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  1. mobilegb

    Britannia Dining

    Always have several meals - not to mention drinks - in The Glass House; it is our favourite spot for lunch with 3 Tapas dishes at minimal cost. No need to book either.
  2. I agree with Sammy Sun that the mega-ships are just too overwhelming and, whilst they offer a plethora of entertainments, some things get lost. For example, we like the 'normal' mix of shows with a different one each night whereas when we travelled on 'Norwegian Breakaway' there were just two shows alternating every day. I suppose that the architects can't design a 2000 seat theatre into the available space, but with one only accommodating 800 and a ship with 4000 + passengers I guess the lines are forced into this. For me, P&O's 'Azura' and 'Ventura' are the limit in terms of size; even 'Britannia' is too big.
  3. mobilegb

    P&O launching drinks packages

    Couldn't agree more with Towny44 - you will pay for everything that you get somewhere, it is just a question of how the deal is structured to appeal to different travellers. Compare the Motor Trade which will offers deals with discounted prices paid up front or alternatives with low weekly payments which in total are far more. Our last cruise was with NCL, just prior to 'all-inclusive' but with a drinks package included and on return I did an exercise to compare the cost of what we drank 'free' to the actual cost and also the uplift that NCL are employing to pay for 'all-inclusive' and, surprise, surprise, we would have been better off buying our own drinks (even at NCL inflated prices and service charges) than going 'all-inclusive'. I have two concerns; firstly that for moderate drinkers we will be paying over the top for cruises and secondly that it encourages passengers to drink more to get 'better value for money'. Another point is that for primarily wine drinkers, the deals only include by the glass and the options are quite limited. I would prefer that the base cost of cruises be kept affordable and whatever extras passengers want can be purchased - hopefully at sensible prices (see P&O drinks prices versus the US lines)
  4. The bottom line, as has been expressed by many posters already, is that the lines will respond to demand and provide what substantial numbers of passengers want. The split of restaurants on P&O's larger ships and Princess of having two restaurants for 'Freedom' and one for Classic seems to work for the present. Personally, I will always go for the flexibility of dining when I want to and am prepared to put up with a little queuing or even the buzzer - in fact the only reason that I don't book Early Saver fares is the concern that we might get stuck with Fixed time dining. The point was made about the Speciality restaurants being open dining, but of course it is necessary to book for these to control the flow. Maybe if the trend to 'Freedom' continues a transitional system might be to make the current Classic MDR reservation only so that those wishing to have firm times can fix them but with more flexibility.
  5. We would always go for a balcony regardless of itinerary for reasons that others have posted - the ability to get some fresh, rather than canned, air coupled with the opportunity to get better views of the scenery regardless of weather. Don't forget that you have a wall of glass rather than a limited size window if going on deck is weather limited!
  6. mobilegb

    Big Ship Are Best

    I wouldn't really regard 'Oriana' as small - more mid-size and, of course, despite recent refurb she is quite an elderly lady with the restraints that imposes. At the end of the day, it is all about what appeals to the individual cruiser. If it's about bling and rock climbing/ice rinks/robot bartenders and a buzzy vibe then the big ships are fine. On the other hand for some of us it is more about a relaxed atmosphere with great service and food and less (or no) children. You pays your money ........, but at least the choices are out there. If food is your main thing Sea View, try Oceania's "Marina' or 'Riviera' with a great MDR and 4 no fee speciality restaurants serving fantastic dishes in a 'country club casual' atmosphere. No childrens' activities as such although they are welcome.
  7. Sammy Sun has an interesting observation re P&O versus NCL going 'all inclusive' although note that there are exceptions to the inclusions. However have you checked the prices that NCL are now charging for the privilege of basically eliminating grats and including drinks (wine only by the glass sadly) which represent most of the added value. A 9 night Fjords cruise on 'Norwegian Jade' in June 2018 has a lead in balcony rate of £2209 (incl early booking discount) whereas a 7 nighter on 'Azura' is £1029 with £70 OBC. As a fairer comparison, that equates to £245 per night on NCL and £147 per night on P&O. Add on grats and allow for a bottle of wine shared amongst 2 and a couple of drinks/coffees - say £35 per day and NCL are still more than £60 per day more expensive. Personally I can't and wouldn't want to drink that difference! In any event having recently returned from a trip on 'Norwegian Jade' which was one of our favourite ships, we were very disappointed and felt that standards had slipped badly; certainly it didn't match up to a trip we did on 'Aurora' last December. I think NCL will find that they have scored an own goal with this change, but time will tell.
  8. mobilegb

    best time to book

    JH327, P&O will indeed shift your deposit for an admin fee of £100, however there is another catch in that the new cruise has to be of a greater value than the original one. I have been caught out with this one!
  9. mobilegb

    Are you Brand Loyal ?

    For us, itinerary is always the first consideration, and then having decided where we want to go choosing the line. Having said that, we do have our preferred lines as well as those that we would not sail with. Our preferred lines are Oceania, NCL and P&O - very different in ambience (and price!) but each has their own pluses and minuses. Having tried a taster, we didn't enjoy Fred and found Princess to be pricier but no better than P&O. As regards Loyalty, the majority of lines schemes are, in our view, not worth worrying about although the Norwegian Group lines do offer useful benefits like free laundry, free speciality dining, increased OBC and the ultimate of a free cruise, although to achieve that last one will have earned it considering the number of cruise nights required!
  10. Art is always subjective - what appeals to some will be hated by others - but I think that perhaps the hull art reflects the nature of the line. Cunard livery reflects their heritage, which is one of their marketing points, whereas NCL have a casual, fun approach which is reflected in the way that they present their ships. The thing which I like about the NCL approach is that each ship is individually styled; in the case of the older ships to reflect their name but with the newer 'Breakaway' and 'Breakaway Plus' class to reflect their homeport or principal cruise area. 'Norwegian Bliss' for example will spend the summers cruising Alaska so her hull is decorated to reflect the marine life to be found up there. I certainly would not be in favour of the Moby/Tirrenia approach!
  11. I agree with the consensus that the trend is away from formal dining. My wife and I enjoy them when travelling with lines which still hold them - P&O/Princess - but it is not a deal breaker for us; the itinerary and quality of food are the main criteria. What we object to is setting a code and then not sticking to it, there is no reason for this as it is abundantly clear what is expected. Having said this, our next cruise in on NCL 'Norwegian Jade' out of Southampton in June and, based on our previous experiences with NCL I would not expect to see many 'scruffy' passengers in the restaurants although the ambience is casual - the Grand Pacific MDR does in any event have some dress limitations in the evenings. In our view, the best compromise is with Oceania where the dress code is 'Country Club Casual' at all times so no formal, but appropriately smart attire for the time of day/venue. Passengers with Oceania certainly do seem to stick to the rules. At the end of the day, there is a variety of lines to choose from so 'you pays your money and takes your choice'
  12. Yes, it is a great idea to visit ships before sailing on them which enables the cruiser to check out things which may not be so obvious. My wife and I have visited ships from RCI, Saga, Holland America, MSC and several of P&O's., although I suppose we are lucky living within reach of Southampton and Dover which is where most visits occur. As a result of visits we discounted a cruise on MSC 'Opera' as we didn't like the cabin layouts/space, and decided that we weren't keen on 'Oceana's' balconies as they were sheltered and not fully open. Our favourite visit was in Dover to Oceania's 'Marina' which included a 7 course tasting menu for lunch - fabulous! As a result of this we have been on 2 cruises with Oceania, and not been disappointed. To be fair, this was arranged through an agent (not Bolsover, but no names no pack drill). Main stream lines, P&O in particular, can be booked direct. It is a great idea for non-cruisers who are dubious about the benefits of a cruise, and of course there will be an incentive to book a cruise on board or shortly thereafter - at least a refund of the cost of the visit, or perhaps £100 discount. In any event, £25 or so is surely a reasonable price to pay for lunch including wine.
  13. mobilegb

    Norwegian Cruise Line Goes All Inclusive

    From a conversation that I have had with NCL, service charges have been removed along with gratuities for all items included in the package. Gratuities will still be charged for extras such as bottled wine, spas and speciality coffees taken outside the dining rooms at the current 18%. Sadly, the speciality dining package currently available as a promotion has been removed, so the deal is not truly 'all inclusive' and all speciality dining will be paid for. Lorry, sad to say that the deal only applies to new bookings so existing bookings will remain as they are. This is not all bad news however, as to pick up on The Seven Seas point, there is a price to pay for the deal. We also have an NCL booking for next year, and having run a quick comparison comparing the same benefits except the speciality coffees (which we always take in the Atrium where they are not included in the deal) and bottled water the new deal worked out at £274 pp more. Apparently, the current advertised prices are for an introductory period with a £200 discount, so the real comparison could be an extra £474 which, in our case, is a 20% increase. I think that there is a risk of NCL becoming uncompetitive on price where passengers just look at the advertised prices. We will see!
  14. mobilegb

    P&O 2019 - Oceana Based In The UAE

    Posters make good and varied points, but as there is such intense competition now the lines have to try and distinguish there offering from others. RCI major on 'free'drinks; CMV on BOGOF deals whilst P&O go for sensible pricing (with OBC for Select fares) and regular travellers will know what they get. The bottom line however is that whichever deal you go for, the 'free' extras are being paid for somewhere in the deal, so you pays your money and takes your choice depending on the things which matter to you. It will be interesting to see how the NCL experiment of 'Premium All Inclusive' works out. We have already got an NCL booked for Autumn next year (as well as one in June this year) and took a quick look at how the new deal worked out compared with what we already had which included the drinks and speciality dining package. Effectively the new inclusive deal kept the drinks, removed the gratuities and also removed the speciality dining package which we have. There are a few other minor extras, such as free speciality coffees with meals, but we prefer to take our coffee in the Atrium where it is still chargeable. The bottom line is that I calculate that the new deal is more expensive - our existing price (incl grats) £2355 - new deal £2569 showing an increase of £214, plus £60 for the lost dining package, so a total of £274 pp extra. The new deal, I am told, also includes an introductory discount of £200, so the real difference could be £474 - a 20% increase! How will the market react? Let's wait and see!
  15. mobilegb

    Fincantieri or Meyer Werft?

    Sammy Sun is correct, NCL have contracted with Fincantieri for their four new generation ships with first delivery I believe in 2022, having used Meyer for a number of years. I agree that the concept did have a similarity with MSC 'Seaside', particularly as regards the enhanced promenade deck space. This is something which NCL started on the 'Breakaway' series but taken further.