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About BarbinMich

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Detroit suburbs
  • Interests
    travel, genealogy, photography, gardening
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess, Celebrity, HAL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. The location of the spa on the older Princess ships hardly block views IMHO; please explain. It's between the gym (all the way aft) and the rear elevators. And its relocation to Deck 5 was a major disappointment to those loyal pax who liked to book cabins in that area for the convenience to the atrium, dining rooms, Intl Cafe, theater, etc. and for the price point. Not everyone wants a balcony or an inside cabin. We used to cruise Princess 2-3 times a year, usually doing 2 TAs and one Caribbean cruise so being able to book Deck 5 cabins made it more affordable and having a window was very welcome on those long TAs! On the positive side, I will say the ship was stunning (esp. the atrium) on our first cruise on her (we've done 2 for a total of 24 days) and I loved the Horizon Terrace (covered area behind the Horizon Court) on our Carib. cruise. But there are other somewhat mysterious deficiencies: casino is tiny and very crowded with slots, gaming tables and pax, Princess Live! is an inadequate and poorly planned replacement for Explorers on the older ships, no OV non-balcony cabins as noted above.
  2. The last time we sailed on HAL (Apr 2017), we had to stand and wait until all pax with more stars (4 and 5, I believe, and many of them arrived after we did) had checked in. I wouldn't have minded so much if they had offered a seat to us with fewer stars. Prior notice of this practice would have also been appreciated so we could at least wait in some comfort at our hotel.
  3. I enjoyed our visits there in 2000, 2005 and 2007 on Princess ships. We did the "volcano" tour mentioned above on our first visit, I went snorkeling (including in a cave with bats!) on another, and can't remember what we did on third. I had had French in high school, which helped a bit although I'm hardly conversant. Interesting to hear they've built a new pier, presumably to accommodate today's larger ships.
  4. Our first was also on a Chandris Fantasy ship--the Amerikanis! My DH's professional assn. offered a group cruise on this ship out of Puerto Rico in Feb 1994. Itinerary was 7-days and stopped at St. Thomas, Antigua, Guadeloupe (shaped liked a butterfly), Barbados, and St. Lucia. Truly a wonderful itinerary for a first cruise, but I don't remember the cost (probably nominal given the ship and it being a group deal). I don't think major cruise lines have gone to Guadeloupe for some time; it's French-speaking and that's off-putting to some. As is Martinique, but it's still on many itineraries. But we still get to visit Guadeloupe via the TV (PBS) show, "Death in Paradise." They call the island Saint-Marie and I can't say I recognize where they shoot it. We had a wonderful tour there with a local guide. The ship had been on the UK-South Africa run in its early life, as was American Hawaii's "Independence" which we sailed on a few years later. We got hooked and now, 51 cruises later we were still at it until 2017 when my DH's health started to decline.
  5. I enjoyed just walking visiting the historic sites in Malaga itself: Castillo Gibralfaro, a Moorish 10th+ c complex, and the nearby Alcazaba, Roman ruins, etc. Also visited the large cathedral downtown and had lunch at a local restaurant. There is also a Picasso Museum on the edge of downtown, not far from the Castillo.
  6. And what volcano would that be?? Have stopped at Le Havre multiple times. The first time we did a ship tour to Rouen and Giverny (the artist Monet's home and gardens). Had a lovely lunch at a country restaurant. On our later trips we just walked around, visiting one of the churches (its windows have a sea motif), the 17th or 18th century home of a wealthy merchant, and the art museum (modern art) mentioned above. Princess ships offer a free shuttle bus into a central location, don't know about other cruise lines. One time we were there on V-E day and most commercial places were closed in honor of that important day for them. The core of the city was decimated by bombing during WW II so it's a miracle that that church and fancy home survived. Most of the post-WW II buildings in the commercial area are 2 story and pretty utilitarian in design.
  7. We've done 50 ocean cruises since starting in 1994: Princess - 31 cruises (347 days); Celebrity - 11 cruises (96 days); HAL - 8 cruises (71 days). Obviously, we came to prefer Princess after starting on Celebrity, but are now Elite on both. Our last cruise on X was in 2015 on the Summit for Can/NE, an itinerary we had done by car, but never by sea. It was our first as Elites and we enjoyed their nightly cocktail party which is better than Princess' IMHO: a menu of cocktails and copious and varied hors d'oeuvres passed by wait staff. It's held in their Revelations Lounge (fwd on Deck 11); that was also a great place to enjoy the sail up the St. Lawrence, even on a rainy day. However, Princess is certainly at a better price point for folks who cruise several times a year. Prefer Princess's US embarkation port (FLL) to having to sail out of Miami for most of X's Caribbean itineraries or NJ for others like the Can/NE. We did a 14-day X cruise (Eclipse) from Southapmton to the Med to get to Elite in 2014. While we enjoyed the itinerary which had many new ports for us (Gibraltar, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Genoa, Malaga, Lisbon), we didn't like our balcony cabin set-up ("couch" was actually twin bed size, desk very small, closet faced bed, etc.). The buffet space and organization was superior to that on the Royal, however. Finally, we haven't done the BI itinerary on any line so can't comment on that.
  8. Yes, the Island's around-the-world (or smaller segments) itinerary is fantastic, but not if you have to do it on the Island.
  9. We visited Stonehenge (and Bath) on a day tour while on a week-long stay in London some years ago. It was interesting, but somewhat underwhelming IMHO. I enjoyed Bath and its Roman ruins (which essentially are underground) more. We recently saw a TV program about Stonehenge, which I wish we had seen before we visited as it gave a lot of background info (and probably some newer theories about its origin). The main accomplishment was hauling those huge stones that make up the circle from many miles away (can't remember if they've figured out where from).
  10. Sounds like a "flash" sale <g>.
  11. We've done 2 WB TAs on the Crown P (2009, 2010) and enjoyed the ship and the itineraries very much; also did a Caribbean cruise on the Crown--total days on the ship: 53. Have been on the Coral twice (for 24 days in total) and loved it, but have not been on its sister the Island. The latter was enlarged a few years ago and there have been many negative comments here about that situation.
  12. FWIW, the Enclave (Royal/Regal) is more expensive than the Thermal Suite on the older ships. It does have an indoor "therapy" pool, which the older ships don't have. I have always used the TS on our 10-day or longer cruises, but skipped the Enclave the two times we were on the Royal as it didn't seem worth the much higher price.
  13. I agree with other responses that for first-time cruisers, it's better to use ship excursions. We started cruising in 1994, usually doing the Caribbean in Jan. Eventually, we started doing Transatlantics, often an EB in the spring and WB in the fall. Also have done several Alaska and Mexico cruises. I don't think we started doing private excursions until we started doing the TAs. For one thing, the roll calls for TAs are generally much more active than those for the Caribbean, Mexico, etc. But it all depends on your comfort level. These days I have no problem walking around on my own in almost any port if one can see a lot that way.
  14. We've done 30+ cruises on Princess and have occasionally have had to "share" the ship with a large group, perhaps with a few hundred people. Other than their table, etc. in the atrium, it was never a problem. Since the ships carry 2,000-3,000 pax, a group in the low hundreds, size-wise, hasn't made a whole lot of difference. I believe this usually happens on one-week cruises to the Caribbean (and probably Mexico on the west coast), as those are the cheapest cruises. Perhaps this has been because we (a) do the Caribbean in Jan. and (b) usually at least 10-day ones.
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