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  1. We had a cruise critic meeting in Antarctica on the Quest this winter. Champaign and sophisticated nibbles were served. A nice gathering. It was requested by a member of our roll call and arranged in advance.
  2. Did it twice. First time in 2007 and it really was a serious Drake shake. But Antarctica was so special we did it again last January and had the Drake lake. Both cruises were spectacular - more than worth the time and tariff.
  3. Yes they are but read the fine print on the packets. There were two types available on the Ovation last week (one at Seabourn Square, the other in the restaurants) - the ingredients on one of them read like a chemistry experiment, the other packet ingredients sounded edible.
  4. The only water bottles that we were aware of delivered to the suites were the new contentious ones. We, too, are upset about the use of too much plastic but we also wish to have clean, safe water to drink in our suite. There must be a way.
  5. You can ask the stewardess to replace the bottles each day. We did - and we checked on it each day as the fresh bottle arrives cold and stay cold for a while. People do drink directly from the bottles. We saw that both on board and in port. They are sanitized somehow - just wish I knew how. Also worried about the plastic scratching and cracking over time - if that happens bacteria can hide. How much heat can the plastic tolerate? Enough to be properly sanitized? There are studies of plastic cutting boards that have shown that they can harbor quite a bit of bacteria in cracks and scratches - wooden cutting boards sanitize much better as the wood shrinks when it dries and kills the bacteria that was not washed off. Our cabin stewardess referred to a chemical that they use to sanitize leaving water type spots on the bottles and “not to worry about them” - if they are using chemicals I would want to know what they are using and if there could be an issue with chemical residue. I put my concerns on my on line comment sheet this morning. I hope that we all hear from Seabourn soon on this issue.
  6. We have over 500 real sea days on HAL - we have taken two Seabourn Cruises this year (Antarctica in January and just got off after 14 days on Ovation yesterday) and we are sold on Seabourn. We miss the HAL that used to be and is no more. Seabourn, for us, is a great alternative though we, admittedly, will cruise a little less due to the tariff.
  7. The decision re: Times Digest on board is not Carnival fleetwide - at least not yet. Just got off the Seabourn Ovation and DH and I enjoyed the Times Digest and, of course, the NYT crossword daily. To not have that particular crossword would definitely affect a decision to continue to cruise HAL, especially on sea days. On board Seabourn we had a choice of papers, the USA paper being one of them as well as the Times Digest. Some folks may not like one paper or another but they should not have the right to make decisions for others. Choice is a good thing.
  8. Closing the cabinet doors did not turn the lights off. Small slivers of light peeked out in our suite overnight. I remember it being the same way on the Quest in January and wondering why the lights did not go off. The water did not taste of chemicals, nor did it taste musty like the tap water tasted. But it was oddly flat and almost sweet.
  9. Just left the Ovation this morning. I am not happy about the new water system. The same bottles that are laid out in the room are offered to guests as they go ashore with the assumption that the guest will return the bottles when they return. They are large and awkward to carry ashore. We just purchased water ashore when we got thirsty. People do drink directly from these bottles The bottles are plastic. How can we be sure they are adequately sterilized? They cannot be heat sterilized like glass? In the suites the bottles are placed in the cabinet with the light on that never goes off. The light makes it warm in that cabinet - since the bottles are not sealed who knows what can grow in the water in that environment. Our cabin stewardess said that the bottles are cleaned each day and that the smudgy looking spots on the outside of the bottle come from the sanitizer that they use when they clean the bottles. ... Say what? In retrospect I should have asked to talk to the environmental officer or whoever is in charge of this system to get some more direct answers. Our cabin stewardess admitted that it is probably not good to drink water that has been out for a couple of days. The first few days on board I was scared of the bottles. I drank water from the bathroom tap - it tasted terrible. Then I started drinking copious quantities in the restaurants where the water is served up from a carafe that no one drinks directly from ... that, too, became inconvenient. By the end of the cruise I was using the bottles in my cabin when I needed water - the taste is almost sweet and very flat. We arranged with our stewardess to get two fresh bottles a day and to have her remove the bottles from the day before with any leftover water that was in them. After the room was cleaned each day I could verify that the bottles were fresh because they were cold. I am very concerned about plastic in our environment - but I am also concerned about disease transmission through plastic that is not sterilized, or through water that is not sterile and sealed that sits at tepid temperatures. This water may work well in restaurants, but in restaurants folks don’t drink directly from the water carafe. On board they do. We saw it. Are they using a sanitizer on these bottles? What is it and does it leave a residue that dissolves in the water?
  10. I am American - I enjoy and prefer Fever Tree tonic and have for some years - we have several restaurants here that serve it. I would be anxious to experience craft gins (not particularly available on this side of the pond). We will be in Dublin for some days this month - might craft gins be easily available in pubs there?
  11. Odd about the tonic. In January we had Fever Tree tonic in our cabin minibar.
  12. For what it is worth - we sailed the Noordam from Honolulu to Vancouver in May and did not find her “tired” at all. We had an SS cabin that was in great condition - the only negative we found were the cushions for the balcony furniture that were so stained it was difficult to sit on them. I wonder if to some the more traditional HAL decor (which, I will admit is a bit out of date) makes it seem tired. We were concerned before boarding her because of all the reports of rust, etc that we had read about on line. In our cabin the only rust we could find were a couple small spots on the balcony roof. Our cabin was in great shape. The food was excellent as was the service. We really appreciated that that she still had the old Explorations Lounge and a real Crow's Nest. What we did miss miss was the live music!
  13. We did Antarctica in 2007 on the Prinsendam and then again this past January on the Seabourn Quest where we had zodiac landings on six days. We chose Seabourn this time as we wanted to try the zodiac landings. When it was over, DH and I discussed the two experiences and each has pros and cons. Not sure which way was best. On both trips we had excursion folks on board who shared lots of information. Both trips were spectacular in their own way. On the Prinsendam we had non-stop scenery - absolutely breath taking - penguins right up close and next to the ship on bergie bits and swimming in the water. Non-stop views. It was difficult to even take a break for meals. Absolutely spectacular. And, as mentioned earlier we also had the Palmer Station folks visit. On Seabourn we had a lot of the breath taking scenery, including some incredible moments such as floating in the Lemaire Channel at sunset ... but during the day, due to the landings, the ship was anchored off shore of some bit of land that was full of penguins and easy to walk on but not necessarily spectacular to look at. Everyone had a chance to go ashore (about an hour or so each day) and the rest of the time you were on board looking at the often gravel covered beach. While on shore there were penguins and birds galore and we were really up close and personal with them. So ... less scenery, more penguins. And, of course, the whole dressing in many layers to go ashore ritual, and the daily required briefings. Each stop seemed to have a different species of penguin. Not sure which way is best - but you can’t go wrong doing it either way as Antarctica is incredible. Incredible enough for us to repeat the experience.
  14. We went to Iguazu independently in 2007 post cruise. Stayed at the Sheraton on the falls (I guess that is now the Melia). The falls were spectacular. Iguazu is definitely worth seeing. Very different than Niagara. It was easy to do independently but we were post cruise and you are mid cruise. If you are interested in seeing Rio and the falls on your five day overland I would do it. Unless you go that way again you will miss the experience. The fact that the hotel is away from town and on the falls added to our visit. Our room had a view of the falls and also a memorable sticker on the sliding glass doors to our balcony (there were no screens) - the sticker warned not to leave the door open as soon the room would fill with insects and later with monkeys.
  15. A few years ago in Kauai we went on an excursion that was all about the movies that were filmed there (including the pilot for Gilligan's Island). We were on a bus that only accommodated 20 folks tops and it was equipped with large video screens. We saw movie clips, heard tales about the making of the movies and visited the sites where they were filmed including the no longer in use hotel that was the site for Elvis's Blue Hawaii. One of of the best excursions ever - but it was not on the offer list when we ported in Kauai in May on the Noordam. If it is available I highly recommend that trip.
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