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  1. I agree that it was not cold (maybe cool) wearing a rash vest. I took two and was glad of them. A couple on our cruise had brought surfer’s swimming leggings, and those seemed a very good idea if you are susceptible to cold.
  2. They are both good. Western itinerary is the volcanically active part, and the one with penguins and flightless cormorants. North and Central is to the older, more eroded islands and the only one where you will see albatross. The rest of the wildlife (boobies, sea lions, giant tortoise, marine iguana etc) you will see on either itinerary .
  3. My experience is that there is a problem common to all the older ships, of a build up of sewage smells in all the public toilets in the back half of the ship on all floors, and a particular build up in the Bar. I assume that there is some design issue with odour traps. My experience is that Whisper is the worst, followed by Shadow, and that Cloud does not suffer unduly. However, as there is no opportunity to empty tanks when in Antarctica, there might be a similar build up on longer expedition cruises. I have never experienced problems of sewage smells in the corridors with suites. Although I have twice experienced old water water pipe breakages and floods, but the HD told me that they are common, as the constant slight movement of the ship events causes weaknesses in the joints when under high pressure. But that has nothing to do with sewage.
  4. The average rate worked out to V1/V2, whereas we always book V5 on the Odyssey class. But as we were going for a reduction on a much longer cruise, we just agreed what they would subtract from the total - which was still a very good saving.
  5. The issue that tends to complicate things a bit is when a proportion of your days were on the ‘little sisters’. When I attained the milestone, 50% of my cruises were on the little ships, and the room classifications were lower than their equivalents on the Odyssey class. It was still a very big discount , and allowed us to do 22 days in Alaska - all the way up to Seward and back. Of course, this issue is becoming less common as time elapses.
  6. The islands are very different - a lot depends on which ones are offered. They have interesting history - Spanish colonial. Most of the old city centres look like South/Central American city centres (not really surprising as this was the jumping off point for the Americas. Geology fascinating (if you like volcanoes), interesting landscapes, wine and some art museums. Worth taking tours (or hiring a car), as the islands are not large and quite varied. Although officially in Europe, you are geographically in Africa, so it is warmer then the med in April, which is presumably why they do a couple of cruises there at either end of the Med season, when storms are still possible in Europe. Hope that helps
  7. From memory, I think there were 4 snorkelling trips. On the first, they separated out those who were less strong swimmers, or inexperienced snorkel lees, and provided a lot of guidance and support. The next opportunity was quite lengthy, but within a large cove, so the distances were not great. Another swim was quite long, but we were dropped at a point where the current was strong, and it took us most of the way with limited effort. And the experience each time was great -especially the sea lions and turtles. I would say that they were 30-45 minutes. But you could signal to be picked up at any point. Some people were happy with 15 minutes or so, and then sat in the patrolling zodiacs. I used to be a strong swimmer, but am out of practice. I found it relatively easy. Also the shortie wetsuits provide lots of buoyancy. It is a good idea to wear rash vests for the additional layer of warmth. Several people had swim leggings as well, which were envied by the rest of us.
  8. We did a similar trip a year or two back, on Silversea (Silver Cloud) – most expedition type ships have to do this journey to transfer from the Arctic to Antarctic. We only started in Callao. One thing I do know (from feedback from passengers on the previous leg) is that the first bit of the journey coincides with the end of the rainy season in the Caribbean/Panama, and those who did not realise this/had planned appropriate clothing were very unhappy about the weather. The other warning, if you are not yet aware, is that the run from Callao southwards tends to be misty/cloudy/cool because of the Humboldt Current. Again this is fine as long as you are expecting it – and you would not get the wildlife without the cooler temperatures. And often the mist and clouds lift in the afternoon. From Pisco, you will have the choice of a flight over the Nazca Lines. This costs a lot, but is well worth it. The alternative is to visit Tambo Colorado, which is one of the key Inca archaeological sites. It is a wonderful complex if you have an interest in archaeology, and very under visited. We did not stop at the next few ports (although I do know that the islas Ballesteras have wonderful bird viewing). In Arica, you are likely to have a choice of trips up into the Altiplano. I thought that the trip was great – I only went as far as Putre (other trips went much higher, but were much longer). If you can cope with the altitude, they are fascinating. There will be an alternative trip not at altitude to see the pre-Columbian mummies – if you are interested in archaeology, I would imagine this would be just as interesting. Antofagasta is an interesting city. The sail in was beautiful. Again, there are long trips up to the Atacama Desert – the feedback from that trip was generally positive, but the altitudes are even higher than the trips form Arica. There is quite a lot to do in Arica itself – an old silver smelting complex that looks like an abandoned fort, a nice little local museum, a historical railway and station, with old rolling stock, thriving local markets (and lots of sea lions, vultures and other birds) and a beautiful set of rock arches. Isla Pan de Azucar is an excuse to get the zodiacs out – we saw penguins, sea lions, lots of other birds and marine otters (these are the animals the island is famous for, but we were the only zodiac to find one that day). We carried on to Tierra del Fuego, and the ‘expedition’ nature of the cruise came more into focus in the second half. I know this was not Seabourn, but as you were interested in the ports and activities, I hope it helps. I believe JP Albany on the Silversea Board did this trip on Silver Explorer a little while back and posted lots of details with photos (can be accessed in his signature).
  9. And don't forget that Tauck has a new boat in the Douro from 2020. My experience is that Tauck is the nearest equivalent to SS on the rivers.
  10. I don’t think that is correct. I most certainly travelled business class on a Silversea booked flight to Quito. However, the trip from Quito (or Guayaquil) to the Galapagos does not include the option of business class, for the simple reason that the entire flights are eeconomy class only. That is true whether you fly LAN or one of the low cost providers (a small number of the guests on our trip were on these - I think they were mainly relatively late boomers, and I assume that the LAN flights were by than full.
  11. And if you are on the starboard side and of a nervous disposition, don’t watch them loading the luggage on to the barge! They do this regularly and I have never heard of a case going into the river, but the loading looks so casual and risky...
  12. We were there on Odyssey last year. One of our party had visited Casablanca a decade before and had not been impressed. It is a modern city with limited charms. So we booked the cookery course, which was delightful - quick trip to the market, obligatory visit to the mosque, and then a decent cookery demo and lunch. I have been able to make the chicken tagine back at home. Just don't think it will have anything to do with the film (which was Tangier in any case). Those who did the trip to Marrakesh all seemed to enjoy it although it was a long day. Tangier is a rather lovelier city. We did the all day trip to Tetouan. We enjoyed the journey across Morocco, a very good lunch, a walking around the old town (World Heritage site). Things went awry towards the end of the trip, when one of the other buses failed, and one of the three groups (each taking a different route through the steep and winding town) was unimpressed by the meat market they came across. Out group came across strawberry sellers, which was much more fragrant. Overall, I think I prefer Tunisia to Morocco, but that does not mean there is no joy in visiting Morocco. Although the Tetouan trip was long, and had issues towards the end, I am glad we did it. And the food is excellent.
  13. Bear season (for viewing, not hunting!) depends on the timing of the salmon run. Can start early July, but usually mid-July and carries on until mid-September.
  14. Can comment on a few! Ketchikan is rather touristy and can get very overcrowded with other big ships. Misty Fjords is very scenic, and the flightseeing trip would be worthwhile. You can just take the local bus (about every 30 minutes) down to Totem Bight Park, which is worth seeing I have been to Juneau twice, and both times the heli trip and dog sledding were cancelled because of the weather. I gather the trip is more often cancelled than not, but that should not stop you from booking it - just be prepared to be disappointed and have a plan B that can be enjoyed in the wet. We really enjoyed Sitka both times we visited. The historical park and museum are good and the Russian Cathedral well worth a 15 minute visit. The people who took the Sea Otter cruise had good wildlife viewing - we did see otters elsewhere, but that was further north than you are going. Don't bother with the Raptor Centre or the Fortress of the Bears - you are so aware that these are captive animals when you can see others in the wild In Prince Rupert, we spotted two days before that the weather was going to be excellent, and so we booked the floatplane trip, which was wonderful. Up over the glacier, landing on a lake under a waterfall, and flying back over the logging rivers. We missed the single bear that the plane ahead of us spotted, but, like you, we were travelling in late June ahead of the bear season. However, those who did the trip to the Khutzeymateen Valley to see the bears were very pleased with the trip, and saw a lot of the grizzlies. Before I went to Alaska, I was advised that it was good to take a tour in each port, as the ports themselves either have very little to offer, or what they do have is spread out and can be difficult to access. I tend to agree with this. Also, there is limited value in booking private tours, as the prices seem to be the same as ship tours (or more, if there are only two of you)
  15. In total, depending on where you are heading and where you count the end of the Thames, I would say 4-6 hours.... You will start moving from HMS Belfast about 25-30 minutes before the lift time, as the tugs need to get positioned, and they need to find the moment to stop,the traffic. it is about 20-30 minutes from the bridge to the point in Rotherhithe where you do the turn to face forwards. That is a great experience, and the pubs in Wapping will all be open to watch you. Yiu ou will get to Greenwich and the Meridian an hour after the bridge. It is well illuminated even in the small hours of the morning. at about 1.5 hours from the Bridge, you will squeeze through the Thames Barrier. It is worth staying up for that, but then I suspect it will be time for bed.
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