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Everything posted by Mura

  1. That could well be but I'm quite sure I've seen notices in Current announcing "private" meetings, but they were never religious ones. I'm not saying it's been a frequent occurrence. Mura
  2. I agree with Paul that getting off the ship in Sydney is well worth the visit, especially if you are just there overnight. When we did our Auckland-Sydney cruise in 2008, we had an overnight in Sydney and the follow-on cruise to Bangkok may well have had an overnight there as well ... although come to think of it we saw the ship sailing off into the distance when we had a beachfront dinner out of town but that might have been the night AFTER we left the ship. We were dining with friends from our cruise who also stayed on after we left Nautica. (In checking my diary I see that Nautica DID leave port on the day we left the ship, so no two-day stay for new passengers on that cruise.) Sydney is fabulous (which is one reason why we stayed on there for a few more days) so it would be a pity to skip seeing Sydney in order to have a free lunch on board ... UNLESS the ship is staying on in port for another day, in which case ... maybe then I'd stay on for lunch. Check your itinerary! I remember walking down towards the Opera House in port and overheard some people who were on a megaship in port commenting on how small Nautica looked ... I told them 684 passengers. They were amused, I think. She didn't look that small to me! Mura
  3. Based on your comment to this effect after your 2016 ATW we told our cabin attendant the same on our May B2B. She wasn't concerned and our room was taken care of early! But I still agree it's a good thing to tell the attendants on turn-around day when they have so much to do. We were in an OC which may have been why she reacted that way. And of course we were on board for 15 days, not 180! Mura
  4. Yes, you will have to do a drill every 14 nights. They DO check. When we've done B2Bs (not often but most recently last May) we did NOT have to leave and get back on. When we did our first Oceania cruise back in 2004, they strongly urged us to leave the ship on turn-around morning. They have us "free" tours to encourage us to do so. (We were docked in Costa Rica at a port where there was NOTHING to do.) But most recently, no. On our May 2018 Riviera cruise we did NOT need to get a new key card. We did NOT have to re-register. Likewise in 2004, no new key card was needed. There will probably be a lunch on board for continuing passengers that is only open to continuing passengers by invitation only. In our case it was in the GDR. When I first heard about this, it was in Jacques. I don't know what ship you are on, but in our case it obviously was an "O" ship. If you are on an "R" ship, this lunch would have to be in the GDR. If you want to be off the ship at lunch time, obviously this won't affect you. If you are in Sydney you may well wish to be off the ship! Can't think of anything else ... Mura
  5. Just to throw our choices into the mix re oLife options. On several cruises we have taken the ship tour option and haven't been disappointed, but we did choose the tours so that the surcharge on the cruise fare was far less than what the tours would have cost if we were paying for them. This was much easier when oLife came onto the scene, however. (The surcharge on the base fare was far less then than it is now.) Even so, in November 2017 we came out ahead by taking a few tours courtesy of O. If you target more expensive tours, you can come out ahead. Buying the cheapest tours does NOT. On our last cruise I think we just took the OBC even though we already get plenty because of gold status on O and our TA's contributions. But we don't want the drink package for reasons I've often mentioned, and prefer to buy a bottle from the wine list. If I'm getting an overpriced Montrachet with OBC, I'm still getting a nice wine! When I did that the sommelier was very impressed with the choice ... We have very rarely taken the "free" air and if we do, we buy the deviation because we come in early and leave late. But since these days we opt for biz air, it doesn't pay to use O's air. We DID use their biz air a couple of years ago (LRH to JFK) because it was to our advantage to do so, and on one open-jaw flight we did their upgrade to PE which worked out fine. But mostly we buy our own air. We'd NEVER take O's hotel packages given the outrageous pricing. Plenty of others have commented on that! I have to say that there was one cruise over O's existence (a few years ago) where the hotel price was per room rather than per person. But that was the only time I've seen that kind of pricing. I've mentioned before a fellow passenger checking into a Marriott-brand hotel (but without the Marriott name up front) in London who'd booked O's hotel and was really upset when he discovered it was a Marriott since he as a high-level member. His wife didn't seem so distressed ... but of course he paid at least twice as much for the hotel than he would have had he booked it on his own, as we did. Mura
  6. I figured that was a good part of the reason but I'm still befuddled. I'm not particularly religious myself although I worked in churches and temples as a singer for many years and I don't see any problem with announcing a private group meeting. Maybe they figure if they allow one such group, they would have to allow everyone else ... scratching my head. By the way, it appears my first comment was deleted and then restored. Giving support to your theory! Mura
  7. Why wouldn't they announce this in Currents? If they can mention Friends of Bill, I don't see why a Bible study group would be off limits. It's not as if they would be forcing people to go! Mura
  8. Re the question about Viking's tours, I can't speak to the ocean cruises but most of the river boat tours are walking tours. That's easy enough to do when you are usually docked bang in the middle of town. Occasionally they had tours taking you outside of the port city which usually were fee-based. Not badly priced at all but not free. As an example, when we were in Arles, France, we had a walking tour in the morning and a paid-for afternoon bus tour to Les Baux and St. Remy. My notes don't indicate what we paid for the bus tour but as I said it was reasonably priced. We've done three riverboat trips with Viking (one of which was China so may not count) but we never had a "panorama" type bus tour with only a few photo stops. I would be very surprised if that is all they offer on the ocean cruises. Mura
  9. What a pretty boy ... or girl!! Somehow all of our cats have either been black, white, or black AND white. It wasn't planned, it just happened that way! Mura
  10. The problem with booking higher suites is the same as booking business or better air fare ... It's hard to go back to the "real world"! Mura
  11. I haven't forgotten because we've never seen one of them! We did have a PH on one Marina cruise but it was midships. Another advantage to those suites, however. Thanks for the comment. Mura
  12. About Shanghai ... As I said we were there on a Viking river boat cruise. We had 3 days or so in Beijing but only about a day and a half in Shanghai. While I wouldn't have wanted to shorten our time in Beijing, we really wanted more time in Shanghai. I guess my answer would have been to add on a couple of days to the trip so as to better see Shanghai. But Viking didn't ask me ... One of the highlights in Shanghai was on the bus heading for the Museum. We were at an enormous traffic circle which had big traffic signs. The Chinese said -- well, whatever it said. The English said something like 7-9am, 3-5pm. We were glad we weren't driving! Mura
  13. We haven't encountered many young people on our O cruises. A few very young ones who were with crew family members. A few young teens. We NEVER encountered the horror stories that some have recounted. (Then again we don't tend to sit around the pool and we don't travel at times when many children might be aboard.) The comment about the 10 year old walking around with her notebook reminded me of a visit to Ellis Island with a Danish friend some years ago. We happened to encounter a few people at a Danish exhibit and a student was writing into her notebook. Sisse volunteered to give some information about Danes and Denmark pertinent to the exhibit but the teacher shut her off. The student had her assignment and didn't need more information ... I was struck how the teacher wasn't able to make this a REAL teachable moment. Which doesn't have much to do with the little girl on this cruise, of course. Mura
  14. I was trying to quote a comment about O's biz air add-on but wanted to read through to the end before I did, and then when I went back I couldn't find it! So I will say: For open-jaw flights O could never beat biz air prices we found on our own (and since retirement we have some FF miles but not enough). But there WAS one one-way flight after a TA where it was very advantageous to use O's air a few years ago. I think that may have been a Heathrow-NYC flight but can't be positive. I'm pretty sure it was ... In general, upgrades to business using Oceania cost you much more than doing it on your own (even without FF miles). But occasionally, especially if you're only talking one flight as opposed to two, it can work. Of course, I'm talking about flights from NYC since that's where we live. And I'm also talking flights to/from Europe. For people who aren't in gateway airports, I doubt Oceania would ever beat what you can find on your own. Mura
  15. True, no waiter service as such for Terrace ... but very frequently once you select your plate (first, second, third or last), very often a server will carry it to the table for you. Busboys/girls come around asking if you want a drink, as does the wine person. I didn't used to be asked to give up my plate, but these days I routinely am ... Even when I'm only 5 feet away from our table. It's NOT service as in one of the other restaurants, but you can have a very pleasant time on the terrace of Terrace if you want an outdoor meal. If you are in a top suite (I know, I know) you can order in from any of the restaurants and dine on your veranda if you like ... but you need to be in a top suite just to get enough room on the veranda for a table, even if only for two. The two aft OC suites have a huge veranda and it would be easy enough to carry the dining table from the living room outdoors (that's my assumption, I haven't tested the theory). When we were in an OS on Regatta many years ago we regularly had breakfast on the veranda, using the table that is regularly there. But Penthouse suites on all ships (if I'm remembering correctly) would really be too tight for dining al fresco. Hope this helps. Mura
  16. We pretty much always share a table in the specialties. Sometimes it's a couple with whom O has paired us, sometimes it's with people on our roll call. We've never had a bad experience -- certainly nothing as horrific as CintiPam described! I think I'd have gotten up and left, but maybe I'd have tried to tough it out the way she did. I remember a dinner with Jacques with two women (about the same age as we were) and while not completely simpatico -- I don't doubt they felt the same way -- it was still a good experience. I think we all had different interests, is all. Then there was the table for six in the GDR some years ago which was just wonderful even though we were all strangers -- we were all musicians and so we had a LOT in common. No guarantees, and you never know. Mura
  17. We were in Shanghai with Viking about 10 years ago. One of the highlights for us was the Art Museum -- some really gorgeous art there. We also very much enjoyed the Yu Yuan Gardens (near the Bund). Can't comment on Zhujiajiao though!
  18. I wouldn't worry about booking a ship's tour just to see how it is! One reason we've used the oLife tours is if you choose correctly the price becomes cost effective -- yes, you are paying more for the cruise than if you take the cruise-only fare, but you get more than your money's worth by finding a higher priced tour that you're entitled to. If you have private tours already booked, just stick with them. They are cheaper (as many have already said) plus you have the benefit of a much smaller group. While we've had some excellent ship's tours and the others were almost always at least very good, I still prefer private tours myself. Mura
  19. The problem with the Malta tour was that it just didn't do what we really wanted to do. The guide was excellent although frustrated with the slower pace of many of the older passengers on the tour. This was particularly noticeable as we walked through an old Arab village on the way to the Mdina. But we'd been there before with another couple (on a private tour where we did the Mdina on our own) and much of it was repetitious for us. It wasn't a BAD tour, just the wrong one for us! Mura
  20. This may be a good reason for using an experienced Oceania TA. Unfortunately, we aren't permitted to make recommendations of TAs here. I don't think I have ever booked a cruise through Oceania itself although we DID do so with O's predecessor, Renaissance. Mura
  21. I hadn't seen about Barney's problems until now so I'm glad to hear he is doing well. We had a diabetic cat -- ultimately he went into remission but then died from a squamous cell cancer in his mouth. But he had daily insulin shots for several years. He was rather young when diagnosed and wasn't an obese cat. So you never know! Cheers for Barney. To whomever said that "O'Life tours weren't that fabulous", I would have to disagree. I am someone who prefers private tours just because they are smaller groups. But our oLife tours in the past 2-3 years have pretty much been excellent, maybe one that was only average. We've had private tours that weren't up to snuff as well! Many of the complaints about ship's tours in the past have been because of O's high cost, not necessarily because they were really horrible. (Okay, for people who only want 10-12 people on a tour, they don't want to get on a full bus. I get that! I'm not happy on a full bus either.) We have been taking more ship's tours since oLife came into play a few years ago and I can't remember a real complaint about any of them ... other than the one in Malta that I should NOT have chosen! Mura
  22. Barbels, My last cruise was on Riviera last May. I was one to objected to the new menus -- but for one thing these only affect the GDR. The specialty menus are pretty much static and have been the same for many years. There are occasional changes there, but they have been minor. We just saw more repetition is all. My objection to the "improvement" was that I noticed fewer choices. But that didn't affect the food itself. We still love Oceania's food. We like to have breakfast in the GDR on non-tour days, in our room on tour days. A couple of years ago we took a downsell to a "B" category room which meant on tour days we had breakfast in Terrace. I had remembered that experience as a "zoo" in the past but it didn't bother us on this cruise (which was on Nautica). I don't think you'll be unhappy with the food on your cruise! Yes, every cook has an occasional disappointment. I myself (who seems to be considered "gourmet cook" by my friends although I'd never refer to me as such) served a "bride's" dinner recently. It was edible, just not up to my usual standard! Mura
  23. If you are on board when they have one of those fabulous Sunday brunches, DO NOT MISS IT!! Mura
  24. Sounds like excellent advice from Katz. We haven't done most of these ports so I didn't know. My comment about the location of a port terminal shop is that they aren't always that close to the ship. If they are, that's a perfect place to look for an ATM. Have fun! Mura
  25. I won't criticize you for using ship's tours. We sometimes do the same but we do a mix of private and ship's tours these days. But given security questions these days it doesn't seem likely that you can "sneak out" to find a port ATM. Maybe if they have a real terminal that is very close to the pier. These days that doesn't seem to be the usual thing. In your place I would hope for places we can find an ATM on our tour. I would say look at your detailed tour descriptions and see if you will have time in towns (not necessarily in villages but I don't think they have to be major cities either) for an ATM. Or, just play it safe and get currency for all of your destinations in advance. Me being me, I wouldn't. I'd trust that I'd find an ATM. It's how you want to fly ... It's YOUR trip! Mura
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