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About MsSommelier

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  1. A little late notification, but H-L's Advent Calendar is online. I never received a notification from them, so forgot to check. We're on door 8 today :-) Happy door opening - maybe you'll find some goodies!
  2. I can see available suites on German cruise websites, for instance Kreuzfahrtberater. However, I suspect there are different allocations for different travel agencies? At least you could get an idea....
  3. Thank you, Vistaman and Cathaana, for the sympathy :-) It is certainly difficult to find ships of H-L's caliber. In addition to superior food, wine and service, the itineraries are much more interesting (in general) than most American luxury lines, which tend to repeat, as Princeton 123211 said. I tried to find a sailing with Crystal (either Serenity or Symphony) but couldn't find anything in the time frame I was looking for that suited. I haven't sailed with them for a while, but after reading about the updates to the ships, I thought it might be nice to try again.
  4. Saminina, I live in Germany and speak fluent German (and my husband is German) so I can't excuse H-L's handling of the situation as due to my being a "US citizen or catering to the German market". As English Voyager reiterated on my behalf, H-L said we were not the only American passport holders who booked this cruise. I expected a clear, professional explanation from what I have always considered to be a high class company who operates high class ships. I didn't get it, and I find that to be a lack of good customer service and good customer relations.
  5. We had booked a January 2020 back to back with Europa 2, Progreso-Colon and Colon-Valparaiso plus an after-cruise program in Santiago Chile focused on wine. The Progreso-Colon leg included Cuba. Since we had booked this trip almost 2 years ago, Trump's new policy was not yet in effect. When the new policy was announced in early June, we immediately called our TA to see what the situation was going to be. Repeated calls to her and from her to Hapag-Lloyd yielded no concrete answer: Staff handling the situation were on vacation (for 6 weeks), the lawyers were looking at it, etc. We kept calling and checking. We were told we were not the only Americans on board and H-L was still looking into the matter. Then, we figured, well, it's now almost end of August, it must be okay. A German ship, not starting or stopping in any US ports. I thought, worst case, I could just stay on board. Then, suddenly, we got a call from our TA that H-L had canceled the whole trip - 2nd leg included. No explanation, nothing. When we tried to at least reinstate the 2nd leg, the pricing that came back (we had a PH) was as much for the 2nd leg alone as for the whole trip! And given how poorly we had been communicated with, we decided to not go ahead. We were really looking forward to Europa 2 - the wonderful food, service, itinerary, everything. To say we are bitterly disappointed is to put it mildly. I certainly expected better handling of the "PR" situation relative to their customers (us), given especially we're regular customers who have spent a lot with them. Of course, they have a waiting list a mile long, so I am sure they didn't suffer..... And lots of luck finding availability and half way decent airfares on another luxury cruise so late in the game. We ended up booking with Seabourn for New Zealand during the same time frame and we canceled our Europa 2021 cruise to NZ. There is certainly no comparison (food, wine, service, etc) but at least it's a new destination for us. And, of course, we were very aggravated with H-L about their handling of our situation. So, it's back to Seabourn...with greatly lowered expectations based on our last cruise. I read something on these boards recently that has helped me re-calibrate: It was to the effect that since Holland America took over management, it's still a nice experience, just not the luxury one it used to be.
  6. Thank you - very helpful info (and link). Although we primarily book tours on our own, I think in this case 'discretion is the better part of valor' and we'll take a pass on trying to book a sail tour. It's just too iffy. Perhaps we can find something else interesting.
  7. We will be on Encore for the Jan 6 2020 sailing Auckland to Sydney. I'm wondering if anyone who has done this previously can tell me where we tender into (which wharf) in Russell, Bay of Islands? I am trying to book a day sail but the timing is super tight with the last tender and it will make a difference where we tender to. Thank you.
  8. We traveled regularly on SB but hadn't been on her for about 2 years (other itineraries on other ships appealed more). Just got back from SIN-CPT on Sojourn, and all I can say is: boy, am I looking forward to our Jan 2020 cruise with Europa 2! The only thing really 5 star was the service (well, except for head sommelier and the somm in The Grill, who were not at all good) and Sojourn really looks tired. The food has gone downhill, especially seemed to suffer on the second segment (Seychelles to CPT), which repeated the menus exactly (so I could compare). They ran out of a lot of things because of a problem getting a container (they said). A couple more examples: Many times it was 1 to 1-1/2 hours between 2nd course and main course in the MDR and when the food came, the sauces were all coagulated and lukewarm, like they had been sitting under a lamp waiting for the main piece of meat/fish/poultry. The so called Miso soup had no miso whatsoever - it was brown and murky with green vermicelli noodles and carrot pieces. When I asked the waiter about it, he said "the chefs must follow the recipes from corporate exactly so you might want to write to corporate". We did meet some wonderful people (as always on SB) but after this experience, I can hardly wait to get on Europa 2!
  9. EV, that's so nice that you're keeping folks who don't have access/don't speak German updated about the Adventskalender offerings. Happy Holidays!
  10. Thank you both for the feedback. We have booked the Bremen, May 11 to 23, 2020 plus a 5 night Nachprogramm (Post Cruise Program) to Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara.
  11. Thank you Floridiana for the recommendation for the guides. Abercrombie and Kent are using Ponant (Le Soleal) for the west coast Japan cruise, but it sounds like maybe you did the cruise directly with Ponant? We normally cruise luxury lines, but if the guides are really good with the Bremen, I'll put up with a small cabin and no balcony. (Crystal Endeavor is already sold out for 2020 itinerary, or at least that is what my TA says). And A&K is putting quite the premium on the Ponant based cruise (like double) and I'm not sure it's worth it unless their guides are super duper. I've never used A&K - has anyone here? Thanks again for any insights.
  12. Cruises for 2020 are almost or already sold out, so we're trying to make a quick but informed decision and I hope you can help. Has anyone done this trip with A&K or Bremen or another similar cultural in depth cruise? Itinerary with Bremen sounds great but cabins are very small and without balcony but if guides etc are worth it, we are open. Many thanks!
  13. We are booked on the January 19 SIN-CPT and I have been working on our shore excursions. We normally book independently, but I have a question about Mombasa, if anyone has been. Any idea why a day trip with Mombasa highlights (inc. a Dhow lunch) would be almost 4 times as much as the same trip booked independently? I know that cruise offered excursions are often very expensive, but I don't remember such a big difference.
  14. Catlover54, I really enjoyed your wonderful descriptions and pictures. Thank you for taking the time and effort to post. I especially enjoyed the Lisbon pics and posts - we were a week in Lisbon last year at the end of a cruise (first time there) and it was love at first sight! Aren't we lucky that we live so close by and pop over for a visit any time. Although I haven't got another HL cruise planned until Jan 2020, your report is making me reconsider :-) We will be trying Regent Explorer in October this year (I swore I'd never do another Regent cruise, but never say never) and then Seabourn SIN to CPT in Jan 2019. I've been pretty spoiled by the food and service on Europa, so we'll see how they compare.
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