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Everything posted by SWFLAOK

  1. I think that most of your questions should be answered by reading the Paul Gauguin website. I also think that the Paul Gauguin is not geared toward large family groups with children. There are no activities provided onboard for kids or teens. No one onboard makes sandwiches to bring on excursions. Food is not stocked in the fridge so there's no way to do that. The PG website covers excursions available on each cruise. Excursions are not included in the cruise price, and are booked online after you make reservations and pay for them in full. Have you looked at any ships on a different cruise line that might have activites for teens and preteens?
  2. I totally agree with Wendy about the Paul Gauguin. It's not "themey" in any way. It's home port is Papeete, and they always have a group of young people from French Polynesia as part of the crew to provide insight and entertainment on board. They are very genuine and provide a lot of information about the place where they live. The cabins aren't large, but they are comfortable, and the crew is wonderful and provides excellent service. The food is quite good as well. If you like a small ship experience, there's not better way to cruise in the South Pacific. Ronrick1943 mentioned that it looked like it was family oriented. We have met a few small family groups on board, but the cabins really only hold 2 comfortably. We have seen very few children. The family groups we have seen have been siblings, and a parent of 2, traveling in their own cabins. They have been outgoing with the rest of us; unlike very large family groups with children we've encountered on larger ships, where they're looking for tables for 20 or more at the same time. The OP mentioned that they're a group of friends traveling together. If they're a group of 8 or less, or a larger group that doesn't mind going their own way for meals and excursions, and mixing in with other passengers onboard, then they would fit in on the Paul Gauguin. If they're a group of 20 friends that will be staying together onboard and on excursions, then a somewhat larger ship like the Navigator would be more comfortable for that size group.
  3. Actually, I haven't chewed gum since I was a kid so I won't have a problem with it in Singapore. I used to swallow it and my mom told me it would stay in my stomach forever. While that wasn't true, it was bad for my teeth. It's good to see Regent reacting quickly to the situation with Cuba, and it's even better to see that they're compensating their customers. I wish they had done the same when they cancelled Brunei as a port due to their political situation. They decided to just skip that port and add a day at sea, with not even an onboard credit for the loss of a port and the "free" excursions, or port fees, that went with it. They were pretty quick on updating their printed cruise advertisements that we receive numerous times a week to remove Brunei as a port. I'm still waiting to see Regent remove Komodo Island as a port of call. From what I've read, it will no longer be accessible to cruise ships after December 31st, 2019. I hope they have another stop lined up nearby, but I'm surprised they haven't reacted to it yet.
  4. No. I think the list of countries that we are told not to visit should be more than that. If you want to visit DRC, with it's uncontrolled Ebola outbreak made worse by civil unrest, then you should not be allowed to return to the US. If you are arrested in Afghanistan for spitting in public, our government should not assist you in returning. Fortunately for those who make bad choices, our government has more empathy than I do.
  5. During my adult life, I have never been legally allowed to travel to Cuba since travel restrictions were imposed in 1963, and I had no desire to take part in the Cuban government controlled tours that were allowed. If the US only allowed tourists to come here when being escorted by a US guide who ensured your visits were restricted to government approved locations would you do it? People from the US have obviously traveled to Cuba by flying through Mexico, the Bahamas, T&C, Canada, etc., and on private boats. Under those circumstances, not being able to spend US dollars or use US credit cards made it hard to find a place to stay unless you had friends that you didn't mind imposing on. I'll never be able to visit all of the places in the world that are worthwhile visiting, so I will stick to those that are easily accessible. Luckily, we have met many wonderful Cuban people who live in the US and the Bahamas, and have heard about their native country from them.
  6. Here's when it was published, and it's written by a well respected author: Originally published: September 19, 2017 There were some pretty recent references, and the ability to visit was based on the lessening of restrictions on travel where they only needed to be on a guided tour. In the novel, they fly in, so the oversight by the Cuban guide would be much more intrusive on the trip than a day tour from a cruise ship. Having been born in the US, I don't think I'm old enough to have participated in unrestricted travel to Cuba based on this: "Legal travel to Cuba was long a dream of American travelers, who were prohibited from visiting the island since travel restrictions were imposed in 1963. Policy changes in 1999 opened the door for any American to legally travel to Cuba through a new license category called people-to-people travel, with the goal of enhancing cross-cultural relations between Americans and Cubans." In Florida, we meet many people who were born in Cuba, or have parents or grandparents who were born in Cuba. We often ask them what they think about Cuba. Almost none of them approve of how the people in Cuba currently live. They say that people cannot live their own lives in Cuba because the government controls everything. Might an illegal tip or business be overlooked by the government? It might for a while, but then someone will need to be paid to ignore it.
  7. I just finished reading Nelson DeMille's novel, "A Cuban Affair". After reading that, visiting Cuba doesn't seem like a vacation. Some of our friend have taken short cruises to Cuba from Florida this year. They enjoyed being onboard the cruise ship much more than they enjoyed getting off the boat in Cuba.
  8. My Dad was stationed in Cuba while in the USN in the 50s and never wanted to go back. He said it was the worst place he had been while in the Navy. He said the pollution of the water was comparable to a sewer, and as an excellent swimmer, he was assigned to swim out to planes landing in the bay. He spent time in Norfolk, Bermuda, Jamaica and Panama, and preferred all of them to Cuba. I'm not sure why living in NYC means you have done all of the other islands in the Caribbean many times. We lived in NY for a long time and did most, but not all of the islands. It's a long flight through NYC area airports, which are the worst in the US. We've spent more time going to the Caribbean since moving to Florida, and have enjoyed visiting islands that were harder to get to from NYC. We look forward to visiting islands where people are free to do what they want, and are not oppressed by their government.
  9. I would rather be in economy class on the old A340. The 2 seats with a window on each side has always worked well for us on our past 2 flights out and back. The new configuration with 3 seats doesn't work at all for a couple. It made us choose between upgrading to premium economy and buying out the third seat next to us. I had not heard that they still had the old configuration in service. I would love to be upgraded to business class. But I never saw any lay flat seats on the old planes, and we never felt a need for them from PPT to LAX.
  10. I agree. I'm sure Regent takes into account the safety of everyone on the ship that goes ashore. As a woman, I felt uncomfortable going on an excursion to the mosques of Brunei, and it wasn't something I was really looking forward to on our cruise. But, it would have been interesting to see how local women were involved in our excursion when we reached the floating city portion of the tour that's outside of the city. The excursion description seemed to suggest they were business owners outside of the city, but that may be just making it less unpalatable to the cruise guests.
  11. Actually, I read that story and was planning to do some research on those for this coming hurricane season. Having a few of those for use after hurricanes here in SW Florida might be helpful We currently rely on purchased gallon bottles of purified water. After that, we fill our bathtubs with water when a storm is approaching, and bleach it a few gallons at a time using CDC guidelines as our backup. We have a brita filter to remove any residual chlorine. Many years ago we had a small press-type water purifier with iodine laced charcoal inside. We used it in a number of places in the Caribbean where we didn't trust the tap water to brush our teeth. It tasted bad, so we drank bottled water (or anything else in a bottle if we ran out of bottled water during the night - a cold beer during the night helps you get back to sleep). But since then, RO water is readily available, and if we hear a water maker running, we don't worry about the tap water. This has worked for us very well for quite a few years. I'm not worried about the water from the tap. I'm worried about having a glass water bottle brought to my cabin that another passenger with the flu, or norovirus, or even a cold, has been drinking from. I'm sure the woman lost in the wilderness in Hawaii didn't have to worry about catching a virus from another person lost nearby.
  12. Because I know that the utensils, plates, and glasses in the restaurant are washed and sanitized by placing them in a commercial dishwasher between use by guests. They've learned how to limit the spread of illnesses onboard when it comes to the dining room. I don't know how the water bottles are cleaned. Since this is something new for Regent, they may need to "work out the bugs" of keeping the bottles from cross contaminating guests (pun intended). I wash the cups and glasses in my cabin with soap and water before using them, and wash any fruit that we eat from the fruit bowl in the cabin.
  13. Thank you for the info. I guess I'll be drinking out of the faucet unless our room steward can reassure me about where the water bottles come from each day, and how they're cleaned and refilled. There's too many onboard illnesses on a cruise ship that can be spread by a water bottle used by other passengers so I'm not feeling good about this. I've never been told on a cruise ship that I can't drink the water from the faucet, and I've always used it to brush my teeth, and haven't had a problem. Of course, it it's brown from the faucet, that's another problem.
  14. I don't have any cruises to Japan booked, but I'll take a look online to see if I can find flip-flop socks. We also like our downtime in our cabin to relax, and Regent Mariner's smallest cabin with a balcony had enough room for us. There;s only room for 2 chairs and a table on the balcony, but that was enough for us since we don't lay in the sun. There plenty of lounge chairs on the outside decks.
  15. I would definitely not take the credit in exchange for a hotel room during Super Bowl week unless you have a friend or relative with an available room. If so, then go for it. On our Regent cruise to Alaska, we decided to go for a non-concierge cabin since the concierge cabin was the same size and was more expensive. We always like to arrive the day before our cruise, so we then looked for a hotel that was close to the port. The Pan Pacific n Vancouver is at the port. You can't get closer than that. We chose a water view room that wasn't tremendously expensive, but then we added a pre-cruise package that included the breakfast buffet in the morning before the cruise, and having our luggage brought from our room to the ship. By this point, we were at 625 Canadian dollars for the overnight, which was around 560 US dollars. On arrival in Vancouver, around 11 AM, after leaving FLL at 6:30 AM, it took us almost 3 hours to get through customs and immigration. When we saw the welcome sign for the Regent transfer, we were sad that we had to look for a taxi. We found a taxi outside, and the taxi driver was willing to tell us all about Vancouver, and how it compared to other places he had lived. We gave him 50 US dollars. Our room was not ready, and reception suggested that if we ate in the restaurant and came back around 3, we would get an upgrade. We did that, and were upgraded to a Bay View Suite. It was the biggest hotel room we had ever stayed in. But, after that experience, we decided that concierge level amenities are worth it to us. It was not very much more for transfers and a hotel close to the port with breakfast included than what we paid. We would rather have someone looking for us for our transfers when we arrive after a long day of flying. We would like to be at the same hotel as other that we will be traveling with on the cruise. And Concierge level amenities gives us earlier access to excursions and restaurant reservations, a coffee maker in our cabin, and the service of a concierge onboard.
  16. I'd be very interested in this answer as well. I bought the rollup water bottles since they seemed like a good idea for us in other situations, but I don't know how you would refill it onboard. Do I need to bring a funnel to fill it from a glass bottle. What I am very concerned about is the washing and refilling of bottles. I would rather drink out of the faucet on a cruise ship than have the bottles refilled from a public source.
  17. There were already hooks to hang towels and bath robes, and I didn't really need to hang anything else from the wall. There's plenty of room for shoes in the bottom of the closet (how many pairs of shoes can you carry in your suitcase?), and I didn't know what else I would put in there. There was drawer space for socks, underwear, etc. We had a Deluxe Verandah on Mariner for our Alaska cruise, and there was plenty of storage for our 12 night cruise, and the clothes we needed for our additional week's stay in Alaska after the cruise. There's always been enough light to find the bathroom at night on the cruises we've been on so far (6 cruises on 5 cruise lines). And I provide a small light in our guest bath so there's no need for that when visiting me. I don't remember seeing a highlighter on the list that I read, but I think that would be helpful. I still bring a deck of cards, although I haven't used them so far. The list had plastic clothes pins, and bring 4 and have used them on 2 of our 6 cruises where they were needed to hang wet swim suits. I try to avoid a large morning coffee if I have an excursion before noon. I hate to spend a lot of time standing in line for the restroom, or even using a public restroom at all in some places. If it's a sea day, there's plenty of time to refill the regular size cup provided.
  18. We received the Brunei cancellation for our Voyager cruise December 2019 very shortly after the new laws were enacted, so I assumed that was the reason. We have an extra day at sea, so any new port is probably better than that.
  19. On our first cruise, which was on the Paul Gauguin, I brought a lanyard, along with other things that I hope no one saw in my suitcase since I never brought them out (magnet hooks for the wall, an overdoor shoe holder, battery operated tea candles, and other things I'm ashamed to admit). They were all recommended in an article that I read on the internet. It might even have been linked to cruise critic. But luckily, I kept them in my suitcase under the bed until I determined if they were needed. By the time I took my 4th cruise, which was my first on Regent, I knew that the recommended list was not for the type of ship that I cruised on. However, on my Regent cruise to Alaska in late August, I did bring plenty of socks, and on board, I needed to wear socks with my sandals on a few cold mornings (they didn't work with my flip flops). Our Florida feet don't like closed toes, so we only wear those for excursions that call for sneakers, or when we dress up for dinner.
  20. i never order a real burger anywhere, so I would never order a vegetable version of it with an unknown concoction of vegan ingredients that resembles a burger .I try to avoid artificial foods, which is what I consider some of these new menu items. I want to know exactly what I'm eating. I eat a small amount of red meat at home, but don't order it if there's an alternative on board. I'm looking for seafood or entrees that contain real vegetables in their natural form. I had no problem finding good selections on our previous cruise, so we'll see how we do on our next cruise. I work hard to get my husband to enjoy vegetable entrees at home, and an artificial meat burger isn't going to fly. A black bean burger works OK for him at home.
  21. We don't do much diving anymore, but we have kept our Diver's Alert Network insurance that includes medical evacuation insurance for any reason while on vacation. It doesn't need to be diving related, but you need to call their emergency number to arrange it. And you get a nice diving magazine with your membership. I think it's less than 200 a year for both of us.
  22. I agree that I would be very disappointed if I was told that a port I expected to visit was cancelled because past passengers weren't happy with their excursion choices. I book my cruises based on the ports they have listed as past excursions, and TA reviews of excursions in those port. I've done my research on the ports, and the excursions available in those ports. Things can change for reasons outside of Regents control, but St Barths has only gotten better since the hurricane a few years ago. If others chose something they don't like, that shouldn't change the itinerary of already booked cruises.
  23. For many people, it's the upscale ambience of Gustavia, with many ultra wealthy people shopping, drinking and eating. As a quote on the internet that I found accurate, it was described as "the elegance of France meets Sweden" so it's a different atmosphere than other islands in the Caribbean. There's no British or Spanish influence, and the French influence isn't there in a rude way as we experienced on another French Caribbean island. We don't look for upscale shopping, since most of our purchases are T-shirts bought by my husband, but many other cruise guests look for that. Gustavia has interesting shops for those who like to shop, or just browse a bit. We love good food, and a cocktail or glass of wine with a view. We like historical sites, and there's a small museum in Gustavia, as well as the Fort Karl lookout. We love exploring, and walking on the beach with a dip, but not laying in the sun. We love snorkeling and swimming in crystal clear water. Looking at the Regent website, where a few cruises still have St Barths as a port, we would choose this as our included excursion: Sailing the Leeward Coast Explore St. Bart's pristine natural beauty from a unique perspective during this scenic catamaran cruise along the leeward coast of the island. Depart the pier aboard your catamaran for the cruise to the Bay of Colombier. Upon arrival, you can swim in the crystal-clear waters and explore the beach. Your captain and hostess will also inform you about the local marine life. While anchored, the Captain and attentive crew will be serving refreshments. Following close to an hour at anchor, the boat will then begin the return trip to Gustavia. We did a 4 or 5 hour version of this cruise from Gustavia when we stayed at Le Sereno Hotel on our honeymoon many years ago (it was El Sereno back then, which didn't sound very French). It was a lunch cruise with only 5 guests onboard. The snorkeling was good, in shallow water. The beach was close enough for an easy swim in, and a good lunch was provided with a delicious Tiramisu for dessert. Other than that Regent excursion, we would only do the rental car. From a cruise ship, the only thing to see are the beaches. Staying on land, the food is a big draw, but other than one good lunch (which should be at La Langouste) one day doesn't give you a chance to try the restaurants. The snorkeling in St Barths was not as good as Bonaire, where we stayed for a week at Harbour Village many years ago. It was the best snorkeling we've ever experienced in the Caribbean. We haven't found a cruise itinerary that appeals to us for Bonaire. With the current situation in Venezuela, we would not feel comfortable going on a land based vacation on Bonaire because of the large number of vacation home owners from Venezuela that we encountered there. And there is almost nothing to see on Bonaire other than snorkeling or scuba diving. There's a national park to drive through on the north end, and some salt ponds and related ruins on the south end, but the water is the attraction. The food was definitely not as good as the Regent cruise provides.
  24. We normally rely on our cruise TA to come up with the possible insurance opportunities. We normally end up with Allianz Travel Insurance which just went up to 8 percent a few months ago . We're both in our 60's. We have a Viking River Cruise booked next year, and our TA said that their insurance is the best she's seen, and was no more expensive so we took that for our Viking cruise.
  25. We stopped at St Barths on SeaDream in March 2018. We had no excursions available to us since the cruise was only half full, and we had a large group that had booked a private excursion for birdwatchinng. But we totally enjoyed our time in St Barths. We had a day and a half since we had another port cancelled due to high swells. On the first afternoon, our cruise director and activities director took us on a walk through Gustavia up to Fort Karl and the down to Shell Beach. We were all on our own after that. We walked the beach and found many shells, others went into the sea and jumped the waves, and some went to Shellona for drinks and lunch. On our way back to the dock, we stopped in a few shops, then at a bar (where we found our cruise and activities directors), and then at a car rental place to make a reservation for the next day. The next morning, we picked up our car and drove the entire island. We spent a week of our honeymoon back in 1992 on St. Barths and were interested to see what was still there after the hurricane. Gustavia was nearly completely recovered by March 2018, but other areas were still working on it. There were many hotels, including the one we stayed at, were planning to open within the next few months. Roads and beaches were all accessible and open. The Anse de Flamands area still had a lot of hurricane damage, but we had a wonderful lunch at La Langouste, and there small hotel was in great shape. We saw no evidence of poverty or crime, and saw that jobs were plentiful and everyone was working hard to get back to tourism instead of construction as a way of life. We really enjoyed our day's drive. I would much rather stop at St Barths than St Kitts. We vacationed on St Kitts in the mid 90's and stayed at the Golden Lemon. It was a beautiful place, but the owners were trying to sell it and move to Nevis because of the crime. We experienced several young men trying to force their way into the restaurant one evening, and the owners needing help from employees to run them off. In Basseterre, a young man made overt sexual gestures toward me from about 6 feet away, and we were able to get the attention of a policeman standing nearby to run him off. The other end of the island was already overcrowded with tourists looking for cheap all-inclusives. We have no desire to stop at St Kitts again.
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