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minabruuke

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  1. I do agree that the difference is not as great. At least not as great as it initially appears. Out of interest I compared two similar options just grabbing the past passenger rates from each line's website (not including air). The rates are for two people in a balcony cabin (prices in USD). Oct. 14, 2020 Paul Gauguin 10 night Society Island and Tuamotos- $12625.50 (cruise fare) + $430 (port fees & taxes) = $13055.50 (for us we would add internet & possibly laundry costs here as we get those amenities for free on Princess) Oct. 15, 2020 Princess 10 night Tahiti & French Polynesia- $6298 (cruise fare) + $200 (port fees & taxes) + $290 (gratuities) + $1415.75 (premier beverage package) + $120 (2 specialty restaurant visits for 2 people) = $8323.75 In this scenario we can see the price difference is not as great as it initially appears. Now of course if the Princess cruise does not fill up then Princess will discount that cruise rate as the cruise approaches and you can be quite certain that there will be people who pay a much lower rate. On such a port intensive cruise, I also believe that very few people would come out ahead purchasing the Princess beverage package versus paying per drink but it seemed fair to throw that package in there for comparisons sake. However, there are incredible deals that you can find on a mass market line when booking closer in to the sailing date. I've never seen comparatively fantastic deals appear with Paul Gauguin (maybe they do and I just don't know how to find them). As an example, I just recently booked a 14 day Princess cruise for my parents. The cruise sails to/from Australia and visits New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. Surprisingly to me, I actually found these rates two days before final payment meaning that other guests that were already booked who qualified for these rates (past guests) could've re-fared and/or canceled and rebooked. In USD, we secured a balcony for $1686 ($843/person) + $400 port fees ($200/p). Add in $348 for gratuities, maybe two specialty restaurant visits for $120 total, the specialty coffee card my dad will want for $35 and probably a maximum bar bill of about $150, subtract their $200 on board credit and their total cruise price sans air and any excursions will be around $2539 (of course this reflects their on board spending habits and someone else could spend a lot more). I don't think that I will ever see a 14 day Paul Gauguin cruise that even begins to approach that low price point.
  2. I am Elite on Princess and thus obviously quite a fan of the cruise line but there is just no comparison here. Paul Gauguin is hands down much better. I would take a port-hole cabin on the Paul Gauguin over the nicest suite on a Princess cruise and I say that having experienced both the port hole cabins on Paul Gauguin and several suites with Princess. I love Princess but they are most certainly not a luxury cruise line. When Princess announced their 2020 French Polynesia return I was initially ecstatic as I had been so disappointed when they discontinued their seasons in French Polynesia. However, it took me about 10 minutes to come back to the reality that I personally had nothing to be excited about as I was now permanently spoiled. Having experienced the Paul Gauguin there was simply no way that I would be booking with Princess for their FP sailings. Had Princess never taken a break from spending seasons sailing in the FP then I probably would never have tried the Paul Gauguin so I guess I indirectly have them to thank for my Paul Gauguin addiction. I would be truly sad to be in the French Polynesia and not be able to step aboard the Paul Gauguin to see all the friendly faces. For us, the number one factor that makes the Paul Gauguin so special is the crew. When we boarded our second PG cruise I was unbelievably touched by how many crew said 'welcome back.' My favorite cruise crew member of all time even spotted me across the ship and called out my name. The only people that will get that sort of welcome on a Princess cruise are those that have spent hundreds if not thousands of days sailing on Princess. That favorite crew member of ours took care of us at every single meal- breakfast, lunch and dinner. We requested a table in his section at dinner the first night of the cruise and were then sat at that same table for the rest of the cruise without having to ask. At breakfast and lunch he would see us immediately and escort us to one of his tables. The result of this was truly incredible service. He learned our preferences so well that he could predict what we would order at dinner. Our drinks were never empty. I have the unfortunate tendency to decide that I require seconds when it comes to seafood appetizers, on the 2nd or 3rd night of the cruise I asked if there was any way I could get a second soft shell crab, the biggest smile formed on his face and he walked over to his service station, picked up a plate and brought it to me. He had just run back to the kitchen to get another because he had noticed that I seemed to really be enjoying the first and he was certain that I'd want another. Needless to say, we miss this man greatly and we think of him often. The fact, however, is that this level of service is not a rarity on the Paul Gauguin. They really know how to take care of their guests. I would also echo Wendy's comments about considering a window cabin. Most of the Paul Gauguin itineraries are so port intensive that we wouldn't find enough time to use the balcony to warrant the significantly greater cost. We do not miss having a balcony one single little bit when we are on the Paul Gauguin. The price difference on an 11 day PG cruise, for example, between an F category port hole and D category balcony is $4000 ($2000/p). To each their own but there is no way that we are spending an extra $363.64 per day to have coffee on our balcony in the morning, at least not on the Paul Gauguin where it is very easy to find a quiet place to sit outside. Princess is great but if you can afford the Paul Gauguin then I definitely recommend going that route.
  3. We are planning on taking one of the Azamara Africa cruises. These cruises spend the last 3 days in Cape Town. Does anyone know if you are allowed to disembark early in situations where the ship arrives at the final port prior to the final day of the cruise? I always plan to arrive to the embarkation port at least a day early. This means that we will have 2 days to explore Cape Town before the cruise and though I am sure it would be nice to have another 3 days at the end of the cruise we simply don't need 5 days in Cape Town. I am sure many of you are thinking that we'd be crazy to want to leave early but we are very limited in the time that we can be away from home so cutting a day or two off the cruise length could be really helpful. I will certainly get a definitive answer from Azamara before we make any final plans but I just wanted to see if anyone on here had any experience or knowledge regarding this matter.
  4. We use a credit card with travel insurance to cover trip costs (granted we need to get a new one due to the major loss of these travel benefits w/ Citi cards). Sometimes our trip costs may exceed the limits of the credit card travel insurance but I am ok risking the difference in coverage limits and the actual cost of our trip. My credit card also has evacuation coverage but I don't think it is enough. We then add on a separate medical plan for every trip. I consider this an absolute necessity when traveling. The medical & evacuation only plans are often quite cheap (at least at our ages). I can't imagine traveling without medical and evacuation coverage. It is one thing to risk the cost of your trip but unless you are a millionaire you may very well be risking everything you have if you travel without a medical and evacuation plan. I think most people who think they can go without this have no idea how much an emergency medical evacuation can cost. This route has been by far the most affordable that I have found for us and I have spent a lot of time researching the matter.
  5. I am so sorry to everyone affected by this. It must be so disappointing! Just to reiterate what a few others have said there are other cruise options still available within the time frame of the cruise that was cancelled. If you go to a website that searches all/most of the cruise lines, select Europe and then select a date range you may be shocked at the number of options. I found some great deals too! It is very easy and can be quite cheap to get around Europe so don't be too scared to look at options that leave out of another European port...maybe even Northern Europe. Yes, it will be a different experience than you planned but it can still be great! If the replacement cruise is shorter that the original 13 day cruise (I found many 7 day cruise options) you can fit that extra travel in there and be back to Rome for your return flights and pre-paid post cruise travel plans.
  6. Thank you both so much! Wow, I am impressed with the quick and helpful responses on this board:)
  7. Thanks to both of you! As long as I have access to sparkling water and tea then I am happy:) I strongly dislike beverages with any sugar or sweeteners unless they are naturally sweet (fresh squeezed juice...yum!) but plain old still water can get a bit boring. My husband will be very happy to hear that specialty coffees are included.
  8. Are sparkling water (any brand is fine) and iced tea available with the complimentary beverage package? I see that the Ultimate Drink Package includes Perrier but we have no need or desire for an upgraded package and I don't need my sparkling water to be Perrier. I've been doing some searching on here and can't determine a definitive answer as it seems the upgraded packages usually get brought into the conversations so I can't determine whether the answers are in regards to the complimentary package or upgraded package. I also find it odd that there isn't any mention of water, juice, coffee, tea (drinks I'd typically assume are included) here: https://www.azamaraclubcruises.co.uk/booked-guests/onboard-packages/complimentary-beverages and I am sure that information is somewhere on the website but I just can't find it.
  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am glad that you had an excellent time. I would definitely recommend the Cooks Island itinerary some time in the future. Aitutaki is amazing! Just as an FYI for if you do plan another trip in a few years- July will most likely not give you that deeper heat that you desire. If anything it will be a little cooler since it is their winter/dry season. You tend to get the warmest temps during FP's wet season (summer).
  10. We took the SkyTrain when we got off the Royal a couple of weeks ago. It was $2.95/person and super easy (you only need a 1 zone ticket on the weekends and there is no airport add fare when headed to the airport). The ticket machines are easy and take credit cards. They had two people standing there to help for those that needed assistance. We selected an early walk off group and disembarkation could not have been easier and was super quick. It took us a grand total of 1hr 15min from the time we stepped off the ship to the time we were sitting down in an airport lounge after clearing US customs and immigration.
  11. It just depends. EZ air doesn't offer all flights. You can get a great deal with EZ air but sometimes you also can't find your ideal flights and/or prices are identical. For US domestic flights I have noticed it is common to see EZ air pricing that appears at first glance to be the same as you can get directly through the airline but it is actually better because the fare on EZ air is regular economy and the ticket priced the same with the airline is basic economy. It seems like EZ air can really be a great deal for long haul international flights (especially one ways). Still EZ options are sometimes very limited out of certain airports so it is not always the best option. As an example, I recently took a cruise with my mom and we live in different states. For her, we were able to book flexible EZ air regular economy tickets for the same price as basic economy tickets directly through the airline. For me, the choices through EZ air were extremely limited and not any better price wise so I booked through the airline to get cheaper flights that actually matched up with her flights. Interestingly, I was departing from a hub where you might expect more options and she left from a regional airport. You just have to check the prices and options for your trip to see what your best options are.
  12. Thanks for the warning. I am aware of this change but the old notes are all still considered legal tender. I have no concerns over it being accepted (except maybe in a newer automated machine) and it can be easily switched out at a bank which I will do if/when it becomes necessary.
  13. Our room had the bed against the wall but I suppose that doesn't mean that they are all like that. I don't recall our room number on that cruise. It is easy for me to remember it was against the wall because none of our obstructed oceanview cabins have had the bed against the window.
  14. I've been taking the same 20 euro bill to Europe for years now and have not had to use it (it is still left over from when I lived in Finland in 2002/2003). I do like to have a little cash just in case but credit cards are very widely accepted. Though I love my American Express cards, I stick with Visa and Mastercard when I travel as they seem to be more widely accepted. The only place that I could see you possibly needing coins in the local currency is at public bathrooms but if you are a customer at a store/restaurant you will be able to use their restrooms for free so these pay for use bathrooms can usually be avoided. Perhaps you could come across farmer's markets, craft markets, etc. where cash is required but in my experience I've even been able to use my cards at the markets I've shopped. When paying at a restaurant or store, the credit card readers automatically recognize that the card is a chip and signature card and print out a receipt to sign instead of prompting for a pin. At self service machines, either I've not been prompted to enter a pin or when the pin is requested I just hit enter (without inputing a pin). This has worked every single time. Of course, I could just be lucky but I've not had a single issue. Most Barclay cards now offer the chip and pin function at self service machines (it still prompts for a signature if the machine is not self-service) so I will likely carry a Barclay card as a backup on my next trip this summer but only because I have one of their cards already. I'll be surprised if I need to use it! I would not open up a new credit card just to get a card that has the ability to functions as a chip and pin card. Many US credit cards allow you to request a pin but for most of these cards this pin is only for ATM use, it will not allow your credit card to function as a chip and pin card. I looked at your itinerary and the only country I have not used my US credit cards in is Russia. As others have stated, check to make sure that you have and use a credit card that waves foreign transaction fees. There are travel credit cards with zero dollar annual fees that give you this valuable benefit.
  15. We've been on several Caribbean cruises and the French Polynesia and Paul Gauguin really did spoil it for us. I look at different Caribbean itineraries and just shrug now because the itinerary just doesn't really matter as none of them will come close to comparing to the French Polynesia. We are especially spoiled now when it comes to the snorkeling. Given that we are on the East coast we will likely do many more Caribbean cruises in our lifetime but they will be more for the cruise itself than the destinations. We, too, have a few more bucket list destinations that we want to hit in the near future so it will be a couple years before we can get back on the Paul Gauguin but we will be back! This year we are doing a land trip to Bali, Singapore, Phuket & Dubai. Next year we will most likely do South Africa on the Azamara Journey. I have been waiting for a more affordable and shorter cruise option for Africa!
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