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Everything posted by tring

  1. Thanks for that, looks like that explains it as I thought I had seen it on other cruises I had looked at, but they were probably for a week or more. Come to think of it, we have never done a P&O cruise of less than a week, so may be the same with them. By the time we get to Southampton, a short cruise is not worth bothering with normally, so any short cruises we have done are usually with Fred Olsen, sailing from the North of England. We would be looking at combining a Cunard one with a longer jaunt to the South.
  2. Thanks a lot for the replies, much appreciated. We are now looking at a 4 night Rotterdam round trip in June next year, with an overnight in Rotterdam. We have gone into the booking system to try a mock booking and see there is no parking included or OBC, which is fairly standard on P&O cruises. No other perks either. Is that the case with all Cunard cruises? No problem if there are no offers, but just wondering if I have missed something. There seem to be a number of cabins in the location we are considering, so no big rush to book. We have done lots of cruises, some fairly long ones, on numerous cruise lines. We have done more on P&O or Fred, though the itineraries are the reason we normally choose our cruises.
  3. We are thinking of trying Cunard for the first time and would be particularly interested in the QM2. If we do a 4 night itinerary from Southampton to Hamburg, round trip, would it be representative of a longer Cunard cruise of a week or more, or would it have more of a party cruise atmosphere? We do not want to commit to a longer time initially if we do not need to do so, but the idea is to get a flavour of Cunard, which we may book again of we like the cruise line, so a short cruise would need to fulfil that requirement.
  4. Not much point in that if we only do about a third of the trolley route, possibly less, before we got off. Thanks for the reply though. We have cancelled now, but the main reason we booked it initially is that doing a trip via the cruise line would have got us priority for immigration, which needs done in Boston. We are on a ship travelling from the UK round trip, which will have almost entirely British passengers, who will have got ESTA visa waivers that will need processing on arrival. We were on the same itinerary last year with the same cruise line and we got through immigration between 10.30am and 11.00am without the priority of a ship's excursion. After passengers on excursions, they processed everyone according to deck, with the upper decks first. We were on deck C, which is fairly middling and are in a similar position on the ship this year. We will be in overnight, so want to stay out in port late the first day, so decided we do not really want to queue for immigration soon after 7am, which is what was required for the 9.30am excursions last year. The ships on that route only have about 2.000 passengers, so hoping we will be ok this year as well in Boston, though reading the thread about immigration in Portland just now has left us a little wary, so if anyone has experience of immigration in Boston, I would appreciate any feedback regards how efficient it was. We have booked an 11am excursion for another immigration port (New Orleans) on a January cruise we have booked, since immigration was much less efficient there on previous calls. In NO the process took until late afternoon to complete, both of last two years. That is another regular itinerary, done annually by the cruise line, though in January we will be on a grand class ship, so about 3,000 pax. Again it is a 2 day call though, presumably because of the immigration
  5. I just cannot believe people stay in their cars waiting to get so near the school when they could have parked a little distance away and walked their children to the school if necessary. A few parents dropping children off right by the school were becoming a problem for safety when our son was at primary school in the eighties. Amazing to me how times have changed even further, but we do not have grandchildren. Times do not seem to have got any better though.
  6. Klopp has made it known he will not be doing anything for a year, but there are thoughts he may be looking at running his national team. May make Germany a strong contender in the future if he does.
  7. Yes, but no problem opting out at a later stage, as long as you have not been upgraded by then. The agent we use will opt people out of automatic upgrades, unless a customer asks for it to be left on. I never trust that though, and always specify we want to opt out of automatic upgrades.
  8. That is one location we have always avoided, so will be interested in any replies, but not sure if they really are a problem, or not.
  9. Thanks. We do not use Uber in the UK, but DH should be able to sort it before we go. Thanks again.
  10. Thanks, yes we have decided to cancel the booking. Will use some of the cash to buy a US sim card with some internet that can also be used in Canada, so can call taxis.
  11. Thanks for the reply, yes I agree, that is our worry. TBH we are tending to think we would be better cancelling the booking and just using a taxi for a couple of journeys, but would be interested if others have encountered problems, or not.
  12. We have booked the Old Town Trolley for the first of our two days in Boston mid September, which falls on a Saturday. I have just been looking at the reviews for the trolley for previous Septembers and a lot of people have reported that there were problems encountered getting back onto a trolley at various stops. On the day we have booked the trolley for there is another 5,000 passenger ship in port, as well as ours, which takes just less than 2,000, so a 5,000 pax in total). Has anyone encountered problems such as this, and if so, do you think a port load of 7,000 passengers means we may well have problems? We are thinking of cancelling our booking, but if it works, it would be a good option for us. Any advice regards this would be greatly appreciated.
  13. We are due in Mahogany Bay next January and would like to go to the Iguana Sanctuary, but all the excursions are for at least half a day and include a tour to places further away, which does not interest us. We see that it is only a few miles from the port though, so are thinking we should be able to take a taxi there and back, taking an hour or so and then spend most of the day on the beach. It is only a few miles from the port, so are there taxis there which we can take and would this be feasible? We would presumably need to keep the taxi with us and pay waiting time, so does anyone know what the taxi's charge for an hour or two?
  14. Yes, Arcadia. We have found out that the cafe at the reversing falls is closed long term for a refurb, which is disappointing, so walking there not a good idea for us as it is quite a distance, so would want a break once there. Other plans coming together though. Hope you enjoy your cruise.
  15. Regards my initial question on the thread, I have now been in touch with P&O and it seems they now have a policy of not giving our port times, though last summer I had been sent the times for a September cruise on request, with the proviso that times could change obviously. @Tin can In my experience the only reliable online sites with accurate information is the port authority sites for each port on the cruise, so are worth searching for online Some port authorities publish a full schedule with times the ships are booked into port, though on other sites they are not available, or a port site cannot be found. Approximations can be obtained on many websites as well as the P&O itineraries, but they are generally only approximations. Of course those times can and do sometimes change. Private trips can always be a risk and vehicles could break down or traffic conditions cause extra delays, for instance, but obviously much less risky if the tour is due to return to the port a fair while before the approximate times given for sailing time, such as a morning excursion on a full day port call. Everyone has to make their own decision regards taking a private excursion, but if for some reason there is a delay returning, big costs could be incurred on accommodation and future travel to a subsequent port. Given the very high cost of things in Norway, that is a bigger risk than most other ports, so is worth taking into account imo. There is also a chance that the ship will not get into port for some reason, so worth making sure any excursion can be cancelled and refunded if necessary. Another way of getting a bit more info is to look at the times of the P&O excursions, and their duration, on your login. You will need to click on the red "book" tab to get those times, but can then leave that page by going back, so will not be booking anything, but probably best to check the excursion has not been popped into your "basket" by mistake. Hope you enjoy the cruise.
  16. The lunch finished at 3pm (last entry) on Aurora, when we were on there last autumn for a B2B and met relatives in Southampton. Not sure about our cruise this year, as we arrived early, as per our embarkation time. Not sure if it finishes at the same time on all ships, but may well do so.
  17. I fail to see the point of taking a wide variety of shoes/bags either. I tend to stick to black shoes and daytime sandals. I also take a gold and a silver pair of evening sandals to match my jewellery at the time.
  18. It will be incredibly cold, so need to get a lot of thermal clothes and ice grips for your shoes will be useful at times. You should be able to search advice on that in this forum and in the "ports of call" section of cruise critic. It was minus 27C on a night excursion to (hopefully) see the lights when we went in late March one year. Not sure if a balcony will be the best place onboard to view the lights if they appear as you need to find the darkest place possible. It may work, not sure and of course you would need to be facing the lights. As the ship moves, I do not see one side being better than the other overall - all chance, as is the chance of seeing the lights at all. They take you off to somewhere that is both dark and has the best chance of seeing the lights on the night excursions, again all chance though. It is Norway, so prices of that and other excursions will set you back quite a lot, but if you are paying for the cruise, best to consider some excursions. Again the "Ports of Call" board for Norway will probably be useful.
  19. If it is a P&O cruise on one of their charters, it is not normally something that is offered. Some airlines offer it on their scheduled flights, if your flight leaves in the following morning. You could always ask though .
  20. Thanks for the reply, good to know Balmoral is still much as she was. We have often gone for second sitting on the 30 night Med cruise, but with not many ports on the Caribbean cruise, decided we may as well try to get up early - not that we ever seem to do that. The problem about that Caribbean cruise was having to have the same sitting each night. I find 8.30pm too late if wanting to be up earlier the next day, but would be happy to do 8.30pm a number of nights and 6.15pm other nights. Being regimented so much was just not right though, especially as we have had a couple of long Aurora cruises in the previous year or so, when we could relax and choose what we did when we wanted. We, and other passengers we spoke with, were surprised at how poor the entertainments were, considering Fred's lounge entertainers and theatre acts used to be good. Perhaps a sign of the times, the better ones will probably be paid better for the larger ships With a number of overnights on the Balmoral Med cruise, we will likely eat out in port a few times as well. Eating earlier in the buffet will not be a problem sometimes, though would still like a non spicy speciality dining option. Fred are loosing potential income by not offering that and also keeping bars openly available for people who want to buy drinks.
  21. Borealis late 2023, 29 night Caribbean A long post as I did not do a review at the time, but must point out it was seven months ago. Some things I have mentioned are ones we have never been happy about on the ex-HAL ships, but these really were much more of a problem because of the number of sea days, when we wanted a comfortable ship to allow us to relax and enjoy the cruise as we chose. We chose early sitting because of the dark nights. Starting a meal at 6.15pm meant that we usually finished at 7.30pm or soon after, as service was swift and we often do not eat sweets. This was sometimes OK, but much of the time it meant we were in a rush to eat so early. Likewise, late sitting would have been a problem as well, if it had to be observed every day, though at times we would have been happy with an 8.30pm meal. The buffet was OK and we use it a lot, but with a lot of sea days we preferred the MDR much of the time. We had liked Colours and Tastes in the past, but the menus had changed, so virtually all items were spicy and I cannot sleep well after spicy food and there was no, non-spicy speciality restaurant available. The food is nothing like as good as it was, though we do not usually get too bothered about that. We found vegetables came coated in fat though, probably oil, which is a particular dislike of ours and no matter how many times we asked they still turned up that way. Greasy food is not acceptable to us. Finishing meals so early meant we really wanted to enjoy the entertainments. The show company were excellent, but did very little on a long cruise, because of the limited repertoire. Apart from that, there was an excellent young violinist, but sadly the rest of the theatre entertainers were pretty dire, “walk out” standard in many cases. We did not go to all but hearing snippets was enough and also the opinion of many other passengers we spoke with. There was a really big emphasis on ballroom dancing (not our thing), to the extent they had ballroom dancing before the shows (after the first few days) and also in the Ocean bar, at the same time quite often. They even infiltrated the crow’s nest at times, but no option for disco dancing until after 10.30pm, or even later. Otherwise, the lounge entertainers were equally bad, the morning light chap being particularly bad and the band in the crow’s nest had a singer who was incapable of doing anything other than C&W much of the time – no 60’s or more modern music which would be suitably for people under 75 (again not just our opinion). The cruise director told us there was a disco – yes, that was about 10.30pm or later, a full three hours after we finished dinner! No trio, which they used to have. The Botanical room and coffee bar were large areas that have always been empty at night and also much of the day, as there is no bar there, or entertainments. So they are wasted space IMO. In the daytimes there were various activities taking place in what bars were available to order drinks, e.g. the Ocean Bar and Piano bar. At times we wanted to just sit in a bar and relax with a drink by day, but found there was a choir or drama group in the middle of the floor at full volume, making the area useless as a bar. Fred had stepped up the number of activities which makes this a real problem for us in that respect. We find many of the chairs in the crow’s nest uncomfortable. The seating there is also arranged with very few seats allowing a view out of the window. The outdoor bar area to the back of deck 8 is a good place to sit undercover (by day or night), if it was raining, or breezy, but the starboard side was “smokers paradise” and there was no attempt by the bar staff to service the other side, unless it was really good weather, which meant we had to walk out in the rain to order a drink and bring it back from the bar. A lot of sunbeds had been removed from the outside decks, both to the back of deck 8 and on deck 9, so where not available for the rans Atlantic crossings, and only turned up briefly when we actually got to the Caribbean, which was mainly port days. We were told by a couple of very senior staff that was an owner decision, that had been made on the St Lawrence cruise, which took place last October, when a number of Olsen’s travelled. We had been upgraded to a terrace cabin. We appreciated that on the relatively few occasions that we could sit outdoors on the steamer chairs as it was a shaded from strong sun at times. However, there was constantly work going on a bit further back on a doorway out onto prom deck, which was noisy at times, and once approaching the Caribbean they started working on the lifeboats and prom deck quite a lot, meaning we could not use those chairs for at that time. Also, the deck crew liked to stand on prom deck having a shouting conversation with each other, waking us up at about 6am fairly often. Asking then to talk quietly did not have much effect. The cabin was really not fit for a long cruise. It was small with very little storage space indeed and the doors onto prom deck were extremely heavy to open with a large gap underneath (more than 1cm), so hot air or gales just came straight into the cabin, from that gap and also around the door in general. The way that was dealt with, each time we complained, was by putting a wide, thick black sticky tape around the door which did not work well anyway and when a gale started, on our return journey, the doors were completely sealed up with tape so could not be opened at all. We kept spare pool towels along the bottom of the door to stop the worst of any water coming into the cabin. Likewise, we constantly reported problems with the A/C, mainly because of excessive heat, but that was never dealt with either, despite the crew coming to adjust it. The curtains were little more than a couple of nets with a very thin, cheap liner, so considering there is a strong light on the prom deck all night, it stayed pretty light all night in the cabin affecting our sleep. Reception told me the curtains were the same in all of those cabins. I did learn that there were in fact blackout curtains on the other side of the ship, so complained again, so after a lot of hesitation by the head housekeeper, they did put those curtains in our cabin which helped a lot. Overall, we had reported problems on previous Fred cruises and they had been sorted, willingly and speedily, but the maintenance staff on that cruise seemed unable to put things right. Reception staff were not what we have previously encountered either, appearing to be there to stave off anyone who has a problem, rather than get it sorted. I have seen other reports about Borealis more recently, again with people not being able to get those problems addressed, so I do wonder if it is largely Borealis, or if the other ships have become the same. It has certainly made us very wary of Fred now though. I think you have travelled on Balmoral a few times from ports near you. Can I ask how you have found it, compared to pre covid cruises? Not bothered about cutbacks, which are happening everywhere, but wondering if the ship has a different feel now, overall.
  22. Will reply, but we were out most of yesterday and out later today as well, so may be later or tomorrow. Basically though there were a number of things we were not happy about, especially as there were so many sea days. Not a relaxing holiday as we had hoped.
  23. We have been thinking the same, but as tourism is a big earner there, any damage which affects that can have an effect on the local people for some time to come, financially. Although not everyone works in tourism, it must have a knock on effect in the community to an extent. Seems like a bad hurricane season is expected, with this (I think I heard) being the worst June Hurricane on record. As the seas have warmed up a lot this year that energy will likely form more bad storms. Just when we are booked for two trans Atlantics in September as well as another two in Jan/Feb, but we can hardly complain about that, at least we have mid ship cabins.
  24. Those Balmoral cruises were all new in at the start of March this year, when that season went on sale. Not all of the fly cruises were in the brochure, but they were (and still are) on the website if you search for Balmoral fly cruises - I have just checked now and all are still there. For instance from Civitavecchia, you can book 10,18, 30 or 37 nights. The letter which came with the brochure mentioned the fly cruises, making a big point of them in the second paragraph. We transferred to the 30 night one soon after it went on sale, in March, partly chosen on price as we had to equal at least 75% our outside cabin price on the Canada/Greenland cruise which we would have taken later this month. We were only prepared to book the cheapest cabin grade with Fred this time, so have got a mid ship deck four inside for now, but may upgrade if given a good price option. I am not sure if it is one of those L shaped cabin arrangements, which we hate, but we did not want to pay any more deposit to transfer as we were not happy with the last Fred cruise, roundtrip Caribbean last Nov/Dec. We chose flights out to Civitavecchia from Manchester on booking, but although the online booking system does not mention the return flights from Malaga, we still have those included on a TBA basis. We have not been told which airline is being used for the flight out, but probably a cheap option. Short fly cruises can be extremely expensive, so we always go for longer ones anyway and the Oceans + affinity discounts help a bit, though still pricy compared to other cruise lines. We should get our table for two in The Spey restaurant though, for the days we want to eat there. There are some overnights at the turn around ports, which we like, and a few new ports for us, so more like an Azamara Itinerary, than the main cruise lines. It does include the infamous port of Santorini, which did not sound good, but as it is out of the Med cruise season by the time we call there, we seem to be alone in port, but we will see. As it is late season, the weather may be iffy with bad storms often cropping up in the Med at that time, but at least we have a midship cabin and will not be changing to anything anywhere other than midship if we do upgrade. Quite a number of port days as well, for the length of cruise. What we are not happy about is that, being a longer cruise (I think over about 28 nights), Fred wants an extra 15% deposit (so 30% total deposit) six months prior to the cruise, which would put us off booking with him, if it had not been scratching to find something to transfer to. At our age it is too risky for a large cost as medical issues can arise anytime. We have only been on Balmoral once since covid and it was very soon after she started sailing, when things were not going well, but are hoping things have improved. We do prefer her to Fred's newer ships, partly because of the Spey and Avon and also because the seating is much better in the lounges, e.g. all those bucket chairs by the observation lounge windows, and she has far better outside decks with a clear view from the ship. So will be interesting to try her again, though Fred is not our main goto cruise line now. Will not be particularly warm at that time of year, but hopefully better than home.
  25. Do you mean next September, 2024, or September 2025? The Balmoral ones, in autumn 2025 are from a long cruise, (I think almost 60 nights), which was split up into numerous fly cruises (overlapping in some cases) from when the winter 2025/26 cruises went on sale a while back, and yes, they do include flights. Fred sent an email out in the last week saying new fly cruises, but they seemed to be the breakdown of the world cruise next January. We needed to move a 27 night cruise we had booked for July/Aug this year, earlier this year and booked Balmoral Civittavechia to Málaga instead. It includes a number of ports we have not been to, which is good, though we are disappointed the call to Istanbul is only for one day. We have been to Istanbul previously for a day and a half, but the full day was when The blue Mosque and other places were closed for most of the day, (and the grand bazaar closed all day), which was a shame. We had flown out to Istanbul at the start of that cruise, so were not able to do much the first part day either. It was very difficult finding a cruise to change a 27 night one to, as Fred is not doing many long cruises now. We were thinking of just loosing the deposit, but it was a fairly big deposit, so thought we would change it for now.
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