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Everything posted by Mura

  1. 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
  2. If you are on board when they have one of those fabulous Sunday brunches, DO NOT MISS IT!! Mura
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Paul ( or others) may correct me but I don't think that appetizer menu has ever changed! We don't usually order them -- we did at first, then the choice seemed less enticing. NOT AWFUL. Just not that impressive. So these are occasional for us. (Whereas the paid menu for hors d'oeuvres is VERY impressive.) Of course, one is free and the other is not! I wouldn't order from that paid menu for only two people, however. I believe if you have guests in for cocktails you can also order more than two of the free types. At least we have on occasion. That may depend on your butler ... One way we often use the butler is for the course-by-course dinner served in the room by the butler. That's very tempting on days when we're tired out from touring! And we always do this on the last night of the cruise. It's one way to get around the limits on the number of specialty reservations you can have if they are harder to get on your particular cruise. And of course as others have said, we have the hot breakfast in our room on tour days. But we don't make up a standard list for the butler -- we order from the form that distribute every night because our desires change daily! On non-tour days we like breakfast in the GDR. Dinner menus are in the room. Mura
  6. Snack samples ... I can remember a few. There's a nacho plate. A cheese Plate. Some fruit, I think. There are a fair number of choices, not more than a dozen, I don't think. And they aren't large. Good to hold you over until dinner. If you host a cocktail party in your room (we did so once when we had an OC) there is a specific menu. They do charge for it but the portions are geneous. Turned out we obeyed the instructions and ordered FAR too much. Mura
  7. It sounds like you are planning on only doing ship's tours. Is that right? Private guides will always stop by an ATM upon request, and I assume that a guide on a ship's tour would as well. This could depend on your itinerary, of course. If you are going to be in a town or city you should have time to visit an ATM. But if you are just touring "outside" -- that could be problematic. Then again, if that's the kind of tour you are on, you might not need cash (other than tips for the driver and guide) on hand. Certainly if you are on a tour that is long enough in duration that you will be having lunch somewhere, you should have time to find an ATM. Again ... depending on where you are. Good luck, Mura
  8. Yes, it's easy to listen. But when we've just boarded and want to unpack and get ready for the boat drill, we really don't want to spend time listening to a spiel that we could give ourselves. As I said, it has NOT been necessary on more recent cruises. Maybe once they see you're at a higher status, they no it isn't necessary. I imagine they'd be happy to dispense with giving information. Perhaps the "rules" have changed in the past few years. Agreed, there are worse problems to be concerned about. I wouldn't try to compare the need to educate new moms with the butler's need to let you know just what he can do! Mura
  9. We like it, too! Yes, there are times when we want to get a bit dressed up and go to the GDR. It can depend on the menu. But we also like Terrace, especially if we're tired out from touring. It's very nice to be able to go to the grill area and order a steak made to order, or perhaps shrimp or lobster. There are so many wonderful choices and you can decide if you want them just by looking at them. And it doesn't take 2 hours! Mura
  10. I'm not on this cruise so some general answers (since I don't see any before me). In most countries local people want their own currency. It costs them money to take your dollars to the bank and convert them, for example. But sometimes they DO want dollars: when we did the Black Sea cruise in 2012 most of the Russian/Ukrainian guides wanted dollars. Guides will be clear about this, but when you are just spending money on the street probably the locals want their own currency. We always get cash from ATMs at ports when we need it. If you are in really small ports, maybe they won't be available. Don't use a credit card to get cash from an ATM, though! Use a debit card. Some banks don't charge a fee. TIAA (formerly Everbank) doesn't charge to use the ATM although they do charge a small percentage of the amount you withdraw. Any ATM charges that you accrue will be credited back at the end of the statement period. SO: Check with your bank as to their policies. But credit card companies treat this as a cash advance which entails heavy interest. If you are online and trust the connection, you can of course go to the bank and immediately pay it off to avoid the interest. But in general people will advise you to use a debit card for cash at ATMs. Hope this helps a bit. Mura
  11. That's what I meant! I enjoyed it the first couple of times, too ... but after that ... Don't get me wrong: it didn't drive me away from the cooking demos! As I said, it begins to pale ... Mura
  12. All the chefs seem to have the same "shtick" ... funny ha ha mutual insults as they drink their wine while cooking. This routine does pale after a while but I've also enjoyed these demos even so. I always take the recipes with me although I don't think I've ever made one once at home ... I should change that! Mura
  13. We were on a cruise when the Super Bowl happened (I think this was 2008 but don't quote me) and the ship taped it and broadcast it in our rooms the next day. Since my team won (!) I thought this was great. Normally I don't care, not being a true fan. I've seen since reports from others where this has happened, but also quotes where people were very unhappy because they couldn't watch the came. Perhaps a matter of luck depending on itinerary and other things. But you can always catch the commercials on Youtube -- in July! Mura
  14. The few times we used the service our laundry was back in two days which was fine with us. We planned for the wait and wouldn't have minded if it took 3 days. I also am happy to do my own laundry! Like some others here, I'm actually happier to do my own laundry -- even on vacation. For the record we were in an OC each time. I don't know that being in a higher suite really matters but of course it might. Mura
  15. Mura

    Diet Sodas

    I wouldn't know since we don't drink it ... but I think so!
  16. I can't say it's a worry! On recent cruises they understood! Mura
  17. Maybe the visa cost was for two as was the tour? We went to Kenya/Tanzania on a land tour way back in 1987 so whatever we paid is irrelevant. But since we're in NYC it was easy to go to the consulate to get our visas. Just as I did for Brazil in 2013 and Russia in 2001. And elsewhere! When I book a private tour I always check on cancellation policies. If they won't refund a deposit (or the full cost) when the port is cancelled, I don't book with them. However, most do. Sometimes there is a time limit so if a port is cancelled at the last minute you may be stuck. That's the risk. Most of the agencies I have used will give full refunds when the ship has cancelled the port visit. They are out too! I imagine they have to pay their drivers whether the ship is there or not if it's truly last minute. Mura
  18. Starlaker, we're in your boat. We didn't use the butler at all at first. Then when I tore my meniscus the day before boarding, we discovered just how much we could use him! People who don't want to use him -- you aren't compelled to do so! Just tell him you don't see the need for his services. He will probably be crestfallen, but then your absence makes it easier for passengers in his 15 other rooms. The worst problem I've had with butlers is when they insist on going through their whole initial speech, even when we tell them we've been on numerous cruises. Most of them feel they have to go through the whole spiel no matter what. That's fine the first or maybe even second time ... but beyond that, you know as well as they do. Well, maybe ALMOST as well. Mura
  19. Mura

    Diet Sodas

    It's also a question of your itinerary. Sometimes your preferred soda isn't available in the ports you are visiting -- or perhaps at earlier ports the ship has visited. Since you are leaving from Miami they certainly shouldn't have a problem getting the drinks you want! But this is all the more reason to clear it with Oceania. They will order your favorites if they can and in your case I'm sure they will be able to do so. I don't think I've ever seen Dr. Pepper -- or even Pepsi -- in our minifridge. Then again, we really don't drink sodas other than seltzer, so we don't look that carefully at what is available. We usually ask the butler (when we have one, which I admit is most of the time) to remove cokes and the like. Mura
  20. In looking at various comments I'm wondering if some are confusing reservations for specialty restaurants with booking a culinary class. The former do depend on your room category, the latter do NOT. Nor does a booking for La Reserve or Privee, come to think of it since those are fee based (at least that's why I assume they are different from the free reservations). The advice for booking La Reserve or a cooking class early are that there just aren't many available on a ship that can carry 1250 passengers. La Reserve has 24 seats. I've forgotten how many can take a cooking class but I think it's about the same. And NO ONE can get extra specialty reservations before boarding. Once you are on board, by all means try for them if they are important to you. Mura
  21. I won't say +1 Paul, but clearly we agree! Mura
  22. What a great attitude! Continue to enjoy your cruise. Wish I were with you , and I'm not a fan of the Caribbean ... it's just awfully cold in NYC right now! Mura
  23. Since oLife came into play we've done more "free" excursions than we did in the past. Ideally we prefer independent, smaller tours. But that takes some work even if you save money in the end. With the "free" excursions (not entirely free since your basic fare goes up if you opt for them) we've found it easy to pick excursions in the $150-199 price range which make opting for them cost effective. It wouldn't be cost effective if you take one of the cheapest excursions, that's for sure. And in general the tours we opted for have been quite good, some excellent. Blanket statements advising people NEVER to this or ALWAYS to this are probably not all that helpful. It's a question of what works for the individual passenger (or couple). And none of us agree on absolutely everything, do we? For us taking the free tours is usually the only option we consider since DH barely drinks at all and we don't go to the bars. Either we've been in suites (recently) that provide the 6 bottles OR we've brought our own liquor on board for consumption in the suite. We don't mind paying the corkage fee in a restaurant for wine we've brought on board, but we will also buy a bottle from the ship's list when necessary. Between our gold status on O and our TA's contributions we usually have more OBC than we can use (even with last minute shopping on board). Mura
  24. I do agree that no one feeling uncomfortable was the best end result. But I regret that so many people continue to feel uncomfortable around "others". You may well be right about the Bible Belt effect.
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