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Old November 29th, 2000, 10:19 AM
George in NY
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Default RE: Norwegian Freestyle

Jeff,

> George, I agree with you to a point. But I think that your
> initial response to Boblick is a just cause for his rebuttal to
> you.

It certainly was, I offer no argument in that regard.

< I think I know that you were having a little fun in it
> while still trying to get your point across but unfortunately
> the twinkle in your eye and the inflection in your inner voice
> did not come across and he has taken exception.

Ah such is life, my remorse is great.

I agree with you on many points and certainly understand that cruising has and will continue to grow and change which is not a bad thing nor do I see it that way. What I do feel is that without a continuing feedback to the lines cruising may morph into something to totally unlike what it was or should be. NCL has been a large part of that starting with alternative dining for an additional charge. They were the first and if you recall the charge wasn't nominal originally, in the area of $60. Shortly after that NCL started charging $2 a pop for room service. Now many tip a dollar or two when they receive room service anyway but after some investigation it was revealed that the charge did not go to the server but the cruiseline. Since most people being charged the $2 would presume it went to the staff they didn't tip the server in addition. This whole room service charge was met quickly and strongly with complaint, many people, myself included, refused to sail NCL unless and until the charge was eradicated. It too NCL TWO years to get the picture and finally rescind the charge. Of course they also had both pissed off and reduced staff that handled that service. I was on the Dreamward ( pre-dream ) and called for a pot of coffee at 9 am. I was told that it could not be delivered for 45 minutes. Unhappy but such is life I waited ( the public is not really ready for me pre-coffee Actual delivery was over an hour. I discussed it t a cocktail party I was invited two and where the Hotel Manager was in attendance. He apologized and assured me that unusual circumstances existed although he wasn't quite sure what they were. Next day over an hour ( we are talking pot of coffee not a breakfast ). I again made mention to the Hotel Manager. He sent a bottle of wine to the cabin. Later I explained to him that the wine was a nice gesture but all I really wanted was my coffee in a reasonable amount of time. NEVER got it. Now if a Hotel Manager can't insure you a lousy pot of coffee in under and hour, you know that a line has major problems. ( noted this was several years ago ). I made note in my review that both the line and the ship ( I had sailed Dreamward previously inaugural year ) had changed drastically from what they had been. Several NCL cruisers wrote somewhat harsh comments concerning my opinions. During the year several re-contacted me and said they had again sailed and agreed with my previous asessment.

Look at the lines that have decided to do away with the wine stewards. People aren't drinking less wine so where does the service draw from? The waiter must now provide the service which certainly has to impact on the level of service.

SERVICE, to me that is what a cruise is all about. Some special level of service and the attempt to make each cruiser feel special. Take that away and all you have is a resort that can sometime rock and make you sick. A smaller room that any hotel you are going to stay at on land.

My first cruise was in 1984, NCL Skyward. My waiter William shocked and surprised me one evening when he was bringing my desert. He suddenly turned around and returned my dessert to the serving station and proceeded over to my place to wipe away a crumb. He would not serve to a place that had not been properly prepared. Menus were presented with a ceremonial gesture. In talking to William I found that to become a waiter on the ship you must have a resume that included several years of working in quality Europeon hotels. Look at today's waiter. Chances are that they never served in their life and did not look to be a waiter but that is where the opening was. Started as a busboy ( now assistant waiters since unlike before when only the waiter served and the busboy did clean up and water, now whomever is nearby does whatever ) for a couple months and wsa promoted to waiter to fill needed slots on new monstrous sized ships.

I remember being almost shocked but very pleasantly surprised when going for ice cream that it was quality product and NO CHARGE of course. Now additional charges abound. Want a decent cup of brewed coffee, you can get it at the cafe bar and pay for it just like a drink. Soda at dinner no charge, now you can buy it from the bar waiter who will show at your table frequently only if your table is buying many drinks, if not you are lucky if he shows again to see if you would like another by dessert time. I could on but any cruiser that has been cruising for years is quite aware that each cruise demonstrates yet another onboard revenue maker devised by the home office since the last sailing.

The point is that if those that love cruising don't demonstrate to the lines that the continuing erosion of service and amenity is unacceptable it will continue to the point where the cruise experience will be little more than a day at the park reaching into your pocket every two minutes and getting less and less bang for the buck. This was recently shown by RCL electing to eliminate the charge for food at Johny Rockets. This was done simpy based upon they had received so much contrary comments regarding it. They still charge for milkshakes I understand. Your option was to get your hamburger for free at grill at buffet, served one way, thin and cooked to death, or pay for one considerably better made and cooked to order.

I toured a Princess ship several years ago and was surprised to see a coffee bar in the lobby that charged $1 a cup. When I asked I was told that this was to keep the traffic down BUT that the pastries also served there were OF COURSE FREE. I toured the Carnival Destiny a while back ( you can find those photo's and many more I take at my buddies page I do for him <http://www.bestweb.net/~travel1/> ) and see that they now charge for everything at their little cafe. I will include price menu photo herein.

Last cruise my wife who uses the Steiner services extensively while onboard was shocked that she was charged $10 more for her customary formal evening blow and set or whateverthe ladies get. The listed charge was $35 and she was charged $45. When she inquired she was told that she was charged as " long hair " versus short. Her hair is both the same length it always was and far from what I would consider long hair, yet some one decided on a revenue enhancer. You will also note that Steiner now automatically places a 10 % tip on the bill. This started last year. In the meantime she and the ther ladies at our table expressed disappointment in the quality of the service, something my wife has never disputed before. Just another factor in having to fill so many salons on so many ships. So again a lessening of quality and an increase in price.

Photos, last cruise they were increased in size by an inch and increased in price 6.95 to 9.95. Revenue enhancer under guise that photos are now larger, you'd hardly notice. Some are starting to sell photo and mandatory wallet size as package. Costs more, want one have to take all. The list goes on and on.

Is Freestyle cruising a convenience or yet another way to use less staff to provide services?

So now, again NCL is a first, tips automatically included to your onboard account. Do you think the impact of that will be a positive? I doubt it, and rest assured that the amount will continue to rise as the line tests how much they can get from cruiser before they notice. Also be guarenteed that some percentage will now get skimmed off for the line itself, not the server.

> So any way, can we all shake hands, agree to disagree and get
> the ad hominims out of the conversation.

Certainly I've had my say and the bottom line as always will be that sooner or later each votes with there business dollar in this election.

> Thanks and cheers!! (and I miss your website)

Thank you, very kind of you to say. Do you refer to my old personal cruise site or the Mining Company ( now About.com ) site? The personal site just got to be too much work after a while and the About.com site became to oriented toward ONLINE REVENUE much like onboard revenue and hampred me saying it my own crumby way. The industry is a business after all which I understand. Many of my old links are still located at my pal Tony's website and I do get down to piers in summer and get aboard the new ones etc when I can. I have lots of recent photos at Tony's page. Gives me an outlet for the digital camera. I am always amazed at where this technology has come from the old Commodore days. Heck I can remember actually mailing pictures by snail mail of some ship they were interested in on old BB's etc. Now, just unbelievable. Look at the fellow who is uploading and running a web cam live on the Explorer this week. I don't think I want to get that dedicated but I am enjoying his efforts.

<http://www.qwikfyx.com/explorer/>

Happy cruising
George in NY without a skyscraper in sight

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