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About roothy123

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    5,000+ Club

About Me

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  • Interests
    photography, travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Oceania & Viking
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Santorini is my favorite port, but suggest going out of Fira and exploring the island!
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    just pics, but see www.pbase.com/roothy123

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  1. I was very excited to book a cruise that began in Bali. When researching the island however, I found there was little information that focused on what a cruiser might experience. Therefore, I’m sharing my tips for making your Bali adventure a great one, whether you’re there for a day or a week. I worried about things pre-visit – having stomach problems, getting grilled by Indonesian customs officials about medications, being bothered by jet lag, heat, humidity, mosquitos, and sunburn. I wasn’t sure my phone would work. (It didn't.) I was afraid to drink coffee because I was unsure what water was used. I was confused by the money (millions of rupiah – really?) Mostly we had no trouble at all, but I was still glad I took the time to research, plan, and be prepared for just about anything. My advice is as follows: If possible, go to Bali early for your cruise. There isn’t much close to the port, and you won’t see much of Bali if you fly in and go directly to the port. If nothing else, going early will allow you to get a start on overcoming jetlag, and provide a cushion in case your flight is late and the traffic to the port is bad. (Bali traffic can be unpredictable.) Hire a driver in advance, whether you just need a few rides to a hotel or port, have only one day on a cruise, or spend many days in Bali. Other than possible expensive shore excursions purchased from the ship, there aren’t great options for touring other than using a driver. However, you won’t regret hiring one, and it will cost a lot less than taking a ship’s excursion. You’ll also have more flexibility in planning your day - for example, if the heat and humidity get to you and you want to come back sooner than expected. If you hire an experienced driver, there’s no need to worry about not making it back to the ship on time. I booked a driver months in advance on the recommendation of a Cruise Critic poster, and my spouse and I were extremely pleased with his service. He spoke great English, was extremely knowledgeable, and was very responsive to my emails. I researched what I wanted to see and then asked if it would be possible to see those things. He met us at the airport, took us to our hotel in Sanur, and then took us to Ubud for sightseeing the next day. Then we had a full day of sightseeing around the greater Ubud area with him, and then a trip down to the cruise port in Benoa. His price was very reasonable. He accepted Indonesian rupiah or USD (and possibly other money), and his car was late model, air conditioned, and large enough for lots of luggage and our aging, growing bodies. If you’d like to see what he can offer, you can contact him: Dewa Gede Email – dgrock1140@yahoo.com Whatsapp +6285 238 493 089 Line +6285 238 493 089 Mobile 085 238 493 089 Facebook dewa dg In particular, if you want to go to Ubud, he’s an excellent choice, as he has lived there his whole life and knows the area extremely well. We learned so much. In addition to telling us about what we were seeing, he knew the cost of places we wanted to visit, and took us to restaurants he thought we’d like and our western stomachs would tolerate. He warned us to be careful when getting out of his vehicle so we wouldn’t be grazed by the ever-present scooters zooming by. He sensed when I wanted to stop for a picture, and suggested good vantage points at sites we visited. He even took us to his home, where we met his family, and learned about a typical living situation for Balinese people. That particular day was a Hindu celebration day, and we were able to watch a typical celebration. Honestly, he was the best driver and guide we could have asked for. He told us that when he drives cruisers around, the farthest he can go is Ubud, due to the timing involved and distance from port. But since we had extra time there, he took us a bit farther. OK, so now you hopefully have a driver lined up. As for what to expect if you fly in to Bali: The airport is smallish but fairly typical except for a few quirky things. I had ordered a wheelchair for my spouse. The young woman who brought it was wonderful. For immigration there was a long line, but she took us to a very short line off to the side. I think that was the special line for seniors that I had read about, but I’m not positive. Baggage arrival was pretty slow, and then all luggage had to be put through an x-ray machine. (Yes, it’s x-rayed after arrival in Bali). Then we went to the customs check, handing in our one form per family, despite the fact that Cathay Pacific told us we each had to fill out a form. We had heard that Bali was very strict on medications, so we had obtained the recommended letter from our doctor listing our medications. We had also left medications in their original containers, with labels. All in all, we got out of the airport fairly quickly, although it is apparently not unusual for this to take 2 or 3 hours. Plan accordingly. Once you get to the airport exit, if you’ve lined up a driver, you’ll see a huge number of drivers waiting for people, so look for your name. We had downloaded whatsapp before we left home so we could communicate with Dewa. I had not used that app before, but found it easy to use and free, at least for us with our T Mobile phone service. Dewa texted us on whatsapp to let us know he was waiting for us, and we texted back when we got our luggage. I had also sent a picture of us beforehand so he could look for us. Once out of the airport, we walked a short distance with Dewa to where he left to get the car. It’s very congested there (not unlike most airports I’ve been to), but after 5 minutes or so he drove up, put our bags in his vehicle, and off we went on our great adventure. Oh, and if you hire Dewa (pronounced “day wah”), keep in mind there are many, many men named Dewa in Bali, so make sure you meet up with the right one! I really left my heart in Bali, and his excellent driving and guiding certainly enhanced our visit. (We visited temples, a waterfall, Jatiluwih Rice Fields, Sangeh Monkey Forest, Setia Darma Mask & Puppet Museum, small artsy villages like Mas, Goa Gajah elephant cave, his living compound, a Barong and Keris show, a Tumpek Landep celebration/blessing, and more. We also spent a night at Sanur beach (Segara Village Hotel, another great experience) with its unusual, colorful boats. As for Bali, I was not prepared for the extreme humidity – around 80 or 90 percent, I think. Perhaps bring a wash cloth or towel! I’m pretty heat tolerant, but found it stifling. It saps your strength – be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. Jetlag was a problem. I woke up at 2:30 or 3 in the morning three days in a row and couldn’t get back to sleep. But Bali is safe, and at 4 or 5 in the morning it’s quiet, so I went out to explore. I’ll remember those very early walks for a long time – very memorable. In Ubud I walked up Bisma, Monkey Forest, and Kajeng, and walked around the area near our hotel (The Runik - small place, great location, reasonable - loved it). Roosters, dogs sleeping in streets, the smell of incense, and a city waking up turned out to be magical! But one thing I learned after the first early morning jetlag experience was that it’s a LONG time before breakfast. If there’s no minibar where you’re staying, buy some snacks and water before you go to bed! In general, watch out for sunburn and mosquitos, don’t step on the offerings in the streets, put your phone on airplane mode, wash your hands a lot, bring Immodium from home just in case, and look for scooters when crossing a street! Stay to the left on streets. Be very careful of water. I tied a string across the sink to remind me to use bottled water. Watch out for the occasional 21 percent lodging tax and the up to 3 percent charge for credit card use at many places. Use a little cheat sheet or a conversion app to convert Indonesian rupiah to your home currency. Enjoy the many Australian accents you’ll hear. Most of all, enjoy the beauty of Bali and its wonderful people. As for the port, depending upon the size of your ship and whether there is another ship in town, you will either dock or anchor/tender. We docked, so I can’t comment on how long the tendering might take. There is a small terminal at the dock, with several vendors selling Balinese items. There are no prices and bargaining is expected. I used a small amount of leftover rupiah to buy a small, round straw bag. I assume they accept other currencies as well. They told me they would stay there until the ship left. Thanks for listening, and hope my comments help you have a wonderful time in Bali!
  2. We embarked the ship in Bali, so this probably isn't going to help you much. We are also able to walk and stand for about 15-20 minutes at a time. However, I CAN tell you that the process to embark Oceania in Bali was pretty easy and fast, around 1 pm, with no waiting. The port is not huge, but like almost all ocean ports, there IS some walking involved. You may want to contact this person to ask if he could find out for you whether he could pick you up from the airport or hotel in Bali, drive you to the port, park, and if possible, find out if they have a wheelchair you can use. Or who knows, maybe this driver knows one he can borrow. While we didn't need a wheelchair, I would not be the least surprised if the driver would be willing to help you out -- assuming he's available on the day you would need him. His name is Dewa Gede and here's his contact info; just email him and explain your situation: dgrock1140@yahoo.com I can't say enough good things about him. Someone on Cruise Critic recommended him to me, and he drove us to our hotel, drove us to the city of Ubud, and took us sightseeing for 3 days. If that doesn't help, perhaps you can post your questions on the Trip Advisor boards (tripadvisor.com). Perhaps someone can tell you if there's a wheelchair to be borrowed in the port for Bali, which is in the city of Benoa. At least a local might be able to find out what your options are. Or perhaps your husband could sit down and wait somewhere in the port while you check in, then explain to the people doing the check in process that you'll go get your husband so they can take his picture, etc. Viking will likely have someone in the port walking around to help people, answer questions, etc. It's a great cruise line, and similar to Oceania. We were greeted in Bali by one of the entertainers on the ship when we came. I don't remember what the seating situation was like, though - but almost all ports I've been to have a waiting area, so you'll likely be OK. There were a few vendors inside the port selling things (bargain hard!!) when we embarked, and port staff were handing out the usual health form you have to fill out and sign. Then you go to the desks where you check in. Bali is extremely hot and humid; be prepared, and take water.
  3. Thank you for the replies, and more will be welcome. Our ship wasn't scheduled to dock in Picton, and the Destinations staff had to hustle to find some excursions to offer. They have some excursions that are fairly interesting but kind of limited - no sheep farm, no Motuara, etc. I am leaning towards trying to get on an 8 AM Beachcombers boat trip to Motuara, but not sure I can make it there on time, and after the changes to itinerary we've experienced, I'm not sure I want to spend more money on something that I could miss and end up paying for after I miss it. But of course the ship's excursions are quite expensive, so I'd prefer to find something on my own -- but don't have anyone to share with if that's needed to keep the price down. But I'm looking....
  4. We are making an unscheduled stop in Picton. I am hoping to do something fun to see some of the surrounding area, not just the little town. If anyone has been to Motoara (spelling?) Island for the wildlife sanctuary there (mostly birds) or Waipupu Sanctuary, I'd love to hear about it. If you took a boat tour, was it worthwhile in your opinion? I'm mostly hoping to see nice scenery, but birds or animals would be a plus. I'd prefer not to walk more than a mile or so. I realize the route into Picton by cruise ship is scenic, but we get in before 7 and don't think I'll be up to see anything. Then when we leave it will still be light, but no guarantees I'll be outside to watch what I can watch. Any particular recommendations for Picton? I'm not a wine person, so would rate those excursions at the bottom unless the scenery is spectacular. I don't suppose there are any lighthouses, are there? Wish I had more time to research.....
  5. Well, I don't know what the actual law is in Australia, except that we were told it was the Biosecurity Act 2015, and that we could be fined almost 13,000 AUD or get 12 months in prison if we were caught. The cruise director had to make an announcement every morning while in Australia that NO food could be taken off, and there was an announcement in the daily paper that basically stated the same This was apparently to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever. There was also a video on our TV as well, as the detection dog during both of our stops in Burnie, Tasmania. We also had to go through pretty strict immigration/customs checks - face to face on the ship pre-Australia, and we personally had to fill out another Incoming Passenger Card so we could get off in Burnie for the second time. We've been told that New Zealand will be a little less vigilant, but since we haven't gotten there yet, I can't say for sure what will happen. But food was quite available in all the Australia stops, so not taking food off the ship wasn't really a problem.
  6. We were in Burnie yesterday and also a week before on two cruises. The first day I didn't plan anything and took one of the (few) excursions you could book at the Makers Workshop, where the shuttles drop. It was called something like Scenic Surrounds and was operated by Crawn Motors in a small bus with maybe 7 other people. I think it was about 3 hours. It was OK for the money ($75 AUD) but not fantastic. The first stop was at Fern Glad, a place where the elusive and unusual platypus can be seen -- but rarely during the day. We saw nothing and just wandered a short ways for about 10 minutes. Then we went to Hellyers Distillery and were given our choice of a sample of their product - whisky, including the cream kind. We were there maybe a half hour. We also went to a waterfall but there has been a real drought in Australia, including Taz, and it was nice but not spectacular. We also went to a lookout where I photographed a lighthouse and nice scenery. We were in the town of Wynyard as well, and perhaps made one other stop. The countryside was pretty and the weather was good. Yesterday we went with 2 other people I found on my Roll Call on a 4 hour tour in the area - east along the coast to see Mersey Bluffs (scenic) and a lighthouse, and eventually to Devonport - a pretty nice town on the water. On the way we made a short visit to the little town of Penguin and a 10 minute stop at Ulverstone where there's a very interesting clock. Then we went south to Sheffield, which has a lot of beautiful murals. It was a custom tour by That's The Spirit Tours and they did a great job. Stuart, one of the owners, took us around, gave us lot of great info, and had scoped out exactly where I wanted to go before hand to make sure parking was available, determine best time of day, etc. It was a little over 4 hours and $125 AUD. It was much better than the Scenic Surrounds tour the week before. I would recommend That's the Spirit in a heartbeat - and it's even better if you're interested in a particular thing - scenery, art, quirkiness, lighthouses, whatever. You can customize the tour, as long as That's the Spirit feels they can do what you want in 4 hours or so. The car was comfortable for the 4 of us - largest person sitting up front and 3 in the back. However, if you have 4 larger people, you may want to book 2 cars or ask for a larger vehicle. The price is the same - per person, and Stuart and his brother Todd were willing to take just 2 of us if that's what we wanted. So I'd suggest hiring these guys to take you where you want to go, or to suggest an itinerary. From feedback I got on the ship, people also enjoyed their ship's excursion to Wings Wildlife, but the gardens they were taken to were kind of a disappointment - perhaps due to the draught?? Afterwards on our first day, we took the shuttle into the town. The shuttle makes 3 stops, and you'll get that info when you get to Burnie and get on the shuttle. Town has a number of regular and thrift shops, but nothing particularly unusual in terms of shopping, but the Makers Workshop (1st shuttle stop) has really nice things made by artists. Some of the artists are working right there. Burnie also has 2 museums, but we didn't go to those. While at Makers, you might want to walk out the back, across the railroad tracks, and look on the boardwalk for mounds of concrete that can be housing penguin chicks. You'll likely need to get down on your hands and needs to see them, though. The penguins come to the burrows at night. We were met by the mayor of the town at the port, and on our first visit, some musicians. Also met by a sniffing beagle - no food is allowed to be taken off the ship, and Australia takes that very seriously. Enjoy Burnie; it's a nice place! Say hi to Stuart or Todd Ashdown for us (Ruth the lighthouse nut & Howard the character.)
  7. If you decide not to drive for any reason, I know that CJays Tours does an excursion there.
  8. Just posting again on here so could get notification of replies. Thanks.
  9. Our cruise ship is now avoiding Milford Sound and going to Picton instead (because of a storm). For those who have been to Picton, I need to figure out pretty quickly what to do there. I, like the other poster, am interested in scenery and nature. Since we'll cruise in very early morning, some of the boat tours (like the mail run) don't work with our hours. I'm leaning towards taking a boat trip to Motuara Wildlife Sanctuary, which I gather is mostly birds. If anyone has been there, I'd love to hear your impressions - did you have to walk long distances? was the trip there scenic (looks to be different route from where ferries and probably cruise ships travel). Did anyone do a boat trip? If so, in your opinion, was it worthwhile for scenery/possible wildlife sightings? As for Wellington, I haven't been there yet, but I understand there is a shuttle to a couple places, including one that's within fairly easy walking distance of the cable car.
  10. I'm nearing the end of my cruise, which started in Bali. We used the driver mentioned above by Hallasm, and he was wonderful. Hiring a driver was definitely a great idea. This one does definitely take cruise passengers around the island, and told me that the Ubud area is about the farthest he can take cruise ship passengers, and if tendering takes a long time, even that may be out of the question. But I would, nevertheless, hire a driver, and now can highly recommend Dewe Gede . His vehicle was very roomy, air conditioned, and comfortable. He was fabulous - spoke great English, showed me good photography angles or places to stand, offered to carry my camera bag, helped me plan wonderful days, and was just an extremely nice man. He's from Ubud but has been all over the island, so can help you decide what you want to do, whether it's just a day on the beach or a day elsewhere. As for Bali port, our ship was docked, but many ships tender. There were two vendors in the small port terminal when we were there, selling typical touristy items. There are no prices, and you should bargain. There wasn't anything else in the terminal, so if you really want something to carry on like sodas, wine, whatever, get it before you go to the port. There may have been wifi, but I didn't check for it. Cruising out was kind of interesting - went through a fairly narrow channel where people were doing watersports, etc Airplanes were going right overhead. Then after a while there was nothing.......and a lot of nothing until we reached Australia and our next port! I didn't see any evidence of cabs being available right there, but there may have been some; not really sure. However, since Bali drivers pay a fee, for every person in the car, not just the driver, to enter the port, I'm thinking that not every driver in Bali flocks to the port on cruise ship days - not exactly an inexpensive thing to do! I loved Bali, but the heat and humidity were a little daunting. But the other things we feared before arriving, for example, getting sick from food we weren't accustomed to, or getting sick from drinking non-bottled water, turned out to be non-issues. But we WERE careful, and the driver helped us out by taking us places that he thought were good for visitors, and everything was fine.
  11. Well, at least you made it in there. I still haven't been, except to poke my head in there once out of curiosity!
  12. Sorry, I didn't mean "smoky" literally, or that there was smoking allowed in there! "Subdued lighting" is no doubt more accurate!
  13. Well, this is what I remember, but laundry and entertainment are not my special interests, so hopefully someone else will jump in here to add or correct. There's no scent to the detergent and spouse is not aware of any fabric softener, though he saw a few people who brought fabric softener sheets. (We're not sure if liquid can be added.) We're also not sure about a second rinse option - spouse says he was never quite sure that those international symbols on the machines meant! The music often but not always has a classical slant, but the Viking house band can play a reasonably diverse set of music, with vocals. New Year's Eve was actually fairly rocking last year - definitely plenty of "current" music. There is usually a smattering of shows offered like a Beatles musical presentation, and various musical "stations" on the TV (variety of genres). As for a piano, there's one in the Atrium, but not too many people play it other than.Viking performers, though I suppose you could if you wanted to! I never attended the small musical presentations in the smoky bar venue - Frank Sinatra or whatever, but there may be a piano in there. Or there may be a piano elsewhere; not sure. All I play is a CD player. Definitely no karaoke.
  14. To Athens, I doubt it; most people buy a transfer or excursion take a train. There's probably info in the Ports of Call section. It's not hard. I think there might be a bus, too, but the train isn't bad, as long as you don't have luggage. (Port is not right by train station.)
  15. We were in Riga, but it was in 2012, so it's possible things have changed. But when we were there, we docked right in town, although I can't remember if we were on Marina or one of the smaller ships, and sometimes that makes a difference. I don't think there was a shuttle, but it wasn't really needed. We did a fairly short walk to where we could pick up the Hop On Hop Off bus (so-so) and explored a large market, gorgeous church, etc. Then I walked over to to where the wonderful art nouveau buildings were - pretty astounding if you're the least interested in architecture. Sorry, I don't remember the details for those buildings, but you could likely google and find them. It was a little tricky finding the exact street number, though, as the street numbering wasn't done the same way numbering in the U.S. is usually done. I remember walking back to the ship, so it obviously wasn't horribly far. I think the address of the "blue" building in the photo was 10B Elizabetes; other one was on Albertas street. But in answer to your question - Riga, no shuttle.
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