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Showing content with the highest reputation on 02/20/17 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    cruisedirector

    Opting out of auto tipping

    I saw him , for many years of cruising I have felt after talking to crew that we are all supporting the cruise lines wage bill. which is not what tipping is all about. I have always tipped to those directly that have given good service & I feel happy that they get what they deserve that way
  2. 1 point
    Land Ahoy

    NCL's Epic - Caribbean Cruise Review

    Hi I have just returned from a seven night Caribbean cruise on NCL's Epic with a three night pre stay in Orlando. Here's a review of my experiences. NCL Epic (Caribbean – 7 night voyage 11/2/17 The flights booked from Manchester to Orlando with Delta were not direct but cheaper than the direct journeys but about three weeks the departure times were amended and the meant that I would have led to much longer spent in transit. MY cruise consultant amended my booking and I paid the extra for direct flights with Virgin Atlantic. All transfers were arranged by the travel agent. I booked economy seats but paid a little extra £85 to have bulk seats to have extra legroom for the long haul flight. On the return journey I was exceptionally fortunate to find the two seats next to mine were unoccupied, and by lifting up the arm rests I had a comfortable bed for a reasonable good night's sleep. The flights were on time and the food and service were more than adequate and as always Virgin do have a wide range of films to watch. Transfers After passing through USA immigration procedures (it wasn't too slow thankfully). I easily found the Mears shuttle desk and was soon on my way to the hotel. Again the transfer for Orlando hotel to Port Canaveral was seamless as was NCL's transfer from the ship to the airport. Hotel in Orlando The hotel selected for the package was the Comfort Inns Convention Centre on International Drive. The hotel was the weakest element of the package. The room definitely needed a refurbishment and had a musty odour, but as I had only three nights in the hotel it was acceptable. Free shuttles were provided to the numerous theme parks found in Orlando. I chose to visit Universal Studio and Universal Islands of Adventure on my second day. To my surprise I enjoyed my visit more than I expected and went on all the rides including the more awesome roller coasters (I'm in my sixties). Food and drinks in parks is expensive (not too surprising) but although it was low season queues were still the norm. My is the use tip is use the single rider entrance as the wait time is much less eg The Hulk had a wait time of 40min for couples but if you are prepared to sit apart the time was 5min. NCL Epic Embarkation onto the ship was slow but as 4500 passengers are also boarding I was not surprised. Cabin I booked a single studio cabin. The interior of the cabin was different to that on most cruise ships and many passengers booking other grades of accommodation complained about them being cramped. As I spend little time in my room this aspect was not too important to me. There was adequate storage room for a seven night voyage and the room was kept clean by the steward. All solo passengers have access to a singles only lounge and the opportunity to meet other fellow travellers. A dedicated single's host will book group tables for solo passengers in the various dining venues as well as the shows in the evenings. Amenities The ship is very large compared to those I normally prefer to sail with. Deck space is limited and there is constant music around the main pool area as well as water slides, rock climbing wall etc. I found the adults only area H2O Spice at the rear of the ship more to my liking with no intrusive noise and I never experienced a problem finding a sun lounger. The lounges and entertainment venues were all tastefully furnished although finding a quiet area is impossible. The lounge entertainers were the usual cruise fare (keyboard/singers). The headline entertainment in the main theatre was very good, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (musical), Burn the Floor (Latino dance) and a tribute Beatles band (my favourite, who also did two more shows in the smaller Cavern Club). The downside to each of these “headline shows” is that you need to book seats in advance using your room's interactive TV which guarantees entry or queue and hope that space is available. One evening I went to the Circus dinner (additional charge), set in a “tent” with jugglers, clowns etc with a set menu meal (turf and surf) the show was great but the food was bland but overall it was well worth the cost. In the smaller venues you also have to get there well before the starting time you get a seat. I particularly enjoyed Howl at the Moon (duelling pianists) who perform a wide range of tunes of requested songs from memory! Dining There are so many dining venues that you cannot try them all during a seven night cruise. I always went to self service Garden Cafe for breakfast and the food served is the usual fare found on all cruise lines. At lunch I only ate once indoors (Taste) and again the food was fine and the service offered was good but with few passengers it wasn't surprising. The novelty of eating al fresco for a UK resident in winter meant I used the buffet on most other days, the food was OK but the menu was repetitive. The best meal I ate all cruise was some barbecued fish from a local restaurant on the beach front in St Thomas. I tried three speciality dining venues (Cagney's) a steak house, the meat was well cooked but the service was painfully slow. Le Bistro (French) was disappointing the dover sole was over cooked whereas the saute potatoes were almost raw. Le Cucini (Italian) was the best of the three additional charged venues I tried and the sea bass was both tasty and cooked well. I also tried Manhattan's (general waiter service restaurant , O'Sheehan's (Irish/British Pub grub) both of which are included in the boarding fare as usual the food was fine but nothing special. I didn't eat badly throughout my voyage but only one course (the Sea Bass) was memorable but I have had better in other restaurants. Service The cabin steward was good but I am low maintenance and so I never ask for anything I just expect a clean cabin and the towels to be changed. There is insufficient waiters (even in the additional charge speciality venues) to provide true attentive service but the staff are polite and always smiling which goes a long way to placate this inadequacy. My main gripe was the bar areas, there are very few waiters and so you have to go to the bar in order to get a drink but the queues are slow (Americans tend to order cocktails/Martinis which take time to prepare). However, the bar staff do work extremely hard, the company just needs to employ more. Caribbean Islands The cruise only visited three islands (St Thomas, Tortola and Great Stirrup Cay) with three full days at sea. St Thomas was busy as usual and as I have been to beaches in the decided to try the cable car situated just outside the port. The cost was $21 but the ship charged $25. The views were fine and there's a café, bar and shops at the top. I decided to eat ashore and had the best meal of my holiday in a small restaurant, consisting of well barbecued fresh fish and salad. On Tortola I took an independent 3 hour tour of the island with a 1 hour beach stop. The final port of call was Great Strirrup Cay in the Bahamas (NCL's private island). Once ashore the beach and facilities were fine but with up to 4500 needing to be tendered ashore it wasn't ideal I waited over 1 hour to called for my tender and another 45 min in the lounge, and getting back to the ship was also slow. Summary I did enjoy my cruise and those wishing for 24/7h entertainment with very good evening will be satisfied. However, the poor service and long queues can be very tiresome. However, in spite of the large number of passengers the ship does cater reasonably well for single cruisers, all the fellow passengers were friendly and welcoming.
  3. 1 point
    HALaP&O

    Big ship's or Little ship's

    Beautifully put, DavidH. 100% agree. It's horses for courses, of course, and 'Praise Be' for that, else few of us would ever get on at all?? I was really sorry to see the 'All Leisure Group' go under recently, and likewise sad to see the 'Portuscale' group similarly fail, a while back, after such a brave and seemingly expensive attempt to rescue some really beautiful old ships, such as MV Funchal. Lacking in 'big ship' facilities nowadays maybe, but being on such an elegant vessel in itself, was an experience more than worth the ride. Fabulous ship! I've always been definitely more into the 'ships' themselves, than however big and ugly they can build them. That really doesn't float my cruising boat, at all. I've never been loyalty drawn by ship name or cruise line alone. Wherever we decide or think we might want to go next, if there's a ship visiting that region, within our time frame, that we haven't been on before, that will most likely be the ship that receives our first and fullest attention. An older ship? and that would always be the one to go to the very top of the list. We really need to cherish these ships whilst we have them We are all perhaps lucky, that with such an abundance of choice, seemingly there is always something for everyone.
  4. 1 point
    sinbad10

    Tips for Royal Caribbean

    Can never understand the policy of pre paying your gratuities. What happens then when you cruise you get service you are not happy with and the whole idea of a gratuity is a cash gift for service over and above what you normally pay for a service.
  5. 1 point
    Having sampled the biggest cruise ship (Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas) and one of the smallest (Fred Olsen's Braemar) in 2016, these are a few pros and cons: Harmony had a "wow" factor almost everywhere we went on the ship, with plenty of entertainment for families and teenagers - zip-wire, surfing, tube slides descending several decks, rock climbing, crazy golf, an open "street" down the centre of the centre of the ship with trees and plants, with an enclosed shopping street below with cafes, bars etc., a robot bar, a show on ice, etc. Only the Americans could class "Johnny Rockets" (a place for burger and chips) as a special dining venue with a surcharge to pay (compare that with say P & O's select dining venues where you might be quite happy to pay a surcharge!). All very well, but we did not use many of these facilities as (a) many are only likely to appeal to the passengers under say 40 and (b) are more suited to warmer climes than the North Sea in May! Great for families with teenagers in the Caribbean though! And would you really want an inside balcony that overlooks the street but faces balconies opposite with no view of the sea? We cruised at approx 8 knots on the shake-down cruise to Rotterdam, and not only did you have no sensation of being on a ship, but you felt more like being in a shopping Mall! However, I'm glad I sampled Harmony as it was an amazing experience! Our next cruise couldn't have been more different, on Braemar, which seemed a lot older and tiny in comparison! However, we were hugely impressed at how friendly and helpful the Phillipino staff were, you quickly got to know other passengers, there was a traditional promenade deck to walk right around the ship (including right to the very front of the bow!), the drinks package at £10 pp/day was extremely reasonable (so you didn't feel that it was a money-making machine like Harmony) and the real attraction for us was that we went into some lovely small German ports and transited the Kiel Canal, whereas Harmony is very restricted as to where she can go. So our conclusion was, Harmony and her two sister ships are well worth sampling for the "wow" factor, or if you are prepared to accept such ships as a resort in their own right, and are not particularly interested in where you go, but it is not an experience we would repeat. We like cruising to see new places, so small to medium sized ships are what suits us! I particularly like ships with traditional promenade decks, something which is sadly disappearing, to be replaced with a small walking circuit track on deck 16.
  6. 1 point
    sinbad10

    Opting out of auto tipping

    Did anyone see Simon Calder (travel reporter) reporting on BBC news about tips/gratuities/service charges on cruise lines. Even he was saying that on some cruise lines it is now approximately £25 a day for a couple and up to 18% charge on drinks that you are forced to pay which can mean for a 14 nt cruise you could be paying £400+ just in tips/gratuities/service charges and he did mention that they could be removed or reduced and did mention NCL who you are supposed to be unable to remove/reduce your tips/gratuities/service charge and he had been in contact with them and they had admitted that they cannot refuse to reduce them and you can do that onboard. One thing he did say was that he was not against paying these charges but he didn't understand why anyone would pay pre cruise or having them added to your onboard account from day one without knowing whether you have received or will receive good service which after all is what the payment supposed to be for and what he did say is he removes them and then pays them at the end of his holiday which is favoured and the way British people prefer to pay them. Finally he did say that after he had said this same thing earlier in the programme he had received "tweets" from people in the UK saying he was "short changing" and "stiffing" the staff of their wages.
  7. 1 point
    Oldworldtraveller

    Personal info

    I put nothing in mine as I like to retain my privacy. Those that know me, know my details.
  8. 1 point
    DavidH

    Big ship's or Little ship's

    Hi Daveybe, I'm quite happy to use the mid size ships to which you refer, if they are offering an itinerary in which I am interested. However, I am unlikely to ever set foot on the Leviathan of the Seas variety. Give me the Azamara sized ships any day. Excellent entertainment and terrific on board atmosphere created by an enthusiastic and attentive crew led from the front by engaging officers. DavidH
  9. 1 point
    Land Ahoy

    Big ship's or Little ship's

    Hi There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it all depends upon what you expect form your cruise experience. If you wish to have 24/7 activities then a mega ship with loads of facilities will tick all of the right boxes. On a personal level I prefer small ships, I wish to enjoy good dining and service and have a relaxed holiday and do not need constant stimulation.
  10. 1 point
    Guest

    Vigo

    What an excellent comment Peter.
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