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Everything posted by critterchick

  1. I suspect that most people book the 10 or 11 night package, based on my sample size of one cruise in 2013, lol. We only had 2 people meet the ship in Baltra. But I’m hoping that having added the Machu Picchu extension will keep our friends who booked with us safe - we’re on Deck 4, but they are on Deck 3. I’d like to think that Celebrity wouldn’t split up a group, but you never know. We aren’t sailing for a year, so something will be resolved long before then. Are you disembarking the ship and hoping to take a private tour on the same day? You likely won’t have time - you have to fly from Baltra to Quito and won’t arrive until early afternoon at best. We had a two hour delay in our flight, and then there was a fire that made traffic crawl on the way from UIO to the Marriott, so we didn’t get in until after 5:00pm and missed whatever the planned tour was.
  2. Like others, I have to disagree. I’m sure that plenty of people have their passports stolen and don’t turn to the media to get somebody else to pay for their lost cruise, which I sense is the case here. I carry my passport when I’m out of the US. I even carry it in the US if I’m on a cruise where the next port of call is another country. So far, so good, even when the guy “helping” us after coffee was poured on us from above in Barcelona tried to get into my purse.
  3. I'm not unhappy with your post. I just didn't think it was on point to what OP was asking. And let us know how you do with that free cruise!
  4. I’m skeptical of any claim of when is the best time to purchase a ticket. It’s all a matter of supply and demand, and computers often adjust the price for no apparent reason. In addition to the other advice, go over to the Cruise Air forum if you haven’t already. You may find some nuggets of information. Also look into renting a car from Seattle to Vancouver. If you have Global Entry, it will simplify your return to the US. If you have NEXUS, it will simplify entry both ways.
  5. Cancelling a cruise for charters is not unique to Azamara - we’ve had that happen with Royal Caribbean, and friends have had it happen with other lines. OP asked if Azamara was worth the extra money, so I think that’s the comparison that s/he is looking for. 🙂 For me, the answer is generally no for reasons I articulated in an earlier post.
  6. My doctor told me not to read about the side effects, only half-joking. It turned out that I didn’t need it, anyway. Thank you. We normally book pre- and post-cruise activities independently, but our friends who did the Celebrity add on raved about it, and it seemed nice to have somebody else do the planning for a change. We are looking forward to it in 2020.
  7. The 13.5 tour is a standard offering in Denali. We did a DIY pre-cruise Alaska adventure prior to a Princess cruise in 2018 and that was all we initially saw as an offering. Then we found the “short” 8 hour tour that was on a school bus that had been refitted with a smaller version of a large tour bus’ seats. There were many very unhappy large people sharing two seats. DH and I went to the rear of the bus and, since it didn’t fill up, were each able to have our own seat. So it was a great day in steerage, lol. Azamara have no excuse for not providing a premium experience in Alaska. Their sister lines have been there for decades and it can’t be that hard to send an email to one of their people to get the scoop on how to run a cruisetour.
  8. critterchick


    The internet on Quest in April was so terrible that we never even used our Discoverer Plus benefit. We were only out of range on the single sea day, so didn’t need the Wifi - our US carrier is T Mobile and we were able to upgrade their free international data plan from 2G to something better (might have been LTE) for $5/day. Quest’s Wifi was completely out for the first couple of days of the cruise and each time I tried it I couldn’t even get to the page to put in my access code. I finally stopped pushing the elevator button. It’s mind-boggling to me that the Discoverer Plus benefit is an extra 30 minutes over Discoverer. Celebrity go from 90 minutes for Elite to 240 for Elite Plus. And we made full use of our FOUR laundry bags on an 11-night cruise. Now, it was lovely to sail past Millennium in Hakodate and dock right in town. But to me it’s no longer worth the additional cost of an Azamara cruise.
  9. We have about 75 nights with Azamara and until our last cruise I would have agreed with you. On our Japan intensive itinerary in April/May, we had to wait a minimum of 30 minutes for a table every time, also two tops. We dine at 8:00 or later, and found that, with the first show in the cabaret at 8:30, people would linger at the table because there was literally nothing else to do but go drink at a bar until showtime. We called that venue The Morgue on our last cruise on Quest. There was a pianist who was very talented but had no guest relations skill, just played his set and ran away. No patter, no engaging anybody that wanted to talk with him (us, for example). Otherwise it was just a bunch of old farts drinking more than we should. For excitement we could watch people booking shore excursions or future cruises. DH has already said that he won’t go on Azamara again because of the loss of the casino. I disagree that the food and service are superior on Azamara (I’ve been on both lines in the last year), although I admit that I’ve always been in AQ or a suite, so don’t have a lot of experience with the MDR food. The Oceanview Cafe is better than the Windows Cafe - More variety and fresher. I find the service on both lines to be exceptional. The included beverages on Azamara are as basic as they come. The wines range from pretty good to dreadful (mostly just ok) and the hard liquors are typical house brands. Sparkling water is not included. It was akin to the Elite happy hour list, which at Azamara pricing is shameful. What has always set Azamara apart for me is the itinerary and some of the interesting things they do that relate to the ports of call. Our 14 night best of Italy cruise in 2009 had two sea days. Our 11+8 B2B in 2017 had none. Our 16 night Japan intensive cruise had one. It’s exhausting, to be sure, but a wonderful way to see a lot of the world - we were in ports until 10:00 or overnight many times. I loved that part, and could forgive the horrid entertainment because I was often ready for bed after dinner ended at 10:00. But on a cruise with a lot of sea days, I develop cabin fever quickly on Azamara. We had 5 straight sea days on Solstice and they went by in the blink of an eye. And Azamara is way more expensive than Celebrity, at least the cruises I’ve looked at. i think that for both lines booking after final payment is the way to go if you’re ok with the ship potentially selling out and aren’t picky about your cabin. They drastically discount unsold cabins then. And both lines are busily ruining their cabins as they modernize. If I’m going to be driven out in search of a couch, I’d rather it be on a Celebrity ship.
  10. We are in the same boat, pun intended. We have had 5 wonderful cruises on Azamara (and a sixth where I was ready to swim home from Cabo), but unless there’s a stunning itinerary at a good price, we are finished with them. The onboard experience lacks, well, much of anything to do. The casino is no more (it was more profitable to have extra cabins), the 54 Below entertainment was often dreadful and the price was insane (we got a good deal as part of an apology discount for a truncated cruise). The included wines range from just ok to dreadful - at their prices, they should at least offer something comparable to what Celebrity include in their premium beverage package. Ditto re the other selections. The food is excellent and the staff superb. But the staff on almost every cruise we’ve been on has been superb and, as another poster said, the specialty restaurants on a mass market line cost far less than booking with Azamara. The itineraries have been brilliant, other than a Panama Canal transit in 2007 when the line was new. Being on a smaller ship that can navigate into small ports and having somebody plan late night and overnight stays is wonderful. However, we are mostly independent travelers on land, and OP likes the ship excursions. On our recent Japan intensive cruise, there was a lot of complaining about the excursions - the problem with visiting the lesser-known ports was a lack of nearby attractions, and people reported spending 2-4 hours on a bus for a one hour experience. I imagine that excursions in other places are quite good. My impression is that Azamara are still struggling to find an identity that matches the reality of their price structure. I hope I’m around when they get there and we can return.
  11. If we are flying to our cruise (almost always), we do carryon on the plane. I can check a bag for free, but I hate waiting at baggage claim (and a couple of times my bags haven’t been there). A 22” suitcase and a knapsack or purse carry everything that I need for my travels. I stick to 16 outer garments, so every top goes with every bottom. I can pack them into one large packing cube and a medium compression bag. Incidentals and unmentionables fill up the suitcase. The personal item holds my camera, jewelry, a change of underwear/socks in case I have to check the suitcase (weight issues on international carriers) and it gets lost or delayed, vitamins, wallet, etc. I never pack more than I can lift into the overhead bin on my own. My seatmate on a recent flight complimented me on my deadlift technique. 🤭 We usually arrive at the pier around 12:30, timing our arrival for when the rooms open up. We roll straight there, drop our bags and head to lunch. Afterwards we unpack and even get in a short nap before muster drill. We also do self-assist. We don’t book early flights, so absent a delay in disembarkation we wait until close to the end of the process. With immigration getting more efficient, it’s not long before we are curbside looking for our ride to the airport.
  12. We have purchased both the trio package and the first night at Tuscan Grill for 30% off. I am going on the assumption that, because I don’t actually have a reservation for the Trio, just a theoretical hold, I can move that to another evening once we’re onboard. If not, I’ll cancel it and use the OBC to book ala carte.
  13. It’s not a matter of adding the extension - they will rebook you at the prevailing rate for the cruisetour option. We did that for our September 2020 cruise - booked the cruise only and then decided to do the full trip. Fortunately the price hadn’t gone up. Many have said that it’s easy to DIY the extension for less money than X charge, but I think there’s a lot to be said for having somebody else put it all together and be my border collie. 🙂
  14. You are as well off as you were on Xpedition, if not better (newer ship, nicer accommodations, better food from what I’ve read). It’s sad to me that somebody else’s good fortune of being upgraded from an OV to a suite is viewed as a penalty to somebody who booked a suite and is being moved to another suite. Sometimes I pay for a BC or FC ticket and my seatmate shows up from the back of the plane just before we leave the gate, having been upgraded, most likely for free as a FF (and sometimes I’m that person being upgraded). It never bothers me that I paid for the seat and s/he didn’t.
  15. DH and I are travelling with a few other people in September 2020. I called the Xpedition desk today because one couple is currently booked on Deck 3. When I asked what was going to happen to them, the agent bobbed and weaved like Muhammed Ali. All she could say was, "We are not up to the cruise yet and I can't speculate on what might happen." Not exactly giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
  16. Celebrity also give cruise points for Captain's Club based on the level of accommodation. On RCI, a JS or higher with 2 people in it get 2 points/night. On Celebrity, a Sky Suite gets 8 points/night. The top suites get 12. And the top suites get a complimentary premium beverage package, minibar setup (replenished daily), two bottles of liquor and laundry. Yes. Zenith are allowed to use Michael's Club (now called the Suite Retreat on Edge and the updated ships). They are not entitled to dine in Luminae. There aren't nearly as many Zenith on X as there are Pinnacles on RCI, so I don't imagine that there's a lot of overcrowding in the lounge (there hasn't been when we've sailed in a suite). But Luminae can just barely handle the suite passengers, so adding frequent floaters would create a serious problem with service. Which we have seen in CK on more than one occasion.
  17. A three-meal package is $99 on Ovation in September. The UDP dropped from $199pp to $175 (7 nights). We probably WILL dine in the specialties most nights unless the menu at Coastal Kitchen looks good. And I'm not above ordering a sushi roll to go and enjoying it as my cocktail hour hors d'ouevre instead of the the usual CL offerings. 🙂 The least we've paid was $129pp on a 7-night cruise on Vision earlier this year. We used it every night except for one night at the Chef's Table, and at lunch on the three sea days.
  18. I, too, have been on a Princess ship when the call for blood donors went out. One thing they asked for was a donor card. Other than blood type and Rh, I don’t know what other information is on there. But I agree that it’s risky, but if I were the patient and it was questionable blood or die on the spot, I think I know which I would choose.
  19. CellarMasters had the same furniture as last year. There were a few public areas - Cafe al Bacio, Sushi on 5 and perhaps the Martini Bar (I don’t have any pictures from last year) that were shorted in the Revolution. Perhaps to distinguish the dinners, the one without Chef Boulud was called the Cellar Master’s dinner on the June 5 cruise (we were onboard). It was $279 per couple and included wine and gratuities. It was well worth the price of admission and they are still generous with the pourings. It’s in Tuscan Grill at a large table along the wall where the wine cellar used to be. I don’t think it’s a great location - I’m sure we were annoying other diners by the third course. Maybe even sooner, lol. I’ve just finished reading the entire thread - thanks for taking me back to a wonderful cruise! One thing I didn’t see much mention of was the entertainment. I have to say that it was outstanding in almost every way. I had stopped going to the evening shows on any line a few years back but made it to all but the second night on this cruise (that was our Cellar Master’s dinner). Every guest act but one was very good to amazing, and the two productions shows were also very good. The one that I walked out on was on the overnight in Bermuda. I suspect that CD Dan knew what he was doing when he scheduled her for that night. Around the ship, there was a guitar/singer duo that played almost every night in the Sunset Bar. We had AQ 1141 so only had to go out on our balcony to listen to them. And the house bands were also great. Ron, the singer in Cellar Masters, had an amazing book - I don’t believe I ever heard the same song twice in 11 nights. The orchestra is fabulous, more so considering that Celebrity have hacked their numbers to have only a trumpet and a sax on the wind side. The synthesizer made up for it, but to me there’s nothing like a live musician. I loved Summit and most of her revolution in the public areas. I thought that they made a mess of the AQ cabins - I liked the colors and the modern feel, but losing the multi-jet shower and the de-fogging mirror, having a single chair (we pulled in a balcony chair so we’d have two comfortable seats), installing a closet that can’t hold a long dress (even my long skirt hit the floor), having bedside lights that illuminate the entire room and having drapes that don’t close fully (about an inch short on either side) were all blunders as far as I’m concerned. Our oversized balcony was the saving grace - with two chairs and two loungers, it was a nice outdoor space with some shelter from the elements. Now if they could just reposition the movie speakers (or replace them with headsets)... I think that, along with tweaking the menus, they are changing the wine list. Cellar Masters was out of several on the current list, and in other bars they were showing wines that were never on the ship. But we managed to find plenty to keep us happy.
  20. I would avoid buying flowers online. We ordered some prior to our Summit cruise and what we received was about 1/2 of the blooms shown in the online catalog. When I called to report it, Guest Services sent somebody to look at them and refunded our money. I’ve had that happen on Celebrity and RCI, so will no longer order from them. Princess, on the other hand, still have a florist onboard their ships, and we have had some incredible arrangements, whether we order in advance or when we board.
  21. 3127 has replaced the private dining room with the wine cases. There’s a large table in Tuscan Grill where they had the Cellar Master’s dinner - not a particularly elegant location and I’m sure that by the third course we were annoying the people around us.
  22. Our aft AQ cabin on Summit had two lie-flat loungers and two upright chairs that reclined a little bit, along with a small table. But it is an oversized balcony - there wouldn’t be room for the loungers on any of the port or starboard side cabins. Notice that the Hansgrohe showers are no longer offered in AQ. There really is no “aqua” in Aquaclass, unless you count the two small bottles of water at boarding.
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