I’m not stupid. I knew the Norwegian lady at the travel show was there to sell me a trip. Since I’d already booked my cruise she’d have to be nice to me, but she’d also be looking over my shoulder to see what other prospects there might be.
So I fudged a little. I told her I was thinking about Norwegian, but as a fan of traditional cruising, I wasn’t sure I could enjoy the experience I wanted with free-style. (Well…I am thinking about Norwegian – I just didn’t tell her I was already booked.)
I could tell she’d answered this question a few times before. I hadn’t challenged her very much. But as we chatted, she realized I loved cruising and she might be able to sell me something. She focused on convincing me free-style cruising is about doing it your way, and for many people, that still means elegantly. She reassured me it was OK to dress up for dinner, especially at the specialty restaurants. I’m glad, because for me, dressing up is one of the things I go on cruises for. I’m still not happy you have to pay for premium dining venues, but they have to make a buck somehow and the price point for the cruise had been very low.
When I narrowed my interest to the Epic, she warned me it’s a high energy ship. ”Think Las Vegas at sea,” she suggested. I could do all the relaxing I wanted out on my balcony, but she advised me, once I stuck my head outside my stateroom door, I needed to be ready for excitement. The specialty restaurants got another plug and she listed the Las-Vegas-style entertainment: Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams, Legends and Second City.
Then she began to reel me in. She talked about adult-only pools, the spa and suggested I could really enhance my enjoyment of the cruise by booking a suite. Don’t you just bet I could? She handed me a beautiful brochure in heavy white stock, stamped in gold. Inside, the pages of lovely photographs and delicious prose, were separated by gold-stamped parchment with a pinstripe texture. Believe me, I want to book a Haven suite and who knows, someday I might, but I’m going to take the free-styling plunge before I book a suite. I’m more certain I’ll enjoy the cruise than I was at first, but I reserve the right to make my mind up about free-styling until I’ve actually experienced it.
Honesty being the best policy, the Norwegian rep decided there was one more thing she should warn me about on the Epic. The bathroom facilities are not exactly private. Oh, you don’t share them with other staterooms or anything, but the walls are frosted glass. When you enter your stateroom, the glassed-in shower is on one side and the glassed-in toilet is on the other. The sink is in plain sight. You can put a curtain between you and your roommate, but if room service comes while someone is showering, you better be a little bit of a voyeur.
So you know what a good salesperson does with bad news? They turn it into a selling opportunity. As if it had just occurred to her, the nice Norwegian lady, paused and suggested that it might be a good idea for me to book a suite, since their bathrooms did have actual walls. Imagine! I’m thinking this toileting peek show might be meeting with some resistance and won’t be featured on future ships.
Leaving the Norwegian table I realized it was time for a seminar, but that’s enough cruising for today. Come back next week and I’ll tell you the exciting things I learned Royal Caribbean is up to in the seminar. And how about you – what’s your favorite cruise line and why?