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Everything posted by Mura

  1. There ARE places (small ones) where Oceania -- and/or other cruise lines -- will have booked up all the available tour guides. This has happened to us on occasion. So there can be times when the ship's tour is your best option, whether you are paying for it or you have the oLife benefit. What I mean is -- there were several times when we looked for private tours and no guides were available. So doing your research is always a good idea! Mura
  2. On a 7 day Caribbean cruise, how many non-port days do you expect? I'd not think there would be any, but I haven't checked any itineraries and it's a long time since did (a) a 7 day cruise and (b) one to the Caribbean. What we have encountered on our cruises where there are sea days are guest lectures -- often dealing with the area in question but not necessarily. Also cooking demos in the Lounge. I drafted this before other people chimed in. I can see where no lecturers would be available on such a short cruise BUT also that I'd be surprised for sea days on a 7 day Carib cruise. (Yes, I agree, I can be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.) Come to think of it, we've never done a 7 day cruise anywhere. Maybe 10 days ... but not in the Caribbean! Mura
  3. We all have different opinions about what to do. We enjoyed Civitavecchia and neighboring environs so would happily go there again. We'd also be happy stay in Rome for more time there since we have only had a few days although if we did so it would be for several days. I agree with Dan about the merits of just resting after such a long flight! Since we fly from NYC it's not so bad for us. But that is why we have always planned on a few days pre- and post-cruise in the beginning and ending ports. We were always able to do so because even pre-retirement my husband had the time from his job, and I just told my job when I'd be there! (Heck, my office even bought tickets for my concerts.) I just disagree with Dan about the merits of the port area but we are all entitled to our own opinons! Have a wonderful cruise. We've always enjoyed our time in Marriotts, even if we just crashed in bed upon arrival and slept for 10 hours! Mura
  4. Mura


    I believe so. Things have changed. It's several years since I paid for a per-minute charge.
  5. Clo, in fairness to Red Ginger they WILL spice it up on request. Obviously, not all of the menu items will benefit from that. But you shouldn't assume that everything will be bland. Mura
  6. No denying that RG is extremely popular, but it isn't popular with everyone. If we were into Asian fusian style cooking we'd probably love it, but we prefer Szechuan. Sometimes we'll go to RG once on a cruise, but no more than that. We rank it 4th on the specialty restaurant list. Which I'm sure makes those who rank it first very happy because they can snag "our" reservation! Mura
  7. Okay. If you have wine left over (assuming you are having it with your dinner in a restaurant, YES, they will write your suite number on the bottle and you can ask for it in any other restaurant later on. On occasion it has helped if we told the staff where we'd last consumed the bottle. Usually that wasn't necessary but it did happen on a couple of times. Likewise, this also applies to any bottle purchased from the wine list. They do not compel you go finish the bottle in one sitting! We haven't done much with the 7 bottle purchase program (that is, we haven't at all) but I assume it is equivalent to the 6 bottles given to the top suites. Yes, you can take it back to your room if you wish. OR, you can do as in the previous paragraph, and ask them to hold it for you for future consumption. I believe that the 7 bottle purchase program is similar to the top suite 6 bottle program in that the corkage fee is waived. It is very clear on the bottle (at least with the top suite bottles) that that is where you got the bottle ... I assume it's the same with the 7 bottle purchase program. If I'm wrong, someone will chime in for sure! Mura
  8. I've seen comments like this before but we haven't experienced these problems. Maybe we were just lucky ... or on different cruises from those had problems! Or maybe we cannot tell good food from bad ... I'm not saying everything on board has been perfect every time. We've just never had to send back a dish ... or even think about doing so. Mura
  9. One of your favorites ... I shall say no more. Back to the topic!
  10. Seattle wouldn't be a problem. Neither would Normandy. But there are plenty of places that DO have a problem. I love mussels but know there are other slimy kinds of fish that I won't touch ... Mura
  11. There are plenty of safe Brooklyn locals -- I live in one of them and tons of tourists come here for the view from the Promenade. But there are Brooklyn locals I wouldn't venture into. When I was a student at Mills -- more than a few years ago -- I wouldn't go to the Mission District even then. But we spent a lot of time on the weekends in "The City" and never felt less than safe. As for mass shootings, nowhere is safe from one nut with a gun. We just have to hope we aren't there when he/she goes into action. All I'm saying is that as bad as some areas are "out there", we have more than our own share.
  12. Considering the number of shootings we have here in the U.S. perhaps we should be more careful in our judgments. I'm not saying many of these places are completely safe. But we're not longer completely safe here at home. Mura
  13. Agree. There have been very few changes on the specialty menus. They aren't samples, they are what you will see. At least the ones I see here are the same as I've always seen on all the ships. I do remember some years ago -- we were on an "R" ship and the food demo was given by the Toscana head chef. One of the samples was a risotto that was just fabulous, and I''m not really a fan of risotto. When we complimented him that night at dinner he told us it was leaving the menu ... But certainly if you are new to Oceania and would like to know what kind of food is served at the various restaurants, this is a good way to get an idea. Early Jacques menus had a fabulous mussels appetizer which I always ordered. That was discontinued pretty early ... I always wondered if that was because it can be difficult to GET the mussels. Certainly on the itineraries where they were to be found, they always ran out before the end of the cruise! Mura
  14. Likewise, we've usually done the cruise oLife benefits and not OBC when we have the oLife cruise. I don't think we've done a cruise only trip yet but we WERE booked that way for one of our latest cruises ... I just don't remember if it stayed that way!
  15. Back to the original question, we haven't found much difference in any of the specialty restaurants on ANY of the ships. Yes, the "O" ships have four, the "R" ships only have two. But we haven't found that, say, Jacques varies from Marina to Riviera, or that Polo varies from any of the "R" ships -- assuming Polo still exists and isn't Tuscan Steak ... Mura
  16. I beg to differ (and also with RJB). There are plenty of people who like the OBC, others like excursions. And plenty who don't want the drink package option either! It does depend on where people want to spend their money. Either excursions or OBC can be desirable to many. When we are limited to those three choices, we tend to go for the OBC or a few ship's tours ... it depends on what we find available in terms of tours. Bear in mind that while we prefer private tours, we aren't above using ship's tours. Yes, with OBC (because we're at a level where we get quite a bit anyway and our TA also contributes) we sometimes we find ourselves in the shop trying to find things to buy at the last minute. Generally what we "buy" is nothing like we'd buy if we didn't have the OBC! It might be a very nice travel bag or it could just be a small bottle of Listerine! Or chocolates. Mura
  17. It doesn't have to be matter of poison ... (I remember trick or treating as a child in the '50s and we never worried about what people gave us, but then there came the episodes of razor blades in apples and candy, so now ...) Anyway, if you don't know the kitchen involved, there could be plenty of problems ... eColi comes to mind. No one here would think of deliberately putting a dangerous item in baked goods, but the recipient who doesn't know you wouldn't necessarily know that. A year or so ago a neighbor asked me to contribute a baked item to a USO event where they were selling pieces of cake, etc. She told me that one man bought a slice of my zucchini bread ... and shortly thereafter came back and bought the whole thing! But I doubt he'd have come to my house and asked me to bake a cake ... All these comments make me wonder about bake sales and the like ... Back on topic: I also agree that cash is the best thing. I can understand that many people would like to ""personalize" a gift to a crew member, but I don't think it's very practical for them. Money is smaller and easier to use! Mura
  18. Yafa arranged for a day visit to Bethlehem through a Christian Arab friend who owns a shop there. He picked us up at the border and a young man guided us for our visit. We had a problem returning because we hadn't brought our passports with us -- we did have our drivers' licenses -- and the Israeli guard wouldn't even talk to us. In the end she suggested we go to a border crossing nearby where we had no problem. But we saw first hand the hassles that Palestinians and Arabs go through on a daily basis. We did NOT get to Gaza. But this was 2006, if that is pertinent ... I'm not sure that it is. Mura
  19. Some of us consider a tip before the cruise to be somewhat like a bribe. We always tip for extra service after it has been rendered, not before. Not all agree, of course. I think Jim and Stan have said they tip beforehand but they also require a lot more than many of us -- cocktail parties, and the like. I have not found it necessary to tip in advance in order to get super service. You get that anyway the vast majority of the time. I have seen occasional comments here about inferior service, whether from a butler or the room staff, but that has never been our experience in 16 cruises on O.
  20. Our time was brief. A tour from Eilat to Petra - we spent the night at a former Arab village which is now a 5 star hotel. The next day we did a private tour of Wadi Rum with a former major in the Jordanian Air Force. He cooked us our lunch over a fire in the Wadi Rum. Then we transferred to the Hyatt at Taba, Egypt. We were picked up the next morning for our visit to St. Catherine's Monastery at Mt. Sinai. Here was the only place we had reservations about the tour! The monks at St. Catherine's clearly weren't happy with visitors! And the day included a trip through the desert which pretty much duplicated what we'd one at Wadi Rum, which had been much better. But all in all, these were a wonderful few days. Then again, crossing the border back into Israel was a bit of a pain. My passport had extra visa pages added after it was originally issued, and the passport guards were very suspicious. WHO PUT THESE PAGES IN? The U.S. State Department, I said. They finally let me back in ... Mura
  21. Absolutely! I was one who was reluctant to go to Israel. I was sure I'd be on the bus that blew up ... but I couldn't get over how wonderful it was. Seeing three major religions in one small country was incredible. And our brief time in Jordan and Egypt was also wonderful. I wasn't trying to argue against an escorted tour! But doing it the way we did was an incredible gift. When we had a stop in Haifa on our November 2017 cruise we met Yafa for a late lunch, but of course on a cruise you don't have much time at a cruise port. Mura
  22. As to Israel, we were fortunate that Howard's cousin is a sabra AND a license travel agent. So she took us all over Israel for about two weeks in her personal car, and wouldn't let us pay for gas, etc. We did pay for a couple nights of her hotels but most of the time she was staying with friends. We also left her for a couple of days from Eilat when we picked up tours to Petra and Mt. Sinai. She had intended to join us but decided her budget didn't permit that. One of our best trips ever. So often we were in parking lots next to buses ... we were the only car. Mura
  23. I guess appliances that haven't been installed yet are much easier to grab! As to your friend's XXL shoes, there's a story in NY -- this probably has happened more than once -- about the dog owner who carries a plastic bag to pick up the pet's , er, "droppings". Someone ran by and grabbed the bag ... surprise!! Mura
  24. It's sad reading about these wonderful places that now seem so dangerous. TrulyBlonde, was your place unoccupied at the time of the theft? Surely it takes a lot of time to steal $20K of appliances! How terrible for you ... We were in Cabo on our first Oceania cruise (I think that was in 2004) and took a ship's tour that was most enjoyable. Lots of our fellow passengers were just walking around the downtown area ... I guess they wouldn't be doing that today. Mura
  25. I'm so sorry to see comments like this about Ensenada. Back in the mid -50s my family would drive down to Ensenada twice a year for two week vacations. We stayed just outside of town at a resort called Papagayo, which I think still exists. (At least it did when I checked a couple of years ago.) There were motel kinds of accommodations as well as private cottages, right on the beach. Our dog loved swimming in the ocean, and we liked swimming in the pool. Locals would come buy selling fresh-caught lobsters. It was wonderful then ... And more recently my sister frequently used to go down to Rosarita Beach (south of TJ, north of Ensenada) ... I don't know if she would do so now. Funny story. We were in Ensenada once upon a time when friends of ours were going to be staying at a hotel/motel (I'm not sure which) in Ensenada itself. My father asked the desk clerk if there were any Freibergs here (because we didn't know if they had arrived yet). "Yes, of course." "Er, what's a Freiberg?" Mura
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