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Everything posted by Mura

  1. It may not be an error. We were told (May 2018) that we would be tendering for boarding, which made me wonder as well just how luggage would be handled. We were also told that our car (we were on a private tour) would have to deposit us at the gates and we'd have a long walk into the port. Neither of these things happened. Our car drove us right up to the ship which indeed was docked. Earlier in the day we'd seen Riviera at anchor in the bay, so clearly space opened up for us. They may just say it's a tender port to be safe. If space opens up, so much the better. Mura
  2. True enough. What I wrote is not what I meant! Sorry about that. While usually it is true that the ship will wait, often times -- as when I quoted our experience with people not being able to get to the Panama Canal cruise on time -- the ship just cannot wait. And, of course, there have been times when flights were so badly delayed that it takes the passenger a few days to catch up. That happened to a high school acquaintance of mine who happened to be on a cruise with us back in July 2006. But you have more security of making the ship when you are using the ship's air. Again, it isn't 100%.
  3. It's true that the guarantee is not absolute, any more than that if you are on a ship's tour is delayed, therefore they will wait for you. Most of the time they will under both scenarios. But there can be -- and have been -- exceptions. We were on a Buenos Aires to Santiago cruise in 2002 on NCL. We were in a very small town in the southern end of Chile. We took a ship's tour. (We had booked a month before departure and even if in those days we'd been "into" private tours, we wouldn't have known how to go about it.) The last official stop was at a little inn where the hosts provided us with drinks and snacks but the bus had broken down. I guess we were lucky to have gotten to that little inn! A replacement bus was called for and was supposed to get there in about half an hour, but in fact it took an hour beyond that half hour. By the time the second bus arrived and we got back to the port, it was long after the ship was supposed to have left. But it didn't. In another place and time, it might not have. Although ... we were in a place where it would have been very difficult to catch the ship (a two day sail away), especially without our travel documents ... So we were lucky. But these guarantees, I agree, are NOT absolute. As they were not for the Boston travelers I referenced above who were delayed by a snowstorm on the day the ship left Miami. Mura
  4. Your chances are very good if you are only flying from an east coast gateway to MIA. Sure, weather problems can happen -- but they are less likely than if you are coming from further away. So the one time we used O's air to get from JFK to MIA it was fine for us. Even though I had to apply for a passport in MIA! Mine had disappeared -- I discovered this on the Saturday morning before a Monday flight -- and the Passport Bureau wouldn't give me an appointment until 3 days after the ship left. So we just arrived in Mia, went to the passport bureau and applied. I had all the documents filled out already. Fortunately we were on a very early morning flight. I hadn't liked that flight time when we got the flight information but in the end it was a blessing. Still ... when we did the Panama Canal cruise in February 2004 some people on the east coast lost out. There was bad weather in Boston and flights were delayed. The ship had to leave on time so as not to lose its slot for the Canal. So some passengers had to catch up later and missed the Canal. There is always that risk. So your choice is as you have said: fly on the day and hope it works out. It usually does when you have a 3 hour flight, but not always. You can book your own air and avoid the deviation fee ... but you don't have the security of the ship waiting for you if your flight is delayed. We almost always book our own air and go in a few days ahead of time. That's our choice, clearly not yours!
  5. Maya, our experience there goes way back -- to May 2001. We DID have a personal visa. We had a very reasonably priced guide -- $60/day for the two of us! (She no longer does guiding work.) And I found that getting our visa through a service somehow seemed cheaper than using Oceania or going to the consulate. My calculations could have been off, of course, but then again it was very simple and reasonably priced. We were there for two days. And yes, the guards would check our documents at least 3 times between leaving the ship and actually getting to the street. So you would need to do the calculations to see if a personal visa is worth it for you. When we arrived the ship had a last minute diversion to a different port and I wasn't able to notify our guide, so we missed her on Day #1. But two crew members drove us to the Hermitage and we caught a cab back. Yes, the driver cheated us on the fare but again, it wasn't impossible. For him it was a lot, for us it wasn't. We spent 6 hours in the Hermitage ... You should, however, check into the various private tour groups there that give you a group visa and early admission to the Hermitage. I don't know how long you have there with them! Surely not 6 hours ... But maybe 1 or 2. Red October, St. Petersburg, Alla ... do a search here and you will find several recommendations. Mura
  6. A good suggestion. That way you can also get the responder's impression of the worth of the tour ... which may be hard to value, but it's helpful. Then again, if OP wants to know about every port ... More specific questions could be very helpful here. OP mentioned wanting to know about specific tours but we don't even know where he will be.
  7. Why are people so anxious that the work be completed when it only started maybe a week ago? From the article I saw the work was to start on Sept. 5th and take 16 or so days. We aren't there yet. I can understand the question coming from newbies, since they may be coming from lines that don't do refurbishments or "upgrades" until they are desperately needed. But in our experience, Oceania has never let its ships get so run down.
  8. Mura


    If you don't find out the answer earlier, when you board there will be some cards in the room -- or the room attendant will bring them to you. Each one will indicate whether the OBC is refundable or not. I would like to think that a shareholder OBC would be refundable, but I've never known anyone who has had that as a benefit so it's no better than a poor guess. Mura
  9. Hard to answer that one. Personally, the only times I have called Oceania on my own were when I was having problems with specialty dinner reservations and I had an extension number for a very helpful person. From what I have read here over the years the regular customer service people haven't been all that knowledgeable. Perhaps that has changed by now. I have always found the tour descriptions at the website to be sufficient for our purposes. We have usually booked private tours with others on our roll call but since oLife tours came into play we have used them -- it depends on the price, which keeps going up. When oLife was new it was easy to find a few tours that would have cost more than the fare surcharge. These days that surcharge is much more and so it may not be so easy to find using the tours cost effective. When the tours for my cruise haven't been available yet (we have oftened booked a year or more in advance) I have often found tour descriptions for similar itineraries that are already up at the website. But how much time can you waste by calling? If you are told it will be a long wait, hang up. Likewise, if it's clear that the person on the other end of the line isn't helpful, hang up. Good luck.
  10. Indeed! We did one on Regatta in the summer of 2012 and it was fabulous. But Crimea was the highlight ... Don't know that I'd do this today. It would depend on the itinerary, of course. I saw something today that I didn't look at too closely that seemed to indicate combining some Black Sea ports with Greece ... or something like that!
  11. From our experience that is absolutely nuts. We did use O's air with premium economy a few years ago which was fine. We were traveling from JFK to Copenhagen with a return from LRH. But whenever we have compared business on our own to what Oceania offered, we were far better off doing our own.
  12. I'm going back a while but we were on board Riviera about the time the changes in the GDR menu arrived and we weren't entranced. What we'd always liked about the GDR menus (as opposed to the specialties) was the many choices available each night. And they changed each night. Yes, in our experience they did recyle after 14 days. (Some others have said here that perhaps the recycling occurred after 10 days or so, but that wasn't our experience. It may depend on the cruise duration after all.) But the new menus had far more repeats. For example -- I'm not being specific, just general -- where we used to have 5 appetizers in the past, now there were 3 because 2 were repeats, maybe from the night before, maybe from the night before that. Likewise with the other courses. So choices have been reduced. And it appears from comments that most experienced cruisers aren't happy with these changes either. They didn't stop us from dining in the GDR, which used to be our first choice. But we do make sure to check the menus before deciding whether to go to the GDR, Terrace or our own cabin -- assuming that we don't have a specialty res that night. We also weren't happy with more frequent closures of the GDR for lunch on port days. We're not sure if we never noticed this before because we were on shore during lunchtime or because there was a real change in policy. The first time we NOTICED the lunch closure was on our November 2017 cruise on Marina. We understood closing the GDR when we were over-nighting in Haifa when almost everyone was off the ship. But there were other ports where returning tours and those still on board just overwhelmed Terrace and Waves for lunch. Mura
  13. Of course. You just don't need to hold it down in order to keep the dryer operating. Is that clear?
  14. Mura

    Blue Book

    Nor should you! That way you don't get an unpleasant surprise ...
  15. From age 20 to about 45 I had very long, thick wavy hair. Even Ren's hairdryers worked for me. No, I never had to hold down the button to keep it working. Nowadays my hair short and not so thick although still wavy. Like Lyn, I really don't need to use the hairdryer BUT -- if I haven't had a recent haircut, then I will use the hairdryer for maybe 3-4 minutes. I just can't tolerate drying my hair for longer is all. I dry it until it's a little damp then run my fingers through ... cheaper than a visit to the beauty parlor! Mura
  16. Mura

    Blue Book

    Perfect!! Not at all, Denise
  17. I'm with you in that I prefer the aft OCs (Deck 11) to those on Deck 12. Yes, the room is a little smaller but the veranda is what I love. The media room we ignore. I do prefer the layout of the Vistas since I prefer the big TV in the living room, but I can live without it. There's always the TV in the bedroom ... But another plus of the aft OCs is the view of the seas behind you ...
  18. Mura

    Blue Book

    Not at all, Denise! On one or maybe two occasions we did not receive our documents in time and we were not leaving for the cruise until a few days before. We still got them in time by contacting our TA. The emailed versions are relatively recent, but at least available for several years now. I'm sure you'll be fine -- just check in with your email while you are on the road. Hyper vigilance can be a good thing, of course ... such as when you are traveling BEFORE your cruise! Mura
  19. Mura

    Blue Book

    In addition to a printout of your invoice, O also sends email "final documents". Even if you are traveling before the cruise, assuming you have internet access you should be able to get the email.
  20. Or you could just have ordered a second helping at the GDR ... or maybe just order two portions to begin with! It does sound like you are inordinately fond of Dover Sole. You should have seen the one a dinner companion ordered one night in Dover, England ... We couldn't figure out if 25 pounds represented the weight of the fish or the cost ... Of course you get a different view in Terrace... I didn't mean of the fish! LOL Mura
  21. I'm not sure what you mean by "party central". Certainly if you want to entertain others -- such as cocktail parties -- there is much more room in the top suites. In our opinion, dinner for more than 2 while possible gets a bit crowded. The dining table they provide will seat four but there won't be a lot of room. We had a cocktail party for 8 in an OC a couple of years ago and it worked out very well. The butler brought in the drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Some people have said they've had much larger parties in these suites but we haven 't done so.
  22. Origiinally we were one of those who saw no need for a butler and we never used him. That is, until I tore my meniscus just before boarding the ship and could hardly walk. On that cruise we started using the butler and have continued ever since. That doesn't mean that I think everyone has to love their service! We are all different and certainly have the right to choose not to employ a particular service. We don't do trivia, as an example, but understand very well that many people love it. To each his/her own! Mura
  23. As to tipping the butler for getting reservations, we never have. Yes, we tip them at the end of the cruise depending on what they did for us. Many times they have gotten extra reservations for us even though we hadn't requested them. Since we are not super fans of the specialties (as opposed to the GDR or Terrace) we have rarely used many extra reservations. Maybe if the menus changed frequently we would feel differently ... but they don't!
  24. It's very possible that the majority of passengers on your cruise ALL wanted extra reservations. I agree that he probably should have been aware of general availability before going through the questions, but at the same time there are lots of possible slots on each day for each restaurant. While that person might be aware of some that are already "unavailable", it may be asking too much for him or her to know every single detail. Availability for extras does depend on how many of the passengers want them.
  25. Ah so! It never occurred to me they were talking about flights ... I guess it should have! Thanks Paul. (And Lyn ... I got your answer as I was writing to Paul but hadn't "sent" yet.) Mura
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