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giraffegirl

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About giraffegirl

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    Southern Arizona
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    Travel -- ship or RV
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  1. Yes, indeed. I just got a quote for a verandah cabin on deck 9 on the Silhouette for Jan 31, 2020. While thinking about it overnight, with a hold on the cabin by my TA, the price went up $500 from the quote. Bummer.
  2. If you book a private excursion online prior to your cruise, they usually set the shore meet time so that you are not jostling with the passengers rushing to get off. You can get excursion providers recommendations on cruise critic or travel advisor.
  3. If they offer a cellar master's dinner, don't miss it. Specially paired menu items and really good wine (and lots of it). Fortunately nobody has to drive home.
  4. HAL does much better now than they did originally. I don't think you'll have much wait time at all. Sometimes the maître 'd allows couples to reserve tables for the whole cruise for a certain time in the anytime dining room. If I did have a long wait, I would accept the option to sit at a table with strangers; sometimes that's better anyway.
  5. Sometimes, if you book a Signature Suite, HAL comps you a Signature Experience. This is 2 nights in a hotel in your embarkation city, a special tour, and transportation from the airport to the hotel and the hotel to the ship. A nice perk I will enjoy in Copenhagen June 1 and 2.
  6. I booked a private tour from Southampton to Salisbury and Stonehenge for this June with Chris of Southampton Stonehenge Tours. He has a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, has a very informative website and is very prompt in answering emails.
  7. I always stay at the Embassy Suites in FLL if it isn't fully booked. It's a very good, although older, hotel with a balcony attached. They have a happy hour each evening and an excellent breakfast included in the room price. It is next to a nice shopping center with a Publix grocery store and a liquor warehouse, as well as a discount store, and several nice, reasonably priced restaurants. Taxis to the airport or cruise port are quite reasonable. I don't take the cruise bus shuttle any more.
  8. They are not necessarily on all ships and not on all cruises. The sommelier dinner is a special dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, with wine pairing. It usually costs about $75. It will start with an aperitif, then several special chef's choice courses, each served with a different wine especially paired through collaboration between chef and sommelier. Ask the Pinnacle Grill maître 'd if there will be one on your cruise, and if you get a chance to experience it, sign up quick. Fortunately, as this is not a wine tasting, you don't have to drive home, but you may have to crawl. The other is a special dinner, also at a modest increased cost from the normal Pinnacle Grill price, that serves the menu from the famous Dutch restaurant.
  9. My Mariner status still hasn't been updated from my Dec. 1-8 cruise on the Westerdam. I also contacted HAL and was told it would be posted within 5 business days, but it hasn't. I'm just going to check back periodically to see when it gets posted. I don't sail again until June and I'm 5 Star, so it doesn't make any difference currently. My responder said it was some kind of computer glitch that needed to be straightened out.
  10. Workers did a lot of balcony refurbishment on our Westerdam cruise during late September to early November. I think you would be happy with the balcony's look now. Also, the premade sandwiches were excellent in the Lido Market while we were onboard.
  11. Be advised that shore excursions participants very often march down deck 1 from the theater to the stairway to the lower decks. This is hundreds of people a morning, so I'd be sure I was booking on the aft of the ship not the front to avoid those crowds.
  12. There is an arm chair at the desk next to the window that you can move to watch tv from and another armless chair at the other (makeup) desk that can be used. Both are utilitarian rather than comfortable. There are 3 pillows on each person's bed plus another 6 or so on the couch to build a comfortable viewing area on the bed. The signature suites are very comfortable since the dry dock.
  13. I heartily recommend Rome In Limo. In early November I booked RIL for a day trip from the cruise port to Florence and Pisa. The company provided advice on booking tickets to avoid standing in line and on how to schedule the time in each location. Simona was our driver and she was outstanding. She met us promptly and changed the times to take advantage of the traffic, so we visited Pisa early Sunday morning when there were almost no other tourists there. Then she drove us to Florence and picked up our tickets and guided us to the door of the Accademia Museum. After that she took us to a splendid small restaurant and ordered us a sampler meal with wine, which was wonderful. Because of her knowledge and expertise, she was able to drive us through the Tuscan hillsides on the way back to the ship. The next day Giovanni drove the van from the port to Rome. We had prepaid tickets to the Coliseum and he dropped us close to the entrance and then we toured there. Although we only were booked to go to the Coliseum and Vatican, he drove us from the Coliseum to the Palatine Hill, then the Pantheon and then to the Trevi Fountain. Following that good bit of sightseeing, he dropped us at a small local café for lunch, ordering dishes that we wanted to try, including a sampler meal including appetizer, entrée, dessert and wines. Following lunch he drove to the Vatican where we met our guide and toured the Basilica and the Sistine Chapel and walked through St. Peter's Square. I found RIL provided exceptional service for a reasonable price and would not hesitate to recommend them. Be advised, though, that my Fitbit registered 4 1/2 miles for this day trip. Hope this helps you.
  14. We used Viator for excursions in Iceland and in Amsterdam. Had no complaints whatsoever. They are really easy to use and you print out your e-ticket at home before you ever leave so you've got all the details at hand.
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