for us.

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We don't want to wait another year, LOL!  We are seriously looking at the Azamara cruise departing Santiago on 4 February OR the Coral Princess departing two days later.  Both have very similar itineraries and prices per night, but one is 2000 passengers and the other 690.  We haven't sailed with either of these cruiselines before.

 

 

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On 11/9/2019 at 9:50 AM, kaymoz said:

Thanks, l'l look into it.  Are you going on that one, Heartfelt? 

We aren't committed to any one line although we would generally avoid MSC and Costa.  Lately we've been going for the under 1000 pax ships, but we did the Hawaii circuit with NCL Pride of America (about 2000 pax) last February and it was fine.   A little crazy in the cafeteria sometimes, but with no days at sea that really didn't matter much.

Yes, we are booked on the Norwegian Star February 15, 2020.

 

This ship is about 2400 passengers.  It is currently undersold and has some fantastic prices.

We actually booked in May 2018.  In all our cruises we have never had a price drop.  This cruise we got a price drop a few days prior to final payment.  Then the prices dropped even more and we upgraded our suite.

 

NCL is a mainstream cruise line.  The shows are usually pretty good, although we are early to bed, early to rise so we usually on make it to a few.

 

We are not loyal to any cruise line.  We decide where we want to go and then I research what each cruise line has to offer.

 

The Star just had some mechanical problems in the Mediterranean.  I am assuming that everything will be fixed before it does the Transatlantic crossing for the winter itineraries.

 

If you have any questions about NCL I would be happy to try and answer them from our past experience.  (I am not a travel agent.)  We travel in suites/Haven and our friends travel in balconies so I know the pros/cons of both.

 

I don't know if you have the time to do a post (or pre) cruise extension to Iguazu falls, but we got some great deals for the flights and staying at the Gran Melia right at the falls.

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I just looked at the listings for the NCL Star, and it seems that during the North American winter it goes back and forth between Buenos Aires and Santiago, until March when it sails from Santiago through the Panama Canal to Florida.  We'd probably be most interested in either the 1 Feb sailing from BA to Santiago or the one you are doing, Heartfelt, from Santiago on 15 Feb to BA .    We have never sailed in a "suite" type cabin, so am curious that those cabins are pretty economical with NCL or at least on this sailing.  It looks like the "mini-suite" isn't too much different than a balcony cabin, and that the big difference is the bathtub instead of only a shower, and a 283 sq ft instead of 203 sq ft minimum.  Am I missing something else -- maybe some "status" thing that attaches for those passengers, aside from the physical cabin?  Such as free internet, or fancy beverages, or a dedicated dining area, or spa facility?    We have never sailed on a ship with so many days at sea, other than crossing on the Queen Mary,  so realize that the shipboard amenities and privilege may mean more when at sea for so many days (compared to the only other time we sailed with NCL which was the Hawaii circuit where everyone is ashore most of the waking hours).

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kaymoz - 

 

NCL has a two types of suites.  For this ship there is not a Haven.  (The Haven is a ship-within-a-ship area that is exclusive for Haven Suites.)

 

You are correct that the Mini Suites just have more square footage, a bathtub and no extra status.

 

The Suites are actually two levels.  The Owner's Suites and above include a few extra perks (besides escalating square footage) such as the mini bar is included and replenished every day, 3 bottles of alcohol/wine in room.  (6 bottles for the Garden Villa.)

 

All suites have:

Priority embarkation.  Separate line at check-in and then ushered to a private waiting area.

Private restaurant for breakfast

Private elevator (skip the line) at ports.  On a ship like the Star it is probably a service elevator.

Butler

Dining reservations open about 10 days prior to the rest of the cabins. (This is a moot point as we are past final payment.)  If you book this and take the dining option, make your reservations when you book.  If you do not get the times you actually want, you can try to change them once on board.

Special seating in the theater for the shows

Afternoon goodies delivered to the suite

And others that I cannot think of at the moment.

Can choose up to all four perks at booking.  Just be aware that you are charged the 20% gratuity for the dining and alcohol option.  The alcohol option gratuity comes to about $20.00 a day per person, which is still a pretty good deal if you both drink.

 

We travel with friends who book balcony/veranda cabins while we book suites, so I know some about standard cabins also.

 

I have several friends who did the Hawaiian itinerary on the Pride of America and said that if it was their first NCL cruise it would have been their last.  So don't judge NCL by that cruise.  

 

The price of the suites have dropped dramatically (which has never happened to us before).  Whether you opt for a suite or a standard cabin, I think that this is a pretty good bang for the buck.  If you are looking at the suites just be aware that the SG Family Suite and the SA Deluxe Owner's Suite do not have balconies.

 

We booked direct flights from Atlanta both ways on Delta.  At this late date you would probably find better pricing r/t from Miami.  That would entail collecting your luggage in Miami and rechecking in in MIA International.

 

Let me know if you book on NCL.  Especially on our cruise.

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Ooops, just found out there is no self-service laundry on the Star. 

 

BUMMER!  Call me picky, but I don't like taking my chances with laundry services wrecking knit items that shouldn't go through heavy duty drying (which is half my clothing).  It's a nuisance to wash and hang dry things in a cabin bathroom, even if there is a nice big bathtub!  And impractical to lug lots of things on long trips.  Evidently no NCL ships have the self serve laundry. 

I'm told these lines have them:  Azamara, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania,  Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea ad Viking Ocean.

 

I

 

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We had a great time on Pride of America!    We had a non-suite balcony cabin but spent very little time on the ship since there were no sea days.  It was only a week, so we coped with the laundry issue...had laundry at the place where we stayed both before and after the cruise.  I can see why people might have found fault with the service on that ship and said 'never again' --  it seemed some of the dining area crew weren't as professional as most ships we have sailed, but that was understandable.  While there are probably "nicer" ships that cruise the Hawaiian Islands, we didn't find any others that have such a good itinerary so I recommend that cruise to others.  

 

But back to South America and NCL -- I have some questions about the suite only breakfast options....is this a sit-down restaurant only or a cafeteria type facility?  We are always nervous about the timing of sit-down breakfast on port days....so we prefer the buffet type arrangements.  But  I find that on the large ships the cafeterias can be pretty cumbersome just due to size.

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kaymoz -

 

NCL has run a "Fill the Bag" laundry for $19.99 on each ship we have sailed.  We have not had anything ruined yet.  (Windstar broke all the buttons on one of my husband's shirts.)  We have sailed Oceania in top suites both times.  Although they offer unlimited free laundry service, I did use the free laundry room a few times.

 

Breakfast - The suite breakfast restaurant is a sit down in one of the specialty venues.  Very nice with French Press coffee and a nice menu.  Great for sea days.  On port/excursion days there is the main buffet with a good selection.  Also, you can order a full, hot breakfast delivered to you suite - pancakes, eggs, etc.  (If not in a suite any room delivery other than continental breakfast incurs a $7.95 charge😝)

 

There are not set dinner times.  It is anytime - show up and get in line.  Never had to wait (unless we showed up before the dining room opened.)

 

NCL dress is very casual.  On our last cruise my husband was turned away from the main dining room when wearing nice jeans and had to go back to the suite and change. We had arrived back from an excursion late and we just dropped our stuff and headed to the dining room.  He usually wears denim grey or tan slacks for winter cruises and summer weight slacks in the summer.  Most of the time he wears a collared shirt.  No jacket required.  I tend to wear skirts and dresses in the summer and black slacks and tops in the winter.  This sailing will be harder to pack for since our temperatures will flux between warmer, colder, and outright hot.

 

We chose this particular ship and itinerary for the 7 ports and port times.  The Star is a pretty old ship but has been refurbished recently so hopefully will be in pretty good shape.  Still waiting to hear more about the mechanical problems they had recently.

 

One of the perks/offers is the $50.00 per port credit if you book your excursions through the ship.

Another is the free 250 minutes of wifi.  I upgraded to unlimited for $125 total for one device.  We take turns being online.  I may also bite the bullet and purchase outright a high speed second line.  Yep - even though we are both retired, we do not unplug.

The free 5 dining package actually will cost you about $26 each.  We enjoy the specialty restaurants.  This ship has a Brazilian Steakhouse which we really enjoyed on the Escape.

 

We also enjoy the smaller ships, but with so many sea days we wanted so have access to some activities.

 

These are just our experiences.  We choose different cruise lines based on if we are traveling alone, which friends we are traveling with, and itinerary offered. 

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