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DGF

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About DGF

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Toronto GTA, Canada
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Cunard- Grill Class, Silverseas Spirit, Crystal, & Oceania. Of the "Premium" cruise li
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    French Polynesian Islands
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    deanfeltham@rogers.com

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  1. [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]We are currently on the Celebrity Constellation, on our annual New Year’s Party cruise with our friends from Thornhill Canada, departed from Ft. Lauderdale December 31, and returning January 14, 2012[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Bad news first[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]1. We are in Sky Suite 6117. On our balcony, we are overlooking a life boat and rusted equipment, but with a clear view out to the sea. For those who can, recommend that you be more careful in the selection of your sky suite than we were. Having trouble with the fridge which expect staff will replace and Air conditioning could have a little more punch. Otherwise very nice small suite with service with Ioan, an excellent butler, and Estrella in charge of maintaining the suite in first class condition. [/SIZE][/FONT] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]2. Royal Caribbean liquor policy (now owners of Celebrity) are now enforcing the restrictions of limiting bringing alcohol on board, on a hit and miss basis, at beginning of cruise, only two bottles of wine per stateroom (champagne is a wine) is permitted and no alcohol/ beer being brought on broad during the cruise. Celebrity- we know you monitor Cruise Critic and I pass on to you the effect of this new policy. For us, you have just eliminated all Celebrity cruises where ports of call have interesting wines and beer that we have always brought on board for consumption in our stateroom. Fellow cruisers- Will report as we get into the cruise as to whether the ship implements this policy as we have already brought the problem to the attention of the appropriate ship officer [/FONT][/SIZE] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Good news:[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]1. The New Years Party on deck in a starlit night was very very good, as always, with free champagne, 2011 ice sculpture with the “1” knocked down and replaced with a “2” at midnight, and plenty of dancing and finger food[/SIZE][/FONT] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]2. Ocean Liners- we celebrated by having our New Years diner in the Ocean Liner restaurant. Note: the price is now increased to $40 per person. They also offer a four course meal with accompanying wine for each course for an extra $55 per person, which we did not partake. The service and presentation of the meal was exceptional and the quality of the food gourmet with the exception of the main course, in my case a filet that was very tender but dry and overcooked and my wife’s lobster which had an unusual presentation (not in the shell). RECOMMEND [/FONT][/SIZE] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Any questions on the Constellation please ask and will attempt to answer[/SIZE][/FONT]
  2. [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=black]Each year our small group (4-8) tries to be onboard a cruise ship for New Years Celebration. We have experienced wonderful party's on board Celebrity (on deck party having ice sculpture for past year and new year, breaking up of last year sculpture and into the pool, glass of champagne, band with dancing, noise makers. etc), and a dud on Holland America[/COLOR][COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana] [/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=black]Would anyone who has been onboard the Oasis Class ship please advise/ describe the celebrations they put on for New Years and how the handle the 5,000 plus passengers[/COLOR] [COLOR=black] [/COLOR] [COLOR=black]Thanks[/COLOR][COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana][/FONT][/COLOR] [/SIZE][/FONT]
  3. [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]After a successful back to back cruise- Jan 10 Barcelona to Dubai and Jan 24 Dubai to Dubai, have put together the following notes which hopefully will be helpful to fellow cruisers considering the same cruise/ ship:[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][I][COLOR=#1f497d]Note: [/COLOR][/I][/B][I][COLOR=#1f497d]Many of the sites, tour guides, etc mentioned in the following report have web links attached to provide you with details[/COLOR][/I][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]General comment[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- The [URL="http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/ships/class/ship/home.do;jsessionid=0000T9WUylqC92wwb1kIH69GMqM:12hdhubrs?br=R&shipClassCode=RD&shipCode=BR"][COLOR=#1f497d]Brilliance of the Seas[/COLOR][/URL] (Passenger Capacity: 2,114 double occupancy; 2,502 maximum) has been a pleasant surprise. The company has positioned themselves in the bottom tier (from a price point) of the “Premium Ships” (for the 21 day cruise, we paid $188/ per person per day, pricing which we have not seen for years) with add-on charges for almost everything- i.e. freshly squeezed orange juice, specialty coffees, soft drinks, bottled water, inflated wine prices/ excursions and prohibition on bringing on board any wine or alcohol; but have maintained very good food quality (although not the higher level of the Silversea, Crystal, Cunard Grill, or Oceania), reasonable caliber of entertainment in comfortable two level theatre with good sight lines, ship is attractively finished with very good social centres and very good service from staff. The décor in the Schooner Bar and Colony Room (with reasonable sized dance floor, band) is equal to a five star cruise ship. The multi deck Atrium/ Centrum (7 stories) was impressive, with the sound of the band and singers resonating upward from Deck 4- a memorable experience. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]However, the Ship suffers from:[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]i) insufficient staff on the Guest Relations Desk,[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]ii) not enough elevators (be prepared for waits) but on the plus side many of the elevators provided views of the Centrum and sea,[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]iii) a very small unstaffed inadequate library and[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]iv) lacking tech support staff for computers- not available until you push up the line to get required assistance and their lack of maintenance of the printers was noticeable- main printer on Deck 4 never did work for me and had to use printer on Deck 7[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Embarkation/ Disembarkation- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Went smoothly and quickly. We took the RCI transfer from the airport to the ship ($60) but took a taxi from the ship to the airport in Dubai, for two reasons- RCI transfer times were well in excess of what was required and cost- Taxi fare was only 70 dinars with tip[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [B][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.royalcaribbean.com/findacruise/cabinclass/cabinTypes/cabinType/home.do;jsessionid=0000T9WUylqC92wwb1kIH69GMqM:12hdhubrs?br=R&cabincls=D&cabinType=DS&shipCode=BR"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Our Junior suite 1578[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- Deck 10 - We were in a junior suite which was a notch or closer to two notches below a five star cruise ship in décor, linens (from time to time towels were coming apart and had hardly noticeable rust stains) and furnishings; but bed and furnishings were certainly comfortable enough and everything worked. Walk in closet was adequate for a 21 day cruise. The suite had two umbrellas (started with one but on request received a second). What was missing/ normally found in suites were i) bathrobes & slippers (Gayle asked Jessica our cabin stewardess who is one of the best we have had and received), ii) no access to concierge lounge which was miniscule in size compared to five star ships, iii) no in suite wireless web connection, iv) no coffee table enlarger to create a reasonable sized breakfast table. Had a pay as you use small bar fridge. Air conditioning worked well (quiet and kept the required temperature level).[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]A few Caveats[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]- [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]i) there is a huge overhang from the deck above which eliminates being able to lounge on the verandah sunning yourself or viewing the stars at night[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]ii) during the night we could hear noise from the deck above when staff were working in the area, which from time to time was disturbing,[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]iii) lighting system did not allow one to read in the sitting area and turn off all lights in the sleeping area which was partially screened with a drape that could be drawn part of the way,[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]iv) Inroom Breakfast menu options lacking resulting in us using the Windjammer for Breakfast and[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]v) the deck overhang had been recently scraped, not a proper clean up with paint chips left over the deck furniture and overhang never repainted. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B]Dining Experiences[/B]- Main Dining Room- Consisted of two floors, deck 4 being fixed dining and deck 5 open dining. There also is a separate dining area off the main dining room on Deck 4 called Zephyr which does not have the ambience of the main dining area. Nice comfortable furnishings and very good décor including a waterfall. We were in the centre of deck 4 and had no noise problems. We chose fixed dining since we like to have the same wait staff and get to know our fellow dining guests on the first leg which was mostly sea days. Our dining room waiter on the first leg (Paola Saa from Chile) was top quality and our table mates, two single ladies- Jane and Annie- were great therefore we always looked forward to dinner and conversation. We were fortunate again with our tablemates on the second leg, but due to scheduling did not join them for much of the cruise (We found the fixed dinner reservations at 6:00 PM not workable on the second leg. First seating was originally 6:30 PM when we booked many, many months ago but unfortunately was changed to 6:00 PM which just did not work for longer private land excursions).[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- [B]Windjammer café[/B]- Bright open dining room with sea views on deck 11. We were pleasantly surprised by the options and quality of the buffet offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At times was crowded but with a little work we could always find a table. Being able to sit outside (covered and uncovered), when the weather permitted, was a plus[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- [B]Seaview café[/B]- on deck 12. A pleasant retreat for snack foods, pizza, etc. where you could sit outside or inside; often used by the ships staff[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- [B]Latitudes[/B]- on deck 5. A specialty coffee house (Seattle’s Best) with extra charge for the specialty coffees; but pastries, which were very good, were free. Comfortable furnishings, nice décor. We often frequented.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]- [B]Alternative dining[/B]- For a fee, ship has two- Chops Grille (features steak and salmon)- [/COLOR][COLOR=red]$25.00/ person[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] and Portofino (Italian)- [/COLOR][COLOR=red]$20.00/ person (?).[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] We tried out Chops where the service was great but the food did not justify the additional price (steaks in a specialty restaurant should be properly aged and require little assistance from a knife to eat) and cancelled our future reservations for both. Dean tried their steak that could also be ordered in the main dining room for an additional charge but same result.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- Ship lacked the “High Tea” found on other ships[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Fitness Facilities- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]On Deck 12[B]. [/B]Thought this facility was appropriate to be next for comment. Dean found the exercise equipment more than adequate and the jogging track good which can be expanded by walking around the complete deck. Unfortunately on too many days wind made the walking uncomfortable. For group activities, one could partake with the crew in sports (volleyball, basket ball) on the Sports court. There was also a golf simulator. We did not partake in the Spa facilities so can’t comment; although one of our table mates did and was pleased[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]- On Deck 13, Rock climbing wall. One day Dean will have the nerve to try this [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Bar experiences[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- We were again pleasantly surprised with the options, comfort and décor of each. We were pre warned about the pricing (If you would like a copy of the current bar menus with pricing, drop us a note at [EMAIL="deangayle@rogers.com"][COLOR=#1f497d]deangayle@rogers.com[/COLOR][/EMAIL] and we can provide). To mention a few[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Champagne Bar on deck 6 with nice views of the sea[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Viking Crown Lounge on deck 13 with panoramic views in the day and turns into dance club at night. Nice spot to retreat and read during day at sea[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Lobby Bar on deck 4[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Schooner Bar on deck 6 with a very pleasant décor[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Colony Club with dance floor, band [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Theatres[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- Two level production theatre on deck 5 & 6 with comfortable furnishings and good sight lines. Quality of entertainment is always a personal matter but we found the orchestra very good, ship’s dancers and singers performance mixed, and special entertainment from good to very good. Again, given the ships price point, more than adequate. Reportedly also had a movie theatre which we did not use[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Fun options-[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d] On Deck 13, putting green, rock climbing and on deck 6 two billiard tables that have special levelers to keep table on even keel[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Casino- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Rather than the standard two for one payout on black jack they paid out only 6 for five. This change in the odds to create an extra ship profit, quickly eliminated Dean’s blackjack table play after noticing. On Formal nights the Casino was non smoking[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Pools[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- again more than adequate, one kids’ pool with slides, one outside pool with whirlpools, and one inside pool called the Solarium which turned out to be a favourite for us given the unexpectedly cooler weather for much of the trip and ability to use for snacks and light lunches[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Children Facilities[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- We never took part but noted: i) on Deck 12, Teen Disco, Adventure Ocean, Adventure Beach ( pool with a slide which Dean would have loved to experience but was often closed due to cool weather)[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Internet- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Two areas where computers and printers available- Deck 4 and Deck 7. Several hot spots for Wi Fi throughout the ship. Connection at times was slow. You can purchase packages which were good for both Dean’s laptop and on ship’s computers. If you want the current rates, drop us a note at [EMAIL="deangayle@rogers.com"]deangayle@rogers.com[/EMAIL] [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Visas[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- RCI completely dropped the ball on the new requirements for visas for Canadians- Crown and Anchor telephone staff had no, limited, conflicting and at times wrong information. Caveat- on the Dubai to Dubai leg of the cruise, you need two visas per person, one for entry and departure from Dubai, and a second for leaving UAE to enter Oman and returning back to Abu Dhabi, UAE. I noted that on the first leg of the cruise on board ship staff were arranging for the missing second visas. Costs per visas was different based on who you were dealing with. [/COLOR][COLOR=#009900]Ours cost $100/ person x 4= $400[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] given we needed to obtain the visas on an emergency basis. Otherwise would have cost $75/ person. We successfully got our visas thru:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Prejit Sebastian [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Senior Project Executive - Cruises [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Arabian Adventures [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]T: + 971 4 303 4771 [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]F: + 971 4 343 2251 [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]M: + 971 50 6500206[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=#1f497d]E: [/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][EMAIL="prejit.sebastian@emirates.com"][COLOR=#1f497d]prejit.sebastian@emirates.com[/COLOR][/EMAIL][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]One of our fellow cruisers ended up having to fly into Dubai, go directly to the UAE Immigration, and after several back and forth taxi trips was issued the required two visas. A gamble that paid off[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Caveat[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]- Double check the visas they send you by e-mail. Initially for the second visa they copied the first visa rather than provide the required second visa with different permit number; which ship noted and Prejit’s staff quickly had corrected [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Ship Personnel[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- A big difference between the five star cruise lines and the premium four star cruise lines was that on the five star lines, you never passed a crew member without him/ her greeting you, and a real effort was made to learn and call you by your name. Much to our pleasant surprise, the Brilliance of the Seas staff has adopted the five star cruise line approach. Well done Brilliance of the Seas[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [U][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]SHORE EXCURSIONS[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/U] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]We try to always arrange private tours as it allows us to meet the people, go to the restaurants the locals use, cover more ground, and stop to take pictures when we want to stop[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Accordingly, Janice Meade, one of our group, took on the task of arranging most of the following private tours (thank you Janice- a job well done):[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Alexandria- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Ramses Travel Group of Egypt. [URL="http://www.ramsestours.com/"][COLOR=#1f497d]www.ramsestours.com[/COLOR][/URL]; Email:info@ramsestours.com. Full day tour with van and Egyptologist Guide. Cost for group of 7- [/COLOR][COLOR=#009900]Cost: $85.00/ person[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]. Target tour, which was too ambitious and weather (rain) did not co operate so cut the tour short:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/alromthe.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Kom el Dikka (Roman Amphitheatre)[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR] [U][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://phouka.com/tr/egypt/photos/alexandria/bird-01.html"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Villa of the Birds[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR][/U] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/alpompey.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Pompeii’s Pillar[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR] [U][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/komelshuqafa.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Kom al Shaqqafa (Catacombs)[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR][/U] [U][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/algraec.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Graeco- Roman Museum[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] (Alexandria Museum) including the gardens for the statues[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/U] [U][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/fortqaitbey.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Quaitbey Fort[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] for exterior photo op rather than to enter the fort [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/U] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/alexandria-library-bibliotheca-alexandrina"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Bibliotheca Alexandria (Alexandria Library)[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] for a quick photo op and tour. [I]Would have liked to have spent more time here- i.e. 1.5- 2 hrs[/I][/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Jewelry_Museum"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Royal Jewelry Museum[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] to view the former palace in which the museum is located[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Drive along Alexandria’s Corniche, stopping off to enjoy a coffee/drink at a location the locals use- [I]Never Did/did not have the time[/I][/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Summer palace of King Farouk incl Montaza Gardens- Not in bloom but would be beautiful in spring/ summer [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.touregypt.net/almosabu.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d]Abu al- Abbas al-Mursi Mosque[/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR] [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://goafrica.about.com/od/egypttopattractions/ig/Alexandria--Egypt/Attarine-Souq--Antique-Bazaar-.htm"][COLOR=#1f497d]Attarine Souk (Antique Bazaar)[/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR] to walk thru some of the narrow streets to get a flavor as well as possible purchases- [I]Never did as it was raining and muddy[/I][/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Drive thru of Modern Alexandria with photo stops as desired- [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Lunch at the [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.fishmarketva.com/"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Fish Market[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] Restaurant overlooking the water [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Conclusion- Recommend Ramses[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Aqaba for Petra- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Petra Nights Tours- www. Petranights.com; e-mail [EMAIL="sales@pntours.com"][COLOR=#1f497d]sales@pntours.com[/COLOR][/EMAIL]. [/COLOR][COLOR=#009900]Cost $188/ person[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]. Tour with comments:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Picked up in a comfortable van for six with driver with good English: Mazin Al-dgamash, P.O. Box 2184, Aquaba, Telephone 962 777 863440 Fax 962 3 2013283; mobile 962 79 5 502946[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Paved good roads all the way with many silent policemen.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Extremely windy and very cold in stop off on way to Petra. We were not properly dressed. Should have taken a sweater and Fall jacket. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Met at the Petra parking lot by our guide: Mohammed Farajat, e-mail- [/SIZE][/FONT][EMAIL="mofarajat@hotmail.com"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]mofarajat@hotmail.com[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/EMAIL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] or [/SIZE][/FONT][EMAIL="mofarajat@yahoo.com"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]mofarajat@yahoo.com[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/EMAIL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]. Excellent. Will try to use for our planned returned trip to Jordan. Advised that one needs three days to thoroughly visit Petra= we need another three nights, two days for Petra. He suggested we need 7 days to visit all of the sites in Jordan[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Tour included taking horses from the parking/shops area to Siq. We declined due to Gayle’s back[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Walked to Petra, developed by the Nabataeans, down hill with guide to Siq, thru Siq to Treasury which is now not open for entry. Then took a tour down the Streets of Façade (rows of Nabataean tombs whith carvings in various state of ruins) thru the Theatre (also not in good shape), past the hill to the right in which are carved many dignitaries tombs, one of which is the Palace Tomb (is open for entry), down the Collonaded Street which previously led thru the city centre reported having a population of 30,000. Street was formerly flanked by temples, public buildings and shops. Marble pavement in spots is still visible; past the Qasr al-Bint two storey free standing structure, the only one still standing. Had lunch included in the tour in the Al-Anbat Restaurant with passable food. Across the street next to the Museum is a Crown plaza restaurant which looked much more inviting. Museum is of interest to spend a short time. Guide left us before lunch. We could have taken a donkey or walked the 800 some steps to the Monastery but left this for the next trip. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]We casually returned walking up a gradual slope thru city of Petra and the Siq to the shops where we arrived around 5:00 PM and back to ship. Note: in addition to horses, one can take a return ride on a two seat horse drawn buggy with driver. Cost not known[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Comment: A must see site, but in DF’s opinion did not live up to expectations. Some of our party who have been to Ephesus in Turkey said Petra is not as good as Ephesus. We plan to go back and spend 1-2 days doing a tour in more depth. Have mixed feelings on Petra Nights Tours as a result of their policy of asking for full payment up front [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Safaga[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- Bedouin Desert Camp excursion. Memphis Tours, E-mail- [EMAIL="marwa.amer@memphistours.net"][COLOR=#1f497d]marwa.amer@memphistours.net[/COLOR][/EMAIL]. [/COLOR][COLOR=#009900]Cost US$65/ person[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]. Tour with comments:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]Memphis Tour representative picked us up in port by ship in land Rover, [/COLOR][COLOR=red]but with uncomfortable bench seats rather than standard seats[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]. Drove to Hurghada which is a resort town with a large enclosed mall shopping centre. Tour leader collected the money and left us with driver[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Bumpy ride thru the desert with several stops for pictures and one where Ernie and Dean walk up a steep hill and down the other side thru deep sands. Wished we had a sled to slide down the sand dunes[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]On to a Bedouin village. Occupied by approx 60 villagers, but was not truly a Bedouin Camp- Permanent structures rather than traditional tents woven from sheep/ camel hair. Guide who took us thru the village had poor English showing us their thatched homes in which the Bedouins lived. Took a camel ride (short walk), saw a makeshift museum and a small zoo of local wildlife. Some of the other tour operators had arranged for dune buggy rides thru the desert sands. We just had hot tea, three hot dog buns with cream cheese for lunch and became antsy with our Memphis guide at the village.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]Day was salvaged by [B]Abduol Ahmed[/B], employed by the “Bedouin Services”, [/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]Hurghada[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] - mobile 002 0128597682 who was an excellent guide with excellent English (self taught). He was a young man from Luxor, told us about his life, arranged marriage by mother- was shown picture, met wife to be with family, woman and man said yes or no to marriage, then spent a managed year of engagement and then were married. They were a young couple with a son, living in Hurghada, with plans to return to Luxor in three plus years. He provided us with details on the Bedouin life- Houses, food, education (children are family taught, did not go to school), religion, culture. All men were required to join the army for three years but other than that were not a part of Egyptian society (no taxes and no services provided)[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]No sunset nor stars as was a cloudy sunset, but on return thru the dessert at night had a bright moon[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Drove down to a enclosed wall entertainment area where “served” a buffet dinner (everyman for himself as insufficient food for all). Entertainment was a belly dancer, a whirling dervish, and some other skilled entertainers.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Extremely windy/ cold and DF glad he had brought sweater with fall coat. Gayle and rest of the group were cold. Returned thru the desert in the dark to the highway and back to the ship for a light dinner in the Windjammer Restaurant[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=#1f497d]Comment:If had known then what we know now, DF would skip as was not an authentic Bedouin Village. For anyone who goes, bring warm clothes/ dress/ in layers, have tour include dune buggy excursion into the desert, and insist on having an English speaking guide while in camp. Start out earlier, to allow for a couple of hours to visit [/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]Hurghada[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]. [/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Dubai[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- First day- Dean & Gayle had a business meeting with a local rep for a Canadian company, having lunch in a local Lebanese restaurant and viewing the [URL="http://www.jumeirah.com/hotels-and-resorts/destinations/dubai/madinat-jumeirah/Madinat-Souk/"][COLOR=#1f497d]Souk Madinat Jumeriah[/COLOR][/URL], [URL="http://www.malloftheemirates.com/moe/Default.aspx"][COLOR=#1f497d]Mall of the Emirates[/COLOR][/URL] with aquarium & ski slopes, and [URL="http://www.thedubaimall.com/en/section/visit"][COLOR=#1f497d]Dubai Mall[/COLOR][/URL] seeing the [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_GQYI9brGs"][COLOR=#1f497d]Dubai Fountain[/COLOR][/URL]; all from a local’s perspective. Excellent day and all sites a must see[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Fujairah- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Today we took the ships 5 hr tour- [B]East Coast Tour - FG03- [/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#009900][B]Cost- $50/ person[/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][B]. “[/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]The lush, fertile landscape of the United Arab Emirates is yours to discover during this memorable tour of the scenic East Coast. Depart via motor coach for a scenic drive along the East Coast of the UAE, a region characterized by excellent beaches, the rugged Hajar Mountain range and lush green expanses. Photo stops will be made at the [URL="http://travel.mapsofworld.com/uae/fujairah-tourist-attractions/fujairah-fort.html"][COLOR=blue]Fujairah Fort[/COLOR][/URL], [URL="http://www.uaeinteract.com/culture/b.asp"][COLOR=blue]Oasis in Bithna[/COLOR][/URL] and the [URL="http://www.rakpedia.com/sightseeing/masafi.html"][COLOR=blue]Masafi Pass[/COLOR][/URL][COLOR=blue].[/COLOR] Visit the Friday Market and Dibba plus photo stop at the [URL="http://fujairahinfocus.blogspot.com/2009/08/visit-al-bidya-mosquethe-oldest-worship.html"][COLOR=blue]Bidya Mosque[/COLOR][/URL] before returning to the ship.”[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Comment: Was the least impressive port stop and if we had known then what we know now would have stayed on board the ship for a relaxing day. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Muscat[/COLOR][/B][B][COLOR=#1f497d], Oman- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d][B]Day 1- Mark Tours[B]- [/B][/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][EMAIL="ashok@marktoursoman.com"][COLOR=#1f497d]ashok@marktoursoman.com[/COLOR][/EMAIL]; [/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.mark-oman.com/"][COLOR=#1f497d]www.mark-oman.com[/COLOR][/URL]. Tour “[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]Inspiring Interior” Duration :- 8 Hours[B][I].[/I] [/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#009900][B]Cost- $55/ person[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Took free shuttle from ship to pier gate and tour guide waiting- Hisham al Khakhalili, mobile 096899813823.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]First stop was [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.rainbowtours.co.uk/index.php?id=763"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Nizwa Souk[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] which is in a large building broken up into specialty areas located in front of the Nizwa Fort[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Nizwa Fort where we spent too much time falling behind in the schedule.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Had a traditional lunch in a private room, eating on mats on the floor, in Bin Ateeq Restaurant for Omani Foods (a memorable experience)[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Then quickly drove on to the Jabrin Fort [B]([/B]also called Jabrin Castle- Palace of Imam Bilarab bin Sultan)and returned to the port around 6:45 PM. Sites missed were:[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Walking old Nizwa[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahla"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Bahla[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3], for pottery and town for its cultural value is on the Unesco’s list of heritage monuments[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Muscat[/COLOR][/B][B][COLOR=#1f497d], Oman-[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d][B]Day 2- Mark Tours.[/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] Tour: [B]“Mystic Muscat” - [/B]Muscat City Tour [B](Full-Day). [/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#009900][B]Cost- $53/ person.[/B][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] Tour started at 9:00 AM. Duration :- 7 Hours [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Took free shuttle from ship to pier gate and tour guide with comfortable van and driver waiting [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]The tour started with a visit of the [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://everythingspossible.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/the-sultan-qaboos-grand-mosque-muscat%C2%A0oman/"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Grand Mosque[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] (located in the old port area). A must see[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]Fish and vegetable markets in Muttrah. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuJGyQ96xTk"][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Muttrah souq[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]A drive past the Corniche and to the capital area for a photo stop at the [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oman-Muscat-16-Sultans-Palace-2.JPG"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=blue]Sultan’s Palace[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] flanked by the 16th Century Portuguese forts of Jalali and Mirani.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.baitalzubairmuseum.com/1000.htm"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Bait Al Zubair Museum[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] for a fine display of Omani culture and history.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][U][COLOR=#1f497d]Local[/COLOR][/U][COLOR=#1f497d] restaurant for lunch. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]After lunch, to [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/66653/Qantab-beach-Muscat-Oman-truly-1"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Qantab beach[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] via the fishing villages of Sidab & Haramel and past Omans’ premium hotel, the [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/muscat-albustanpalace"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Al Bustan Palace hotel[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]. Continue the drive to Qantab Beach.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Modern shopping complex zone in Al Qurum.[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Drive along the embassy area and then on to the Corniche. [/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Comment- Recommend Mark Tours[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Abu Dhabi[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- Today we struck out on our own, having purchased combo tickets on the [URL="http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/abudhabi/default.aspx"]Big Bus Company[/URL], a hop on and hop off two decker bus with top deck open for a tour of the Island City, with English commentary. [/COLOR][COLOR=#009900]Single day- $55.00, Combo two cities- $95/ person. [/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d]One day was not enough to visit the City in any detail; we limited our time available to:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][URL="http://www.visitabudhabi.ae/en/what.to.do/mosques.and.other.places.of.worship/sh.zayed.mosque.aspx"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] [COLOR=#1f497d](a must see).[/COLOR] [/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3][B]·[/B][/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][URL="http://www.abudhabi-mall.com/"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Abu Dhabi Mall [/SIZE][/FONT][/URL] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d][B]Doing several round trips on the bus tour[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Comment: We have extensive notes with maps on the Big Bus routing and stops. If you would like a copy please ask [/SIZE][/FONT][EMAIL="deangayle@rogers.com"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]deangayle@rogers.com[/SIZE][/FONT][/EMAIL][/COLOR] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Dubai[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- Second Day- We again headed out on our own on the [URL="http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/dubai/custompage.aspx?id=dubai_sightseeing_tour&gclid="]Big Bus[/URL] doing both the Red Tour and Blue Tour routes, with English commentary, and finished off the day with a pleasant Dhow Cruise included in the ticket. We stopped off at:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=#1f497d]Jumeirah[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d] Public Beach[/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d], walking up the beach/ road to and visiting [URL="http://www.jumeirah.com/hotels-and-resorts/destinations/dubai/jumeirah-beach-hotel/"]Jumeriah Beach Hotel[/URL][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Walked on to the entrance gate to the all suites [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.jumeirah.com/hotels-and-resorts/destinations/dubai/burj-al-arab/"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Burj al Arab hotel[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] (one day hope to win the lottery and stay here for the experience)[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Symbol][SIZE=3]·[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Walked on to the [/SIZE][/FONT][URL="http://www.jumeirah.com/hotels-and-resorts/destinations/dubai/madinat-jumeirah/Madinat-Souk/"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Souk Madinat Jumeirah[/SIZE][/FONT][/URL][SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman] (a must see) and Gayle did some shopping while Dean relaxed with Cafe Latte at Seattle’s Best Coffee[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Comment: From the first day, it became apparent that we should have stayed on in Dubai after the cruise for another two- three days; as there is so much to see and do. We have extensive notes with maps on the Big Bus routing in Dubai and stops. If you would like a copy please ask [/SIZE][/FONT][EMAIL="deangayle@rogers.com"][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]deangayle@rogers.com[/SIZE][/FONT][/EMAIL][/COLOR] [COLOR=#1f497d][SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]OTHER EXCITING EVENTS[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Suez Canal-[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Unfortunately the ship entered the canal at night and we did not see a good part of the canal[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Pirates- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]On the way to Dubai, passing thru the troubled waters, the ship advised the passengers of special procedures to follow if we encountered a problem, and we picked up a naval escort for several days at sea[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [COLOR=#1f497d][SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]CONCLUSION[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Brilliance of the Seas[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- Extremely good value, but their alcohol policy will be the killer for us since we like to sample local wines and bring them on board (not applicable to this cruise since no local wines to sample). Otherwise recommend the ship but would stay away from cabins with the deck above overhangs that block out the sun and stars while sitting on the balcony.[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][B][COLOR=#1f497d]Timing[/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]- We found the weather much cooler than expected and would choose a different time of the year for the leg of the cruise which takes you thru the Suez Canal to Aqaba/Petra and Safaga.[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE] [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][B][COLOR=#1f497d]UAE Amazing development- [/COLOR][/B][COLOR=#1f497d]Abu Dhabi and in particular Dubai are two amazing cities, given that not too long ago they were deserts inhabited by fishing villages and Bedouins. When oil was discovered, the rulers with great wisdom ploughed back the oil revenues into the intra structure, free medical, and free education (kindergarten thru University) and developed modern cities with imaginative architecture while creating an attractive business climate to allow diversification/ avoid an economy relying on oil. Dubai, for example reports that only 6% of their revenues are now generated from oil revenues[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]
  4. After a successful back to back cruise- Jan 10 Barcelona to Dubai and Jan 24 Dubai to Dubai, have put together the following notes which hopefully will be helpful to fellow cruisers considering the same cruise/ ship: Note: Many of the sites, tour guides, etc mentioned in the following report have web links attached to provide you with details General comment- The Brilliance of the Seas (Passenger Capacity: 2,114 double occupancy; 2,502 maximum) has been a pleasant surprise. The company has positioned themselves in the bottom tier (from a price point) of the “Premium Ships” (for the 21 day cruise, we paid $188/ per person per day, pricing which we have not seen for years) with add-on charges for almost everything- i.e. freshly squeezed orange juice, specialty coffees, soft drinks, bottled water, inflated wine prices/ excursions and prohibition on bringing on board any wine or alcohol; but have maintained very good food quality (although not the higher level of the Silversea, Crystal, Cunard Grill, or Oceania), reasonable caliber of entertainment in comfortable two level theatre with good sight lines, ship is attractively finished with very good social centres and very good service from staff. The décor in the Schooner Bar and Colony Room (with reasonable sized dance floor, band) is equal to a five star cruise ship. The multi deck Atrium/ Centrum (7 stories) was impressive, with the sound of the band and singers resonating upward from Deck 4- a memorable experience. However, the Ship suffers from: i) insufficient staff on the Guest Relations Desk, ii) not enough elevators (be prepared for waits) but on the plus side many of the elevators provided views of the Centrum and sea, iii) a very small unstaffed inadequate library and iv) lacking tech support staff for computers- not available until you push up the line to get required assistance and their lack of maintenance of the printers was noticeable- main printer on Deck 4 never did work for me and had to use printer on Deck 7 Embarkation/ Disembarkation- Went smoothly and quickly. We took the RCI transfer from the airport to the ship ($60) but took a taxi from the ship to the airport in Dubai, for two reasons- RCI transfer times were well in excess of what was required and cost- Taxi fare was only 70 dinars with tip Our Junior suite 1578- Deck 10 - We were in a junior suite which was a notch or closer to two notches below a five star cruise ship in décor, linens (from time to time towels were coming apart and had hardly noticeable rust stains) and furnishings; but bed and furnishings were certainly comfortable enough and everything worked. Walk in closet was adequate for a 21 day cruise. The suite had two umbrellas (started with one but on request received a second). What was missing/ normally found in suites were i) bathrobes & slippers (Gayle asked Jessica our cabin stewardess who is one of the best we have had and received), ii) no access to concierge lounge which was miniscule in size compared to five star ships, iii) no in suite wireless web connection, iv) no coffee table enlarger to create a reasonable sized breakfast table. Had a pay as you use small bar fridge. Air conditioning worked well (quiet and kept the required temperature level). A few Caveats- i) there is a huge overhang from the deck above which eliminates being able to lounge on the verandah sunning yourself or viewing the stars at night ii) during the night we could hear noise from the deck above when staff were working in the area, which from time to time was disturbing, iii) lighting system did not allow one to read in the sitting area and turn off all lights in the sleeping area which was partially screened with a drape that could be drawn part of the way, iv) Inroom Breakfast menu options lacking resulting in us using the Windjammer for Breakfast and v) the deck overhang had been recently scraped, not a proper clean up with paint chips left over the deck furniture and overhang never repainted. Dining Experiences- Main Dining Room- Consisted of two floors, deck 4 being fixed dining and deck 5 open dining. There also is a separate dining area off the main dining room on Deck 4 called Zephyr which does not have the ambience of the main dining area. Nice comfortable furnishings and very good décor including a waterfall. We were in the centre of deck 4 and had no noise problems. We chose fixed dining since we like to have the same wait staff and get to know our fellow dining guests on the first leg which was mostly sea days. Our dining room waiter on the first leg (Paola Saa from Chile) was top quality and our table mates, two single ladies- Jane and Annie- were great therefore we always looked forward to dinner and conversation. We were fortunate again with our tablemates on the second leg, but due to scheduling did not join them for much of the cruise (We found the fixed dinner reservations at 6:00 PM not workable on the second leg. First seating was originally 6:30 PM when we booked many, many months ago but unfortunately was changed to 6:00 PM which just did not work for longer private land excursions). - Windjammer café- Bright open dining room with sea views on deck 11. We were pleasantly surprised by the options and quality of the buffet offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At times was crowded but with a little work we could always find a table. Being able to sit outside (covered and uncovered), when the weather permitted, was a plus - Seaview café- on deck 12. A pleasant retreat for snack foods, pizza, etc. where you could sit outside or inside; often used by the ships staff - Latitudes- on deck 5. A specialty coffee house (Seattle’s Best) with extra charge for the specialty coffees; but pastries, which were very good, were free. Comfortable furnishings, nice décor. We often frequented. - Alternative dining- For a fee, ship has two- Chops Grille (features steak and salmon)- $25.00/ person and Portofino (Italian)- $20.00/ person (?). We tried out Chops where the service was great but the food did not justify the additional price (steaks in a specialty restaurant should be properly aged and require little assistance from a knife to eat) and cancelled our future reservations for both. Dean tried their steak that could also be ordered in the main dining room for an additional charge but same result. - Ship lacked the “High Tea” found on other ships Fitness Facilities- On Deck 12. Thought this facility was appropriate to be next for comment. Dean found the exercise equipment more than adequate and the jogging track good which can be expanded by walking around the complete deck. Unfortunately on too many days wind made the walking uncomfortable. For group activities, one could partake with the crew in sports (volleyball, basket ball) on the Sports court. There was also a golf simulator. We did not partake in the Spa facilities so can’t comment; although one of our table mates did and was pleased - On Deck 13, Rock climbing wall. One day Dean will have the nerve to try this Bar experiences- We were again pleasantly surprised with the options, comfort and décor of each. We were pre warned about the pricing (If you would like a copy of the current bar menus with pricing, drop us a note at deangayle@rogers.com and we can provide). To mention a few · Champagne Bar on deck 6 with nice views of the sea · Viking Crown Lounge on deck 13 with panoramic views in the day and turns into dance club at night. Nice spot to retreat and read during day at sea · Lobby Bar on deck 4 · Schooner Bar on deck 6 with a very pleasant décor · Colony Club with dance floor, band Theatres- Two level production theatre on deck 5 & 6 with comfortable furnishings and good sight lines. Quality of entertainment is always a personal matter but we found the orchestra very good, ship’s dancers and singers performance mixed, and special entertainment from good to very good. Again, given the ships price point, more than adequate. Reportedly also had a movie theatre which we did not use Fun options- On Deck 13, putting green, rock climbing and on deck 6 two billiard tables that have special levelers to keep table on even keel Casino- Rather than the standard two for one payout on black jack they paid out only 6 for five. This change in the odds to create an extra ship profit, quickly eliminated Dean’s blackjack table play after noticing. On Formal nights the Casino was non smoking Pools- again more than adequate, one kids’ pool with slides, one outside pool with whirlpools, and one inside pool called the Solarium which turned out to be a favourite for us given the unexpectedly cooler weather for much of the trip and ability to use for snacks and light lunches Children Facilities- We never took part but noted: i) on Deck 12, Teen Disco, Adventure Ocean, Adventure Beach ( pool with a slide which Dean would have loved to experience but was often closed due to cool weather) Internet- Two areas where computers and printers available- Deck 4 and Deck 7. Several hot spots for Wi Fi throughout the ship. Connection at times was slow. You can purchase packages which were good for both Dean’s laptop and on ship’s computers. If you want the current rates, drop us a note at deangayle@rogers.com Visas- RCI completely dropped the ball on the new requirements for visas for Canadians- Crown and Anchor telephone staff had no, limited, conflicting and at times wrong information. Caveat- on the Dubai to Dubai leg of the cruise, you need two visas per person, one for entry and departure from Dubai, and a second for leaving UAE to enter Oman and returning back to Abu Dhabi, UAE. I noted that on the first leg of the cruise on board ship staff were arranging for the missing second visas. Costs per visas was different based on who you were dealing with. Ours cost $100/ person x 4= $400 given we needed to obtain the visas on an emergency basis. Otherwise would have cost $75/ person. We successfully got our visas thru: Prejit Sebastian Senior Project Executive - Cruises Arabian Adventures T: + 971 4 303 4771 F: + 971 4 343 2251 M: + 971 50 6500206 E: prejit.sebastian@emirates.com One of our fellow cruisers ended up having to fly into Dubai, go directly to the UAE Immigration, and after several back and forth taxi trips was issued the required two visas. A gamble that paid off Caveat- Double check the visas they send you by e-mail. Initially for the second visa they copied the first visa rather than provide the required second visa with different permit number; which ship noted and Prejit’s staff quickly had corrected Ship Personnel- A big difference between the five star cruise lines and the premium four star cruise lines was that on the five star lines, you never passed a crew member without him/ her greeting you, and a real effort was made to learn and call you by your name. Much to our pleasant surprise, the Brilliance of the Seas staff has adopted the five star cruise line approach. Well done Brilliance of the Seas SHORE EXCURSIONS We try to always arrange private tours as it allows us to meet the people, go to the restaurants the locals use, cover more ground, and stop to take pictures when we want to stop Accordingly, Janice Meade, one of our group, took on the task of arranging most of the following private tours (thank you Janice- a job well done): Alexandria- Ramses Travel Group of Egypt. www.ramsestours.com; Email:info@ramsestours.com. Full day tour with van and Egyptologist Guide. Cost for group of 7- Cost: $85.00/ person. Target tour, which was too ambitious and weather (rain) did not co operate so cut the tour short: · Kom el Dikka (Roman Amphitheatre) · Villa of the Birds · Pompeii’s Pillar · Kom al Shaqqafa (Catacombs) · Graeco- Roman Museum (Alexandria Museum) including the gardens for the statues · Quaitbey Fort for exterior photo op rather than to enter the fort · Bibliotheca Alexandria (Alexandria Library) for a quick photo op and tour. Would have liked to have spent more time here- i.e. 1.5- 2 hrs · Royal Jewelry Museum to view the former palace in which the museum is located · Drive along Alexandria’s Corniche, stopping off to enjoy a coffee/drink at a location the locals use- Never Did/did not have the time · Summer palace of King Farouk incl Montaza Gardens- Not in bloom but would be beautiful in spring/ summer · Abu al- Abbas al-Mursi Mosque · Attarine Souk (Antique Bazaar) to walk thru some of the narrow streets to get a flavor as well as possible purchases- Never did as it was raining and muddy · Drive thru of Modern Alexandria with photo stops as desired- · Lunch at the Fish Market Restaurant overlooking the water Conclusion- Recommend Ramses Aqaba for Petra- Petra Nights Tours- www. Petranights.com; e-mail sales@pntours.com. Cost $188/ person. Tour with comments: · Picked up in a comfortable van for six with driver with good English: Mazin Al-dgamash, P.O. Box 2184, Aquaba, Telephone 962 777 863440 Fax 962 3 2013283; mobile 962 79 5 502946 · Paved good roads all the way with many silent policemen. · Extremely windy and very cold in stop off on way to Petra. We were not properly dressed. Should have taken a sweater and Fall jacket. · Met at the Petra parking lot by our guide: Mohammed Farajat, e-mail- mofarajat@hotmail.com or mofarajat@yahoo.com. Excellent. Will try to use for our planned returned trip to Jordan. Advised that one needs three days to thoroughly visit Petra= we need another three nights, two days for Petra. He suggested we need 7 days to visit all of the sites in Jordan · Tour included taking horses from the parking/shops area to Siq. We declined due to Gayle’s back · Walked to Petra, developed by the Nabataeans, down hill with guide to Siq, thru Siq to Treasury which is now not open for entry. Then took a tour down the Streets of Façade (rows of Nabataean tombs whith carvings in various state of ruins) thru the Theatre (also not in good shape), past the hill to the right in which are carved many dignitaries tombs, one of which is the Palace Tomb (is open for entry), down the Collonaded Street which previously led thru the city centre reported having a population of 30,000. Street was formerly flanked by temples, public buildings and shops. Marble pavement in spots is still visible; past the Qasr al-Bint two storey free standing structure, the only one still standing. Had lunch included in the tour in the Al-Anbat Restaurant with passable food. Across the street next to the Museum is a Crown plaza restaurant which looked much more inviting. Museum is of interest to spend a short time. Guide left us before lunch. We could have taken a donkey or walked the 800 some steps to the Monastery but left this for the next trip. · We casually returned walking up a gradual slope thru city of Petra and the Siq to the shops where we arrived around 5:00 PM and back to ship. Note: in addition to horses, one can take a return ride on a two seat horse drawn buggy with driver. Cost not known Comment: A must see site, but in DF’s opinion did not live up to expectations. Some of our party who have been to Ephesus in Turkey said Petra is not as good as Ephesus. We plan to go back and spend 1-2 days doing a tour in more depth. Have mixed feelings on Petra Nights Tours as a result of their policy of asking for full payment up front Safaga- Bedouin Desert Camp excursion. Memphis Tours, E-mail- marwa.amer@memphistours.net. Cost US$65/ person. Tour with comments: · Memphis Tour representative picked us up in port by ship in land Rover, but with uncomfortable bench seats rather than standard seats. Drove to Hurghada which is a resort town with a large enclosed mall shopping centre. Tour leader collected the money and left us with driver · Bumpy ride thru the desert with several stops for pictures and one where Ernie and Dean walk up a steep hill and down the other side thru deep sands. Wished we had a sled to slide down the sand dunes · On to a Bedouin village. Occupied by approx 60 villagers, but was not truly a Bedouin Camp- Permanent structures rather than traditional tents woven from sheep/ camel hair. Guide who took us thru the village had poor English showing us their thatched homes in which the Bedouins lived. Took a camel ride (short walk), saw a makeshift museum and a small zoo of local wildlife. Some of the other tour operators had arranged for dune buggy rides thru the desert sands. We just had hot tea, three hot dog buns with cream cheese for lunch and became antsy with our Memphis guide at the village. · Day was salvaged by Abduol Ahmed, employed by the “Bedouin Services”, Hurghada - mobile 002 0128597682 who was an excellent guide with excellent English (self taught). He was a young man from Luxor, told us about his life, arranged marriage by mother- was shown picture, met wife to be with family, woman and man said yes or no to marriage, then spent a managed year of engagement and then were married. They were a young couple with a son, living in Hurghada, with plans to return to Luxor in three plus years. He provided us with details on the Bedouin life- Houses, food, education (children are family taught, did not go to school), religion, culture. All men were required to join the army for three years but other than that were not a part of Egyptian society (no taxes and no services provided) · No sunset nor stars as was a cloudy sunset, but on return thru the dessert at night had a bright moon · Drove down to a enclosed wall entertainment area where “served” a buffet dinner (everyman for himself as insufficient food for all). Entertainment was a belly dancer, a whirling dervish, and some other skilled entertainers. · Extremely windy/ cold and DF glad he had brought sweater with fall coat. Gayle and rest of the group were cold. Returned thru the desert in the dark to the highway and back to the ship for a light dinner in the Windjammer Restaurant Comment:If had known then what we know now, DF would skip as was not an authentic Bedouin Village. For anyone who goes, bring warm clothes/ dress/ in layers, have tour include dune buggy excursion into the desert, and insist on having an English speaking guide while in camp. Start out earlier, to allow for a couple of hours to visit Hurghada. Dubai- First day- Dean & Gayle had a business meeting with a local rep for a Canadian company, having lunch in a local Lebanese restaurant and viewing the Souk Madinat Jumeriah, Mall of the Emirates with aquarium & ski slopes, and Dubai Mall seeing the ; all from a local’s perspective. Excellent day and all sites a must see Fujairah- Today we took the ships 5 hr tour- East Coast Tour - FG03- Cost- $50/ person. “The lush, fertile landscape of the United Arab Emirates is yours to discover during this memorable tour of the scenic East Coast. Depart via motor coach for a scenic drive along the East Coast of the UAE, a region characterized by excellent beaches, the rugged Hajar Mountain range and lush green expanses. Photo stops will be made at the Fujairah Fort, Oasis in Bithna and the Masafi Pass. Visit the Friday Market and Dibba plus photo stop at the Bidya Mosque before returning to the ship.” Comment: Was the least impressive port stop and if we had known then what we know now would have stayed on board the ship for a relaxing day. Muscat, Oman- Day 1- Mark Tours- ashok@marktoursoman.com; www.mark-oman.com. Tour “Inspiring Interior” Duration :- 8 Hours. Cost- $55/ person Took free shuttle from ship to pier gate and tour guide waiting- Hisham al Khakhalili, mobile 096899813823. · First stop was Nizwa Souk which is in a large building broken up into specialty areas located in front of the Nizwa Fort · Nizwa Fort where we spent too much time falling behind in the schedule. · Had a traditional lunch in a private room, eating on mats on the floor, in Bin Ateeq Restaurant for Omani Foods (a memorable experience) · Then quickly drove on to the Jabrin Fort (also called Jabrin Castle- Palace of Imam Bilarab bin Sultan)and returned to the port around 6:45 PM. Sites missed were: · Walking old Nizwa · Bahla, for pottery and town for its cultural value is on the Unesco’s list of heritage monuments Muscat, Oman- Day 2- Mark Tours. Tour: “Mystic Muscat” - Muscat City Tour (Full-Day). Cost- $53/ person. Tour started at 9:00 AM. Duration :- 7 Hours Took free shuttle from ship to pier gate and tour guide with comfortable van and driver waiting · The tour started with a visit of the Grand Mosque (located in the old port area). A must see · Fish and vegetable markets in Muttrah. · · A drive past the Corniche and to the capital area for a photo stop at the Sultan’sPalace flanked by the 16th Century Portuguese forts of Jalali and Mirani. · Bait Al Zubair Museum for a fine display of Omani culture and history. · Local restaurant for lunch. · After lunch, to Qantab beach via the fishing villages of Sidab & Haramel and past Omans’ premium hotel, the Al Bustan Palace hotel. Continue the drive to Qantab Beach. · Modern shopping complex zone in Al Qurum. · Drive along the embassy area and then on to the Corniche. Comment- Recommend Mark Tours Abu Dhabi- Today we struck out on our own, having purchased combo tickets on the Big Bus Company, a hop on and hop off two decker bus with top deck open for a tour of the Island City, with English commentary. Single day- $55.00, Combo two cities- $95/ person. One day was not enough to visit the City in any detail; we limited our time available to: · Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (a must see). · Abu Dhabi Mall · Doing several round trips on the bus tour Comment: We have extensive notes with maps on the Big Bus routing and stops. If you would like a copy please ask deangayle@rogers.com Dubai- Second Day- We again headed out on our own on the Big Bus doing both the Red Tour and Blue Tour routes, with English commentary, and finished off the day with a pleasant Dhow Cruise included in the ticket. We stopped off at: · Jumeirah Public Beach, walking up the beach/ road to and visiting Jumeriah Beach Hotel · Walked on to the entrance gate to the all suites Burj al Arab hotel (one day hope to win the lottery and stay here for the experience) · Walked on to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah (a must see) and Gayle did some shopping while Dean relaxed with Cafe Latte at Seattle’s Best Coffee Comment: From the first day, it became apparent that we should have stayed on in Dubai after the cruise for another two- three days; as there is so much to see and do. We have extensive notes with maps on the Big Bus routing in Dubai and stops. If you would like a copy please ask deangayle@rogers.com OTHER EXCITING EVENTS Suez Canal- Unfortunately the ship entered the canal at night and we did not see a good part of the canal Pirates- On the way to Dubai, passing thru the troubled waters, the ship advised the passengers of special procedures to follow if we encountered a problem, and we picked up a naval escort for several days at sea CONCLUSION Brilliance of the Seas- Extremely good value, but their alcohol policy will be the killer for us since we like to sample local wines and bring them on board (not applicable to this cruise since no local wines to sample). Otherwise recommend the ship but would stay away from cabins with the deck above overhangs that block out the sun and stars while sitting on the balcony. Timing- We found the weather much cooler than expected and would choose a different time of the year for the leg of the cruise which takes you thru the Suez Canal to Aqaba/Petra and Safaga. UAE Amazing development- Abu Dhabi and in particular Dubai are two amazing cities, given that not too long ago they were deserts inhabited by fishing villages and Bedouins. When oil was discovered, the rulers with great wisdom ploughed back the oil revenues into the intra structure, free medical, and free education (kindergarten thru University) and developed modern cities with imaginative architecture while creating an attractive business climate to allow diversification/ avoid an economy relying on oil. Dubai, for example reports that only 6% of their revenues are now generated from oil revenues
  5. Thursday, October 21, 2010 Well not really live from the ship but we are on our way with great expectations!!. We (Gayle and Dean) hope our detail daily reports will be helpful to fellow cruise critic cruisers and we will try to fill them with as many facts as possible, and keep the opinion to a minimum- latter quite a challenge for Dean J Some background- How one views the enjoyment of what they see and are doing is often determined by one’s background. We are active Canadian Seniors from Toronto GTA, occupation- small family owned shopping centre developer (a difficult industry for small fish to survive in, one of high risk and hard knocks), who have travelled a lot but still have a big Bucket list to go. This is our first cruise with Silversea, having experienced 22 previous cruises, ranging from the lowest deck outside cabin (RCI Legend of the Seas) to Queen’s Grill (Queen Mary 2) and dress codes from casual (River Cruising) thru Country Club attire (Oceania) to being dressed to the nine (Cunard Queen Mary 2). We have been on ships where the dining room food was sometimes cold/ not very appetizing and sent back to the kitchen several times (HAL- Maasdam) to good/ very food (Princess- former Tahitian Princess to mention one) to gourmet (Cunard- Queens & Princess Grill; Crystal Symphony; and you will likely be surprised by this one Oceania- Insignia). We are always looking for value but from time to time splurge. We are trying to experience as many of the cruise lines as possible- Seaborne, Regent, Europa, RCI floating resort to go. List of ships we have been on are, mostly verandah, some suites and a few window: · Celebrity- Zenith, Constellation · Crystal- Symphony · Cunard- Queen Mary 2 · Disney (with our children & grand children) · HAL- Maasdam, · NCL- Norwegian Dream, Norwegian Pearl, Norway · Oceania- Insignia · Princess- Tahitian, Star, Island · RCI- Legend of Seas · Sheraton- Egyptian River cruise · Uniworld- Russia & Europe Air flight- Today was rather uneventful, drive to the Toronto Airport at 6:00 AM (since we missed our last flight due to some stupidity in the Security Lines- equipment broke down and the *#s in charge refusing to allow us to move to another line- we now arrive early where connecting flights are critical). Great check in with Air Canada and are now sitting in economy, after a good omelets breakfast served; and nowhere near a full flight. Staff are extremely pleasant and is comfortable flight for us (Dean is 6’2” and had good leg room), with sufficient room to be typing his on a Dell 17” laptop (just fits on the tray with the seat in front vacant. Left Toronto at 8:50 AM, arrived London at 8:50 PM (body time 3:50 PM, 7 hrs hr flight Silversea ticket price incl air- Silversea provided excellent service in arranging airfare. Dean hates red eye flights, always flies the day flight from Toronto direct to London Heathrow, overnight Holiday Inn (based on comfort and value) and then on the next day to the port of departure; in this case Lisbon; for a meet and greet in the Marriot Hotel arranged by our hard working fellow cruiser Jennifer, an Aussie who spent some 35 hrs to get from Australia to Lisbon (She must love Silversea). Silversea, at no cost, picked up the cost of today’s AC flight (deviation fee of $100/ ticket) and the return flight from Barbados, the latter including transportation from ship to airport. We only had to arrange at our cost the airfare from LHR to Lisbon, on a flight with British Airways at a cost of £127 for two.
  6. MAASDAM Background- Following are our notes (Dean & Gayle- DGF) on our New Years Cruise Dec 2009- Jan 2010. We are a party of six who quite often take a New Years Cruise to celebrate New Year’s Eve (smaller group this time). Group is in our 60’s and some creeping into 70’s, active seniors who enjoy good times and experiences. We (Dean & Gayle) have been on over 20 cruises (Celebrity, Crystal Symphony, Cunard QM 2 Princess & Queens Grill Class, Disney, NCL, Oceania, Princess, RCCL & Uniworld river cruises). This was our group’s first cruise on HAL and likely our last. Ship Size- smaller ship, gross tonnage of 55,819 grt Ship interior décor- There is no glitz and awe to Maasdam (other than the atrium which contains a Luciano Visttosi's Totem containing 2,000 pieces of glass and is the centerpiece of the three-story atrium). The interior is contemporary and refined. Displays of Delft ware and Dutch paintings mix with displays of fresh flowers and comfortable, nicely upholstered furniture (other than in the main theatre). Very nice Xmas display at the entrance to the second level of the dining room. Has an extensive and varied art collection, which reportedly cost approximately $2 million. “It is intended to pay homage to the Dutch East and West India companies of the 17th through 19th centuries. Accordingly, there are Asian ceramics and ship artifacts from the Age of Sail.” We enjoyed the ship’s ambience. Ship movement- ship moved around a lot in windy seas and passengers could have a problem in high swales. Dean normally has to take Dramamine in rough seas but did not have to do so on this cruise Staff- mainly Indonesian and Philippine male crew, some with very limited English who were friendly and eager to please. However discussions with some guests and a senior staff relative revealed the company over the recent years has been cutting back on number of staff, resulting in the staff being over worked and resulting in impact on ship product Web site with good representative pictures- http://beyondships.com/HAL-Maasdam-Tour1.html Embarkation & Disembarkation (Ft. Lauderdale) - As recommended on Cruise Critic web site, arrived at 11:30 AM, dropped luggage off at curb (not impressed with curb luggage staff who did not appear to be attentive to security of luggage), short line up into terminal, assigned a number and sat down in waiting area, and in short time processed and onboard having lunch in the Lido Restaurant (Buffet). Ship excelled on disembarkation, allowing one to have breakfast ordered in cabin and stay in cabin until your designated departure time to depart= no long line ups at the gangway and having to take your carry off luggage to a designated wait area as is our normal experience. Taxi to Ft. Lauderdale airport with tip cost $15.00 where curb side luggage drop off by using your boarding passes printed out in the ships internet Exploration Café at $.75 per minute or in our case using the $50.00 package. Cabin # 149, Deck 7 Sleeping area · Twin Beds pushed together (not a single mattress top as in other cruise lines). Although no box spring, very comfortable · Night table on each side of bed with two light fixtures on wall at head level= poor lighting for reading. Each night table had two drawers · Telephone- with good service for wake up calls, information, booking Sitting area · Three seat sofa (with small hardly noticeable stain) · Corner cabinet containing a fridge (with space for our carry on water, specialty soft drinks and wine). Reading lamp next to Sofa · Coffee table 17.5" by 31.5" which went up and down to allow it to be converted to breakfast table where we had many good breakfast meals (good selection of hot and cold items).We were able to use the sofa and vanity chair around the table. · Cabinet- combo TV, DVD, vanity, desk- at one end two shelves above TV/ DVD for glasses, and then desk (58" long) which Dean used for computer (wireless internet with normal exorbitant rates) with comfortable chair; nine drawers, large mirror, width of desk to ceiling with good lighting above with separate magnified movable mirror for use by Gayle (Desk top was in need of repair as was movable mirror); one North American plug only above desk and one hair dryer (European Plug) under desk · Television- 20" flat screen. Missing channels found on other cruise lines- i) No bridge information with weather, sea conditions, etc; ii) No location of ship information/ routing; iii) news channel limited to CNN Balcony · one lounge chair with removable padding (comfortable for 6'2" tall person), one wicker chair with foam cover pad for sitting, small cocktail circular table 13.75" diameter · private 8' high partitions between balcony · teak or imitation teak flooring · lower part of balcony “railing” was metal, then space and then railing; metal needed repainting with major rust spots Closet- two large closets with shelving which was more than adequate for 10 day cruise with required formal clothing Hallway- 31" from bathroom door to closet, which created an acceptable challenge (had to squeeze by each other) Bathroom · Single sink, wall mounted hair dryer with inadequate air flow (second hand hair dryer in vanity desk which was adequate). Counter with sink 13-15" by 37" creating insufficient space for two (Dean put his travel kit on shelf above the towel rack) · Combo shower and deep (17") ¾ whirlpool bathtub (46" in length) with hand wand shower head with poor water flow, with shower curtain, which had mould spots · No shelve under sink · Tiled floor and walls · One plug for NA and one plug for European · Toilet Confined but adequate Cabin problems- Cabins on Deck 5 in location of670 had problems with AC. At one point in time Curt & Jhandie of our group in Cabin 670 room temperature was 82 F. After several calls and a letter was fixed by mid cruise and they received a cash credit of $100. Was a full ship but were able to stay one night in Cabin 675 where AC was working but noisy from unknown mechanical noise; another problem noted by another couple (We noted, but not a problem in our cabin on deck 9, very slight ship vibration) Sewage problem- from time to time sewage odor in front of Explorations Café and in hallway on Deck 9 at Cabin 177 which we did not experience at Cabin 149 Dining Rotterdam Dining Room · Two level main dining room (Deck 7 & 8), large second level balcony overlooking the lower level, with glass on three sides providing good outside views · Fixed 8:00 PM sitting which we found was too late for dinner but alternative was too early (we prefer fixed over open dining, which was also available in lower level, as it allows one to get to know your wait staff and vice versa). · Food ranged from very very good to poor. At almost every dinner, someone’s meal arrived luke warm, especially soups and in many instances had to be sent back to kitchen. Desserts lacking, in particular Key lime pie (but at chocolate buffet dessert extravaganza held one night around pool, desserts were very very good which meant staff capable of producing good dessert products?). Felt menu selection could have been better. Food was a disappointment, and certainly at the lower end of our cruise experiences. · Service first night was slow (missed start of show at 10:00 PM) but request to Maitre D’ resulted in no future problems. Service was very attentive, in particular the wine steward. · Table was uncomfortably cold which was not corrected notwithstanding many requests to turn down AC which was blowing at the table (Table 64, Upper Level) Lido- Buffet. Located high on the ship (Deck 10) between the two pool areas (aft pool is one deck below), with windows on starboard and port providing good views over the water. There is a serving line on each side of the ship divided into a series of stations each with its own specialty. Desserts are located in the walkway connecting the two sides of the room (sometimes offered no sugar added desserts which were good). Good selection. In particular enjoyed the sandwich section. Free ice-cream. Very very limited outside seating with no umbrellas for shade. No trays The Pinnacle Grill- is Maasdam's extra-tariff specialty restaurant. It features aged beef and fresh seafood. We did not partake but one of our table guests did and reported very good meal. Reportedly the “room is contemporary, but intimate (66 seats) and has a wall of windows along the starboard side”. The Terrace Grill- located forward on the starboard side of the Lido Pool area, offered light fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs which were good. Explorations Café- part of the ship's combination library and Internet complex, offers specialty coffees and pastries for an extra tariff. Decaf lattes were good but we have had better on other ships and at no extra charge (Decaf lattes and espresso served without extra tariff in Dining Room) Casino - smaller than usual including a small Casino Bar. Gayle had no luck on the slots. Carol & Jhandie had much better luck. Blackjack tables (2) were fun tables, starting at $3.00 bet. Dean had good time with friendly dealers and broke even. Dealers counted out the cards with one exception. Internet- Was a good speed and wireless throughout the ship including in the cabins. Standard exorbitant charges Entertainment String Quartet - We had a band leader in our group who said musicians were talented but that there was no life to the music. Certainly not up to the standards experienced on Cunard cruise lines Rembrandt Show Lounge · Dance routines with singers ranged from very good to excellent although the two lead singers were inconsistent. Enjoyment for single acts ratings personal- some liked others left early. On average would rate show entertainment very good · problems- poor sight lines caused by the furniture (chairs which were killers on the back) and sofa benches which were more comfortable but lower than the chairs, resulting in person sitting on the sofa bench having their view blocked by person sitting in the chair in front; Person controlling sound level did a poor job. Sound system at times was too loud for singers. One entertainer was drowned out by the band behind him until he asked the sound person to adjust The Ocean Bar- on Deck 7, has a dance floor and a stage for live music. Very enjoyable room with good band and singer Piano Bar- very good décor, comfortable furniture, plus chairs at a circular bar table surrounding the piano player who was quite a lively amicable person Crow’s Nest- large room, floor to ceiling glass (dirty exterior affecting view), comfortable furniture, with dance floor. Live music with singer was good but when flipped over to DJ, especially on New Years Eve not our taste. Surrounded by glass floor to ceiling windows. New Years Eve- Next to food, this was our biggest disappointment. On other three New Years Eve Cruises, the ships went all out- ice sculptures for past year and incoming year, ceremonial destruction of the old year sculpture, all in one area on pool deck. Maasdam split New Years Eve party into three rooms with standard balloons, hats & noise makers and music. Not in the same league as previous cruises and second reason will not be back onboard a Maasdam New Years Eve cruise Pools- Pools- Lido Pool on Deck 10 with attractive dolphin sculpture at one end of pool is main pool area. It is covered by a retractable glass roof so allowing it to be used regardless of weather. In addition to the pool, the area has two whirlpools, a bar, and a small restaurant for light fare. Comfortable lounge chairs with removable padding plus tables and chairs adjacent to windows. Many passengers used this area as an extension to the Lido restaurant; Seaview Pool at stern on Deck 9 is a smaller outside pool Promenade Deck- teak/ artificial teak promenade on one level, 4 times around equals a mile. Spa- Called the Greenhouse Spa, is equipped with a hydrotherapy whirlpool as well as thermal chairs, steam rooms and saunas. Dean won a facial and Gayle used hair salon; otherwise did not partake. Reportedly could arrange for a day pass at an extra tariff to use the common facilities. Before or after a treatment guests can have some healthy refreshments and unwind in the Co-ed Relaxation Room. Fitness room- is a smaller than usual area, no charge, with limited number of standard equipment (including stationery bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and, stair climbers) free weights and weight machines surrounded with floor to ceiling windows Half Moon Cay- was one of the best private islands stops we have encountered with a beautiful sand beach that could have been close to two miles long; but again food problem- a barbecue ashore, Gayle’s hamburger was cold (Dean overcame the problem by insisting on meat directly off the grill). Gayle went back for ribs which were fatty. Smoking- anyone sensitive to cigars and cigarette smoke could have a problem on the ship. Smoking was permitted in the cabins and on balcony; and specific sections on the ship including in the Casino (not many smokers so we did not have a problem). In Crow’s Nest, smoking a problem on one half of lounge. Cruise Critic Meet & Greet- approx 40 people attended but no one showed up from the ship’s personnel. Could only get HAL to arrange for free tea and coffee and cookies. Big disappointment compared with success of Cruise Critics Meet & Greet on Celebrity and Cunard. OVERALL CONCLUSION- Ship has great potential, but if we knew then what we know now, would not have booked the Maasdam for our New Years Eve Cruise Hope the above is helpful in your cruise planning DEAN
  7. We are planning a cruise from a European port through the Suez Canal to Dubai and then possibly a short seven day cruise around the United Arab Emerates ports Have found four cruise lines with itineraries- Seaborne, Regent, RCI and Costa. Given the economy, have decided to rule out Seaborne & Regent; although itineraries tempting Any experiences/ recommendations on RCI Brilliance of Seas vs. Costa would be greatly appreciated- accommodations, food (quality, selection & service), entertainment, shore excursions, etc. Thanks
  8. [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]We are planning a cruise from a European port through the Suez Canal to Dubai and then possibly a short seven day cruise around the United Arab Emerates ports[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]Have found four cruise lines with itineraries- Seaborne, Regent, RCI and Costa. [/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]Given the economy, have decided to rule out Seaborne & Regent; although itineraries tempting[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]Any experiences/ recommendations on Costa vs. RCI Brilliance of Seas would be greatly appreciated- accommodations, food (quality, selection & service), entertainment, shore excursions, etc.[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]Thanks[/SIZE][/FONT]
  9. Will be our first time on Holland American and the Maasdam Your favourite places and activities would be greatly appreciated to ensure we do not miss any of the ship's highlights Thanks
  10. Will be our first time on the NCL Pearl Your favourite places and activities would be greatly appreciated to ensure we do not miss any of the ship's highlights Thanks
  11. Saturday, January 17, 08- On Board Oceania Insignia to Rio, currently cruising to Montevideo Firstly, thank you for all of you who provided us with excellent advice, which we have used to fully enjoy our cruise to date One caveat on the Oceania Insignia in addition to slow and high internet connection costs is your cabin location on the ship and size will be spatially challenging especially in the shower. Our friends received a last minute call from their travel agent and for another $500 each were upgraded to P 3 which was a large suite with bath tub; but at stern of the ship . In rough seas, those at the stern experienced engine noise (our friends were in Cabin 8060- Penthouse) and those at the bow shuttering noise; with both stern and bow locations moving around a lot. The seas going to and from Falkland Islands can be rough. For those of you have an upcoming similar trip hope the following contact information for private guides (we are a party of four and just fit into the local taxis) may be helpful. We found the Oceania Cruise excursions much more expensive than the private tours we arranged and the private tours allowed you to stop for photo shots when you want and meet the locals one on one; and go where you want (all costs in US $) : Santiago- Jan 3, 09- Tour Guide Alejandro Perez- (contacto@tourischile.com) full day tour of city with van $220 ($55/). Pick up at hotel 9:00 AM, return 5:00 PM Jan 4, 09- Same guide. Full day Tour at a cost of $280 ($70/ person), pick up at Hotel Regal Pacific around 9:00 AM with our luggage (6-8 suit cases), tour and drive to Valparaiso stopping at winery House of Morande to make purchases (Recommend- excellent wines), continue on to tour Valpairso and Vina Del Mar and dropped off at Hotel Oceanic around 5:00 PM. Excellent guide and highly recommend Our hotel in Santiago was Regal Princess- Regal Deluxe King room $155/ night which included a very good buffet breakfast. Hotel arranged transportation from airport at $60 ($15/). Good comfortable hotel with nice bar and dining room. Helpful staff. Gayle and I were in room 1008 which had limited view of the mountains. AC unit could have been better (little noisy and staff kept shutting it off when we were out of the room, resulting in warmer temp at night than our desired 70 F. Small inside pool and a hot tub Vina Del Mar- Our hotel was Hotel Oceanic, 12925 Borgono Ave located between Las Salinas and Reance Beach. Junior Suite, superior room, king size bed with ocean view $185. per night including good breakfast-The price changes depending to the dollar exchange. Caveat- i) get a room with a balcony facing the ocean- we had room 6 and our friends Room 5. Other rooms hear the noise from the adjacent road. ii) rooms are not air conditioned and when we arrived temp in the room was 81F. Had to leave the sliding glass doors open to cool the room temp down to 70 F at night. iii) Hotel is in a beautiful setting over looking the crashing waves hitting the rocks below with a full moon and city lights in the distance. Which means noise from the ocean and disturbed sleeping conditions. Lovely pool. Nice restaurant which is air conditioned. Nice but unheated pool with shaded area with view Jan 5, 09- Hotel arranged for a cab to ship, at cost of $40 ($10/). Arrived around 11:00 AM and was slight delay in getting on board ship. Food supermarket within walking distance of ship where one can purchase pop (Oceania- $2.50/ can plus tip), water (Oceania- $1.75 half litre and $3.00 full litre), etc.; all of which Oceania will charge you if you purchase on board ship. Make certain you purchase the water you want- comes with gas and without gas Jan 7, 09- Puerto Montt. Tour Guide Anna of Jaime Liebrecht (jaimeliebrecht@gmail.com). Pick up at pier 8:30 AM for full day tour Petrohue Falls & the Chilean Lake Districts. Web site says will also see the volcano but don't know how since not enough time. Return 4:00 PM. Cost $400 ($100/). Anna had good English and would use again Jan 8, 09- Puerto Chacabuco- Many taxis all promoting tours for $140. Found a taxi driver with reasonably good English- Patrick (Pato)- Servicio viajes y turismo, Phone- 93113524. patonavarro72@yahoo.es; Pato_rubio66@hotmail.com. Drove us thru Puerto Chacabuco across a "hanging" bridge to Puerto Aisen, stopped off at Artisan market, and then along the Rio Simpson River, stopped off at the Virgin Falls (Sacred River) to Coihaique, capital of Patagonia. Beautiful scenery, reminded us of a mixture of the BC Fraser Canyon and Arizona. Returned to ship after 5:00 PM Jan 9, 09- San Rafael- Purpose of this port is to see the San Valentin Glacier. Problem is that Oceania wants $229/ person on the Catamaran and if you do not participate they will not let you go ashore. Since have been to Alaska we passed and relaxed on board Jan 10, 11- Cruising the Chilean Fjords; which are not in the same league as Alaska. Ship did not venture closer to the main glacier than one mile away. As result no benefit of hearing and seeing calfing of the glacier (ice breaking off the glacier with a large crash) Jan 12, 09- Punta Arenas- Taxi's at pier all had fixed prices for the tours. Got a driver with limited English and went to see the Penquins $110 ($55/) Jan 13, 09- Ushuaia- Purchased a tour to the park from kiosk on the dock, which took us directly to the park and road on the train. Cost $50 each. Do NOT recommend. Would take a taxi and do on our own. Trip consisted small bus directly to park, board the steam engine historical train (cramped), couple of stops, back to bus and returned around 4:00 PM. We then walked the town on our own Jan 15, 09- Falkland Islands- Graham France was our guide. Sergeant Major approach to the tour= he knew where to stop to take pictures and when walking did not allow sufficient time to take photos (felt we were rushed). 3 ½ hr tour- A one hour tour to Gypsy Cove to view Magellanic penguins and other wild life which includes black-crowned night herons and rock cormorants, followed by a one hour tour of our city. Were told better penguin stop would have been the Rockhopper Penquin Colony at Murrell Farm. Notwithstanding had a most interesting tour in a comfortable Land Rover. Contact frances@horizon.co.fk We have retained guides for Rio & Buenos Aries.
  12. Group of very active Cnd seniors (65-70, 4-5 couples) are thinking about the Maasdam for our next New Years Eve Cruise; but some reviews are creating concerns about Entertainment, Food, and we may turn out to be the teeny boppers on board! Previous New Years Eve cruises that have turned out well were Celebrity Zenith & Constellation and RCL Legend of the Seas; all with memorable New Years on deck parties Your thoughts, experiences, and advice would be much appreciated
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