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Old 12-22-2009, 10:46 AM   #21
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we have been on 9 cruises now on a variety of cruise lines.

I must concur with Cruisinthru's comments in post number 3. We found Holland America to have a quite boring cruise for exactly the posted reasons. Their food and service was better than the mainline cruise lines. But that wasn't enough if there isn't anything else going on.

We have been on Royal Carribean now three times and liked the younger crowd with more energy in all of the activities. The food onboard was pretty good if you don't expect filet minion and the like. On our last cruise I had salmon a number of evenings that was cooked to an excellent perfection.

To the original poster - The concept of eating free filet minion and your discounted $399 cruise fair don't go together. One way or another you'll pay for such things. Nonetheless the food was pretty good on out RCCL cruises. It was much better than we eat at home.
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:59 AM   #22
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We're trying out Princess Cruises in January. Anyone want to shatter our dreams?
We were on the Golden Princess a few years ago and had a great cruise (as we always do). We liked the choice of 2 theaters for entertainment and the four pools topside. Food and entertainment were good.
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:39 PM   #23
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We have been on Celebrity and Norwegian to the eastern Caribbean/Bahamas in the last 5 years. Celebrity seemed a step above Norwegian with better food and a little "finer" level/quality of service and attention to detail. But both had really good service. On Norwegian, many of the waitresses/servers knew our kids by name halfway through the cruise so we got a little special attention from time to time (they are cute though - the kids I mean).

We had special requests a number of times on Norwegian and they accommodated us well. As an example, we wanted to dine in the no-extra-cost specialty Italian restaurant one night but waited too late and they had no spaces available (it fills up quickly). They ended up telling us that if we didn't mind waiting a little by the pool, they would send out the host to get us and work us in the schedule. We dined there and it was awesome (one of the nicer restaurants we have been to plus ocean view was served on the side). Later we wanted to dine with the family including our two kids in the same specialty restaurant. They have a "no kids" policy in that restaurant, so they offered to let us all order and they would bring out basically a five course meal and serve us pool side. WOW is all I have to say. The hosts and waitstaff were very insistent on serving us however possible to the point of essentially persuading us to allow them to serve us and fulfill special requests even against my protests that I don't want to inconvenience them or trouble their regular dinner service. Maybe they thought my wife was a royal princess from the orient or something?

We paid next to nothing for that 7 nt cruise from Charleston - roughly $350 per adult and $200 per kid including taxes/fees and we got a free $150 or so in on board credit that we primarily converted into a few gallons of top shelf liquor.

I'd like to echo what Deserat said regarding "build your own" port adventures. We didn't do any excursions on either cruise with one exception. Get a travel guide or research online and you can usually create a custom schedule/itinerary for your port visit for 1/2 the price of what the cruise lines charge, and you do exactly what you want for however long you want. We did book an excursion which consisted of a bus to/from a beach in a port stop in Florida since we had on board credits we thought we had to use on things like excursions. It only cost $2 more than booking it outside the ship yourself.
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:21 PM   #24
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I have been on a lot of cruises and the only one I was unhappy with was a short cruise on RCL . The rooms were tiny and we'd see room service trays sitting in the hallway the whole day . I do like NCL's open dining room program . I usually pick the cruise by the itinerary more than the line .
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:21 PM   #25
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We have always been afraid to "build your own" port adventures for fear of something happening (vehicle breaking down) and missing the cruise ship. They stress how they will not wait for you if something happens, unless you book the excursion through the cruise line. I would not know where to start, if I missed the ship. We book it through the cruise line for peace of mind. I keep reading where people do have much nicer excursions for a cheaper price and I get angry at myself for not doing it also. I am a frugal person and don't like to feel that I am being taken advantage of due to fear.
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:31 PM   #26
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We have always been afraid to "build your own" port adventures for fear of something happening (vehicle breaking down) and missing the cruise ship. They stress how they will not wait for you if something happens, unless you book the excursion through the cruise line. I would not know where to start, if I missed the ship. We book it through the cruise line for peace of mind. I keep reading where people do have much nicer excursions for a cheaper price and I get angry at myself for not doing it also. I am a frugal person and don't like to feel that I am being taken advantage of due to fear.
At least in Alaska it is not a big deal. You walk / taxi to the local airport and fly to the ship's next port for about $150. There are quite a few flights each day between Skagway / Juneau / Ketchikan / Seattle. I got to see the Alaska coast from Skagway to Juneau from about 3000' 2 years ago on my ferry tour after a mechanical breakdown cancelled one of the legs.
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:21 PM   #27
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We have always been afraid to "build your own" port adventures for fear of something happening (vehicle breaking down) and missing the cruise ship. They stress how they will not wait for you if something happens, unless you book the excursion through the cruise line. I would not know where to start, if I missed the ship. We book it through the cruise line for peace of mind. I keep reading where people do have much nicer excursions for a cheaper price and I get angry at myself for not doing it also. I am a frugal person and don't like to feel that I am being taken advantage of due to fear.
Ditto on using only cruise sponsored excursions. The competition for these contracts is fierce, so I have confidence I am getting one of the better tour companies versus god-knows-who-or-what is headed my way.
My reasons for going the lazy route include not knowing the local language and/or currency, not knowing how to get direct transportation, the idea of being targeted as a rich American, yadda yadda. Too much hassle for this kid.
Hey, I'm on vacation and I don't want to think. Plus seeing that cruise ship still at dock at the end of a long day ashore is such a nice feeling.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:48 PM   #28
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Ditto on using only cruise sponsored excursions. The competition for these contracts is fierce, so I have confidence I am getting one of the better tour companies versus god-knows-who-or-what is headed my way.
My reasons for going the lazy route include not knowing the local language and/or currency, not knowing how to get direct transportation, the idea of being targeted as a rich American, yadda yadda. Too much hassle for this kid.
Hey, I'm on vacation and I don't want to think. Plus seeing that cruise ship still at dock at the end of a long day ashore is such a nice feeling.
The cruise lines make much of their profits from those like you who don't want to think for themselves.

I take exception that the best excursions are thru the cruise line. I dislike spending half my shore time waiting for "Mildred" or "Bernice" or "Fred" to get back on the bus. I don't like going to the ships picked shops (where they get at least 30% of the profits back). And most of all I hate driving by some place I would really like to experience because it isn't on the group itinarary. The best excursions are the ones planned in advance by me. They always go where I want to go.

The cruise lines really do a great job scaring you about them leaving you at the dock. Yes, they will, but that is a chance I will take to save money and time on every excursion. So far out of 50+ cruises I haven't been left at the dock, nor have I had even a close call.

I don't go to the port lecture either. What a bunch of useless info. They spend an hour of my time to tell me where to boost their profit.
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