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Everything posted by IWantToLiveOverTheSea

  1. First, a couple comments on your itinerary on the ship when it's in Iceland: Seydisfjordur is a wonderful, small town if you like small towns. We had a great time just wandering around, and the ship was there until 11 PM, so there was plenty of time to do that. I also did a ship's excursion called "Footsteps of the Elves" which was mostly (in my mind, anyway) a trip to see puffins close up at a harbor. My photos, which I'll include a link to, gives the name of this harbor and nearby town. But I don't know when the puffins come, so May might be too soon for those to be something you'd like to do. And of course, if you don't have any interest in puffins, it would certainly not be all that worthwhile. Djupigvogur is also small (and is a tender port, although Silverseas might possibly be able to dock; not sure). The biggest reason to go there, in my mind, is to see either Fjallsarlon glacier or Jokulsarlon glacier. Our ship offered the first, which is smaller, but still quite worthwhile in my opinion. You walk down (and up) a gravel path and board a zodiac - not difficult, scary, cold or uncomfortable. It was a great experience. Since your ship stops in Djupivogur, if you see one of the glaciers from there, going as far south (southeast?) as Jokulsarlon wouldn't be needed. Of course, the glaciers are not really all that close to Djupivogur, so if you don't like long coach rides, you may not want to take an excursion to go there. But there's not a whole lot in Djupivogur to do -- though that kind of place has never stopped me from finding enough to keep me happy! Heimaey is quite a worthwhile stop but some some ships don't make it because of a need to tender (at least for larger ships) and the weather. You may want to keep that in mind for your two days after Reykjavik -- if you miss that port you could probably drive there on your own and have better luck. From what I've read, many people either do the Golden Circle OR head south on days before/after a cruise. If you haven't done the Golden Circle, I would certainly consider that. Yes, many people do it, but I feel it makes for a wonderful day trip. Or if you want to see somewhat similar scenery closer to the airport, I feel that the thermal area on the Reykjanes Peninsula that we were taken to by a photographer/guide was worthwhile as well. He offered a ship's excursion to Viking which turned out to be pretty good, and he does private excursions. Reykjanes Peninsula is where the airport is. While many people think the Blue Lagoon is a "must do" keep in mind there are a few other options like it that are less touristy. But if you're in that area (perhaps on the way to the airport), when we were in Iceland 5 or 6 years ago, we found that there was a place just outside the lagoon where you could at least see part of the lagoon without actually spending time there, making reservations, spending a lot of money, etc. And while close to Reykjavik we found that the Grotta Lighthouse was a worthwhile destination. On our cruise, we loved our stop at Akureyri, but it's up north, so may not be possible to visit on a two day visit to Reykjavik. Certainly save a little time for Reykjavik, unless you've been there before. I found even the area around the port was fun, but I'm easy to please. My Iceland photos from this past August are here, in a number of "galleries" on this photo site: www.pbase.com/roothy123. Iceland galleries are first galleries. I can't recommend a hotel, but you've got some recommendations for that. On our first trip we stayed at a cute, artsy but modest AirBnB place by the big Hallgrimskirkja (church) that now looks to be non-operational. But the location was quite good, so perfect for us. The airport code for the international airport is KEF. Icelandair isn't a bad airline if it flies anywhere close to you. We found it had the only nonstops to/from Iceland from where we live (mid Atlantic). And their "almost business class" section isn't bad. We bought economy seats but were then offered a chance to "bid" for an upgrade, got it, and found it fairly comfortable. And since we traveled in August, when delta variant of Covid was around, we didn't want to fly economy. Enjoy Iceland next year. It's amazing.
  2. Viking Sky is currently to the right of that green "ifw" marker. Tophane Tramvay is a little to the left and above.
  3. Here's Viking Sky in Istanbul. I'll attach a city map excerpt showing where tram is (Tophane, I think) in reference to where cruise ships have been docking.
  4. Curious if anyone knows if the tram machines accept credit cards now. A few years ago they didn't. If they don't, is there a way to purchase a card of some sort (Istanbulkart?) with a cell phone, assuming I have service in Istanbul (!?) Yes, currently there's a ship in Istanbul. She's docked toward the far north end of the original dock area.
  5. I'm very independent and would like to figure out how best to get to the main bus area (Malta Public Transport) from where cruise ships dock. I understand that most ships dock at the Valletta waterfront, and that to get up to the city you walk down the waterfront and take the Upper Barrakka Gardens lift (elevator). But there also looks to be another way, using a bit of climbing, which is probably NOT my first choice, even though it appears to be more direct. If anyone has done this, preferably using the lift and then walking to the bus station, was it difficult? With city walls, a moat, and a large bus area with major streets nearby, it looks a little daunting!
  6. Lots of great info here. I'm going in May and probably spending a day pre-cruise in Istanbul (Allilass Hotel). I'm not sure what we'll do, other than take a little boat out to Kiz Kulesi, a small islet with tower -- and a story! When we were there before (spouse and I) we visited the Cistern, did a Bosphorus cruise, went into Rustem Pasa Mosque, walked a little around the water around Eminonu area at dusk (awesome), and walked around the Blue Mosque & Topkapi but didn't go in. We didn't go to the Grand Bazaar; may have to go there for my spouse this time. I walked up by myself early morning from the Allilass to see a lighthouse; otherwise was with my spouse. Hawkers were extremely persistent in tourist areas but I didn't feel uneasy around them. We also went to (I think) Taksim, or whatever the popular tourist area on the Asian side is. We took the tram around from the hotel for everything other than the airport and port. Took a taxi for those. Tram was crowded in places, but I was quickly offered a seat on one tram, which was appreciated. I believe you still need Turkish lira for a tram token ("jeton"), though, which makes things a bit challenging for tourists on a day trip or cruise. But maybe there's an app or ATM or Istanbulkart ticket on line that could help. I haven't figured that out yet. Make sure all your desired spots are open on the weekend. Most tourist attractions close at least once a week, though they apparently rotate so that a lot is closed on any day. I have pictures on my photo site. If you'd like to look at them, I can post a link.
  7. Thanks. I see Sky is in Istanbul now, docked at same port as always (Salipazari in Karakoy), although I guess eventually the terminal will be underground - interesting! Anyway, I assume you're on board now. I hear the port or the city gave the ship a warm welcome when the ship came in (previous cruise from yours, I think) -- balloons and welcome from the dock, etc. Can you see the little Kiz Kulesi tower and islet from the ship, over toward the Asian shore? Hope you are able to come on here, or on the Facebook Viking Friends group I look at, to let us know what you think and how things are going.
  8. Ouch. I would rather start out in Istanbul than Athens, and I suppose you would too. I see today (Oct. 5) that a Viking Ocean ship is on its way to Turkey (Kusadasi) after being in Greece. So I guess Greece is OK with ships going from Greek ports to Turkish ports, but perhaps not the reverse. I don't know where the ship is headed after Kusadasi -- maybe Troy/Canakkale and then Istanbul?
  9. I know that Viking Sky, a ship about the physical size of Marina and the other larger O ships, very recently docked at the Fusina Terminal, which is on the mainland a bit south of Venice island. They were not allowed to tour on their own (per Italian authorities) so everyone took shore excursions arranged by the ship. According to what two people posted on a Facebook site, they were bussed from Fusina to the old Venice port, met a tour guide there, and took a boat to where their tour started. The type of boat wasn't stated - Alilaguna? vaporetto? water taxi? One person reported the bus ride was about a half hour; the other person implied more. There were no details as to how long the boat trip was, or where they were dropped off in Venice. I don't know if docking at Fusina is going to be continued next year or if something else is planned. I also don't know if Viking had any choice in the matter. It did, of course, make things difficult for Viking, and apparently some of their tours ran late because of the newness of the requirement to dock outside of the city. I did find it interesting that according to a web site about the Fusina terminal, there's a boat that can be taken from the terminal to the island, although I couldn't figure out where on Venice it went. There was, however, a mention that a person could park there at the terminal, take their boat over, and walk 15 minutes to get to St. Mark's Square.
  10. Your life sounds perfectly adequate to me - I'm jealous! But there's at least one sold out (well, waitlisted) 2022 cruise - May 6 to 20, Sirena, Istanbul to Barcelona. I got the very last available room - an OV. Will you be on Sirena before me?
  11. OK, here are some comments on your itinerary. I'm a very independent soul, so they may not be all that useful. But here goes: You may already know this, but you won't see much of embarkation and disembarkation ports unless you go early to the ports or stay late. Visby: You can just walk around in Visby, soaking up a nice island ambiance and wandering through the ruins of 7 churches, partial city walls, moat, etc. Lovely stop, but does require tendering, as it's an island, with no cruise port. Riga: If you want to see gorgeous art nouveau buildings, Riga has some exceptional ones. (See photo gallery link above.) But they're a little hard to find, though within easy walking distance of the port. Really, I'm not sure I'd recommend any tour in Riga, as actual tourist sights are somewhat limited. We took a HoHo from near the port, but mostly it was just driving around with little to see. SP: At the time, Alla offered two tours, a "comfort" tour and a more jam-packed tour. The comfort tour took in PLENTY and was tiring enough for us. I may have mentioned this before, but get up early the first day in SP if you take a non-ship excursion (or maybe even if you take a ship excursion). The whole ship empties out that day, and it takes a while to get through Russian clearance (individually, documents in hand). And don't buy a visa; not necessary. On our Stockholm day, I got up 1 or 2 hours early to see us meander through the archipelago. It was nice, with lots of islands and houses and marinas scattered about. But if you're not an early bird, you may want to give it a pass. I've been to Amsterdam, but on a river cruise, so can't really comment on Amsterdam, and where the cruise port, etc. is. In Gdansk and Berlin, there's some time needed to get to the cities from where ships have to dock. We rented a car in Berlin and drove to outside the city, then took the subway (or commuter train? I forget) to see 3 or 4 sights (see pbase gallery). Some people stayed in Warnemunde, which is a nice resorty area. Some people took the nearby train to Berlin. Lots of people probably took excursions to the city, both ship and private. For Gdansk, the drive is not as long as for Berlin. It's probably a good place to take an excursion. But there ARE taxis in Gdynia, the port, plus money exchange if you think you'll need Polish money. (Or have they gone on the euro? Not sure. Although mostly I only needed local money because I did a lot of indy things, where I wasn't sure if credit cards would be taken). And Gdansk was a great stop - beautiful Old Town, historic shipyard, little boat trips on the river, etc. Helsinki had a few sights that most people went to, but overall I wouldn't say Helsinki was a favorite of mine. In Tallinn, I did the usual explorations of their old town. There was a shuttle to pretty close to there from the ship. For Copenhagen, you may dock within easy walking distance of the Little Mermaid. There was also a water taxi station close by, which was useful for people who wanted to take a cheap fun boat ride around the harbor, or get to some tourist sites. I don't remember going outside in the countryside in any place in the Baltic, and other than the Alla tour in SP, I don't remember if I took any ship's excursions or not. Most of the ports were generally very easy to get around, and the public transportation, being European, was very good. And I'm a cheapskate when it comes to tours, and very independent, so I didn't try too hard to find excursions. But I did do a lot of research, went with maps, etc., and focused on things I was interested in. So it's hard to tell others what they might like. Normally I mix excursions with wanderings, but the Baltic lent itself easily to wandering, so I did more than usual of it on that trip. The Baltic area is a wonderful cruise location. You'll love it. Here's a Visby shot.
  12. I tried to reply to your post about excursions/sights on your cruise. Cruise Critic wouldn't let me. If this post goes through, I'll just reply here. So this is a test.....
  13. AMHuntFerry - Thanks for the info relayed by your TA about dropping OLife. I'm pretty sure we can drop ours, since we have only made a deposit. And we don't know whether we'll be using O's air or not (probably not), so we'll probably be juggling around a bit later anyway. And thanks for reminding me that there's more info on excursions in the attachments we received after booking. I think the "within 14 days of sailing" only pertains to the choice of changing which OLife amenity you want - excursions, shipboard credit, or drink package. Generally Oceania gives you a choice. So if you decide you want excursions rather than the other choices, you can change up until 14 days pre-sail. It's OK to choose ship excursions. I just did that on my "finally I'm on vacation again" cruise on Viking. When I booked last spring, we were told we might have to do ship excursions and stay in a bubble to satisfy Iceland requirements. But the requirements later changed and when we boarded the ship, we found we could do whatever we wanted. But by then I had excursions chosen, and was happy with them, so I pretty much stuck to my plan. I have to admit it was easier that way. And while being on a coach with lots of people isn't ideal, it doesn't really bother me. And it worked out OK as Viking was limiting the number of people in each group. I managed to see and do a LOT. Katie - I only used Alla for SP. I heard one person say tours by Alla they took in Berlin and another city (forget which) were good but not as good as the tour in SP. But that's just one person's opinion, some years ago, and in two cities. But I don't know if I'd want an all day tour in Helsinki or Stockholm - nice places for sure, but not as attraction-packed as some other places. Gdansk might be a good place, though, as ships dock in Gdynia, a ways from the city, which means you need transportation, whether it be the funky little train I took (and then a tram), or taxi, or excursion. And Gdansk is a a little spread out, too, between the Old Town (loved it!) and the shipyard. So if nothing else, a tour could solve any transportation difficulties as well as give you a lot of history.
  14. Oh, but if you do want to find excursions on your own (non-cruise line), the Ports of Call of Cruise Critic is a good place. So is Trip Advisor.
  15. I'm another research junkie, so thanks AMHuntFerry for the info. And I'm in a similar situation as clo, though my cruise isn't until May, so I have some time to figure things out. I wasn't specific with my travel agent this time, and she booked OLife for me, just shipboard credit, not excursions. I think I can probably drop that before final payment, but not sure. But if I have a $400 shipboard credit for the $400 I paid, I'm sure it won't be hard to use it up - on excursions or other things! $400 goes fast on a cruise ship. While I think there are definite advantages to booking excursions with O due to the uncertainty of future cruise/port rules, Covid changes, etc., I do agree with using Alla (or another company) in St. Petersburg. That in itself will save a lot of money for other tours, and you'll be in a smaller group and probably see more than on a cruise line's excursion. Don't let Oceania or any other cruise line suggest that you need your own visa for Russia. Alla and other companies provide a group visa. Only those few people who want to go off completely on their own (ocean cruise) need a visa for Russia, although I've heard they're needed for some river cruises! But a word of advice: for any excursion in St. Petersburg, prepare yourself for a longer than usual time getting off the ship, and getting cleared by the Russian authorities. Everybody wants to get off the ship the first day, and they want or need to do it early! The Baltic is a wonderful place to go, with a lot of variety. Photos from my Oceania cruise in are here: Baltic Cruise - August 2012 on Oceania Photo Gallery by Ruth Rosenthal at pbase.com and here: Baltic Treasures - MORE from Aug. 2012 Cruise Photo Gallery by Ruth Rosenthal at pbase.com We do a lot of touring on our own, so it may not help you to pick excursions. But at least it might give you an idea of what's possible. Check with Oceania on cancelation policies. However, my guest statement says: 100% fee if cancel: A La Carte Shore Excursions - within 36 hours of excursion departure Unlimited & Your World Packages - on or after Embarkation day Exec Collection & Private Transfers - within 36 hours of scheduled arrangement I don't know if you can take off the Olife amenities once booked. I was going to ask my travel agent soon about that. If nothing else, though, I think you can change the selection you made -- excursions vs shipboard credit versus drink package -- but it can't be done last minute. Happy planning and cruising!
  16. This is a good place to post, and certainly fine, but if you want more responses, you may want to write a separate post rather than post here. For some reason this very old post started getting a lot of posts rather than people asking their questions on new posts. But during the worst of Covid, things were very, very slow. I've never been on HAL, just a lot of Oceania, and in the past, two Celebrity cruises and 2 Princess cruises on their smaller ships (which they may not still have; not sure). However, my answers to your questions, best as I can answer them are: The Roll Calls are really quiet now compared to usual, and they're never been really, really robust for Viking cruises anyway. I just booked a cruise for May on another line and there's no Roll Call. But soon I plan to start my own. The cruise is totally wait listed, so I know others are going! And by the way, we came back from our wonderful Bali, Australia and New Zealand cruise late January -- glad to get home before Covid cases started appearing in large numbers in the U.S. We've been on 5 or 6 Viking ocean cruises, and I've never thought they were crowded. Our 8 day Iceland cruise last month seemed a bit crowded in the main dining room for dinner at times, but maybe we just hit them at the wrong times (around 7 PM); not sure. We only ate there twice for dinner. (Normally we eat a lot at the more casual World Cafe as my spouse loves it.) But I certainly didn't think the ship was crowded compared to our cruises on Celebrity and Princess. The Viking Ocean ships are fairly large for the number of passengers they carry, so that helps. However, if you go on one of their very popular free excursions (one in every port, generally, though I don't know if that includes World Cruises) you'll likely experience some crowds while assembling for the excursion. But often Viking has groups assemble outside on the pier, which I think is a great idea, and even better now that Covid variants are circulating. And I suppose if people are used to the river cruise ships (boats?) or small ships like on Seabourn or Windstar, perhaps Viking seems crowded. But I'm thinking you probably won't think so. And even if you do, you may find that sometimes it's a bit crowded, and then it's not, as I'm guessing Viking probably sells smaller segments, not just the World Cruise as one cruise. I've read that sometimes the final payment for Viking can be changed, but I don't know much about that. Perhaps others can comment. I think we asked for that once and got it, but can't remember for sure. It's probably too early for planning excursions, but if not, and you go to Bali, I can recommend a driver/guide. In the past, some people have complained about storage on Viking in the regular rooms, not suites. I've never been on a cruise longer than two weeks, but that has never been a problem. And on some ships, probably including whatever ship they plan to use on the World Cruise, there is a whole 4 drawer cabinet in the closet, so storage should be adequate for just about anybody. I think you should start our own Roll Call and see what happens. You may, however, find that Viking passengers don't plan as many independent excursions as those on other lines, or at least compared to Oceania. They seem a little less adventuresome than what I'm used to on Oceania. Perhaps that's because Viking offers a lot of no-fee excursions, and/or because the paid excursions they offer are reasonably priced. Also, they are seldom cancelled for any reason (for example, not enough participants). I think you'll love Viking. We cruise more Oceania than Viking, but that's mostly because it's a little cheaper and because they go absolutely everywhere, though Viking will likely catch up eventually. Viking is extremely accommodating. Of course, if Covid is still around in great numbers 2023-24, you may have to deal with some uncertainty about making every port (because of Covid, not just sea conditions), and may have to be tested daily, wear masks, etc. as Viking is requiring now. We didn't find any of the requirements the least problematic last month, but some people were fearful and/or a bit unhappy about them.
  17. Thanks for this review. I'm going to be in Zante next May (hopefully, anyway) on an Oceania cruise. I haven't found out a whole lot about it, so it was great to see your photos and narration. It looks rather small and kind of unknown, but that kind of place has never kept me from having fun and finding things to do! But it helps to have a little head start..... Your photos are beautiful, especially of gorgeous Fira and Oia. And I have to admit that the Apex looks absolutely beautiful.
  18. Well, I had a good Greece intensive cruise picked out on Oceania, but it was for last month, and didn't go, and they're not offering it for 2022. But at least Oceania seems to go to some of the smaller, less-visited places in Europe, so they MAY have something of interest for you. And their smaller ships (Sirena, Regatta, Insignia, maybe one more) carry less than 700 passengers so they're pretty small. I vaguely remember a cruise that focused on the Greek Isles, but it may have been one of the 2021 ones that didn't get off the ground. But if you haven't checked Oceania Cruises, I would do that, and possibly Regent, which is a little more inclusive than Oceania and possibly a little more luxury. I know Oceania's Sirena goes to Chania Crete, Zakynthos, and Rhodes on a May 2022 cruise, but those are the only Greek ports in its 14 day cruise, so not too helpful.
  19. There are steam irons in the laundry rooms on Viking Ocean.
  20. Itinerary is extremely important to me, and unlike many people, my ideal cruise has a new port every day, especially if there are numerous ports I haven't been to. I really like that there's so much choice on Oceania to begin with, that they add new ports every year, go to the smaller, lesser-known ports, and mix up and re-do their list of cruises every year.
  21. Sun Fun, if you're still following: I just read on a Facebook post that people on a Viking Ocean cruise were just required in Chania to go with a ship's excursion and then stay with the tour guide and the group. She mentioned they went past But it's unclear whether that was a Greece, Crete, Chania, Viking or tour provider requirement. Viking hasn't been requiring that unless the country or port being visited requires it, but who knows? Things can change so rapidly now, it's great you (apparently) are flexible.
  22. I was giving info to reply to the original poster, with the title of that post being "What to do in Chania, Crete." But I didn't realize the original post was from 2020, and that after sitting around for a long while, someone else posted asking about the rules. So unless someone wants to know what to do in Chania, they should just ignore my posts. Sorry for the confusion!
  23. Depends on the DW. I'm not the shopper in my DH/DW family!
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