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  1. If happiness depends on material things, it is not happiness. I found a lot of the staff to be genuinely happy, and they certainly weren't enjoying the same amenities.
  2. A far better option. So far as I could see, Baristas was the only place that did coffee properly. Everything else was either filter, or from one of those auto machines.
  3. The life jackets in your cabin will have the muster station printed on them, there are instructions and a map in the cabin, the drill takes place before you leave port on the first day, and there are multiple warnings. Once it begins, the corridors are full of staff telling you where to go. Take a book, or seize the opportunity to make friends with your neighbours, who will be at the same muster station. Count on the whole thing taking a half hour, and if your muster station is a bar - ours was Martinis - they won't be serving drinks. I look at these things as being a learning opportunity. Even more than on a plane, every ship, every cruise is different, and if - god forbid - something happens in the dead of night, I want to have a clue as to where to go and what to do.
  4. Thanks! (and those who said the same). There was an opener already. Australians are no longer accustomed to bottles with actual corks in them, but we needed one for the bottle of sherry we bought in Seville. I brought a couple of Glencairn whisky glasses with me; unlikely to find anything like them aboard an American ship, where the idea of drinking a single malt involves ice and a wide-mouthed tumbler. :eek: But they seem to have perfected wine glasses.
  5. Your cathedral shot is an excellent example of where phone photography is nowadays. There are "clip-on" zooms and macros that help get more difficult shots, but I think for general photography a good phone is all most travellers need nowadays. Something like a Sony RX100 will take it up a level without getting too chunky. But you're then looking at a solid slab of money, well out of the general P&S range. Just about everyone has a phone.
  6. It's physics. If your lens and sensor are about the size of a grain of rice, then there are limits. Basically, if you can slide a camera into your jeans pocket, your phone is probably as good or better. Certainly more convenient. I've got a skinny little Leica C (a rebranded Panasonic DMC-LF1) and it struggled in low light. I doubt I'll travel with it again. I brought it aboard for dinner images and I missed so many shots. When I took some care, it was okay, but it was chancey. My Leica D-Lux was chunkier, with a fixed lens, but performed extremely well. ƒ1.7 - 2.8 10.9 - 34mm lens with an M43 equivalent sensor. It lived in a pouch on my belt. At a pinch, that's all I need. It was easily able to outperform a phone, such as getting a bit of bokeh, or shooting HDR (like straight into the sun). Of course, having something like Lightroom helps a lot. But how many phone cameras shoot RAW? For most people and most purposes, a new-ish phone will do just fine. For those wanting to make photographs that go a step or two further, a P&S isn't going to cut it anyway.
  7. We had no issues bringing any sort of alcohol aboard. But they will pick up things like knives and measure the blades. Anything longer than 10cm and they'll hold it for you until disembarkation. Ice cream is fabulous. We had some salted caramel that was really salty and caramelly, rather than a faint whiff. Likewise other flavours. On Riviera, bring an adaptor and a powerstrip for devices, especially USB. The American outlets are positioned next to the light switches, so any "overhang" on the plug turns the light on. The Euro outlets are a little wider, and the plug prongs go straight in without hitting any switches. Leave the formal wear at home, unless you are into dancing or going ashore in Monte Carlo.
  8. Twice now I've come back from a tour and spent an hour or so ashore looking for a place to buy some grog. Lanzarotte on a Sunday arvo was tightly shut apart from waterfront cafes. Finally found a place in a poorer quarter where a tiny market about the size of my cabin sold me cheap but indifferent beer in a plastic bag. Clinked all the way home. Definitely worthwhile shopping in some of the bigger places, such as Barcelona, to lay in a store. Terminal duty free shops can be hit and miss. The prices can be higher than ashore. Shore-bought wine can be freely consumed with meals, by the way, so long as you order room service. Worth bringing a couple of wine glasses - there was only a couple of glass tumblers in our room.
  9. Riviera has a big dent on the starboard side now. That might be a difference that lasts a while until Marina gets one too.
  10. One last shot of people. The streets were picturesque and exciting, but people walked through it all with their heads in their phones, and the drivers likewise had one hand on the wheel and one hand for their phone. Sweet Jesus, what a place! Back in the bus, down the coast, jump on the ferry, and tender out again. Some great cruise yacht had come in behind us, and she showed up Aurora's boxy lines. We have a great ship, but hardly a looker.
  11. The road up to Genoa for our tour offered some spectacular views up the mountains and down the cliffs. We took the Autostrada, and that was much better, although there was some impressive engineering and tunnelling on display. Some great views over Genoa as we came in, but I didn't have my camera ready, instead we have a view of housing also with views. We looked through three palazzi, all with some great art inside, but although that sort of stuff can excite me, it didn't, and taking pictures of pictures never gets any better than looking them up online. Let's just say that if you wanted to make a buck in Old Italy, you painted for the church or some wealthy patron. People watching was much more fun! Yeah, gypsy vendors all over the shop. You want to buy a pair of genuine Bay-Rans, this is the place. George Clooney has a lot to answer for: But the umbrellas - in many shades - really made the place:
  12. Last full day of the cruise today. Our tour reads "Leisurely Cannes", but apparently there's some local festival going on, so it may be a little more frantic than advertised. Yesterday we anchored off Portofino and tendered in. A lovely but tiny place, with a road in so narrow and bent that tour buses weren't allowed in, so we had to take a ferry to get to the next town along. Which gave me the opportunity to get some shots of the place. The main street is the only street, running along the front. We were in constant danger, just walking along. Stacked full of yachts, with charming little waterfront cafes and clubs. I'll bet this place rocks as the season progresses. I got a tiny paper cut on my ring finger as we checked off the ship. The guy on the gangway spotted the blood - only a smear - and in the wink of an eye had pulled me aside, whipped out the first aid box, pulled on a rubber glove, wiped the area down and expertly applied a bandaid. My self-help would have been to lick the affected area, apply a sterile wipe of my hankie, and stick it in my pocket out of sight. Got to hand it to Oceania, they run very efficient ships. (As a friend commented elsewhere, "Lucky you were docked, a medical evacuation can be expensive.")
  13. Loving it! No huge crowds, no hordes of screaming kids, the food and service is excellent, and I love the cabin. And everything else, I guess. Lanzarotte got a bit of a rap from the port presenter. Made it sound like a blasted wilderness full of dismal people inhabiting a desolate landscape. I was inspired by the reality. The people have overcome any number of obstacles to create and maintain their environment. The blight of condos and resorts and advertising has been kept at bay here through some extraordinary efforts. The national park has a road that curves tightly through some of the more interesting parts. Into a crater, along a collapsed lava tube, and so on. It is restricted to tourist coaches, and private cars forbidden. One lane with as little disturbance to the 280 year old lava beds as possible. The drivers have to be pretty good to keep a big vehicle on the narrow road, often with a steep drop on one side and a jagged rockface on the other. The downside to Lanzarotte was that I went into town on a Sunday afternoon to buy some beer for my balcony drinks, and the place was pretty much closed up tight apart from cafes. Found a tiny market - about the size of my cabin - in the poorer part of town, and I clinked happily all the way back to the shuttle.
  14. Yeah, I could certainly get used to the money gushing out of the bank account like this...
  15. I think at the high end or for specialised photography, photographers will select what they feel most comfortable with. Which, for old hands, will be DSLR unless there is a very good reason for change. But for most photographers and new entrants to specialised and high end fields, why on earth would they change from mirrorless?
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