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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. There are holland America regulars posting daily who think they are peaches and cream. But some are not nice people. Over the weekend there were a couple really nasty threads going, including one about the Viking ship. A couple regular posters jumped on a “duplicate thread” diatribe. I was happy their posts were deleted. Who cares if there is an occasional duplicate thread. Posting volume is way down.
  2. I’ve seen a couple reviewers totally lose their perspective. Their negativity was so over the top that for me their credibility was lost. But hey, whatever floats your boat. Right now I would be so happy to go on an Oceania cruise. Had to cancel something and I’m quite sad.
  3. I avoid CNN A few years ago, when I saw these winter Viking itineraries I had zero interest. I also have no interest in transatlantic cruises. We did one northern lights land trip in Iceland. The saving grace was being with family but the weather was entirely too brutal.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Thanks for the second thread. I love your blog. Photos and commentary are terrific. What an itinerary! So many of my favorite places.
  18. Yes, ships dock in a vast industrial area. Shuttle buses take you to the port exit, where you will inundated with pushing, shoving, shouting taxi drivers. Hold onto your wallets and find your prebooked ride. Lima is a sketchy place. Stay with a guide or prebooked taxi.
  19. The cruise port HOHO shuttle buses are big business for the company running things. Oceania passengers will merge at Bayside with people who just disembarked other cruise lines. Your ticket allows unlimited HOHO riding and is a great opportunity to kill time.
  20. I would go on the trip, just go and enjoy yourself. I am not sure why Holland America would issue a bill for double the cruise fare because your cruise is already paid in full. They are not losing any money if your friend doesn’t go. They could assess double gratuity charges and if this happens I would remove the second half of the auto gratuity. For any travel issues or cancelations, always check with with your credit card company. High end cards have generous travel insurance with language covering “travel companions”.
  21. I’m so impressed by the accounts of this world cruise. And such lovely cruisers posting. I’m happy for all of you. Kudos to the Beach, his post almost made me cry. Kudos to safety officers around the world.
  22. We don’t do transatlantics but here goes... We have the most days of any line on Oceania and love it. . Not hype. Food service and ship comfort are the best we’ve experienced. Love, love the specialty restaurants. Perfect- of course not. Perfection does not exist. Relaxed, comfortable atmosphere with well traveled and lovely passengers. It matches what we enjoy. Great enrichment programs. Marvelous libraries with oodles of current books on the shelves. (the books on Prinsendam were right out of the Nixon era). Considerably more expensive than mass markets. If the price makes you nervous, you might not like it. Same for any product you buy. We generally do not do ship tours but if you buy them individually they are overpriced. Totally avoid any of their transfers, precruise hotels as they are ridiculously overpriced. Their O life program is decent, you elect O life at booking and you can get some included excursions. We take the air credit in lieu of their included air. One open air pool with the most divine, shaded seating we’ve experienced. No retractable roof. Viking is a nice step up from mass markets, we liked it a lot but not our favorite. It isn’t the best bang for our buck as we are not crazy about ship tours. They have an included tour in every port built into the price. They choose the included excursion, passengers have some choice in selecting a tour time. Two great specialty restaurants, pretty good food in the Restaurant. Lovely ships, staterooms are all verandas and up. Very nice service. Included house wine and beer with meals. Great enrichment programs. Two outdoor pools but their pool area seating is uncomfortable. The retractable mid pool roof would be good on a TA but otherwise it was closed too much for our liking. Some ventilation issues when the roof is closed. They are lacking shade at the rear infinity pool. Marvelous spa pool and the spa services are included, other than personal services. Regent is a a lovely line. More included items built into the price than sister company Oceania. Haven't done Silversea, we expect it would be more formal than we like. Crystal is very good and they’ve relaxed the dress code and switched to open dining. They just gutted and rebuilt Symphony, rolled out new ships and riverboats.
  23. We’ve been to Edinburgh several times, once on a land tour to see the Tatoo. It is a marvelous event and lived up to the hype. Terminology, names, ports, rail lines, pronunciations are confusing in Scotland. But once you get to the Royal Mile you cannot get lost. I hope you can get into the castle during the day. On oceania we were berthed in Rosythe. The port officials were incredibly helpful to all and they ran free shuttle buses to the rail line and to a neighboring town. They had a great web site and I communicated with the locals before arrival. The port of Leith May offer similiar tourist services. Enjoy
  24. Last I checked the loyalty program is not defined. They do give a repeat passenger discount of a couple hundred per sailing. Oceania loyalty program is good, even with the planned reductions in OBC.
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