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Everything posted by cft8

  1. We had tea at the Hamilton Princess on our overnight in Bermuda. We took the ferry from the dockyard to Hamilton and then it was a short walk to the hotel. As for the OP’s question, we found lots to do in Bermuda. The first day we took the ferry to Hamilton, did a self-guided walking tour I found online, and then went to tea. The second day we were going to go to St George’s, but we decided we would not really have enough time to do it justice, so instead we went to Horseshoe Bay and just walked along the beach and grabbed a cocktail and a snack at the beach bar. We spent some time shopping at the Dockyard before we had to return to the ship. We could have spent more time on any of the things we did, not to mention the things other posters have listed that we did not have time for! I would definitely consider a 3-day stay in the future!
  2. Thanks. When they changed the arrival time, they made a bit of a big deal about it, sayin that it was "for the convenience of the guests" and the only way I thought that might make it convenient for guests is if the disembarkation process started earlier (that sounds inconvenient to me personally, but I'm not a 'get off the ship asap' person). But, it sounds like the pier staff's schedule hasn't changed, and therefore the disembarkation timing hasn't changed either. The 6:45am start is what I've seen on the disembarkation instruction flyers that have been posted from sailings this year (I don't know if I can link to them, as they were posted on another site). That's also where I saw that the last tags, at least officially, are scheduled for 9:50. I don't plan to base our disembarkation time around that late of a time, as I'm aware that tags often get called earlier than scheduled.
  3. Back before the Alaska season started, I’d mentioned that our Ovation sailing is scheduled to return at 4:30am. Since this was a new time for them, and it seemed like the sailings were split between 4:30am and the usual 6am arrivals, it wasn’t clear how that was going to impact the disembarkation schedule. Have there been any sailings yet that returned that early? Did disembarkation start or end earlier? I am mainly curious if it ended any earlier; we are getting ready to finalize our pick up time and I don’t want to end up having to be off the ship earlier than I expect and end up having our group waiting around outside for the pickup. The departure sheets I’ve seen posted have the last tags at 9:50, but I think they were all sailings that arrived at 6am.
  4. The Newark Airport Marriott is the one hotel that has shuttles from the terminal. It doesn’t seem to get many mentions on here, but we had a good stay. I’m not sure how the price compares to the other hotels that have been mentioned; we stayed as part of a group booking. I wasn’t the one that did the research or picked the hotel. They do have parking, though I’m not sure if they allow you to park for the week.
  5. I think that Craigdarroch is worth seeing, but I love historic homes. We went last time we were in Victoria and are going again. It’s not very big, though, so if you can get off right away and grab a cab, you probably have time to get there and see it before they close. Then you could get a cab to the inner harbor and get dinner and walk around.
  6. We're on Ovation in September. Our excursion in Juneau gets back too late to make our MDR seating, so we decided to try the Solarium Bistro. Right now in the cruise planner the only time I can get for our party of 3 is 5:30, which we won't be able to make. Do they open more times on board?
  7. I don’t like fizzy drinks very much, and I still get the Refreshment Package because of all the other things - the fresh OJ is so much better than the regular one they serve, and I like a specialty coffee in then mornings and a decaf latte at dinner (I don’t think the regular coffee is very good either), plus I drink a fair amount of water. I have never really kept track of whether I break even on cost, but it’s nice to just order whatever I want and not worry about it. My first cruise I didn’t get anything, but I thought the coffee was so bad that I got the coffee punch card for my second, plus my mom and I shared the bottled water delivery. I didn’t think I saved with that because on Serenade they did two punches per espresso shot and so every drink I got was two punches instead of one like I thought it would be. Last year, since DH joined me, and he likes soda, sparkling water, and coffee, so the package made sense for h and I figured I’d give it a try myself. Now that’s probably what I’ll always do.
  8. Well, I read the whole thread to see how it turned out. I’m glad that they honored the price, it seems like they right thing to do. I’m just bummed that I didn’t see this thread in time to check my 2020 cruise. I’ll just have to wonder what might have been and hope that the Refreshment Package (what we usually get) goes down to $18-20 at some point before then!
  9. We're in Juneau on a Sunday on the Ovation of the Seas. Our excursion (Whale Watching & Mendenhall) leaves as soon as we arrive in port, and returns at 5:45, but all aboard is not until 8:30. Will there be anything significant open later in the day (I'm thinking more of museums or historic sites than shopping or eating)? If not, I'm thinking of just trying to book a spot on the NorthStar for when we get back on board. I see that the Mt. Roberts Tramway stays open until 9, but if we can get the NorthStar, we can get a decent view for free!
  10. If you're looking at restaurants with a great view instead of a dinner cruise, I'd add Duck and Waffle (https://duckandwaffle.com) to that list. We did breakfast there, but my co-worker says the dinner is fabulous, too. For a unique afternoon tea experience, I highly recommend the B-Bakery tea bus: https://b-bakery.com
  11. Thanks! I probably showed my passport in hopes of getting a stamp (which they evidently did not give me, because I don't have one 😊).
  12. Did they check passports when you disembarked in Victoria? Personally, I have one, and I'll be bringing it. But, there's a person in our group who does not. I don't know her well, so I don't know the details on why, and really they're not important. I'm just trying to help her figure out if she can join our excursion in Victoria. I remember going through an immigration kiosk last time we called there, and showing my passport, but it was 3 years ago, so I could be misremembering.
  13. For my mom’s birthday, we also just told them in the MDR it was her birthday and they decorated a slice of the chocolate layer cake and brought that out with a candle. We didn’t specify what kind of cake we wanted, so maybe if you have a certain request, just talk to your waiter or the head waiter for your section the night before.
  14. That sounds much better! If you plan to go in Westminster Abbey using the London Pass admission, I’d get there just before it opens. The entry line was long when we went in at 9:30 and even longer when we came out around noon.
  15. Add me to the list of people who are exhausted just looking at that list! If you have not already purchased the London Pass, I would reevaluate it. Make a more realistic list and figure out if it will really save you money. I decided it wouldn't when I evaluated for our trip. I can speak to a few specific items you have listed. Westminster Abbey - the London Pass allows you to skip the ticket-purchase line, but not the entry line. The entry line gets long, fast. If you don't already have the LP, you can purchase tickets on the Abbey website. You get a discount and they allow you to skip the entry line. You enter the Abbey right after security. We had Abbey tickets for 9:30 and Queen's Jubilee Gallery tickets for 10:45. We could have used at least 15 more minutes in the Abbey; I didn't get to look around Poet's Corner as much as I would have liked. There's an audio guide and of course you can skip parts, but I'd plan a minimum of 1 hour. Buckingham Palace - we did the full Royal Day Out ticket, which includes the Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews. We had the earliest entry time for the Royal Mews, at 9:30. We left the Palace sometime between 2:30-3:00. Your entry to the Queen's Gallery and the Palace are timed; you can do the Royal Mews between those two, or after. Kensington Palace - we got there just before opening time, and there was no line to speak of for ticket purchases. We had a Historic Royal Palaces membership, so we got straight in the entry line. We were about 15th in line. It was not crowded and we got through the whole thing in about 2 hours. I am a pretty detailed museum-goer, and read as much information as I can. It's probably possible to do it faster. We were also there when the exhibit of Princess Diana's dresses was on, and I spent a good 45 minutes or so in that. I'm not sure what their special exhibition is now. Tower of London - we got there around noon, and skipped purchasing tickets with our Historic Royal Palaces membership (but there wasn't really a line at that point anyway). We did have to wait in line for 20-30 minutes to enter. We were probably there for 4 hours, including walking all around the battlements and looking at the exhibits on the way, waiting in line to see the Crown Jewels, and touring the Fusiller's Museum. We did not go up in the White Tower; I'd had knee surgery about 5 months prior and did not think I could handle all those stairs. We were there for 9 days and while we saw quite a lot, we still didn't see everything on our "must see" list. In order to accomplish that, I'm going to need to win the lottery and go live there for a year (or in two 6-month stints to avoid visa problems). And that's just for London. Don't get me started on the rest of the UK. Here is my very long trip report, but at the start I list out what we did each day which can maybe give you some ideas on grouping things.
  16. I bring a small amount of dish soap (I put it in a toiletry bottle). I use reusable straws at home, and so I started bringing those when Royal stared phasing out straws. They come with a brush, so even though the new cups come with a straw, I’ll still bring that. I know there are those that say they don’t want to do dishes on vacation, and neither do I, but I also think it’s gross to drink out of the same cup or bottle (I also bring a refillable water bottle on any trip, not just cruises). It takes me 2 minutes to wash out my stuff at night and I feel better about it. The sinks aren’t deep, but I put in a few drops of soap and swirl it around with water, then make sure I clean the spout or edge with my hand or even a clean washcloth.
  17. I actually enjoyed seeing Stonehenge and in fact I want to go back because it was pouring rain (our only really rainy day) and we did not have time to see the museum. I am glad John Bull posted that photo because I’d heard so many times that you are far, far away from the stones and I didn’t feel that way at all! You will not be able to tour Buckingham Palace in October. Tours this year end September 29. Kensington Palace is open year-round (the part you see is not the part where anyone lives). Here is my very long review of our pre-cruise stay in London last year.
  18. I thought so. I didn't spend a ton of time in there (it's a lovely space, I was just busy!). The first sea day, when I was just exploring, it was hot outside, and so it was also hot in the Solarium. The evening we went there, it was around 6pm, which was about 2 hours before sunset. The pool closed at 7pm, so we had to get out, and I sat in one of the lounge beds for a while while my sister went in the hot tub. I was not cold at all, and I am a cold-natured person!
  19. I agree! When I find mine near, but not quite at my cabin, I usually give the benefit of the doubt and figure they were working on distribution when they got called away from the task for some reason. So, I just grab it myself. As for the OP, I'm sorry you lost your things. One of the people I travel with has a great philosophy, which I've tried to adopt - don't bring anything you can't afford to lose financially or emotionally. (I especially agree after having a sentimentally - but not monetarily - valuable item taken by airport security in another country - it was entirely my fault; I did not check their policies beforehand, but I was still sad.) Of course, I do bring things that would be expensive to replace, like my phone, camera, and sometimes a computer, but I tend to keep those things with me and not check them on a plane or on the ship and insurance would make them slightly more affordable to replace.
  20. Overall Thoughts Anthem is a neat ship with a lot of great features. 5 nights, especially with my group responsibilities, was not enough time to enjoy it. We’ll pick the 9-night if we sail from Cape Liberty again. I’m even more excited for my 7-night on Ovation in September since I’ll hopefully get to do some of the things I missed. Everything was well-kept. Other than immediately after muster, I didn’t ever feel crowded, even when I was on the Royal Esplanade during sale time. I didn’t pay too much attention to the chairs right around the pool, but walking on Deck 15 mid-morning on the first sea day, I saw open chairs. There were also open chairs in the Solarium every time we went in there. I enjoyed the amazing views from the Solarium and Two70, and from the Conference Center, which is Deck 13 aft on this ship (I mistakenly said it was Deck 12 when I posted a photo earlier). It was a treat to have such a great space. We did feel a lot of motion throughout the ship, which I chalk up to a combination of the sea conditions (it was windy, so even though the sea didn’t look choppy, it probably was) and how fast we were going. I don’t recall an itinerary I’ve done where we have covered as much distance on a sea day as you do on this one. The service overall was not up to what we’ve experienced on prior RC cruises. As I mentioned, we had issues with the service in the dining room, but overall the food was good. The food we had in all the other venues was good, too. We also experienced slow service in the bars. Right after trivia in the Schooner Bar, a waiter must have walked past our group of 8 half a dozen times without stopping to ask if we wanted anything and we never caught his eye to flag him down. When we decided to go to the Music Hall instead, the same thing happened. Once we got someone to wait on us, he did check back, but getting that first drink took some effort. Our cabin steward was pretty inattentive. Our cabin was neat and clean, and we got towel animals a couple of nights, but he did not go beyond. On past cruises, when we have asked for wine glasses, we’ve had new ones every time we used them, and when we’ve asked for extra towels, we’ve had extra every night. This time, we had to ask every time. I have all the Compasses, and like I said if there’s interest I can post them. I forgot to take menu pictures. If you have questions, feel free to ask!
  21. Day 5, Sea Day We did breakfast in Two70, then my sister was responsible for getting our group started. We spent the morning with the group (we’d planned to go to towel folding, but we ended up just hanging out). We had lunch in the MDR, and we lingered over that until we barely had time to go back to the cabin and drop our stuff before heading to We Will Rock You. I enjoyed the show, but we sat in the balcony on the left side, and there are several scenes that take place on the left of the stage that we could not see at all. The production isn’t staged very well for the space. The music and the performers were great, and a fun feature of sitting in the balcony is that you can see the musicians who are in boxes on either side of the stage. After dinner, we pretty much just packed. I’d planned to get started at some point during the day, but that didn’t end up happening. Day 6, Disembarkation We got up, got ready, and left our carry ons in the cabins while we went to breakfast in the MDR. I never realized that the MDR is open on disembarkation day. It was so much nicer than the Windjammer! I did somewhat miss the wide selection in the WJ, but the experience was much more pleasant. We got down to the Two70 area just as our number was being called, so we just joined the line. It moved quickly and all too soon we were dinging off for the last time. We grabbed a porter as we were heading in to the baggage room, and he loaded us up. The porters have a separate line leading up to customs, so we breezed past everyone waiting - this alone was worth the tip! We called our driver and he was able to pull right up and got us loaded. Then we began the long, slow drive out of the port. It ultimately took us over 2 hours to get to midtown Manhattan.
  22. Day 4, Bermuda We slept in and caught the tail end of breakfast at the Solarium Bistro. We had originally planned to go to St. Georges, but we had decided after seeing the ferry schedule that it was not worth spending about 2 hours on the ferry to have about 2 hours over there. Instead we took a taxi to Horseshoe Bay. We would have done the mini bus, but they were just filling a new one and we’d have had to wait, plus for 4 the cost is not that much higher in a taxi. We walked on the beach for a while and went to some of the less crowded coves, then we went to the beach bar that’s right there to try a Rum Swizzle. We also got some fish bites and fries, which we thought were delicious. We took a taxi back to the dockyard. We did some quick shopping back at the Dockyard. I wish I’d hit the Craft Market first - I could have found everything I wanted there! We went to the Jon Faulkner Gallery, where I bought some Christmas ornaments by another of the artists they carry. Then we went to the glass blowing/rum cake shop. My sister got an ornament there, and I got some rum cakes to bring back for my office. At the Craft Market I got some earrings filled with pink sand. They had ornaments by the same artist, sold individually instead of in a set of 3 like I’d bought, and also had fudge which I think would have been a better choice for my office than the cakes (it was certainly cheaper). It was nice that at Jon Faulkner they let me mix & match from a couple of sets so I could get the three ornaments I liked best. Back on the ship, my sister went straight to get in line for the trapeze. They had 30-minute sessions from 4:00-6:30 and there were 12-15 people per session. My sister was first in the first group, and she said it was a lot of fun. After dinner, we went to Broadway trivia (and didn’t do so well) and then to Battle of the Sexes. We were upstairs in the Music Hall, so we couldn’t really see the game, but we enjoyed just hanging out and chatting. When we got back to the cabin, we had our luggage tags, and we’d been given an 8am departure when our car wasn’t coming until 9:30. I went down to Guest Services, and it was easy enough to change them, but I found it annoying that they didn’t ask for our departure plans as we’ve experienced on other cruises. I don’t know if this is just how the do it on Anthem or if it’s new fleet-wide, but I don’t like it! Horseshoe Bay This was after we'd walked past the rocks that are on the far left as you are facing the ocean Rum swizzle Beautiful water on the drive back to the Dockyard Trapeze setup (that's my sister up on the platform!)
  23. Here are my photos from when we were on the North Star View of the pool deck and the Dockyard Looking out toward the bow Another view of the Dockyard - I think we were over the side at this point Another view down on to the pool deck Looking over toward Hamilton
  24. Day 3, Bermuda We got the continental breakfast from room service, which is our usual practice on port days when we want to get off early. My mom, her friend, and I had a 9:00 spot on the NorthStar. We headed up there about 8:30, because we wanted to be first since our group had planned to meet & get off the ship at 9:30 in order to make the 10:15 ferry to Hamilton. We were first in line. I think the staff was a bit surprised to see us, but another family got there at the same time. The ride was a lot of fun; we did go out over the sides some. After the ride we headed down to the pub and met up with our group. The group coordinator met us to walk us off, but we didn’t really need her assistance; there was not much of a line. The ferry to Hamilton was easy. I would suggest sitting outside; it was quite warm inside. Once in Hamilton, we did a self-guided walking tour based on one I’d found on the Go To Bermuda website, and climbed the tower at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. Then we headed to the Hamilton Princess Hotel for tea. I was not impressed with our service (we had a group of about 30 and I don’t think they handled it very well), but the food was delicious and so I’d recommend it for a small group. It was the “perfume tea” and we each got a sample from Lili Bermuda. Apparently you normally have some kind of sales pitch along with that, but they just gave us the samples. I don’t know how much of a hard sell they give, but I actually would have enjoyed learning more about why they pair the scents with the specific teas. We had originally planned to spend some more time in Hamilton (despite knowing I’d be full from tea, I really wanted to try the fish chowder bites from Marcus’). But, my mom said she was tired and wanted to go back to the ship and that the ferry was at 5:15. My sister and I decided to do some quick shopping and we said we’d meet them on the ferry. We got to the ferry a little before 5 and we thought we were just early, but the ferry does actually leave at 5. As it was pulling away, we saw our mom and her friend come up to the dock! They ended up on the next ferry. Back on the ship, my sister and I went to the Solarium for a bit, then showered and changed. We went to Two70 for the Finish the Lyric game show, and I ran down to Cafe Promenade for some food. We also did the Silent Disco, which was a ton of fun! The virtual fireworks at the end are so cool! Anthem approaching King's Wharf, with the NCL ship already in port Views from the top of the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity
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