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Reigert2008 posted a topic in Royal Caribbean DiscussionHello, I'm a long time lurker, first time writer, but have some questions about MEI Travel and their agents (which I hear are wonderful). Thanks in advance. Once a cruise is booked with MEI, do the agents check for better deals when they are released? In general, how quick are they to respond to questions? How knowledgeable are they about the various ports of call? How knowledgeable are they with the embarkation ports and hotels/transportation? When paying for items, are we paying MEI and they they pay RCI or does the TA pay RCI directly using my credit card information. I've had issues with AAA in the past with paying for some things with Disney. We have a travel agent and we do enjoy working with them, but they are a "family friend" and travel agent is NOT thier primary job. We've not had any real issues, but I do have to check thee deals on my own and ask for a re-price to ensure I get the best deal. I'm a pretty hands on person, but love using the TA for cruises since I don't want to miss anything. Typically, I book the cruise with the TA and then book the hotel and flights on my own since we utilize our rewards programs and get some benefits by booking directly. We have two cruises still scheduled for this year, but am thinking about making the switch with our next cruise we book. I wanted to check here to get some information before I contact MEI and talk to an agent or two to see if we can make a good team for planning vacations.
So thanks to the heads-up from @Sabrinaklai, I've been tracking the flight prices on United and JetBlue for the last few weeks. It's been interesting, not leastwise because yesterday was the 90-day mark before my cruise, and today United's fares dropped like a rock to just barely more than the best price I'd seen when I'd started. Flight itinerary -- EWR to FLL on Wednesday, March 29; returning April 9 JetBlue "Blue Plus" fare selected for all price checks, since it includes one checked bag for $2 less than checking it at the terminal United regular Economy fare for all price checks, since I need the freedom to choose our seats at booking and be sure the family is grouped together as much as possible JetBlue was holding absolutely steady at $494.40 per person ($1,977.60 total; taxes included) for the entire time I had been checking, going back to mid-December. But on Friday, they suddenly jumped up $40 per person for the departure flight ($2,138.40 total), and for no visible reason (apart from maybe that it's a holiday weekend right now); almost all regular seats still available, nothing else to account for it. Meanwhile, United had started at $408.40 per person ($1,633.60 total; again taxes included). It very quickly jumped by a lot, to just shy of $600 per person at one point. It started coming back down a bit going into this weekend, and then this morning it dropped to $423.60 per person ($1,694.40 total), just a little more than the lowest I'd seen when I'd started tracking. For those who want to stop reading here, the key takeaway is that this "90-day flight pricing rule" that Sabrina mentioned really does seem to be a real thing. So a big thanks to her for letting us all know about it, and to watch the flight prices like a hawk both decently ahead of this window, and also going into it. For those who care what happened next with me, go ahead and continue reading. For everyone else... I've gone ahead purchased my tickets on United, contrary to my original plan to fly JetBlue. The main driver was the opposite swings in the two prices. The gap went from just under $300 more for JetBlue to just under $500 more. Between that, and the fact that United allowed me to upgrade just my own seat to Economy Plus (for the extra leg room I need) for what I considered a reasonable $150 roundtrip, it was really a no-brainer. Even after tacking on trip insurance for $110, the final price was $1,952.96 -- less than JetBlue at their lowest price I could find, and $340 less using JetBlue's current rate and adding their $160 trip insurance option. If I had upgraded my own seat on JetBlue like I did on United, the difference would bump up to $454. Now, what's missing here is the checked luggage costs. With United I'll still have to pay $25 per bag when I check in each way, so there's another $200 out of pocket, putting me within $150 of the current JetBlue fare after their trip insurance is tacked on, but I'm still coming out ahead. All that said, I'm going to take advantage of United's 24-hour no questions asked cancellation policy and re-check the fare tomorrow morning to see if it's gone down again (following a tip I'd read about many lower rates coming out on a Monday night going into Tuesday), and also to see if JetBlue comes back down after we're outside the holiday weekend. But given the daily fluctuations in the United prices, I figured I'd better lock this in while it seems to have come back down. If JetBlue drops and United stays the same, I'll cancel the United flight and switch over to JetBlue. And if I do stay with United, I'll just have to hope they don't come on board and demand I give up my seat because of overbooking.
Hmmm... Wish I had found this gem before I booked my next 5 day Royal cruise out of Tampa. So here it is... (Tada!) https://www.cruisetimetables.com/ Yes, this little gold mine has the port schedules for nearly every port around the world that services cruise ships. Concerned about your next cruise having too many tourists in port from a large number of cruise ports? Want to get an idea of how far out to book that third party excursion? Yes, there will be some changes from time to time, especially during hurricane season when ships re rerouted to other ports (Saw this for Mariner and Enchantment in September on our trip. Enchantment was originally slated to be the only vessel in port, then Mariner when Francis was close, then back), but it appears to be fairly accurate and decently updated. For those that still book through RCCL website, or just want to do some pre-scouting before calling your TA, this is a good tool.
Options - Thinking about a Celebrity Cruise
Bob_KY posted a topic in Celebrity & SilverSeaExploring beyond Royal. Confession upfront - I am a planner. I am attracted to the Pacific Coast Cruise that Celebrity offers, a new experience beyond the caribbean, Alaska, and Hawaii. Questions. 1. Anyone have a review or recommendation? 2. Why is the schedule for this cruise always seems less than a year out? Is this the norm? 3. Anyone else have problems "crosswalking" Royal Stateroom categories to Celebrity's? (Prefer Royal's grand suite) 4. Hate to say this, but Royal's website seems more user friendly? Wow. I never thought I would say that - could be what I'm am familiar with. Thanks!
joneill1186 posted a topic in Royal Caribbean DiscussionHi all! I think I've posted on here before, but I am back as we get closer to our cruise date (Feb 3rd). My wife and I are going on the Majesty of the Sea. We stop at Nassau on Saturday and Cocokay on Sunday. This is the first time we've ever been on a cruise so really no idea what to expect. I do have a few questions though.... With the drink packages I saw something that said that 18% gratuity is automatically added at the bar. I have the drink package where I can basically get anything. Would the 18% be on top of that or is it automatically in the with package? Specialty coffees are not included from what I read. How much does a latte or something similar cost? We have a shore excursion at Nassau (snorkling). Do you think the directions to get to where we need to go for the shore excursion are pretty clear? Once we are off the boat, how easy is it to get a meal and is that a part of the ships complimentary food? How long does it take to get off and get back on the ship? How are the mosquitoes this time of year (zika virus concerns)? We will be sailing during the superbowl. I normally am not too concerned, but I have a few bets placed this year. The superbowl is supposed to start during our my time dinning. Do they have TVs in the room to check the score every so often? Thanks for all the help! N00BCruiser
How many excursions in a day?
JLMoran posted a topic in Shore ExcursionsHere's a topic I haven't seen after searching around on this board: As we're planning our excursions for each island, is there a limit on how many we should try and fit in to a given island? Obviously, we're limited by the hours the ship is there (9 hours on St. Kitts, 10 on St. Maarten, only 6 late in the day in San Juan, and 8 or 9 in Labadee). We're also limited by how the excursions may overlap with departure times and all. And we have to remember to eat lunch or dinner at some point. ðŸ˜‰ But let's say even after that we still find 2 excursions that we could fit into the day and just barely get us back to the ship on time. Should we try and fit them all in (assuming budget isn't an issue), or should we pare it down to just one, and leave the rest of the day for casual strolling, shopping for those who want that, and maybe beach time? Most of the excursions we're considering so far have a listed time of 3 or 4 hours, and involve sailing or a train ride or snorkeling or riding a zip line. I don't know if those times include transportation to/from the port or if I need to factor that in as well. I'm just trying to get my expectations into realistic territory before we start booking and paying. As Matt said on his "Top 10 Mistakes New Cruisers Make" podcast, I have to remember that we can't possibly do it all. (as much as I want to!) Thanks!
A long Caribbean vacation plan!
cjones01 posted a topic in Royal Caribbean DiscussionHello friends! I am not a regular traveller, but loves to take a vacation once in a while. I have went for cruise only once in my life time and that too several years back. Now my wife and I are planning a month long vacation next year by April-May. We haven't decided on a destination yet, but Bahamas and Caribbean islands are what we have in our mind. We are not even sure if it is a good time to go there. A little advise on that would be great. The rough plan we have is to visit both Bahamas and Caribbean islands in a cruise trip, then spend rest of the vacation somewhere in Caribbean islands, possibly in a good resort with a good view of nature. I would like some advise there as well. While searching on the internet, I found a few resorts in Barbados like The Crane, The Club and a few others. As we know nothing about any of those, we haven't decided anything . Anyway, the return trip will be by flight. This is just a small plan we made within a couple of hours. We will be making changes according to the situations and what the experienced advises us to do. Is there a cruise line that could fulfil our plan? Any other good suggestions to make our vacation as perfect as possible are also welcome.
Majesty of the Seas cruise compass
Txasrose posted a topic in Royal Caribbean DiscussionHi y'all! We are going on the Majesty in December and I was hoping someone had a recent cruise compass. I would love to have even an inkling of our choices so I can plan. Very excited for our first cruise!!! :)
Please check my Royal Caribbean planning timeline
Matt posted a topic in Royal Caribbean DiscussionI'm working on an idea for a RC cruise planning timeline blog post to give folks an idea of ideal times to plan things out. Please respond with anything I missed or any mistakes I may have made 24-12 months before your cruise start looking at cruise itineraries to pick the right one for you. Check RoyalCaribbean.com for available sailing dates and cruise options. Depending on when you're looking, deployment schedules may limit how far in advance you can actually book. Be sure to also look at deck plans for which staterooms have most space (i.e. hump staterooms). Also consider using cruisedeckplans.com to be able to drag the decks above and below your stateroom to ensure your room isn't going to have noise bleed. Put a deposit down on the sailing you want and to reserve the stateroom you want. You can change or cancel the cruise without penalty for several months while you continue researching. Research if trip insurance for your cruise makes sense, perhaps due to hurricane season or if there are health risks involved. Royal Caribbean offers insurance as well as third party suppliers, which are often cheaper. Look at excursions after placing your deposit. When excursions become available varies widely but it's best to start looking at what Royal Caribbean is offer as early as possible. 90 days before cruise Final payment due for all holiday cruises (Christmas or New Years Day) Online check-in becomes available Start researching third party shore excursion options. 75 days before your cruise Final payment due for 7-night or longer cruises 74 - 65 days before your cruise For those on 7-night or longer cruises, check again for available staterooms, dining, entertainment or shore excursions that may have become available due to other guests not making final payment. 60 days before your cruise Final payment due for 3, 4 or 5-night cruises Around this time dining and entertainment reservations will become available on royalcaribbean.com 59 - 50 days before your cruise For those on 5-night or shorter cruises, check again for available staterooms, dining, entertainment or shore excursions that may have become available due to other guests not making final payment. 49 days before cruise E-docs and luggage tags are available to download and print. 15 days before your cruise Last chance to reserve online using Cruise Planner. 4 days before your cruise Last chance to book specialty restaurants, spa or salon services. Last chance to complete online check-in at royalcaribbean.com. You must complete and print out your SetSail Pass by now. 72 - 24 hours before your cruise Check into your airline online Do one last check of weather expected for your cruise. 2 days before your cruise Last chance to purchase Gifts and Gear from Royal Caribbean.