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About Balian65

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  1. I will be on that cruise well and I am happy not be in that situation this time. But knowing that situation quite good from past experiences I would recommend thinking about package rates from your provider and not to rely on the ship’s WiFi connection. You will need an EU Package for all countries except for Russia and a second one for Russia. That should work most of the time except for the time at sea. When you are more than 10 miles away from land it will be getting difficult. I am from Germany and I do use Vodafone as provider which works pretty well in that region. To be on the safe side I use cell phone and laptop independently. Otherwise it can be a hassle dealing with markups. What did not really work to my experience was participating in all hands phone calls or large group calls. Too many connection problems and background noises. Good luck and see you then.....
  2. In Germany you will find quite a few stores and restaurants not accepting credit cards. Three out of four payments are still done in cash and that means Euro only. US dollars are generally not accepted. If you use debit cards maestro is the most used card in Germany. Visa and Mastercard are quite common, but don’t be surprised if American Express or other credit cards are not accepted. Apple Pay is yet not a common option except for online purchases. Any ticket machines will work only with PIN or cash.
  3. To my experience the dress code was only enforced in the four dinner locations on 4th floor (Atlantide, Indochine, La Dame, Kaiseki) and only during dinner times. If you go to the bars on upper level after dinner you might feel out of place in casual attire but no one really cares. On a formal night there were lots of men not wearing ties all over the ship after dinner.
  4. Not really correct. Anybody who has a valid residence and working permit for the country the ship is registered can work on such a ship. But the employer has to guarantee that minimum wages and agreed tariffs of the country affected must be paid to avoid any kind of wage dumping. And then there are certain rivers like the Duoro in Portugal where only ships operated by local companies are allowed to cruise there. That means international river cruise companies like Uniworld or Viking have to engage a local service company and do not have much influence on the people.
  5. As we are on holidays in Madeira we will take look at the Explorer today in the harbour of Funchal. Really curious about how it looks from the outside. We will board in July for a Baltic trip. I wish kjbacon and tucruiser a fine day on the island as you probably will take the cable car to Monte.
  6. Monaco is an integral part of the EU customs territory and VAT area, and therefore applies most measures on excise duties and VAT. (from Wikipedia). To my knowledge all EU countries could act like Spain and Italy. Each of them in their own boundaries and with their own VAT tax rate. I know Germany (from where I come) does not act this way because the administration costs are significantly higher than the tax income. I suppose the same applies for France and other countries. Concerning your trip route in European legal terms you do not leave the EU customs territory at all. So I am not sure if you will not be charged VAT all of the time of your cruise. VAT rates all over Europe differ from 18% to 25% and are included in the shop prices offshore (but not on the ship). There are reduced rates (7-12%) mainly for food but definitely not for alcohol for which there maybe extra tax rates in some countries.
  7. Yes we are looking forward to our Baltic trip as well. For Warnemünde (which is a suburb of Rostock) excursions without Berlin I saw three options. One is a technical museum about an hour away, then you can take several tours to the city of Rostock which I would only recommend if you feel lost in a non English-speaking environment and the last option is the tour to the railway in Bad Doberan which is a nice historical seaside resort. Depending on the weather we personally will take either a beach break directly in Warnemünde or take a cab to the historical seaside resort (20 miles distance). Guided excursions in our own country in English language would be a very strange idea to us.
  8. We will be on the same cruise. But being Regent first timers as well I can't tell you much about the ship or the cruise line. We have already booked excursions and at least at two occasions (Klaipeda/Tallinn) you have the opportunity for biking or kayaking. In Petersburg it is definitely the best option to join a group. We have been there as independent travellers some years ago and it will take you a long time to pass the long lines before the big places like the hermitage. And without speaking Russian you can easily get lost in that city, no comparison to any other big European town. For Berlin it depends on what you want to see. Just to have a fast look at all the famous places or if you have a specific interest on the very special history and atmosphere of that place. Feel free to ask I am German. Copenhagen and Stockholm are very interesting places. It is worth to spend one, two or three days before and after your cruise. Wish you all the best in preparation for that event.
  9. Short update: one day after the discussion started here, i received a call from a German agent of the UK office. Within one further day they adjust our price completely to the special offer price which means 4k savings for us. The whole discussion was much smoother than I ever expected it.
  10. We sure we do have a valid booking, we can book excursions on the official Regent website. And we do have all the documentation including contracts. Our contact was working exclusively for Regent and Oceania and had an official Regent mail address. There are no Regent offices in the smaller European countries so I will contact the UK office. To find an experienced German TA who works regularly with Regent is gonna be hard, we even failed to find one for Silverseas.
  11. Thanks for all the replies. My biggest concern is that it seems the German office does not exist anymore, no way to get in contact with them neither via phone nor via mail. That German representative had been our only contact. But obviously no one knows what has happened to Regent's German desk. So it seems I have to go through the British office which might be a little difficult as my whole documents are in German language. The package is completely the same - we arranged all the pre and post cruise traveling ourselves. And no - we did not pay the original prices but 2k more per person for G1 than we would do now. Probably the legal situation can be compared to the UK, but as we booked before July 2018 we still can cancel the trip without any fees until 120 days in advance. And even if we are used to travel with a vast majority of Americans in this case it makes a huge difference when you belong to a small minority. So I will try my luck with the British office.
  12. Last year we have booked a cruise on Explorer for the Baltic Sea ( July 2nd - July 12th). We have done that through a German representative for Regent/Oceania and have paid a 20% deposit. We are Regent first timers but have sailed several times with SS. Meanwhile the fare for that cruise has dropped by 30% and we are still in the period where we can cancel without any costs. Any attempt (via mail or telephone) to reach that German representative has failed. I have no idea if that lady is still active for Regent and Oceania. My questions are: what can we expect if we not cancel and re-book the cruise and who would be the right addressee to reach for.
  13. We will be on the Copenhagen to Stockholm cruise starting July 2nd. Being a German who often travels businesswise to both cities I know most of the hotels used by the cruise lines like Regent or Silverseas. For Copenhagen they often use the Marriott, the Tivoli or the Admiral. All three are completely ok but far away from being exceptional. Top choice in terms of quality would be the Herman K but it has its price. The best value for money you will get probably in the Strand which we have booked on our own. Similar situation in Stockholm with the addition that most of the rooms are rather small, as space in the city is limited and extremely expensive. Hotels often booked by the cruiselines are the Haymarket, the Sheraton and three different Radissons. All of them are ok with rather small rooms and limited service personal due to the high wages there. My personal favorite would be the Radisson Collection Strand Hotel. If you are looking for the best in quality the Grand Hotel and The Bank might be the best options.
  14. Being German who often travels via Frankfort airport I can reassure you that the Lufthansa extra service is a good idea regarding your limited layover time. Due to the growth of the airport changing terminals has become challenging especially for first timers. At the moment airport company has about 2.000 vacant jobs they do not find the people for. That definitely makes it even harder. You definitely have to pass customs in Frankfort and to change terminals. It is a large airport but expect no difficulties with language or security. Arriving in Venice should be much easier then. As you already entered EU and the Schengen area there will be no further customs or passport control. But language will be a much bigger issue in Italy than in Germany. So good luck for your travel and your cruise on Whisper. We will follow about two weeks later for a cruise on Muse.
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