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jimdee3636

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About jimdee3636

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Tucson, AZ
  • Interests
    Good food and wine, interesting conversations, gym workouts, exploring places on foot.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL, Silversea, Oceania, Princess

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  1. Tring: I live in Arizona. Although I have never been to Puerto Penasco (a/k/a Rocky Point), I've been to all of the other ports on the itinerary you're looking at, mainly on Holland America (HAL) cruises out of San Diego. My advice is NOT to try to get to Puerto Penasco using a rental car from either Tucson or Phoenix. It would be a lot more expensive than using the CMV shuttle from Phoenix (although I realize that's not cheap, either). Not only would you have to pay for a fairly lengthy rental period (for most of which the car would just be sitting in Puerto Penasco somewhere), but in order to take a car into Mexico from the U.S. you have to have a special Mexican insurance policy. If you don't have such a policy, the car can be confiscated if you're involved in an accident there or you're accused of a serious traffic violation. it would also be a good idea to get U.S. insurance on the car---it doesn't come automatically with the rental, and it usually costs at least $25 a day. Since you have relatives in Utah, why don't you just fly there, see your family for a few days, then take a short flight to San Diego and get on a 10-night "Sea of Cortez" round-trip cruise on HAL, or fly to L.A. and take a similar cruise on Princess or one of the other lines that sails regularly out of L.A. You'd of course have to spend a fair amount of time researching the embarkation dates and such, but I still think it would be better than trying to drive into Mexico. By the way, my impression of the various ports you're looking at is that they're all reasonably safe (by Mexican standards) during the daytime and in some cases at night, too. The one possible exception could be Topolobampo. If you don't do the very long Copper Canyon excursion, your only alternative (other than staying on the ship) is to take a shuttle bus to the nearby city of Los Mochis. My wife and I did that some years ago and we liked the place, but the city has intermittently been plagued by shootouts between rival drug cartels. Good luck. I really do think you'd love the Sea of Cortez if you do it right.
  2. Yes, most were British. On the QM2 sailing we were on, I'd estimate (based on the accents I heard all over the ship for 21 days) that only 20% or so of the guests were Americans or Canadians. U.K. guests were the biggest group onboard, but there were also a fair number of Germans, french, and Dutch. You're probably right that ballroom dancing is dying out among Americans, but it certainly seemed alive and well among the British and Europeans.
  3. Cruisemon: I disagree with you about the dancing. My wife and I just got off a 21-night cruise on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 (our first time on Cunard, although we're 4-star mariners on HAL), and every night the dance floors were jammed. The QM2 has two dance venues: the ballroom-dance Queen's Room and the disco/R&B G-32 Lounge. The Queen's Room boasts "the largest dance floor at sea," and I believe it. At least thirty couples could comfortably be accommodated on the floor at any one time. The G-32's floor was smaller, about the size of the typical HAL Ocean Bar floor, but still pretty big. As I said, both venues were packed every night until midnight or later. And the average age of the dancers was younger than on most HAL ships. I'm 71 and my wife is 66, and we were among the oldest dancers out there. Most were in their forties, fifties, and early sixties, but there were quite a few in their twenties and thirties. So, dancing on cruise ships isn't dead yet. However, I agree with you about sing-along piano bars. I hate them and if I ruled the world they would be banned!
  4. Mark: Since you've previously done QM2 crossings, I'm wondering if there are differences in demographics (age, nationality, etc.) between guests on crossings and guests on 7-night round-trip cruises like this one. I'm assuming there are fewer UK or European guests, but I could be wrong. Jim
  5. Mark: I apologize if you've said this already, but where is the ship heading to? It can't be a transatlantic because I'm getting on this coming Sunday (July 7) in Brooklyn to begin a 21-night transatlantic (with Reykjavik and Atlantic Canada on the return leg). Will you be staying on the ship for that cruise? Thanks. Jim
  6. Thanks for your excellent---and very positive---review. Like you, we are---or soon will be---QM2 first-timers (we board the ship on July 7 for a 21-night round-trip from New York), and like you we'll be doing late dining in the Britannia, so it's comforting to know that the overall experience is so good. And by the way, your English is hardly "horrible." I wish more of my fellow-Americans could express themselves so well!
  7. I just received a print catalog from Silversea ("Authentic Beauty...Let us Take You Closer") listing over 140 cruises from this summer into early 2021, and not one of them had a Venetian Society logo next to it (indicating a 5% discount). There was a reference to Venetian Society discounts on the back pages of the catalog ("Look for this icon..."), but, unless I'm going blind, I didn't see the logo anywhere else. My wife and I took three SS cruises in a two-year period (using Venetian Society discounts on two of them), but the last one was three years ago and I haven't been looking closely at SS since then. Have those discounts essentially disappeared?
  8. A quick P.S.: I love HAL and don't mean to single them out for criticism. In general, MDR and buffet coffees are bad on all cruise lines. My wife and I have been on three Silversea cruises (ultra-luxury, or so they claim), and I have had to do the same routine I do on HAL. Oceania has a wonderful coffee bar called Barista's (included in the cruise fare for all guests) that has the best espresso drinks I've ever had, but there, too, the MDR and buffet coffee is poor. The bottom line seems to be that there's good coffee somewhere on every ship, but you've got to figure out where it is.
  9. I've been on nine HAL cruises over the years. I'm also a lover of espresso and strong coffee (I have a Nespresso-brand espresso machine at home that I use every morning). If you truly like good coffee, you won't like what they serve in either the Lido or the MDR. What I do is stop at the Explorations Cafe on the way to breakfast and get my coffee beverage of choice and bring it with me to the table. Unless you have the beverage package, you'll have to pay for it but it's worth it.
  10. A follow-up: Taking the helpful advice of some of you, ten days ago I sent an e-mail to Oceania (with both my O-Club number and my wife's) and requested that they "reinstate" us, and then confirm to us that we're now listed as active in the system. The next day, I left a voice message asking for the same thing. To date, I have received no response. It's a basic marketing principle that it's easier and cheaper to retain existing customers than to try to reach out to new ones. It's also a basic principle that people have choices in how they spend their money, and that most people want to give their money to companies that appreciate their business (or at least those that pretend to appreciate their business). I hate to sound overly-dramatic, but Oceania makes me feel like a non-person. As paulchili said, I may be cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I don't relish the thought of booking another cruise with Oceania. OK, enough of my rant!
  11. Thanks for the info. That's at least better than nothing. I'll plan to buy newspapers on land whenever we're in port. But we have only six port days and two of them are in Reykjavik---not sure if they'll even have English-language papers there. Who knows---maybe I'll be happier not knowing what's going on outside the ship!
  12. My wife and I will be taking our first Cunard cruise next month (21-night NYC round trip via Southampton, Reykjavik, and Atlantic Canada). We've been on many Holland America cruises, and HAL ships always have free daily New York Times-based news summaries that can be delivered to your stateroom or picked up in many of the common areas. On HAL, the U.S. news summaries are 8 pages, and the English, Canadian, Australian, and foreign-language ones are all four pages. Does the QM2 offer anything similar? We disconnect completely from the internet when sailing and I'd hate to have to rely on TV news for three weeks!
  13. Thanks for the various thoughts. I'll probably just call O tomorrow and try to get them to "reinstate" me. I guess my problem is that I like doing business with companies that value my business, which has not been my experience with O for the past year. On the other hand, we took a thirty night cruise on HAL in February and March, and next month we're taking a 21-night cruise on the Queen Mary 2. Both HAL and Cunard have kept their names and their offerings in front of us regularly; in fact, we learned of the two cruises I mentioned from print catalogs that were mailed to us. With O, it's sort of been a case of out of sight/ out of mind. It's sad because I do like the ships, the cuisine, the whole ambiance. The marketing? Not so much.
  14. My wife and I have been on three Oceania cruises, two on the Marina, one on the Riviera. All the cruises were taken between 2016 and 2018, and all were between 12 and 16 nights. We enjoyed them very much and would like to take another one. We even bought 100 shares of NCL stock for added OBC on our next one. But Oceania sure isn't making it easy. Despite what its website says about the past-guest loyalty program, we have never received any of the benefits such as early notification of new itineraries, the O-Life magazine, or anything else they claim to offer. It's been at least nine months since we've received any catalogs or brochures from Oceania, in contrast to what must be weekly mailings from sister-line Regent (which we have never sailed on). Our contact information hasn't changed. Is this normal?
  15. I've had both beverage packages. In my opinion, the biggest difference between them is in the wines-by-the-glass offerings. My wife and I drink martinis or Manhattans before dinner in the Ocean Bar, and then a glass or two of wine each in the MDR (and occasionally an after-dinner drink). Even with the Signature (basic) package, we were always able to get our preferred brands of hard liquor (Tanqueray, Maker's Mark, Tito's), but we felt the wine choices were pretty weak with that package. Our most recent cruise was 30 nights on the Volendam, and we sprung for the Elite package solely because of the wines. It wasn't cheap but it was worth it to us. But if you're not much of a wine drinker you'll probably be perfectly happy with the Signature package.
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