Cruising In A Suite Is Sweet
Written by: Kuki
Cruising in any type of Suite on just about any ship is a special experience. With the large variety of Suites on Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships, particularly on the Jewel, Gem, and Pearl, if you want to give the “suite life” a try, you may be able to find one that doesn’t totally break the bank. They are more costly than the other cabin categories, but you may find the rare splurge worth the additional expense, especially for a special occasion such as a benchmark birthday or anniversary. Even in periods when cruise lines are discounting cabins (such as close to sailing date to fill empty cabins) you likely won’t find suites discounted as much as other categories of cabins. This is mostly because the suites are often the first to get booked. But if you shop hard, there are occasional deals to be had on suites.
NCL also uses a program known as “upsells”, where closer to sailing dates, the cruise line will call booked passengers and offer them the ability to upgrade to a higher level category at a price difference greatly reduced from the normal price differentials between the categories. To get in line for an upsell, simply notify your travel agent that you’d like to be considered for an upsell offer if they happen to occur on your sailing.
The Romance Suite that Mrs. Kuki and I are enjoying this week is a Category AD. It’s the second lowest of the various suite categories to choose from on the ship, yet other than the Garden Villas I think it’s one of the best suites on the ship. It’s located on the stern on Deck 10, and the balcony is considerably larger than the other aft suites; even the same suite on other decks. It does not have a separate bedroom, as do the Penthouse Suites. Rather it is one large room, with a seating area, dining room table, flat screen TV, and a powder room as well as the sleeping area. The sleeping area is surrounded by curtains, which close to entirely separate the rest of the suite, or can be left open to feel the entire size of the cabin. We’re in cabin 10166, and below are some pictures to offer visuals of the suite, and balcony. The picture of the balcony isn’t really indicative of the size. It’s twice as large as it appears in the picture because I couldn’t fly off the back of the ship attached to a kite to take a full view picture. And if I could have, Mrs. Kuki would have likely cut the line.
Aside from the comfort of the suite, there are added amenities included for those booked in the top 48 suites on the ship. These include: priority boarding, priority tender passes, access to the Concierge for booking restaurant reservations, tours, etc, availability of butler services on request, a portable telephone to use on the ship, an expanded room service menu for suites, a choice of “sweet treats” to delivered daily, access to a special area of Cagney’s for breakfast and lunch daily, an invitation to a cocktail party with the officers, and probably more that I’m missing, or haven’t run across yet.
Now, look back at the pictures on yesterday’s blog of Peter Pan. That was Harry, who we now refer to as Joe the Plumber’s crotchety old grandfather. Last night, while in costume, Harry came up with the best line of the cruise when talking about his tights. He said his tights had the same problem as the St. Georges Hotel…no ballroom. Too funny! I just had to share, even if it is off topic.
I had also forgot to mention yesterday, the ship is now off Code Red status, which means passengers can now serve themselves at the buffet islands, and help themselves at the coffee and drink machines. It also means that since the incubation period has passed, the ship is free and clear of any further cases of Noro Virus. The crew is still always busy sanitizing all surfaces, and hand sanitizers are still everywhere on the ship, and guests are reminded to use them. It appears to me that the passengers are taking them seriously, and using them entering and leaving all the public rooms. We’ve all bought into the “ounce of prevention” theory, and that’s a very good thing.
Back a few months, in Apr. 08 I sailed on the Jade in Europe, when the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades were first rolled out. As the program has been expanded fleet-wide, no doubt there’s been some massaging of some of the program, and changes made to others. Mrs. Kuki wasn’t with me on that trip, but she was on this ship, the Jewel, with me in 2007, so we’ve discussed the changes she’s noticed. Her main comment so far is how in her opinion there’s been a vast improvement in all the food departments, from the restaurants which carry a surcharge, to the cost included dining rooms, and for Mike, yes, to the buffet as well. Today was the first time I ate at the buffet since the day we boarded, and that wasn’t really at the buffet, as I got a burger from the poolside grill. The burger was fresh, hot and excellent. I should add, our fellow cruisemates whom I’ve talked to, some of who have never cruised NCL, have all commented about how impressed they’ve been with the food.
Whenever I write about NCL, I tell everyone to factor in $100 – $150 per person into the cost of the cruise before they even book. Examine the total cost, including that amount, and if you still consider it a good deal, book it, and knowing you have the choice to experience everything NCL’s Freestyle has to offer, you can look forward to the cruise with peace of mind. If you chose to, you can eat only in the cost included restaurants, but I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to deprive yourselves of the variety available.
This evening Mrs. Kuki had been invited to a cocktail party, and the folks we’ve been dining with wanted to try Teppanyaki, the Japanese style restaurant onboard. They made early reservations, and Mrs. Kuki and I decided we’d simply play it by ear as to where we’d eat after the cocktail party, as I did want to see how difficult it would be to dine without any prior reservations. At 7:30 we were able to simply walk into the Tsar’s Palace dining room and be seated. As we entered I looked around the dining room and there appeared to be a fair number of tables available for people entering who needed tables which would accommodate more than 2 people. We did find the dining room to be a bit too warm again though.
Once again we enjoyed our food. I repeated the Tortellini I’d had on our last visit for a starter; the soup was tasty and hot, and I ordered the Veal Piccata. If a ship does veal well that pretty much ensures they do most things well, as it’s a dish that is easily overcooked. I think I’m going to have to track down the baker on this ship as well. The breads and rolls are terrific, in both taste and variety. Bread’s not something that one should eat a lot of. But when they are as good as they’ve been, it’s hard not to devour the bread basket (and the bread that’s in it too). The other thing I really like is they place the bread basket on the table in front of you. Too many cruise lines these days serve the bread. I’m a pig, and in the middle of a feeding frenzy, I don’t want to have to chase after the staff for a second roll.
This evening the ship’s Second City Comedy Troupe was entertaining in the Stardust Theater. In April, when I had sailed the Jade the Second City Troupe on that ship was so talented, and impressed me so, I interviewed them and wrote a feature article about them. Though the troupe on this ship could certainly do improve better than I could, and at times were entertaining, I couldn’t help but compare them to the talented group on the Jade, and they didn’t really measure up.
Tomorrow’s port of call is Aruba, and we’re in port until 11 P.M. I’ve booked an excursion to De Palm Island in an attempt to keep Mrs. Kuki and my American Express card out of the jewelry stores.
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Posted: November 1st, 2008 under Kuki.