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About BritinSoCal

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Newbury Park, CA
  • Interests
    A Brit abroad. Music, (proper) football and working through my travel bucket list
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  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. For public transport in HK - get yourself an Octopus card (for which you'll need HKD to purchase / top-up) - this can be used for buses, subway, ferries, trams (inc. the Peak Tram) and the Airport Express. It can also be used in local convenience stores, etc... Apparently some Taxis have installed Octopus card readers, but last time I was there it was cash only. Everywhere else a mix of HKD and credit cards will see you OK
  2. Just back from the 15-day Iceland - Norway cruise on the Pacific. Was our first time on Princess' baby ship and to be honest I've sailed on larger car ferries that ply their trade across the channel. But we had a great time - in-terms of itinerary I'd say this was my favourite cruise. My purely subjective thoughts and comments below: The ship does roll a bit - fortunately the weather was pretty decent and we were hunkered down midships on Deck 4 (alongside other savvy Platinums and Elites). It's a relatively old ship and the stabilisers reflect that. Barf bags were placed in the stairways on a couple of occasions as we traversed between Iceland and Norway, but mal de mer wasn't a general topic of conversation amongst our fellow passengers. Entertainment - I'd probably say that if you can manage to entertain yourself, then you should be fine. We'd loaded-up phones, iPads with music, books and magazines, and I downloaded a daily paper over the internet to eat up my free minutes. That being said we saw a few shows and they were pretty good. The first week's comedian was actually very funny and the principle singers with the ship's company were excellent - fantastic pair of lungs on both of them. While the cabaret lounge is significantly smaller than the Princess Theatre, there was no noticeable difference in show quality. However, given the demographic of the passengers, the shows were a little "bland" for our tastes - though this is our criticism of Princess in general. That being said, for me the best entertainment was to be found whale watching, viewing the Northern Lights as we sailed out of Reykjavik (I never tire of either) and sailing in and out of the fjords. Food - Subjective 🙂 I've eaten better in the MDR on previous cruises (Majestic, Diamond) and worse (Crown), but nothing was inedible and there were no reports of food-poisoning 🙂 Quite liked the Panorama buffet, small but more than adequate. Poached eggs cooked to order at breakfast, great pizza for a snack and two flavours of ice-cream always available at lunch or dinner - MDR and buffet choices were very similar. Quite like the fact there's a full bar / cafe attached to both the MDR and buffet tbh. From fellow passengers, the steak house got glowing reviews, Sabatini's less so - caveat emptor and all that - we'd eaten at Sabatini's on a previous cruise and tbh have learnt our lesson. That being said, if you've never been to Italy and enjoy the chain eateries here in the States you'll feel right at home (remember folks - food is subjective...) Note that the specialty restaurants take it in turn to open. My only gripes are the lack of regional produce being offered and the unadventurous choice of beer available - suspect this isn't going to change. Luckily ports-of-calls allowed us to at least eat and drink locally for lunch (yes, Iceland is a little pricey - but not compared to the cruise!) Priority Lines - There were a lot of Elites on our cruise and two tender ports. That being said, there's only 600-odd passengers and so it didn't take that long to get off, even when not taking a Princess $hore excursion. Similarly. embarkation / disembarkation were a breeze. However, my number one take home was what a happy ship the Pacific is. If you want to, you can really get to know your fellow passengers and crew. We bumped into a number of the latter ashore and they were always happy to chat. I liked the fact that I only had to walk one floor to get to the nearest cafe for my caffeine fix and could get to anywhere I needed to be in only a couple of minutes. I suspect that like others who've sailed her, I'll miss her when she's gone.
  3. We've sailed on both Regal and Majestic and are looking forward to the Royal when head South of the Border from San Pedro. What's to like? Space (seriously - so much space); the buffet; the fact that the promenade (or supposed lack of) is always deserted that we've never had a problem grabbing a spot... The only thing we don't like is the loss of The Explorers for the antiseptic Princess Live. That said at least the Royal Class are proper ships and not floating amusement parks... we're adults and can make our own entertainment, thanks very much. We've also sailed on Grand Class, Coral Class and will be popping "home" before picking up the Pacific later this month. Bottom line is we haven't sailed on a Princess ship we didn't like - sure they all have their quirks - but that's what makes them all individual. We don't care about balconies or suites - a restricted view suits us fine. We treat our cruise as a fully-inclusive floating hotel, and just like our land-based hotels, providing our cabin is clean, has a comfortable bed, we're good to go... looking at the number of Elites in the same type of cabin as us, seems others have the same idea. And while bigger isn't necessarily better, this is the future of the mainstream cruise industry. Those who want the smaller more intimate experience will migrate to those lines that will cater to them. Us? We've a finite vacation budget and plan on stretching it as far as we can...
  4. So effectively a day in Venice and Florence, day and a half in Rome - reads like a box-ticking exercise. Personally I'd pick one or two cities (me? Florence and Rome although we spent a week in Rome and still only really scratched the surface). Head over to TripAdvisor, work out what you want to do and see, take advantage of public transport, the fact that all three are pretty walkable and DIY-it...
  5. OP - I always search for and use the official website of the port / harbour master our cruise ship is berthed. For Copenhagen: http://www.cmport.com/ships-in-port/cruise-ships - just click on the date you depart
  6. Sailed on the Diamond from Kobe in May - Great ship, fantastic itinerary. Passengers were a truly international mix. About 60% Japanese, with Americans, Canadians - a lot of whom were from Québec - Aussies, Kiwis, Chinese (PRC and Taiwan), Korean and a few Brits (guilty as charged) making up the rest. Announcements were in English and Japanese. Can't speak for others but it gave me the opportunity to increase my limited Japanese vocabulary and keep up my French...
  7. Recently returned from a 7-day cruise out of Kobe on the Diamond as part of a 2 and a bit week holiday in Japan (first week we spent in Kyoto - a city I'll definitely recommend if you've never been). The Diamond's a beautiful ship, which has the new Princess bedding - dead comfy. Add a gently motioning ship and Mrs SoCal and I had no problem stacking Zeds. Food in the MDR was OK - nothing really wowed us (compared to both the Star and Majestic last year) - but it was all edible and no one on our table complained. HC does indeed serve ramen and cold noodles - they're not bad tbh (not as good as the real thing, but make for a pretty decent lunch) - and a pretty decent number of curry dishes (I digress). As befits a ship where the the passenger demographic is overwhelmingly Japanese (~ 65% on our cruise), there's a sushi restaurant (underwhelming by all accounts - I'd already had my fill by then, so can't comment), a decent selection of Japanese dishes for lunch, dinner and breakfast, including natto with your miso soup and grilled salmon, should you desire. While there's no tub chair in your stateroom, there is a kettle - just the thing to make a nice cup of matcha.
  8. Plebeians? Have we been formally introduced? I do miss the days of Steerage...
  9. Just like food, every cruiser's opinion is purely subjective and from my subjective viewpoint (10 Princes cruises over the past 5 years) and so my subjective thoughts in response to your comments... 1). MDR menu / quality seems more to do with Ship / Chef than any deliberate ploy. Just off of the Diamond and MDR food was OK, but then again for the price of the cruise ("obstructed" - in reality, not - view, shed load of OBC, etc...) I'm not complaining. And proving how subjective comments on food are, our dining room companions were from Oz and one was complaining about food on the Majestic... Which we were on in November and thought was the best MDR food we'd eaten 2). Haven't got that far yet... 3). Our Diamond room steward was the happiest, cheeriest, all round top bloke we've had... 4). $3 a load self-service. Brink your own pods and fabric sheets.. 5). Were on the Majestic and Star last year - admittedly not on the Diamond 6). On the dining room tables. Just ask for more if you run out 7). Mrs SoCal misses those - me less so 8). 2 fer 1 on the Diamond - we're not huge boozers anyway 9). See (1). Definitely think lunch choices are better than Dinner. However, we luv a good curry and you can generally get a good curry or 3 in the buffet 10). Never really needed one 11). Lets riff-raff like us in. Clean jeans and shock - wore a shirt (albeit a casual one) this time 12). I've always maxed them out on a cruise anyway. Definitely good vfm for us caffeine addicts 13). Looking forward to the Pacific Princess in August Truth is, I suspect the cost of cruising, just like flying has never really been cheaper. Certainly even 10 years ago I'd never imagine us taking a cruise or 20-odd years ago regularly flying around the world.
  10. We live 40-odd miles north of LA and similar to Qcruise, any vacation that avoids the hell on earth that is LAX (putting the Third into Los Angeles World Airports) is fine by us. We've taken several Mexican Riveria cruises from San Pedro and have enjoyed them all. Thoughts on ports are very subjective, but we're not fans of Cabo. I'm sure 20 - 30 - 40 years ago it was a quaint fishing village, now it's just a tourist trap, with the plan being to extract as much money from unsuspecting Gringos as possible. We quite liked Todos Santos (ignore the Hotel California stories - it's just a really picturesque little town). Note Cabo is a tender port - might be the time to take a ship's shorex... Mazatlan - the marmite port of the cruise. We're Brits, so we love marmite! We follow the blue line into the Centro Historico and just immerse ourselves i this quaint town. We're seriously toying with staying there for a week or two. We tend to take the travel safety advisories here with a grain of salt and like the thousands of US and Canadian snowbirds who overwinter in the town, just enjoy it for its unspoilt charm. Love PV. We just grab a cab to the Malecon and chill all day. Lots of great restaurants, bars, artisanal stores and plenty of things to do. However, do head over to the Mexican Rivera Ports of Call forum and take a look at TripAdvisor as well.
  11. Just goes to show how selective our opinions of food can be. We sailed the Majestic from Sydney to Auckland as part of a 3 week cruise / DIY vacation to NZ. Mrs SoCal and I both agreed that not only was the Majestic a beautiful ship (would sail again on her in a heartbeat) but the food was excellent. Never had a problem with their being a lot of Asian food in the buffet (although a few more dishes from the Indian sub-continent wouldn't have gone amiss), Alfredos was good (both pizza and pasta) and as for the MDR - without a shadow of a doubt the menus were the best we've ever had on Princess.
  12. I assume you're talking about the Skyrail? Does your tour involve Skyrail return (the route back down is the best - views to the ocean as you crest the rainforest canopy are stunning). Not going to add to the debate as whether it is worth it or not, as it is purely subjective (we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience). As to alternatives it all depends on your tour's itinerary and timings. There's the scenic train, bus, (although timings are restrictive), hire a car, or take a taxi... or promise to do all the housework for at least 6 months if she takes the Skyrail... Alternatively, use these forums, hop over to TripAdvisor, look at Googleflights, Skyscanners, etc... and DIY it. It's pretty straight forward and will cost a fraction of the tour. Oh and don't forget your ETA.
  13. Just in case our taste buds and budgets differ... https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g255060-Sydney_New_South_Wales.html
  14. Yay! Another food thread. Popcorn anyone? Although thou doth protest too much, methinks...
  15. OP - I probably wouldn't ask a group of well-intentioned strangers on boards such as this. I'd be looking at the requirements as posted on the websites for the Australian and New Zealand government immigration services: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/Trav/Visi/Visi https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/visitor-visa Whatever they say you need to do, I'd follow that advice...
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