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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. Oceania is a couple levels better than Viking. Better food, service and overall ship comfort. But if you like included cruise ship excursions you may like Viking. Bear in mind the included excursion will be fairly basic- walking tour or a bus ride to an attraction. Cunard is too formal for us to even try. Oceania fits us the best and we’ve been on eight different cruise lines. We’ve never had major issues and anything minor was quickly resolved while we were on board.
  2. This thread has me laughing. Many astute observations, especially the one about “referees” setting down rules and regulations for what the group can talk about. And if I see anyone trying to “over organize” activities I quit reading. But we have had good luck finding private tours and sharing DIY information about ports. Often it is just a matter of exchanging email addresses with other roll call members and agreeing on some small group tours. We have met lovely people.
  3. The tipping point for us was not the size of the ship but the rapid decline in the quality of mass market cruise lines. You get what you pay for. I would rather stay home than sail on certain ships. The mega ships are good for multi generation or extended family trips. And they can be a great value for the money.
  4. Fabulous, pinch me video. Love, love all the restaurants on Oceania.
  5. Olive Garden has pretty good lasagna and chicken Parm, both on early duo $8.99 menu. I’ve picked up trays of lasagna for drop in company and everyone ate heartily. Olive Garden salad is delicious. Don’t care for their garlic heavy breadsticks.
  6. On Viking, Budapest to Amsterdam, we rode buses for two days to get to the port cities, then we rode a bus to Nuremberg for the ship swap. The bus rides were long and the Viking tour director underestimated, Or pretty much lied, about the duration of the bus rides. Then he yelled at passengers for not getting back on board the bus on time in the allotted fifteen minute rest stop. They took 190 people to the same gas station/rest area. We had to pack up our things and set out our luggage on the third low river day, then we were bused to the ship in Nuremberg for lunch. We had no access to our cabin or a safe and ended up carrying around passports and cash for the Nuremberg tour that afternoon. Pretty irritating and this was big a turn off. The unpacking was easy, we were in identical cabins on the new ship. Then there were 4,5,6 days where the sun deck was closed due to low bridges. But the crew was allowed to hang out on the steps to smoke, nonstop and stink up the place. Viking does not have sufficient comfortable indoor seating when the sun deck is closed. They actually bring in folding chairs for their daily meetings. They have 190 passengers on board, the family engineer quickly figured out the additional weight onboard made Viking more susceptible on low rivers. Other engineers we met were in agreement. The river cruise was interesting but for us it was one and done, especially on Viking. We asked for zero reimbursement and were offered zero.
  7. I previously mentioned Olive Garden. You can get one of their classic dishes plus accompaniments, early duo before 5pm, for $8.99. We are not Olive Garden fans but from time to time we duck in for a quick bite. Holland America is charging $19 for budget food that should be free. Im a big Italian food fan and I’ve tried scores of them, on land and at sea. All the way from Olive Garden to Babbo. Also Whole Foods sells a delicious, ready to cook, very large meatball, buy a couple, buy some of their fresh pasta and a jar of Rao and you come in less than $19. It is delicious.
  8. Caneletto is Olive Garden, heavy on the garlic with no subtlety in flavor. Then you taste like garlic for a day. Total joke to charge money for this. Pinnacle was good years ago before they downgraded the meat cuts. And dining room steaks are select grade, Kroger sells better best.
  9. To much expansion of ships to find experienced crews? Especially Viking. We did the fourteen day Budapest to Amsterdam four or five years ago on Viking. Since then they doubled the size of their river fleet.
  10. No. But this was a nice line 12-15 years ago. We still tried other cruise lines and vacation modes. And we found better options. the OP mentioned Veendam. Last saw that ship a year ago and noted a huge gash in the white metal aft. I remember thinking thank God I’m not on that ship. Then we talked to a couple of their passengers who said the saving grace was that the ship was only 2/3 full and the price was low.
  11. Oceania is so much better than Holland America. I wouldn’t even try to compare Holland America’s Applebees and Olive Garden level food to the fabulous eateries on Marina. You get what you pay for. Since we started sailing Oceania we have taken an enjoyable Princess cruise to Alaska for the itinerary and great Alaskan program. We also did one unremarkable Holland America cruise but had lots of onboard buyer’s remorse.
  12. I’ve seen very, very few kids on Oceania. But they designate some holiday cruises and a few Alaskan cruises as “family friendly.”
  13. The variety of food options on Marina is staggering. And we absolutely love the food quality. I’m a borderline picky eater but really branch out on O and I’ve enjoyed many foods I thought I didn’t like. Great food and divine shipboard comfort sold us on Oceania. I wouldn’t worry about the walking track. It is easy to walk the length of each deck, take stairs, walk around in ports. We get plenty of steps in.
  14. We were there early November on another line and no one cared if we did private tours. Web sites and communication from private guides documented they were compliant with people to people programs. We spent four days with a private guide who showed us way more than a cruise ship bus would. Since our visit the Cuban government has tried to nationalize the private guide industry. It is very complicated. Do some research on the Cuba boards here and trip advisor.
  15. Totally agree. These cancel for any reason insurance policies are pricey.
  16. When we book a cruise or land trip we have every intention of taking the trip. But life happens and we have had to cancel on occasion for valid reasons, including some happy and some not so happy reasons. We have canceled for a family wedding. Last year we rescheduled a trip because travel dates were too close to a new grand baby’s due date. Medical issues arise. It is impossible to predict life events. Viking’s sliding scale refund policy is unfavorable to the customer, especially if they have had all my money for a year or more. It turns me off and their product is nothing special to make me disregard common sense and wise spending practices. Viking is definitely financing new builds with free money from its loyal customers. They are thriving now due to economic prosperity but history tells us the economy is unpredictable.
  17. All good points, we picked up extra Manfredi reservations online.
  18. Yes and there was a hokey like worship of the included excursions. But Viking has marketing geniuses working for them. Somehow they have won all kinds of “awards”. I’m a little skeptical. It is still a couple steps up from mass market lines. Their sales people transverse the country visiting local brick and mortar travel companies and they really put on a show. They cover river and ocean cruises, complete with German entertainment, food, beer. Photos, videos, power points are absolutely first rate. And they give prizes away.
  19. This is how I felt day 1 on Oceania. I sank into their divine chaise loungers, library chairs, various seating areas around the ship and I was in heaven. Then I had a meal and I was sold. we didn’t feel the comfort level on Viking matched Oceania. The poolside chairs were mostly cheap metal and mesh. A handful of padded chairs were tucked into the edges but ventilation was lacking. For some reason the retractable roof was closed more than it was open. There was little shade to enjoy and not even chair side umbrellas. I thought they totally failed on the promenade deck, no loungers. Instead they had a few table and chair sets at the rear, never saw anyone sitting there. i agree about the gorgeous living room areas, comfortable seating but I’m looking for fresh air. We we had several very good meals in the specialties, especially Manfredis. We cherry picked our Chef table menu and thought it was well done. The restaurant was hit and miss but not as good as O. Their bread was mostly tasteless and they didn’t have the great accompaniments like O. But I I noticed they arranged the bread baskets like O. Disappointed in Mamsens although the sweets were divine. Thought it was a restaurant. Pool Grill food was OK but no place to sit and eat a meal. A couple high top tables. How I missed the breeze and relaxation of Waves. I really missed Terrace Grill breakfast and lunch., especially sitting outside in the shade. I missed the cooked to order and served to order food. I tried very little food in the Viking buffet as I do not trust self serve. Viking has a terrific spa, lots included at no charge. . Our Viking river and ocean trips have been booked a month or two prior to sailing with cheaper prices and air and amenities thrown in. They have a few itineraries of interest but I’m not going to pay way in advance. We tried Viking as a change of pace and it is several levels above mass market. But it is not Oceania. I had to laugh at the OP’s comment about fellow passengers only knowing Viking.
  20. Caneletto is the Olive Garden. The food reeks of garlic, no subtlety in the seasoning. It tastes good momentarily but then you smell and taste like garlic for a day or two.
  21. Veendam has been for sale for years. I would avoid it as there is a long history of mechanical problems.
  22. Glad to hear this. Another vote for Rome Cabs. But I don’t think they run shuttles. There are a couple decent hotels at FCO, including a Hilton. You could always spend the night at the airport and get a shuttle the next day. Many people take the express train into Rome for the night. If you have not to been to Rome this is a good option. But your flight arrival time, immigration, luggage retrieval will not allow much time to explore.
  23. You are correct on Celebrity. I mistyped or was auto corrected in error when I wrote it was premium. Solstice ships are higher end mass market.
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