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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. Oceania excels in food, service and ship comfort over Viking. Viking specialty restaurants are close in quality to Oceania specialties. Other dining venues are a notch or two below O. Viking throws in a few extras and there is an included excursion per port. These tours are very basic. It depends on the port and your expectations whether this is advantageous or not. If you don’t take the tours you won’t get full value for what you pay. Viking and Oceania ships are beautiful and well maintained. Viking lacks shaded outdoor dining venues and the pool deck roof is kept closed more than we like. Investigate Viking final payment policies which we dislike. Our Viking trips have been booked closer to sailing date to bypass this policy. We never use Oceania air but we’ve done Viking air twice. Viking has more gateway cities and their air deviation fee is much less, I think it was $50. Viking includes free transfers if you book their air. Viking Air itineraries were pretty good.
  2. Thanks for the report. We are on the October 26 sailing and it will be our second Sirena cruise. Did they bring any local entertainers on board?
  3. We go over and over again on Alaska cruise tours, most of them are southbound to Vancouver. I’ve read threads like this for years and always scratch my head. We’ve made 11am flights to the US a few times with no issues. The latest we flew out was noon and we took the airport train for that one, it was easy. We always disembark at the earliest time and grab a taxi. We don’t do cruise bus transfers. One time we stayed overnight at a downtown hotel to sightsee. Then took the earliest flight out in the am. We have global entry now but didn’t have it then.
  4. Viking is a nice step up from the mass markets. But you must like ship tours to get value from Viking. Be aware the included excursions will be simple overview tours. The comments about princess super grand class ships are spot on. Too many people. We still like princess for Alaska but we only do the coral princess. Sorry to hear ihow bad the food has become.
  5. Minority opinion but I didn’t care for the Viking tea. The space was too small. People seated on top of each other and the room was very noisy. Compared to Oceania it was disappointing. The venue is too small. Would not bother with it again.
  6. Oceanfront property may have a million dollar deductible. I’m not aware of any resort properties here that might be owned by deep pocket corporations like Marriott. There is no insurance in the world that completely assumes the risk of a hurricane. Talk to anyone impacted by storms in the US. I won’t go into detail on property owned by extended family damaged by Sandy, other than to say massive personal funds were needed to remediate and rebuild. There will be insurance exclusions. Many insurance companies refuse to write for wind. Owners of OF property assume a lot of risk. I’ve followed this story after visiting last March. There were reports some resort properties did not do much of anything to remediate for mold and other damage. Some managers allegedly told employees not to bother because they were going for full insurance coverage. Resorts will eventually be torn down.
  7. We were there in March with Viking Oceans and their included tour was a trip to the French side. The damage was devastating and we didn’t see much, if any rebuilding. We saw almost no tourists, save for a few people waiting for the ferry to St Bart’s. Hotels, eateries were mostly closed. Minimal commerce was up and running. To kill time on the tour, we were taken to a building featuring a Carousel and a birthday party venue. Lots of politics at play but the bottom line is lack of funding to rebuild. It will take decades.
  8. The library and Baristas can be reconfigured by incorporatng the Internet room on the other side. It is an underutilized space, often empty or perhaps a few users sitting at computers. This area would accommodate comfortable seating areas. They could remove the existing library chairs to open up the space. I really don’t expect any major reconfiguration of the ships. This is an opportunity to tweak the library areas.
  9. I agree the library layout needs a redo with better lighting and relocated seating. But otherwise these two ships pretty much dazzle me.
  10. Several years ago we were on another cruise line that hosted Pitcairn residents. They hawked their crafts, ate lots of great food and presented a few lectures about their lives. I was puzzled why uniformed policemen followed the group around. Then the next day, one of the Polynesian experts presented the real story, in graphic detail. I have mixed emotions whether they should be brought onboard. But I believe it is important to teach all things historical in hopes that history doesn’t repeat itself.
  11. We didn’t find comfortable shade on the Vikingnocean ships. There are shaded areas aft on the promenade deck but the space is wasted on tables and chairs. We never saw anyone sitting at the tables. Lounge chairs are needed. Also, there are ventilation problems on the pool deck. No air circulates when the roof is closed. We noted an unexplained propensity to keep the roof closed.
  12. I will be sad for all if EI is missed. We are 0 for 2 there including both days of a scheduled two day visit. Unsure if we will try again. Crossing my fingers.
  13. I believe people are fundamentally honest. Cruise lines eliminating libraries are scapegoating onboard “thieves” to divert attention from a cutback. Oceania has the best libraries. Shelves fully stocked to the point that sometimes they don’t have room for all of them. Open cabinet doors underneath and there will be scores of extra books. On the Oceania R ships, the library is even better with better lighting and better chair placement. I still take a kindle. I have the original one ever sold. It is practically an antique but recharges very quickly and works perfectly. For anyone interested, Amazon runs ridiculous specials on brand new ones and on the books. Black Friday is around the corner.
  14. Other cruise lines maintain fully stocked libraries without an attendant in the room. But they actually invest money to continually buy newly released books. I routinely find current best sellers and/or new and notable books. Some attrition of books is inevitable, books can be lost, damaged, misplaced by the reader and accidentally packed. I don’t believe there is mass theft, I just don’t. If Holland America experiences mass theft, perhaps they are fire sailing too many $399 weeks. Higher prices might improve the onboard experience and keep the riff raff out.
  15. No, the only tangible benefit is the free laundry at 200 days. Loyalty benefits are discounts to encourage on board spending. But I would never book a cruise on any line because of “benefits”. We choose cruises based on ship quality, food and service.
  16. You don’t have to eat in the buffet, get your money’s worth at dinner in the dining room. We take our little ones to nice dinner restaurants all the time. They do very well as long as they can watch a video or a movie via I phone. Sometimes they scroll photos or play online games. Cruise ship Internet probably won’t support streaming video but you can have hand held devices, etch a sketch, crayons, connect the dot activities for them to do. Choose open dining, place your order quickly and tell your waiter to serve at a quick pace. You can be in and out in 45 minutes. If your little one is restless, have dessert in the buffet.
  17. Absolutely, positively, start over and book your own flights. My Conde Naste rated travel agent set me straight on flights to FP. You cannot fly in the day of. You cannot miss a connection because on most days there is no other flight to switch to and no empty seats to take. We also didn’t want the O charter flights that arrive late on the day the ship sails, you will arrive half dead. We didn’t want a red eye flight. Two years ago we sailed from PPT but we started flying five or six days early. day 1 we flew to LA, rented a car, sightseed and stayed overnight at LAX. day 2 we had a 3pm flight to PPT, arriving at 10 pm, we stayed overnight in PPT. day 3 we ferried to Moorea for three wonderful days at a resort. Day 6 we ferried back to PPT and boarded the ship. We had a package deal with a Tahitian travel agency that included ferries, transfers, hotel, etc. It was well worth the money and most people we met onboard had flown in early to do similar things.
  18. On behalf of my librarian friends, do people really think a librarian is educated and trained to shelve books? I say this every time I see a new thread discussing the elimination of HAL libraries. Trust me, there have never been “librarians” on Holland America ships. Holland America stopped investing in libraries long before they formally eliminated the space. The inventory was old and unappealing to us. But, if you are interested in Nixon era nonfiction.....
  19. I’m happy to read this deserved recognition for OleSalt’s keen observation and descriptive skills. I admit to being confused on what actually happened. I think some pertinent posts were deleted. I wondered if Management is back pedaling on a decision to change rules on the ship designed to be about “exploration”. I don’t always believe corporate denials. In any event I hope the OP enjoys the trip.
  20. We are Oceania fans but never use their transfers. I would research private hire services or call Uber. Almost anything beats the price of Oceania transfers. Private hire drivers will be monitoring and waiting for your flight.
  21. sammiedawg


    We have learned you can book the cruise with inclusive features like air, O life- then make adjustments to the booking at final payment. So far, we have canceled Oceania air every time. We’ve canceled the O life a few times too. O life excursions are not a bad deal. But you must read the tour descriptions carefully to find the best value. It all depends on the ports.
  22. These two cruise lines control most of the Glacier Bay permits. A huge advantage. Princess built and owns its own wilderness lodges and their cruise tours offer unbeatable access to areas a little off the beaten path. We were very impressed with their Alaska packages. Their onboard Alaska program is pretty good too as local speakers, entertainers, authors come aboard to offer glimpses into the culture.
  23. We were to sail to Montreal this past May on another cruise line. Heavy snow melt plus heavy rain caused high water levels. Some ships, including ours, could not pass under bridges beyond Trois Rivers. I’m unclear which ship the OP is considering but I don’t like, and do not recommend Veendam. There are better options.
  24. We’ve been to Alaska quite a few times, including once on the Regatta. Oceania offers better food, service and comfort levels than Viking. Viking has larger cabins, all with verandas and the included excursion. Have not done Viking Alaska, not sure what their included excursion will be. In general we don’t care for ship tours. If it were my one and only trip to Alaska, I would choose Princess for Glacier Bay and the cruise tour lodges. Otherwise, Oceania is our go to choice, regardless of destination. We’ve done several Regatta cruises and things were ship shape and pretty wonderful. We’ve had B1 cabins on the sixth floor, great location on a cozy sized ship.
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