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  1. Thank you so much for your detailed reviews. We're heading off on the identical trip on Jade next Thursday, the 20th. Can't wait!
  2. we had heard something similar when we were cruising the Baltic last September on Oceania. We also booked with Alla for the 2 day St Petersburg tour and were so concerned that we might be delayed that we got off the ship an hour before we were scheduled to meet them to make sure we had enough time to get through immigration. As it was we sailed through (make sure you have the Alla paperwork with you to show they have organised your visa) and had to hang around for about 40 mins. Second day was even easier, through in about 10 mins. Enjoy your trip with Alla, it was superb. We added on the ballet the first evening and they booked the most dreadful seats so we wouldn't advise that, but the day tours were first class.
  3. Yes indeed CazV. We confirmed it with NCL ourselves before we added the Free at Sea offer for our trip on Jade in 2 weeks time (yikes!). Of course having paid 150% of the sticker price for the cabin in the first place means we're still penalised for going solo, but hey we grab our benefits where we can!
  4. I prefer a tote bag so that I can carry everything mentioned above, plus a bottle of water and a small telescopic umbrella. You may need both of those in the Baltics in August as you are likely to have both heat and/or a shower. We did it last September and loved it, especially St Petersburg!
  5. Thanks everyone, that clears it up. Nicola
  6. Please excuse the rather random question but we are first-time NCL cruisers on Jade next month and we NEED our cup of tea first thing in the morning (what can I say, we're English!). As we're in a standard OV, and from reading some of the posts on here, it doesn't look like there will be a coffee maker or anything like it in the cabin. Room service/continental breakfast order isn't ideal as we're not good at waiting. So my question is: has anyone ever asked NCL for a kettle or coffee maker to be put in their cabin? If so, was there a rental charge? Happy to pay it, just trying to sort out our options. TIA Nicola
  7. I don't normally post reviews of individual cruises, but I thought this might be useful to other cruisers who have been on the smaller Oceania ships but not the larger ones. We had done several cruises on Sirena and Regatta, but this was our first cruise on one of the larger ships. All opinions given here are my personal ones, I have no axe to grind with anyone, save your flames 'cos I'll ignore them, etc etc: Overall, our experience on Marina was....meh. Which considering the price of the cruise, especially with a hefty single supplement on top, means that we may consider other cruise lines in the future (as well as Oceania of course). The ports of call were in the main very good, especially St Petersburg which was outstanding. We liked the bright look and feel of Marina compared to the dark wood of the smaller ships, which is particularly evident in the MDR. We liked the larger bathrooms in the cabins (and actually having a bath, oh the bliss) - the size of the bathrooms has always been our biggest grumble about the smaller ships. The spa was very good and I had an excellent massage (gotta use up that OBC somehow ;)). The food was good pretty much the whole cruise (exception listed below), although I have to say we thought Jacques didn't live up to expectations. However. We didn't like: The cleanliness of the cabins. We had B3 cabins on opposite sides of the ship, with different stewards. Both cabins were dusty (and stayed that way the whole week) - I could have written my name on the mirrors & shelves. I complained on the first day as my bath was dirty - an actual ring around the bath (haven't seen one of those since my university days) and somebody else's hairs both in and around the bath. Yuck. To their credit this was rectified that day and the assistant housekeeper followed up with a phone call, but if someone has complained about cleanliness in their cabin, wouldn't you think they would check the WHOLE cabin to see it was OK? Both of us had a sewage smell in our bathrooms, both of us flagged it with our stewards. Mine seemed to go away. My mother seemed to have hers for most of the cruise. The Terrace: one of our favourite places on Sirena and Regatta, yet here on Marina the actual food area seemed a lot smaller. The quality of the breads was very poor (very limited supply, rock hard) - we complained about them several times to senior waiters both in the Terrace and in Horizons at afternoon tea (our teeth were at risk trying to eat a scone). On the last night of the cruise we ate in Jacques - the bread served at table there was excellent, so someone in the galley knows how to bake. So, good things and bad. Nothing ruined the cruise, we really enjoyed ourselves, but we were both taken aback by the cleanliness issue (and were explicit about it in the feedback questionnaires).
  8. FWIW we've been on several Oceania cruises now (Marina next month will be my 5th) and always get hit with the single supplement (I love my mother dearly but I am NOT sharing a cabin with her). I've had several run-ins with Oceania about the benefits package and whilst they will normally flat-out refuse to give you the full shorex benefit, we normally get the full OBC. Having said that, make sure you get confirmation in writing....
  9. in my experience, you may run into issues if you try to go to MDR in shorts. We saw a man turned away from MDR on the first night last year (Regatta, May, Alaska) when he strolled up in shorts and sandals.
  10. We had Dottie as our CD on our Alaskan cruise last year on Regatta, she's great. If you're trivia fans as we are, make sure you research phobias as she always throws obscure ones into every game.
  11. I'm just back from the May 26th Med cruise on Magic. Both Tangled and Dreams were on for 2 nights.
  12. Naples: we did DIY and took the hydrofoil over to Capri, which is one of my favourite places. The kids loved the brightly coloured open-top taxis that took us up to Anacapri, and the funicular railway down to the port. Civitavecchia: we've done Rome several times so stayed on board, but my SIL took my nephew to Rome (used the Disney Rome on your own tour, and then took the hop-on hop-off bus around the city) Livorno: we split up; my SIL took the kids on the Disney Easy Pisa half-day tour and we did the adults-only Florence & Pisa full day tour. Both were very good. Cannes: we did DIY again and just took the 'Petit Train' around the town.
  13. Utterly exhausted, but we loved it. Did the May 26th sailing, which was a 7 night Barcelona round trip. We had three generations of the family, ranging in ages from 11 to 71. Every cruise line is different, so here are my tips for those first-timer DCL cruisers out there: If you don't want to sit with other people at dinner, make sure to request a private table. We assumed that - as a party of 5 - we would be allocated our own table. Not so. The head waiter Simone did a marvellous job sorting it out for us though. Don't worry about getting to the Walt Disney theatre before the doors open half an hour before the show starts. We assumed the shows would be packed, they never were. You could also watch the shows on the TV in your stateroom, which I suspect some people did. Wonderful entertainment. Soft drinks are only free if you get them from one of the drinks machines on deck nine (or in one of the restaurants). If you're at a show, or doing an activity in one of the lounges or clubs, you have to pay. A lot of people have said the cabins are large compared to other cruise lines. That wasn't our experience (we had standard OV on deck 1) but they are cleverly designed with lots of storage space. My SIL and her two children had no problems in their cabin, with the smart bed arrangement (double, then sofa into a single bed and pull down bunk bed). The split bathroom does help when you have multiple people sharing a cabin. The bath itself is very small; I'm six foot and didn't attempt it, but the shower over the bath works fine (although at my height I had to duck a little bit). You are provided with hard soap, shampoo and conditioner. There is no shower gel or bubble bath, so bring your own. Also bring your own slippers and dressing gown if you want them, as they are not provided. There were clocks provided in all of our cabins, along with several USB charging ports and plentiful plug sockets. If like me you are a planner, it can be disconcerting not to get disembarkation details in advance. On DCL you don't get them until around midday of the last full day of the cruise. Effectively you can get off the ship anytime you want after it's been cleared by customs, and everyone has to be off by 9am. Your luggage has to be outside the door between 8.15 and 10.15pm the night before, if you're not taking it off yourself. You'll be given luggage tags with Disney characters on; look for that character in the terminal. On the morning of disembarkation you are allotted either early or late morning breakfast slots based on what dining slot you have (so early dinner=early breakfast). Breakfast will be in the restaurant where you eat dinner on the last night. That slot didn't work for us; we were early dinner but not getting off the ship until 9am so didn't want too much hanging around. You can ask your head waiter for a switch but you may be disappointed if a lot of people want to do the same thing. Don't worry - while it's not advertised, Cabanas is also open for breakfast on the final morning. Finally, if you are travelling with kids BRING AN AUTOGRAPH BOOK. All of the characters are happy to sign and we had to make a mad dash for the shop to buy my niece one before the Princess gathering (and the shop was doing a roaring trade in them at $15 each). Happy to answer any questions you may have if I can; I didn't go to Palo as we always ate with the kids and we didn't really use the bars but other than that I think we did most things on the ship.:)
  14. I've done two different Med cruises on Sirena in the past couple of years. I am NOT a good sailor but I always take meds and unless you hit a patch of bad weather you should be fine. One note of caution - a lot of the smaller Italian ports (and Med ports in general) are tender ports and the tender to and from the ship can be VERY bumpy especially if there is a lot of sea traffic. The tender back from Sorrento last year was truly hideous; others have been like gliding over glass, you just never know. Sirena is a lovely ship, the Italian coast is gorgeous. Go prepared and have a lovely time.
  15. or like the lady we saw (and heard) in a small shop in a small village in Montenegro last summer screeching at the poor woman behind the counter "why don't you take dollars...?"
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