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About mysticsailor

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  1. I agreed with you re the S Class being my favorite, until I sailed my first R Class ship, the Volendam, two years ago. Unfortunately sailing on the Veendam, S Class, Atlantic Adventurer* 2 years ago it seemed the public spaces were more crowded due to the additional staterooms added a few years back. Additionally, with the R Class ships having the extra elevator midship sure is a convenience and in my opinion more than makes up for any increased walking in ship size. All in all, even the largest HAL ships are almost starting to sound perfectly acceptable if/when cruising becomes safe again health wise. Our next cruise this October/November (becoming doubtful) was specifically chosen to ‘get out of Dodge’ while the political morass was climaxing leading up to the election. Now what shall I do to escape for those 6 weeks and a bit of peace during that social lapse of civility? * Atlantic Adventurer--- I so miss those Ft Lauderdale double T/A with no overseas flights! Time for another letter to corporate requesting a return of this very popular cruise! Care to join in?
  2. Ft L. To Europe are usually in the spring and Europe to Ft. L. in the fall. We've done 8 transatlantics and have seen rougher seas in the Med than the Atlantic. I wouldn't worry. Unfortunately the many deck lights interfere with star gazing, but you might get lucky with a full moon...gorgeous if not overcast.
  3. Carolyn has written a splendid accounting of our time spent in Norwegian ports. I thought it deserved it's own thread. You will find it titled Norway ports missing from MysticSailor thread yesterday, courtesy of sister Carolyn.
  4. a fellow CCr asker for specific information re Norway ports, any excursions, experiences we enjoyed there. My sister graciously agreed to relieve my cramped hands. Following is her own distinctive replay of our adventures in Norway. If you missed my review yesterday detailing ports in Scotland and Ireland see thread titled 'Norway & British Isles review Prinsendam 5/20-6/17' I am the sister MysticSailor referred to and he asked me to reply to your question about favorite ports in Norway. One favorite was Alesund, where we took a tour to the Trolls Road (Trollstigen) . We booked the tour privately through Norway Excursions ‘Fjiords to Trolls Tour.’ The trip on the mini bus was about 8 hours long, during which we passed through breathtaking and amazingly varied scenery seeing an abundance of snow cumulating in a vista unparalleled. Our tour guide was extremely informative, not only about the sights we were seeing, but gave us a lot of information about the people and culture of the country. The company tailors the tour times according to the ship arrivals and departures, and were very conscientious about us getting back prior to ship departure. We were picked up and delivered at the dock. The tour includes lunch and we felt it was extremely well priced for an excursion in Norway (8 hrs -$159). Another favorite port of mine was Geiranger. My brother and I took a hike up to a goat farm. I can't emphasize enough that if you are physically able, you should not miss the opportunity to take a hike while in Norway. We were told of 2 different routes to a goat farm up on the mountain, one easy, one hard. We set out and soon disagreed as to where the correct (easy) path was. We went the way I thought and, of course, it was the wrong (harder) one. Halfway up we were getting discouraged, partly because the slippery terrain was beginning to cause concern when our ship cruise director passed us coming down. “Don’t give up he intoned, you are 2/3 of the way there.” His encouragement gave us the impetus to carry on. Though many others were zipping by us with no problems, I had to stop and take many rest breaks. My brother had no trouble with the hike at all, but had to cajole, encourage, and nearly push me up part of it. For me the hike was challenging, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything; a challenge surmounted, a memory I treasure. There is also a bus available to take you up to the farm. If passing on the hike, a pleasant afternoon can be had by wandering beside a stunning waterfall and rushing stream that runs directly through town. Take a right onto the street at the end of the dock. The waterfall is a few hundred yards up a gentle grade. Arendal was a lovely port also. There is a very nice walk along the waterfront and the town is perfect for walking around. We stopped for a cappuccino and spent a wonderful day just soaking up the atmosphere. This was the place where we all looked in wonder at the cigarette butt my brother mentioned in the article. The town (as well as all of Norway) was impeccably clean. In Olso we took a Hop on-Hop off Bus tour. I particularly enjoyed the Viking Ship Museum and Veigland Sculpture Park where local the parks namesake created over one hundred giant sculptures of the human form. Sculptures are a highly respected art form in Norway and will be seen abundantly throughout the country. I can't say there were any one of our ports I was disappointed in. The fjiords were all and more than I had imagined!
  5. I have forwarded your questions to my sister, not a CC member, and she has agreed to answer your query. Check this thread in about 24 hours and I will have posted her insights and confident you will be satisfied with her response. This morning I spent 3 hours composing my review, her turn in the barrel, LOL.
  6. I applaud your initiative but you are mistaken. My response regards your earlier post not just the above quote. Those days on the door would be a reduction in income for servers, thus a demotion. Servers are compensated according to patrons served. A yum yum man works on a lower pay level. I was employed many years in the hospitality industry thus know of what I speak.
  7. We just had this occur last month. A steward came and got our hanging clothes but we were told in advance to have all loose items packed in our suitcases. Because our cruise was longer (many loose items) we cheated and threw a lot into the laundry baskets (we had several) folded clothes are returned in. The process went smoothly, you will be fine.
  8. Sorry everyone, I forgot to include in my review how much we enjoyed the Norway Flam Railway excursion, a bit pricey but well worth it. Speaking of pricy, if you do Norway be aware that their robust economy equates robust commodities. I paid $9 and a second time $10 for a cup of coffee and a dount in convenience stores. Just saying...
  9. Thank YOU Ruth for your many tidbits of HAL wisdom. I've learned so much from you; just trying to pass it forward. Tally-ho!
  10. You are correct Kazu. Twice that was how I successfully changed benefit status on cruises, both 2 to 3 star and 3 to 4 star. Incidentally the first time only happened because I was proactive. Second time the service desk told me they were ready to automatically process over a dozen passengers status at the end of the segment. Not much consistency with this issue apparently.
  11. You are welcome Kazu and again thanks for the recomendation of reserving the Canaletto in advance for the fjord cruising evenings, made special because of your kind suggestion.
  12. 2019 Travel Notes, 28 Day Prinsendam Cruise: Norway, Scotland & Ireland (sorry for any typos, got tired of typing, maybe not such a condensed review as planned!) Originally I had not planned to review these two cruises as the Prinsendam is no longer a HAL option. However I realized that many of the ports of call are still visited by other HAL ships so will post the following for those still considering a cruise to these splendid friendly English speaking countries. This was welcomed after so many visits to countries where English is a second language. You might initially argue that Norway is one of those. Later you will see why our experience there says, not so. Four of us, a mini family reunion of sorts, booked this adventure 16 months out which was just before the announcement of the Prinsendam leaving the fleet. Are we ever happy as both two week, back to back cruises, sold out months before embarkation. Fortunately we had direct flights from Orlando-Amsterdam and return. This was the first time we’ve booked tickets with HAL and we were satisfied with the air fare and transfers airport to ship. Before returning to Florida we decided to upgrade to more comfortable seating, which Delta botched for two of us in their computer system. All was forgiven when a short delay checking in at the terminal resolved everything. I could go on for several paragraphs heaping praise on the merits of the much smaller Prinsendam, our first cruise on her, but knowing that many/most of you long time HAL cruisers already sing her praises I’ll just give you my Readers Digest version. Loved the shorter commute distances; noticeably superior service in the Lido; the panoramic views from the Canaletto (thanks KAZU for the tip reserving there on fjord sailing days); proportionally larger library; the separated ½ bath in the Signature Suite and the Front Desk attendants with a ‘we can solve anything’ mind set. Oh my gosh, how could I forget: this ship had TWO yum yum men. Isn’t that unusual, or have I just had my head in the sand before? One was posted, as usual outside the main dining room but there was a second in the back entrance/exit of the Dining Room Annex which we had requested, enjoying quieter dining and improved scenery closer to the windows. Our only glitch was a stateroom noise issue which was solved promptly by switching us to accommodations in a higher category which had not been available when we originally booked. What prompted the change was a simple request for ear plugs. Not only did we get to enjoy the suite life as usual on our Vista Class ships, but without lightening our pockets. Sometimes you just get lucky! And now for the ports of call, once again a condensed version: NORWAY, May 20 - June 2 What wonderful friendly people they are, so pleasant with calm dispositions. We read in a guide book that they are among the happiest people of all countries. Amazingly they almost all spoke perfect English! I asked a coffee shop barista why it seemed like his lack of an accent made me think he was American? His answer was: "Every year of our schooling we are taught English along with our native language." Still it was freaking weird hearing him enouncing every syllable precisely like our English teachers back in the day I when I was enduring read'n, right'n 'n' rithmetic. Actually many Norwegians spoke better English than myself! Something else noticeable from day one: the public spaces, coffee shops, parks, stores, etc. are all populated with an equal number of men as women pushing baby strollers. Actually they are buggy’s, likely because the high sides keep the frigid winds off the infants. When we finally asked why so many men were caring for infants our answer was: In Norway it is mandatory for men as well as women to take time off from work to care for newborns and it is a paid leave. Mothers have 1st cycle home & then fathers care for the baby when the mothers return to work. Their economy, extreme socialism, is very successful; complete opposite as to what FOX news says re the evils ofsocialism. The Norwegian economy, oil based and nationally owned, is so successful that the national wealth fund, not national debt, if divided up between every citizen, would aprx.$1,000,000 each; impressed me! (according to our tour guide, not fact checked by me) Obviously socialism works for them. Also immediately evident: no litter on streets, alleys, anywhere; even in the large cities. To put it in perspective: at our second port of call I saw my sister staring at a spot in front of her on the sidewalk saying, “Look, a cigarette butt.” Immediately the other 3 of us circled around. Finally I said, “Do you realize what we are doing, looking at a butt on the sidewalk as if it is a meteorite from Mars?” That gives you an idea of how much Norwegians respect others space. One of our tour guides told us that nature is revered so much that all land, even privately owned, is considered public domain. Anyone hiking, and that is a big pastime in Norway, is allowed to cross any private property and freely partake of any natural food, fruits, berries, etc., along the walk. Also they are allowed to camp on your land, no questions asked, as long as they stay a respectful ‘x’ number of feet from the dwellings. Bottom line: Norwegians restored my faith in humanity! Wow! those fjords, such magnificent unspoiled beauty. We had been tipped off to dine in the Canaletto Restaurant with it’s 180 degree view back end of the ship on the 4 fjord cruising days. Several months in advance we had reserved the best table there on those evenings ensuring us really spectacular viewing. SCOTLAND, June 3 - 9 The National Botanical Garden in Edinburgh (a 25 minute train ride from the port, Rosyth) was the highlight for me, 60 acres of unparalleled flora and fauna, manicured, but not at all sterile looking. Walking the heavenly woodland area was better than the marijuana highs of my youth. I can only imagine how much it is enjoyed by the elemental kingdom; wee folk, fairies and such. My sister rented a car in three different ports so we could ‘get out of dodge’ into rural areas. I found that refreshing after so much time spent in port cities of the Mediterranean. Did I say refreshing? Driving on the wrong side of road; scary! Traffic Circles are abundant in the British Isles, some delineated only by a solidly painted disk on the road surface. If not astutely observant one would be upon/in it not prepared. A wonder we did not have an accident. Yes, we-got-honked-at! Once when trying to return our rental car to the agency at the port in Stornway we could not figure out how to weave through the confusing opposite traffic flow, so my sister asked me to query a driver leaving his parked bus. He started giving directions but then said, “ I will just get in your car and direct you until you get there.” I said, but how will you get back to your post?” He said, “Oh it’s not far, I’ll walk” Absolutely mind blowing how considerate the people in all the British Isles were toward us. I was blown away. IRELAND, June 10 - 17 We were expecting temperatures noticeably warmer than Norway but temperatures were much cooler than normal this spring. We even had snow one day on the ship approaching an Irish port. Global warming seems to have done a flip flop this year, at least spring wise, in northern Europe. We left the ship in Foynes, rented a car in Limerick, had an overnight stay in Kenmare (charming little town) and caught up with the ship the next day in Cork. Rural Ireland is rustic, serene, simply beautiful, and still unspoiled. Try and venture inland; we loved every minute of it. The highlights were a breathtaking mini van drive up, and a challenging walk the last few hundred feet, to the top of the majestic Sleive Cliffs (tour booked in advanced out of Kellybegs). These cliffs are on the Atlantic Ocean and recede inland meeting at the point of a ‘V”. This narrowing, with the ocean wind, becomes intensified exponentially as the ‘V’ closes. At this juncture a magnificent freak of nature allows folks to climb the last 100 feet or so to the top, but the wind now funneled, is almost hurricane strength. But the view! out of this world! looking down hundreds of feet and across to the cliffs on the other side of the ‘V’. Anyhow we are climbing the last 100 feet up and I’m occasionally blow over! Carolyn and I made it to a huge rock to sit on and looking back down we observed our cousin Judy, 90 pounds if soaking wet, being blown around like a ‘wind sock’ at an airport in a tropical storm. It was crazy funny. Yes she was safe, having left the stone steps, careening up the luxuriant grass hillside, flung hither and yawn, falling, laughing, clawing her way up. Priceless! One of those times in life better than any drugs! Was she ever in any danger? Not a bit. Born and raised on a Kansas farm Judy is as plucky as Dorothy in Oz and has an abundance of True Grit that John Wayne could have only dreamt of. Not a single bruise dared to show up on her limber body. In fact she said, “If we go back I’ll climb even farther including the crest Dead Man’s Path our guide warned us of.” As for myself, twice I had lost my dignity falling flat on my face. I asked my sister, "why the wind did not send you flying?” She replied, “Every time I started to fall I just squatted.’ And then I got it: My Virgo sister, once she squatted on her bodacious booty, mother nature had no choice but to flow around her as if she were a light house firmly anchored, challenging, “Bring it on.” A day later, we tentatively approached Healy Pass, a gut-tightening-precarious drive above an incredibly beautiful valley. I shall never forget it--still trembling, never to forget the many seemingly near mishaps plunging head first across the non existent guard rails into a beautiful long fall but nevertheless certain death. One noteworthy take away of Ireland was some regions of the populace resolutely holding onto the past Protestant Catholic War (‘The Troubles’ is their moniker) which lasted thirty plus years. Even though peace was made about 20 years ago they still have huge walls, reminiscent of the Berlin Wall, dividing neighborhoods. Gigantic political murals are prominent in a great deal of the most severely conflicted areas of Belfast. It’s almost as if they let it all go they fear loosing something of their heritage. My niece has a Disney movie wherein the lead character repeatedly sings, ‘Let it go.’ Guess the Irish did not see it. Don't miss the Titanic Museum close to the dock in Belfast. We misjudged the extent of it's fabulous displays and had to cut short our fascinating well spent time there. Although the museum was almost within spitting distance from our ship it was not walkable due to the dock configuration. A much better value than booking the HAL excursion was to take the shuttle into town and get on a city bus for the short 10 minute ride back to the museum. Easy peasy. GUERNSEY A British Commonwealth island, was an unexpectedly pleasant stop before ending our cruise in Amsterdam. After tendering ashore we got on a city sponsored tour bus at the end of the dock and enjoyed a 90 minute tour with commentary of the island for only 10 pounds; great value. In all of my European travels this trip stood out, as far as the welcoming from the populace. Possibly it was because we are all more so kindred spirits (English ancestry) but Norway refuted that. Perhaps their comradery results from living more rural in the north, isolated from the tribal elbow rubbing of the close quarters in mainland Europe. There are still lots of open spaces in the Green Isles; harder to come by in the intensely populated cities of mainland Europe. Would I like to go back? Yes, but right now we are catering to ‘our Italian Joe,’ fast approaching 80, so the four of us are looking at Northern Italy early October 2020. There we plan to spend 10 days in an iconic villa, returning to Florida on a 27 day cruise originating in Barcelona, shamelessly pacifying my cruise fix! c'est la vie, Chuck & Joe
  13. Yes, worked for us last Sept. But be sure and check they were applied correctly when back home. They had shorted us 2 cruise day credits
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