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Luxury Cruising Is it a state of mind?

Discussion to include, but not limited to: Abercrombie & Kent • American Safari • Aqua Expeditions • Azamara • Bora Bora Cruises • Compagnie du Ponant • Cruise Asia Ltd. • Crystal • Cunard • French Country Waterways • Go Barging • Hapag-Lloyd • Hebridean • Heritage Line • Lindblad Expeditions • Oberoi Group • Oceania • Orion Expedition Cruises • Paul Gauguin Cruises • Regent Seven Seas • Sea Cloud Cruises • Seabourn • SeaDream • Silversea • Star Clippers • Travel Dynamics • Uniworld • Windstar

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  #41  
Old November 6th, 2013, 10:45 AM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Not yet, DipBrat, I'm working on it. But can answer absolutely any questions you might have in the meantime.

Carolyn


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Was this review ever posted? I can't find it anywhere on the site.
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  #42  
Old November 6th, 2013, 04:19 PM
DipBrat DipBrat is offline
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Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Not yet, DipBrat, I'm working on it. But can answer absolutely any questions you might have in the meantime.

Carolyn
For this trip I am looking at early 2015 so I can wait for the review for the details. I would be travelling with young children so the quality of the kids club and free fare for kids is very attractive as it means there will be a few other families on board. Your impressions of the suitability for mult-generational trips?

I am also wondering about the food and especially specialty restaurants. Some Europa reviews said there were difficulties booking specialty restaurants and that they were just OK. In our ideal world we might only eat in the MDR a few times outside of breakfast. (We prefer Asian and "lighter tasting" cuisine, especially Sushi) In fact it is Crystal's new alt. restaurant charge that led me to look at Hapag for this trip as had been leaning towards Crystal.

Grateful for any other first thoughts on your trip.
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  #43  
Old November 22nd, 2013, 12:39 PM
English Voyager English Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Not yet, DipBrat, I'm working on it. But can answer absolutely any questions you might have in the meantime.

Carolyn
Is your review on your July cruise still a work in progress?

If the review has been posted, where might we find it?
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  #44  
Old December 4th, 2013, 08:03 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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It still is, English Voyager. Almost very nearly done. Sorry for the delay -- will post here when it's up.

Carolyn

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Is your review on your July cruise still a work in progress?

If the review has been posted, where might we find it?
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  #45  
Old December 4th, 2013, 08:07 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, DipBrat. On our trip there wasn't a lot of trouble booking the alternative restaurants (in fact I just showed up one night at Tarragon and got a table) but I think it depends on the itinerary, schedule, passenger mix. Definitely a "younger" crowd on our trip -- lots of families.

The kids' club was lame based on, say, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney standards, but that's normal for Europe where the kids club isn't at the center of the cruise. It was certainly adequate. For multi-generational travelers: Absolutely recommend it.

One thing I need to check on (and really, am at final stages with the review!!!) is the ship's Asian restaurant. I thought it was very pleasant but it definitely wasn't very heavily booked and one of the staffers onboard hinted that the restaurant may be overhauled. Not sure where that stands, so will ask.

Hope that helps, thanks for your patience.

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by DipBrat View Post
For this trip I am looking at early 2015 so I can wait for the review for the details. I would be travelling with young children so the quality of the kids club and free fare for kids is very attractive as it means there will be a few other families on board. Your impressions of the suitability for mult-generational trips?

I am also wondering about the food and especially specialty restaurants. Some Europa reviews said there were difficulties booking specialty restaurants and that they were just OK. In our ideal world we might only eat in the MDR a few times outside of breakfast. (We prefer Asian and "lighter tasting" cuisine, especially Sushi) In fact it is Crystal's new alt. restaurant charge that led me to look at Hapag for this trip as had been leaning towards Crystal.

Grateful for any other first thoughts on your trip.
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  #46  
Old December 5th, 2013, 02:34 PM
retiredand happy retiredand happy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
It still is, English Voyager. Almost very nearly done. Sorry for the delay -- will post here when it's up.

Carolyn
I just found your post while I was surfing the web trying to find more information about the Europa 2. I have requested a quote for a combined 14 and 7 day trip in September from Athens to Istanbul and back to Athens. I am traveling with a person who is on kidney dialysis and the Europa 2 offers dialysis on selected trips. My main concern was the availability of English speaking shore excursions through the ship. I took a 14 day riverboat trip this summer on the MS Mozart (also a German ship) on the Danube and I made several German friends who I still communicate with. On the Mozart, they went out of their way to accommodate the small number of English speaking passengers. I am now over my fear of being in the minority on the ship. I am looking forward to your review as I wait for my quote. I am preparing myself for the sticker shock when the quote arrives.
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  #47  
Old December 6th, 2013, 12:58 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, wripro. Definitely, Douglas Ward who writes the Berlitz Guide loves loves loves Hapag-Lloyd and the line does a great job. But...not sure it's the best for North Americans though am supportive of the company's desire to attract more English speakers.

We've done Europa twice; the first time it was sublime, the second time frankly very poor for a luxury line (the review's up, check it out).

I liked Europa 2 a lot and am just finishing up the review. One thing it has against it -- the smoking by the way didn't bother me and I'm pretty sensitive -- is that for a luxury line it's not very inclusive in terms of tours, drinks, etc. That might be a hurdle for people, especially when in the US market the lines are really going more inclusive. We'll see.

Carolyn

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The Hapag Lloyd ships are all beautiful with great food and service. The consistently rank higher than all the U.S. based luxury lines. Up till now it helped to speak German though.
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  #48  
Old December 6th, 2013, 01:52 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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HI Carolyn,

Really looking forward to your review. In terms of all inclusiveness I couldn't care less about tours (that's a Regent ripoff) but alcohol and tips are a must at those fares for me.
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  #49  
Old December 6th, 2013, 05:02 PM
English Voyager English Voyager is offline
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It is my understanding that Hapag-Lloyd's alcoholic drink prices are not expensive, and, compared to other luxury lines, the selection may well be far more extensive (if the 35 brands of gin available are a guide).

As for drinks being inclusive, my attitude is I don't expect them to be if I stay in a 5* hotel, so it is of minimal concern to me if the same situation applies on a luxury ship.
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  #50  
Old December 7th, 2013, 05:41 AM
cathaana cathaana is offline
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The prices are very reasonable, especially the cocktails (less than 6 Euros). Tours are also very reasonably priced and usually quite good.
Tips are included. Even if they weren't - this is a German ship, so tips really are optional.
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  #51  
Old January 9th, 2014, 09:04 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Would love an update retiredandhappy!

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredand happy View Post
I just found your post while I was surfing the web trying to find more information about the Europa 2. I have requested a quote for a combined 14 and 7 day trip in September from Athens to Istanbul and back to Athens. I am traveling with a person who is on kidney dialysis and the Europa 2 offers dialysis on selected trips. My main concern was the availability of English speaking shore excursions through the ship. I took a 14 day riverboat trip this summer on the MS Mozart (also a German ship) on the Danube and I made several German friends who I still communicate with. On the Mozart, they went out of their way to accommodate the small number of English speaking passengers. I am now over my fear of being in the minority on the ship. I am looking forward to your review as I wait for my quote. I am preparing myself for the sticker shock when the quote arrives.
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  #52  
Old January 10th, 2014, 08:19 AM
retiredand happy retiredand happy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Would love an update retiredandhappy!

Carolyn
I have been working on this trip since the last post. As of yesterday it looks like the 2 cruises may be a go. At first the rep from Hapag-Lloyd said they could not guarantee English speaking tours. I also needed 2 beds, and their suites only have 1 bed. Their sofa beds are only big enough for a child. Seemed strange that they would build a new ship with that configuration, but it appears to be the case. Hapag-Lloyd now says that they offer at least 1 English speaking tour in each port. The bed situation has been resolved with a rollaway that will be set up in front of the veranda door in the evening and removed during the day. Not the best solution, but a reasonable compromise that will allow me to take this trip. These 2 cruises (21 nights and only 2 sea days) take me to a part of the world that I really want to see. The ship offers kidney dialysis which is a requirement. It also allows me to travel on a small ship. I am sold on the atmosphere of a riverboat or a small ship. Large ship cruising just isn't my cup of tea. Now for the price; it isn't a budget trip. With the cruise, business class air from Dallas, visas, shore excursions, tips, travel insurance and a glass of wine or 2, I estimate about $43K (for 2 people). I am waiting on the final confirmation from the travel agent and then I will start counting down the days until September. Everything I have read about the ship makes me look forward to the cruise. I have never traveled on any other small ship luxury cruise so I don't have anything to compare this trip to. The fact that I need kidney dialysis really limits my choices. I look forward to reading your review.
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  #53  
Old January 10th, 2014, 02:13 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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I would never let what kind of tours a ship offers factor into my decision on whether to sail a certain ship or not. You are FAR better off arranging private tours in each port and they always offer English speaking guides.
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  #54  
Old January 11th, 2014, 02:19 AM
cathaana cathaana is offline
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That might be true for 'normal' tours but any Hapag Lloyd expert tour is probably better and cheaper than what you could arrange by yourself.
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  #55  
Old January 11th, 2014, 02:57 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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I disagree.
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  #56  
Old January 11th, 2014, 04:22 PM
cathaana cathaana is offline
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My last tour guide was a professor with degrees in Art History and Archeology who spent same time at Oxford and has lived in several countries including Egypt and Italy and works for the UNESCO world heritage center as an advisor. Another one had degrees in History and Archeology and has several books published. If you know tour companies who offer tours with people like that (especially in Italy or Spain) please let me now as I haven't found any.

Last edited by cathaana; January 11th, 2014 at 04:24 PM.
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  #57  
Old January 12th, 2014, 01:53 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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Depends on where you are. In St. Petersburg most of the top private tour companies provide guides who are PHDs and extremely knowledgeable. Some ports require guides with local knowledge more than art or history backgrounds. And I don't care personally who competent the guide is if I have to sit on a bus and not be in control of what I'm doing or where I'm going.
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  #58  
Old January 12th, 2014, 04:02 PM
cathaana cathaana is offline
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In St. Petersburg, we had private concert in the Heremitage with 1.5 hours to walk around after they had closed for the day. I checked a few tour operators but couldn't find any that offered something similar. And if I had it probably would have been prohibitively expensive.
I don't mind sitting on a bus for a bit if I have a guide who really knows what he is talking about or having a larger group (10 in St Petersburg) for events like the above-mentioned. So I'll stick with private tours when doing 'normal' stuff and with Hapag Lloyd when they do their special stuff.
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  #59  
Old January 13th, 2014, 01:04 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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You absolutely should. We should all stick with what we are comfortable with.
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  #60  
Old January 15th, 2014, 12:49 PM
alc13 alc13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathaana View Post
That might be true for 'normal' tours but any Hapag Lloyd expert tour is probably better and cheaper than what you could arrange by yourself.
Apparently expert tours are only offered on the Europa, not Europa 2 (at least, that is how I interpret the website information).

We leave on our Europa 2 cruise in a couple of weeks!
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