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About groovechick

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  1. But look how much capacity has been added since then. Britannia came on line in March (?) 2015, RCI has launched about 6 ships, Iona's on her way - I make that about 24,000 passenger spaces to fill. I'm no mathematician, but it would seem to me that there is a max. no. of people likely to be in the market for a cruise at any given time, and this upsurge will at some point tail off through natural attrition (age/finances/changing tastes/tried it don't like it). When numbers do level off they will be fighting tooth and nail to fill the places. Let's hope it's reflected in the prices for customers and not in cuts to services/staff pay.
  2. On Grenada we took an tour organised in advance with Grenada Sunsation. This was back in 2015, I think the cost was about $35 or 40 pp and was really good. Covered all the main sights on the island and our guide Glenn was so knowledgeable, especially about the indigenous plants and spices. Antigua - Scenic Tours, $33 pp, 6 1/2 hour tour of the island, covering all the main sights. You can also add a beach option for a few dollars more. St Maarten - Twin Island Tours: tour of the island including time at a lovely beach, shopping in Marigot, all the main sights, plus an ice box in the car with all the fruit juice/water/rum punch/beer you could want.
  3. Yes, my daughter received something in the post every day last week. I also receive e-mails most days. Wouldn't mind if they were genuine special offers/discounts, but there's nothing like that. It's not just that P&O has more ships to fill, so do all the lines, and even though more people are cruising than ever before, there has to be a finite number of potential passengers.
  4. Whilst the captain would never make a difference to me choosing a cruise, I do think it affects the overall cruise because of the mood it generates on board, especially with the crew. Our first P&O cruise in recent times was on Aurora with Neil Turnbull, a summer holiday cruise to the fjords. We thought he was great, our children got to know him and his wife a little better because our son played with his children, and he is a really lovely man. He did a Captain's Q&A, which was hilarious. The atmosphere on board was great, all the crew seemed very happy and a couple of them told me they loved having him as captain. Next was Azura under Paul Brown, with Neil Oliver as Cruise Director. Again a very enjoyable cruise, although PB is much less visible and sociable. Entertainment was excellent, though. Britannia under the same PB/NO combination was a disappointment, despite it being her maiden season in the Caribbean and a Christmas/New Year cruise. PB hardly seen, staff seemed very demotivated and grumpy, entertainment very good to excellent, but NO had got very big for his boots and wouldn't deign to even say hello to passengers. Finally Aurora under Wesley Dunlop, again generally very happy, pleasant atmosphere on board. Capt Dunlop quite visible around the ship - eating in the buffet, strolling around the deck, etc., and always had a word for passengers and crew. CD was Jon Bartram - entertainment was OK, some good Headliners shows, but very disorganised - equipment not available, not working, members of entertainments team not turning up to run quizzes, etc, or turning up late. All these cruises have been in school holidays, so peak times and that may make a difference too.
  5. A mini sewing kit - never needed it yet, but the one time I don't take it... Also a tiny cheap religious medal that came from a St Patrick's Day badge sent to me by my long-departed Nana - my good luck charm.
  6. Why should it not be fresh? It's kept refrigerated in the galley/hold. We buy 3-4 large bottles of milk per week from our supermarket (ensuring they are long dated) and it is very unusual for us to have to throw any away after a week or more. Usually the last bottle is a fresh as the first.
  7. Usually, on a shelf above the buffet breakfast cereals counter, or maybe at one end of the counter, there is a shelf with small jugs, and then big jugs of milk on the counter for use in cereals or if you want a glass of milk. We fill a small jug with milk, take it back to the room and keep it in the fridge. During our last cruise on Aurora it kept plenty cool enough and a jug was sufficient for 3/4 cups of tea/coffee. The steward removed the used jug when he gave us fresh mugs, repeat process for the next day.
  8. The ship restocks with some items during the cruise, including fresh milk. I've seen them loading it from the quayside.
  9. Vicariously cruising through your beautifully written blog, Damian, and loving it. Thank you! Hope your wife remains well for the rest of the cruise.
  10. I think time will be a problem just as much as money. I was talking to a group of friends the other day and we all agreed that we work longer hours, for less money and have less leisure time than when we embarked on our careers, and that's leaving aside the demands of families, running a home, etc. We all hoped we would be retired by now, or nearing early retirement; we are all still working and expect to do so until retirement age and beyond. If you are not retired you don't have the time for extended holidays; it's virtually impossible now to get two weeks' consecutive holiday and the restrictions on when and how you can take holiday increase all the time.
  11. Aurora definitely as a Glasshouse. If you get the chance, do the 5/6 course taster menu at @ £30/head, with paired wines. It was fantastic and worth every penny. I'd advise not eating beforehand though. On the day we did it I skipped lunch (usually only have a very light lunch anyway) and still struggled. Superb service and knowledgeable commentary about the wines accompanying the meal. Early booking advised as they don't run them frequently and they sell out fast. You can view the menu in advance so you can decide whether it's to your taste.
  12. The only deals I can recall have been a free bottle of house wine if you dine in Sindhu on the first night on board. I'm not aware of them reducing the cover charge, offering two-for-one deals or anything like that.
  13. I'm not saying this is the cause of these particular incidents, but it could be down to cost cutting if they have reduced the frequency of the services/maintenance inspections, or have cut the numbers of engineers available to do the work, in the same way that the stewards and waiters have to cover more rooms/tables. Of course none of the cruise lines can foresee events like props being fouled by fishing nets.
  14. I'm sure we checked when we took our EHICs on our last cruise whether they would actually cover cruise passengers and they definitely do. If whatever befalls you occurs in the territory of an EHIC country, then you are covered.
  15. La Palma - Bajamar beach is a walk (about 30 mins total) from the ship's berth, through the dock and round the port on a broad, flat pavement. You can see it from where the ship docks. It doesn't look very attractive because of the black volcanic sand and industrial buildings nearby, but it's clean and safe. Despite being near the port the water is crystal clear. The beach shelves very gently so is safe for little ones. There are toilets, showers and a snack bar. The locals use it and they are really friendly. You can also get a taxi or local bus to Los Cancajos, a bigger beach a little further down the coast. Madeira - you can do the cable car more cheaply on your own than through a ship's excursion. Just depends if you want to add on other things. The Monte Tropical gardens (entrance just a couple of minutes from the cable car) are beautiful and cool when it's baking hot because lots of shade and water features, but perhaps not very interesting for your girls, although lots of paths to run round, stepping stones on shallow ponds, etc.
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