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About bottomfeeder

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Suncoast Florida & Midcoast Maine

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  1. Have fun! I loved this cruise when I was on it last fall even though we had agua alta most of the week which added some complications to things. I hope you love it as much as I did! Can't wait to hear your review.
  2. I thought their coffee was uniformly great. They had a "coffee menu" kind of thing--not that you got a choice about which type of coffee they were serving in the dining room, but the menu told you what brand/variety of coffee they were serving that day and it varied from day to day. Plus you could always get (included) any type of fancy coffee drink you wanted.
  3. That does sound like a great deal! And I would love to have a chance to spend more time in Alaska--my only visit there was a 7-day Seattle round trip cruise about 15 or so years ago. Be sure to post how you liked it when you return.
  4. I'm going to do a tour of the Bay of Fundy called something like "The Bay of Tidal Wonders". I can drive to/from it from my summer place in Maine in just a few hours, and I've been wanting to go to the Atlantic provinces in Canada for years so I'm pretty excited.
  5. I took this same cruise this past fall and I loved it. It was my first river cruise experience so I had nothing to compare it to so will be interested to hear your opinion on Uniworld vs. AmaWaterways. I think I'm taking this year off from cruises as I have a Road Scholar vacation planned this summer and in the late fall will likely do a land vacation with my son to Spain. Hopefully I won't start having the shakes or something from lack of cruising. 🙂
  6. The only problem with a balcony is that, after the first time I booked one, I ALWAYS have to book one! I just really love the fresh air and being able to get a full view of the ocean from my bed...I would really miss that if I didn't book a balcony. If my budget didn't stretch to a balcony, I would choose another cruise where I could get one. Or not cruise at all until I had enough saved up to get one. But, somehow, not everyone feels this way. 🙂 You won't know how you feel until you try it.
  7. I actually emailed with Silversea directly today (about 5 emails back and forth) to get a quote and then understand how their pricing worked on this quote. And I'm good at math! It's just the way they did it was, well, bizarre. Essentially they add the $960 for the "free" flight to your quote but then when you say you want to book your flight through them they take the $960 off. If you say you don't want to book the flight through them they take $1,000 off. So essentially you can book your flight with them, or pay $40 less and book it elsewhere. Clearly it makes sense in that scenario to book the flight through them. That was just one of the twisted pricing paths they went down. I'm okay with what they did now that I understand it, though I still think it's kind of underhanded to advertise a sale price but then charge 25% of the full brochure price for the solo supplement. In the grand scheme of things that difference isn't much, though. And then I emailed my TA so she would understand the pricing too! Now I just have to decide if the timing of this cruise can work with my job responsibilities...hmm... Thanks all!
  8. I am always looking for a great next solo cruise, and I thought I had found one on Silversea. Their website shows the September 12th Silver Muse sailing (#6925) with specials including a 25% solo supplement and free economy class airfare and 10% early booking bonus. The web page for this sailing (I even read all the fine print!) indicates that all of these discounts are combinable. Yet, when my travel agent called them (and called back and went to supervisors etc.) they tell her that the solo pricing does not include airfare and that it will cost me another $960 from a major airport. I've seen on this board and the Solo board here at Cruise Critic people posting that they got a low solo supplement (or none at all) AND free airfare. Is this typical of Silversea? I'm really disappointed and feel like this is false advertising on their part. Or am I missing something here?
  9. I think we are getting into one of the "high seasons" for cruises out of Florida--spring break season. It will be bad through mid-late April because of that, unless you happen to catch a very last-minute fare. If you are set on cruising that week, you'll probably just have to grit your teeth and pay the higher fares. Cheapest seems to be during hurricane season and then December through mid-February or so.
  10. Many airlines have also stopped charging outrageous amounts for one-way fares, and they are much closer to half the roundtrip than in years past. It's worth checking on Kayak or a similar site and pricing them. Also, if you work with a travel agent, the agent may be able to get you good prices on one-way fares even if the cruise line doesn't offer that option. My travel agent is able to do so.
  11. Happy New Year to everyone! You all are making me jealous with your retirement talk. I'm hoping I can retire in 5 years when I'll be 62, but have no idea whether I'll be able to afford it--I want to be able to cruise and travel when I retire, so there's no point in retiring before my 401K is big enough to support that! I'm hoping to do at least 1 cruise in 2019--looking at several different options. Maybe 1 week on a river cruise and then a longer ocean cruise.
  12. I did one Azamara transatlantic a while back and really enjoyed it. I'm sure you'll have a good time. If I could ever find a price even approaching what I paid for that cruise I'd be back on Azamara in a heartbeat. The only downside was the tiny showers with the clingy shower curtain--these are some of the old Renaissance ships though they are well maintained and I think they have refurbished them since my cruise so maybe the showers have doors instead now? Enjoy! 🙂
  13. I promised to write down some of my impressions so here you go! This was my first "river" cruise (in quotes because we did not actually sail on a river, but instead around the Venice lagoon) and probably also the most "luxury" cruise I've taken. Next would probably have been my transatlantic cruise on Azamara a few years ago. I've done lots of ocean cruising, mostly on Celebrity but have also done Norwegian (next most frequent), Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America in addition to Azamara. This was by far the smallest ship I've been on. The cruise was a one-week Venice-based itinerary. It coincided with the highest "aqua alta" Venice has experienced in 10 years, which threw some curves at the cruise staff as they tried to adjust our itinerary around the high water. Luckily we had several days during the week where it didn't rain...much! I mostly sail solo, and this trip there were a large number of solos on board (so far as I know, all women) due to a no-single-supplement deal Uniworld offered. I thought Uniworld worked very well for solo travel. They did offer a singles meet-and-greet one day midweek, but I didn't attend so can't report on that. Because of the small number of passengers and the open seating at meals it was easy to meet others and find a congenial table for each meal. I felt like the price I paid was an excellent deal for the cruise, though my budget and skinflint tendencies mean I will need to really keep an eye out for bargains if I want to do another cruise like this! I purchased my air travel independently but because I was arriving/departing the day the cruise started and ended, during the hours Uniworld specified, my transfers from Venice airport were included. That turned out to be a very good thing on arrival day--many folks who were arriving at the ship independently had all sorts of problems. Apparently the ship was not where Uniworld said it would be (due to the high water) and passengers were not notified of the change. Plus, when folks called the number for the ship that we were given for situations like this, nobody answered the phone for several hours. Passengers told about taking expensive water taxis while they motored around Venice searching for the ship, being dropped off in the wrong place, having to walk through hip-deep water balancing suitcases on their heads, etc. Luckily these tales were told by the younger passengers--I can't imagine how some of the older folks on board would have coped with that! For me, though, the trip was smooth through a rainy, windy Mestre and Venice, past the poor soaked Venice Marathon runners, to the riverboat. It amazed me how small it looked--but I found that it had everything I needed for a great cruise and I loved the small ship! Short walk to anywhere, the cabin was very well-designed, there was a dining room and a lounge and an outside deck (I was on that exactly once due to the rainy weather we had that week.) My cabin was 323, one short flight of steps down from the main lobby and at the far end of the hall. The shower was wonderful, the service was wonderful, I was not bothered by any noise or odd smells, the TV had lots of options and many excellent movies available (though I only used it to watch CNN.) I thought the food was just great. I can't remember a meal or, for that matter, a dish I had that I did not enjoy. I'm still detoxing myself from all the eating and drinking I did on vacation and trying to get back to a healthy diet! They had a complimentary red and white wine at lunch and dinner, which they varied every day. They also varied the coffee and the menu had info on what coffee was being served each day, in addition to describing the wines. All alcoholic beverages were included unless you wanted to purchase the higher-end wine offerings, which I did not do. I'm not a huge drinker but I did enjoy wine with dinner, a coffee-and-Bailey's every night, and an occasional prosecco or bellini. And lots of San Pellegrino! I also had lots of excellent coffee, lattes and cappuccinos. All were served quickly, graciously, and with a smile. The croissants each morning except on disembarkation day were just fabulous--I was so disappointed the last morning when the croissants on offer at 6 AM In the lounge had obviously been baked the previous day--the single discordant note where food was concerned! Because of the high water, our Monday walking tour of Venice and visit to the Doge's Palace was cut short to just a shorter walking tour of the higher-ground areas of Venice. It was picturesque and interesting, and visiting the edge of St. Mark's Square to see the hordes of tourists wearing their see-through pastel plastic hip boots, the board walks being set up and the water start to cover the pavement was memorable. Normally there would have been a night-time visit to St. Mark's Basilica on Monday evening, but part of the basilica (and all of St. Mark's square outside) flooded so Uniworld scrambled to have it rescheduled for later in the week--absolutely the best part of the week tour-wise and I am SO thankful they were able to make it happen! We spent part of a day in Padua and part of a day with a choice of Ferrarra or Bologna (I chose Ferrarra because I had no wish to experience the pasta making demo). They were interesting, but I know if I had not visited Venice before I would have been disappointed that the high water and the days in other cities limited my opportunity to see Venice itself. Normally the ship would sail about 20 miles up the Po River, but due to the high water we did not do so--can't say that bothered me since I'd read it was not very scenic and its only advantage was to make the bus trips to these other cities a bit shorter. We spent another day visiting "the islands of the Venice lagoon"...and that was fantastic. We saw an ancient cathedral from almost 1000 years ago and other interesting stuff. I LOVE old buildings so this was probably my favorite tour after the St. Mark's Basilica visit. Another day we went to Chioggia, yet another island in the Venice lagoon where we visited a fish market and got to see the flood gates closing on their canals to protect the town from another round of aqua alta. We also had a couple of afternoons of "scenic sailing" around the lagoon with a guide to point out what we were seeing and give some of the history of the area. I missed the second of those (and the glass-blowing demo on Saturday afternoon) because I had fallen into a habit of taking an afternoon nap. Not sure why I slept so much, except that the whole week was so relaxing--there was no late-night entertainment keeping me up late. Maybe it was just the big meals, but every afternoon my eyes got very heavy and most days I slept for a couple of hours. The bed was VERY comfortable! On Saturday we finally were back in Venice and the water was down to allow touring of the whole city, but that had to be done on one's own. The included tours were a choice of two, and I chose the tour of the Accademia with Susan, the art historian and guide who had taken us through the Basilica and the ancient cathedral (and who was also the guide of my group for the abbreviated Venice walking tour on Monday, because I recognized her name from reviews I'd read of the cruise and made sure I was in her group!) I know a couple of passengers who were art historians themselves found her to be a little over-dramatic, but honestly I think for the general public like me she was perfect and covered things at just the right level to keep us all fascinated. In the afternoon there was a glass-blowing demo and shopping for Murano glass, but I didn't attend that. I think a lot of passengers chose to use that time to walk around Venice on their own--I just slept! The best part was at the end of the cruise, I had no bill to pay. Everything had been included. All in all, especially considering the luxury level of food/beverage/amenities offered, I think it was an excellent value. I had a great time and I think the staff did the best job possible coping with the weather conditions.
  14. Hi Lois, I am flying out tomorrow to Venice for a solo Uniworld river cruise "Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy." It will be my first river cruise and I'll be sure to post (either on this board or on the solo cruisers board) my experiences. Of course I don't have another river cruise in my past to compare it to, and it isn't "really" a river cruise since it mostly just sails around the Venice lagoon...and of course the forecast is for rain pretty much all week and I'm worried about getting into Marco Polo Airport on Sunday with the weather forecast for thunderstorms, rain and wind...but even so I'm sure I will have a wonderful time! As I expect you will too, since I think you've only had the one bad cruise ever, right? 🙂
  15. I REALLY want to sail on Viking Ocean Cruises but they never offer less than 100% solo supplement in my experience. I keep watching for a deal though!
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