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Everything posted by Crewbie

  1. When we were in Reykjavik last summer there was a general bus providing service between Harpa Concert Hall and Skarfabakki. To my understanding, this was a free shuttle running from morning to night (11 am to 10 pm or 8:30 am to 10 pm depending on who we asked) coordinated by the port authorities and not under the domain of any particular cruise ship/line. If you're looking simply for transportation, this might also be considered as an option. I don't know if this would accommodate any luggage or require showing any cruise card for passage, however, and I'm sorry to not have further information on the frequency/availability of the service. You can see in the helpful image provided by Capt_BJ above the road running along the coast - there is also a wide, paved sidewalk pretty much parallel that, all else failing and weather-permitting, can be easily walked between the city and Skarfabakki, though it will take approximately 45 minutes one way, minimum. (I believe you can see Harpa as the dark, geometric building near the '41.') If you're seeking to board your cruise after arriving and staying in Reykjavik, then the taxi advice and/or asking in the hotel lobby as provided above may be the most convenient method. Skarfabakki itself is not remote - it's also a stop on the Reykjavik Hop-On Hop-Off, even, though I don't think the HOHO would be quite as convenient or cost effective as other options offered overall due to its ticket cost, relative infrequency, and limited daytime schedule.
  2. Very welcome - my trip preparation was a bit late and so DIY/hiking around was the default option on some of our ports. As it was, St. Anthony was one of my favorite ports on the trip! To be honest, I'm not quite sure I even remember which section was the Santana Trail; the Dare Devil Trail with all its steps is the very obvious one. Despite being all steps, Dare Devil I think is quite nice - very well maintained, a few nooks to pause, and the transition/emergence from the start up through the foliage and onto the cliff are well worth it! Once up top, the footpaths are somewhat narrow but mostly still very clear and well worn; there are also markers for particular viewpoints. As a more general note, if hiking doesn't appeal to folks, I would encourage plans to find and/or book an activity, independently or through the ship as can be found, sooner rather than later. The town, understandably, only has limited resources for transportation/tour services, and can get tapped out by tourist demand easily.
  3. When we visited St. Anthony last summer (2023, HAL Voyage of the Vikings), a physical copy of this map was available to pick up as well. The HAL Zuiderdam would have been located off-page to the upper right off of Fishing Point Park; the tenders went all the way to the Grenfell Floating Dock point as circled in yellow and made their rounds back and forth - it was one of the longest tender trips we had on the cruise. As the map shows, the 'main' street extends to either side. I do note that St. Anthony is a small town; as the map might suggest, the essence of 'things to do' will revolve more around the scenery, daily community, and community buildings than visitor-specific services and structures. If you are interested in spending the day on the trail system, I felt like the hiking trails were well worth it - plentiful, decently easy to find, great views, and well maintained. One thing I must emphasize, though: if you are tempted to take the Tea House Hill Trail to connect to the American Base Trail, the indicated straightforward path of the American Base Trail on that map is only to fit it in on the page. The actual route is very much not linear and is much, much longer than it seems as it meanders towards and around a lake before heading towards a former American base structure. Should you take the American Base Trail, you will connect to what I believe is American Drive with an option to turn down the road towards the former base ruins or to head back in the general direction of the harbor. Going towards the base can be a worthwhile diversion as there are a few points where you will be able to see Cremaillere Harbor from a distance before turning around and continuing back towards St. Anthony via American Drive. If that is a tad disconcerting (and it certainly was for me while on the trail), another option is to follow the main road with about a half-hour walk to Fishing Point Municipal Park. There will be a sidewalk (heading past RagnaRock Northern Brewing Co) for a stretch of it; be aware that the sidewalk will eventually end to become a walk along the road. It is again a pleasant view of the harbor, and there are a few nicely kept platforms from which to do whale watching (and/or icebergs, depending on your luck and time of year - we were very lucky to see some whales!). Fishing Point also connects to Daredevil Trail, which is actually an extended ascension of stairs along the cliffside connecting to some great views and an upper network of trails. Hope this helps!
  4. Hi, muffin, We had the same considerations earlier this year as you've posted for. These two threads below helped me scope some of the options and hopefully may help in your planning to what fits your needs. In agreement with what @Dobby36 said in your other thread, we enjoyed our time with the water taxi experience. It may not be the most direct, cheapest, or efficient option, but we were very pleased with the service, storage, and the small bonus amount of sightseeing from the water. Arrangements were straightforward, we were picked up on time with luggage then stored at their large locker at the wharf, and we were able to enjoy a few hours on a trolley tour before returning for a very punctual transfer to the airport dock to which you board the airport shuttles circulating the terminals. Hope that your search and trip go well!
  5. You may want to keep tabs on the Prima stops at Isafjordur: it sounds from a number of threads this season that the Prima seldom, if ever, made the call at Isafjordur despite what the itineraries said. Isafjordur has reportedly been in the process of completing its pier extension since 2021 and was supposed to be complete this year; if you do opt for the Prima itinerary, I would recommend keeping an eye out for some indicators either way leading up to your cruise.
  6. Sorry to hear about the Prima issues with Isafjordur; how frustrating! We were on the HAL Zuiderdam this summer; I don't know about the status now but would say that we did see it in-progress on our cruise to the extent that our scheduled tender stop at Isafjordur was actually able to dock at the pier extension/construction. There was upturned earth and the walkway was still in the progress of being filled in, but it did all seem 'current' when we visited. Looking at some previous articles, it seems like they started the construction in 2021 and were scheduled to complete in 2023, though of course unfortunately not in time for the summer season for all ships. An October article I could find seems more upbeat about progress since then: part of the phrasing sounds almost like they had completed the work (to extend the pier to 500m and water depth to 10m). Whatever the status, it does seem like they are still working on it and do have funds invested into its progress/completion. Hopefully there will be more clarification/confirmation soon from other posts!
  7. If it helps - it has been a few years at this point(!), but I'm pretty sure I have been on this excursion before on a Star Princess itinerary including Puerto Madryn. I do remember having similar uncertainty about whether this excursion would come through in terms of trust/reliability, but our actual experience was certainly one of the highlights of our trip. The form I see online looks nearly identical still to when we filled it out (down to the price!), so I guess we didn't have a Return On Time guarantee, either. The balance to that is that our independent group had a great lunch and left around the same time as the ship excursion group at the tables around us, so it didn't feel like it mattered in the end. I don't see that we had to provide passport numbers beforehand, and I don't recall having to check that the day of. However, even though I do share the reluctance to do so, I will say that at this point I wouldn't think necessarily of it as a red flag for a request: For one, I wonder if it is an invisible working sometimes happening anyways when we happen to book a ship-based excursion (or other interactions, or when we hand over our passports for extended lengths to the ship to facilitate processes in various itineraries). Additionally, I have encountered recommended, well-reviewed vendors that have asked for that piece of information in booking with the ensuing services being professional and all we could have asked for. This is not to discount your misgivings, of course! Just wanted to note that this is a provider in my experience that has worked with both independent and cruise excursions in the past - if you can book it independently, it will hopefully save you some expense and moreover provide a great experience like we had. I hope a happy cruise to you (both)!
  8. Hi, tymike, We were on a B2B earlier in November on Meraviglia (NYC-Bahamas itinerary, non-YC). Prior to our return to NYC at the end of the first half, a letter was delivered to our cabin for guests-in-transit. For us, it covered the following: -Asked us to check that our cruise card had the correct final date of disembarkation - I recommend simply checking this Day 1 when you get your card. -Noted that those changing cabins should have their luggage prepared to move to their new cabin by their Cabin Steward. -Specified that everyone would need to go ashore to complete local immigration procedures. Our specific timetable was to exit the ship before 9 am and that returning onboard would be allowed to do so after around 12 pm. Regarding the exit and return, the letter recommended the following options of 1) Making a day of it independently NYC, disembarking before 9 and coming back after 12. 2) Taking an in-transit MSC Excursion. (This gave me a chuckle since they didn't have any available when I had been doing pre-booking planning or upon looking on embarkation - and then being told they had cancelled planning because there wasn't enough interest.) 3) Staying on board and proceeding through immigration procedures as a group. Those who wanted to do so would meet at the Deck 5 Restaurant at 9:30 am. (So, note that if your day is to stick with the ship, you don't need to plan to disembark before 9.) I would recommend reading the letter in full when it arrives and simply following what it says, particularly if you're planning for the third option. The day of the new passage will have lots of meandering passengers and announcements. The letter also came with Back-to-Back Passes (four for us, for some reason - they were never collected, just simply shown), which they stated were needed along with our Passport and any applicable ESTA or Visa. A separate card let us know there would be a meeting for In-Transit Guests the afternoon before returning to New York - this meeting in actuality was sparsely attended but did provide a chance to ask any questions in person. (One thing I would check on: Breakfast hours and availability, as these were not provided in the letter, and we did not receive a Daily Planner in advance the night before NYC. I just called the Guest Services desk to make sure.) What we wound up doing: We decided to check out NYC for a few hours with the plan of taking the Red Hook ferry that is located directly next to the cruise pier parking at the terminal. (The ferry website is pretty easy to navigate beforehand to check schedules, I feel.) We had breakfast in the Main Dining Room; the menu was a little more streamlined than the normal MDR breakfast. (The buffet on our day of actual disembarkation had plenty.) We went back to our room, grabbed our daily accoutrements and documents, and headed towards the exit. It was very easy to show our Back-to-Back Pass to staff and to leave the ship (normal cruise card check-out), though a little weird to be led to jump the queue of those waiting to also exit. Once back in the terminal, we did the face-to-face control very quickly and went about our day. We returned around 2 pm, upon which it seemed like any hubbub for embarkation had already been processed. (Our dinner table neighbor was also Back-to-Back and had opted for the third option; it sounded like it had been a fairly straightforward process to be escorted off the ship and then back.) (Double parenthetical thought: We also partook in the Muster Drill again. Guest services told us it was necessary. Then the scanners declined to scan us - maybe because we'd already been scanned? - and we were told it wasn't necessary. Neither here nor there, but another moment of chuckle.) In short - yes, you will likely need to get off the ship, but you do not need to repack or bring your bags. (The letter actually states "transit Guests are not allowed to go ashore with any suitcases.") The only thing noted about our cabin was that our steward asked if it was ok to have our room serviced only in the evening - turnover day is a very busy day for them! I hope this helps! A good cruise to you and your circle.
  9. Agreed. By far one of the highlights that we had a few weeks ago. Booked directly; was very easy, and we were linked to a recommended later time that gave us plenty of breathing room for the ship being cleared at port. Starting location is easy to find, food and drink are great, and our tour guide (Princess) was knowledgeable and welcoming. It is a good bit of food and drink, so be aware - wouldn't recommend a big breakfast on the day of, and consider if you'll really have space for the additional cocktail add-on. We were somehow maybe very lucky with good weather, no crowds, and a group of four (incredibly just us from the ship and a non-cruise couple). The tour covers a route that you could probably walk yourself, but the experience for us was so very worth it.
  10. Hiya. Hope your cruise goes well and that these itinerary shifts early on will mean you can relax and enjoy as the time approaches. For Golden Circle vs. South Coast, I feel that it depends on what you're interested in. If asked to compare, I think the Golden Circle, with Gullfoss and Geysir, particularly, is more of something to be experienced. A tour of the South Coast, on the other hand, is a little more something that is seen. As lovely as the falls are on the South Coast tour, being in the presence of a feature on the scale of Gullfoss, or the moment that a geyser erupts, just feels different. (As mentioned by another poster, if you've already experienced a geyser, this might swing you towards the South Coast option.) The South Coast tour, on the other hand, felt to me a longer but scenic tour of the variety of everyday beauty that the geography of Iceland holds - not that 'everyday' is not stunning in its own right, and I would have loved to have much more time with any of the stops on our tour. Both tours will involve a lot of transport from site to site. The Golden Circle has fewer high-impact sites, but they can be worth it. The South Coast has more sites - none quite with the impact of Gullfoss, I think, but not to be underestimated, either: being up close to Skogafoss, walking behind Seljalandsfoss, and a well-timed-for-puffins visit to Reynisfjara, were all worthwhile, as were seeing the black glaciers and stopping by Vik. Beautiful landscape all around, on and off the bus. If you're with an independent, small-group provider for a first-time Iceland - I'm a little surprised to find myself saying that for the 'experience' feeling, I tip just the slightest towards the Golden Circle. If you're deciding between two big-bus options, I say the South Coast might provide for a better day. Additional thoughts that I would've liked to have known if making the same choice: 1) As historic and beautiful as Thingvellir is as a site, I feel like my Golden Circle tour experience (with a big bus cruise tour, mind you) didn't provide much more than a passing glance from a higher vantage point given time constraints and where the tour bus parked. 2) The South Coast tour, even without a visit to Diamond Beach / Jokulsarlon, is a(n even) longer day than a Golden Circle tour. (I don't think my tour - in early/mid-August - would've even had enough daylight hours to enjoy Jokulsarlon.) If you happen to want to 'fill your port day' with as much of the landscape of Iceland as possible, I do think a South Coast tour has a further edge there as long as it fits into your overall port day and cruise habits. It is a very big tour (and you'd still want to make sure your tour will get back with breathing room for all-aboard)! Since you mentioned your itinerary: 1) Reykjavik: Not knowing how embarkation goes or the hours for your Reykjavik boarding and muster drill, I'm the kind that errs more cautiously and would say not trying to squeeze in such a big vendor tour the day of boarding. Even with a morning start at 8 am, a six- to seven-hour Golden Circle tour feels cutting it uncomfortably close to me. Maybe allocate that day to get acquainted with Reykjavik before boarding and that way you can enjoy your port day back in Reykjavik traveling out. The port authority does run a free shuttle (bus) from Harpa Concert Hall to Skarfabakki Cruise Terminal (you will want to check to see where your ship is allocated). Skarfabakki is compact but *very* busy with a very large mix of buses, taxi drivers, and a Hop-On Hop-Off stop. I don't particularly recommend the Hop-On Hop-off for general purposes; it felt a little too dispersed and infrequent to really feel efficient. Walking from Harpa to Skarfabakki is possible, but will take at least 45 minutes (not taking into account luggage and overall personal circumstance). 2) I like Isafjordur as a port; we were lucky enough to even be able to use their in-progress cruise pier this past summer even though our stop was also listed as a tender port. It's walkable to town and pleasant, though it does slope up outside of the smaller commercial/'downtown' area close to the ship. I do recall Vigur Island as an in-demand excursion; would recommend booking early if that's of interest. The HAL Hesteyri excursion is a little weather-dependent (we had a more subdued, overcast morning) but folks seemed pleased by the general availability of animal watching and sightings overall. Dynjandi Waterfall is lovely - a local/independent vendor will (unsurprisingly) be much, much cheaper than HAL. 3) Akureyri: Conserve a little energy for the sail-out in the late afternoon/evening if it's a good weather day; the landscape and lighting were quite beautiful. 4) Djupivogur: Djupivogur is, I believe, actually closer to the glacier lagoon than Reykjavik, so it's a great choice for this small port and a way to maybe feel a little balanced if you opt for the Golden Circle from Reykjavik over the South Coast. 5) Lerwick, Stornoway, and other small ports: Take the time to book ship excursions or make independent plans early as the available resources are limited. On our cruise this past summer, the ship excursions still had pretty deep waitlists; independent vendors will also be booked up well in advance. If you like birdwatching, Lerwick has a seabird boat tour that you might want to look into promptly. As an addendum, be cautious about timing and how any plans fit to your style of cruising. A lot of these small ports may include tenders, of which the process (and backlog) can be quite frustrating in fitting or delaying your plans. I hope this helps in your planning and decisions! Hope a great cruise to you; it sounds a lovely itinerary to look forward to.
  11. As for if you will be ok or if it will be a necessity, we were on the Zuiderdam for five weeks this summer and felt fine without any of us having/using the app. The app is convenient as a reference and as HAL tries to make processes digital, but, as others have said, I feel like it will not a gatekeeper to enjoying your cruise. The TV in your room will help - I encourage you to take a moment when you get onboard to look at what's available. Among other things (and the bevy of TV/movie options), you can see route and current location, weather forecast a few days in advance, daily menus for dining locations, account statement, port information, and excursion descriptions. The interface will allow you to book excursions, and they did add additional displays in the interface for excursion meeting times and locations as well. A paper Daily Program for the next day is also provided; I agree with bringing along a highlighter or two if you'd like to differentiate your respective preferred events. In addition, the Excursion Office, Guest Services Desk, and other similar locations still exist and are staffed onboard - I don't think I ever had a time with those interactions when I felt 'this would have been so much easier if I just had the app.' What would I like to have had the app for? I think it does make it easier to keep in touch if you want to contact other friends or party members onboard; otherwise I think it's basically just through room phone or agreed meeting time/space - maybe bring a notepad or some sticky notes if that might be handy for you both? I do think I also would have liked some of the immediate feedback option that the app seemed to allow, both in terms of voicing any... requested adjustments or places to improve, and more often to say 'yes, this was great; thank you for that' rather than waiting until the post-cruise survey. In terms of the title of 'how important is having a mobile phone onboard,' even without the app: We still used our phones/devices in multiple functions, including: 1) Alarm and timekeeper, on and off ship 2) Documentation and reference: Taking a photo of the Daily Program for my own reference during the day (only one provided per cabin). Taking photos of the menu for post-cruise memory. General camera-ness for food and scenery. (Do a quick check as to your memory/storage pre-travel, maybe.) 3) Records assistance/daily journal: General thoughts in the moment or down to little details that will blur post-cruise. (I personally would've liked to have keeping notes earlier of all the crew to thank in the post-cruise survey, particularly without the app's timely feedback function.) 4) Trip management: As mentioned by others above, things like check-in and a safeguard for emergency contact. Also, getting or keeping in touch with any independent bookings, or doing some quick look-ups as to highlights in your next port or walkability. (Double-check your phone plan coverage.) 5) Keeping in touch in general. Hope this helps provide a bit more reference. All this text just to say, I think you're well within understanding to not upgrade, and your cruise experience and enjoyment will be much beyond just the footnote of interactions potentially from the app. Do heed the advice as by others to airplane mode and avoiding unnecessary charges. I hope you both have a lovely first cruise next year (and, if you haven't already, maybe check to see if there's a Roll Call thread already active for your trip)!
  12. Just a chime-in and seconding @Dobby36's experience with the water taxi cruise special. It was a solution that also worked out for us and nice to not need to handle luggage extensively after getting off the ship or worry about taxis and road conditions at the time. Very straightforward and friendly pickup, and they take care of storing the luggage at the Rowes dropoff. They'll discuss the pickup time (again, available at the top of every hour) on the ride over. Rowes is also just a few blocks away from the start point of some of the Hop-On Hop-Off services if that seems like something that will assist in convenience (I believe when I was trying to map it it was drop-off at 60 Rowes Wharf and the HOHO location was 200 Atlantic Avenue); otherwise as mentioned above it's in itself a very convenient location to get to points of interest in all directions. (If you do decide that the HOHO is a good fit, I would recommend also purchasing tickets in advance as at least it looked like Old Town Trolley tickets did rise in price with demand/reduced availability.) Do want to echo that weather was one of the factors of concern - thankfully our weather held up on disembarkation, but the walk to and the pickup point are not covered, so keep your eye on the weather forecast and be ready to pack your day bag accordingly. (There was a blue tent nearby for a different ferry service/educational program, but I didn't check to confirm if it was public access or permanent.) Additionally, do consider the taxi's note regarding some mobility limits - they make it very easy with their service, but passengers do need to walk their luggage to the stop, walk it down the ramps, and make a not-insignificant step to get on and off the taxi. Last note - as it was the first time use for us as well, I wasn't sure what to do when we got dropped off at the airport stop and the taxi turned its attention to assisting passengers awaiting their pickup. Just in case - you are dropped off at the Logan Airport Water Transportation dock; go up the ramps and see if the Massport On-Airport shuttle (Shuttle Bus 66) is there at the curb. The shuttle is free and will stop at all terminals on its loop. Hope this helps add a little note of reassurance; have a great trip and time in Boston!
  13. 'lo - did the Zuiderdam VoV in July this year where Bar Harbor was our first port. 1025cruise's experience was I think similar to ours: If you pull up Google Maps, we arrived at the pier just poking northeastwards from 55 West Street. When we walked up the pier facing southwest, we had public restrooms (where Google is placing a 55 for me) on our right with the Harborside Hotel/Spa complex off behind it and would pass the Oli's Trolley stand on our left before the juncture of West and Rodick Street. The marker where Google places Town Pier is just one block over (taking a turn left and going down West) with the junction of West and Main and at the foot of Agamont Park.
  14. Another checking in from the recent Zuiderdam Voyage of the Vikings: Yes, we had a classical duo of a pianist and cellist (Manuel and Ashley) with performance offerings onboard; I believe they disembarked in Boston at the end of the VoV with the pianist quite possibly moving to another duo partnership on another HAL ship while the cellist had another commitment on land. Their performance schedules were under the Explorer's Lounge in the music programming listing of the Daily Program with usually three performances/two programs (i.e., program 1, program 2, program 1) scheduled regularly - not every day, but very frequently, sometimes spanning the afternoon and sometimes afternoon and evenings. Concerts were usually around 30-40 minutes each. They certainly did repeat programs, but it was still varied enough, including composer-specific sets for Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Rachmaninov, and branching into a mix of works and topics - German works, French composers, song and dance, and even the doctoral studies underway from the pianist in researching the role of music and musical compositions in the Holocaust. I really enjoyed their musical offerings, to the point that revisiting some of their performances became part of my 'last few days on the ship' priorities. @MomentsNotice As to the main stage, all I can note from our VoV is that it may really depend on the cast of entertainment booked for the cruise and the duration. The VoV was 35 days; our entertainment performers boarded for different periods of time and then disembarked. We had one pianist (Elliot Finkel) whose evening shows were more diverse in genre, but he also performed a classical (or classically oriented) program on the main stage as an afternoon concert. This sounded like it was something more loosely arranged and at the willingness of all involved to make it happen - fortunately for us, as I thought the afternoon show really did display both the breadth and depth of his career very capably. We were also fortunate to have a Lincoln Center Presents quintet (violin, cello, guitarist, woodwind, piano) perform a handful of times for the evening main stage programs - very wonderful, high-quality performance from what I saw, but all too short a time before they disembarked as well. I hope that you have an opportunity to be pleasantly surprised like we were during any cruises you embark on.
  15. Hope you have a great time and enjoy your cruise. For onboard entertainment with HAL, based on my recent Zuiderdam experience at least it's basically first-come-first-serve seating in whichever venue is hosting without prior reservation. Regardless of purpose and space - port talk, evening entertainment, coffee chat, concert, etc. in whatever lounge, the main stage, art studio, Crow's Nest - it was just up to the potential audience to find their seat/seating prior to the event. (The only exception I could potentially think for is if there was a particular limit on available art materials in the session, but even then it seemed like there was enough to meet demand.) If you are interested in or in need of seating, I do recommend going earlier to secure it. (The main stage does have a back row for accessibility seating, but otherwise it is very much just arrive whenever you do and get an available spot.)
  16. We didn't use the app on our time recently on the Zuiderdam, mostly first relying on checking in with the shore excursion office onboard and then eventually referencing/checking on current meeting times and locations via the TV interface from our room. It took some time for these to be regularly room accessible in that it felt like the meeting times and places weren't always directly loaded into the TV shore excursions menu until later in the journey, but the team onboard felt at least responsive and understanding that not everyone was on or able to access the app. We were waitlist on a few excursions - in cases of waitlist, the shore excursions team notified by phone call and/or by a paper letter. Hopefully all will be well and you'll have no issues with the app, but just in case, I hope it's a bit of comfort knowing you have many options should the app go awry: you can locate the excursion office, let them know and underscore if you do have any difficulties getting the info/using the app (they were helping many on our ship get familiar with it the first day), keep track of what their office hours are, check out their TV display even if it's off hours (it did rotate to displaying meeting times and locations when I wandered by), and know that your TV should have all that information under the shore excursion menu, too. (At the last ditch, the shore excursion personnel were regularly at the main stage the day of in getting groups on their way, if you ever had a last-minute inquiry.) Hope happy cruising to you.
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