Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Premium All(most) Inclusive

This is a rant that may get resolved, would be nice, but even if it is it still has left a slightly bitter taste.

As I said, we have booked a cruise. This is the best suite on the ship, and a "premium all inclusive" trip on the Norwegian Jade. What it includes is amazing! booze, one bottle of water each, all sorts.

It includes, it said, "free wifi". However the site is hard to navigate and harder still to get the list of benefits when booking as this suite is booked up on most cruises so it won't show it. There is a clue though, go to https://www.ncl.com and put "free wifi" in the search (just click here). Yes, lots have "1. FREE Unlimited Open Bar 2. FREE Specialty Dining 3. FREE Shore Excursion Credits 4. FREE WiFi" and over 1200 pages say "Free wifi"...

When you actually book the stateroom, it says: "This stateroom also includes free open bar, speciality dining package, shore excursion credits, and free WiFi package for all 3+ day cruises."

Now, we found their internet packages page (here) which has several "minutes" based packages, but also some "ultimate cruise package" which are a per day rate for whole cruise from when you buy it. The page lacks a lot of details, and there are places they say "unlimited" not "ultimate" that we found. But they do packages which are basically WiFi, all day, every day, on the cruise. So naturally this is what we assumed we would get for "free wifi".

We actually booked at the travel agent and that was by phone and they confirmed "free wifi" with NCL.

It is worth pointing out, we are not going to spend a cruise sat on the internet! But all three of us are running companies, and the stress of not being connected when something does go (or might have gone) wrong would spoil the cruise for us. We all have some good staff in place to sort things but we are only here running companies because we keep our finger on the pulse, so to speak.

Turns out that the "premium all inclusive" is not quite as we expected! The internet access is one 250 minute credit. 250 minutes is about 2% of the cruise.

What is worse is that looking at the pricing, what they are throwing in (250 minutes) is something they charge around $100 less than what we expected (wifi all day every day), on a cruise costing over $20,000.

Now, it won't be a big issue, that extra $100 is peanuts in context, but it kind of spoils the whole "premium all inclusive" package to be stingy on that and makes us all think "what the hell else will they try to stitch us up on?". OK, not quite RyanAir levels of charge for use of life boats, but who knows what?...

It amazes me they have not just made it actually "free wifi" on their "premium all inclusive" packages. Hardly "all inclusive" if it covers 2% of the cruise, is it? Maybe they need a rethink.

16 comments:

  1. Guessing it's a Satellite data link with WiFi distribution, which will be capacity constrained and so they certainly should never claim it's unlimited.

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  2. The WiFi is listed at $29.99 _per day_ so it would be just shy of $240 for an 8-day cruise but I agree it is odd that they do not offer "4 free days" which would be "worth" the same as the 250 minute package that they do bundle in. I suspect that is is a psychological play to discourage use a bit.

    Unfortunately when they say "free WiFi" it is clear that they mean "some of the WiFi is free", not "there is some WiFi and it is free".

    In fact the "all inclusive" deal is not that "all inclusive". As you have noted they offer just one 1-litre bottle of water in the suite per guest per day and although there are "free drinks" it is just $15 worth per day - I'll bet at on-board prices you might be pushed to get two drinks for $15.

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    1. That is interesting. I wonder where this "FREE Unlimited Open Bar" is then. The package we have does not seem to fit with the descriptions we read before booking. Very odd.

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    2. Actually, re-reading it the $15 is probably a per-drink limit. The actual text is "...spirits, bottled or draft beer, wines by the glass and cocktails of up to US $ 15 as well as light beer, soft drinks and juices. 18% gratuity included."

      The next paragraph says that it does not cover drinks over $15 - so it might be unlimited provided you don't go for rare & expensive single malts.

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    3. I agree, it does look like $15 per drink. Well spotted.

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  3. > one bottle of water each

    I suppose you might need to water down the whisky occasionally...

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  4. Well, we are determined not to let this get us down. Just a disappointing start to have such misleading statements on the web site and then be let down.

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  5. Maybe time for a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority :)?

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  6. Free wifi means you don't have to pay to connect to it. If you want to send any data, then you pay. We almost booked an apartment in South Africa that has free wifi but we also found they were selling wifi vouchers. The "free" wifi included 50MB. They lost the booking.

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  7. River cruises have free wifi and really mean it. I guess it's easier with 3G, but one I went on had satellite for rural areas as back up and it was still completely free all cruise.

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  8. Unfortunately all the cruise companies I have sailed with (Never been on a truly 6* line yet) have this same "lets screw every last penny out of our guests" attitude without exception. However when paying for a huge suite costing 20 large, I think you have been badly let down by their stinginess and I would be equally upset.

    Hopefully a visit to the CS desk has resolved it by now and you can get on with having a fabulous time.

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    1. River cruises are generally the opposite, most of them are all inclusive. I've been on one and am going on another, and for both the price includes all of: excursions, tips, wifi, meals, alcohol, butler service. There's an exception for champagne and the most expensive vintage wines and spirits, but apart from that when they say all inclusive they really mean it. Laundry was extra last time, some laundering is included free this time.

      Viking Ocean Cruises are new and coming in with the river cruise approach, it's fully inclusive and you have to be over 18 to even go on the cruise.

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  9. RCCL have updated most of their ships (All?) to use the O3B LEO satelite service and now offer 'unlimited' wifi based on the number of devices connecting and also a QoS. I've used both their old v-sat stuff (which I can't remeber who provided it, it wasnt Hughes Net, but it was a similar name?) which was painful sub 64kbit per stream and upwards of 1.5seconds latency.
    The new o3b stuff, is much nicer, 250-300mS latency and about 10Mbit/s per stream.

    For a single device it about $13 / day for a 'surf' QoS (about 1Mbit/s) and $17 / day for a 'surf and stream' QoS, there is usually a discount for additional devices - which they deem as a single MAC address logged in at once - you may be able to fool this with using a AP & Station with some routing and mangling of the TTL - but that's frowned upon :)

    If you booked this in the UK however, I'm pretty sure that ABTA or equivelent would have a few things to say about this. Also, being a villa/suite stateroom guest, your concierge (i think this is in the "haven" on NCL) should be able to ensure that you get some compensation or even free wifi for this, not that this fixes the fact that they've been telling porky pies!

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