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About NeverStopLearning

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  1. There is a hotel located right at the airport called the Wyndham Costa Del Sol with direct access to the airport. You can walk to the departures area. It is a business hotel, clean with spa and pool but I wouldn't recommend it for more than 1 night. Spent 1 night at the hotel prior to our excursion to Machu Picchu. There is no night life as the area is industrial so you will be hotel-bound. However, you can easily make your 6:30 am flight as it takes taxi travel off the table. Travel by car in Lima is very exciting with lights, signals and signs being suggestions. If you are spending more than 1 night, then I would recommend the Miraflores or Barranco districts. Those are probably the two best districts for tourists. I will put in a shameless plug for a hotel in the Barranco called Hotel B, a Relais et Chateau hotel. It has excellent food and ambience, but may be a bit high end. Good luck.
  2. We were on the Pursuit over Christmas and I was chatting up the bartenders. One of them mentioned that all the cruise lines had issues shipping through Brazil. Stuff goes missing all the time and when the port inspectors are on board, they remove the expensive items from the shop displays. Upon tipping our tour guide after an excursion, I have never seen anyone palm the tip so quickly with a very understated but heartfelt thank you. I suspect that the port of Rio de Janero has a solid underground of scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. There are probably some kickbacks going on for access. No real proof, but I am a people watcher. I have no idea how Buenos Aires stacks up, but I did enjoy our visits there immensely. It felt better than Brazil. This is just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
  3. With respect to the laundry room, sometimes they leave it locked or are late. Don't worry, a call to guest services will get it opened. It happened to us in Buenos Aires, and they had it open in no time.
  4. We visited Machu Picchu as a pre-cruise excursion to our Lima to BA cruise last November. It was well worth it, and I suggest that you consider booking a formal tour as it can be amazing. I believe it is against board rules to mention specific tour companies, but Peruvian tour guides take a 3 year college course to get their license. You will need a tour guide to visit Machu Picchu regardless. It was a six day tour broken down as follows. First day was really meeting everyone at the Lima Airport hotel and we had a group dinner where we were introduced to the guides. Next day, we flew to Cusco where we immediately were taken by bus to the Sacred Valley. Cusco is at 11,000 feet and the Sacred Valley is at 9,000 feet. It makes a big difference in acclimatizing. We toured a pottery studio and an Andean weaving cooperative. Hotel was fabulous! Third day, we toured a famous hat maker (milliner?), some salt mines, and a famous geological dig (round circles). Tour company organized a catered lunch by a lake. Spent a second night at the hotel. Fourth day, we toured the Incan Sun Gate in the Sacred Valley. Took the Bingham Hiram train to Machu Picchu. Train staff had a band playing in the bar car. 60 and 70's rock classics are very popular in Peru. Spent the afternoon spending 4 hours visiting Machu Picchu as allowed. Hotel at the base of the mountain. Fifth day, morning spent visiting the second half of Machu Picchu. It is a big place. Late lunch (tea service) at the hotel at the top of the mountain. Took the return train to Cuzco. This time spent most of the time in the bar car listening to music. Arrived in the evening in Cusco. Hotel was an old Incan Palace. Sixth day, toured the Cusco market outside the hotel followed by a tour of the town square.[trivia, town square was featured in Blindspot this season]. Visited some churches and a museum. Back to the airport for flight to Lima where we were driven to the ship. Prior to this adventure, we spent two days touring Lima. Highly recommend a tour of the old city. Bridge of Sighs in the Barranco district is a famous tourist stop. Final suggestion, see your doctor about altitude sickness pills. We had them. No problems. If issues develop, most hotels have oxygen on hand. The altitude pills are really blood thinners.
  5. You should be fine taking the precautions that you do. We just completed a b2b around South America. While Brazil was the one country that I felt the need to be cautious in, it wasn't that bad. The issue with Brazil is that there is a big gulf between the rich and poor with very little social safety net. Crime has been almost institutionalized with the crooks walking up and asking for wallet and cellphone, and then running away. But it is not frequent and common. Our guide mentioned that he also had been mugged but he just gave up his wallet and continued on. You might want to consider carrying an old wallet with a few dollars in it as a throwaway. That said, there are places in North America that have worse crime. The Brazilian people are very friendly and welcoming. You will have a great time.
  6. The website, weatherbase.com, can give you max-avg-min temperatures, that can help your planning. I used it for our Machu Picchu tour last November. A few light layers are better than a thick layer. Try a windbreaker-hoodie-sweater combo. It can also be augmented with an undershirt. It all depends on how hot you run. Merino wool is your friend as long as you are not allergic. It is very bright at altitude, so remember sun protection. Our guides were constantly putting on sunscreen. See your doctor about altitude sickness pills. It can hit you like a brick. Most hotels have oxygen if you need it. In Lima, the Miraflores and Barranco districts are the main tourist areas. At the best of times, the drivers are insane with road signs being merely suggestions. Cabs are readily available at the airport with everyone speaking English even at 1am. Not recommended to leave the airport are in search of a cheaper cab. Just remember that layers are your friend. Also, most hotels will allow you to store your bag until your return. Most couples only took a single checked bag and carryon. Most travel into Cusco from Lima is by air and the flights are full. That's because, while Cuzco is at 11,000 feet, the mountain pass between Lima and Cuzco is at 15,000 feet. The airport hotel is a business hotel. Fine for 1 night but I would stay in central Lima for any longer stays. Enjoy, it is a great trip.
  7. We stayed at the Sofitel Ricoleta hotel for both pre and post stays for our Iguazu Falls excursion. Very nice and quiet hotel. Flights to Iguazu are out of the domestic airport which is about 20 minutes away. International airport is about 1 hour away, more if traffic is bad. Anything in the Ricoleta district will be a nice stay. rob...
  8. The Lima -> BA and Christmas cruises were our 2nd and 3rd Azamara cruise respectively with the first being the 2017 Christmas cruise. We were pleased enough with the product to book a b2b NZ, Australia cruise for 2021 on the Pursuit. Our next Azamara cruise is this Christmas on the Journey. There will probably be a cruise sometime in the middle as well. I, personally, attribute some of the issues to two causes. First, the addition of 50% capacity to the line no doubt caused some stress over all 3 ships. Second, the lack of a full-time FB manager on the Pursuit contributed to some issues as well. Being down a full headcount in management with 33% new people is bound to cause problems with identifying and fixing problems. The issues that Phil pointed out with inattentive senior staff and being ignored are also valid and fall outside my two points. That was a real failing in customer support and retention. Hopefully, Azamara will examine the issue and reach out to him. The entire cruise industry is in a constant state of flux balancing price against value. Senior (land based) executives are only judged on share holder equity, i.e. profit in the short term. Losing customers also affects share holder equity but has a longer time horizon before it becomes a problem. It is like balancing a ball on a pin. Competition among cruise lines is how we, the customer, ensure that our price/value objectives are met. If Azamara drops in value too much, it is time to try other lines. We will shed a tear about what was, but ultimately we go to where we feel our needs are being met. There has been a lot of respectful, balanced and constructive opinions being raised here. All with the intention of Azamara, through Bonnie the CBO, fixing the issues before they become systemic problems. I don't see this type of discussion in any of the other boards. That makes a big difference. Apologies for the long rant, I will blame it on the early morning and the fact that I returned to Ottawa Canada in time for record snowfall and freezing cold. Cabin fever is setting in.... To answer your question: Your cruise is far enough in the future that the issues should be fixed. Since you can cancel up to 6 months before your cruise, keep monitoring the board and make a decision before you pay. You will lose a small portion of the down payment but will get most of it back. Stay the course for a little while longer. As always YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary),
  9. It is always a good idea to go to a travel clinic and get the recommended vaccinations. As people have said before, better safe than sorry. Having just got back from South America on a cruise that went from Lima to Brazil, the only recommended vaccination was for Yellow Fever because we were going into the jungle, as well as visiting Iguazu Falls. The risk is low in the coastal cities. However, we were never asked to produce any sort of vaccination certificate. The authorities were more interested in our visas than medical documents. If you are over 65, some doctors will recommend against the vaccination because the possible side effects pose a greater risk than catching the disease. Your doctor will advise you accordingly. I had no reaction to the vaccine, and have some fantastic memories from the trip.
  10. Lindsay and I were on the Pursuit for the Lima -> BA portion and the follow-on Christmas cruise. I would have to agree that the observations mentioned here are fair and measured. We had joined the pre-cruise excursion to Machu Picchu with 19 other guests and simply had a blast. It was a more expensive option than doing it on your own, but we were very well attended to. Afterwards, the group came together on ship and so we had a very good time, possibly because of the prior excursion. It was funny that members of the tour kept booking the same excursions. We had most of our meals in the discovery restaurant and were lucky to have several good to great waiters; Jane, AJ, Dexter, Ryan (Filipino) and Ryan (Indian) all made the meal enjoyable. As both cruises had just over 500 guests onboard, the sharing of a table did not work well, but we simply ate with guests that we met on board. The failure of an evaporator caused us to miss one port while bad weather forced the cancellation of the Falklands stop. I have to agree with Uktog that the captain was unfairly criticized and my wife actually came to his defence at one point. You have to go with the flow, seriously. The Falklands had 50nm winds and 22 foot swells and is a tender port. The ship experienced 11 foot swells for a brief period coming out of the Beagle Channel, and many people had a bit of a green tinge. I personally am glad that we missed the 22 foot swells. It should be noted that Azamara assisted everyone with their cancelled excursions including those that had booked with 3rd party companies. I thought that this was very professional on their part. I was there for the disaster that was the first port talk and quickly left as I felt there was going to be bloodshed. There was a seriously miscommunication on expectations and guest expertise. The speaker left the ship at the next port and I really didn't attend his replacement's lectures as Lindsay had me on trivia duty. When asked, Tony and Lee mentioned that Azamara was discussing the situation with the company that hired the speaker and were investigating what background and expectations the speaker was given. The speaker was mortified and felt very bad about the whole experience. I attended most of Dr. Orenstein's lectures which I enjoyed very much. I would characterize the Lima -> BA cruise as being filled with people who were nature lovers and adventurers. The holiday cruise was filled with people enjoying the holiday. The difference in guests was interesting and enjoyable. If I had to do it again, I would definitely do the Lima to BA portion. Not so sure about the holiday cruise. While the fireworks on New Years were amazing, I am not a fan of Brazil. The shore excursions were fine, with great guides. It is just that Brazil is a place where you have to watch your back and there appears to be a fair bit of corruption. However, they do know how to party.... After the holiday cruise, we did the post cruise excursion to Iguazu Falls and that was also a blast. It was a good tour, but the Machu Picchu tour was a great tour. No regrets on that excursion (Iguazu) either. So at the end of the day, we had enough of a good time that we have booked a B2B in 2021 on the Pursuit from NZ-> Sydney, Austrailia -> Singapore. Most of the glitches should be worked out by then.
  11. If you are getting off the Pursuit in Lima on Dec 1st and are taking the post cruise excursion to Machu Picchu, you are in for a real treat. It is awesome. We are halfway done and leaving for Machu Picchu today. I am not saying any more or posting any pictures. Don't want to spoil anything.
  12. Here are some photos of the procession. The procession is entering off the street into a complex of apartments within multiple open courtyards. Out of respect most shots are from the back and a distance. The band played at the back. In the enclosed space they were quite loud. Everyone was having a good time singing and dancing. The image of the saint from the back. You can see people watching from the balconies. Close up of the saint's statue. Side view of the upper balcony. A shot of one of the staircases that I thought had a lot of character. Lima reminded me alot of New Orlean's French Quarter because after the great fire, the Spanish governor of New Orleans sprcified stone instead of wood constructions. The historic buildings are very similar.
  13. Today we took a private tour arranged by the hotel of Lima's historical city centre. It was amazing and if you have the opportunity, I would seriously consider it. In all, we spent 5 hours touring the city. These pictures just scratch the surface. This is the interior courtyard of the Foreign Ministry. Solid Mahogany doors with inlay. Amazing detail of the balcony supports. One of the many churches in the town centre. Close up of the external detail Interior of one of the churches during Mass. Fountain in main city square. Presidential Palace. (I think...) Outside of another beautiful church. Lima has an amazing history and an abundance of things to see. We could spend another day or two just exploring the beautiful landmarks. We didn't even have time to explore the Incan archiological sites or the multiple museums in the city. That is all for this series. Tomorrow we meet up with the Azamara tour at the airport. Next stop Machu Picchu tour. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.
  14. From the hotel you can walk toward the cliff overlooking the ocean and then follow the road to the "Bridge of Sighs" which is a small wooden bridge overlooking a ravine. Here are a few photos of the walk which is about 20-30 minutes. Park before the bridge in the background. The bridge of sighs View from the bridge overlooking a walkway that runs along the ravine. Walking the ravine toward the ocean. View of the bridge from the ravine. It was a very nice walk that I highly recommend. Barranco is a safe district. Your greatest worry is the people promoting the various restaurants along the ravine.
  15. I forgot to mention, if you are flying air canada rouge, the inflight meal is particularly unpleasant. There are two choices, General Tso's Chicken and Braised Veal. I had the veal which was exceptionally uninspiring and heavily seasoned. Something that I did not think was possible to do. They even managed to turn mashed potatoes into something a 3 year old would avoid. The wine was ok but I would bring snacks as a backup.
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