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  1. OP here, I love the way that posts develop and expand but this is a positive post about our (all of us) next cruising experiences and how we are going to make them the best ever... Can I suggest that if you have issues with Roll Calls you start a new post or redirect your focus to “next time I cruise I will enhance the experience by....re Roll Calls...”
  2. Miaminice, sincere best wishes for a fantastic cruise! The thing that has impressed me the most about your report so far is the management team’s efforts to make the most of the trip...Santorini is one of my favourite places on earth. Much as we have loved touring the island sitting on the ship in the caldera is the best part of it, I would love to be there at sunset! I have also found it useful to read all the information you have provided, gives us an idea what new cruising may be like.
  3. Infinity is an older class of ship which as yet (unlike Summit and Millennium) has not been upgraded. You will still enjoy your cruise but expect a few wrinkles on the old girl! Also Aqua class on the M class to me has less value as the Persian Garden area is very inferior to the one on S class, so you are basically just paying extra for Blu. Blu is of value if you prefer a smaller dining venue with a more personalised service. Also great for breakfast if you don’t particularly like buffets. An alternative on a 5 night cruise could be to book a standard balcony and use the money saved for visits to the speciality restaurants. Just a thought... Sincere best wishes for a fantastic cruise!
  4. There are not too many regular U.K. posters on CC generally. We have several cruising friends who use other lines (Princess and Cunard) and we found out during a New Year’s Eve conversation that were not aware there was a board to ‘ask questions on’ and had never heard of Roll Calls.... Cruises from Southampton often visit ports that guests are very familiar with from previous cruises or holidays (Lisbon, Azures, Canary Islands...) so perhaps feel less need to organise tours etc. We have cruised from Southampton a few times now and have enjoyed (another booked for next year). Generally we have found the focus to be on R&R rather than sightseeing. International travelers usually do want to see the ports and may be looking for advice, hence perhaps, the busier Roll Calls.
  5. I think we are all feeling a bit like that...We should have been cruising next month on the Silhouette.... we are very grateful that we swapped a couple of months ago to September 2021. That seems a looong way off but at least we do have something to look forward to. We usually book a suite so board to bubbly on ice in the room. Normally we leave it until later in the cruise as we have usually already had a glass or three in Michael’s/Retreat. Next time I am very tempted on boarding to open it on the balcony ‘Grand Prix’ style and just cover us all in sticky bubbles!!! I am sure it is not just us who wants to make our next cruise ‘the best ever’...I am sure we will walk around all day with fixed grins on our faces, we won’t give a hoot if we can’t find a sun bed and will not mind in the least if we are waiting for ever at the Martini bar to get served! I will relish more than usual that quiet early morning coffee in El Bachio and savour that last cognac on the balcony...
  6. We were chatting about this the other day and talking about the nicest meals, best food...we had enjoyed when cruising. There were the obvious Murano special occasions, as we frequently dine there we are always well looked after. On a few occasions they have been kind enough to cook us off menu items which have been really appreciated. We also always enjoy fantastic cruise aways in Tuscan, nothing like first night of a cruise sitting by the window watching the port lights fade....In addition to these special venues there are many less ‘fine dining’ memorable experiences we have thoroughly enjoyed... We can remember talking to our Indian waiter in the MDR one cruise saying how much we loved his country’s cuisine and the next night arriving to a menu he had asked the chef to put together for us. On another cruise our butler arranged a lunchtime Indian banquet for us. On both occasions the thought has been appreciated as much as the food. Then there was the room service standard offering we enjoyed wrapped in blankets on our balcony in Flam after a hectic morning. Basic food but hot, tasty and just what we needed! Then there is that feeling of total rest and relaxation when you have boarded the ship and sit down for something to eat. This experience is even better now everyone isn’t lugging around their hand luggage. Then that indulgent burger pool side. You have already had a big breakfast and are not really hungry at all but who can resist? They may not be the best burgers we have ever eaten but they are probably the ones we have enjoyed the most... So next time I cruise I will probably not eat more or less but I will relish every mouthful!
  7. May be more sensible to upgrade to a suite...board when you like, meet the officers event in Michael’s/Retreat, Fizz in your room on boarding, bridge tours and galley tours by arrangement with the concierge...Plus, not included in the premier pass, access to Luminae and the Retreat lounge/deck... Just pay up front for a bigger room and no daily charge... After being quite cynical about the pass I am sure it will suit some people...
  8. I still enjoy reading the few. I love it when someone posts a real question like ‘Best European cruise?’...I can drift from present reality to past memories and future dreams... CC is a real community, long may it prosper!
  9. With only 7/9 nights cruise and a necessary two days pre cruise to avoid flight worries and boarding jet lagged start by thinking about where you would like to spend those few days. Barcelona or Venice would be my two choices. Rome is best seen in my opinion as a 4/5 day city break or it is a blur... Once you have your starting point think what really interests you. Ancient history, natural wonders, Medieval churches, opportunity for a beach day or a mix of all? Whilst you may decide not to use Celebrity excursions looking at them for a variety of ports may give you a better insight into what you want. With the high cost of flights if you can add on an extra day or two it is well worth it. I will I’ll finish with my favourite ports...They are in order, best first... Santorini the most spectacular island scenery, legends of Atlantis. Naples for Pompeii. Malta, Knights Templar, spectacular history and churches. Venice, just sooo unique. Dubrovnik, incredible walled town. Whilst this may be heresy on Cruise Critic there are alternative ways to see Europe other than cruising. If you plan on seeing more than a glimpse, land tours are quite easy to arrange yourself and if you don’t want to drive train services are generally good. You could fly to Rome, for example, spend a few days there then move on to Florence for a couple of days before finishing in Venice for a few nights. Alternatively fly to Athens and stay at a nice hotel a bus ride from the centre. See the city sites and then book day trips to Marathon, Delphi, Corinth, Myceni....all spectacular. You could look at any tour operator to sort this and it would be much cheaper than a cruise...The benefit of a land stay over a cruise is having time to soak up the ‘ambience’ of a culture, the food, the drink, the sunrises and sunsets... Don’t dismiss Norway, it is a fantastic cruise and does fit in well with your limited time frame...You could even fit in a couple of days in London. Whatever you choose to do sincere best wishes for a fantastic first trip to Europe...
  10. Re the Ospreys...They have apparently visited RAF Valley, home to the Red Arrows. There is a great diversity of flying opportunities here, hence the reason for it being a key RAF training site. The BBC is also apparently doing a documentary at present on RAF Valley, it will be interesting to see if the Ospreys are shown. It really was awesome to be sat quietly in our caravan and then hear and then see the ‘birds’ approach...Just wish we had had our cameras ready!
  11. We made some lifelong Australian friends on board...We flew back down to join up with them on a Pacific Islands cruise two years later. We always refer to this cruise as the ‘most polite’ cruise we ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, we always find the Celebrity crowd generally well mannered but this one was exceptional. Lift doors would open revealing limited space then there was no pushing or shoving it was all “after you” “no you go first...”. Then at the pool bars on busy sea days it was “you go next I still have a bit left” or “you go first I am ordering the wife one of those fancy drinks that take ages to prepare”.... Seeing Bora Bora loom into sight is something I will never forget...we saw the top first with a halo of cloud...quite magical.
  12. Agree with your advice. Most frequent travelers are aware of the usual ‘do’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to booking things. For example, no risk booking no prepayment hotels etc. The snag with the present is we are not in ‘normal’ times. Probably all of us know of people presently holding flight vouchers etc with the concern of ‘what happens if the company doesn’t survive’. Also most of us buy insurance feeling confident it will cover all eventualities, that may no longer be the case with some policies. We are enjoying a bit of planning by looking at 2/3 hotels we may spend a couple of nights at pre cruise. We can follow them on review sites and try to decide which may best suit our needs but we will not be booking until nearer the time and even then we may pay extra for easy cancellation options rather than a reduced fixed price. Excursions we are looking at but definitely not going to commit to anything probably until we are ready to board and even then we may decide to have a stay on ship cruise... The one thing we are planning is how to make our cruise the best ever...a special room, lots of speciality dining, premium drinks package...
  13. Absolutely! The main reason we started trying to book a pre cruise port stay first (along with the usual flight concerns!) was to have the opportunity to switch off and relax before we board our cruise. Time on board is too precious to waste time worrying! I must confess though, once on board I don’t really relax until all the unpacking is done!
  14. We are missing the planning too! At the moment it is hard to plan as we are reluctant to tie up too much money in airfare, hotel bookings, tours as we know so many people have struggled to get money back. Also we need to check the small print on insurance... Keep smiling, Bruin Steve, the sun will come out tomorrow....In the meantime why not organise a local trip. So often there are wonderful things to do and places to visit just a stones throw from our home town which we are always going to do ‘one day’...Perhaps ‘one day’ has arrived for many of us this year!
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