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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. Denise, in suite dining and the specialties on Oceania are the best. Food is served course by course by your butler if you choose the suite. We love going to the various restaurants. In a PH you get extra advance speciality reservations and on board your butler can usually get you additional seatings. If not, go the in suite route. We also really enjoy the Grand Dining room. Dinners are leisurely, some people complain about the speed of service but they want you to linger, sip wine and visit. Avoid tables bigger than a four top as the service really slows down. There are lots of two tops. Try all the venues, Waves, Terrace, daily tea at 3pm, Cover charged Privee and La Reserve on the O ships. Haven’t tried La Reserve. We love Oceania. We were immediately comfortable with spending more upfront for better food and better on board experience. Don’t go and expect perfection and whatever you do don’t spend time onboard comparing O to other lines. I’ve read some reviews where the writer compared every single thing to what they got at a cheaper price on another line. Their shore excursions are overpriced if you buy them individually. O life excursion package is OK, we’ve had it twice but you have to really cherry pick. We prefer DIY or private tours. You will meet the most interesting people. Atmosphere is casual, comfortable and unpretentious.
  2. Holland America, Princess routinely sell Caribbean seven day cruises for $399, I’ve even seen $350. I’ve seen ten day Canada New England cruises for $700. These are Higher end mass market lines, a good value but hardly premium. Not sure how these two can be compared to others listed. Celebrity solstice ships are also higher end premium. Disney is expensive because of their name, gorgeous ships and entertainment offered. Hard to categorize in any category. But space per passenger is lacking because of so many third and fourth passengers per cabin. The ships are also very noisy due to all the piped in movies in public spaces. Ear splitting movie screens blaring around the ship. They have adult areas but the comfort level isn’t that high. We haven’t been on Cunard, not interested in formality. Azamara, Viking, Oceania are premium, or luxury light lines. Oceania is our absolute favorite, We want better food, service, onboard comfort, better space per passenger, more inclusive features. No major complaints after nearly a couple hundred days with this line. Of course they are not perfect, nothing is. Viking has copied a lot of Oceania features, right down to how they arrange the breadbasket. They’ve also added an included excursion in every port- not a feature we covet. Their restaurant food is above mass market but not at the level of Oceania. Their specialty restaurants are terrific. Their onboard comfort in public areas has some issues. But we would include Viking as a premium line for their gorgeous ships and included features.
  3. Uber to and from the airport. There is also a light rail line from the airport to downtown. We haven’t done it for a cruise but did it once to stay in a downtown hotel. Exit light rail then take a cab or Uber to your hotel. Airport concierge will tell you where to get off light rail. Luggage rolls right on and off the rail car. Cost is a few dollars at non peak, maybe five dollars at peak time. We had time to kill so we enjoyed the ride. if the ship is using pier 66, Marriott waterfront is very, very close.
  4. Princess is a class act. Something happened to us years ago in Europe and they treated us royally. I cannot say enough about their kindness. We love their Alaska program and hoped to do it again this year. Circumstances changed and we cannot go. I am heartsick over this tragedy.
  5. I feel disrespectful to the victims saying this but you need to google the crash history of Taquan air. We’ve taken independent tours for years and they often do cruise tours as well. One of my favorite private Alaskan guides has taken Bill Gates and his Hollywood friends all over the state. Another favorite guide has turned down numerous offers from cruise lines to buy his business. Again my humble apologies for commenting on this devastating tragedy.
  6. Totally agree. Flightseeing trips are sold right on the dock, steps from where the Regatta was docked. And it would be a shore excursion through O.
  7. Years ago we did a fair amount of flightseeing but ten years ago we decided it wasn’t worth the risk. We are frequent visitors to Alaska and I totally understand why people take these flights, everything is gorgeous and breathtaking. Prayers to all.
  8. I don’t sell insurance but supplemental Medicare policies F and G offer emergency out of country medical coverage. Subject to limits of course. Medicare advantage products part C also offer out of country coverage. It is alphabet soup. Do the research online. High end credit cards offer travel insurance including cancelation for a medical reason and emergency medical and evacuation. Subject to limits of course. But when I read other threads about insurance I realize many are paying a lot of money to duplicate what their credit card might already offer. We think high end credit cards are worth their yearly fee just for the travel benefits.
  9. It is better to get a better price upfront through a big box or discount travel agency. Why pay more upfront in return for OBC? I don’t get it. When I am on a ship I pay for what I want or need. (We get OBC automatically on other cruise lines and sometimes struggle to spend it. I don’t value overpriced massages or gift shop trinkets) Hiltner gave sound financial advice and I appreciate info from those who have sailed multiple lines. It brings perspective.
  10. Don’t forget to check with Airlines if you have a compelling reason to cancel. Sometimes they have a heart and will refund your money or issue a no change fee voucher. We rarely cancel trips but recently canceled two. For one of the trips we had purchased airline tickets for six family members. I don’t have status with delta but fly them a fair amount. I called Delta to discuss our cancelation options. After explaining the situation I was offered a full cash refund. Totally unexpected but greatly appreciated. Hail Delta Airlines.
  11. Don’t overlook travel insurance built into credit cards, especially high end ones. There may be no need to duplicate that coverage with additional expensive policies. Every CC is different but we always carry one with extensive travel benefits. I would never buy insurance from a cruise line, nor would I book hotel rooms through them. If you try to insure for for every conceivable loss in life you will be insurance poor.
  12. Our last two Holland America cruises were 14 days each. There were no enrichment speakers. The port guides, (periodically their title changed) were selling port excursions and reading a power point. They sat somewhere for a couple hours to take questions. One gal sat with a Fodors guide to Norway and used the index to look up subjects. I asked a question on how to see a particular cultural group and she pulled out the list of excursions for that port. She had previously marked with yellow highlighter the listed points of interest on each tour The second guy also read the power point, not sure if he could answer questions. I am not sure what has been lost if the lament is about port guides. I can read excursions lists and get an idea on what to see. Of course loss of enrichment speakers was huge in the mass market industry. We had our best Mass market ones on Princess, years ago.
  13. I said the situation (pedophilia) was despicable. I stand by that. We heard some other unsavory things that I have never posted. I could say a lot more. i previously posted we spent four days there and it was a fascinating place to visit one time. We were with a private guide and saw the country in unsanitized fashion. Non cruise bus reality. We interacted with lovely people. We have no plans to return.
  14. Thanks for posting the link. We heard a little about this. I never understood why some nationalities flocked to Cuba. Just a despicable situation.
  15. Support for the Cuban people is supported by the private tour programs. However, the Cuban government has pressured them, arrested their agents and effectively shut some of them down. We spent four days with a private guide in November, the pressure had begun and the police routinely pulled over the vehicles. Passengers were not bothered but the driver/guide stepped to the rear for what seemed to be a shakedown. The wages in Cuba do not vary much per skill or education. Salaries are thirty to forty dollars a month. They get food stamps, other socialist benefits but not much cash. Physicians, engineers, accountants were quitting their job to get into the tour industry, tipping industry. We heard this from multiple experts. I wouldn’t place any bets on what will happen. Have no idea what rules are for Canadians but doubt they could fill a ship. We were on another cruise line, not sure if I met any Canadians. Holland America does seem to have a higher percentage of Canadians than other lines we’ve sailed. It was a fascinating four days but we will never go back.
  16. Five, ten years ago I had more faith in cruise line safety standards. But I hope you are correct.
  17. I have no nautical background. Do you really think these ships will sail today? Last year we were in Chicago on a plane ready to pushback and taxi to the runway. The right wing was “brushed” by a service vehicle. We didn’t even feel it sitting on the left side of the plane. I knew instantly that plane would not fly. Within five minutes the captain announced the flight was canceled. I think aeronautical standards are higher than the cruise industry standards. I am thankful no one was injured today.
  18. You can book with the included air, then play around with fares and cancel it at final payment. It is getting more complicated.
  19. This is very true. We’ve experienced high and low water and we’ve been on the buses in both situations. Some years the European river cruise season is severely disrupted. The first week of May seems too early to be so far north, plus the spring rains. This also happened last year with ships unable to get beyond Trois Rivers.
  20. We’ve done a 10:40 am flight. Self disembark and grab a cab. Vancouver is a medium city and a twenty minute cab ride. The airport has special lines for US immigration, we always got through OK. Some would not be comfortable with this flight but if you are flying cross country.....we say go.
  21. We were delayed a couple times but it never occurred to me that I was owed something. Once was a coast guard inspection in California. Another time was a long shoreman slowdown in Manhattan.
  22. Patrick’s tour on Bora Bora is not to be missed. And I’m not much of a snorkeler. The feast on the private motu and entertainment is terrific. On Moorea, Francky Francks offbeat tours are lots of fun. We stayed three days at a Moorea resort and he picked us up at the hotel.. he also takes cruise passengers out. Buy cheap water shoes at Target for all the water activities, then throw them away. If lots of snorkeling take a couple pair, they smell after a couple wearings. We were there March/April and were told there wasn’t much breeze most of the year. This is the only thing I did not like. We were on Marina and the AC was fine. O brought on some local folklore groups but I don’t remember which islands. We also had several guest speakers who were informative. This is a gorgeous part of the world, lovely people and a great cruise.
  23. Why not just sail Viking which has a lovely product? More expensive , yes, but more included features. A load of laundry would not influence me one way or the other.
  24. We never book Priceline way in advance. Over the years we have had tremendous deals and great accommodations. Especially for one overnight. We don’t book the lower star levels, especially in Europe. We choose the best locations. There are web sites to help you identify locations and drill down to the likely hotel. We are Marriott fans and we’ve gotten many Marriott brands via Priceline. Price match is not always possible as you might not know the hotel until you book. Priceline is non refundable unless you call immediately and say you made a mistake or you have a valid reason that you don’t arrive. They have refunded us due to airline snafus and mistakes. There is also an option to insure your stay, we don’t pay the extra. Lately I see more hotels identified by name in the express deal section, especially in the US . We travel to NYC frequently and we are sometimes seeing hotel names Or the location is so specific we can figure it out.
  25. Have not sailed Carnival or NCL but Holland America is no longer Macy’s. The last couple ones were Kohl’s level. It was Macy’s ten or twelve years ago but it is now a value line, a la Kohl’s.
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