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About Storylady

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    Orange County, CA
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    Reading, Travel, Photography
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  1. Without knowing what days you were to be in port, it is hard to say. But I suspect it is because you would have been in Matzatlan with too many ships. One of which is much larger than the Oosterdam.
  2. Look on your invoice from Holland America. On pages 4, 5 and 6 the itinerary is listed. Those ports that are tender ports are listed by with a small 1.
  3. Whether to do a private tour or not depends on how long you are in port. You may have been in port longer. Cherbourg is actually closer than Le Havre. We were some of the last tours returning. Considering the amount of time it takes to walk to the shuttle stop. The time it takes to get the shuttle and then walk to just the base of Mt St Michel not counting on walking up 900 steps to the top and then walking back down. And then the amount of time it takes to make your way back to the bus. I wouldn’t do a private tour. But that is me. I don’t like to cut it close. As it was, we were the last bus back and we didn’t make any stops.
  4. We also took the HAL tour. I posted all our photo on Facebook and also included our diary of this excursion. We took this tour in September of 2016 while on the Prinsendam. I have included some of what my DH wrote below. Hope this helps. “By 8:50 AM we were on our way, departing this windy morning on HAL’s 9.25-hour “Mont Saint-Michel” Tour from Cherbourg. Our guide was Kristen and our driver was Richard. This 110-mile drive would take 2.5 hours. A half-hour later, we were on the Autoroute A84 and we passed Candol with 48 km yet to travel. Switching to the four lane N178, we have our first view of this tidal island mount in the distance. It is an isolated granite peak only about a half-mile off the coast. Only a few minutes later we turn onto two-lane D43 and then into Parking Lot #7. The former parking lot was moved 1.6 miles away from the Mount in 2012 and is now surrounded by trees. The cars cannot be seen from the summit. With more than three million visitors each year, there were many parking lots. We were told to be back at the bus by 3:20 PM. That means that we would have only about four hours including travel time to the base of the Mount to explore this popular attraction. We disembarked from our bus in the bus at parking lot #7 and walked some distance to the Mont Saint-Michel's Visitors Center. After using the toilets at the Visitor Center, our group had a priority shuttle bus running back and forth on a new bridge. Originally, there was a tidal causeway that was only uncovered at low tide. But in 1879, this was raised to be permanently dry. Then it was noted that it stopped the circulation of seawater around the mount and silt had begun to collect. In 2014 this new bridge was completed. Surprisingly, it was completely submerged itself by a “supertide” on March 21st, 2015.) After our ten-minute shuttle ride, we hurried to take wide angle photos from this distance. It was now sunny and 70 degrees F. The bus dropped us off at the bridge. From there, we had to walk again to the base of Mont Saint-Michel where we would begin our climb. I have wanted to visit Mont Saint-Michel for a long time. Ironically, we almost didn't go on this tour because of the long drive. But I thought it was worth it. Looking up from from the base, MH and I weren't sure we would make the climb to the top! At 11:45 AM, three hours after departing from the ship, we begin our climb, following Kristen. She slowly leads us up gradual ramps paved with ancient stones, pausing at each switchback to explain more of the history. Other tourists begin to climb the many stairs directly to the top. Don and I just take our time. There was a noon-time Mass being conducted in the Romanesque church of the abbey at the summit as we quietly entered. “No photos, please’, the sign said." After ninety minutes, Kristen’s tour is over. We will have about seventy-five minutes of free time. Now, how do we find our way out of this maze of buildings? “Just keep going down.”, Kristen told us." We didn't want to miss catching the shuttle back to the parking lot so we exited Mont Saint-Michel sooner than we needed to. But that was okay as it gave us some time to take photos of the awe-inspiring rock that rises 263 feet above the seabed. We didn’t take time to eat, but did have a snack bar while walking on the ramparts. By 2:30 PM, we were in a long line to board the returning shuttle bus. We noticed that since it cannot turn around on this narrow bridge, it is drivable from both ends. Thirty-five minutes later, we are all aboard our coach and we can depart for the two-hour drive back to the pier. My DH survived the climb to the top of Mont Saint-Michel. If you climb all the stairs, there are actually over 900 steps to reach the top.” By MDH. Ages ago, the Assistant Director of our library, recommended that I read the murder mystery, "Old Bones" by Aaron Elkins, which deals with a murder that took place during WWII. One of the scenes in the mystery has to do with one of the characters in the novel drowning in the rushing tide off Mont Saint-Michel. Did he make a mistake about the tides or was he murdered?
  5. We were taking a two hour flight from Chicago to Boston to board the Maasdam for the New England/Canada cruise. Our flight had mechanical problems. All the next flights were solidly book and it looked like we were going to spent the night in Chicago. We did eventually get a flight that arrived in Boston around 11:30 PM. Fortunately, we planned two nights in Boston otherwise we definitely would have missed the ship. And this was not winter, this was the end of August. Because I read the HAL board, years ago I saw a posting about someone from the DC area taking a flight to Buenos Aires and that the DC airport had been closed for five days due to a storm. The following year, we had a late January flight through DC and I decided to fly six days before our cruise. If I missed Buenos Aires due to a storm, the next port calls were the Falklands and Antarctica. I would not have met up with the Prinsendam until Ushuaia totally missing Antarctica, the reason for the cruise. As we were leaving DC for BA, the airport was again closed!!! Our very first cruise in Europe was on the Rotterdam out of Venice in 2005. There were quite a few passengers who flew in the day of the cruise through Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. There was a baggage handlers strike and none of their luggage made the ship. The Rotterdam was picking up missing luggage throughout our cruise. So now we always flight three or at least two nights before any cruise. It is definitely not worth the stress!!!
  6. I mentioned Seaborn because someone was considering booking Oceania which doesn’t go to Antarctica. If they were considering Oceania, they would really enjoy Seaborn more. And anybody who can afford to do Seaborn should do it now. Seaborn Quest is the ship you want if you are looking for a more reasonable price. The cruise on Seaborn Venture which will be launched in 2021 is the ship that will be extremely pricey on those cruises to Greenland and Antarctica.
  7. The prices I see for an inside in the Coral Princess begin at $135 per person per day. On the Zaandam this year in January, it is $85 per person. Of course, I am not looking at Princess or Hal Websites. You might check around before booking. Who knows you might be able to do the longer cruise. Also, the insides on the Coral Princess are quite a bit smaller than the Zaandam.
  8. When we stayed in Buenos Aires, we stayed in the Puerto Madero area. It is the safest part of BA due to the Coast Guard patrolling the area. We took tours from the hotel: City tour, a Delta tour and a tour to a rancho. But if one hasn’t been to Iguazu Falls, I would finitely make plans to see them while in the area. The airport is a short taxi ride from the port. If you want to see both sides, you do need a Brazilian visa. But you would still have a wonderful time if you did two days just on the Argentine side.
  9. Unfortunately, Oceania doesn’t do Antarctica. But Azamara, Ponant, Silversea, Seaborn, Celebrity, Princess and Holland America do. If you could find out who the Captain is for the 2020 or the 2021 cruise on the Seaborn Quest and can afford it. I would do Seaborn. Captain Roberts was a Captain on the Prinsendam and he did Antarctica quite a few times. He is the only Captain that was able to take us through the Lemaire Channel. He was transferred to the Seaborn Quest. And very knowledgeable about sailing in Antarctic water which definitely is a plus.
  10. They did that to us also. And at the time we left, they were right. There was only one taxi. We left as soon as the ship was cleared as we had four suitcases and two carryons. As I remember there isn’t an MTR subway within walking distance of Kai-Tak. In the future, we are going to make sure our cruise doesn’t end in HK.
  11. Unfortunately, you will have to hope that 2020’s Grand Voyage in the fall to Africa is a success and that they repeat it sometime in the future.
  12. There will be a Grand South America on the Volendam in January 2020. This year (2019) the Grand South America was on the Prinsendam. It was one of the best cruises we have taken. Usually, Grand Africa is offered on the Prinsendam, but the Prinsendam is no longer. Since the WC is almost sold out, they offered a Grand Africa for 2020 in the fall. Actually, this is a better time of the year to go. For 2021, the Grand Voyage in the fall will be going to Asia.
  13. I meant the the WC goes to Africa in 2920. And the 2021 WC goes to Asia.
  14. There was no fall Grand Cruise this year. I believe it was a 50 day Hawaii, Tahiti plus other Polynesian islands. In 2020, the fall cruise is to Africa thus echoing the World Cruise. And in 2021, the fall cruise is going to Asia.. Thus echoing the WC in 2021.
  15. We purchase a package that includes all the photos at each port plus the gala evening photos in the dining room. We like the templates as a heading for each of our ports calls for posting on the internet. I believe they sell a package that includes all the photos on a USB stick. For a little extra they include the photos. Although, it could be the other way around. We always take the photos and the USB stick for downloading to our computer. Each of the photos are $19.95. Since we are usually on longer cruise, the price isn’t too bad since we have a lot of port calls. You could have the photos taken and than decide whether to buy the package or pay individually. Talk to the photo manager. Usually, when they take the port call photos they take two. One vertically and one horizontally and if you buy a package, you get both. Also, they do take photos for sail-aways and also at Glacier Bay. The photos taken with the lights near the front desk cost $40.00 each. Even if you buy only one of the photos, you can easily scan it when you get home to make duplicates. One of these would be worth it if you don’t go usually go studios for a photo season. Family photos are always priceless.
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