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Everything posted by ShopperfiendTO

  1. Is it for certain that the images are from the actual ship that is on the market? The image of the gift store isn't something I remember on any of O's R ships (it is much bigger than it is on O's R ships that I have been on - been on all of O's R ships except for Sirena). There's also this which matches the sofa and cushions: https://www.princess.com/html/global/popups/metas/pa/pa_interior.html
  2. Also factor in that if you don't have the drinks package and go a la carte and use the OBC option to pay for the drink that there is an additional 18% gratuity added to the price of the a la carte drink. So the $9 dollar drink is really going to be a $9 + $1.62 = $10.62 use of your OBC and the $15 drink is going to be a $15 + $2.70 = $17.20 use of your OBC. In other words, if you usually have two glasses of wine with your meals (and that you will actually be on the ship for lunch for most of the cruise) and you are fine with the wine-by-the-glass options, the drinks package probably works out better for you than the OBC. As previous posters have noted, upgrading opens up the hard liquor options and availability at all times that the bars are open, not just wine and beer during lunch and dinner. The possible drawback of the drinks package option is that sometimes people have commented (complained) that it sometimes took a while to get the second (or third, etc.) pour. Also note that you still need to hand your room card to the sommelier after every meal even though both of you know that you are on the package.
  3. I'm a bit confused about the OP's scenario and why the travelling group notified O that they are cancelling the cruise. Assuming there is no insurance in place to cover the cancellation, I'm not clear on why someone would bother cancelling a cruise a day before sailing anyway (other than perhaps courtesy I suppose)? Isn't it a 100% penalty (no refund, no FCC, nothing) so what is the point of telling the cruise line that you're cancelling so close in? Or does the cruise line require you to be at the terminal ready to board when it officially cancels for the cruise line to be on the hook for the cancellation? In other words, if OP just booked the plane tickets and went home a day before embarkation without telling the cruise line that they were cancelling their cruise, wouldn't they have been then eligible for the 100% refund option? Feel for the OP though because basically it's become a game of chicken between the cruise line and passengers and the game of chicken centres around passengers gambling on their health.
  4. Unless I'm misunderstanding, it looks like it's 75% FCC when you cancel for any reason.
  5. If I understand this correctly, then it is totally poor behaviour by the insurance company and really nothing to do with Oceania. OP cancelled the cruise for a reason irrelevant to COVID-19. If that reason is covered by the insurance policy, which OP is certain it is, then the insurer should pay out regardless of what O does. Put another way, if everything is hunky dory and that sailing proceeded, OP gets paid out. Why should this change just because O cancelled the cruise? Unless there is something that addresses this in the policy, I don't see why OP should be put through the shenanigans. It is up to the insurer to pay out and take the loss (if the sailing went on) or seek reimbursement if it otherwise can find a way. Based on my understanding of what has happened, I am sympathetic to OP but I don't think that the anger should be placed on O in this instance.
  6. Thanks for providing the actual experience. One-way last-minute international fares are generally quite expensive!
  7. I know this doesn't really apply to this thread since I think everyone probably had air included, but does anyone know what O would have done if you had arranged your own air for the ATW or segment but ended up debarking in Rio instead of the itinerary's debarkation port? Would O have covered the air from Rio back home or would you still have to make your own way home? Is this a general cruise line practice or is does this vary by line (e.g., HAL vs. O vs. Az)?
  8. Latest update is here: https://www.oceaniacruises.com/coronavirus-statement
  9. Thanks for the link. Would you know the CDC source for the ban simply based on passport origin (Azamara screening protocol #2)?
  10. Can you provide the source for this? I am unable to find it. I am also unable to find the CDC source for implementing screening protocol #2 as well. Thanks for any assistance.
  11. Not sure if it matters anyhow because it seems that winning the prize is not tied to the winning (selected) name anyway.
  12. Is this true? Does this extend to world cruises as well? For example, you have never sailed O before and a world cruise is the first cruise you book. I know you get pre-paid gratuities for a world cruise, but do you get Gold level perks as well (i.e., a second set of tips in lieu for passing silver plus Gold level O Club OBCs) when you get on board the world cruise?!?
  13. You're actually travelling near the middle of November into the end of November. Weather-wise, it will likely be fine in the Athens area until you pass the toe of the boot (Italy), but a bit touch-and-go as you head further north and west, higher chance of rain. You definitely should consider bringing layers and raincoats. Obviously sunset comes sooner in the early evening as well. Crowd-wise, it will be quiet. We were on a cruise that stopped in early November and the quaint towns (Eze, Monaco, Saint Paul de Vence) were very quiet. The larger cities (Marseille, Florence, Barcelona) were fine. As it looks like you're from the Northeast, the weather should be easy for you to handle 😎
  14. We were on an R-ship this past summer. IMHO there have not been improvements in the GDR, but we don't think the quality has dropped very much if at all. There is definitely less variety in the GDR menu for both lunch and for dinner, but the eliminated items seem to be the "middle-of-the-road" options so the reduction isn't really that bad. There are definitely repeaters almost every day, for example lobster bisque (which was very nice even without the brandy :)), jumbo prawns and caesar saled, but as someone mentioned, I think it allows you to save it for another day. We didn't feel that the changes in the dinner menu materially affected our enjoyment of the cruise and was similar to our past cruises. However, we weren't a big fan of the lunch menus when the GDR was open (it was closed for a couple of our port days, but wasn't too bad for us as we weren't planning to return to the ship early those days anyway). Lunch is the GDR seemed to be a set menu for the entire cruise with "daily specials" along the right column. The specials were pretty close to what we would have chosen for as our lunch entree for our past cruises so it was a small disappointment but nothing to raise an alarm about. Also, if we're being nit-picky, I feel the pastries, in particular the flaky pastries like the chocolate croissants, are not as flaky as they were. They were good but they weren't fantastic like on our last cruise. The cakes and tartines are still very good though. We enjoyed our meals on this cruise as much as we did our last couple of O cruises. Yes there were changes but they did not materially affect our experience.
  15. When we were on board recently, there were lots of announcements to please complete the survey and where you could go to get help if you were having problems accessing it, so it wasn't like a thing that they were trying to keep secret. There was also a contest for a random draw of I think $100 OBC to be applied on the current cruise so it seems that they were trying to induce submissions. I didn't really notice any fewer questions being asked. We completed it on our tablets without issue. I think it might be more helpful for O for ease of reading the comments as well because let's be honest, not everyone writes as legibly as they probably think they do. I think the only real flaw of using this system is that we are unable to provide comments on the last night and disembarkation experience if something substantial happened that warranted a comment, but I suppose that this is a small and usually uneventful gap and one can send a separate email on that if one feels the need to tell O about it.
  16. It is true that there are no guarantees, but it's a good data point to have! Interestingly enough, a Silversea ship was also in port but was docked at the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment on the other bank of the river. A Celebrity ship was also in port but must have been docked at the outer port. Having said that, we basically had he same tour itinerary as the group from that ship for both days there so I don't think location really matters if you're going on a group tour with a blanket visa.
  17. For this cruise it was at the English Embankment, close to downtown, probably the best location possible for a cruise ship. While the dock is close to downtown, it is still a bit of a walk to the Hermitage though not too bad. That said, to walk to the Hermitage on your own you will need a visa from the Russian government to leave the ship and not sure the cost of a "free-to-roam" visa is worth it if you're visiting by cruise ship for just a few days. You cannot leave the customs/immigration area of the port without a visa of some sort.
  18. Thanks for posting, really appreciate your observations! That you, as a past experienced cuisine-geared O cruiser, feel the food quality seems to be slipping is disappointing and saddening to hear. We will be on an R class ship (not Sirena though) later this summer and will be able to see for ourselves how the food is compared to the past. I really hope it hasn't sunk that much or low. On the other hand, I have read some cruisers have observed that Sirena's food quailty isn't up to the standards as the other R ships, so perhaps it's isolated to just Sirena? Roughly, our experience regarding the food quality on our last 3 O cruises (all on R ships; we've been all of the R ships except Sirena) were mediocre, then excellent, and the last one was good/very good. There was a decent length of time that passed between the mediocre experience and the excellent experience because, like you, we value the cuisine quality on our cruises and didn't feel going on a cruise then was a good value for us, so it was a great surprise that when we eventually took another O cruise that the cuisine for that cruise was excellent. However, the one after that was "just" good/very good, so it has slipped somewhat again and here we are now giving O another go. If this cruise falls below very good, we will probably look at other cruise lines. We don't need 7 options, but we need the 5 options to be actual options and not 2 real options surrounded by 3 pseudo options, with the accompanying quality of course. IMHO, the *quality* of the food should should not depend on which ship (O class or R class) one is on; obviously I can understand that the variety and choices are greater on the O ship and they should be, but the quality of a menu item should be close across the line; a chop in Polo should be close not matter which R or O ship one is on. I also am alarmed that the GDR has been closed on more days than not. Previously, our experience was that it was closed only at ports where most passengers were expected to be on full day excursions (for example, for Civitavacchia, Livorno and any of the ports for Berlin) as coming back for lunch would be too time-consuming.
  19. On our O stop at Greenock a couple of years ago, there was no shuttle to Glasgow. You had to take a train. The train station is about a 15-20 minute walk from the port, mostly level, and you could cut through the mall if you wanted to walk by the "main" square in the town which is close to the train station.
  20. Azamara is getting you to the city in the port description - Motril. Many cruise lines advertise the ideal city for the port (e.g., Civitavecchia (Rome)) but it's really the port that they would/should offer a free shuttle for you to get to the city centre of if the ship doesn't dock or anchor right there. For example, for Buenos Aires, the port is industrial and a bit far from the central area of BsAs so there is a free shuttle for you to a convenient starting off point. Also, if you're in Dubrovnik and dock instead of tender directly into the old town, they really should be offering a free shuttle to the old town, which I understand Azamara does. I would not expect Azamara to be offering a free shuttle from Motril to Granada, like they (reasonably) would not from Santos to Sao Paolo or from Greenock to Glasgow. One hour away is a reasonable distance to feature the ideal city for the port; sometimes there is a stop at Malaga and they put (Granada) in brackets which while technically possible is a bit of a stretch, like for one of the German ports and listing Berlin.
  21. Definitely the obstructed oceanviews are the smallest cabins on the R ships, at 143 sq. ft. These are the lowest category oceanview cabins though. All of the other oceanview cabins are at least the same size as an inside, and I am guessing going from an obstructed to a small porthole with noticeably more space isn't that much of a price premium?
  22. I think this is the best answer to the question on wine selection. There is a set roster of 2 reds and 2 whites for each day but if you really don't like any of the wines on the roster for that day, they will try to accommodate you but no guarantees and sometimes they do run out of wines mid-cruise (e.g., you really like one type and keep asking for it, they may run out and you will have to settle for something else). And the roster isn't fixed and rotation isn't always evenly spaced out (for example, Red 1 might appear on day 2, 5 & 8, Red 2 might appear on day 2, 6 & 9 and White 1 might appear on day 2, 5 & 9 and White 2 might appear on just day 2 & 7). I think objectively, the included wines are acceptable but nothing great, most in the $10-$20CDN range per bottle for the ones that are sold in Ontario. Frankly there were some really bad wines when we were on but luckily there were more suitable alternatives that we were able to obtain instead. Having said that most were acceptable and as stated above, they will try to accommodate if you really don't like any of the wines on the roster that day.
  23. I would agree with your characterization that up-front "tipping" is more of a bribe than a tip. However, your next sentence doesn't make sense. Of course you won't see this being done on Azamara, because on Azamara you have to pay to gain entry into them, unlike on Oceania and Silversea where the specialties are free and a certain number are included with the cruise, but extra access is more limited. Azamara just makes it more honest in that you don't have to try to grease any palms to get more access to the specialties, but you still have to pay just to eat at a specialty restaurant since none are included in the fare (unless you're in a suite).
  24. There was no shuttle in Punta Del Este when we were there, and to be honest, if there was one, not sure where it would take you anyway? It's more of a walk-about resort town. Yes, it is a bit of a walk (but not hard) from the tender to the beach with the hand sculpture. The thing I remember most from this port are the big seals that were laying underneath the boardwalk! 🙂
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