Monday, March 29, 2010

When did you hear about . . .?

We're getting down to the wire! Wondering when we got important info last year? Here's the schedule from 2009:

April 8: Themes and info on door decorating

April 20: Danny's party announcement

April 24: Questionnaire for Family Feud

May 2: Carnival documents and instructions on dress code and cameras

May 5: Full itinerary (Thank you @ddubsLabRat!)

May 12: Invitation to submit Q&A questions

May 26: Thanks for attending

June 2: Link to photo op photos

July 31: Invitation to pre-sale for 2010

In other news, wait lister #2528 got a call today and passed, so we're up to at least #2529.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome new readers!

So this unbelievably awesome thing happened today.

I know, right? It definitely made my day. And judging by the hit count on the blog today, I think it brought some new readers. Welcome!

If this is your first time here, catch up fast with these entries:

  • Cruise FAQs

  • Shopping/packing list

  • Day-by-day recaps: FridayFamily FeudSaturdaySunday

  • What you'll spend

  • What really goes on in VIP?

  • Tips for finding or becoming a replacement roomie

  • If you're still looking for a spot on the boat, post here.

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    Thanks for reading!

    Ship spa may not be so relaxing after all

    You experienced cruisers may be well aware of what a racket the on-board spa can be, but I was surprised to read this entry in the USA Today Cruise Log. The reporter and each of the commenters complained about the services being overpriced to begin with, pressure to upgrade services, and harassing technicians insisting they purchase product after product. Some excerpts from the article and comments:
    "Our spa experience was particularly ... stressful, which frankly defeats the purpose of going to a spa. Staffers were disorganized (didn't reserve the treatment properly, charged more money than I was quoted, mixed me up with another passenger, then gave me a hard product sell afterward). Ultimately the spa manager did refund the disputed amount but she was snarky and unpleasant. I was so disgusted I decided to skip other treatments I'd planned to book."
    "I have been subjected to the hard sell in some form or another every time I have used the Spa services on any cruise ship. now I avoid them like the plague. They are not interested in making you look better. it's all about the sales figures. They prey on people who have a hard time saying "No Thank You" and I have never left the Spa without a really bad taste in my mouth. They take what should be a pleasant experience and destroy it."
    "On boarding day, I got caught up in the excitement and booked two spa treatments on two different days. The pedicure I got during the first one was wonderful and fairly priced, so no complaints there. However, the therapist was sooooooo aggressive with the hard-sell on the products that it really took away from the whole relaxation vibe of being in a spa. I ended up cancelling the second treatment scheduled two days later because I just didn't want to be bothered having to find 20 different ways to say "no thank you" again."
    "On a Carnival Cruise recently my wife WON a 1/2 price facial at one of the talks on the ship. She booked it and was given a nice facial, then came the hard sell on skin care products she MUST have for her skin. She was polite and told them no thanks, when she was pressed more she tried to tell them she would have to check with her husband first before commiting to this purchase (about $200 more!) . The spa girl told her that is NOT fair to her to be restricted by me like that , it was my wifes vacation also. That made my wife mad and she left quickly. She did not want $200 worth of over priced lotions to start with."
    Since I had committed not to spend hours in line this year, I thought I may hit up the spa for the specials they had advertised in the daily newsletter. But getting a hard sell doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a few hours, so I'll skip it. Anyone have similar (or dissimilar) cruise spa experience to share?

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Final payment due one week from today

    I have a feeling these blogs are going to become more and more random as we get closer to cruise time. Here's the news of the week!

    Payment: Final payment is due one week from today. If you did not make other arrangements, this will be automatically charged to the card on file. Remember to factor in the $249 in port fees to whatever price is listed for your room category on

    Waitlist: Yesterday #2517 got a call and declined, so that puts us to at least #2518. That's almost 40 up from a week ago, so at this rate we could be at close to #2600 by the time final payment is due.

    Cancellations: As predicted, there have been a bunch of vacancies floating around on ning and Twitter. I've been seeing maybe 3-5 per day, and I'm sure there are more out there. Who on the Cruise Spots Wanted list is still looking? If you're on there and no longer looking, please delete your post (or ask me to if you can't figure out how). Or add a new post so I know who to make top priority and recommend to people looking to fill spaces. Some people getting calls from the wait list are told to find a roommate within a day, so make it easy for them to find you!

    Themes: After some excitement last week when Rose Tours told a few people we'd be receiving an email "in the next few days," it seems that won't be the case. Yesterday I spoke to Jeannie and she seemed to have no idea why I would have heard that and said she didn't know what the themes were. And today, Jared posted on ning that it would be another few weeks before we learn anything. (I enjoyed the follow up comment that this was not soley for the effect of making us batty.)

    Seating: Also yesterday while I was talking to Jeannie, I tried to get some info on how they were doing seating. (May as well, right? This is the only time I have spoken to Rose Tours since we booked.) I asked her if they were still doing seating based on the time we booked, and she said yes. Then I asked if it was going to be assigned more specifically, and she gave me a lot of "um's" and "ah's," so make of that what you will. I think it's at least safe to assume that assigned seating is not a definite.

    In other news, the BSB cruise sold out and they've started their own cruise blog. Some people have been sending me the link. I think it's great. Of course they should have their own blog. Hopefully they can learn a lot from our experiences. (Don't you wish they had gone first and we'd had all of them to ask questions of our first time around?)

    I think that's it. What did I miss? What news or rumors have you heard this week?

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Random this and that

    Hi all, I've seen several random but important things come through in the last day or so. In case you missed anything, here are the highlights:
    • The waitlist is up to at least #2481. Calls seem to have been coming in on Fridays, so be ready tomorrow.
    • Rose Tours told @jencaseysmith this morning that they would be sending out the first email "in the next few days." No word on what this email will contain. My bet is on "don't forget you will be paying us money very soon" but door decorating info or - dare I hope - themes would be nice!
    • Those who booked pre-cruise rooms at the Intercontinental using the Rose Tours group rate were charged for their rooms today. No one seems to know why, as there wasn't a word about paying the full amount in advance anywhere on either company's site or the reservation emails.
    • A few people posted on ning that they had wanted to move to early dining but were told early dining was "full." Not sure what this means. Wouldn't both options be full if the ship is full? Will there be fewer people in late dining? Or will some that requested early dining be placed into late dining to even it out?
    • Final payment is due two weeks from today! Be ready!
    Did I miss anything? Hear any other news or rumors floating around? Please let me know in the comments!

    Don't forget to check the FAQs for your cruise questions!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    The email we're all waiting for

    Well, one of them anyway. The first of the 3-4 pre-cruise emails we got from Rose Tours last year was the themes and door decorating contest announcement.

    The question I am asked most frequently is "When did you find out the themes last year?" I can now tell you with certainty that we found out at 3:37 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday, April 8, 2009. Or, to put it another way, 36 days in advance.

    I'm attaching the email here so first-time cruisers can see exactly what was included. It came from Jeannie Gearhart with the subject line "NKOTB Cruise New Letter / Information." Click to open it larger.
    As much as I would like to know about the themes and door decorating this very minute, I have resigned myself to not finding out any earlier than we did last year, and that's okay. However, that doesn't mean I am able to control my compulsive planning, so I've started on a few things.
    1. I've nearly finished shopping for everything BUT themes.
    2. Malina and I have come up with a concept for our door design. We have it pretty mapped out in our minds. I may not be able to help myself from starting to lay it out between now and when we actually find out if it's happening, but I'm trying.
    3. I've decided in my own head that there will be a generic dress to impress night and I've started looking for dresses. This is based on nothing whatsoever other than I think it makes sense to have a generic dress to impress night.
    4. Even crazier than that, so great is my hope for an 80s night, I have decided exactly what I would want to wear to that and have started buying things. The other day I saw slouch socks in the store - what are the odds?? - so I had to get those. I am at least saving receipts because I know very well that nothing I guess in relation to NKOTB has ever once been right, which puts the odds of there actually being an 80s night somewhere around 0.4%. But if there is I will be prepared! (And if there isn't, you may see me wearing my slouch socks and jelly bracelets around the pool because they are just that cool.)
    Wow, writing that down made me kind of see just how ridiculous it is. I am a lunatic. But as a lunatic who makes multiple to-do lists throughout the day, doing this crazy prep makes me feel slightly more sane.

    In actual news, 16 days till final payment is due!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    As predicted, March cancellations have started

    So far it would seem at least one of my March predictions is coming true. Rose Tours is back to making wait list calls. The last I had heard a few weeks ago, we were up to around #2450 on the wait list.

    Today, wait lister #2462 Chrissy (@th4ever) got a call and was offered a choice of a few cabins. She was given until Monday to decide. Her options were a choice of a single room, arranged match, or a double with a roommate of her choice. The cabin options were deck 6 for the double room and deck 4 for the single or match.

    Chrissy said she signed up for the wait list with a roomie, but she already got on so she opted for the single. I asked for the double if she would have been allowed to book whomever she wanted or if she had to choose someone already on the wait list. Chrissy said it sounded like she could choose whomever she wanted.

    Please keep me updated if you get a call!

    Have a cruise question? Check out the FAQs!

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    It's March!

    We've finally gotten to March, where the snow melts, the flowers start to grow, and green appears back on the trees. (Or it had better, because I can't take much more winter.) First things first: final payment is due one month from today! As with the November payment, it will be automatically charged to your credit card, so be ready.

    Here's what else I expect from March:
    1. Lots more people will cancel. The upcoming payment for many is "the big one," with lots of people owing $1000 or more. This may finally be the reality check some cruisers need, and with summer shows announced, they may not be so upset about missing the boat.

    2. Those that cancel will probably find replacements on their own. The cancellation penalty is now up to 50%, and after April 9 it becomes no refund at all. Few people will be okay with losing out on $700+, so I expect to see lots of vacancies up for grabs that side-step the wait list.

    3. We won't find out what the themes are. I'm hoping to be wrong on this, but I'm not expecting to hear anything until April.

    4. We will find out if there's a pre-party. This may be wishful thinking, but I'm somewhat basing it on @krisfitz7's info that Danny promised to announce a pre-party "in a few weeks" a few weeks ago. I'd be surprised if the party doesn't happen since it's such a great fundraising opportunity.
    In a month we'll find out if I got any of this right. What do you think? What are your predictions for March cruise news?

    p.s. Just another reminder: final payment due one month from today!

    Have a cruise question? Check out the FAQs!