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Everything posted by Iluv4n6

  1. Hi All! Like @Disneynorth we have a NE and E. Canada cruise coming up--over Labor Day weekend for us--with stops in Portland and Bar Harbor, ME, St John's, NB, and Halifax, NS. At this point we are not overly-intrigued by the RC excursions offered through cruise planner so far, but might consider taking one. Currently offered RC excursions are: Best of Portland & Kennebunkport, Arcadia National Park and Lobster Bake, and Best of Halifax. We will peruse Trip Advisor for tips on some port activities, but wanted to hear from others on any experiences with this itinerary that stood out for them, not necessarily for an RC excursion, but that would be good info as well. We are also looking forward to sailing on Adventure of the Seas on this cruise out of Bayonne with sail-away around NYC and near Statue of Liberty...and sampling some great beer in the port stops! Thanks for any feedback on what you liked best on cruising in the northeast!
  2. We had a blast on a taxi tour of St Maarten on 2/28. As others have noted, the damage on the north/French side was more severe. Although Maho Beach was up and running on the south side, our taxi driver was reluctant to take us to Orient Beach on the north side until we asked a couple times to see it. Much more devastation in this area and repairs needed. But many lolos--beach bars/grills--were still going strong in other areas (e.g., Grand Case) and we had a great lunch in the French section.
  3. Yes, @Sabrinaklai I finally read this thread. WOW...and I don't mean about the quarterly promotions, rather the contorted math one may encounter at Next Cruise! More food for thought...and reason to bring the laptop along as @twangster suggests.
  4. Absolutely! TA's provide a professional service to clients -- and professionals, at least the good ones, really do look out for their clients' interest as best they can, and provide value in ways their clients may not anticipate at first... But I can't say I've necessarily sat back and smiled every time my lawyer was hard at work! Thanks for all the input and suggestions!
  5. Thanks, @twangster. Yes, I've learned through these boards that there is no advantage to paying off the total bill until the final payment date, so you have the largest possible time frame for repricing.
  6. Thanks for this reality-check @JLMoran and your description of the essentially stable pricing for one of your recent itineraries after initial booking. I would also look at the overall value (price - OBC) before considering re-booking. And @mom2mybugs, @Sweety, and @PrincipalTinker, thanks for your feedback including some additional positive experiences with MEI. I would trust that my TA would stay more on top of price reductions and good new promotions than me! My Take-Away: Don't expect substantial savings from WOW or other promotions after initial booking, even though it is worth keeping tabs on prices and promotions because you can realize some real, but probably modest savings before final payment ($300 saved is always a good thing ).
  7. Great to hear from so many on their preferences for making cruise payments. I can see how managing payments could become a bit of a financial juggling act when you have several cruises booked--I know real tough problem . And I like the option of paying installments to yourself in a separate vacation account. I guess without reading the fine print I had figured that RC would require some additional $ after down payment and prior to final payment, but it is good to know that the number of payments and amounts is up to you so long as the balance is $0 on the final payment date. But wait til the very end to pay off the amount due to take advantage of any repricing/re-booking.
  8. Based on reading Matt’s informative blog (https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2016/06/15/why-first-time-cruisers-should-use-royal-caribbean-travel-agent) and various messages on these boards, I agree that TAs can often bring substantial value to cruise clients in savings of time and money, along with peace of mine. The wisdom of the crowd—and, in particular, the wiser members of this crowd (you know who you are)—is convincing! But I may not effectively gauge the knowledge and experience of a TA with RC, because “I don’t know what I don’t know” when it comes to RC or cruising in general, even if the initial communications with a TA seem to go well. So I would appreciate feedback on some basic questions that would be good to ask a TA to better understand their knowledge and experience with RC: How many times have you personally sailed on RC? Which ships have you cruised on and which ports have you visited? For cruises booked several months or more before sailing, how often do you typically reprice/rebook cruises to save clients money, or so they can take advantage of new offers? Do you charge any cancellation or rebooking fees? How do you stay informed of RC promotions and inform your clients about ones that may benefit them? I would like the TA to proactively seek out cost savings and new offers instead of repricing only after being contacted by their clients to do so. Are you a member of CLIA (https://cruising.org/) and at what level? Have you had any RC-specific training? How many years have you been a TA with your focus on RC cruising customers? What do your customers value most about working with you? In general, if my wife and I plan to cruise mostly in the Caribbean, selecting a TA in the SE US or FL might make the most sense, because these professionals would have more opportunities to gain firsthand experience with RC’s ships due to being able to drive rather than having to fly to the cruise ports. In any event, I will likely reach out to MEA for input because they support the blog and have received good comments from many on these boards. Thanks again -- your cruise wisdom is welcomed!
  9. Thanks @JLMoran, @F1guynz and @Boston Babe. Good to know you can set up just about any payment schedule you want as long as you make the final payment deadline. And I like the math (to leave port fees to the end): We will probably just have a single stateroom for most of our cruises, but it's good to know to avoid inadvertently paying off a second stateroom a month before and first one so you can reprice both rooms up to the final payment date.
  10. Learning a lot perusing these boards and am feeling like a better-informed newbie () regarding the strategies some use to plan and reserve cruises. However, my booking experience is negligible--so far we have only booked within the final payment window (75 days for 4 nights or less, or 90 days for 5 nights or more). Let's say my wife and I book a $2,000, 7-night cruise 2 years before sailing. What are the "standard" payment terms that would apply for the deposit amount and acceptable installments up to the final payment date? It sounds like RC and experienced TAs are flexible regarding the customer's preferred payment schedule, but I don't know what this means in practice. For my example, could this be as simple as a deposit of $500 followed by 21 monthly payments of ~$75/month, or $1500/21 (number of months until the final payment deadline, or ~$75/month). I recall reading a thread from early 2017 in which @JLMoran mentioned a wrinkle in any payment plan: port fees and taxes must be paid for as a whole in one of the installments. From the RC website: "Deposit requirements vary based on length of cruise and the type of stateroom reserved. Generally (emphasis mine), deposit guidelines are $200 per stateroom for 1 to 5 night cruises, $500 per stateroom for 6 to 9 night cruises and $900 per stateroom for 10 night or longer cruises." If we reserve a non-suite stateroom, I would expect the above deposit amounts to apply. Thanks again for your feedback!
  11. More good tips -- thanks, again. Based on your advise, we will visit Next Cruise early in our cruise, or at least get an appointment lined up right away, to avoid crowds that will likely develop later on.
  12. Thanks @Sabrinaklai, @JLMoran, @melski94, @Sweety, @DocLC! We now have a much better basis for deciding whether to book with Next Cruise. As suggested, we'll check online prices the day before, if not the day of on VROOM before stopping by Next Cruise. I am also encouraged to learn that you can book refundable cruises onboard and keep your OBC after transferring your booking to a TA, and perhaps even add additional TA perks/OBC to the original booking. But first things first -- gotta focus on vacation/ship fun and not fret the details of future bookings while onboard! Good to know that although you might find an attractive deal at Next Cruise, it sounds like onboard booking typically offers similar net benefits compared to onshore booking. So if we are having plenty of fun doing other things -- very likely! -- sorting through cruises and pricing at next Cruise may not be worth the time.
  13. Great advice! Will check on a couple itineraries before our cruise to be able to compare prices and OBC with Next Cruise. And will make sure we confirm the TA before transferring any bookings within the 60 window booking. Will keep eyes on this thread for any others that may chime in. Thanks again!!
  14. Hi All -- We are leaving on Oasis in a week -- yeah! -- and I am trying to recall various pointers from Matt on recent podcasts regarding the pros and cons of booking your next cruise onboard. I understand the requirements and incentives for onboard booking changed last summer. Please let me know if I am off base, or possibly on base for that matter . Booking Onboard Pros: Expect to get more onboard credit. Initial deposit will probably be lower. You can re-book the same cruise at a lower price if the price drops (?). Cons: Reservation is non-refundable. You are locked into a specific cruise, even years out. After some consideration, I am liking the idea of booking far in advance with a refundable reservation, even though it costs a bit more, to have the flexibility to cancel or change to a different cruise. My wife and I definitely value your input!!
  15. Did a bit more checking online and caught up with some friends who just went to Labadee. Will wear swimsuit with a zipper pocket for my phone when riding the Dragon.
  16. My wife and I will be first-timers at Labadee in 3 weeks-- can't wait! I was extra tickled when she said she would ride the Dragon's Breath, too. Sounds like you have to be in shorts, or at least non-swimsuit attire, and in close-toed footwear to ride the zip line. Our zip line starts at 11:30 a.m., so this probably will entail changing in and out of swimsuits and maybe attempting to re-find whatever nice beach chair/spot we found earlier in the morning, if we can. Although not identified specifically as such on the Labadee map, I would guess that decent changing rooms are available. http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Royal/Private_Destinations/14039222_Labadee_Map.pdf And from the podcast, I figure we would need to plan to store our stuff in a locker while on the 60-90 min zip line adventure as we would not have anyone else in our party hanging out at one of the beaches and keeping tabs on our stuff. I recall ~$8 a pop mentioned for a locker. Sound realistic? Thanks!
  17. Great to be aboard, metaphorically speaking!
  18. Informative, useful...nah, really awesome feedback everyone!! I now feel much better about Uber/Lyft as a viable option. And on this trip, it will just be my wife and me, so we should fit fine in a ride-share vehicle -- if we skip the steamer trunk this time! Also glad to know Uber is "officially approved" at the airport, as I could find quotes in the apps for the trip from MCO to Cocoa Beach. Because I am now in hyper-logistics mode, I will undoubtedly also check pricing and schedules for some shuttles, including a shuttle/taxi co (T&K Transportation) recommended by the hotel we'll be staying at in the kitchy center of CB. Want to soak in a little classic FL beach vibe before hopping on a ginormous ship the next morning. And due to the the great advice on the podcast and these boards, we will arrive early for embarkation regardless of when RC's passenger management computer says it wants us at the ship. (Being from the Midwest, we tend to follow rules out of habit, but we're gonna break this one!)
  19. Thanks -- hope you have a chance to catch some southern sunshine this winter!
  20. Thanks for the feedback! Will check on the cost and schedule for a Smart-Two shuttle. The hotel manager where we are staying in Cocoa Beach also suggested I contact T&K transportation for a quote. May still compare these options to a taxi drop off somewhere near the airport and Ubering from there.
  21. Hi All! Newbies to the boards here getting psyched for our first cruise on a truly big RC ship later this month. Been reading through your informative posts and listening to Matt's mellifluous baritone on the podcasts...we now have a notebook full of tips and are starting to feel dangerous! On one of the podcasts, I recall Matt describing an option for a small group (like 2, in our case) to travel from Orlando Airport to Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach by taking a taxi just outside the airport (gas station?) and hiring an Uber from there. Not sure if/how Ubers work at this airport, but I seem to be able to find quotes for this trip. Also not sure about disembarking from a taxi right outside the airport, unless there is a good/safe place to do so for an Uber pick up. We are traveling to a hotel in CB the evening before the cruise instead of going straight to the ship. We are arriving in the PC/CB area after the rental car shops close. Thanks for any suggestions. And also a big thanks for the vibrant, fun community you all have created here!
  22. Hi All! Roger & Carol from WI checking in and excited to return to RC after a few years hiatus. This time on a truly big ship that will dwarf the only other one we've been on--Monarch of the Seas--which we thought was awfully big when we cruised on her in 2010. Been reading through posts here and listening to Matt's mellifluous baritone on the podcast...we now have a notebook full of tips and are starting to feel dangerous! Thanks for the vibrant, fun, informative community that is evident through your posts!
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