Well, I guess all the any sayers were right all along! Oh well... Nita, you will be happy to learn that we acted quickly and rebooked the Grand Princess (cat BD) for the same time period (12OCT03) and similar price to our Norway penthouse suite. Got a fairly good deal and very happy that we will still have a balcony. Now we're busy researching shore excursions - ah, the fun just continues to roll along.
Let's hope NCL is a bit speedier with the refunds this time around. At least with a 12OCT03 booking we're first in line!
We still can't wait for the Norway to come back on-line - looks like we'll be onboard OCT04!
You will love the grand Princess. We had the farthest aft mini suite (D-732) on her sister ship the Star Princess. Of the fourteen cruises we have been on, it was by far the best overall cruise experience we have had. If you can get one of the farthest aft or forward cabins on the D deck or the farthest Aft cabins on the E deck, the balconies are about 40-50% larger and are very comfortable. We had cabin D-732. It was generally used as a handicapped unit . We were assigned it because of a "guaranteed" reservation.
Our steward brought us cozy white robes, lounge chairs, in addition to the existing four dining chairs and a table. He also brought us an array of clean wine glasses, even enough for any guests we might have. The bathroom was huge!
Do go to Sabatini's and Tequila's while on board. The brunch they have at Sabatini's on most "at sea" days is wonderful and includes all you can drink Chandon champagne. It is a huge bargain at about 15 or 20 dollars (I can't remember because we enjoyed the champagne toooo much.) and the food is magnificent and very delicious. Tequila's is also good. Don't let the $8 surcharge discourage you. You get a very good free margarita which makes it pretty much a wash anyway. I loved the black bean soup with the perfectly cooked meat from live Main lobster claws. Mmmmmmm.
If Joni Butler does a show on your cruise, go see the show and tell her David and Chuck said "Hi!" She is a wonderfully nice lady and very fun to talk with.
It looks like you're getting two extra ports as well. In Grand Cayman try the Stingray City tour. It is amazing! Try to get an early-in-the-day tour. There are lots of stingrays early in the morning, which gives you time to do other things as well later in the day.
Thanks for the great insight into the 'Grand' class ships. We can't wait. We also booked a 'guarantee'. We booked in BD and there were only 6 cabins avail - next step is BC and only 7 cabins there. Both BB and BA are sold out. So, we have our fingers crossed for the mini-suite upgrade - in any event we figured with a guarantee at BD we couldn't go wrong. We just picked up the Princess brochure today and after taking a closer look we are getting very excited. (nb. how 21st century is that to buy a holiday before seeing the brochure?)
While we were looking forward to the traditional dining experience on the Norway the freestyle and choice of (different) restaurants on Princess is also very appealing. Thanks for the tips on Sabatini's and Tequila's. Do you have a recommendation for a particular dining spot on the two formal nights?
Thanks again - we'll have a drink (maybe the free margarita) in your honor!
We ate both formal nights at Sabatini's and loved it there. It is a wonderful experience.
Try their anchovies as one of the starter offerings. They are far and away the best anchovies I have ever eaten. I know this sounds weird, but trust me.
Sabatini's does lobster very well. It is not over-cooked and rubbery which it tends to be in the larger dining rooms. There are two very nice bars right next to Sabatini's. One is more intimate and the other is more upbeat but both are great and have bands playing usually.
The only bad meal we were served all week was the seafood puff pastry in one of the main dining rooms. It was nasty. One of the cruisemates warned us not to eat it and David ordered it anyway. He quickly retuned it after one bite. Yuck! I was stupid enough to take a sample as well. Ugh!
Generally the food is quite good everywhere on the ship. You'll have a great time.
Todd, how did you book your cruise? Did you do the on line or use a TA? We are still trying to decide and are looking for good rates. Obviously who isn't? We are sailing the first week on January. Anyway just thought I would ask. We have found some good deals on HAL and NCL, Sun. Am a bit concerned about HAL cause we are traveling withour 21 year old grand daughter. Infact it's her birthday celebration.
After we read the news yesterday we pulled our chairs up in front of the computer and started the search.
While we have no allegiance to NCL, the $100 OBC would have been nice. And while we were fairly flexible with dates, our preference was not to have to change our airline tickets. We booked on points, and are traveling via YYZ (stop for 2 days to visit friends) to MIA. We live in Vancouver, BC. So we first looked for the best option that fit within our parameters.
We were not having much luck and it looked like we were going to have to both change our air tickets and go from our Norway Penthouse Suite to an Atrium (inside) Suite on RCL or an Oceanview on NCL. At one pint We had looked at the Grand Princess out of FLL but the pricing was way too high. Luckily, however, I had remember from one of the news groups that someone had mentioned they had used cruisevalue.com and we started to check them out. Their prices were generally $5 to $10 less and they do not charge a document handling fee. Then, just out of instinct, we checked out the Grand sailing for 12OCT03 and found their price to be $1000 less than icruise and $500 less than expedia and orbitz. We thought about it for a while and decided to grab this one while we could... especially since we estimate there will be 1000's of people looking for alternate cruises during this time period - lets just call them (us) displaced Norway passengers for short! Jeff works in the travel industry and said there was no way we could have matched the pricing from cruisevalue by using a local TA. And we're both very comfortable shopping on-line: from travel to furniture to appliances to groceries. It just saves so much time in the long run.
The nice thing I liked about using cruisevalue.com is that they are (somehow) directly linked to Princess. Within seconds we received our Princess confirmation number and surprisingly, when we checked the princess.com site a few minutes later, there we were. Needless to say, we were very impressed!
To summarise a long afternoon, we ended up with an outside balcony (Baja deck) on the Grand Princess for about $200 more than our penthouse suite on the Norway.
Our flights work out perfect and since we are flying out of FLL there's no need to rent a car to from from MIA on the return home. So in the end we're calling it an even wash and will raise a glass to the Norway, in spirit of course, while we're basking in the Caribbean sun!
If you'd like particulars on pricing, send me an email (offline) and I'd be happy to discuss further.
No, no bad experience. HAL is well known to cater to the retired crowd and their ships are often full of passengers in this target market. IMO, I personally would not take someone who is celebrating their 21st birthday (a big one!) on HAL when there are so many other options available that include the opportunity to celebrate with many more people closer to the age of the birthday celebrant.
So ye talk of what you know not. You know that Nita is a former TA (IIRC). Can't she make up her mind based on more than your hearsay? I am not being critical. I just took your post as being arbitrary and I had a hunch you had not sailed HAL before; truthfully, neither have I.
I know there are a lot of diehard Norway fans out there and was really wondering if anyone really thinks that their beloved Norway will ever re-enter service or if NCL would even reconsider pulling the old girl out of service rather than pumping any more money into the ship.
Thanks for all the advise. I have read the HAL board as well and am still unsure. My TA is on vacation til mid August so emailed one of her co-workers (actually a friend of mine of course) to get quotes on Princess, Hal and the Sun. Down deep I think we will end up on the Sun. I do have mixed feelings about HAL and college kids, but will not rule her out as I know the ships are classy and Erica would be very impressed. I am more concerned about the dress code. From what I have read even on not so formal nights the men wear jackets and ties. Neither Steve now DH will be excited about that. Princess is still a possibility although we all swore years ago we would never sail on a Princess ship. Never say never.
To NJMatt, do I think she will sail again? One half of me says yes and one half no, how's that for a no comment answer? Actually I think she will sail but maybe not the Caribbean.
I fear this great liner will not sail again....I for one..will miss the great liner and the good job NCL did of keeping her going all these years. I am sure the repair costs are going to be high and it might not be prudent to repair the boilers and keep her going.(given the fact that pricing on her was so low.)
I hope I'm wrong....would love to sail her agian.. .
Truly this liner had the "best ride" of any of the cruise ships and liners I have sailed in my 25 plus years of cruising.
WE did jump ship. After all the research and drama around here we settled on a totally different date and line. We are going Thanksgiving week so both grand daughters can travel with us: got a great deal on Celetrities Constellation. Decided, hopefully there will be a few more kids than HAL. We know they too have an older cliantele, but it just seemed right. Everyone is excited. This doesn't mean we are forgetting our good friends at NCL, just taking a little break.