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Everything posted by loriva

  1. Lots of choices in vacation experiences. We have done both river cruises (Danube, Rhine, and Elbe and planning upper Danube and Douro) and ocean (lots of different cruise lines). With the increasing popularity of river cruises, it is not a guarantee you'll be able to walk immediately off the ship into town--we've also had to shuttle in some ports (Strasbourg on the Rhine, for example). Cabins are also much-more cozy and there are fewer choices of food, wine, and entertainment on the much-smaller river ships. Great information on the river boards on CC.com if you are not already following them. We had a wonderful time on our BI cruise with Regent. Part of it is simply the Regent experience--lovely large cabins, great service, lots of fun craft cocktails in the Meridian Lounge, tasty food, etc.. Having had some longish bus rides on our BI cruise, I made sure to do my research prior to the date we could reserve our shorex for our upcoming Med cruise on Splendor. If we really wanted to go somewhere, we signed up for it regardless of the distance from the port. For a port like Dubrovnik, we opted to stay close to experience the town itself. Private or DIY is also an option, although having paid for shorex in Regent's fare, I like to select at least one--even if just a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket. It's all your choice as long as you do the research to make informed decisions. Take care,
  2. Many--most--of the excursions on the BI itineraries seem to involve long bus rides with just a little time on site. There are simply long distances between where the ship can dock and the sites. Invergordon to Lochness was a prime example. If there is something you're really interested in do a search on Google Maps for the distances involved. We did not have the exact itinerary as you on our circumnavigation of the British Isles last September on Splendor, but here's what we did on the common ports: --Newcastle -- not on our itinerary --Edinburgh -- Missed due to the port being closed for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II --Invergordon -- Lochness and Urquhart Castle -- long bus ride, scenic but long --Kirkwall -- NORTH ORKNEY EXPLORATION -- Standing Stones interesting, scenic, but long bus ride --Stornoway -- not on our itinerary --Dun Laoghaire is the port for Dublin -- We did the Guiness Experience, then spent the rest of the day on our own going to Temple Bar, a cruise on the Liffey River, and visiting a historic pub. We took the commuter train (DART) from the Dublin Connolly stop back to the port. (IHalf of the ship's staff and crew were on our train--very easy to do.) --Belfast -- We booked the pubs tour (don't waste the money on the small group version--they were seated right next to us in the same pubs). On board we also obtained tickets for the Hop-on, Hop-off bus and used it to visit the Titanic Museum and then completed the circuit of the ccity, We had lunch at the St. George's market and then used the Regent-provided shuttle from City Hall to make our pub tour time. --Isle Of Man -- not on our itinerary --Ringaskiddy -- not on our itinerary --Portland -- We had booked the CORFE CASTLE & SCENIC DRIVE but cancelled it after the long bus rides we'd had in other ports (some of which are not on your itinerary). We took the Regent shuttle into Weymouth, walked around the beach, went to Marks and Spenser for our fix of British foods, and had lunch in a pub. The best excursion on our sailing was in a port not on your itinerary--Killybegs, Ireland. It was a long drive to reach the farm with the sheep dog demonstration, but the dogs were so cute--and it was fun seeing the handler put them through their paces. We also stopped for tea and scones in a historic pub on the way back to the ship. Hope this helps.
  3. DH and I have sailed with Regent twice (Explorer and Splendor) and Oceania (Riviera) once. All three were post-COVID. (Previous cruises were mass-market lines.) I'd throw in my two cents that the itinerary really matters on which cruise line we might prefer. We did a Caribbean itinerary for our first Regent cruise on Explorer in Dec 2021-Jan 2022 as well as our Oceania cruise (February 2023). Both sailed out of Terminal J in Miami, so we drove to each cruise--airfare not a factor. Since we had been to most of the ports previously, the shorex was not a big factor either. The included excursions on Regent were so-so--sometimes big buses and long drives. We booked our own on Oceania and enjoyed them. The Concierge-level suites on Regent were much larger than Oceania--415 sq. ft. versus 291--but I find the design and layout of both more than sufficient to our needs. The specialty dining on both (included in the fare on both) is very similar in my view--a steakhouse, an Italian, a French, and a pan-Pacific. (And the La Reserve experience on Oceania (an extra cost) was superb.) I found the experience much the same on both lines--although I did prefer Jacques to Chartreuse. I also give higher marks to the Terrace on Oceania--the choice at the grill is wonderful. We found service on both lines comparable--always friendly and professional. So on a Caribbean itinerary--where excursions were not really a factor--I'd say I preferred Oceania. (Price overall could not be a point of comparison between the two cruises as the Regent cruise was a "Hail Mary" after having three cruises with Regent cancelled due to COVID and having to find something to sail on to use our FCCs and the Oceania cruise was a Florida-residents special, so a very good price.) Our second Regent sailing was a British Isles itinerary. While I don't have an Oceania for direct comparison, I'd probably give Regent the nod on this one due to the included international Business air and ease of selecting shorex for the different ports (although I learned to check how far the sites to be visited are from where the ship docks). (On the included airfare, we could have probably gotten home earlier and with fewer self-paid hotel nights if we had booked independently. We had to wait three days until Regent had contracted seats with British Airways after Hurricane Nicole prevented our originally scheduled return to Florida.) We also just completed our first ocean voyage with Viking (the Homelands itinerary) and liked them very much for the ship, accommodations, food (not so much the included wine--but they have a very liberal BYOB policy), service, and excursions. They'll also be in our calculations going forward. I'm keeping a spreadsheet to compare costs and experiences, initially with the idea of selecting a new preferred line. At this point, however, we'll probably just keep with the idea of itinerary first--then finding one of our preferred lines that best suits our timing. It's nice to have choices even though I think we'll also start cutting back on cruising given the huge price increases we're seeing for 2024 and beyond--double in some cases.
  4. @AzulannThe CD is Richard Green and the GM is Daciano da Silva. When I heard about Viking doing Meet and Mingles again, I sent an email to the ship directed to the CD and GM. It was only 72 hours before our embarkation as the thread on this did not come up until it was almost time for our sailing. Sadly, I received no response. Hope your luck is better. We did the included walking tour in Copenhagen in the morning and the trip to Roskilde for the Viking Ship Museum and Cathedral in the afternoon. A long day, but both interesting--even for someone who had been to the sites previously (albeit over four decades ago!) Aalborg also turned out to be excellent and a charming small city. There was a wonderful brewpub (Sogaards) and found out the beer-tasting excursion Viking offers is offered by the pubs themselves. It is called the "Beer Walk" and you buy a tasting glass at one pub (Sogaards being one) and then you get vouchers for beers there and at other bars. It cost DKK 159 (U.S. $23ish) to Viking's $109. Aalborg is easy to walk around, no guide needed. Also, Aalborg has the Danish Emigration Archives that has historical documents for Danes who emigrated from Denmark in the late 1800s/early 1900s). The staff were very nice, but sadly, could not find records on my family (although I had names, birthdates and places, and the year they left Denmark). But if records do not exist, they cannot be found.
  5. Captain Larsen mentioned "gale-force winds" in his announcement prior to departing Aalborg. The technical definition of that is an "8" on the Beaufort Wind Force scale or 37 kt/43 mph/68 km/h. I guess we see why he substituted Aalborg for our scheduled Skagen. (Which is ironic as Aalborg was the port of call on our original itinerary--Viking switched it to Skagen last August.)
  6. Also onboard the Jupiter. At noon, the captain (Thomas Larsen) announced we would also be skipping Bornholm (Ronne) due to the high winds. He decided to sail directly to Warnemunde instead of having a third sea day in a row. We were estimated to arrive at 0900 hours, but the CD (Richard Green, who was confined to his cabin "under the weather" for the start of the cruise) just announced it would be around 0930 hours as we need to wait for another ship to clear our scheduled berth. We will overnight here. The excursions team did not lay on any extra excursions for our extra day. There is a shuttle that will run from the Warnemunde Cruise Terminal to St. Mary's Church (Marienkirken) at Lange Strasse approximately every 20 minutes. There is also an offer for a free beer at Restaurant Hopfenkeller from 1200-1700 hours. Not sure if that is every time a Viking ship is in port, or just today.
  7. Just checking the mattress in our stateroom on the Jupiter... The mattress itself appears to have a top layer of foam--rubber or something similar. We also have a nice, thick mattress pad. We did not ask for an extra topper--it is just as a comes. I'd also rate it as firm, but not hard. We've had no issues with the comfort.
  8. The staff talked as if it were to be shipwide. They also said rehearsals for the new shows had begun.
  9. An update to my original post from staff on Jupiter: --The ABBA Songbook will be folded into a show on the pool deck--a show to allow people to get up and dance. --The Beatles show folds into a classic rock show--50s, 60s, and 70s; Stones, Fleetwood Mac, others. --There will be a new show, Southern Sounds, which is country western. --A second new show will be show tunes--more of a traditional production show onboard cruises. Variety shows and guest entertainers will also continue.
  10. They announced on Jupiter that the ABBA Songbook is about to be removed from the Viking entertainment program. No word on what new is coming up. Will post if they make a similar announcement on The Beatles show.
  11. A quick note from the Viking Jupiter. Sweden has gone largely cash-free--even buying a pack of gum from a kiosk is done using a contactless credit card. So if you do wish to tip the guide and drivers in Swedish kroner, get the smallest amount possible. (And an off-topic item: The public transit system in Stockholm also now uses contactless credit cards for its ticketing. You don't buy a ticket but just present your CC at the turnstile or machine on the bus. If you are over 67 years old, you can go to the SL website and register your CC and obtain the senior fare. Incredibly easy!)
  12. @SempreMare -- I bought that same brand of oatcakes last September on a British Isles circumnavigation with another cruise line. I did like them. But will be in Seattle in July, so you'll need to share the name of the bakery when we see each other next week onboard the Jupiter! Enjoy Stockholm!!
  13. Thanks for this info! It worked for me (on Google Chrome). The Jupiter looks like it has beautiful weather today for its trip toward Stockholm (where we board on Monday!)
  14. We leave on the Viking Homelands cruise on Monday. My financial institution reimburses our ATM fees, so I always get a small amount of local currency wherever we land. (Pre-COVID, many small vendors and cafes did not accept credit cards, which also made having a small amount of "walking around" money useful.) Your bank or credit union may do the same and local currency (in a free-market economy) is always preferable.
  15. We had a wonderful time overall. The weather largely cooperated--chilly sometimes, but only rained a few times (Waterford had lots of rain and we had one port call cancelled due to high winds). We missed our scheduled initial port of Edinburgh as that was the day of the Queen's funeral. Went to Le Havre, France, instead--which was largely a bust since it was Sunday and most everything was closed. In Invergordon, we did Lochness and Urquhart Castle--the latter was interesting and also had a nice little cafe and gift shop. In Kirkwall, we did the Archeological Wonders--the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness--plus some nice scenery looking out over the sea. In Ullapool, we did the West Highlands Drive and wandered around the town--they have a gin distillery (Seven Crofts) and went into the factory shop. There was also a very well-known fish and chips place there where the lines were insane. My favorite shorex was in Killybegs--the sheepdog demonstration with a stop at a pub for tea afterwards. The scenery en route looks like the Ireland of your imagination. I also walked around the town--there was a nice store selling items from local artisans on Main Street. Killybegs also had the huge wind turbine blades in port waiting shipment--they are amazing. In Belfast we used the Hop On-Hop Off bus in the morning to visit the Titanic Museum and then circle around the city. Regent had a shuttle bus at City Hall, so we used it to go back to the ship after our lunch at the St. George's Market to be ready for the pub tour. (We did the regular versus the small group--and sat right next to the small group in the pubs. Not worth the extra cost, IMO.) We definitely want to go back to Belfast. In Dublin, we took the first departure of the Guiness tour, then walked from there to Temple Bar and along the River Liffey where we took a bost cruise (booked independently). Finally, we had a drink in a historic pub and then caught the commuter train from Pearse to Dun Laoghaire, where the ship was docked--an easy trip. Our port call at Holyhead was cancelled due to high winds. I took the walking tour in Waterford; DH did the Countryside Drive and Irish Pub--both were enjoyable. In Portland, we cancelled our booked Corfe Castle and Scenic Drive excursion and took the shuttle from port into town and just walked around. We learned a valuable lesson on that cruise--use Google Maps to see how far the site to be visited is from the port. Since we just picked from a list rather than planning excursions ourselves, it was easy to overlook this. Too many of our excursions ended up being more time sitting on a bus getting there than being there. There was beautiful scenery en route on many, but some ended up being the guide saying "if it was clear, you could see X on the left." That was why we ended up cancelling the shorex in Portland--couldn't take another long bus ride.
  16. The two websites mentioned--CruiseMapper and WhatsInPort--will give you basic information on the ports as well as how many other ships are scheduled to be in port the same day as yours. (For example, three other ships are scheduled to be in Venice the same day as Splendor according to CruiseMapper--although I've found its information to be less accurate than pre-pandemic.) They do not, however, tell you which specific dock a ship will be using in port. As @RELSmentioned, the best and most-accurate source of information on docking locations is the authority for the individual ports. For example, ships calling at Venice now sail into and out of Fusina port. We received this information from Regent as we'll be sailing out the day you disembark: "Situated approximately 12 miles/20 kilometers from Venice center, Fusina allows for more-convenient exploration of the City of Canals. While the ship is sailing from Fusina, all check-in procedures will take place at the Venice Cruise Terminal located in the city of Venice. Here, all guests must check their luggage and go through the routine check-in procedures. You will then be transported to the ship in Fusina port which is situated on the western shore of the Venetian Lagoon (an approximately 30 minutes’ drive)." Regent should have provided you with similar disembarkation information. The sailing schedule for this port may be found here: https://venezia.ilogis.it/riepiloghi/pages/riepilogoNavi/layout_riepilogoNavi.zul;jsessionid=FCB3E3FF00197775D05D6AA3DD1B74CB. It only lists a few days out, however. Fusina is relatively new at hosting cruise ships so does not have its own cruise ship schedule page on its website (https://www.terminalfusina.it/en) that I could find.
  17. We did the Regent transfer from Southampton to the Landmark in September 2022 after our British Isles cruise. I recall needing to be on the bus by 0830 hours and we were in London around 1100 hours (on a weekday). As @Techno123 noted, the Marylebone tube station is right behind the hotel (that is actually the side where the bus parks). You are a short walk from Baker Street, the Regent's Park, and the Marylebone high street. Lots of trendy restaurants in Marylebone as well. For more-casual fare, there is an Indian restarant, Mumtaz, we used to go to frequently when we lived in the neighborhood on Park Road just north of Baker Street, and an Egyptian restaurant, Shake Shuka, on Marylebone Road. There is a nice neighborhood pub two blocks away from the Landmark on Gloucester Place, the Alsop Arms, and another on Baker Street across from the southwest entrance to Regent's Park, the Volunteer. If you are in the mood for a walk, you can go through Regent's Park to the London Zoo and Primrose Hill for a view of London (also nice restaurants and pubs in that neighborhood). I'm not a fan of the Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street (he was fictional--no such thing as 221B Baker) nor Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, but they are also close by. (If you watched the Sherlock Holmes series with Benedict Cumberbatch, the restaurant in the Landmark was a filming location. They also used to serve a lovely high tea.) Finally, if you are a fan of The Beatles, there are a ton of relevant places in the neighborhood or close by. Abbey Road Studios is about a mile away (ride the upper deck of the bus on Abbey Road northbound for the iconic shot), Macca's house is at 9 Cavendish Avenue around the corner (you can reach both by walking or from the St. John's Woods tube station), The Beatles Apple store was at 94 Baker Street (there's a plaque on the building), and Paul and Linda were married at the old Marylebone Town Hall across Marylebone Road from the Landmark. If you are interested in the Beatles in London, Richard Porter has been guiding tours for over 30 years (https://beatlesinlondon.com/). We had a great time on a couple of his walks, one of which starts from the Marylebone tube station.
  18. What is the special feature night? Is that the same as the seafood buffet at the Pool Grill? Any idea when it will be on our cruise? For example, we leave Oslo at noon on 11 May--would that be a good guess on when it might be held? Or since we only have one sea day on our sailing, would it be an opportunity for a repeat of the soup buffet as we will be at sea for at least part of the lunchtime?
  19. Yes, the port agent is the local contact person for each port. For our cruise, the agent in Stockholm is European Cruise Service, +46 8 31 84 75, stockholm@europeancruise.no. ECS has agencies in several of our other ports, so they may service Viking in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Bergen as well. The agency is listed when you expand the section for the Jupiter at https://www.portsofstockholm.com/vessel-calls/. Then I did an internet search for ECS to find the contact information. (I was surprised the port agent and contact information was not included under the "Your Cruise Dock Location" heading on our final cruise docs.) Having never sailed VO before, I'm not sure about the listing in the Viking Daily. Port agent contact information was listed (along with the ship's phone number) in the Daily for our Viking River cruise last December. (I think they also had the information on a sheet of paper at the reception desk just as you left the ship--so you could snap a photo of it and go.) Of course, leaving an ocean vessel is different from a river ship. The information has been listed in the daily program of every other ocean cruise line we've sailed with. Many ships also have the information on the sign at the end of the gangway with the "all-aboard" times. So, I'm presuming VO will do something similar. But, I could be wrong!
  20. Or you could combine technologies and take a photo using your phone of that day's hours from the Daily. I do that with the ship's contact information and the port agent before leaving the ship as well. I used to search out that information for my trip document, but taking a photo is so much easier. And should be current as well.
  21. I found this on "The Points Guy" last year, but could not find it in a search just now. I found it very helpful using eSIMs for the first time on our UK and European trips last year. It sums up alot of the discussion in this thread in a simple to understand and use way--even for non-techie me! I've printed it out and carry it with me, then pull it out while waiting at baggage claim to switch over to the international eSIM. It has worked for me, but as always YMMV. The secret lies in the settings – Using eSIMs Once you're abroad, the first step is to make sure both of your SIM cards are activated and connected. On iPhones, you'll see two rows of network status bars in the top right-hand corner of the display, which indicates that you are connected to two networks. Going into settings and clicking through to the cellular tab will give you the details of your individual SIM cards. You'll want to make sure your primary (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) number and your international provider are listed as "on.” From there, you'll want to change the primary cellular data line to your international provider and turn off cellular data switching. By doing this, you're telling your iPhone to exclusively use data with your international provider, which will avoid any charges for internet access with your primary U.S. carrier. (If you want to be extra sure you're not charged for data from your U.S. provider, you can also turn off data roaming on your primary line by tapping on your phone number on the previous screen.) You can then change your default voice line to your international network, too. Now, you'll still be connected to both your international and your domestic phone numbers — but your outbound calls, texts, and data will be routed through your international provider. However, the beauty of dual SIM is that you'll still be connected to your domestic phone number in the background. You'll still receive phone calls and texts, but you won't be charged for a $10-a-day pass unless you answer them. Receiving calls and texts is free with AT&T and Verizon regardless of where you are, as confirmed to TPG by spokespersons for both carriers. Answering calls or texts will trigger a $10 pass, but if you leave them unanswered, you won't be charged any fees with your U.S. carrier. Now, sometimes you really need to answer an urgent call or text. To ensure you don't initiate a $10 international package, be sure to ignore the call and then return it using data, perhaps via FaceTime Audio or WhatsApp, which will use the internet access provided by your (cheaper) international provider. To be sure your WhatsApp calls will be free, put your phone in airplane mode with Wi-Fi on. Make your calls over Wi-Fi to eliminate your cell provider from the process. If you can't place the call using one of the internet calling options, then you can connect to Wi-Fi and use Wi-Fi calling to make your phone call. Look for the "AT&T Wi-Fi" or "VZW Wi-Fi" status in the network bar to confirm that you're connected to Wi-Fi before placing your call. (Wi-Fi calling to U.S. numbers is usually included with most domestic unlimited plans. Be sure to check the specifics of your package though.)
  22. Our AT&T plan allows us to receive SMS texts while overseas. It is only if we try to send a SMS text that triggers a charge (the $10/day International Pass charge in our case.) Not defending one plan or denigrating another, just stating our experience.
  23. During the past few months following the Viking board in advance of our first ocean cruise with Viking, I picked up the comment that "Port talks are at 1630 hours and lectures at 1845 (must finish by 2000 hours). Corporate policy to reduce rush times for tea and restaurants." Sounds like this no longer what people are experiencing?
  24. This is an important distinction using your cell phone (iPhone) overseas. As we learned on a couple of overseas trips in 2022. --Apple iMessages to another iPhone using show up as BLUE (your messages after you hit send) on your iPhone. --Messages on your iPhone to an Android or other phone are SMS and show up as GREEN. DH and I have a mixed marriage--I have an iPhone and he has an Android. We have both installed WhatsApp to communicate overseas without triggering charges on our AT&T plan. (Our home internet is with AT&T after cutting the cord from Spectrum. Will investigate T-Mobile when it is time for new phones. They also offer free MLB-TV with at least some plans, which would make DH happy.) I also found sometimes when using an eSIM from Airalo that it did not automatically connect to a local data provider or the connection dropped. So when I tried to use iMessage, my iPhone switched to cellular data instead. So suddenly what should have been an iMessage to another iPhone user (blue) went out as an SMS (green). Which, of course, triggered the $10 day International Pass charge from AT&T. I do not remember changing any of the settings on my iPhone (primary cellular data line to your international provider and turn off cellular data switching) and I'm not a tech person, so cannot really explain what happened--just know that it did. The "text" doesn't show up as blue or green until you send the message, of course, but the place where you type the message says "iMessage" when in that mode. So, now I know to check before sending--and then check settings to ensure my eSIM is connected to a local data provider.
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