Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cruise: The Suite

We started the day with our second breakfast at Eggs 'N things, again luckily arriving just before the big line ups.

The Cross-Cultural Research Conference was over by noon, and we were off to the cruise portion of our trip. Woohoo!

Now, as mentioned previously, the whole idea of adding a cruise to our trip came up when Mary tried to book the Superferry to one of the other islands, the idea being that we would work at Wiakiki, and then keep our vacation portion psychologically separate by going to a completely different island. But the Superferry had been forced to cease operations while environmental impact studies were undertaken, so looking around for alternatives, Mary found a bargin curise offer. Well, we rather liked the idea of checking into one additional hotel, and then having it move from island to island while we slept so we could get a really good sampling of Hawaii. And Mary had always wanted to go on a cruise, so I agreed that that would be a very suitable way for us to spend our 10th anniversary.

[Between you and me, this was a huge relief because it is my understanding that the male is supposed to do the anniversary planning, and I am completely hopeless at this sort of thing. I had bought the Dummies Guide to Cruises about a year before thinking that that might be a nice surprise gift for our anniversary (shamelessly stealing the idea from a colleague) and was thinking about the Disney cruise, but in hiding the book from Mary, had completely lost it and the idea until about October, at which point Mary already had Hawaii pretty much worked out. Given my previous track record on significant birthdays and anniversaries, had the Hawaiian option not presented itself, I’m guessing we would have pretty much have ended up with the Family Deal at our local Tim Horton’s. Oh, wait, Tim Horton’s doesn’t have a family deal. Well, something. Um, our anniversary is December 16th for sure, though, right?]

So Mary discussed various heavily researched options with me and we agreed to go for the additional expense of an outside room with a window as opposed to a porthole or an inside cabin with no view, given various bloggers’/reviewer’s comments about claustrophobia and so on. Mary chose the queen sized bed with two fold down bunk bed option to accommodate all of us.

And then….having booked the room, the travel agent phoned with an upsell: Would we be interested in an upgrade from our current cabin to a larger one with a balcony for $X. Mary explained that upsells were a standard procedure in the cruise business, and that it was common for people to sit by the phone hoping for a call offering an upgrade to the next level or occasionally a couple of levels, for half or less of the usual differential. Well, suspicious though I generally am of bait and switch marketing, it sounded like a significant improvement, and what the hell, it was our 10th anniversary and we had promised not to buy other anniversary gifts or significant Christmas gifts this year, so I told her to go for it.

Main room, showing hideabed, seating, big screen TV, corner of Queen bed (588 square feet)

It was only when the phrase “your butler” entered the conversation that we began to appreciate just how good a deal we had gotten. They had bumped us up not the usual one or two levels, but twelve (from Category N on deck 4 to Category AD on deck 10). The only level higher than the one we were now in is the “owner’s suite”, and it isn’t available for four people, so this was as high as it was possible for us to go. And way beyond what we would have been prepared to pay, 10th anniversary or no.

kids on main bed; birthday decorations are for my birthday which fell on the trip, as did our 10th anniversary
When Mary showed me the comparison on the ship's website, I couldn’t believe it. Well, I couldn’t believe I had agreed to the original room when she showed me the picture (click on "virtual tour" for "category N" bottom of the page), because I hadn’t appreciated that “queen bed” translated as “no actual floor space left” or that “fold down bed” meant “fold down over top of the queen bed” so your face is two feet from bottom of kid’s bunk. That original cabin looked very much tinnier in the photo than I had visualized when Mary said it. But as for the room we got!

'study/work' area

Our balcony which was actually larger than our originally booked cabin (188 square feet to 144) (And as previously mentioned, ignore date stamp on photos-- I was using a new camera and hadn't yet figured out how to change the date or turn stamp off.)

Walk-in closet/luggage area

Corner of the bathroom; basically big as any hotel bathroom with full bath/shower, separate toilet stall (not shown).
For a virtual tour click on category AD "Penthouse suite" -- the room shown differed from ours only in being reversed left to right and having a regular coffee machine instead of our (supposed) upgraded expresso machine.

Along with the upgraded suite came upgraded status... as residents of the suite, we automatically got our own boarding times, so when we showed up at the ship, we bypassed the huge line-up to board, and went directly to a special counter where, after being efficiently processed, we were introduced to our butler.... Pretty sweet! We also got to book reservations for any night in any of the upgraded resturants, in comparison to normal folks who could only book two nights we were able to get everything we wanted when we wanted without issue. And so on. Nice to see how the other half (well, half of one percent) live.

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