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Everything posted by showingdiva

  1. Having been watching the ships come and go on the Solent live feed, which was available until recently, poor Arcadia is looking terrible (as is Aurora).
  2. Remember in the good old pre-covid days when we used to anticipate the 10am Tuesday "announcements"
  3. I was on Virtuosa a few weeks ago in the UK, my first experience of MSC. We also thought the dining packages were expensive, especially where the steak restaurants were involved, however, we did go to the Hola! cantina (also on Meraviglia), which was by far and away the best meal we had - the food in general was good, but Hola! was outstanding. The all you can eat price is amazing value.
  4. As others have said, accepting booking a Saver is a gamble. However, looking at Iona's deck plan, you've done better than the identical cabin on the other (starboard) side, which is opposite a launderette. Whether it's not a good location depends how much time you are planning to spend in the cabin, although I assume you want to enjoy the balcony. It will all probably be fine when you get on board, and it dawns you're on holiday, on a new ship and going somewhere warm. Enjoy.
  5. Cruise lines can only do so much - testing, insurance, mask wearing, hand washing / sanitising, visible and audible reminders - they aren't the police any more than supermarket security guards are. In the majority of cases, these passengers are grown ups, capable of making their own decisions and weighing up the overall risks. I can understand entirely why many people, both long-time cruisers and newly interested, would be horrified by the idea of taking a cruise at the moment. But to put all onus on cruise lines / crew when - at the time of that particular MSC cruise, the rate of infection was 1/70 in England and 1/45 in Scotland - is unrealistic, irrespective of the company involved.
  6. Having been on the following cruise to the one that's being alluded to (and having had a fantastic time), the majority of problems were created by passengers. Of course, for some, mask wearing is difficult thus making them exempt, but some very vocal passengers just refusing to wear them, ignoring any form of distancing or squeezing into lifts. Cases of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". Virtuosa, at the end of a day, is a 181,500t, 331m long ship with 12 restaurants. Cruise lines have made tremendous progress to allow holidays to re-start, but they were always going to have to rely to an extent on passengers to do their bit too, not least making a conscientious decision whether their health, age or logistics was worth a holiday, knowing that covid hasn't suddenly disappeared.
  7. The $30 PP is great value. I'm also teetotal, but having had a premium drinks package on MSC Virtuosa, between the mocktails, strawberry slushies and cans of fizzy juice, I could easily have made the PP offer viable had it been on a Princess ship. My only two regrets are that P&O don't offer something comparable for adults who don't drink alcohol, and that given their prices, Princess don't seem very keen on solo passengers.
  8. How did this affect those in the strange balcony cabins on Deck 8 on the starboard side?
  9. The worst hotel I have stayed in pre-cruise is the Ibis that sits at 90 degrees to the Novotel (which I did like in its pre-Andy Warhol decor days). The Ibis - and yes, I appreciate it's a budget hotel, and I did book it because everything else was full - the room needed painted, the lift wasn't working and the continental breakfast left so much to the imagination, we went to McDonalds across the road. The Grand Harbour (Leonardo / De Vere as was) was okay, but not, in my view worth the premium price. The Novotel is lovely and central for 106, 102 and 101. As mentioned above, I'm not so keen on the minimalist, multi-coloured decor they now have. PI West Quay is my favourite - great for shops, the Co-op next door for anything last minute (I don't drive to Southampton so cannot comment on any parking). As has been said in a previous comment above, you know what you're getting.
  10. Hotel Chocolat send a £5 voucher to use online or in the shop a few weeks before a birthday once signed in online. Had covid booster and flu jag yesterday (NHS front line).
  11. It's having something to look forward to, and the buzz of booking, selecting the cabin etc.
  12. I was on 7-11th. I sailed as a solo. Only took one mention that I wasn't ready to be sitting closely to strangers in restaurants - no problem, happy to oblige. I saw several people in the theatre being asked to put their masks on (originally hanging around their chin). If there are big queues at the bar / buffet .. walk away. No-one is going to starve / dehydrate for a little longer wait, MSC are coming under some amount of criticism on multiple social media. As I said on another thread - could they have done things differently in hindsight? Yes, they could. But some passengers also needed to take a look at their own actions. In the resumption of cruising, the cruise lines needed to have some faith in their customers to do their bit also. But, at the time I sailed - 1/70 in England and 1/45 in Scotland were testing positive for coronavirus. This virus doesn't disappear on the way up the air bridge to the ship.
  13. First and foremost, after 18 months of the stress and anxiety that everyone else around the world has encountered in some form ... it was a holiday. That it was on a cruise ship (any cruise ship) was an added bonus.
  14. Oh yes, you will quickly come to realise that you - and your fellow solo passengers on decks 2 and 3L - are in some of the best cabins on the ship. Quiet, central, great shower rooms. You are fortuitous to have class, luck and be on board Queen Mary 2.
  15. I disembarked Virtuosa in Southampton on the 11th September - my first experience of MSC Cruises except for working with MSC Meraviglia. To be clear, I work in the cruise industry (even today, was working with a lovely little expedition ship, like Virtuosa, brand new) and in a hospital emergency department. Sadly, as others have said above, people die on cruise ships. In a "normal" season, we see around three or four and countless ambulances for sick / injured. As for Virtuosa, yes, there were things that MSC could have done better, and having had a reply to feedback from them, they know that. I seem to have been fortunate not to have seen these "huge queues" at embarkation, disembarkation or on board the ship. In fact, reading some of the postings on here and on TA, I seem to have been on a different ship. The only irresponsible or rude behaviour I witnessed was by passengers. She has 10 restaurants, 21 bars and heaven knows how many lifts / staircases. Common sense dictates to come back at a less busy time or go to a different venue.
  16. Like the increasing number of "Vikings". I once worked on Star, Sky and Sun in the one week. My brain was frazzled by the end. Despite the many Vista hybrids, in my eyes, Arcadia will always be "the one". I am, though, thankful for the unique, wonderful Queen Mary 2.
  17. Yes, Virtuosa's is completely uncovered, but there again, she was built for the Mediterranean / Dubai before she was re-routed to do some UK cruises. Not sure about why Iona's is, given she's largely UK based. Maybe one design to fit all.
  18. Seems to be the done thing on the newer ships. The MSC Meraviglia class, including MSC Virtuosa, the walking / running / promenade is on deck 16.
  19. Have had a Deck 4 mid-ship sheltered balcony for a few days. My first choice on QM2 is a single ocean view, but have to say I really liked the sheltered cabin. Had absolutely no issues with it and was close proximity to everything including stairs and lifts. If a similar situation arose of not being able to get a single, would happily book a sheltered balcony again.
  20. I, too, returned from Virtuosa yesterday. Without writing a dissertation, I had a lovely time. Stand out points were the Hola! tapas restaurant. Wonderful lunch and friendly, attentive waiters. Couldn't fault it. The ship herself - beautiful. Positives The ship Hola! The strawberry slush that is the non-alcoholic element of the cocktails The daily light show in the shopping arcade Contactless lifts Negatives Having to shout to be heard in guest services over the music behind The minority of entitled passengers who don't believe rules apply to them for any reason (I'm not talking about medical exemptions). A lot of people are delighted to see cruising return, but we have to take some personal responsibility to help it. I certainly didn't have to queue at bars / restaurants - and if I had encountered it, would have walked away and come back later. Nor did I get into a crowded lift - again, as above, wait for quieter one. I wouldn't want to experience Virtuosa - or any other newer behemoth - at full capacity, but was delighted to have had the chance to sail on her before she goes on to the life that she was built for.
  21. I'm on Virtuosa at the moment, about to disembark in the morning. Had a test at embarkation and another yesterday. I've been temperature zapped every morning, sat very socially distanced at meal times and in the theatre, often been the only one in a lift. Staff serving in the Marketplace. I've had a fantastic time on a ship / cruise line I wouldn't ordinarily have considered. Definitely people who think they're a bit entitled and / or things don't apply to them. Am I immune to covid, despite being one of the first fully vaccinated? Nope. But I don't feel like that at work either (NHS), nor do I think I have an invincibility cape. Yes, some things need improved, from important things like protocols down to the trivial (cherry jam with scones .. really?), but thank you to the crew of the beautiful MSC Virtuosa, and safe journey on your travels after leaving the UK.
  22. From Scotland, Glasgow Central - Birmingham New Street (Avanti), then to Southampton Central (XC). If you can hold your nerve for an Advance Single (either standard or first) then you should get a decent deal (I've got booked for £81 one way). Do go down the day before. Scotland to Southampton by train is at least 6.5 hours). The stress isn't worth it on the day.
  23. Most of the major cruise lines that tour the British Isles stop in Invergordon (for Inverness), Lerwick (Shetland) and Kirkwall (Orkney). All three of these ports have a quayside. However, if your mom really wants to see the beauty of Scotland (I'm biased, living there!), you might want to have a look at Fred Olsen Cruises. Their 2022 itineraries covering these ports plus all the beautiful islands on the West Coast of Scotland, and of varying lengths, and conveniently from Southampton, Dover or Newcastle would give her the maximum experience.
  24. It means that due to her size and draught, she's unable to deviate from the course she is on and that other nearby shipping should bear in mind she cannot move out of their way.
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