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groovechick

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Can only endorse what Berlingo has said. Both my children, son and daughter, used the kids' club as teens and loved it. Both are still in touch with friends they made. They are both now too old for the club and wish they weren't. The friendship groups that form tend to use the club as a meeting up point, then they go off and do their own thing during the day when at sea. Organised activities also included treasure hunts, talent competitions, white disco, etc. They do an ice-breaker session on the first evening. As Berlingo says, register as soon as you get on board and don't miss the first get-together. I am sure your daughter will have a wonderful time.
  4. We did a "dumbed down" version of this a couple of years ago on Aurora - I can't remember what it was called, about £30/head. It was in the Glasshouse, we were supposed to be in the private room, but the numbers are limited as Selbourne says, so we were in the main area, but reserved exclusively for the people who had booked that dining experience. Five courses with accompanying wines, coffee and petit fours. The maitre d' - Albert and head waiter - Jack - were wonderful. Nothing was too much trouble and the food superb. I had deliberately missed lunch in readiness and was still absolutely stuffed at the end. The only disappointment was the petit fours, which bore no resemblance to the description on the menu and everyone felt the same and left them, as they were frankly unpleasant. I particularly liked the pistachio sponge cake that formed part of the dessert and Albert went to the trouble of getting the recipe for me from chef. Cannot recommend this highly enough - a lovely memory.
  5. If you're on a cruise where you are more likely to be wearing jeans and trainers during the day (Fjords), wear flight socks instead of normal socks. They cause the circulation to work harder, which also eliminates the fluid. It's roughly the same principle as putting your feet up - it's forcing the blood back to the heart If you're in warmer climes, even wearing them for a couple of hours (afternoon nap, say) in the privacy of your cabin can help a lot too.
  6. If you haven't been to Vigo before, it's a very pleasant place to just wander round. The walk up to the castle is quite steep. There are Segway tours that go from the quayside, are very popular and the company gets very good reviews. Can't remember the name, just Google Segway tours Vigo. There is also a company called Vigo Tours/Tours for Cruisers who do a very good and reasonably priced bus tour and have now added wine-tasting tours (hurray!). The guides all speak excellent English and are very knowledgeable. The tours start at a point just a short (5-10 mins) walk from the dock. http://tours4cruisers.com/en/vigo-tour/
  7. Just to add a different perspective: one of the worst examples of bad behaviour I have seen on my handful of cruises came from a fairly senior member of staff (Chief Engineer IIRC). He had family on board and had clearly a drink or two taken, but his language in particular, general staggering around, loudness and rumbustiousness stood out. Didn't set a good example for passengers or other crew.
  8. Actually I said there were two set dining times, not fixed dining MDRs, but I'm sure you're correct regarding the split. We were club dining on Britannia, so I didn't take much notice of the freedom options. As I said, it was the poor fixed MDR experience on Britannia that made us try freedom for our next cruise.
  9. I deliberately avoided giving an opinion because I didn't want to prejudice you either way. You should go and make up your own mind. Everyone's tastes and expectations are quite different. Siome people love her. For what it's worth, I didn't like Britannia. Nothing to do with size: I thought the decor was bland and positively dingy in the cabins (we had an inside cabin, might be better in a cabin with daylight), that the flow through some of the public areas was poor and the lounges/theatre weren't big enough for the number of pax, that the theatre seating was uncomfortable and she lacked wow factor. My son loved her, my daughter felt similar to me and hubby was somewhere in between. That being said, I didn't dislike her enough to say I would never go on her again, if the price and itinerary were right.
  10. Food varies from ship to ship as the crews and executive chefs change. On our Britannia cruise (maiden Caribbean season) we expected to be blown away by the food and were disappointed overall. On our last cruise, on Aurora, the food was generally very good and some meals were outstanding. We weren't impressed by the service on Britannia - whilst our steward was very chatty and sociable, his cleaning left a lot to be desired and our waiters were very aloof, even though we tried to be friendly. This was why on our last cruise we went for Freedom dining. Our steward was very quiet, we hardly saw him, but he kept the cabin immaculate. On our first P&O cruise on Aurora the entertainment was very poor, on our Britannia cruise it was great. We just accept that nothing is ever going to be perfect and go with the flow. We're lucky we can cruise at all.
  11. Afraid I haven't been on a Celebrity cruise but can help generally regarding Britannia. Dressing up: P&O is the right place for this. On a longer cruise there will be several formal nights and the majority of passengers adhere to the dress code, with the men wearing dinner suits or tux and ladies wearing cocktail dresses, gowns or smart trousers and sparkly/floaty tops. Dancing: of the newer P&O ships Britannia probably has the best dance floor in the dedicated Crystal Room. Sunbathing: as you're likely to be outside of the school holiday period and provided you're not bothered about being around the main pool area, you shouldn't have a problem finding somewhere to sunbathe. There is a separate area with cabanas and things, for an extra charge per day/week pass. Dining: two set dining times in the MDR, plus another dining room dedicated to Freedom dining, which serves the same menu as in the set time dining rooms. With Freedom dining you just turn up and request a table. If you want a table for two or arrive at a peak time, then you will be asked to wait and given a pager so you can go off and have a drink. The wait isn't usually long. You also have the option of the bookable speciality restaurants for which there is an extra charge.
  12. To be honest, apart from the formal, black and white night, for which the majority make the effort, people really don't bother at all for the 60s/70s night or the tropical night. For the tropical night at most men wear Hawaiian-style shirts and ladies may wear something tropical florally, but that's about it. One out last cruise, for the 70s night I just wore a maxi dress, love beads, lots of bangles and tied a long floaty scarf around my hair and apart from maybe one or two other people, I was the only person who'd bothered!
  13. Forgot to say the Twin Islands tour included a cooler full of drinks in the boot - rum punch, beer, soft drinks and water. Our driver said we had to finish the lot by the end of the tour!! Courtney Taylor will also provide drinks, but for a small extra charge - I think it was a dollar or two for a Red Stripe beer! All the vehicles were modern, air-conditioned and immaculate. The oldest one was on Grenada, an old minivan, but it was still clean and safe. All the companies provided comprehensive info on meeting points and itineraries (although with Courtney Taylor they will be quite flexible), picked us up bang on time and got us back in plenty of time too. Glenn was our driver on Grenada.
  14. On our first (and only) Caribbean cruise, the only P&O excursion we did was the submarine trip in Barbados. Very, very good - we were amazed at how much we saw, but the two members of P&O staff who accompanied us were useless. Didn't introduce themselves, didn't speak to anyone and looked totally bored. Otherwise we took the plunge and went DIY. Cannot recommend Courtney Taylor Tours on Jamaica highly enough. We did the river tubing/beach/lunch/shopping tour and it was fab and worth every penny. Ask for Karl-Linton as your driver. On St Maarten - Twin Island Tours - we saw the whole island, had time at a lovely beach, shopping, etc. On Antigua - Scenic Island Tours - again, wonderful day with Hudson as our driver. On Grenada - Grenada Sunsation Tours, waterfalls/nutmeg factory/lake/rain forest, etc.
  15. When we visited Barcelona I was apprehensive about using the Metro to get to Sagrada Familia, but need not have worried. It was very straightforward. We took the Metro from the stop near the Christobal Colon shuttle drop-off point, changed once and got a train to just outside Sagrada Familia. You used to be able to buy a "Friends of Sagrada Familia" ticket on the Internet very cheaply and that gave you priority in the queues, but I think they have stopped that, although you could check the Sagrada Familia website. I found this website very useful for info on how to navigate the Metro system, ticket prices, etc. https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/maps/barcelona-map.html
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