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About shank63

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Cornelius, NC
  • Interests
    Travel, photography, golf
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Oceania, Celebrity, HAL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Exactly what we have learned to do. We do initially include OLife when we book a cruise and elect excursions, then shop for private tours. We usually find enough private tours that are better value than the OLife offerings, so before final payment is due we advise our TA to op out of OLife and reduce our balance due, the same amount as the OBC. It’s a nobrainer when one of the couple is a non drinker.
  2. Oceania is a good fit for us. No formal or gala nights, country club casual dress code, bring aboard all the wine you need and pay a corkage fee only in dining rooms, 4 specialty restaurants at no extra fees, all non-alcoholic beverages included in fare, similar demographics as HAL, port intensive itineraries, excellent food. We also like HAL and know that you get what you pay for.
  3. The cruise industry is receiving a ton of bad press recently with ships quarantined and passengers restricted to their staterooms. While these conditions currently apply to Asian ports, it likely has a negative impact on people considering a cruise in any market as well as those of us booked on cruises to sail later in the year. We are booked on a Mediterranean cruise to Istanbul and other Eastern Med ports, sailing in mid June. We are not overly concerned about the coronavirus, but are watching the situation as we approach the final payment date. Do anyone have a feel of the effect on cruise bookings for summer and fall for the European markets?
  4. We did the Baltic last year in June and used Alla for the St Petersburg excursions with a private group of 10. It was our favorite itinerary so far, but the Med is a close second. Do one this year and the other in a year or two.
  5. The menu prices do not include a gratuity, 15% is automatically added.
  6. Avoiding photographers and the photo gallery is the most unpleasant part of a HAL cruise and the absence of photographers on Oceania ships is a blessing.
  7. The so called smart casual dress code is also declining. On a recent Caribbean cruise, we saw men in jeans, tee shirts and ball caps in the Main Dining Room.
  8. We arrived at Fort Lauderdale on 1/11/20 and the Global Entry line was only accepting travelers with GE Cards as they had no Passport scanner. I was told by my interviewer for GE that the card would only be needed when crossing into the US by automobile. Next time I will know better.
  9. We booked onboard one of the 2021 All Inclusive deals for a 14 cruise in Europe. I am concerned about the “free air” included in the package, in the fine print it is actually a credit of $800pp. Does anyone have experience with included air on HAL? I have used HAL’s Flight Ease on a short domestic flight and save a few bucks, but an overseas flight is more complex in terms of cost, connections, seating options. I do have the option to cancel without penalty and transfer the deposit to another cruise if It’s advantages. Bob
  10. Some cruise lines allow more generous quantities of wine brought aboard, subject to a corkage fee when consumed in the dining venues and bars. No fees when consumed in the staterooms.
  11. The popular classes do sell out, but on our last cruise we had a class cancelled and were notified upon boarding.
  12. Florence has so much to see, the Duomo and the bell tower, the Baptistery, the Basilica of Santa Croce where Michelangelo and many other crypts can be viewed, Piazza Della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, the Mercanto Cenrtale, and much more. Take time for an espresso or a gelato. Florence can not be seen and enjoyed in one day, you really need 3 or more days to take it in and include Acedemia and Uffizi, just don’t miss your chance to see a bit if the birth of the Renaissance.
  13. shank63


    I remember a Free tasting of single malt Scotch on Celebrity back in the early 90s. Haven’t seen that recently, but otherwise O is a much better fit for my clothes.
  14. We were on the Marina this June with the Vero water in our stateroom. Plastic water bottles were offered for shore excursions. The system was fine, no issues whatsoever although I had misgivings. The plastic straw ban is another issue that hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved.
  15. I like to bring aboard a few bottles of nice wines, packed in checked luggage in Wineskins, a product available at Total Wine and others. I’ve done this on 3 cruises with no problems.
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