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Old November 25th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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Paul Motter Paul Motter is offline
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As one of the "paid mouthpieces" of the cruise lines, in other words a cruise reporter, I will answer some of your claims the best I can.

For the most part, I think you are wrong, or exagerating terribly, you are promoting FUD when none actually exists (Fear, uncertainty and doubt).

Just to be clear - so I wil not be fooled, I am also a fully paid customer on the Dec 1st cruise - the first revenue cruise. So my opinion as I have so far will be updated after that cruise as a fully paying customer:

point 1: parking. I also heard the same thing, so I fear you are right. By the same toke, I heard it from one person who happens to live in Miami and also be a cruise reporter. No one else I knew on the ship drove there, so while it may be a problem, it wont be for the vast majority of the guests. Fain predicts 25% of the guests will be foreign.

point 2: $$8.27 for a quad espresso, forgive me, but do you mean FOUR shots of espresso? If so, at just over $2.06 per cup, that really isn't so bad.

point 3: when you board you are in the Royal Promenade and there are no ocean views, but that has no bearing on the overall 7-day experience. I saw plenty of ocean on my 2-day cruise, from the Boardwalk, from the many ocean-view balcony cabins which are actually priced lower than the inward facing balconies, from the dining room and from the massive sports deck.

point 4: 843 sq ft is a HUGE balcony, and I dont know how much privacy you need on a balcony, but I assume that it is not much different from any other ship, they are one atop the other, not tiered as on Princess or Celebrity.

point 5: The lofts (no comment, I dont know about this issue, but if it is terrible, I assume they will buy drapes)

point 6: We were told there were 3200 onboard. There were CERTAINLY far more than 1000 as you claim. It seemed fairly full to me. but the top decks, where most people will certainly spend most of a 7-day vacation, were completely empty because we did not go south and it was only one full day. I think you are just plain wrong here - there were at least 3200 guests on my cruise if not more, and there is plenty of room for all of them. See mt attched pic of the sun deck.

point 7: I also missed the gym/spa area - not sure why, no comment there.

point 8: Entertainment. I saw the ice show, it was of the same excellent quality as on the Freedom ships. I also watched a non-dress rehearsal of the AquaTheater show and considering the experience of the director and the talented cast I saw, I predict a VERY successful show, it probably will be the most talked about show on the ship. I have a partial video at YouTube in the CruiseMates section. The version of Hairspary is fully licensed (not adapted for ships) and runs nearly the same lemgth and same size cast as the Broadway hit. You have no reason to review something you haven't seen yet, but I will let you know. <-- video of AquaTheater show

point 9: Yes, it is a very high buy-in price, about 130% premium. And the ship is selling, as is Solstice and other high-end ships. Ships sell for what they are worth, I see no problem with the price points if RCL can get it. The price will drop gradually, my guess is until Allure comes out, then it will stabilize. But the price is now actually going up from what I see - that's success.

point 10: Internet access - You are correct here: it was a challenge to find the Internet cafe, but they do have end to end wifi which worked perfectly in my stateroom and other areas. I do recommend bringing a laptop unless of course there are things we dont know, such as perhaps the press room is the future internet cafe?

In any case - I think you have a few points, but in the overall scheme I think you are making mountans out of molehills. The parking is a problem, the web cafe may be too small, they may need curtains in the lofts, but NONE of those things are insurmountable.

On the other hand, you did not mention the beautiful FREE waterpark for kids, the amazing rock climbing walls, the three FREE shows plus comedy and jazz clubs (wherethere was entertainment onboard, and pretty good I would say), the TWO flo-riders (more per person than other RCL ships), the free mini-golf and carousal where there was no waiting, and that out of 24 eateries roughly half have no cover charge, so the dining room should not be overly crowded.

The ship WOWED most people including me, but as I said, I will let you know what I really think after my fully paid-for cruise next week.

Thanks for your input.
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