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Host Jazzbeau

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About Host Jazzbeau

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    Cruise Critic Host & 10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    New York
  • Interests
    Jazz, food, wine
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    the next one
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
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  1. I understand that Azamara is not a luxury line (and someone on the Regent board makes sure you never forget that ), but it is still one of the top lines I check when planning a new cruise for two important reasons: (1) the itineraries, especially the country-intensive ones like the Pacific coast of Costa Rica [which puts Azamara in a small class with only Windstar and Ponant, neither of which we have sailed yet but will be trying out soon], and (2) the staff and crew [which may not be at their best on this cruise]. One's first cruise on a line tends to set one's permanent image of that line, and it's too bad that this cruise seems to be offering you neither the exotic itinerary nor the staff at their best that have made our Azamara cruises so special. I hope you will give Azamara another try.
  2. When I decided to ask for a status match the posts here were saying that Celebrity Elite got Black, but by the time I filed new reports were saying they had scaled back to Elite = Gold (which is what I got, with the minimum level of 2200 points). At first I thought this was a bummer, but on looking at the benefits chart I realized that the really big deal is the 5% discount that every level gets. The other thing to keep in mind about MSC loyalty points is that they expire after 3 years if you don't keep sailing. This is unusual, but IMHO is actually smarter from a corporate standpoint than what the other cruise lines are doing (where somebody who cruises without any real loyalty can still build up points and keep them forever). So MSC gives you this nice 'status match' signing bonus, but then they expect you to show them some loyalty to keep it...
  3. Thanks for the heads up! Please follow up when they come out.
  4. The only thing I can say to (maybe) help is: remember that you were happy with your initial booking. Worst case now you are saving 5%. So even if you don't get everything you should (and I agree you should), you are still ahead of the deal that you were originally happy with.
  5. OK, I was wrong. Posts restored. And I'm very glad things worked out for you!
  6. Fuhgeddaboudit. I'm saying S&S in the Bronx is the best. [I never liked Junior's – the cheesecake or the restaurant.] And the Bronx is better than Brooklyn, too. [They certainly have the better 'cheer'!] But you have the right to be wrong
  7. Never dress-up on AMA. I recommend you sign up for the Chef's Table as soon as you board – it's free, the food and paired wine is terrific, and it can 'sell out.'
  8. Sorry Fran, you can't name a TA so I had to hide your post. With permission, I can edit it and restore.
  9. If you have transfers from the river cruise line, or are taking a post-cruise extension, they will ask that you put your bags outside your cabin – in the morning. They have no place to store them overnight, so they wait until the van arrives that is going to transport the bags.
  10. We did this in 2016. The way we did it was to take the cable car up the cliff, then hire a taxi to take us on a scenic route part of the way to Oia and hike the rest of the way, then another taxi down the cliff at Oia to our waiting boat. In retrospect we should have taken the scenic taxi ride all the way to Oia, which would have given us some time to enjoy that lovely area. The big problem with my recommendation is that the ship we chartered – S/Y Anemos with Captain Stathis – no longer shows up at the Url where I found it. There are regular boat tours, but they aren't private and didn't seem as relaxed as ours [which was fairly priced for 2 couples]. More details in my blog: https://jazzbeauxitalyandgreecetrip2016.wordpress.com
  11. While researching our first MSC cruise (coming up in September), I decided that there are really four MSC cruise experiences [not to be confused with the official 'Experiences' you choose with your cabin ]: (1-2) Florida-based YC; (2) Med-based YC; (3) Florida-based non-YC; and (4) Med-based non-YC. It is often difficult to figure out which of the four is involved until you are deep into a review. But if it starts out negative, chances are very high it is a non-YC review and somewhat high that it is an American on a Med-based cruise. At least that is what I hope, as DW and I are looking forward to a YC cruise in the Med – and we are ready to say 'Vive le différence [except that we don't know how to say it in Italian ] about the Italian-ness of MSC.
  12. I recommend a land tour to Denali very highly, but it is easy to DIY. We flew in to Anchorage and stayed one night [grueling flight from the East Coast], then rented a car from Enterprise and drove up to Talkeetna for two nights [best place for flightseeing of Denali] then on to Denali for two nights [taking the National Park bus deep into the park], then back to Anchorage for another night before the cruise. You can't get lost, since there is basically only one road from Anchorage to Denali. You can stop at dozens of places along the road if "the mountain is out" for great pictures. You can stay right in Talkeetna [the big lodges are very remote] and you don't need to stay in "glitter gulch" at Denali because you have your own car to drive to the park entrance. You will gain tremendous flexibility and control, and save money too. For more details, see my blog: https://jazzbeauxalaskacruise2013.wordpress.com and the Cruise Critic Alaska forum: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/33-alaska/
  13. Hush! That's a secret between the two of you. Also, for the poster worrying about Travel Agent default: a good TA [e.g., mine...] enters your credit card info directly with the cruise line. My money never goes through their hands.
  14. So, now to address your questions! We find that AMA is inclusive enough for us. The main extra expense is gratuities, and we can budget them beforehand. The included wine at meals is quite good, plus you can drink your own wine at meals (or in your cabin) with no corkage fees. They are very inclusive when it comes to shore excursions [some that are extra-cost on Uniworld are included on AMA]. And everything on AMA is top notch. When it comes to Douro itineraries, the one that appeals most to me is AMA's Flavors of Portugal and Spain, starting with the 3-day Madrid pre-extension [meaning I would choose a sailing in the direction Madrid to Porto]. You can do Madrid on your own easily enough, but this way you have someone taking care of you while you get over jet lag and the extension also includes a day trip to Toledo and the transfer from Madrid (via Salamanca) to Vega de Terrón. I would also consider the extension in Lisbon, which includes the transfer from Porto to Lisbon [much easier to fly back to the US] and a day trip to Sintra. This combination is a great 13-day introduction to Portugal!
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