Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Amazing acts of kindness on every cruise!

I'm a "glass is half full" kind of cruiser.  Because of that trait, I tend to have an amazing time on a cruise.  I know there are those who haven't enjoyed it or have had really horrid things happen to them. (Clothes stolen?  Another story to come!)

The biggest complaint I hear is about the food.  I'm not a foodie and I'm not picky.  

  • The chef cooks for me, that's top-notch in my book.  
  • A waiter wants to BRING the food to me.
  • After my meal the waiter will clean up, bring me dessert and others will wash the thousands of dishes?

Of course there are better meals than others, and not everyone will like what's on the menu.  Know this, you can choose from something that's not on the menu (ask your server) or even from the kids menu if you want something light.  Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not available.   

Are you a big eater?  Ask for another meal, another lobster tail, or another steak.  Still hungry?  There are many other food options before and after dinner.

My favorite?  Going to the Royal Promenade and getting a couple ranger cookies (yum!) and milk to take back to the my personal balcony.  Heaven!  

Even better, order room service!  You can get warm chocolate chip cookies and milk.  Happy, Happy!

Remember, not all cruises are the same nor are all cruise lines.  Take the best of what you experienced and forget the bad.  Keep our "picky" sides at home and just relax and enjoy your cruise!

Happy Cruising, Mary

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle of Cruising

Every once in a while you find someone that booked a guarantee cabin (meaning that cabin category or above) but then something weird happens and the person finds out there actually in a lower class than what they booked. 

To me this falls into the "Bermuda triangle of  weird cruise happenings " that happens not very often, but certainly once in a while.

This person was complaining about it on the Cruise Critic boards for Royal Caribbean.  She should've gotten at least a Junior suite if not higher because of her guarantee booking.

The week before the cruise she finds out she is in the balcony state room which is below her booking and makes no sense.  

While this isn't exactly bait and switch, it certainly leaves one to wonder how in the heck did this happen?

Because of the new customer service center that is not housed in the US, there have been all kinds of problems regarding bookings. Is this the norm? Absolutely not. Can it happen? Absolutely so. 

Luckily for this cruiser, she was able to get a large onboard credit on her account to compensate for the mistake and she ended up having a wonderful cruise!

The moral of the story? Double check your booking, call the cruise line if you're not sure, double check your account online and leave nothing to chance.  

By the way, if they can't correct the mistake make sure that you get some kind of compensation, call Travelers United, they will fight on your behalf or call the cruise line corporate office.

Happy Cruising,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cruise Addicts Read On...

Not sure if most of you would understand this extremely frustrating feeling?

These are my address tags for my suitcases.  It's completely true.  I will do almost anything to cruise. (Hey!  Keep it clean now...)  Sometimes I get this OVERWHELMING desire to cruise.  I can't seem to help it.  After the number of cruises I've been on, (14 with one booked)  you'd think that I would have gotten it out of my system, right?  I'm afraid that's not true.  Today, I've spent the morning trying to price a 5 night cruise for either early December or March of 2015.  Now I know that I can't go...but it's just that I have such a yearning to go.  Like an addict, the need to cruise is so overwhelming that while my brain ticks off the many to-do lists for my home, my heart only sees one thing, a future cruise.  

I'm sure I drive my hubby insane with it.  Patient man, that one!  He loves to cruise but not in the obsessive way that I do.  Here's my office at work for example.

I truly have a sickness...I'm a cruising addict. I have to send myself to cruisers anonymous.  Hi, my name is Mary and I'm an addict!

Happy Cruising!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Will the Upgrade Fairy hit you on your next cruise? One can only hope!

I've been talking to my friend, Anna, who has a cruise coming up on the Allure of the Seas.  I've also helped a friend book a cruise on the NCL Getaway.  I, myself, have cruised Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and AMA Waterways river cruise in Europe.

Pete, the NCL Getaway cruiser, was looking for the best rate he could get for his money.  I had him book an aft (back of ship) mini-suite for a decent price for a 7 day cruise.  It was $300 more than a balcony but I had my reasons.  

Firstly, he is cruising in early February and that is prime time for a chance that the upgrade fairy might hit, or at the least a chance for an upsell. I know what you're thinking...just what is an upsell?  It's the chance to upgrade at a nominal fee.  

When I took my boyfriend-now hubby- on his first cruise on NCL Jewel, I also booked an aft mini.  We cruised the end of January and kept asking if an upsell was possible, please CALL ME!! And she did!  I was able to go from the mini-suite to a forward facing PENTHOUSE!  Yes, I'm yelling this because I was so excited.  What did I pay?  A measly $300 total.   This is what that $300 bought me:

We could have had a party for 35 people and we would have had room to spare.  The suite was #9500 and it came with a butler (Maurice) and a concierge (Alex) and the best room stewards I've ever had.  It spoiled my hubby for life since it was his first cruise.

So new or fellow cruisers, what does this mean to you?  

First, always let your travel agent (TA) know that you would love the chance for an upgrade or upsell.  Some cruise lines are more likely than others o give them out.  My thoughts:
  • Choose the time of year wisely.  Oct/Nov, Jan/Feb are the least expensive times to cruise for a reason.  Most ships aren't booked and they are more likely to give you that much coveted upgrade.  
  • Cruise lines usually upgrade from inside to outside room, outside to balcony, balcony to mini-suite, and mini-suite to better suite.  By booking either a guaranteed rate (you can't pick the room but you have a much better chance of a better room or suite), or a coveted room like the aft or hump (areas in demand).
  • Remember, be happy with whatever you book because the upgrade/upsell fairy is very choosy.
  • Most importantly, I always prefer a suite but I am happy cruising in a shoebox if that's all I get.  A cruise is a cruise and that beats ANY DAY working!

IF you have any questions, please let me know.  I'm not a travel agent but a complete cruise addict.

Happy Cruising!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Choosing the best stateroom for YOU.

Not all cruisers thing alike. (What? Shocker!) Some must have suites, and some prefer to save their money and get a low-budget inside room.  There are middle roads as well, balcony staterooms and outside cabins with a window.

On some ships, mainly Royal Caribbean's Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class ships you can get a Promenade stateroom.  What's that you ask?  You did ask right?? Promenade staterooms are slightly more expensive than an inside room but make a huge difference.  The biggest complaint about an inside room is the lack of light.  Once you turn off the light your room is black as a tomb.   One way to fix that is to turn the tv onto the bridge cam, turn down the sound and as the sun comes up your room will slowly get lighter.  

To me, the best way is to get a Promenade room.  It looks out over the Royal Promenade and it's the best people watching rooms there are.  (Of course, the Oasis class also has two other people watching neighborhoods-Boardwalk and Central Park.)

As you can see, there are promenade staterooms across the promenade so when you want privacy, keep your curtains closed.  I found out the hard way!!!

From the promenade, you will see the rooms here:

My hubby and I really like a balcony but the next time I cruise with a friend or family member, I'm booking this room again.  I really loved it.  Hope you will,too.

Happy Cruising, Mary

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Have a flexible schedule and SAVE!

Many times I've seen amazing deals on cruises. Usually the cruise is perhaps a month out or even a week away. Do you have the kind of lifestyle that allows you to cruise at a moments/weeks/month notice?

There is an online travel sight that has a 90 day ticker.  I sometimes go there and dream about where I can cruise in a week or a month.  I have the mindset that can pack and go in two seconds flat.  However, my work, my family may not second my idea.

However, if you live in a home port area, (Florida, Baltimore, New Orleans, Houston, London, etc.) you should consider this as a way to save on your next cruise.  Airfare significantly increases your vacation budget (I know, I live in northern Michigan where the closest major airport is a 5 hour drive...sigh.) so if you can do without that component, you're already ahead of the game.

Check your favorite cruise line and do a dummy booking to see if you'll save on a cruise that is within two months.  I retire in 4 years with plenty of good years ahead of me, God willing, and I plan to move to Florida as soon as I can.  

Happy Cruising!

Oh the things you can think!

A new ship is always a cause for celebration.  Not for everyone, some feel the ship doesn't compare to  their latest and greatest, or it my too large for their taste.  However, seeing a ship cruise from it's shipyard to it's new home port is a wonderful feeling.  (If you're a cruise addict...ahem....)  There is nothing more romantic that taking an inaugural cruise.  I've done it once but then I had kids to raise.  I love the klingons (kids) but for many years I couldn't afford to cruise what with braces, prom gowns, and then college.

Quantum of the Seas will sail on her inaugural voyage from the UK on November 2. 2014.   I wish I could say I was sailing on Lady Quantum but...alas...I am not.  I could only wish!

She is very different from the Oasis class and is actually smaller.  For a line who always seems to enlarge their ships with each class, this is something new.  Also, this is the first ship since the Voyager class to be missing the Royal Promenade.  What?  What, you say?  No Royal Promenade?  I admit that I love the promenade.  I have a real crush on it.  However, I would live without it and would like to see this new ship.

What's so new you ask?  It's the first ship at sea to have bumper cars, The RipCord, a skydive simulator (oh that's so me!!) and the North Star, a giant arm to bring you up and over the side of the ship. YESSSSS!  I'm not an adrenaline junkie but I'm not afraid of heights, which is why this appeals to me.  

It's not just about the fun new innovations either.  The dining system is completely new on Quantum.  Instead of set dining times, or even My Time Dining, this will feature many restaurants in which to take you pick.

Quantum (and next, Anthem) will peak your interest and feed your inner child at the same time.  I hope to sail on her ...anyone have money to spare?  Send me on the Quantum!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cruise Critic complainers running rampant!

I'm completely OCD about cruise planning.  I don't even talk about it with others because they aren't fervent cruise addicts like I am.  However, where I can find other like myself is Cruise Critic.

I love to research, check out reviews, see who has been visited by the Upgrade Fairy, etc.  I really can't get enough of the live cruise reviews, those brave people who count on the good (or bad) wifi on board to post an amazing amount of pictures and their play by play of the cruise.  I, for one, am too busy enjoying a fruity drink and enjoying the sun to post one during the cruise.  I suppose I should try it someday.

One of the recent few threads has been about complaints with the cruise line.  I feel if there is a valid complaint it should be stated and look for a solution.  Some people, however, have the silliest complaints!  To me, a cruise is something close to heaven and therefore there is little I complain about.  Wait a minute, there is NOTHING I complain about.

I think you have to take it for what is is--a amazing vacation on the high seas with plenty of sun, music, food and fun.  Oh and drinks...but mine are mostly the virgin kind.

There have been some really good sales lately.  Some sales aren't really sales...but this one was a great deal.  If you're in the market for a cruise, really do the math, compare apples to apples and get the best discount you can.  That way you have more money to spend onboard or in port.  In my's ALL good!

Happy Cruising, Mary