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Everything posted by annieuk

  1. I've been on the St. Kitts Railway Trip twice, we enjoyed it so much the first time when we visited St. Kitts again we decided we'd do it again. Our journey was a little different from yours. At the time we did the trip some passengers were taken straight to the train and did the coach part after the train ride whereas we did the coach journey round part of the island first and were then taken to the train. We were transported on an air conditioned coach, very comfortable and there was a video of the Train Journey left on our seat as a gift. We boarded the train and sat up top where the sides of the carriage are open. There was enough breeze so we didn't feel too hot - and believe me if anyone's going to complain of being too hot it's me! Drinks were brought round to our seats and I have fond memory of a banana daiquiri which was delicious. We enjoyed the journey and it was a Saturday and at various places children were alongside waving at us. Then three young women appeared to sing to us. They went from carriage to carriage. They told us they were from a local church. I think everyone in the carriage was amazed when they proceeded to sing. 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini!' It seemed so incongruous hearing that song while sitting on a slow old sugar train going round a Caribbean island, sipping a banana daiquiri, listening to those women from a local church. We loved it. As I said we enjoyed the whole journey so much that a few years later we did the whole thing again. I think we were on Azura. We last visited St. Kitts on Aurora back in 2018 but that time we concentrated on shopping as we needed gifts to take back home.
  2. If you were booking an expensive cruise and failed to have insurance once you paid the balance then if, for example, you were unfortunate to have an accident and say break your leg and would be unable to travel, if you didn't have insurance in place you would lose your money. P&O wouldn't allow you to transfer your cruise once the final balance has been paid. This happened to me when I broke my ankle after paying the final balance on a cruise from Southampton. Luckily I had insurance in place, I asked if I could transfer to the same itinerary the following year but was told I couldn't and had to claim on my insurance, which I did and got back even the car parking fee I had paid to CPS. Pre Covid my husband and I were on a 30 night cruise to Canada/USA and my husband developed worrying symptoms when we were approaching Canada. To cut a long story short, we were told he had to go to hospital in Newfoundland to have a scan and it would depend on the doctor as to whether we would be allowed back on the ship. We had to pack up our cabin in case we didn't get back to the ship. The Port Agent was totally useless, we were taken to the hospital by taxi which we had to pay for, and the Agent told me if we needed to fly back home it would be up to our Insurance company to organise the travel and pay for it. Luckily the hospital in St. John's was amazing and we were eventually allowed back on the ship and could continue our cruise. P&O Southampton contacted us and were great and I think if we had had to return home they would have been very helpful. I understand Port Agents are usually extremely helpful, ours was the exception. I can tell you being off the ship with just a suitcase each in the event we had to fly home was incredibly scary. To be in that position with and insurance company you weren't sure off is unimaginable. I too prefer to pay a bit extra and go with a company where I can phone them and talk to a person, preferably in this country and ensure that I have cover in case of any emergency.
  3. To start at the end, no you're not eligible for Epicurean breakfast in a mini suite, you have to be in a full suite. However, you are eligible for early boarding and the Loyalty lunch on boarding. This only applies to Aurora and Arcadia as they are the only ships left with mini suites. I have been in both a suite and a mini suite on Arcadia but it was a long time ago and before suite passengers were given a separate venue for breakfast. We had an aft suite, D deck I think, with a wraparound balcony and enjoyed it. I haven't been in a suite on Aurora but have seen one. They are larger than the mini suites and have more seating room although, quite honestly there's not that much difference between the two. I suppose one main difference is that the Aurora mini suites have a shower over the bath whereas the full suites have a separate shower. The mini suites on Aurora are very spacious with an amazingly shaped dining table that can be pulled out to sit more than two. We used it when we were on the 65 night South American trip as we sometimes played Bridge with some people we met at the free Bridge Lessons on board and we had them as partners for the whole trip. Other than the fact that there's no separate shower I think the mini suites are excellent. We arrived at the Terminal at 12.30, my boarding time. My daughter had been given 2pm. On arrival we went straight to the Assistance people as I was already registered with them, my daughter pushing my wheelchair. Once there a marvellous man called Martin took over. He managed to push my wheelchair and cope with my cabin bag and took us straight to Check in which was accomplished in a flash and then straight through security and on to the ship. Then it was to the Muster station where we checked in and on to my cabin where we dropped our hand luggage. My daughter's balcony cabin was in the adjoining corridor. We then went on to the Priority Lunch. I was entitled to attend this as I am Baltic level and also I was in a mini suite, but it was my daughter's first cruise. It seems slightly odd in that if my daughter had been sharing my mini suite then she too would have been entitled to attend the lunch but as I'd chosen to pay extra for my cabin as a solo passenger and give her a cabin of her own she wasn't entitled. Anyway Martin wheeled me to the restaurant, consulted with the crew member on duty there and we went straight through to a table for two and had a very pleasant lunch which was a fantastic introduction to my daughter's first cruise. Things had changed since I was on Aurora in 2019 in that it was a sit down three course lunch rather than the buffet affair it used to be. I'm sure some people will say we didn't keep to the strict rules as far as the priority lunch was concerned but I feel I certainly paid enough for it. I certainly wouldn't have gone on my own and although I could walk far enough to be able to leave the wheelchair outside the restaurant and walk in I obviously couldn't push my own wheelchair back to my cabin. We enjoyed the cruise and I found both passengers and crew very kind and helpful as far as my wheelchair was concerned. I didn't need it all the time, it depended on how much walking I was intending to do. For example we were at the stern of the ship and we dined in the Alexandria Restaurant, we were on Club Dining. We like to go to Andersons for a drink before dinner which is at the other end of the ship and so I'd have to walk from one end of the ship almost to the other to have a drink and then back to the stern to go to dinner. After dinner if we wanted to go to the Theatre it would be back to the bow again. This may not seem much to many people but when you have Arthritis and walking is uncomfortable, sometimes painful it can be too far, hence the wheelchair. The cruise gave my daughter the opportunity to meet up with a friend who lives on the outskirts of Amsterdam and I stayed on the ship. I'd been to Amsterdam a couple of times before and I wanted to have the chance to be on the ship by myself to see how I felt as it was the first cruise since my husband died in 2020. I will cruise again, hopefully but not on my own. I might buy myself a motorised scooter so I could be more mobile around the ship and not have to rely on someone to push a wheelchair. I have in the past taken a scooter on Ventura which was in a suite so I could take the scooter and store it in the cabin, I didn't have to have an Accessible cabin - I don't need one as far as bathroom facilities are concerned. It was good to be back on Aurora and I would certainly consider going on Arcadia. I'm not sure about the larger ships, although I suppose it wouldn't be so difficult if I had a scooter which I know are the bane of some people's lives but they do allow people like me with walking difficulties still to have a the cruise holiday that they've come to love over the years.
  4. Pre Covid my husband and I had been on over 30 cruises with P&O and enjoyed every one of them. With the introduction of Britannia we had started to look at other lines as it seemed to us that P&O were moving in the direction of every larger ships, especially with the loss of the smaller ships, particularly Adonia and Oceana which we really liked. We had been on both Azura and Ventura and although we enjoyed our cruises on them, only in aft suites, our favourites were still the smaller ships, particularly Aurora in later years. Then came Covid. We had to lose two cruises we'd booked on Saga's Spirit of Discovery. After that my husband died and I only went back on a cruise ship this last Easter, on Aurora accompanied by one of my daughters. Things had changed for me in that I had some walking difficulties and took an ordinary push along wheelchair really for boarding and disembarking due to the walking distances involved. We both really enjoyed our short cruise to Amsterdam. The help from the Assistance people was exceptionally impressive both boarding and disembarking. I'd previously been on Aurora for a 65 night cruise round South America and a 30 night Canada/USA cruise so I know Aurora very well. I was in a mini suite on my own, the same grade cabin I'd been in with my husband. I needed to know if I could cope with that. Looking at the service on the ship which is what many people have said isn't up to what it used to be. No it's not, but that doesn't mean it's bad or that it would stop me going back on Aurora. Several of the small things that I was used to weren't there, not major things. In the MDR,we were on Club Dining, where we ate for three of the four nights the menu was definitely shorter and the waiter wanted to know our choice of dessert when we ordered our starter and main course. I asked him if this was necessary and was told that it was. There seemed to be a wait to order wine. I asked if the waiter would send the wine waiter and he said he could take the order but I wanted to see a wine list. I was told I had to look at it on the app. Eventually the wine waiter appeared and I saw a short wine list. During the meal I had to ask the waiter to ask the wine waiter to return as we wished to order another drink. This isn't a big deal but it is irritating. The food was good we thought, just not the choice I was used to. There was no mention of the 'Always Available' items I was used to. At the end of the Celebration Evening we did get a plate of truffles on the table but nothing on the other evenings. The service was reasonable but none of the smiling chat I was used to, I think because the waiters seemed too busy. One evening we ate in The Glasshouse and I've nothing but praise for both the food and the service there. Our meal was excellent and we felt inexpensive for what we ate. The service from the Cabin Steward was as good as it's always been. We enjoyed the Headliners' performances in the theatre. As I've said we enjoyed the short cruise and I'd certainly consider going back on Aurora or Arcadia, maybe on Azura or Ventura if I went with my daughters and grandchildren. I wouldn't go on any of the larger ships, mostly because of the distances involved in walking around the ships but also because it seems from what I've read that they really are aimed at families. I can understand why P&O are doing this but I hope they keep in mind people like me who can take the longer cruises in term time and from whom P&O receive a lot of income. They say that they are keeping both Aurora and Arcadia for the next few years, I hope so. I don't like those two ships just because they are adult only, but more because they are smaller. When I started cruising with P&O they weren't described as small ships. I am still thinking of trying Saga, we'll see. It just seems that P&O are changing the cruisers they are hoping to attract so maybe I have to change to a cruise line that is more in line with what I want.
  5. I have twice taken a motorised scooter on board P&O, once on Ventura in a suite and once on Aurora in a mini suite. It has been the rule for a long time that motorised scooters can only be taken on board either an accessible cabin or a suite - as far as I know on any ship, or in a mini suite on either Aurora or Arcadia as they are the only ship now to have large mini suites. I've always had to fill in a form on which I had to put the make, the model and the measurements of the scooter, both open and closed. You should have been told about this whoever you booked with. The TA I always book with told me immediately I mentioned taking a scooter that the booking would depend on P&O agreeing that I could take the scooter in the type of cabin I was booking. I didn't need an accessible cabin and as I was booking a mini suite in one case and a full suite in the other it didn't matter. In both cases the door was wide enough to get the scooter through and both types of cabin are large enough to store it in. In the case of the suite I was able to put it in a wardrobe. When you mentioned to the TA that you would be taking a scooter they should have told you that the only cabins where you would be able to take a scooter were an accessible one or a full suite or a mini suite on Arcadia or Aurora. I'm assuming that they are still allowing them in the mini suites, it's over a year since I took a scooter on Aurora. I'm sorry that I can't be more encouraging but you shouldn't have been allowed to pay the deposit if you weren't given the right information.
  6. My experience is more with P&O than Cunard but their paperwork is the same I believe. I have been on Cunard but not with a wheelchair. I book with a very well known Agent in the Midlands and when I said I was going to take a motorised scooter on one occasion and most recently with a push wheelchair that my daughter was going to push. I was immediately told about the form I needed to fill in. I was sent a copy by my Agent where I had to put the make of the wheelchair, its measurements, open and shut. Once I'd fill it in it was sent to the cruise company and I believe it's the same with Cunard. So yes definitely fill in the form even if the Cunard person you booked with doesn't seem to think it's necessary. When I got to the Terminal the Assistance people had me on their list and one of the Assistance people took over and pushed me to check in, through security, on the ship and to the muster drill, accompanied by my daughter. I know this is P&O but as far as I understand it the same requirements are required for Cunard.
  7. I was on Aurora for the first time since September 2019 and I wasn't sure what things were going to be like. I've done more than 30 cruises with P&O so I've eaten many meals in the MDR. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes the choice was not as wide as I was used to before and there was no 'Always Available' listed. I was only on for four nights on this cruise so it was only four evening meals and four breakfasts. The first evening both my daughter and I thought there was a good choice. It was her first cruise so she didn't know what to expect, I'd always cruised with my husband previously and this was my first cruise since he died. I ordered a steak that first night and previously I've had some good and some not so good steaks. I like mine medium rare with the emphasis on the rare and in the past if I was ordering a steak in the MDR I'd order rare as I found that if I ordered medium rare it was more medium than anything. However, this steak was excellent, quite thick and beautifully medium rare served with Bernaise Sauce, my favourite and fries and the always expected green beans! We were sat at a table with some other long term P&O cruisers and they thought the food was good too. Yes things were missing, There was no Wine Line on the table, it seemed as if people were expected to look at the Wine List on line. One thing that I'm not sure if it was just our waiter or whether it's now the way things are done but our waiter wanted us to order our dessert at the same time as the starter and main course which I've never had to do before. The desserts were very good, the sort of things I remember from before. We had a what's now called a Celebration Evening, what I've known as a Formal evening. The Marco Pierre White menu was there and I had an excellent Beef Wellington. There was no Sorbet between courses, but I know many people didn't seem to rate that anyway. On the Celebration Evening there were Truffles served with Coffee and they were lovely. I don't eat cheese myself but one of the women on the table ordered cheese at the end of the meal. What came was a dinner plate with small slices of about five different cheeses, some biscuits on the side and some butter. This bore no resemblance to the cheese boards I remember seeing with passengers choosing how many and which biscuits they wanted. Breakfasts were good in the Main Dining Room, apart from the coffee but then P&O have never managed good coffee other than years ago in Cafe Jardin on Oceana in the days when they used Villeroy and Boch china and served excellent coffee. Toast at breakfast was crisp, and looked as if it had been properly toasted rather than just waved over the grill as often used to be the case. In the past I often asked for Thick Toast which was always good as it was done specifically for the person who ordered it and was always thick and brown but I thought that might be going a step too far at the moment when things are still getting back to 'normal'. The Eggs Benedict was superb and is now on the main menu daily rather than there used to be different dishes offered on different days and as far as I remember Eggs Benedict only appeared on a Monday. My daughter had scrambled eggs and bacon and really enjoyed them in fact she enjoyed them so much she had them on two mornings and she's a scrambled egg connoisseur. I don't remember if the Golden Triangles - fried bread - were still on the menu. All in all I would say the food was good, not fine dining but then it doesn't claim to be.
  8. I was on Aurora three weeks ago. All I needed to board was the on line boarding pass - the one I'd printed wasn't very legible so the lady at check in reprinted it for me - and my passport. I wasn't asked for proof of insurance or proof of vaccination. The whole process was completed incredibly quickly, I was amazed. No one had to sit on the rows of chairs in the Mayflower Terminal, it was that fast.
  9. Butlers are still very much in evidence on Aurora. I've just come back from a mini suite on Aurora and although we didn't have a butler, suites only, we saw them on our corridor. I've had a butler several times on various ships, Azura, the Ventura and Oceana, also the old Artemis and Adonia. We always found them incredibly helpful and not once were they intrusive. When we started cruising there wasn't a special area for breakfast for suite customers as there is now. We found the butlers a fount of information and could do all sorts of things. We sometimes has a lunch on our balcony, particularly in the Caribbean and it was great to be able to choose both from Room Service (which as a Suite passenger there's no cost) and the main restaurant menu. If a Suite passenger declines the use of a butler then they can't access this service. If a Suite passenger orders from Room Service themselves they still pay. There's only no charge when the butler orders things. I've never experienced a Concierge Service I can't compare but my husband and I always enjoyed the experience of being in a suite, particularly on both Oceana and Adonia, both sadly now gone. The size of the aft suites on Oceana would almost take two of the Azura/Ventura suites.
  10. I've just come back from Aurora in a cabin on B deck and had no noise issues at all, we were aft, very near the back.
  11. I'm going on Aurora shortly - have been on her several times and with P&O many times - this time I'll be in my own cabin, a mini suite, and my daughter near me in a de-luxe balcony cabin. I'll be in a wheelchair on boarding and I'm hoping that she'll be allowed to board with me. I'll have an earlier boarding time than she will. Our bookings are linked. I asked P&O about this and also about the priority lunch - I expected a negative answer to the priority lunch and this was what I received. I was also told in an email from P&O that my daughter would not be allowed to board at the same time as me, even though I'll be in a wheelchair. I can walk but not far and certainly not the distance from the terminal to my cabin. P&O said that someone from Assistance will be quite happy to push my wheelchair on board. I expect that in the event my daughter will be allowed to board with me. As has been said what P&O shoreside say is very often different from what happens on the ship. I doubt very much that my daughter will be allowed at the priority lunch, I'm Baltic level but this is her first cruise. Strictly speaking she shouldn't be allowed to go to the lunch but as she'll be pushing my wheelchair she may be allowed. If I'm told no then that's fine, it's by the rules. If in the future I consider cruising on my own I will have to have a motorised scooter or wheelchair. It seems from what I've read in this thread sometimes relations are allowed to join the passenger who's in a suite and sometimes not, the crew perhaps judge each case on what they see as its merits. When I cruised with my husband we cruised either in a suite or a mini suite. When in a mini suite we were always allowed early boarding and to attend the priority lunch. As we gradually got to Caribbean level and then to Baltic we would have been allowed those perks anyway. It was only on one occasion several years ago now that when we boarded and were in a mini suite, a crew member told us that we weren't entitled to go to the lunch as we weren't in a full suite. We didn't argue. Later that cruise, it was in the days when the Officers sat at tables in the MDR on formal evenings, we happened to have the Hotel Manager on our table, they were called the Purser in those days, so I asked him about passengers in a mini suite having early boarding and attending the Priority Lunch and he said yes of course when I told him about our experience. So very often it all depends on the individual members of staff.
  12. In over 30 cruises we've always asked for a table of 8 second sitting and apart from one occasion always got what we wanted. On one occasion we were given a table of 2, on Arcadia, and we were able to swap with a couple who had been put on a table for 8 and had requested a table for 2, so in the end it worked well. We've made some good friends over the years and are still in touch with a number. I would be very sorry if Club Dining were to end. We enjoyed the fact that we got to know the other people and we weren't having to introduce ourselves each evening.
  13. I wouldn't bank on being able to borrow a wheelchair on board, much better to take one with you. Mobility at Sea will arrange this for you. When I arrived in Barbados in a wheelchair after getting over a broken ankle I was offered assistance to wheel me to our cabin but my husband was able to manage. When we left the ship at the end of the cruise we were told where to assemble. To my amazement a taxi waited for me on the dockside and we were driven to the airport. Whether this always happens I don't know but that was my experience, but I am talking pre Covid.
  14. My husband and I went on the South America cruise back in 2018 and we were required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination. We went to see our GP who luckily was one of the registered centres who administer the Yellow Fever jab. We were both over 70 but our GP said he could see no reason why we couldn't have the vaccination. So we both had it and neither of us had any side effects at all. When we arrived at Southampton the first thing we were asked for was our Yellow Fever Certificate and this was taken from us and returned at the end of the cruise. We had been told by P&O that the Yellow Fever jab or a Certificate from our GP stating that it wasn't safe for us to have it was a necessary requisite. We also had a letter from our Travel Agent reminding us about the Yellow Fever a couple of months before we were due to go. I believe the Yellow Fever vaccination now lasts for life, but that may not be correct.
  15. I haven't cruised since the pandemic but previously I and my late husband went to several loyalty lunches and always found them incredibly interesting. I remember one where the Chief Engineer was the host and he told us he liked attending the lunches as it gave him chance to meet the passengers and listen to their thoughts. We also had one where Sam - can't remember his surname - who was the best Port Presenter by far was the host and he was so interesting and interested in the passengers. I don't ever remember people asking or commenting on the amount they'd paid for their cruise. We also always chose club dining because we enjoyed meeting up with our table mates each evening and hearing what they'd done that day, especially when it was a port day. I know this is some people hate the idea of Club Dining and prefer Freedom which is fine, it's lovely to have the choice.
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