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After a few years, booked another cruise--what options for internet now?

Discussion in 'Princess Cruises' started by kymbakitty, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    Hi all....it's been a long time. I used to live by this board and was very happy it was still in existence! This will be our 12th cruise, but we haven't cruised for six years.

    Our 11th cruise was an awful experience--we walked off the ship on the first day it hit land....walked away from $5,000, but there were an unprecedented 600+ kids on board and it was a record and was even touted as a new record set (Celebrity was TOTALLY unprepared to deal with it...the thalassotherapy pool (sp?) looked like a kiddie pool and it was a madhouse and no one could do anything about it (kids in bathing suits running through the Olympic Fine Dining restaurant--poor waiters...they looked like they were going to have a heart attack...5 people with the "dad" sleeping out on his balcony next to our 8181 cabin (I remember our cabin because I had booked it for the extra large balcony for a special birthday). All I saw every morning were his feet hanging over the edge of the lounger.

    Anyway, it was our decision and I wasn't expecting anything back. We stayed in St. Marteen for the next 7 days, and make lemonade out of lemons.

    I transferred to another position and started traveling 50-70% of the time so I racked up quite a few points so we started to do land vacations--Budapest, Amsterdam, Barbados, Ireland, London, Rome, Sorrento, Hawaii (more times than I can count) and we just returned from Australia. So....this will be our first (12th) cruise in a long time.

    We chose the Grand Princess for a couple of reasons. We always vacation for at least two weeks, no matter where we go. So, that always involved washing clothes and Princess always has self serve washer/dryers on board. I know, most people could care less. We had a lot of fun going to local laundromats in various countries--believe it or not. We always felt the food was a notch above Royal Caribbean. Although we did go on a 14 day Panama Canal cruise on the Carnival Spirit (brand new back then) and we thought the food was FABULOUS....especially in the Joe's Stone Crab Speciality restaurant--went 4 times. That ship actually exceeded every expectation and then some.

    But back to the Grand....as beautiful as she was, even many years ago, she was never an option because she could never fit in all of the ports on the itineraries we chose. We've only been on one short cruise (first one--7 day Eastern--the good ol' Splendour of the Seas--back then, she didn't even have balconies--now husband wouldnt' even go on a cruise if you offered it to him for free w/out one--oh how times have changed). But most of our cruises have been transatlantic and/or panamal canal cruises--we are one of those odd couples that LOVE sea days and actually do spend quite a bit of time on our balcony.

    So, finally, we decided to give cruising another try.....saw the Grand had a fabulous 14 night Caribbean cruise (March 26), that, while port intensive, there are actually a couple of ports that we have not been to and would like to visit. Got a great room, I hope (E729)....we love aft cabins, but didn't want to pay for a full suite and while the other aft cabins typically have much larger balconies, we really do like about 250 sq. feet, not including the balcony...especially for 14 days. So we got as close to "aft" as possible, still giving us ample balcony and cabin room.

    Here is the deal....lot's of things have changed and while I once said, "I will never have a computer at home....I work with one all day long, why would I....", I also thought the same about carrying a laptop. Now, we don't go anywhere without it and we have found it to be the absolute best source of information anywhere/everywhere we travel (no guidebooks, telephone books or phones needed anymore!).

    Trust me, I do not work on this laptop--it is for our pleasure. And now I'm thinking about this 14 night cruise and wondering how do I get wifi? I suspect I should just check with our internet carrier (Comcast) or our cell phone carrier (AT&T) to get some sort of networking card, but I thought I would reintroduce myself (Hi Einstein....glad to see a familiar name!) and see if there aren't some quick answers to this...I can't possibly be the only one thinking about this and I can't imagine NOT being able to access the internet from our balcony....hubby getting some sun....wife with beer/wine in hand....playing a few songs for hubby...checking to see when he is referring again (ice hockey--go figure--in California)...sending a few pictures to my best friend back home, etc.

    Anyway, I understand the "Grand" is not so "Grand" anymore and that breaks my heart. We've been on the Dawn and the Diamond and both were fabulous...we always thought that they were just a cut above RCCL. HAL was nice too...but we both were pulled to return to Princess (trust me, hubby will never go on another Celebrity...he's pretty stuck in his ways on that issue).

    Any info appreciated....looking forward to meeting a few of you (hello iluvcrusin!!!!---remember "Babe"?).

    Thanks to everyone for maintaining such loyalty to this board so it is still available after all these years!!!

  2. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Hi Dawn,


    You've missed an awlful lot in the last 6 years in the industry. Whole new experience.
    Your Celeb experience sounds just terrible. Must have been spring break, or holidays, no other explanation. They rarely have kids on board.

    I just posted a new review of the Grand. You can find it here

    I tried the Ruby less than a year ago, and wasn't very impressed. I found Celebrity was much better. Having said that, I don't think you'll find ANY mainstream line is up to what it was 6 years ago.

    Maybe Joanne and Beryl can tell you what is the best of the Princess ships in 2009. :whistle:
  3. Calgon1

    Calgon1 Awaiting results of mental evaluation

    Ahoy Dawn!

    Before I get to your Internet question, something ConnieMC mentioned...
    Excellent point, and one I'm sure had major impact on the number of children and college age passengers who contributed to
    The time frame you're looking at will also be Spring Break. So ....

    Now, to address the Internet. Fixed and WiFi are readily available. Speeds are very slow (compared to the broadband speeds you're used to w/Comcast - You'll be getting a couple thousand baud, at best). Rates are fairly steep also. You'll have to buy time in pre-packaged bundles, at rates of between $.55 and $.75 per minute. There is no refund for unused minutes. As far as getting a "networking card" ... are you referring to one of those plug-ins that allow you to get Wi-Fi anywhere? If so, I believe that those work off either the cellular or satellite network. Regardless, All cell calls on the ship are picked up by the ship's cell antenna (the nearest one to your phone/lap-top) and routed to satellite transmission. The cruise line does not charge you directly for this (on your onboard account) but, rather they charge the satellite time (around $9.75/minute) to your cellular provider who, in turn pass the costs on to you, in your next regular bill. - Ouch!

    If you're just going to use the lap-top as an electronic journal, or to download from your digital camera, then enjoy. No charge.

    Again, welcome home. We missed you.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  4. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    One more internet point, I found particularly upsetting.

    Once you buy your package, you cannot upgrade to another package. I'm sure people are sick of me saying "when I sailed Celebrity"...but another thing I wasn't used to.

    So I bought the 100 minute package for a 12 day sailing, decided to upgrade it after day 3 or 4, and was told sorry, you are paying for the 100 minute and then have to buy another package.

    I ended up paying "as you go" after the 100 minutes @85 cents are so a minute. My internet bill alone was over $200, because I was never informed once I chose a plan, I was stuck with it.

    The per minute prices were higher than they were a year ago. Connections are really not half bad, especially if you're used to the old connections where you could read a chapter of a book while you waited. I found the connections pretty speedy. Satellite only went down once, and I had to request to have the 15 minutes or so the computer locked up, removed from my account. Not done automatically like SOME lines...LOL
  5. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by "you missed an awful lot in the past six years," relative to cruising. Not sure if you are saying it just got better and better or worse....? I would really like your feedback on this. Our final payment is due in January 2010 so if it is that bad, perhaps we need to discuss this more (me and hubby). The last couple of cruises, we increasingly noticed all kinds of things going downhill and we have really great memories of cruising (just that one that we debarked...but we had a blast in St. Marteen)...I'd hate to have them replaced.

    The cruise that had 600+ kids was a fluke. It was a 12 day cruise, and it was smack dab in the middle of August. Yes, I am fully aware that June/July/August is when people travel with their children; however, I had many of my fears put to rest because 1) it was a Celebrity cruise and typically, does not attract that many kids and 2) parents cruising with kids typically don't go on the cruises longer than 4-7 days because it is too difficult to get away that long. My husband believes that they had a 3rd/4th birth for little or no money toward the last month or so before the cruise and it was cheaper to take the kids!

    The kids, according to the Captain's announcement, were between 6 months and 17 years old. So it wasn't the college kids....I can't even explain it. The problem was that Celebrity was NOT equipped to handle them so they didn't have staff or programs. It's not the kids' fault...but it was just awful. Awful enough for us to pack our stuff and get off the ship and not turn back!

    I was wondering though....given the economy and all, perhaps as "affordable" of a vacation this is for people of all walks of life, just maybe it's kind of going back to where it once was where EVERYONE in the world can NOT afford this type of vacation--but if your statement about missing a lot in the past six years was more negative, them I'm thinking I am way off in my thinking. I don't want this to be a class issue, we simply are not attracted toward the type of vacation/ambience where there are a lot of children (i.e., you will never run into us as Disneyland). We are big kids at heart....love to zipline, thrilled to no end that we were able to walk to the top of Chitzenita (sp?) before they closed it off to the public (what a bummer...you couldn't keep us from climbing that ruin!), hike, scuba, I run 4-5 days a week and my husband, at age 61, still referees ice hockey between 8-12 games a week! So we are very active and love a great challenge, but we do better around seniors as opposed to small children....just not an ambience we are attracted to (sorry--not kid haters...just not our chosen ambience).

    Anyway, I am interested in hearing a little more about the "wow....what you missed" in the cruise industry over the past six years. I wouldn't change anything about the countries we've visited over the past six years...we have had some priceless memories and it was just a change for us because I started earning points. Holding a koala and touching a kangaroo, and seeing a "joey" in the belly of a kangaroo is priceless as well, so are we making a mistake?

  6. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Hi Dawn,

    Well, as you accurately pointed out, the demographic has changed significantly. And like yourself, I do not wish to be politically incorrect, but yes, cruising now attracts the $79 a day all inclusive vacation/smuggle booze on board/spend nothing mindset.

    This was by design. The cruiselines IMO figured they were running out of people with money, the US economy was tanking, and they had billions of dollars to pay with the megaships they were building and are now floating out.

    So, they changed the whole direction of cruising. The quality and service changed as the cost cutting measures were slowly implemented over the last few years. Nickle and diming became widespread, as did "in your face" marketing on board. They now charge (and push) bottled water, the specialty restaurants, etc. Dress codes have been thrown out the window and "anytime" dining is all the rage.

    This new strategy has given them what they desired. High bookings and tons of first time cruisers sleeping 4 in a cabin. They are hiring lesser quality staff, as they have no choice. They needs tens of thousands of new crew to "man" the new megaships. I personally know some really BAD musicians (fortunately they don't read this board - ha) who easily got first time contracts the last couple years with Celebrity. There just isn't enough talent to go around.

    I had hoped originally it would only affect the "lesser" lines, but it is widespread throughout the industry, with the exception of the small luxury lines. And who knows? Maybe they'll be next.

    Dawn, please bear in mind the above is my opinion only, as a cruiser since 1976. I've cruised HAL and Celebrity most heavily, but have also boarded Carnival, RCCL and Princess. So I think I have a pretty good handle on it.

    I went through all the stages of grief - from denial to getting angry and praying things would go back to "the good old days'. I'm now in acceptance. When cruising "died" IMO, I lost a treasured friend. What I do now, which helped me enormously, if you read my review, is completely throw out any "expectations" of fine cruising and just go with the flow. I won't be cruising anymore for the on board experience. IMO that is ancient history in 2010 and beyond. If I want to go to particular destinations, I might still consider sailing there. For a single destination, I will stick the land vacations. I'm currently looking into hotels in Mykonos and Santorini for next year. I'd rather be in place I love with like minded people and have a great time. But the echoes of the ocean breaking on the hull will forever be a wonderful memory.

    I still think an August sailing on Celebrity with that many kids (don't like 'em either - feel that's why they have Disney Line), was highly unusual and feel sorry for the poor crew. As you said, Celeb is ill equpped for such things. My December sailing on Princess had the same issue to a lesser degree and I took things into my own hands. By the time I got done with them, the parents were not allowing them to run around unsupervised. ''Nuf said. But who needs that stress? And who needs to feel miserable being surrounded by people with no clue have to behave properly or respect the tradtions of cruising? Not me. But that's okay...Carnival and RCCL stock isn't suffering because little ole Connie is pissed off and not coming back. I was hoping there would be enough of us to change things back a bit, but I've given up and threw in the towel.

    Now, having said all that Dawn, you can still have a great cruise. You just have to lower your expectations, expect changes on board and make the best of it. If the ship is going somewhere you really want to see, and you can adapt to the "new age of cruising" you should be fine. I wrote this after getting off Princess late year, just to vent.

    I don't know you well enough to know if you can make the best of things and look at the bright side and laugh off the negative changes. Only you can make that decision. Hope my input helped.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  7. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    You give me "cause for pause," so I need to sit down with hubby and talk to him about this and see if he would rather walk away from $200 than to take the chance with a cruise that last 14 nights.

    And I do appreciate your honesty on this, even though we are probably not being 100% PC. But I do want to tell you that we didn't just throw our hands up in the air and walk away from $5,000 without trying to do something about it. When I tell you that the thalassotherapy pool was a "kiddie" pool, this is not overstating this. It was of such magnitude that the staff were overwhelmed and even with the number of people complaining, and trust me, we were in good company, the staff as well as security basically told everyone that was complaining that the "parents" could not be located (I think many parents dropped their children off there knowing there would always be someone older to keep an 'eye' on them). It was not an easy decision to walk away from that kind of money. It was a HUGE decision to leave the ship early because we had many things that had to fall into place to make this work. We had to find a place to stay for 7 nights....go to the airport to see if they even flew out to FLL (we had already book a FLL to SMF flight with a hotel night prior to the flight)...we had to see if we could rent a car, and this all had to be done in time for us to be able to return to the ship, pack (and we had a lot of stuff...tuxedo, two gowns, a case of beer that I liked and a case of Martinelli's Sparking Cider, and 3 bottles of wine [this was back when there were places that contracted with the ship to make deliveries--I understand those are gone now also]....and my husband is not a "spur of the moment" type of guy. So this was an environment that was so ridiculous, we both knew it was better to walk from $5k than to be absolutely miserable and stay on the cruise. Anyway, just to let you know there was much to consider and it was not a decision that was made or taken lightly.

    Have most of your cruises been 14+ days? I'm guessing they have....I wonder if there is a difference between the short cruises (7 days) and the longer ones (12+). I just wonder if the folks that the shorter cruises attract (again, I know I'm not being PC), are also attracted to a cruise of that length? Many people cannot even concieve being on a ship that long. My husband won't go on one shorter than 12 though.....any thoughts on this? I do think it is difficult to compare folks that go on the 4-7 day cruises with the one that go on the 14+....it's not easy for the typical family to get away for that long. Just curious.

  8. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Well, again, the old rule of thumb - the longer the cruise, the older the pax - isn't necessarily valid any longer with the deeply discounted prices.

    Most of my cruises over the years were 7 days. Never less! Gawd, I can only IMAGINE what I'd find on a 3-4 night cruise. LOL. It's only been the last few years I started with the 12-14 day cruises, because I got "hooked" on the difference. I LOVE the longer cruises, as they would allow true bonding and friendship amongst your fellow passengers, as well as becoming genuine friends with crew members. Also love not feeling "rushed" to see and do everything on the ship in just a week. And of course, if you're traveling overseas, you need the extra days to make it worthwhile.

    But again, those reasons have all changed with anytime dining, automatic tipping, etc.

    I'd say go with your gut, decide what level of tolerance you have for less than expected quality and service and do what's best for the two of you. If it were me, (being a stubborn Irishman) I'd want to see for myself.
  9. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    Well, I suspect that is true if time and money were no object!!! There is also a difference between being out right stubborn and when that crosses the line to just plain foolishness.

    Spending 14 nights on a cruise ship when you have been fully warned by, what seems to be, like-minded travelers may just fall under the latter category!

    I don't know....we have this month to decide. My husband has a very low tolerance for flat out ignorant behavior...but he does spend a lot of time relaxing on his balcony (his favorite place to be). I'm the "social" one and do the fun things.

    The food seems to be a bit of a letdown. My husband would not eat powered eggs if that was the only thing left on the planet. He does not eat margarine (butter only), but I think he would love the picture of the speciality cafe with all the pastries (funny, someone said it was just a waste of space for "donuts"). My husband does not eat donuts but loves really good speciality pastry and if the picture I saw on this board is actually what is in the shelves (if this bakery/cafe is even on the Grand...not even sure)...then he would be a very happy guy in this department!

    We'll have to sit down and think about this....we have until Jan 10th to make our decision. Walking away from $200 is nothing compared to having a horrible 14 night experience on a cruise ship when we had been FULLY WARNED of what to expect--now that would be down right stupid, not stubborn.

    Thanks for the information.

  10. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    The scrambled eggs were powdered. There ARE other selections for breakfast, of course. Runny fried eggs, burnt bacon, really bad fresh toast, etc. (LOL, sorry I have to be honest).

    I would have been happy with just a bagel and juice, but again, the bagels were so stale and burnt....the "pastries" are "okay". There are NOT Cova Cafe level, like Celebrity used to be. They taste like a pastry you would get in a diner for breakfast. But hey - it was the best I could get, so I ate a couple every morning. Again, tons of fresh fruit galore, if you like fruit for breakfast. You can't ruin fruit!

    But you know what Dawn? This could totally have been a Grand issue...as I stated the Ruby had FAR better buffet fare, and I was always able to find something decent to eat, since I couldn't have fixed seating, I ate all my meals at the buffet.

    Problem with a 14 day Carib cruise, is you aren't going to be dining in fine European restaurants ashore...you tend to rely on the ship for good meals. Hmmm.

    What about just switching your deposit to another 14 day Princess cruise on a newer ship with a better reputation? For that matter, since Carnival owns them all, perhaps you can switch your deposit to a HAL ship (much better!)?

    Let us know what you decide. I would also invest in a 20 minute phone call to customer service explaining what your priorities are and asking for recommendations. If you get an experienced person on the phone, they WILL help you, as long as you make it clear you're not stupid and don't want to hear how all the ships are wonderful...you need clarity on specific issues. GOOD LUCK

    ps - the Grand does not have the cafe. It's facilities are far smaller and less options than Ruby class
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  11. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    There is not an option to transfer our booking. If you notice, we only had a $200 deposit, total, which is far less than the $900 deposit that would have normally been required on a 14-night cruise.

    If we cancel, we'll just have to "eat" the $200. But we'll just have to sit down and go over our itinerary and our expectations in general.

    I always wanted to experience one of these bigger ships but given our itineraries, they were never an option. Maybe I didn't miss out on much...especially given the age of the Grand Princess.

    Oh well.....


  12. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Ahhh, a ghost booking. I never do them.

    Please don't get me wrong - I would never advocate a 3000+ passenger ship...ever. Ruby was very large. I prefer 1800 or so, which is why I did so many sailings on M Class with Celebrity.

    I'd still be sailing them, but they all but banned smoking. Deal breaker for me, so tried Princess. Now I see yesterday Conde Nast has Princess rated BELOW Royal Carribean (wow!) and far down below Celebrity and HAL. If I were sailing in 2010, I would try HAL since I smoke. No more Princess for me, thanks. Besides, rumor mill has it HAL demographic of 80 and over has been changing, since the thousands of Celeb smokers needed to find sailings with similar quality - rumor also had it many went to Princess - but I think that will be short lived as the quality just isn't there.

    For a non-smoker, I'd say HAL and Celeb are neck and neck.

    Just start all over again - go to a main cruise booking website and see what ships are available for your dates and destinations. I always do that first to narrow my choices down. Once I pick a sailing, I book direct with the line.

    You sound like you don't want to be unhappy, so don't be!! Find one you can feel great about and be excited for!! Good luck Dawn :)
  13. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Hey Dawn!!

    I've just decided - after reading this and doing some research, it seems the cruise line I started with when I was 16, will be the one I end up with.


    Booking late summer to Bermuda. Love the amenities, all phillipino crew, smoking policies and love Bermuda. Plus HAL has jumped up in rankings above Celebrity and WAY above Princess. AND, the demographic is changing (for sure -did the research) to a more mixed age crowd.
  14. Jeanie

    Jeanie Well-Known Member

    Have a great time on your cruise. Do not sweat the small stuff, it will ruin your cruise
  15. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Hi Jeanie, if I sweated the small stuff, I would have stopped cruising a long time ago!;)
  16. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    I don't know what you mean by a "ghost booking." But the $200 was worth it for us to take the chance.

    It's funny how you state that the 80+ folks that smoke are looking elsewhere because they can't smoke on Princess....isn't that an oxymoron? How many 80 year old smokers are left?

    Actually, the fact that Princess has just one or two places left for smoking is actually a draw to us...can't stand the smell. If I smell it too early in the a.m. (especially before I've had a chance to eat), I can actually throw up.

    Also, I've been reading the Princess Forum on tripadvisor.com. There are so many (recent) positive trip reviews on the Grand....we are still looking at this...some that have been on her and keep coming back (they like her so much).

    Traveling with a bunch of seniors was never a turn off. We'd assume be in their company any day of the week. And with a 14 night cruise on Princess, I am not expecting too many kids.

  17. Conniemc

    Conniemc Active Member

    Dawn, you change your mind so much I can't keep up :shrug:

    Anyway, a ghost booking is what Princess calls it when you pay a reduced desposit on board for a cruise of your choice in the future. It's non transferrable. There are hundreds of threads on the topic.

    I don't remember the over 80 HAL group being compared with smoking. Must have misunderstood, or I typed it oddly. Although I think I read somewhere that less than 12% of smokers actually die as a direct result of smoking, so I'm sure there are a lot of over 80 smokers. I think it more be more appropriate to call it an oxymoron that people over 80 are obese. That kills far more people than smoking.
    Don't know when I ever said I had a problem cruising with seniors either, Dawn. I think you're completely misunderstanding my posts.

    I don't like the smell of stale smoke either - strangely enuf. I keep my veranda open when I smoke to dissipate the smell. I love fresh air.

    ANYWAY, God forbid we start a smoking debate here, so do whatever you want!!

    Over and OUT. Ciao!

    ps - TripAdvisor uses Cruise Critics reviews, which is owned by a travel agency. Your really looking at the crusie critic website.
  18. kymbakitty

    kymbakitty Well-Known Member

    Hum....not sure why you stated I change my mind so much you can't keep up. Say what? Seriously? All I said was that I've been reading some other boards and was happy to read some very positive reviews. (I know cruise critic is tripadivsor...there are both member reviews and agency reviews.)

    So what did I change my mind on...? I've been stating that me and my husband need to sit down and make a decision but that we had until January 10th....that hasn't changed...actually, nothing has...other than I've been purusing various websites to get other cruiser's reviews besides yours. Odd.

    You are absolutely correct about the obese reference. To see an 80 year old that is obese is a sight to behold because it is very atypical that they live that long. And I don't want to get into a smoking debate either....but smoking is still the #1 cause of premature death. It just is.....sorry. Obesity is up there with it though. My husband used to always say, "smoking kills.....just ask George Burns."

    I just made the statement that I enjoy traveling with seniors...the older the better...not referring to you saying anything one way or the other.

    This is the problem with email. You can type an email and someone can read it entirely different than the spirit in which it was written. I've seen some crazy things occur due to a poorly written email or one that could have used a proofer. So I apologize in advance if my email was taken in any other way than the spirit it was intended. Email hazard....


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