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Everything posted by Hlitner

  1. So let me try to understand the op’s concern. They are booking “pot luck” air from “O” and have concerns. Maybe you get lucky and maybe not so lucky. Folks can give you anecdotal stories which means little. If you want some assurance pay the $175 fee and choose your flights or simply book your own air. Otherwise it is anyone’s guess what you will get. Hank
  2. You certainly can try to rationalize the irrational 😁. Regent is a fine product but often overpriced when compared to Seabourn and Silverseas. We do not get into all this loyalty stuff and simply seek out good value whether it be low cost or expensive. Regent may well be in our future when we see the right itinerary and price. On the other hand the idea of being on the upcoming Seabourn Venture in Antarctica is more tempting as that ship will carry 2 submarines able to explore beneath the arctic seas. That will price out at Regent prices with some extra options. My point is that when you suggest that folks go to Regent for the decent air program lacking at O it does not excuse O. Hank
  3. Let’s be clear that the “O” air program is terribly lacking when compared to most of their competition. When you toss in the word “perceived” we perceive that as ridiculous cheerleading. For us it meant booking our own air from Lima (at some financial risk) rather then relying on a cruise line Flex Air option available from many other lines. Not to take away from what “O” does well, but they could improve their air program for little or no cost. Given the fantastic itineraries offered by “O” a decent flex air program (with major discounted “P” Business Class fares (and other lower cost air options) should be a no brainer. Next time you chat with FDR you might make the constructive suggestion. And they also need to drop the ridiculous $175 pp custom add on. Most lines dropped this kind of silly fee years ago. Hank
  4. We have some idea how much you enjoy “O” and will soon form our own opinion. But consider I was just on Seabourn’s online airline booking engine looking for one way business class air from Paris to the East Coast and quickly found several good options for under $1000 with no extra $175 booking fee. And here on SB we have a full hot breakfast menu In all the cabins. So even before we get on the Marina that is two strikes against “O.” I am puzzled how a line that makes such a big deal about their excellent cuisine does not offer a full in room hot breakfast menu. But still counting down the days to the Marina 😋 Hank
  5. Seabourn now uses the same online booking engine as Princess and HAL. Once you have booked a cruise you can access this site and choose from many flight options. You can also call SB and their folks will assist you in booking from a large list of options. Their system does allow you to choose airports and dates. Hank
  6. Please give me a break. I never said a word about folks going to bed early! Simply pointed out that on SB ( a sister company of HAL) dinner is not available until 7pm. The only exceptions are cabin service or the reservations-only Thomas Keller Grill which does open at 6pm. Hank
  7. The price issue is quite interesting and a topic unto itself. We are currently on the Seabourn Odyssey where our normal verandah suite would compare to a Signature Suite on HAL. Our price on SB is truly all inclusive and we pay for nothing onboard. So you need to consider we get unlimited top shelf booze and unlimited caviar. There is no charge for alternative dining and no add ons. At the end of our cruise we will have spent zero dollars on the ship. Our OBC was adequate to cover all our excursions, and some high priced wines and we are trying to find a way to spend our remaining few hundred of OBC. Our cost for this was slightly less than $400 per passenger day. Consider what a Signature Suite would cost including tips, premium drink package, a generous OBC, etc. While on this cruise we booked a 27 day future cruise for about the same cost per day and they tossed in $2000 of OBC which will be difficult to use up. Again compare to a 27 day HAL cruise in a Signature Suite with all the extra expenses. I would add that we have 130 passengers here with 360 crew. Pretty good ratio. In normal times there would be about 400 passengers which is still a terrific ratio. When looking at the small ship luxury lines folks should be careful to consider what is included as compared to mass market lines. The one negative here for some HAL cruisers would be that dinner does not even start until 7pm. But we do have wonderful small cast production shows, no movies (except on suite TVs), two live bands and an excellent piano bar player/singer with entertainment until midnight. Hank
  8. If it is “meh” on Gala nights when is it not “meh?” Some recent posts have us considering canceling a future 42 night booking. While the Pinnacle is usually decent we do not see ourselves Dining there on most nights. HAL Meatloaf and priced add ons in the MDR is just not our preference. Different strokes for different folks kind of thing but we find ourselves trending towards Seabourn, Oceania, Azamara and MSC Yacht Club. Times do change many things including cruise lines. It seems that the HAL of today is but a shadow of its wonderful past. Hank
  9. It is the Plantation Hotel. We have the entire beach and an outside bar where we can get some complementary drinks. A more extensive bar selection and food is available for purchase at another nearby hotel area. We seem to be the only folks at the hotel so not sure if it currently open to the public. Seabourn’s deal with Barbados requires that we maintain our “bubble” throughout the cruise. Hank
  10. We also love the Keys 😋. But I believe that Governor Desantis signed into law a provision that effectively overturns the Key West ship ban. Not sure if the locals have taken the issue to court. Hank
  11. We did ask the Captain, last evening, how many passengers would be aboard next week (tomorrow) and he said exactly the same number we have this week which is approximately 130. Hank
  12. Yes that is the rule for all the ports with the exception of Bequia (where SB has a deal with a local hotel) and St Kitts where we could go ashore at a rented beach area for a real fun beach day Hank
  13. So here is a tip for first time cruises. If you have a problem with your cabin just go out in the corridor and look for your cabin steward (or any steward) in the area. They will usually have the answers or they can make a call if necessary. You do not want to waste the first few hours on a cruise waiting in a queue at Guest Services. You should be out and about and having fun. Hank
  14. Just a few words about travel and vaccines. We recently drove 4 hours from home to Long Island NY because we were flying the next morning from JFK to Barbados for Sandals and then a Seabourn cruise. We decided to have dinner at a popular Queens restaurant located about 10 minutes from our hotel and JFK. When we entered the restaurant we were required to show our vaccine cards. There are no other options in NYC. You want to eat in a restaurant you must have proof of vaccination. When we later checked in at the Radisson we were again required to show our vaccination cards. The following morning when we checked in for our JetBlue flight we again had to show our vaccine cards and our negative PCR test. We again had to show these documents at the Gate. Upon arrival in Barbados we had to show our vaccine cards and PCR test. When we arrived at Sandals we again had to show those documents (and take another PCR test). 4 days later before boarding our ship we had to show those documents 3 times during the embarkation process. When we went ashore on Antigua we had to show our vaccine cards to local authorities. So perhaps some will get the picture. This is the new normal. One can choose to fight all this which means severely limiting one’s travel options. But few want to hear the whining and protests. You meet the requirements or take yourself and your business elsewhere. By the way, in about an hour we will get our 4th COVID test in less then 3 weeks. Hank
  15. I want to give a slightly different perspective. We are currently on our 2nd cruise in 3 months (both in Seabourn) and just about everyone on our ship is having a great time. The only talk about vaccines is (when are you getting your third shot). Vaccines are mandatory and we have been tested many times in the last three months. Today we get our 4th test in the past 3 weeks (2 PCR and 2 Antigen). On our two cruises (Greece and now Caribbean) we have not heard a single person whine about testing. It is simply the new normal for traveling and cruising. My message is simple. Stay home and whine or accept this new normal and enjoy travel and cruising. Many of us have simply moved on with our lives and don’t want any part of those who have made whining their personal new normal. As to future requirements it will be what it will be. Rules change by the day so predicting a few months is fruitless. Even on our ship there was no mask requirement a week ago but this week we must mask when walking around in public areas ( no masking when sitting or outside). Next week, who knows? Hank
  16. You might want to consider that when at St Kitts the entire ship can go ashore for a full day beach party so no need to book a morning excursion unless it is something you really want to do. The morning excursions do get you back to the private beach day by noon. Hank
  17. I really could care less how folks choose to book their cruises. If somebody buys a new car and prefers to pay the sticker price then that is their decision. And booking directly with most cruise lines is like paying the sticker price. We prefer to find the best overall financial deal which is generally with a reputable high volume discount cruise agency or some smaller agencies that are part of a large consortium. Hank
  18. Yesterday the Odyssey actually did dock at Roadtown, Tortola BVI, after months of not being able to visit this port. We were the first cruise ship to visit the island in over 18 months and the islanders we met (on our excursion) were pleased. As long as the BVI an keep COVID under control the BVIs will be part of these voyages. Hank
  19. We seldom have called any cruise line in over 40 years of extensive cruising. If we happen to have a question or issue we simply send an email to our cruise agent. Using a decent discount cruise agency saves us money (sometimes in the thousands) on every booking. It also saves us from spending time on hold with cruise lines. Hank
  20. At Sandals we did get a letter asking us to make an appointment for a pre departure test. We simply ignored that letter and never got another test. When we checked out we simply ask them to get us a taxi which cost $27 from Sandals to the cruise port. As part of the cruise check in process we met the ships doctor who personally interviewed all the newly embarking passengers while still in the terminal. He did ask to see our test results we got when we arrived at Sandals (on our phones) before we took our Seabourn antigen test at the port. The doctor is from South Africa and quite charming. Hank
  21. We do not have the official number for next week but have been led to believe it will be something similar to this week. Hank
  22. This week on the Odyssey we have 135 passengers and about 350 crew. Amazing! We have been told that the numbers are increasing and they expect well over 350 in November. Hank
  23. One tidbit is that if you visit St Barts from St Maarten I believe you must bring along a valid Passport in order to clear St Barts immigration. Hank
  24. Boarded yesterday after a 30 minute check-in/testing process. We are supposed to wear masks when moving about in public areas and cloth masks are fine (we were given the usual gray SB cloth masks). No other onboard restrictions and the mask mandate is lightly enforced. We had dinner last evening with the Assistant CD and one of the lovely cast singers. It was a delightful hosted table which bodes well for the next two weeks. Hank
  25. You are correct, There are currently 51 ocean cruise lines and 27 river cruise lines. So I guess you could start a thread for each one and by the time you were able to learn the policy of each line they would have likely changed their policies :). And to further complicate matters you are likely to find that some cruise lines vary their policies depending on where they happen to be sailing. So the policy for a positive case in the Bahamas would be completely different then a positive case in Greece. And then you have Oceania which appears to have an interesting policy for when their ship (Marina) will be cruising from a US Port. All passengers must be vaccinated (unless the courts intervene) but the cruise line "strongly recommends" that all embarking passengers get a COVID test within a few days of embarkation. If the passengers do not provide negative test results they will still be allowed to cruise but the cruise line will not be financially responsible if that person later gets COVID. On the other hand a tested passenger will apparently be handled by the cruise line at the cruise line's expense. But to add to the "fun" this past week the Governor of Florida appealed to the courts to overturn Oceania's vaccine mandate! And this is just the policy for one ship in one port! Hank
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