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Cruisin'
Old 08-19-2005, 11:32 PM   #1
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Cruisin'

My mother-in-law scored 10-day interisland cruise tickets for the five of us starting Wednesday the 24th on the Norwegian Wind. After the 23rd I'll probably be back online the 4th.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has just started up their third ship in the islands. The Jones Act requires foreign-flagged ships to make a non-American portcall during their voyages. The Wind, NCL's first ship here, does that by zipping 600 miles (two days) south to Fanning Island (Kiribati). That kinda limits the rest of the interisland itinerary.

NCL has a waiver of the Jones Act with their two newer Hawaii ships. The Pride of Aloha and the Pride of America use all-American crews and comply with American labor laws in order to be able to cruise among the islands without visiting Fanning. They've been charging a premium for those berths and the Wind's itinerary has been selling at a discount. We're getting the voyage for $550/person embarkation and, after taxes & tips, a total of $800. We can't beat that in Hawaii hotels, let alone get free food & entertainment, so Fanning Island is no problem at 26 knots in summer.
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-19-2005, 11:46 PM   #2
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Re: Cruisin'

I'm jealous

I hope to have the time and money (at the same time) to take cruises like this. Wife and I went on a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean for our honeymoon on Celebrity. You can't beat the value of a nice, cheap cruise! I figured I'd probably never go to the four caribbean islands we went to on the cruise any time in the foreseeable future except by cruising there. And five star meals with impeccable service for free was amazing. We never experience that luxury on a regular basis, so it was a treat.

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-20-2005, 03:15 AM   #3
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Re: Cruisin'

This summer in Corsica a 50 meters long and magnificient cruise boat was rocked 1 mile away from the beach and went under in Sagone Bay, yes went under !!! (well as far as it could which is 5 meters !) It was owned by Campers & Nicholsons in Monaco and I really wonder where they got the cheap crew to sink on rocks visible on all maps and avoidable by just looking over the board on perfect weather as was the case. I do not know where the captain came from but all others were cheap phillipine crew men and the like. No politics there :-) but seems to be a side effect of globalisation.

This came to my mind reading your post though your crewmen on the Wind are surely perfectly capable and I wish you to enjoy a nice cruise.

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-20-2005, 08:10 AM   #4
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Re: Cruisin'

We have been on The Mandalay five times and loved it. Only 70 passengers and a crew of 30. Very romantic and reasonable. http://www.windjammer.com/

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-20-2005, 01:05 PM   #5
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I hope to have the time and money (at the same time) to take cruises like this.
First you have to live near an embarkation point, or at least close enough to be able to drive or get decent airfare. Next you have to be able to arrange time off at relatively short notice or be extremely patient-- the big challenge is coordinating cruise schedules with school breaks, and we're pretty sure that NCL has a copy of the local school schedule in their pricing office. When those first two steps are complete, then you have to stalk your prey on an auction site or a last-minute cruise website. After 40-some cruises my MIL has the time, patience, & experience to work this-- you've seen those National Geographic documentaries of the lioness hunting antelope?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
And five star meals with impeccable service for free was amazing. We never experience that luxury on a regular basis, so it was a treat.
NCL has that (for an additional fee) and they also have a buffet line. We enjoy being able to crawl into a food room whenever we're hungry. We tend to avoid anything that costs money or requires formal attire (like socks).

We've been to the islands on the itinerary so the only big shore excursion we make is at Fanning Island. Our kid might be up for a "try SCUBA" program this year but we'll see what she wants to do.

One of the biggest advantages of cruising is that our 12-year-old really enjoys the lifestyle. She's free to roam the ship's activities and she pretty much takes care of herself. We'll do group stuff like shows, movies, working out, or crafts but there's a lot of individual time to read or socialize with other passengers. FIL and I spend a lot of time fixing the stock market. Grandma & Grandpa spend most of their time with their grandkid and we parents are left to fend for ourselves!
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-20-2005, 06:32 PM   #6
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords

NCL has that (for an additional fee) and they also have a buffet line. We enjoy being able to crawl into a food room whenever we're hungry. We tend to avoid anything that costs money or requires formal attire (like socks).
I don't like the formal attire required at times in the formal dining areas. I don't like to dress up when I'm on vacation, but I did anyway so I could get the great food and service. In hindsight, it was a good choice. The buffet line on Celebrity was average to good, and we had many meals there. A few nights we went to the informal all-you-can-eat sushi bar buffet.

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-21-2005, 05:39 PM   #7
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Re: Cruisin'

Hey Nords, have a wonderful time. Hope you and FIL fix the stock market. I agree that I don't like dressing up, but did that on my cruise in Feb. I have heard that there is a flannel shirt cruise somewhere and I think that would be neat to check out someday. Have fun.

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-22-2005, 01:08 PM   #8
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Re: Cruisin'

If anyone knows about a birthday suit only cruise, I would be interested.
I like the clothing I wear to be exta light and airy.
My one and only experience was spending 1 week on Mykonos in my early 20's. After the 1st day of female gawking and taking the 1st public shower while people watched and waited for you to finish, it gave you a wonderful sense of freedom.
I never cared for formal attire and didn't need ER as an excuse.
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-22-2005, 02:23 PM   #9
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ
If anyone knows about a birthday suit only cruise, I would be interested.
Well, MJ, my first thought was to ask my MIL.

But instead I Googled this summary. Interestingly the advertising is from Disney, but not even Al's stuffed beaver would speculate on that irony.

I wonder what kind of "suits" are worn by the mariners & staff?
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-22-2005, 09:46 PM   #10
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Re: Cruisin'

I can guarantee you that a birthday suit cruise is not one that I will ever be taking! Even if I am retired and trying to get back into better shape, I wouldn't be taking it. I am a realist and know that I would never be in that good of shape!!!

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-22-2005, 10:00 PM   #11
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
I can guarantee you that a birthday suit cruise is not one that I will ever be taking! Even if I am retired and trying to get back into better shape, I wouldn't be taking it. I am a realist and know that I would never be in that good of shape!!!

Dreamer
Hmmmm. Anyone else noticed that Dreamer has posted on the subject of nudity on more than one occasion in the past few days?

Probably just a coincidence....

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-22-2005, 10:35 PM   #12
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
I can guarantee you that a birthday suit cruise is not one that I will ever be taking! Even if I am retired and trying to get back into better shape, I wouldn't be taking it. I am a realist and know that I would never be in that good of shape!!!

Dreamer
I wouldn't worry about the shape I'm in. Unless the cruise attracted a 20 to 30 ish fitness crowd, I suspect the major of people will be in similar shape as most of us are in. Besides, I would consider going on an au natural vacation to primarily enjoy the freedom of being nude and not having to lug a lot of clothing. Of course, my excellent vision would not prevent me from enjoying some of the natural sights that I might encounter.
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-23-2005, 12:07 PM   #13
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
I am a realist and know that I would never be in that good of shape!!!
Apparently you haven't spent any time at a nudist camp.

I'm depressed by the thought of having to figure out where to stow my reading glasses when I'm not wearing them. On second thought I wonder if I'd be doing any reading!
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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-23-2005, 04:25 PM   #14
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Re: Cruisin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Apparently you haven't spent any time at a nudist camp.

I'm depressed by the thought of having to figure out where to stow my reading glasses when I'm not wearing them. On second thought I wonder if I'd be doing any reading!
Might I recomend tri-focals. You never know what you'll bump up against. Arrrrgg!

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-23-2005, 08:02 PM   #15
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Re: Cruisin'

Definitely a coincidence!

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Re: Cruisin'
Old 08-24-2005, 09:26 AM   #16
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Re: Cruisin'

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Definitely a coincidence!

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Re: We're back.
Old 09-05-2005, 01:42 AM   #17
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Re: We're back.

This is our second cruise so now I'm an expert.* Things I've noticed from two different ships:
- After NCL "Freestyle" cruises where you can walk through a buffet line in your swimsuit, I can't put up with assigned mealtimes/seats and formal wear.* But it's fun to watch the people who choose to make dressup an event.
- The newer the better.* Newer ships tend to optimize for smooth buffet lines, bigger theaters with better views, bigger fitness facilities, and faster/smoother rides.* Older ships make compromises that don't please everyone.
- The newer the riskier.* A crew on its first year (or its first run in a new area) might make a lot of rookie mistakes.* Norwalk virus is no fun.
- The older the cheaper.* Some of the older ships (or, in Hawaii, those having to run to Fanning Island) are heavily discounted a couple weeks before sailing.
- Outside staterooms are a waste of money.* Portholes & windows don't do anything for me, especially when your stateroom activities usually start with closing the draperies.
- Don't ride the elevators if you can walk the stairs.* If you had more than one dessert that day, you probably need to walk the stairs.
- Don't use the ship's Internet access or phone systems unless it's a no-foolin' emergency.* OTOH when land rises over the horizon it's fun to watch the digitally addicted flock topside genuflecting waving their personal electronics toward the nearest antennae.

If you've never been to Hawaii before and you might not come again, a cruise is a good way to see most of the islands in a "This is Tuesday so that must be Lahaina" format.* If you can come to Hawaii more than once then it's better to spend a week (or longer) on your island of choice and cruise somewhere else.* But if you've been to the islands several times then a cruise is a good way to cherry-pick the shore excursions-- or to just not leave the ship at all.

NCL only has one ship, the Wind, still cruising to Fanning Island (the other two have all-American crews and so can stay in the Hawaiian islands).* That will probably stop when their THIRD all-American ship arrives in 2007.* Fanning Island has been completely overhauled by NCL's presence and it won't be pretty when NCL leaves.* The island wasn't even populated until the 1860s so there's no ancient disappearing cultures-- just the tremendous social displacement of a couple hundred people who will have to go back to fishing & coconuts.

Norwalk virus is transmitted by physical contact and poor food sanitation.* Most cruise ships aggressively use hand sanitizers and (their crew uses) latex gloves.* If they have rules in the buffet line that seem wasteful or just plain silly, it's probably a sanitiation concern.* OTOH I don't think there are any widespread outbreaks like 2004.

I'd forgotten how light-polluted Oahu is until we were well over the horizon and still seeing the glow of its Honolulu city lights.* The stars are quite a sight when there's not another contact in sight, but on a cruise ship it's pretty hard to find an outside deck that isn't lit up like a stage.

Cruising is a great way to get away from yardwork, chores, errands, interruptions, and anything else that would keep you from truly enjoying a long guilt-free lounge in your recliner.* The kid was totally independent.* Spouse and I had plenty of quality time to ourselves.* I worked out twice a day.* I plowed through a half-dozen books that have been in the "Read Me" pile for months.* FIL & I thoroughly fixed the stock market; in a couple weeks I'll know how we did.* The shows ranged from incredible to corny to stupid but we were there for just about every one of them.

It may not be a good idea to give a 12-year-old permission to charge things to the room account.* OTOH we had several fascinating (at least to me) discussions about impulse spending, budgeting, & financial planning.

No matter how mature or tall your 12-year-old kid is, the program director will not include one in the 13-17 age group's activities.* In retrospect this was a good thing since the teen activities didn't really get cranked up, so to speak, until after 11 PM.* Sometimes the teens were just wrapping up their night as I was starting my morning.

Don't buy art at the ship's art auctions.* But do go for the free champagne & raffle tickets.

Don't play bingo unless they're giving away free cards.

Don't buy from the cruise ship's shops.*

Cruise ships in Hawaii do not have casinos.* (Hawaii doesn't permit gambling and that was one of the compromises NCL made to operate here.)

NCL lets you disembark early if you can carry your own luggage.* This means that you get head of the line and first choice of the taxis & other transportation.* It may not seem like a big deal but later we were watching people queued up for 30-40 minutes.

Electronic charts are cool.* (I'm almost sorry that I left sea duty before they arrived.)*

There's a whole group of cruisers who subsidize their travel by performing at sea. One retired couple got their tickets for $50/day each by delivering four one-hour talks on the evolution from ancient Polynesian open-ocean navigation to modern GPS. (They've repeated the same gig six times so far this year alone. They actually use an agent who shops their schtick-- and many others-- around to all the major lines.) A marine biologist gave four talks about her experiences with Hawaiian island aquatic critters. Another couple hosted several hours of dance lessons. Passengers competed in "NCL Idol" talent shows for cruise contracts to the most talented. A group of a couple dozen teens from the New York Conservatory for the Arts scored a huge discount by giving four performances. Elementary school teachers on summer break were leading several of the kid's activity groups. An acrobat (not a dancer) with the dance troup contributed to nightly performances by devoting 60-90 seconds to backflips & somersaults that could be done by any high-school all-around gymnast.

The best way to see Kilauea lava is at night from sea.* It had broken through the tunnels in at least six places and it was geysering into the ocean with spectacular fountains of sparks & steam.* This spectacle is preferably viewed from at least three miles out on a corrosion-resistant vessel...

Our kid is agitating for a Washington DC trip next year but in 2007 we'll probably be bottom-fishing for another 7-10 day last-minute fare.
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Re: We're back.
Old 09-05-2005, 08:05 AM   #18
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Re: We're back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
- Outside staterooms are a waste of money. Portholes & windows don't do anything for me, especially when your stateroom activities usually start with closing the draperies.
Nords, great post and very good information. Been on a half dozen cruises, all to the Caribbean, and agree with everything you say except the outside stateroom being a waste of money.

Had to smile at this one knowing your work history. Not many portholes & windows on that sub, right? For some people (namely DW), the ability to look out and see the horizon is very important, so in my case it is definitely worth another couple hundred bucks.

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Re: We're back.
Old 09-05-2005, 10:39 AM   #19
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Re: We're back.

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Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Had to smile at this one knowing your work history.* Not many portholes & windows on that sub, right?* * For some people (namely DW), the ability to look out and see the horizon is very important, so in my case it is definitely worth another couple hundred bucks.
Well, yeah... nothing good ever came of the submarine porthole sea trials!

During my morning walks on the promenade deck the crew would be spraying everything down with fresh water and wiping it off the windows. That noise would drive me crazy if I was sleeping, so if I had to have a window then I'd stay away from the promenade deck.
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Re: We're back.
Old 09-05-2005, 11:24 AM   #20
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Re: We're back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Well, yeah... nothing good ever came of the submarine porthole sea trials!

During my morning walks on the promenade deck the crew would be spraying everything down with fresh water and wiping it off the windows. That noise would drive me crazy if I was sleeping, so if I had to have a window then I'd stay away from the promenade deck.
Good advice. Best cabins for stability and quiet are mid-ship as low as possible. This keeps you out from under the disco and the poop deck. (No, it isn't what everyone thinks, but it IS at the 'rear end' of the ship.)

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