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  • FIRST POST
    • Castle Rock
    • By Castle Rock 11th Jan 20, 5:32 PM
    • 200Posts
    • 9Thanks
    Castle Rock
    0 WOW
    New to cruises
    • #1
    • 11th Jan 20, 5:32 PM
    0 WOW
    New to cruises 11th Jan 20 at 5:32 PM
    Me & the wife are quite fancying a cruise this year.

    Somewhere around the Med would probably be best as we don't want a long flight to get to the port.

    Our budget is probably about 1,500 pp.

    Ideally we would like A.I. & plenty to do on the ship to keep us entertained.

    I don't really know where to look or who has the best deal, is there a place to start? Not sure if it works out better to arrange your own flights are just book everything through one company.

    Thanks
    David
Page 2
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 15th Jan 20, 8:27 PM
    • 14,935 Posts
    • 13,521 Thanks
    zagfles
    Thanks - may give them a try then. At least the buffet is available if we don't like the time we're told to eat! Sounds like the dress code is quite casual too.
    • Katiehound
    • By Katiehound 15th Jan 20, 10:13 PM
    • 5,177 Posts
    • 40,216 Thanks
    Katiehound
    If you buy a 'Saver' fare with Fred you don't get the cabin number ( but you get the grade) nor do you get the dining option confirmed. When the luggage labels arrive (about 3 to 4 weeks before) you see the cabin number. Dining allocated on board.

    On a European cruise you are likely to be given the late dining option, on a more tropical cruise you are likely to get the early dining. They give you the least popular, for example in hot places folk like to sit out on the deck late & eat late. However, if there are spaces at the dining sitting you would prefer you pay an extra 2pp per night- not a huge sum if you have saved over 1k. Some people just prefer to dine in the self service- same food with laid tables and then you can eat between 6.30 & 9pm and not be retricted to specific times.

    I think the current sale has a mix of possibilities: deals for this year which might be 'saver' fares - and need to be paid in full . There are also sailings for 2021- fares aren't reduced but they include free gratuities & free drinks package ie worth 24 pp per night.

    You pays your money......etc

    I personally like Fred. Generally the food is good, the ports visited interesting and the staff are delightful. The other cruisers are very friendly.
    Being polite and pleasant doesn't cost anything!
    If you found my posting helpful please hit the "Thanks" button!
    Many thanks


    • Katiehound
    • By Katiehound 15th Jan 20, 10:18 PM
    • 5,177 Posts
    • 40,216 Thanks
    Katiehound

    "and just to mention that Fred. Olsen has an 'Enjoyment Promise' so that if you find that the cruise really isn't for you they will get you back to UK and refund cruise price."

    I wonder if anybody has exercised that right ?

    Would be interesting to hear of any examples.
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    I actually think that someone did do this on the last cruise I was on. I feel pretty certain that they got off at the first port which was La Coruna.

    I don't think they guarantee to get you back to your exact point of departure, but it certainly UK! and you get cruise price refunded...
    Being polite and pleasant doesn't cost anything!
    If you found my posting helpful please hit the "Thanks" button!
    Many thanks


    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 16th Jan 20, 12:57 PM
    • 1,275 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    NoodleDoodleMan
    For anybody considering a Marella or Fred Olsen cruise for the first time it's worth recognising that the clientele are nearly always Brits, whereas other cruise lines, especially the bigger ones, have a much more diverse passenger population.

    We've never sailed with Cunard or P&O, apparently they are also popular with the "home support" cruisers.

    This is not a cricism of differing scenarios - just something to be aware of.
    • badger09
    • By badger09 16th Jan 20, 2:14 PM
    • 7,626 Posts
    • 7,131 Thanks
    badger09
    If you buy a 'Saver' fare with Fred you don't get the cabin number ( but you get the grade) nor do you get the dining option confirmed. When the luggage labels arrive (about 3 to 4 weeks before) you see the cabin number. Dining allocated on board.

    On a European cruise you are likely to be given the late dining option, on a more tropical cruise you are likely to get the early dining. They give you the least popular, for example in hot places folk like to sit out on the deck late & eat late. However, if there are spaces at the dining sitting you would prefer you pay an extra 2pp per night- not a huge sum if you have saved over 1k. Some people just prefer to dine in the self service- same food with laid tables and then you can eat between 6.30 & 9pm and not be retricted to specific times.

    I think the current sale has a mix of possibilities: deals for this year which might be 'saver' fares - and need to be paid in full . There are also sailings for 2021- fares aren't reduced but they include free gratuities & free drinks package ie worth 24 pp per night.

    You pays your money......etc

    I personally like Fred. Generally the food is good, the ports visited interesting and the staff are delightful. The other cruisers are very friendly.
    Originally posted by Katiehound
    Agree with everything above

    We've done 8 FOC cruises so far all bar one have been great in every respect. Last one, German Waterways & Kiel Canal September last year was disappointing, mainly due to the cold weather and constant rain. Itinerary wasn't my choice, and Hamburg, which I was looking forward to, was closed for German Reunification day.

    HOWEVER the cabin was comfortable, food was good, staff delightful and other cruisers friendly.

    We've done both Freedom and Saver fares and never (yet) had an awful cabin allocated on the Saver. If on Saver, we pay the additional 2x2 per night to choose later sitting. Neither 6.15 nor 8.30 suits us, but 6.15 is just too early if we've been out all day.

    Many choose the more casual anytime restaurant, but we like the service in the other restaurants. I have a food intolerance and its safer with the same waiters every night.

    Dress code is fairly relaxed. No shorts/flipflops/vests in restauants in the evening but ok @ lunchtime. Some like to dress up on formal evenings, but its not compulsory

    Trying our 1st non Fred cruise next month with Princess. Will be interesting to compare
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 16th Jan 20, 8:45 PM
    • 1,275 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    NoodleDoodleMan
    Trying our 1st non Fred cruise next month with Princess. Will be interesting to compare
    Princess are an excellent cruise line, with very high standards.

    Drinks are expensive though with a 15% service charge - so keep tabs on the "happy hour" times for offers.

    Also, if (like us) you don't know what "Friends Of Dorothy" meetings are all about and are tempted to join in - do some advance reseach to avoid potential embarrassment !!!

    Happy to answer any questions, if I can.
    • Katiehound
    • By Katiehound 16th Jan 20, 10:17 PM
    • 5,177 Posts
    • 40,216 Thanks
    Katiehound
    Also, if (like us) you don't know what "Friends Of Dorothy" meetings are all about and are tempted to join in - do some advance reseach to avoid potential embarrassment !!!
    .
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    Luckily someone pointed out what it meant!

    Drinks on Fred are pretty much pub prices, no added service charge. Some folk buy a bottle of wine to 'keep'at the table.

    The only other cruise line I have tried is C&M. Columbus is a nice ship- best cabin ever (she was built for Princess line) ship capacity slightly too large for my liking. My advice would be avoid Marco Polo at all costs- great itineraries but pretty much everything else- not brilliant.

    My only other venture away from Fred was to book with Voyages of Discovery which then went to the wall. I was grateful to have travel agent do pretty much all the paperwork for the claims for refund of deposits.
    Being polite and pleasant doesn't cost anything!
    If you found my posting helpful please hit the "Thanks" button!
    Many thanks


    • mickey234
    • By mickey234 17th Jan 20, 11:03 AM
    • 81 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    mickey234
    and just to mention that Fred. Olsen has an 'Enjoyment Promise' so that if you find that the cruise really isn't for you they will get you back to UK and refund cruise price.
    Originally posted by Katiehound
    Wow....... I bet it's like saying that a Time Share Seminar is NOT going to be a hard sell.....!
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 17th Jan 20, 11:09 AM
    • 1,275 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    NoodleDoodleMan
    Luckily someone pointed out what it meant!
    Yes, indeed - that was our first ever cruise, we went with Princess, in the Caribbean, ten years past.

    'Er indoors was in curiousity mode and observed "that Dorothy must be well liked, she meets with her friends every afternoon" - for one reason or another we we missed attending, too many other distractions onboard.

    On our second Princess cruise, this time in the Meditteranean, she spotted a notice in the daily newsletter about Friends of Dorothy meetings - " she must be on is on this cruise as well" her ladyship commented !!!

    In the restaurant on the second night she casually mentioned that Dorothy was onboard again and was obviously a popular passenger - cue one fellow diner who quietly explained the scenario, resulting in big red faces !!!

    Talk about innocents abroad !!!
    • badger09
    • By badger09 17th Jan 20, 1:16 PM
    • 7,626 Posts
    • 7,131 Thanks
    badger09
    Princess are an excellent cruise line, with very high standards.

    Drinks are expensive though with a 15% service charge - so keep tabs on the "happy hour" times for offers.

    Also, if (like us) you don't know what "Friends Of Dorothy" meetings are all about and are tempted to join in - do some advance reseach to avoid potential embarrassment !!!

    Happy to answer any questions, if I can.
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    Thanks NDM

    It's going to be a very different experience. Over 3000 passengers v800 - 1300, sailing from Sydney, so expecting a younger, livelier crowd. Also cruising with friends for their 1st cruise.

    Trying to get my head around the onboard pricing policy, not to mention exchange rates USD/AUD/GBP/SEK etc (friends are from Stockholm). Big birthdays for both my friend & I, so we'll have fun whatever happens.

    LOL re the Friends of Dorothy.

    We were last in Sydney in February 2010 for my birthday, in hotel overlooking Sydney Harbour, bridge & ferry port. Husband watched pink cruise ship arrive, then was puzzled why there were no women on any of the balconies, until I mentioned him it was Mardi Gras Pride week.
    • pelirocco
    • By pelirocco 17th Jan 20, 1:52 PM
    • 7,752 Posts
    • 8,727 Thanks
    pelirocco
    It all very much depends on what you expect from a cruise , some are more up market then others , check out Cruise Critic
    As you would like AI and going on your budget I would suggest Marella , and either one of the Discovery or Explorer ships , they are newer than Dream or Celebration , bigger ( but not huge ) and have more entertainment . The advantage is they arrange the flights and transfer , and you get to stay on the ship at the end until you need to leave for the airport ( although you will have to have vacated your room by 8.30 ish as with all cruises )
    Vuja De - the feeling you'll be here later
    • happyandcontented
    • By happyandcontented 17th Jan 20, 1:56 PM
    • 2,322 Posts
    • 4,910 Thanks
    happyandcontented
    Yes, indeed - that was our first ever cruise, we went with Princess, in the Caribbean, ten years past.

    'Er indoors was in curiousity mode and observed "that Dorothy must be well liked, she meets with her friends every afternoon" - for one reason or another we we missed attending, too many other distractions onboard.

    On our second Princess cruise, this time in the Meditteranean, she spotted a notice in the daily newsletter about Friends of Dorothy meetings - " she must be on is on this cruise as well" her ladyship commented !!!

    In the restaurant on the second night she casually mentioned that Dorothy was onboard again and was obviously a popular passenger - cue one fellow diner who quietly explained the scenario, resulting in big red faces !!!

    Talk about innocents abroad !!!
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    We knew what that meant but were confused by the 'Friends of Bill W' meet ups! Which happened every day.

    Until I happened to be reading a book on the cruise about a fictional cruise and all was revealed!
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 17th Jan 20, 4:16 PM
    • 1,275 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    NoodleDoodleMan
    Trying to get my head around the onboard pricing policy, not to mention exchange rates USD/AUD/GBP/SEK etc (friends are from Stockholm). Big birthdays for both my friend & I, so we'll have fun whatever happens.
    Do Princess charge in AUS or US Dollars on the Australian based ships ?

    When pre-registering your credit card, always opt to permit your own bank to make the final transaction exchange rate - Princess authorised rates are unfavourable.

    The daily prescribed gratuities rate on Princess is well OTT in my opinion - you can elect to opt out, and tip in a different manner.

    On our most recent Princess venture we had the option to settle gratuities in advance in Pounds Sterling at a modestly reduced amount - at the time of booking, not sure if that is still on offer.

    Our preferred method is to put a fixed amount tip in an envelope and hand it in on penultimate day of the cruise - there is a "universal pot" deposit box for that purpose.

    Experienced Princess passengers have told us that individual tips have to be declared by the staff and put in the universal pot.

    If you want to opt out - go to guest services as soon as you get onboard and complete the paperwork. You can opt out retrospectively - however these "hotel charges" will still be applied for all days prior to that.

    Avoid going near guest services towards the end of the cruise - there will be a long queue of passengers questioning charges on their onboard account - if you have to go, then do so late at night or very early morning.

    We've always stashed a litre of spirits in our main luggage, securely packed, with no issues - but that is no guarantee of avoiding the booze police !!!

    Feel free to ask on anything else.
    Last edited by NoodleDoodleMan; 17-01-2020 at 4:28 PM.
    • badger09
    • By badger09 18th Jan 20, 12:53 PM
    • 7,626 Posts
    • 7,131 Thanks
    badger09
    Do Princess charge in AUS or US Dollars on the Australian based ships ?

    AUD, but only price lists I can find online are in USD

    When pre-registering your credit card, always opt to permit your own bank to make the final transaction exchange rate - Princess authorised rates are unfavourable.

    I've preregistered Halifax Clarity but didn't see any option re exchange rates

    The daily prescribed gratuities rate on Princess is well OTT in my opinion - you can elect to opt out, and tip in a different manner.

    On our most recent Princess venture we had the option to settle gratuities in advance in Pounds Sterling at a modestly reduced amount - at the time of booking, not sure if that is still on offer.

    I've prepaid in GBP to avoid Australian cc surcharge & volatile exchange rate

    Our preferred method is to put a fixed amount tip in an envelope and hand it in on penultimate day of the cruise - there is a "universal pot" deposit box for that purpose.

    Experienced Princess passengers have told us that individual tips have to be declared by the staff and put in the universal pot.

    If you want to opt out - go to guest services as soon as you get onboard and complete the paperwork. You can opt out retrospectively - however these "hotel charges" will still be applied for all days prior to that.

    Thanks, I'll remember if we book again with Princess

    Avoid going near guest services towards the end of the cruise - there will be a long queue of passengers questioning charges on their onboard account - if you have to go, then do so late at night or very early morning.

    Think that applies universally, but more passengers = longer queues

    We've always stashed a litre of spirits in our main luggage, securely packed, with no issues - but that is no guarantee of avoiding the booze police !!!

    We're not really spirit drinkers. Friend & I on wine plus very occasional cocktail, husband/partner on beer

    Feel free to ask on anything else.
    Originally posted by NoodleDoodleMan
    Thanks NDN - all useful stuff. There is so much info on Princess' website, but I've found it difficult to navigate. I also keep finding things on my Cruise personaliser which I'd missed before. Personal experience always helpful.
    • NoodleDoodleMan
    • By NoodleDoodleMan 18th Jan 20, 5:14 PM
    • 1,275 Posts
    • 478 Thanks
    NoodleDoodleMan
    I've preregistered Halifax Clarity but didn't see any option re exchange rates
    I suspect I may have mislead by saying pre-registering - when we've arrived on board and offered a credit card for registration there has always been an option to allow the card issuer bank to calculate the exchange rate - or to allow Princess to do so at their rate.

    Never had the opportunity to register a card online - always been on arrival when boarding ship.

    Your bank is the better choice, especially when Halifax Clarity is a prime "user friendly" card in this scenario.

    One thing I forgot to mention - if you have previous UK/Commonwelth military service which meets the qualifying criteria you can apply for free extra onboard credit applied to your cabin account, this includes reservists. I'm not up to speed on specific criteria however.

    Princess previously only awarded this to US or Canadian personnel - however they changed this policy a few years back.

    I would recommend Cruise Critic for comprehensive information - go to the dedicated Princess forum and follow the various threads there.

    Post any specific questions and other CC members will point you in the correct direction.

    I picked up a lot of tips.
    Last edited by NoodleDoodleMan; 18-01-2020 at 5:17 PM.
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