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About JohnUK

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  • Location
    Near Southampton, UK
  • Interests
    Photography, walking, sightseeing.

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  1. Just to add to this research, I have placed on hold 2 B2B cruises with MEI. The price comparison is: Anthem 11 night Caribbean cruise from Port Bayonne 26th January 2021, Spa Junior Suite Current UK price: £6,494 MEI / US price: £4,106 (using conversion of £1 = $1.30) Anthem 8 night Bahama cruise from Port Bayonne 6th February 2021, Spa Junior Suite Current UK price: £3,292 MEI / US price: £2,108 This is a direct comparison as the UK price for 2021 does not include any additional offer - not even wifi. I noted, though, that 2021 pricing, is much higher than the same cruise on the same ship in 2020. So, there may be lower prices or drinks packages offered in the future. I will track this and report back. Total saving at current prices and exchange rate is: £3,572. That's a bit of a no-brainer! Thanks to Stephanie at MEI for a very quick response.
  2. Thanks for undertaking this comparison. I will follow this thread with great interest. I have only just realised that MEI will now accept bookings from the UK. Regardless of pricing, the level of service they provide, particularly when it is proactive, is superior to anything I have seen in the UK. As an aside, I often use Next Cruise on board ship for future bookings simply because they will give the choice of booking using the current UK offer or the US offer. I think the US offer has, in every instance, given me the lower price, even taking into account drink packages etc. If it looks as if I can gain the same advantage by booking directly with MEI, then that would be the way to go.
  3. It depends on the ship; some have moved to digital viewing of photos, which means only images that have been purchased will be printed, whereas others are still using the traditional method. We were on Grandeur in February and had the same experience as yourself i.e. the traditional method of print all pictures and display on the walls for selection. But Navigator, last September, used digital terminals.
  4. Whenever we have used the photo viewing and ordering terminals, once the print(s) is selected and ordered, the system allows you to add your D "voucher". The value is then subtracted from the order and you collect from the desk once the selected image has been printed. I think it even gives you a pick up time.
  5. We have done both but prefer to use the taxi - it is better value for money and more convenient. The taxi queue (or line) tends to be quite long and can look a little daunting. However, the flow of taxis is very well organised and the queue moves surprisingly quickly. As I recall, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to get to the airport. If this is your first visit to Barcelona, it is worth spending a couple of days there, before or after the cruise, to have a look around.
  6. We have used Barcelona several times and always found it to be very easy to get through. It is also quite close to the airport, compared to other locations, which makes for a very simple taxi ride before and after the cruise. Taxi fares are fixed price for these journeys so there are no surprises.
  7. The casino on Navigator has been fully non-smoking for many (if not all) of the sailings from Southampton this year. At least, that was the situation whilst we were on board in September and we heard from others that this had been established some time before we boarded. I also recall that Independence had trialled a ban on smoking in all interior venues a few years ago. I don't remember if the ban extended to exterior spaces as well.
  8. Irrespective of being Gold in C&A, you are entitled to use the Suite line.
  9. When booking a cruise, I now make a point of checking previous Cruise Compasses (posted on this site) for the ship in question. There is always a reference to smoking areas featured, which then guides my selection of cabin as to where the risk of smoke contamination is lowest. Usually, no changes in smoking location occur on a given ship, although it could happen..... Incidentally, on Freedom and Voyager class ships there is a spiral staircase in the middle of the Promenade that leads down to the Casino. Smoke from the Casino is often noticeable on the Promenade around that area. Not much can be done about it so this is just a matter of information. Similarly, smoke can often be noticed near to the Casino entrances in the Schooner bar and Boleros (or equivalent).
  10. I was on the Venice cruise, on Vision, in May and I don't recall any horse racing event. The cruise and itinerary were fabulous - one of my favourite cruises.
  11. Interesting. I am on the 24th Jan 2019 sailing on Grandeur and I haven't been notified of any change in itinerary - perhaps news takes longer to reach the UK! Please excuse my ignorance, but I know nothing about Grand Bahama. I could google it but I am pretty sure I can get more relevant information from people here, if anyone would mind sharing their knowledge and experience of this destination, please.
  12. We love doing B2B cruises as we find just one is never enough! We always stay in the same stateroom as we book early enough to get the room we want. However, we have met many people who have changed staterooms and it is made very simple for them. I believe everything hanging in the wardrobe can be left there and the stateroom attendants will transfer it to the next room. So the amount of packing is substantially reduced. All of our B2Bs have had different itineraries, which has been great for variety, but I wouldn't totally discount doing the same itinerary on consecutive cruises. Our best B2B was a repositioning cruise on Explorer, starting from Sydney, going to Seattle, then going to British Columbia, then going to Alaska. It was well worth traveling right around the world to do.
  13. I think your wife is correct and the record for your stateroom is locked as you go through the booking process so that no-one else can access it (or you could get 2 bookings trying to get the same stateroom at the same time). However, if you abandon the booking process, the record still seems to stay locked for a few minutes longer. I suspect this is due to a timeout mechanism that caters for an inadvertent pause occurring during a booking (such as a glitch with your internet / wifi connection).
  14. Good question - and I am wracking my brains to try and remember whether bar prices changed between our B2B cruises. We don't purchase many drinks at the bars so we may not have noticed. If your cruise calls into a port outside of the Schengen area (and most do) there will not be any risk of additional taxes. On our last cruise around the Med, which was just a few weeks ago, bar prices were normal. So I think you are likely to be safe from taxes. It may still be a good plan to purchase the drinks package ahead of time, through Cruise Planner, as they are often offered with a discount (during the many "sales"). That will be cheaper than buying the package on board and the price will definitely be fixed. It does assume, though, that you will consume enough drinks to make it worthwhile (Matt's analysis on this subject is very helpful). The tax situation in Europe is a bit confusing, even to us who live here (!) and we were caught out in the past. Our B2B was on Rhapsody and we had decided to purchase a couple of bottles of spirits from the on board shop on the second cruise. When we came to purchase, we were surprised to find that the prices were about 20% higher than they had been the previous week. We didn't make the purchase! Sorry I can't be absolutely definitive in my response.
  15. VAT is included in the price of excursions published by RCCL so the price you see is the price you pay. A more interesting nuance concerns VAT with on board purchases. If a cruise only visits ports that are in the Schengen area, prices will be higher as VAT is added. However, if there is just one port of call that is outside of the Schengen area, VAT will not be added. We found this out on B2B sailings, the first of which included a non Schengen port and the second did not. Prices were higher in the on board shops for the second cruise. Usually you would not be aware of it as the VAT is not shown separately - only the total prevailing price. But the difference in prices between one cruise and the next was significant. So my tip to anyone sailing in Europe would be to try and ensure the itinerary includes a non Schengen area destination. A list of Schengen area states and the overlap with EU and non EU countries can be found here: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/ As you can see, the Schengen area is NOT the same as the EU. For example, the UK has never been part of the Schengen area but has been (and is for a little longer, at least) part of the EU.
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