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About jimdee3636

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Tucson, AZ
  • Interests
    Good food and wine, interesting conversations, gym workouts, exploring places on foot.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL, Silversea, Oceania, Princess, Cunard

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  1. Thanks for the clarification, SeaShark. I see that Any Stuart will still be CEO until the end of the year, so I'll amend my request: if anyone has Mr. Stuart's e-mail address I'd appreciate your sharing it with me.
  2. This reminds me of the old Yogi Berra line: "No one goes there anymore. It's way too crowded!" (Note to U.K. readers: Yogi Berra was a famous New York Yankees baseball player from the 1950's and '60's, known today more for his unintentionally-amusing use of the English language. He also said, inter alia, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it.").
  3. I want to send an e-mail to the attention of NCL CEO Frank Del Rio. (I realize it may initially be read by an assistant of his, but I don't just want to send it to some generic Guest Relations Department). Does anyone have his e-mail address, or, in the alternative, a physical mailing address at NCL headquarters? Thanks. Jim
  4. I love all these comments. They remind me that drinkers tend to be traditionalists and, to a degree, perfectionists. They know what they like and they expect to get it properly made and properly served. But when these things are done right, they're appreciative. And loyal. If a drinker finds a particular venue, or a particular bartender, to his liking, he or she will keep going back. That's why my wife and I had pre-dinner drinks all 21 nights of our QM2 sailing at the Chart Room. It was great the first night and we saw no reason to change. I was a bit disappointed, though, that they didn't give us a gold star for perfect attendance. Maybe next time.
  5. My wife and I are 4-star Mariners, but we also sail on other lines (inc. Silversea, Oceania, and, most recently, Cunard). Just yesterday, we booked a Vancouver-to-Tokyo cruise for September of 2020. Both Cunard (Queen Elizabeth) and HAL (Noordam) are offering the cruise. The Cunard version is five days longer (19 vs. 14), but the HAL version is considerably less expensive, and not just because it's shorter. (A signature suite on the Noordam cruise is about $100 pp less PER DAY than a "regular" balcony cabin on the QE). We booked the Cunard cruise. The reason is that, on longer cruises, HAL offers next to nothing anymore in terms of entertainment and enrichment. We were on the Queen Mary 2 for 21 nights this summer and were amazed at the quantity and quality of their daytime lectures and evening entertainment. That ship also has a large library (10,000 volumes) and a full-time librarian. The QE library is smaller, but still bigger than any library HAL has. I think the reason so many people are critical of HAL is that it used to be so good. We wouldn't have reached the four-star level if we hadn't had many enjoyable experiences. But "they" have taken away many of the things that at one time set HAL apart. We'll still consider HAL---in fact, we'll be on the Oosterdam for a 7-night Mexico Riviera sailing in December---but for longer voyages I feel there are better alternatives.
  6. Thanks to all for the recommendations. I do like the convenience of walking from the bar to the restaurant, so we'll probably give the Midships Bar and/or the Cafe Carinthia a try on the first couple of nights. The Commodore Club does look great, though. Maybe we'll get there earlier than usual one night and see the sunset (it will be dark where we're sailing at 7:30PM when we usually like to arrive for pre-dinner drinks).
  7. My wife and I were on a 21-night QM2 sailing this past summer---our first Cunard experience. Today, we booked a 19-night QE sailing for September of 2020 (Vancouver to Tokyo). As we did on the QM2, we'll be dining each night in the Britannia, late seating. We're martini and Manhattan drinkers and very much enjoyed our pre-dinner cocktails in the QM2 Chart Room---possibly the best bar we've ever experienced at sea. I've of course seen the QE deck plans, but I don't have a sense of which bar or bars (if any) are the equivalent of the Chart Room in terms of sophisticated ambiance and entertainment. Since we like to walk directly from the bar to the restaurant, I'm only looking for something on decks 2 or 3. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
  8. Kmerlin: Thanks! I do love an international demographic. By the way, I see you're from New Brunswick. NB is my favorite Canadian province! (I used to live in the Boston, and would drive up to NB every couple of years---it's a low-key but delightful place). Jim
  9. We're four-star with HAL and we almost always try to choose HAL if a particular itinerary is right for us. But we're not blind to HAL's shortcomings, especially when those shortcomings are in areas that used to be HAL's strengths. Case in point: the Ocean Bar. From our very first HAL cruise we've had martinis there every night around 7:00PM (we always do assigned late dining). Until fairly recently, the Ocean Bar was always a lively place at that hour, no matter what ship we were on. But then they pulled the plug on the dance combo on the bigger ships. Then they started using a portion of the Ocean Bar for early-evening trivia (!). By the time we took our most recent HAL cruise (a 30-night San Diego-to-Lima round-trip on the Volendam early this year) the bar was virtually dead every night. By contrast, our recent 21-night cruise on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 had the liveliest entertainment and liveliest overall atmosphere of any cruise ship we've ever been on, for a per-day price pretty much comparable to most Northern European HAL voyages. And the average age of the guests---excluding the family groups on our summer cruise---wasn't that much younger. We're about to book a 19-night Vancouver-to-Tokyo Cunard cruise for next September on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth. HAL has a similar (though a bit shorter) cruise on the Noordam at almost exactly the same time, and we could save a lot of money by doing it (e.g., a Signature Suite on the Noordam would be over $100/day pp LESS than a regular balcony cabin on the QE). But we felt we just couldn't endure another dismal HAL experience on a long and---for us---"special" cruise. Sad but true.
  10. All of what you say is true. A few years ago, my wife and I were on a 14-night HAL cruise that docked in Anchorage and also spent a day in Kodiak. Kodiak is indeed a special place, and the QE will probably be the only ship there that day.
  11. I'm seriously thinking of booking the same QE Vancouver-to-Tokyo cruise, but for 2020, not 2021. I have a question for anyone who's taken it previously: What are the demographics of the guests, in terms of nationality? My only Cunard experience has been a 21-day New York to Southampton round-trip (by way of Liverpool, Reykjavik, and Atlantic Canada) this past July. On that cruise, I'd estimate that nearly 70% of the guests were from the U.K., and another 10% from Germany, France, and other European countries. I loved that international mix, but I wonder if anyone other than Americans and Canadians cruise out of Vancouver.
  12. Here's my opinion. You've made one mistake already (saying Yes---to the cruise itself---when you knew you should be saying No), Don't compound it by making a second mistake. You know you don't want to have dinner with these people, so just don't. It doesn't matter what the dinner costs; even if it were free it wouldn't be worth it. Why do you want to be "gracious" to people who evidently aren't gracious to you? Just invite your son and his wife to have dinner with you and your husband in the MDR, at least on one or two nights. You'll all be happier.
  13. Cruisemom: Excellent points! This coming April, my wife and I will be spending two weeks of independent travel in the Azores. Although I had always been curious about what the Azores might be like, it wasn't until we took a transatlantic cruise on the Prinsendam that we actually got to go there. We were there only one day (in Horta), but it was enough to whet our appetites for more. I can think of other places we were introduced to through cruises and then returned to for extended land stays (Lisbon, Amsterdam, St. John's Newfoundland, Lima Peru...). We still cruise---we're going on short cruises next month and in December---but after about 25 cruises we've been to most of the places we've truly wanted to see. From this point on, anything longer than two weeks is going to be an independent land-based trip.
  14. My wife and I are four-star Mariners. Our most recent HAL cruise was a 30-night San Diego-Lima-San Diego Inca Explorers sailing earlier this year on the Volendam. It was a great cruise for a lot of reasons, but not because of the ship itself. The Volendam's A/C was largely dysfunctional for the entire cruise: too warm in some areas of the ship, too cold (freezing, actually) in others. And the pre-dinner atmosphere in the Ocean Bar (we always do late seating, whatever ship or cruise line we're on) was dismal: a far cry from what the typical Ocean Bar used to be like. There were times we were the only guests sitting at the bar at 7:30PM. Yes, there were live musicians---good ones, in fact---but virtually no one ever danced. By contrast, we just got off the Queen Mary 2 after a 21-night sailing. The QM2 is only a few years newer than the Volendam but is in far better condition. More importantly, the overall ambiance, musical entertainment, and level of guest energy was infinitely higher than on any HAL cruise we have taken, for roughly the same per-day price. (Technically, we had a signature suite on the Volendam, but it was only slightly bigger than our balcony on the QM2). There was live music everywhere and seemingly all night long---sometimes in six different venues simultaneously---and the dance floors were packed until midnight or sometimes later. To get a seat at our favorite bar we had to get there about an hour before our dinner time. We probably wound up drinking more than we should have, but we had great fun every night at the bar talking to our interesting and well-traveled fellow-guests. I'm not suggesting that the QM2 is a perfect alternative to HAL loyalists seeking a return to "better times." The dress code may be too formal for some (they really do enforce it). The fixed dining times may be too late for some (second seating is 8:30PM). The ship is big---over 2,600 guests (although it feels smaller because of its extremely high "space ratio"). And American and Canadian guests are in a distinct minority (I'd estimate that 70% of the guests on our sailing were Brits, and 10% Germans, Swiss, French, and other Europeans---something we liked a lot, but not everyone would). But for a certain kind of frustrated HAL loyalist, the QM2 may be the alternative you're looking for.
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