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About WineGal89

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  1. I'm flying in with a pal from SFO to FCO, arriving the afternoon before our cruise. My mother and aunt will be flying in later that evening from MSP. I booked a room at the Hilton Garden to make it easier on the later (and older) arrivals. I'm now trying to find best way to get from the airport hotel to cruise terminal. Mobility may be an issue and I'm trying to make it as stress free as possible (while not paying an arm and a leg). Any recommendations on car/minivan service?
  2. I've been traveling solo for the last few years. I've done NCL on the Epic in their studio, then last two sailings have been in balcony cabins, paying the solo supplement. I just booked the studio balcony on Ovation of the Seas for August 2020 and I'm looking forward to it. I did a few mock bookings to see what cost differences would be and it was almost a wash with the promotion RCL is running currently. I'm traveling with a larger group of people so I don't need a solo lounge (I really didn't take advantage of it on the Epic). I'm used to getting "free" perks when sailing on NCL so for S&Gs I did mock booking for similar itinerary around same time frame. I was surprised that even dropping down to a Sailaway cabin with no perks, the cost would be almost $2K more. I know there are people who aren't in their room much and don't care for the extra cost of a balcony, but I'm in the other group that truly enjoys it - and when I can afford it, that's my preferred cabin type.
  3. I found after having Mohs Surgery (use your sunscreen people!!) that I couldn't use the most recommended scar ointment (Mederma) because one of the key ingredients is onion extract. A lot of the knock-offs do as well. Go figure! I have airborne reactions to lilies - as it's in the same family. I didn't pick up this allergy until I was in my 20's. I don't miss garlic, but man - a beer-battered onion ring...
  4. It's funny you should mention sensitive stomach/raw onions. I have a severe allium allergy - garlic, onions, shallots and everything in that family can really impact me. Garlic is the worst and I carry an epipen for it, but the rest will give me terrible gastro-distress. It's one of the reasons I prefer to eat at the specialty restaurants when I cruise, as there is a little more control over what I'll be eating (even what I'm eating around). I've been lucky never to catch any bug on my cruises but I pack enough meds to be safe 🙂
  5. I have a severe allium allergy - garlic, onions, shallots, asparagus... anything in that family. With garlic, I can have anaphylactic reaction, even just to smell. I chose to dine in the Speciality restaurants vs. main dining rooms because greater control over what I may eat *and* I worry less about being seated near someone whose food could have an impact on me. Yeah, it's a fun allergy. I notify cruise line when booking about special needs/restrictions. I booked all my dinners ahead of time and reviewed available menus online and when I got onboard. The first day, I spoke with the head dining guy and we went over my reservations and they took my special order for that night. Every evening I would place order for next meal, giving kitchen time to make any preparation accommodations necessary. Obviously there are just certain things I could not ask for - I try to keep it simple because I'm putting my health in these people's hands. I also tend to stick to 2 restaurants for majority of meals so that staff gets to know me. Breakfast/lunch buffets are a roll of the dice. It's easier to avoid the garlic, harder with onion. I haven't had any major issues with cross contamination but likely because I avoid 80% of the food.
  6. I just got off NCL cruise to Cuba. Have your passport, have your tourist visa - no one questioned me either *leaving* the boat itself or when I was going through immigration. I did a private classic car tour which was WAY less expensive than through the cruise line. Keep track of where you go, what you do (I took pictures of establishments I visited/patronized) for your records.
  7. I did the Norwegian Sun 9-day cruise to Cuba/Caribbean, October 21-30th. Here's my review while still fresh in my mind: 1) I flew into MIA from SFO the night before and stayed at a Hilton property near the airport. Met some nice ladies from Pittsburgh at hotel bar who were heading out on different NCL cruise and had fun chatting with them about cruising. They were taking a 7 day, which did not include Cuba. One of the ladies mentioned Casinos at Sea program and I need to figure out exactly *what* that means in terms of earning points/cruises. 2) I did airport transfer thru NCL, pre-paid. I probably wouldn’t do that again and would just take cab/ride share. I didn’t like the organization at the airport area, especially when there were two cruises leaving out at the same time. Leaving my luggage and a crowded, open area didn't make me feel good. 3) Check in at the port was surprisingly smooth and even being in group 5 I think I was onboard by noonish on Sunday. Although rooms were not technically “ready”, I stored my bags under my bed in my cabin, then went out on deck, and grabbed the first of many Mango Madness drinks. Weather was awesome, got some great pics leaving port. 4) I *loved* my cabin. I splurged and got a balcony, even though I was traveling solo. I don’t regret one penny spent. Tons of storage, huge bed, and I spent a lot of time in the mornings and at other times on the balcony. I was on Deck 10, right below the yoga room (0010) but honestly no noise issues. Was nice to be close to the stairs/elevators and only one or two floors below food, although at the other end of the ship. I did hear that there were some water/pipe issues on Decks 8 and 9. I thought the shower was kind of small, and I'm only 5' 2". 5) All the bars had fast/friendly service when I was there. Spent most of time at Topsiders, Windjammer, Sports bar (for NFL). I got the UBP as a perk and although I had to pay tax + gratuity on it, I more than got my $ worth. They also had Zacapa 23 rum as premium but only cost $2 a pour difference with package. Great sipping rum! On first night I purchased a bottle of great Italian red at Cagney's and it was available for me when I was at Le Bistro as well. I believe the UBP got me a 20% off list price, which was pretty decent to begin with. 6) Our first stop in Bahamas was cancelled due to windy conditions at port. I used the time at the pool, resting in cabin, exploring the ship. I did see a credit on my bill for port fees/excursion. 7) Cuba on Day 2. This was main reason I took the cruise and I’m glad it met my expectations. I did a private classic car tour through Blexie and Jorge was my guide. It was pretty much customized to my wants and took me to some interesting neighborhoods (including Fusterlandia), parks, sites. I had lunch at a cafe in Old Havana, purchased enough cigars to keep pals back home happy and a great souvenir for myself. I did not do evening excursion to historic nightclubs - I heard mixed reviews so I skipped. Overall I really enjoyed and would consider going back on an overnight cruise (maybe with a buddy so I could enjoy the nightlife) It’s a little sad to see how a grand old city is fighting against shabbiness/decay and I have to wonder about our continuing sanctions against this country. I did talk a little politics with driver/guide, mainly because I am interested in hearing people's stories about how that impacts their lives. Traveling is wonderful to see the sites, but I also take it as chance to meet/understand different people/cultures. Regardless - Blexie Tours is WELL WORTH the money ($130 per car for 6 hours). 8 ) Belize. I did private island/snorkeling tour through NCL. Honestly it was a little underwhelming as far as snorkeling. Not sure if my expectations were set too high for the water portion. The excursion company staff were organized, professional, etc. so that wasn't the issue. 9) Honduras. Another snorkeling excursion through the ship and this definitely made up for the previous adventure. I’m kicking myself for not getting a GoPro for this trip, if only for this. Words just can’t do justice to how beautiful it was in parts, underwater. This excursion included lunch buffet and you had option to buy cocktails/beer. Was only lightly attended, but the area was beautiful and weather was very nice. After snorkeling, I napped in lounger and was back on boat by 4 pm. 10) Cozumel. Did the zipline excursion. There were only seven of us, but I had a good time. It wasn’t really out in jungle, but in wooded area about 20-25 minutes away. The crew at this place was very focused on safety and operated smoothly. I got my cardio workout in climbing towers but enjoyed myself. Price included access to private beach resort with some coupons for food/drink but weather wasn’t cooperating so I headed back to the port area. Ended up watching some NFL at Hooters restaurant before going back onboard. (I didn’t want to like Hooters but damn if the wings weren’t good, and the staff there very nice and efficient.) I went out once more before departing to grab some Flor de Cana rum from Duty Free shop ($55 for a 1L was a pretty good deal). 11) Evenings - most evenings after dinner I joined in a cash-game of Texas Hold Em at the poker table. Pretty much the same group of 10-15 people cycled in over the nights and I enjoyed myself, won some/lost some, met some really nice folks from all over. I came in 3rd place in the slot machine tournament (so close!) on the last day at sea, 5th place at the poker tourney. I didn't do any of the shows - last year on the Epic I enjoyed the ones I went to, but these just didn't have same appeal. I checked out the karaoke once up in Windjammer but I'm too chicken to attempt that alone. 🙂 12) Dining: I did 3 dinners at Cagney’s, 3 at Le Bistro and 1 at Sushi. Service first night at Le Bistro was a little uneven, but it settled down over course of trip. I have severe food allergy and it’s the reason I do the speciality dining, as staff is able to accommodate my needs more and I can place order for next visit ahead of time. All the food was great. I ran the gamut between steaks, lamb, sea bass, bison... but I think my fav dish was the prawns in cream sauce in Le Bistro the last night. 13) I chose to take advantage of cruisenext promotion and purchased $1k of deposits with $500 obc (net cost to me $500). I kicked myself after not doing this last year when on Epic. There are some awesome deals available the 2nd week of December, but I don’t want to push my company’s “unlimited” vacation too much. I'm looking at a Spring Break one with my daughter in February and maybe something for myself after that. 14) People (in general): It's weird - I kept wondering "where is everyone"? because with the exception of the safety drill, I didn't really encounter crowds anywhere. Granted, my only previous experience on NCL was on the Epic and that's just huge. People were friendly, hardly any kids and while you had your chair-hogs and pushy people at times, it was a good vibe. 15) Spa - almost forgot. I did go twice. Final day they had a special 75 minute (massage, facial) for $99 and it was very nice. The position of the spa close to the pool meant that there was some noise, but didn't take much away from relaxation time.
  8. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I can understand if you go into pool for a swim or pop off to the bathroom, but “claiming” a chair for hours when you have no intention of using it is the height of rudeness for fellow passengers/vacationers. I’ve stayed at resort in Puerto Vallarta few times with wonderful pool area. I’d get up early, grab my pillow, claim my spot and then... stay there. It wasn’t until I ran into a pair of chair hogs at a Hyatt in Hawaii that I realized people would go off for hours while other vacationers stood around looking at empty chairs. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  9. I cruise solo, so the ability to stay in touch with family/friends on land is something I place in the “need” column. They like to know I’m ok and I like to know pets/adult children/elderly parents are ok. Not everyone that cruises off-season is retired either, and for some being able to do light work/mailbox management is nice. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  10. I just noticed that my cabin for upcoming cruise on the Sun is under the aerobics studio. I’m not sure if I should be concerned or not - I’m a pretty early riser, I have excursions booked for most days, and I have a balcony to chill out on. I do like being near stairs/elevators vs a long trek down a hallway, so initially that’s what I was looking for. Would love to hear feedback from others who’ve been in cabins under the studio. (Do they do classes?) Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  11. Get married? [emoji23][emoji23][emoji23] Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  12. Literally could say that about a ton of activities in foreign countries that people do while on cruises. [emoji23] Not every port is a 3rd world cesspool. People get crappy tattoos in Vegas too that get infected. However... You can research places online just like you can for domestic shops. If you can’t do the research, if you don’t know what to look for as far as hygienic situation, if you plan on snorkeling entire vacation, if it’s your first tattoo ever... then yeah, don’t get one. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  13. Each individual has their own experiences, expertise, risk appetite to consider when doing *anything*. I think the original poster had a good question. I’m glad there was a mixture of responses for people who (like me) may stumble across thread in the future. Getting a mental health diagnosis was just a bonus. [emoji23] Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  14. The honeycomb concept is great! I have a close pal who travels a lot on his Harley and he is working on a sleeve with all the iconic landmarks of trips he’s been on. I’ll second the point about how hard it is to get walk-ins for the top artists... I did snag a walk-in at Outer Limits Tattoo in Long Beach (highly recommend them - incredible artists and history at that shop) but my idea for a coverup for a small older tattoo turned into a multiple trip/large upper back piece. I’d still go to the top place wherever you are, even the 2nd tier talent will likely be good and the shop hygiene standards equal to or better than most places in US. It’s your responsibility to research, research, research. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  15. So old thread, but just stumbled across it. I actually *did* get a tattoo in port, but at the end of my cruise. Was in Barcelona, had been there before and researched the place/looked for reviews. Small wrist piece to commemorate my first big solo vacation. 1) People bring up good points re: protecting ink from water/sun. 2) Obviously don’t get a tattoo if shop conditions are crazy unsanitary - but this applies anywhere. Not every port is a third world country. 3) If you’ve never gotten a tattoo before, a cruise is not the best time to experiment. 4) Don’t go for anything complicated that’ll take hours. 5) Google is your friend. Lots of shops in international cities have websites, are on Yelp, etc. I’ve seen tourists get tattoos in Vegas, Hawaii, etc. Same rules apply. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
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