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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. Thanks to those who corrected the misinformation about Oceania free cruises. Especially the statement that a free cruise is limited to an inside cabin. In our experience and from talking to fellow guests, Oceania slightly upgrades the level of the free cabin but generally you get the average of what you previously booked. It certainly is not free, 20 cruise credits will cost quite a bit. But it is a fun reward. As far as getting into O specialty restaurants, everyone is guaranteed a minimum number of seatings, depending on cabin level and length of cruise. Extra reservations are available on board, we’ve gotten quite a few. We love Oceania but I would say if someone is stretching their budget to sail a premium or lux line, they will probably spend a lot of time critiquing just about everything. Back in the day when we were paying for multiple college degrees, undergrad and graduate, weddings, helping newly marrieds get started, we sailed a lot of Princess. It was a good value, much like Holland America. Other than their Alaska program, there is nothing on Princess that I would judge to be superior to a premium line. You get what you pay for. i wouldn’t try to compare reward programs.between mass market and premium /lux lines. Their pricing structures are night and day. When passengers are getting on board for $399 a week, rewards will not amount to much.
  2. You won’t gain an ounce. Dinner options were limited and portions small. There will be apples available, cookies snatched up very quickly. A few evenings a late night dessert or soup was served, Food on Viking river was average to mediocre. Their always available chicken and steak had a freezer to microwave consistency,
  3. The ferry is easy to walk to from the cruise ship area in Sorrento and Naples, not sure about getting there from Amalfi. Everyone advises to buy round trip tickets and allow sufficient time to get back to the ship. Rick Steve’s guidebooks have precise instruction on how to quickly see all levels of Capri from the ferry landing site. We followed his precise directions, starting with buying a funicular ticket at ground level. At the second level you buy a bus ticket to get to the top and ride the chair lifts. Most of the ferry crowd runs to the Blue Lagoon launch area, we’ve never done this. I think Oceania will offer an excursion to Capri but you can DIY.
  4. We did our one and only river cruise with Viking five years ago. At the time, Viking had the most visibility and other river boat lines were somewhat unknown. I didn’t care for the river boat regimentation as compared to ocean cruises. Viking had set dining times and everyone went on excursions at the same time. We picked up a last minute pricing deal that included a nice air itinerary and well organized transfers. The biggest weakness was food, limited choices and very small portions at dinner. We didn’t have to worry about weight gain. The always available menu included chicken and a cheap steak, both had a freezer to microwave consistency. But one night they had a superb German buffet with the best roast beef I’ve ever eaten. Lunch was soup, pasta, salad every day. A chef made the pasta to order. Quality was decent. They also had a handful of menu items. Breakfast buffet was decent. A few evenings they served a late night dessert or soup but otherwise no food options after dinner. The previously mentioned cookies were quickly snatched up. They usually had apples out. For lunch, on a couple days they had tasty burgers or shish kabob at the Aquavit Terrace. Tours were generally excellent, quite varied in content. Nothing cheap about the included tours offered. We upgraded a couple and went to a memorable concert in Vienna. Local entertainers and lecturers came onboard a few times. Service was adequate. There are are too many passengers on board for the size of the ship, 190. They brought in folding chairs for the evening meetings or lectures. Seating on the sun deck was not comfortable, cheap mesh and metal loungers.
  5. I was born into a Steeler family so I understand Dottie. I broke away. Preseason debut tonight- go Baker, go Browns! We have a good team, come back to the dawgs.
  6. I believe HAL still serves most of the buffet food. I get a kick out of some HAL loyalists who post on. CC. Let me tell you, those pins and meetings where the pins are awarded mean everything to some. And they literally rush the doors to get into a loyalty lunch where standard food is served. You our will be OK since you lowered your expectations. Applebee ‘s food is tastier but same cheap ingredients and cheap cuts of meat. Olive Garden beats the HAL “Italian restaurant” which has a surcharge. Pay the surcharge and you will reek of garlic for at least a day.
  7. CD’s are not important to us. I recognized most of the names in this thread and liked each one well enough. I like Dottie and Tom a lot and don’t find her annoying. Maybe she has a couple extra announcements. She works very hard and is an all around pleasant person.
  8. No and no. GDR is open dining, no reservation system and no fixed times. At the podium, you are asked if you wish to dine alone or share a larger table. We often say we would like a four top, knowing one or two people will join us. We’ve had solo travelers seated with us to make a threesome. Specialty restaurants are by reservation.
  9. Not a solo traveler but in almost 200 days on board Oceania, we have always been asked at the GDR podium “ do you wish to dine alone or share a table.?” All open dining in the GDR, there is no reservation system. I don’t recall seeing anyone sitting alone. We have been at GDR four tops many times and have had solo travelers seated with us, for a threesome. in contrast, access to the specialty restaurants is controlled by reservations. Every cruiser is guaranteed a certain number of specialty reservations. How many you get depends on the length of the cruise and your level of accommodations. Two tops are hard to get unless you are in the early group to reserve. I am scratching my head on this report. Regent is good for solo travelers.
  10. I have been aware of this restriction but only because I’ve read cruise critic for years. Doubt the average American knows anything about it. And why would an American do extensive research before they enter Canada? I never have and we are Alaskan affectionados, we’ve taken multiple trips that involve a port in Canada. Travel agents never mentioned this issue and never heard a word about it on board a ship. I know someone with a DUI history x 2 or 3. This person has taken several Alaskan cruises and never mentioned a hint of a problem. My impression is hodgepodge enforcement. No DUI’s here.
  11. Many cruise lines from luxury on down have relaxed dress codes because people do not want to dress up on vacation. They can look as nice or better in country club casual wear, nice fabrics, collared shirts or nice blouses. I have worn nice khaki capris on multiple cruise lines and have never been turned away from a dining venue. Not sure if your boys could get away with cropped khakis or whatever trendy stores call young men’s pants. But if you are sure they won’t wear pants I would cancel the reservation. I don’t agree with those that advise you to eat dinner in the buffet. I wouldn’t relegate myself to evening buffet meals. If if you have plans to do a lot in port I wouldn’t worry too much about entertainment. But more active lines would be more fun for your kids. Royal Caribbean will be more expensive but much more active with lots and lots to do.
  12. We’ve done several private tours in this region. All were good but the most memorable was Marcello Maresca from seesorrento.com. He took us to a fantastic Mom and Pop restaurant between Amalfi and Ravello. Previous guides took us to Mom and Pop places in Positano, all were great. Marcello is very blunt and to the point, especially when it comes to shopping stops. He tells you up front not to book him if you want to shop for trinkets. He has extensive knowledge of the area and is one of our favorite guides ever.
  13. I see nothing wrong with buying gift cards using AMEX.
  14. I used to buy lots of gift cards but now consider them mostly a nuisance. Unless it is purchased for an 80% discount at the warehouse store or directly from the vendor. The two grocery chains offering fuel perk, fuel reward programs both devalued the program. We have analytic people in the family who advise that the best travel deals are in high end credit cards. Benefits include travel insurance and reward points that are actually worth something. Also, I constantly receive cash back offers, including travel companies. I get ten percent cash back offers all the time from Crystal cruises, max $450. It is per card, we have individual accounts. Travel insurance is per account as well. I would not mix and match credit cards, gift cards.
  15. Car services will add on tolls. Drivers choose the routing depending on traffic and exactly where you are going, east side, west side, etc. Time is money. Tolls vary by bridge, tunnel and a couple bridges are free to cars- Queensboro or Brooklyn bridge had no tolls the last I knew. Carmel had a flat rate charge LGA to midtown that was reasonable. You will see their signs all over the airport with the current fee. Uber offers terrific service and no extra tipping is required, I’ve been told this over and over by family living in NYC. The app will give you a range of pricing, choice of vehicle. On occasion, we have done a shared ride within the city for very low cost, never waiting more than a few minutes but you might have to cross the street for the shared vehicle. Always memorize license plate info that will be on the app, I memorize the last three digits, make and model and you will see the drivers photo. The app will tell you where to meet the car, depending on which terminal at LGA. Sometimes a discount code appears when you first download the Uber app.
  16. Sunday morning is fairly quiet, unless it is a holiday weekend like Columbus Day. Uber will be readily available. We’ve also used Carmel- you can call the 800 number for Carmel and an get immediate operator or use the app. The taxi line is across the street from the terminal. I’ve seen lines there but taxis frequent the area.
  17. We’ve been on both lines. Viking has a nice product, beautiful ships. We enjoyed their specialty restaurants. Food in the Restaurant was above mass market level. Oceania gets our vigorous vote as superior in food, service and ship comfort. Especially Marina and Riviera. Viking includes an excursion in every port which is built into the price. We are not fond of this amenity.
  18. Credit cards often have travel insurance that would include a medical cancelation. Call ASAP.
  19. Lovely port, we were there on another cruise line last year. Lovely sail in. The locals put major effort into welcoming cruise ship passengers. The best deal is a HOHO bus that takes you to a couple neighboring towns, we rode two circuits for ten or fifteen dollars pp. buy tickets at the terminal area. Nice narration on board.
  20. $1000 a day for the Prinsendam. In American money??? I have land to sell, please call me. This was a chopped up aging ship, I didn’t feel the charm over 14 days on board and we were not in bargain accommodations. Got tired of stuffing wash cloths in between dresser drawers to stop rattling. We were never able to stop a pocket door from rattling. Got tired of the AC going out every day. Got tired of the musty odor we had in the stateroom. Got tired of the tremendous volume of stinky cigarette smoke permeating the library and other public areas. Never got used to the chopped up traffic flow, we had to walk through a dining room over and over to get places. Some doors from the promenade deck led into the dishwashing area of the kitchen, then you had to walk through the cooking area and into a dining room to get out. The decor was dated and a little tacky with hundreds of port plaques covering wall space. There was very little outdoor shade, pool side chairs were cheap mesh and plastic and in full sun. We paid for every bottled water we drank- even Fairfield Inn type places provide a couple free water bottles. Food is subjective but we thought it was standard for the fleet.
  21. Been on both and Coral Princess is terrific for Alaska. We’ve done Princess Coral Alaska more than a few times. It has the best viewing platforms, just below the bridge, promenade decks, balconies. It was built for Panama Canal and Alaskan scenic cruising and to my knowledge it has not been butchered yet. Sister ship island Princess has been enlarged. In our opinion, the Princess alaskan program beats Holland but Holland is OK for Alaska. But there is nothing special about the vista class ships like Noordam, , although we liked the ship in other locales. The cruise tour tour offered by Princess is one of the great travel experiences, not because it is luxurious or fancy. But if you haven’t been to Alaska this is a good start. Food and accommodations in the lodges is average. Every Lodges is unique, the atmosphere is generally charming. The Fairbanks lodge is open year round, reminds me of a Marrriott Courtyard. The Copper River lodge is remote and hotel like. The Denali lodge is a massive complex, a little hokey. Some people dislike the Princess McKinley lodge because it is remote but you can ride the shuttle into Talkeetna from there. We love the Kenai wilderness lodge, charming cabins in a gorgeous area. Cruise tours offer an in-depth exposure to Alaska culture and scenery at the most reasonable price. Princess organization, bus guides, train guides were excellent as are the naturalists on the ship. But ten days is not long enough, look at the longer day land tour options so you see more. Most cruise tours do not include food, which is fine for us. It is pay as you go. Some tours include meals and a guide who stays with the group, most do not.
  22. Totally agree. If I don’t care for the cruise ship or hotel I feel like I’m wasting my time.
  23. Carnival Corp has Seabourn for any loyalists who love the brand. Premium and luxury lines have flourished for decades. Their customer base mostly came over from mass market lines like Holland America, Princess, Celebrity. We’ve been on quite a few of these lines. They are more expensive but their overall products are superior. Not many of their customers go back and forth to the mass markets but many alternate the premium and luxury lines. Trying something different is good.
  24. We did the math onboard Prinsendam and didn’t see the value. Pretty much same food and service as other Holland ships. Not even a small bottle of water was added in as complimentary. Even an interstate Days Inn throws in a couple generic bottled waters in the room. . I won’t get into the mechanical and cabin issues. . I did the math for Oceania years ago before my first booking, have not cared since to run the numbers. . I evaluate the overall product for a generic per diem and by far it is our best value and most enjoyable. We’ve been on. One lines. We’ve done family Disney cruises and their per diem is stiff but you are paying for the characters and the entertainment. But if you see your child or grandchild with Minnie it is all worth it. I was irritated at the last minute Disney push for cash tips, even after we paid the daily gratuity pp. I would not sail Disney as solo adults.
  25. We haven’t had difficulty any getting on the first or second tender. You can look at the excursion list and figure when the first ship tours assemble. Just be there early with your group. and definitely tell the CD or shore excursion people in the lounge you would appreciate an early ticket. And a couple times an announcement was made for independents to go straight down to the tender area for an express ride.
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