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sammiedawg

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  1. I wouldn’t characterize him as a bounce around. He was an exec with Renaissance. They went under after 9/11, gee imagine that. Then in 2002, he founded Oceania, known as Prestige Holdings.
  2. Oceania is light worlds better than what Holland America has become. Almost two hundred days on O for us and no significant issues. Of course they are not perfect and we don’t expect it. I am very sad to have just canceled two Oceania Cruises. Some mass market passengers cannot or don’t want to spend money for a better line. So when they sail a better one they critique every morsel of food and every service as if something is life or death. To each his own.
  3. Viking Ocean has higher end food. Viking River seemed to spend less on food and had a limited selection- each night a vegetarian, a fish and a meat dish. The meat dishes were just OK, with a few exceptionals. A couple meals were terrific, including a German roast beef and buffet. The always available meats were tasteless- chicken, strip loin steak. Breakfast, lunch, late day snacks, desserts were fine. They did a nice job on the regional dishes. The river cruise is a nice experience, we did the fourteen day Grand European. I’ve heard the food is better on the Viking river French itineraries.
  4. I just googled this. Few grocery stores sell it due to lack of demand. You can order one pound calves liver from Walmart for $3.68. Amazon and other retailers will ship at various prices. On the higher end I saw 20 ounces for $15-$17. Hopefully the OP can get more for the money than liver and onions.
  5. I was surprised to see someone recommend the liver and onions to begin with, which is an old school cheapie meal. I remember hearing my grandma made it during the post depression era. Even Subway custom makes the subs.
  6. I struggled to come up with a list of what they do well because ingredients, especially meats, have been cheapened so much. You will seen lots of “strip loin” variation on the menus. Designed to fool you into thinking you are getting restaurant quality steak. And at best they are select grade, below what an average supermarket sells (choice). Average butcher shops will feature and sell whole strip lions for five, six dollars a pound and they will cut and package for you. Carnival corporation, buying in bulk, pays much less. Viking river cruises, which spends little on food, features this cut a lot. Lower expectations. Most of it is decent but it is a far cry from what it used to be.
  7. We’ve sailed out of NYC a few times. Never in a full suite but we were onboard by 11:30. They call suites first, then they call PH, staterooms in descending order. Any suite passengers arriving later will always have priority but they will move all lines continually. If there is another ship using the same terminal, checkin might be moved onboard to the lounge. O representatives are looking to direct their passengers straight to the ship.
  8. Ten-twelve years ago I could have listed a number of excellent dishes. Based on the last few HAL cruises??? They do traditional American turkey, dressing very well.
  9. Go with Oceania, a premium line with much better food, ship comfort, service. More ports too, you will see more. On the flip side you will be exhausted with all port days but you can pace yourself as needed. You will have warmer weather later in the summer. Marina is our favorite ship in the fleet and we always look at their itineraries first. I’m not familiar with the sky Princess, must be a new one. I like certain Princess ships for Alaska, (the Coral is the best) and we did a Princess Baltic itinerary nine years ago with a large family group. We had a great time and I still remember the great pizza and lovely crew on board. They had a great lecturer presenting on Russian History and we were well prepared for the ports. Princess offers a very good product for the money but I’ve not been on their mega ships. If tender ports are involved it will be harder to get ashore. We did all private tours and loved SPB tours in St Petersburg. Some Baltic ports are great for DIY touring, which we did and enjoyed.
  10. Walmarts in major destinations like Hawaii stock and sell a high volume of inexpensive car seats, strollers, pack n plays, etc. It is cheaper to buy and donate rather than risk travel damage to expensive baby items used at home. Same thing for beach chairs, snorkel equipment, toys. Hotels will donate the items or give to employees. Glad cruise ships do the same thing.
  11. Fixed dining is the epitome of a banquet experience. Kitchen literally cranks out hundreds of servings of the same course at the same time. We hired the best restaurant group in town to cater our daughter’s wedding. But the wedding food was at a lower level compared to their restaurants. Everything had to be prepped, precooked, cooked and served to hundreds at the same time. We always eat prior to attending any kind of a banquet. There is a reason fine restaurants stagger their reservations.
  12. We did quite a bit of research on this port but our Nautica stop here was canceled due to a medical emergency. The terminology and naming conventions were quite confusing. Two political factions in NI each have their own names for everything. Some call it Derry, some call it Londonderry. The political history of NI is most fascinating and I really hope you visit Belfast. We had planned to ride the shuttle into Derry and do a walking tour with a famous guide named Martin McCrossan. While we were planning, he tragically died unexpectedly and family members were taking over his business. I just checked and derrycitytours.com is running his tours. Check it out. Other passengers were planning private tours to the Giants Causeway and other famous spots. We had previously toured this area a couple other times so we were looking forward to Derry. Love, love this area.
  13. We will not sail the old ships of Holland America. It isn’t just the non working Air conditioning. The HVAC systems appear non functioning. A noxious cigarette smell permeated various areas of these old ships, especially in the vicinity of the casino. Otherwise known as the communal coffin. Smoke haze in many areas. We had air and HVAC problems on Prinsendam too. The cabin air died most nights and some areas were smoke hazes. We would return from port to the ship and melt from the cabin heat. Then the ceiling leaks. Just repulsive. Had to laugh at your last paragraph. Your last sentence is perfect. Front desk people must be trained to feign surprise when they hear the complaints.
  14. Thanks for the second thread. I love your blog. Photos and commentary are terrific. What an itinerary! So many of my favorite places.
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