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stephen@stoneyard.co.uk

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Everything posted by stephen@stoneyard.co.uk

  1. interesting. I wonder what the paperwork will be like moving a distillery in and out of different territorial waters. Best wishes, Stephen.
  2. I am not commenting about 500 versus 1000 rooms, the ports you mentioned or the difficulty in tendering with a scooter. I have no experience of these matters. I will take your word on these points. There is no need to explain them further for me. Thank you, Stephen.
  3. I am only guessing but I would thought the port agent would have a plan for all ships that use their port. They have local knowledge, contacts and staff on the ground. Best wishes, Stephen.
  4. I have done one cruise with MSC and several with P and O. I cannot think of one thing I preferred about MSC. I did not dislike MSC though. To me they are like NCL, nothing bad but just not that good. MSC are very US and or international. This apparently is part of a plan for world domination (of the cruise business). I was hoping for a more Italian experience. I have enjoyed French and Spanish cruise lines in the past. MSC will match status with other cruise lines and hotel Loyalty schemes which is a plus. With a non UK based line I am always tempted to book with an agent. They can deal with the language difficulties with head office. I learnt this with Ponant. There UK phone number goes to Marseille and I had to ring several times until I got by chance a superb English speaker. Best wishes, Stephen.
  5. I did a dark blue suit last cruise on Oriana. I went with a light blue shirt. I really like blue. When I go for the traditional dinner jacket then I do keep with the traditional white formal shirt. Best wishes, Stephen.
  6. Very lacklustre response from the shore office considering the situation in your complaint. I suppose you have to give the 28 days for a full response but it does not bode well. Best wishes, Stephen.
  7. A horrendous experience. To think I worry about if I get one cabin service or two in a day. It really puts it in perspective. You should not have had that experience but I do hope your complaint to P&O is resolved satisfactorily.
  8. This situation caused a significant distress to passengers and crew. It seems to me that P&O could reasonably be questioned about The decision to schedule Monaco as a port when it was likely to be a tender port with a reputation for bad weather. The decision to tender on the day depending on the local weather forecast. The safety of allowing passengers to tender who may not have complete d the step test. The safety of the crew member who fell in the sea. That could have been a real tragedy. The decision to tender some passengers back to the ship. Uncomfortable seems an understatement. The failure to look after stranded passengers adequately. Food, water, accommodation, information, shade, toilets and money may have been lacking. Also expecting passenger to stand for an extended period. Presumable P&O had a port agent, Monaco is well developed and connected to the rest of Europe. The level of compensation offered to affected passengers. Some feel this is less than generous. It is entirely under the control of Carnival UK, not dependant on the weather, not dependant on local facilities in Monaco and does not have to be paid In an emergency. It is the one part of this that is entirely in their control. Best wishes, Stephen.
  9. Remarks about read the contract and you give up your legal rights might not be entirely true. I believe this was a a European Cruise for which European passenger may have Package Tour protection. The operator must deliver substantially the advertised holiday. They cannot use the outside our control excuse. They cannot rely on restrictive terms in the contract. Basically provide what people paid for or compensate the appropriately and proportionately. For example from the Association on British Travel Agents. ’Legal protection means your travel company is responsible for making sure that you get the holiday you paid for.’ All this is subject to interpretation and I am know legal expert. It may be for the courts to rule particularly as the weather was a factor. These regulations can about because holiday companies were sending passengers to hotels that were not built or were ridiculously different to the brochure descriptions. The industry has itself to blame for these regulations. Best wishes, Stephen.
  10. Perhaps somebody opened a door to a hidden midships staircase. It made the ship unstable and the swimming pool emptied. The water flooded down the said staircase. Best wishes, Stephen.
  11. If cruise lines had to be totally truthful with perspective passengers about anything then they would be in trouble. How many brochures show pictures of suites predominately when there are only two per ship. How many brochures show passengers working down empty corridors. To to be fair sometimes travel agents rewrite cruise line information. Late afternoon day one to early morning day two becomes two days. This may not be intentional but the cruise line should take responsibility for how agents sell their cruises. A travel agent for years sent brochures explaining traditional dining on a British budget cruise line using photographs taken in the QE2 Queens Grill. Tableside flambé is certainly not a feature of this good value line. Best wishes, Stephen.
  12. Enjoy your cruise. I hope you have good weather. Best wishes, Stephen.
  13. Similar on Astoria in Portsmouth. The ship had come in empty (of passengers) and we sailed at 12pm. Best wishes, Stephen.
  14. Port shuttle buses are not used. Within easy walking (for me) of the cruise terminal building is a beach and marina. There are also a few quite basic shops, bars and restaurants. Probably better in the summer. There is the Bunker Museum which is about the defences built in the 1940s. As I discovered it closes on Mondays. Oddly there is a red telephone box. There may may be more but I did not find it. It was a warm day for my visit so I sat on the beach and read my book and had a coffee in one of the beach bars. It was very quiet which made a nice break from my Marella 1990s music themed cruise. I do not know if they do this for every cruise but there were sniffer dogs at the gangway for passengers returning to the ship. I quite enjoyed the port as a quiet place to relax without the hassle of ports in big cities. A nice beach day for me just not St Tropez. Best wishes, Stephen.
  15. Three stairs and twenty two lifts should be enough. I like to use the stairs but are sometimes tempted in by a lift. Than you, Stephen.
  16. An interesting and valuable perspective. They may be intending this ship for younger passengers who behave differently. Who will book it and what they will want to do onboard is a different matter. Industry research I was shown suggested that cruise lines have had limited success attracting new passengers to new ships. They tend to get the same passengers doing more cruises. Often attracted by significant discounts. In the UK the average age of a cruiser has not changed much since these mega sized new style ships have been introduced. Interesting idea that they will spend more time in their cabin. That is not what the cruise lines have traditionally wanted. You can spend money in your cabin but generally not as much as elsewhere on the ship. Also Iona cabins are generally quite small. I am looking forward to trying Iona. My only other big ships are QM2, Symphony of the Seas and MSC Bellisima. QM2 is of course unique. Symphony I thought worked amazing well. MSC was just so so. I am on an early Iona cruise (if she is delivered on time). I am feeling it will be absolutely wonderful or totally dreadful. The difference will possibly be down to how well P&O manage all these people and the ship itself. Thank,you, Stephen.
  17. Iona does seem to be less spacious than QM2. I would guess nobody would build a ship as spacious as Queen Mary 2 today. Queen Mary 2 has big cabins but of course you only have access to your own. Double, triple and nearly quadruple height spaces take up space. There are many single occupants of double cabins and often many not triples and quadruples. I have cruised with just over 2000 passengers. She felt empty in places. Cunard prices often reflect this spaciousness. I feel Queen Mary 2 does have a few pinch points though that can mean congestion. This is particularly apparent with all those sea days. Iona will have generally smaller cabins. A lot of space seems dedicated to extra tariff dining. She lacks a ballroom too.I suppose it is up to the designers to make the most of the space they have. We shall all see. I am booked on the second come voyage. It will be interesting. We are in port most days so the ship should be almost empty. My only hope is that Iona does not have the lift and stairs shortage that people report on Britannia. Best wishes, Stephen.
  18. Perhaps it is in the name Freedom. It creates a false expectation. It could be renamed Wait For dining. Best wishes, Stephen.
  19. HIt does seem you had many similar problems to me in the main dining room. Lack of staff and perhaps poorly trained staff. I also thought that some of the menu descriptions were a bit over the top for what was served. It is a shame as it would put me off cruising with Marella next year. Best wishes, Stephen.
  20. I did wonder but staff change all the time on ships. After the evening I thought it was perhaps just a bad day for them. I hope you are fine on Explorer 2. I cannot imagine it is like that across the rest of the fleet when everything else was really good. Best wishes, Stephen.
  21. Just returned from Electric Sunsets the 1990s Music themed short cruise from Newcastle. I thought it was a very good cruise with one very big exception for me. I have cruised more time than I can remember on possibly a dozen different lines but only once with Thomson as it then was. Here is my mini review it is purely my personal perspective THE SHIP. I thought the Explorer was wonderful and a massive step up from my previous cruise on Celebration. Light, modern, comfortable, spacious and luxurious. I had single occupancy of four berth cabin on five decks was very pleasant. My only criticism would be because the upper births folded against the wall rather than in the ceiling they impinged on the cabin space. Throughout the ship maintenance and cleanliness seemed second to none. SERVICE. With one exception I thought the service was very good. I really do not think it could have been improved. I do not think the ship was full so I think that might have helped the crew. BUFFET. The best shipboard buffet experience I have had in years. After the first meal I usually avoid the buffet but on this ship I went back for every breakfast and lunch. I found a wide choice, fresh and nicely presented food. Tables were cleared quickly also and always seemed available. MAIN DINING ROOM. Sorry but my worst dining experience I have had on a ship ever. The food was nice enough and some of it was very good but the service was poor. On the first night the restaurant was almost empty and our party was shown to a table of eight as requested. We were given menus for the wrong day. Mistakes happen but our waiter did not apologise and I was left felt I was the cause of his inconvenience. Throughout the meal the wrong food was delivered to the wrong people in the wrong order with some delays. The waiters did not seem to be coping and would rather we were not bothering them. On the third night we queued for a table at Vista to be told it had moved from the sign posted position so we had to queue again at a different entrance. Our table of eight turned out to be two separate tables of four despite at least three tables for eight in a not full restaurant being free. I think they were trying to close some sections. Reluctantly they eventual gave us a table for eight. Bread, wine, olives (one each only) just seemed vey difficult for them. Again the wrong food was given to the wrong people in the wrong order. I noticed it was an hour from arriving, at a less than full restaurant, before we all had a starter. Some had finished the starter before others arrived of course. By the way on the second night we went to Kora La which I very much enjoyed and could not fault the service or food. PASSENGERS. Everybody seemed very friendly and looking to enjoy themselves. I certainly saw no trouble and was not woken by noise in my cabin corridor. People were vaping discreetly in bars and corridors which surprised me but not bothersome. The F word was used as a normal part of speech. It was not offensive just unusual on a cruise. I suppose it was an adults only cruise. Lots of fancy dress including a few nuns. Call The Midwife will not be quite the same for me again. Compared to my usual cruises the average was decades younger. THEME. I must say I had never heard of any of the groups but then the 1990s did pass me by. Apparently many acts had a fewer members than in they did in the 90s but I do not feel that gives me grounds to ask for a partial refund on my cruise. I have done themed cruise before where only one venue is dedicated to the theme. You can ignore the theme on those cruises. This was a whole ship (and embarkation terminal) takeover. I enjoyed it in many ways and just went with it. VERDICT. Would I do another cruise on the ship? Yes. Would I do another Marella cruise? Yes. I hope the main dining room would be better. Would I do another pop music themed cruise? Possibly.
  22. I would imagine CPS, Carnival UK and ABP work together on such matters. Best wishes, Stephen.
  23. If anybody is interested in the covered drop off area at the Ocean Terminal I think you can see it on the ABP Southampton Facebook page. There is a photo of Centura docked with Oriana sailing past. Best wishes, Stephen.
  24. Thank you. That explains it. Best wishes, Stephen.
  25. Thank you. I dId not know that. Cunard do a similar thing with transatlantic crossings via Hamburg. Passengers join and l ave at Hamburg to and from the the crossing. Gives a few options for mini cruises also. Best wishes, Stephen.
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