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sammy sun

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Everything posted by sammy sun

  1. sammy sun

    Just Curious !!

    I actually spoke to multiple agents regarding a cruise earlier this year with P&O and I was advised the same situation by all. P&O do still apply the 5% flat commission to all agents but it's up to the agent as to what they do with it. P&O do try to monitor this apparently and control the discounting to prevent overkill but at the end of the day, agents will do as they wish to get bookings, which undoubtedly works in our favour. That said, I would always be dubious of an agent giving away their full 5% commission in order to get a booking. It seemed the whole commission change with P&O came on the back of Gills going under quite a few years ago now. That had a major impact on the market and because of that the system seemed to change. If an agent is actively giving away their full commission, I'd be concerned about their longevity in the market, unless they have unlimited cash reserves. I, like many others have commented, try to combine the two wherever I can. I look for price but I also look for service and Bolsover have ticked these boxes well for me for many years now. Like most people, i still actively look at pricing to see what's out there but I always check Bolsover to make sure they're approximately on par and if they are, I'll go with them. I trust them and they've been excellent over the years for me.
  2. sammy sun

    MSC boarding times

    I've never sailed with them personally so I can't comment with full certainty but I would imagine they would be similar to other lines that operate such staggered check-in systems at Southampton. I think if you turn up earlier, you'll just be advised that they'll get you on board as soon as possible, much like P&O would do.
  3. sammy sun

    Info required

    Hi, glad you got the answers you were looking for. How do you find MSC? It's a cruise line I've discussed on this forum before but seeing as it's your third cruise with them I'd imagine you find them enjoyable? Just wondered how you would compare them to other cruise lines?
  4. sammy sun

    P&o gratuities

    The fact is that we're never going to know the full ins and outs of gratuities and how they're distributed. We can only interpret what impacts us, the paying passengers. They've clearly done their due dilligence and spent time working out the right way to move forward for the cruise line. I'm sure it took a long time to reach the decision but they've gone with it so fair play to them. It's a bold statement and certainly one that the majority of passengers will be pleased to hear. It prevents any awkward situations for passengers on board and it takes away the concern of gratuities for all. How it will impact pricing, I don't know but like always, if you aren't happy don't book, it's as simple as that. Vote with your feet and venture elsewhere. I suspect it won't have too much of an impact on pricing in the long-term as the booking trends certainly seemed to have changed towards last-minute rather than the early-booking trends of the past. I would imagine that the only time that isn't the case anymore is when it involves new ships such as Iona going on sale. I don't think too much will change apart from the fact that we as passengers, when travelling with P&O, will no longer have to factor in gratuities unless we wish to do so at the end of the cruise. Either way, it puts the control in our hands and that's what many have been demanding for a longtime so why all the fuss? You can only control what you can, everything else is just noise.
  5. sammy sun

    2020 bookings?

    Aside from the direct/agent debate, I think the Iona prices overall aren't bad at all. As a family of 3 looking at summer holidays 2020, the prices are much better than I expected for that time of year and the fact that it's a new ship. I do wish they'd gone a little more creative with Iona than what I've seen of her so far, especially if they really want to rival Royal Caribbean in the family market but that said, it does look a nice ship and despite the slight dissapointment, I did expect them to be their usual reserved selves.
  6. sammy sun

    2020 Itineraries

    I was quite surprised to see Iona just doing back-to-back Fjords itineraries. I expected the usual mix of Med/Fjords/Baltic/short cruise options so it's interesting to see them go down the route of one sole focus for a new ship. Maybe we'll see the same again for the next new arrival.
  7. I was recently made aware of a film on Netflix that is set on board Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas. It's called Like Father. Has anyone seen it? I've only seen a trailer for it on youtube but I may well give it a watch, if only to see what the ship looks like.
  8. sammy sun

    P&O Summer 2020 and IONA!

    I'd certainly be willing to give it a try but I dont' have overly high hopes for Iona. It's not necessarily the size of the ship that puts me off but rather what they've done with it. This was a real opportunity for P&O to do something different but instead it appears to be more of the same with the exception of "Courtyard Balconies" 🤔. It's hardly a wow factor. I'm not saying I need all the hustle and bustle of a Royal Caribbean ship to keep me happy because I don't but I just feel P&O could have done more to overcome many of the negative perceptions people have of them of late.
  9. Having seen Venice hit the headlines again this weekend with protesters lining the streets, I wonder what this will force on the tourism situation for the popular Italian port. I've cruised into Venice and sailed out of Venice and it has to be one of the best cruising destinations I've had the pleasure of visiting but there is no denying, particularly in the summer periods, the tourism numbers from cruise lines alone are astronomical. This is fantastic for the tourism impact on the economy but I do sympathise with locals. I saw one sign saying "your luxury trip, my daily misery". Clearly something needs to be done. For the locals to hold signs saying "this is not Veniceland" referring to the city being used as though it's an extension of Disneyland, there is a strong issue here that is not going anywhere until something is done. Over the weekend there was apparently seven large ships in the lagoon and an approximate 14,000 cruise passengers. What will be the impact for cruising in Venice in the years to come?
  10. sammy sun

    All Freedom Dining on Iona

    Personally, I try to adhere to dress codes but I do understand that some people will not. It's the way of the world and we all have to like it or lump it because as OWT quite rightly point out, it cannot be physically enforced. The cruising world is now a world of opinions and many differing preferences but as I've said before and I'll say again, the fortunate thing is that there are options for most tastes. The same applies to freedom dining. The limitations of traditional dining continue to be flagged as a negative perception of cruising to a younger generation and therefore more cruise lines will make their attempts to address this in order to tempt new to cruise passengers going forward. I'm therefore not surprised at all that P&O have taken this decision for Iona. I happen to love freedom dining because I much prefer to have the choice of when I wish to dine rather than being confined to a sitting. I do however appreciate that many people prefer traditional, quite often for the camaraderie and rapport you can develop with waiting staff and the sharing of a table with regular company. You pay your money, you take your choice 🙂
  11. sammy sun

    Iona's new style cabins

    I think it's a good idea in theory and at least it show SOME innovative thinking from P&O rather than the conveyor belt of normality they've dosed out over the past few years. My issue with it is that they will undoubtedly price this cabins at ridiculous fares for P&O Cruises, which will no doubt come tumbling down closer to the time of the cruise. I do think it's a nice concept though and it makes a positive change to see P&O introducing something different.
  12. sammy sun

    Yobs afloat

    It's a difficult one to judge but I do know one thing, I've recommended many people over the years to give cruising a try but I would never recommend choosing to do a "taster cruise" like this as I think it gives a complete mis-representation of how it really is. I've done the one short cruise and that was enough. The service was no way near as good and the whole process seemed unorganised in comparison to a longer sailing.
  13. sammy sun

    The end of the traditional cruise?

    I agree with the point you make but demands are changing. In order to keep up with modern day demands, cruise lines need to adapt. Hence the changes you see taking place.
  14. There are many reasons why I love Celebrity Cruises and this is just another example to add to the list. I see they've announced plans for a $500 million makeover of their entire fleet. I love that they're not just satisfied with releasing new ships of a conveyor belt like some other lines, they're also taking care of the ships that have got them to this point in the first place. It means older favourites get refreshed with a new look and they're looking at the big picture rather than just the here and now. As per usual with Celebrity, they don't do things by halves as I see they're bringing in a mix of 500 people to oversee the refurbishment programme, all revolving around architecture, design and engineering. I also really like that they're not just refreshing the public spaces on board but concentrating on the cabins too. So often cabins are forgotten about or simply changed by adding a new carpet or even just a new tv and expecting people to be over the moon with the "makeover". All the staterooms on board are receiving a totally new design, which keeps things fresh and makes walking onto a ship you've sailed on before almost like experiencing something for the first time. They continue to impress me and I'll continue to sail with them.
  15. I saw the headline for this story a few days ago but I've just read a bit more about it today. I'm not keen on this name at all. I know it's a nod to the past and the history of the Virgin brand but for a new, contemporary, lavish cruise line image that they appear to be aiming for, it doesn't exactly fit does it? Just my opinion of course but I think it's a terrible name,
  16. sammy sun

    Livorno or Florence

    I understand where you're coming from on the transfer time to and from Florence but it is well-worth it. It's a beautiful city so my advice would be to forget Livorno and go for Florence, especially if you've never been there before.
  17. sammy sun

    P&O's new drink packages?

    I agree that I think the potential for drinks packages to be abused would have been a factor in their thinking but they've addressed this issue in their terms and conditions of the trial policy. As you quite rightly say, P&O Cruises is targeted far more at families and speaking from experience, cruising as a family is an expensive travel option, especially during school holiday periods, therefore value for money is of even greater importance for those on a tight budget.
  18. sammy sun


    Welcome to the forum Hattie, I hope you find it useful
  19. sammy sun

    P&O's new drink packages?

    I agree with you on that sinbad, it is a considerably higher amount but what are P&O trying to achieve with this drinks package trial and have they considered their target market in doing so? Look at the success Fred Olsen have achieved with their packages and the clear, consice plan they've put in place for appealing to their target market. P&O do not have this structure in place, or it wouldnt' appear so as an outsider looking in. You would expect Princess to be at this sort of price bracket to run parallel to rival leading American lines. P&O however are targeting the British market and the first thing many people will think when reading about the trial is that the drink prices on board P&O aren't too bad but that this trial appears expensive, especially when you consider the full terms and conditions applied to it, and even more so when compared to Fred Olsen, another line looking to appeal to the British market.
  20. sammy sun

    P&O's new drink packages?

    I completely agree with you on this OWT. When I first saw the headline, I opened the link hoping so much that they would get this right and in my opinion, they've once again failed to take advantage of an opportunity that has been staring them in the face for a long time. So many people have been calling for P&O to give this a try and when they finally do, it's half-hearted, much like most of what they do these days. The price is, in my opinion, expensive. I understand that large American lines do compare price wise but this was an opportunity for P&O to hammer home the message of value for money to the British public they're targeting and badly in need of considering the increase in beds to fill come the arrival of Iona. Fred Olsen might not be targeting the same audience these days as P&O but they do appeal heavily to the British public. They get so many things right that P&O don't and at least Fred Olsen are clear with who they're targeting and how they're doing it. P&O go back and forth more times than a tennis ball at Wimbledon! The fact that it only applies to drinks priced at £6.95 is protrayed as a positive when in reality it's nothing special at all. The t&c's of it are exhausting, as are the limitations. Another example of this is not being able to purchase the package after 2 days on board. What if you decide after a few days that it's actually a good idea for you??? They've had so long to plan for this and somehow they still manage to find ways to take the shine off it. I won't say "mess it up" as I think that would be a little too harsh, but it's certainly nothing to write home about and given the time they've had and the advantage of watching others trial such packages for so long, they were in a position to really get it right and they've flopped in my opinion. Of course it is just my opinion and I understand others may be a fan of it. I just think that if P&O were a school report, they would forever find "could do better" at the top of the page.
  21. sammy sun

    All Freedom Dining on Iona

    For me, it's another marmite of the cruising world. You either love it or you hate it. Since I tried Freedom Dining for the first time in 2008, I've loved it and opted for that choice at every opportunity since. I love not being confined to a specific sitting time and the overall flexibility of it suits me down to the ground. I understand that it's not for everyone and there are still many pros to sitting times, especially the opportunity to get familiar with your waiting staff and get to know them better as well as them getting to know you. That said, I still prefer the open seating option. I am however, suprised to see them do away with sittings altogether on Iona. I presumed they would retain it for one restaurant but if they're trying to really target the new-to-cruise market then I can see the rationale behind it.
  22. sammy sun

    All Freedom Dining on Iona

    I'd imagine they'll add "restricted" or "obstructed" to the cabins that are not clear sea views. Of course, it's all a matter of opinions but it wouldn't surprise me to see these changes made to fall more in line with land-stay terminology. An outside cabin is understood by people that have cruised before but for the many that haven't they don't understand what "outside" means, which then requires them to look it up to find out. All of which takes them further away from doing what cruise lines want them to do, which is obviously commit to a booking. The less obstacles in place, the more booking they'll get so it wouldn't surprise me to see more subtle changes like this.
  23. sammy sun

    All inclusive trial?

    I think many more people will have had the same or similar experiences sinbad and hence walked away from cruising due to the perceived complexities of it when you've never done it before. It is a different kettle of fish to a land-stay. When speaking to anyone about booking their first cruise, I always recommend doing as much research as possible but then speaking to an agent to make sure they're happy and understand what they're booking. Getting the first cruise right is often the decisive time to whether they go on to get the cruising bug or regret their experience and go back to land-stays alone.
  24. sammy sun

    Oriana sold by P&O Cruises

    Despite my opinion that they do need another to bridge the gap, I have to agree that it doesn't look like they'll go down that route. I thought P&O had a real opportunity here to split their fleet properly between family-friendly and intimate/adult-only. Instead, they've done their usual in attempting to try to please everyone, which we all know, especially in the cruising world, is impossible. There are so many different cruise lines to choose from these days that P&O, in my opinion, need to nail down exactly what they'r about. Royal Caribbean portray a clear message as to who they are and what they do well. P&O don't. They hammer away at the "best for British" line but in my opinion, what they really need to do is to differentiate that further by splitting the fleet into two different entities. That would enable them to build ships truly fit for the purpose they were aiming for, rather than trying to create one-size-fits-all builds. As always, just my opinion but I feel it's a good opportunity missed here and another example of their poor organisation in recent years.
  25. Glad you enjoyed your cruise Sue. I hope the ship was just as enjoyable as the place you visited?