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About drwong

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Washington, DC
  • Interests
    History, Reading, Naval Affairs
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Oceania, HAL, NCL, Princess
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska, Europe (Baltic & Med)

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  1. Our HAL Alaskan cruise had Scattergories, Pictionary, Who Am I?, and other team games in the Oceans Bar at eight every night. And the cruise director staff gave out pins to the winning teams.
  2. I'd suggest joining the competition for the first few sessions. There are serious teams vying for O points, and then there are teams who are just there to have fun. Not every team has to have eight contributing players, Teams of two or four can play. And on some port days, if the regular teammates aren't back by 4:30, some of the teams will merge or invite stragglers or lurkers, especially because the winning scores tend to be very close, with only a point or two separating them, and you never know if that additional player will contribute a correct answer. We won one match because two teammates knew what the "HP" in HP Sauce stood for -- we Yanks had no idea!!!
  3. Each team is handed a pencil and a slip of paper on which the answers will be written. After the last question, the answer sheets are exchanged and then graded by an opposing team as the Cruise Director reads the question and the teams read off the answer on the sheet. (Our team usually prompted the CD to say, "Miss the point, go for the laugh!") Everyone on the team coming in first wins a bunch of point cards, second place gets fewer, and third place gets a participation point or two. Around the last day of your cruise, you can exchange your point cards for valuable promotional merchandise. Even though you're not required to stick with your team for the entire voyage, most players tended to, so pick a creative team name! Depending on who your CD is, there might be an extra way to gain bonus points during the cruise. On some ships, the CD would post Morning Trivia sheets near the front desk for trivia addicts, with answers due by some fixed noontime hour. The highest-scoring player(s) would win additional point cards, slipped under or posted on your stateroom door. Our team had only a couple of disagreements with the answers given by the trivia master (who apparently took them from a book of trivia and had little personal knowledge) - for example, does the Mona Lisa's right hand rest on her wrist or forearm? And is the collective noun for a group of ponies a passel, a herd, or a string? (Looking back, I can't believe we wasted our precious internet minutes to prove him wrong. But like one of the earlier commenters noted, trivia is sometimes taken VERY seriously!) 🙂
  4. LauraS - FYI, the HAL contact links on this M&M page appear to be dead.
  5. Does anyone know whether the $50 AAA beverage credit can be used towards a drink package once on board?
  6. We've stayed there before, because we wanted to be among the first to arrive in port. ;-) It's close to the chain locker which might be an issue at ports where you'll be tendering in and the ship needs to drop anchor, but at most stops you'll be tied to a pier with nice, quiet ropes. :-D
  7. You'd think, right? But I've encountered passengers who tried to be too clever for their own good and avoid carrying the extra weight by accessing it online, or took a snapshot of it on their smartphone. Internet connections aren't always guaranteed overseas, and have you ever watched someone trying to read a 16-page legal document via a 2"x3" window while they're on the phone with their insurance company? :') And MisterBill raises a good point - read the coverage carefully to look for any exclusions. If you haven't already bought a policy, compare before you do - using a broker if necessary. And for some odd reason, the policy is cheaper if you buy it within 15 days of booking your cruise!
  8. Oceania will probably have a local ship's agent who will be on the pier expecting you, and who will expedite your passage (via taxi or otherwise) to the ship. That reminds me - as newbies, it's always good to take the ship's daily newsletter ashore with you. It usually list the name and local phone number of the ship's agent, just in case something happens to you ashore or you're delayed in traffic and at risk of missing the sailaway!
  9. Regarding Q#2, are you wanting to board as early as possible to have breakfast in the GDR (Grand Dining Room) and settle in, or were you wanting to spend the day sightseeing in Helsinki and board as late as possible?
  10. This might be a good time to take a look at your travel insurance policy to see what kind of trip delay coverage it provides. And make sure you bring a copy in your carry-on, because it usually provides toll-free numbers to call for assistance, and you'll have the terms and conditions in black-and-white just in case the call center tries to give you the old runaround! :-)
  11. There are several high-rise hotels near the train station with nice views of the harbor and cruiseships. Which hotel have you booked?
  12. If you enjoy naval history, La Spezia was a major naval base during the wars (in the same way Toulon was to the French Mediterranean Fleet), and like Toulon, there's an impressive naval museum at the entrance to the base. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits featuring cannon, anchors, torpedoes, submersibles, figureheads, and an extensive display of ship models, including one of the tall ships that visited the US during the bicentennial. Admission is a mere pittance ($2 US) and you can spend a good four to five hours there, thanks to translators who added English captions to the exhibits (I wish they had done the same at the Turkish naval museum in Istanbul!). And if the weather is nice, you can walk down the canal and catch some frigates and destroyers at anchor. If naval history doesn't float your boat, there's a railroad museum to the west of the train station, with some steam locomotives and rolling stock outside, and some model trains and railroad displays inside. Or you can walk around downtown and see the modern cylindrical cathedral, and take a glass-enclosed funicular elevator up to the top of the hill and enjoy the views from the Castello de San Giorgio. They're only a 10-15 min walk from the cruise terminal and there are lots of interesting shops along the way.
  13. There's a taxi stand outside the train station, but if there are cruise ships in port (not just for sailaways but for day trips), taxis may be scarce and very expensive. There are a couple of lodgings across the street from the cruise ship transfer lot - on the map, look for the police station and fire station (marked by the tall hose tower with "vigili del fuoco" emblazoned on its side). You can take an orange bus to the lot for only 2E (buy the tickets in the train station's snack shop) and then take a free shuttle to the ship the next morning.
  14. You're right - the Frecciabianca is a non-stop between Termini and CV. The Regionale makes all the local stops - which provides more opportunities for luggage theft. I hope you were able watch the video to see where to buy tickets for the local shuttle bus to take you to the cruise port stop, where you'll transfer to a second bus that takes you past the security gates to your ship's berth.
  15. There were luggage racks at the end of each car, and limited storage space directly above your seat. But be warned -- there will be a sizable number of cruise ship passengers taking the train to the port, and some may not have learned to travel lightly! So if your ship is a large one, or if multiple ships will be in port the same day, you might have to move from one car to another until you find space for your bags. We didn't think about security at the time, but another passenger was concerned that somebody could make off with his suitcases since the racks were unmonitored at the end of the car, so he brought a bicycle chain to secure them.
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