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  • Location
    Boynton Beach Florida
  • Interests
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Crystal, Oceania, Regent, Seabourn
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Northern Europe

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  1. One final note which I felt that I should add.... If you are considering cruising, on any line, you should go. Everyone is vaccinated and you would be hard pressed to find a safer place. I press this point because I am of the opinion (no facts other than what I think) that we are going to see a rash of bankruptcies and consolidations in the industry. These SS Alaska cruises operated well below capacity. There was expense to deadhead the ship to/from Seattle and to press it into service and take it out again. Meanwhile they are paying debt on new ships, paying for the old ones to remain mission ready and are about to put more new ships in service. The parent and similar corporations have many mega ships laid up, with crews likely in the 80 to 120 person range. This burns through cash and evidentially the music will stop and someone will be left without a chair. Enjoy it while it is available.
  2. And now we come to the end of the cruise. It is hard to believe that in just 24 hours this thriving hotel/ship will go dark. You would never know this as the crew soldiers on with normal service. At last night's farewell reception the captain did announce that the ship would spend a week in Seattle and head for Manila to drop staff and head for lay-up. Other, non Filipino staff are announcing travel plans, some as early as Monday. Unlike last March, the line has had time to plan for a "hot" lay-up. The room next door gives some indication as it is empty. The balcony furniture is inside and the room is prepped. The largest goal I'm sure is to keep the UV rays off of everything possible. I do wonder what happens to both the live plants (we think that they will go overboard) and food that the passengers have not consumed. So this brings me to the question of would I do SS again? The short answer is likely no. Why? I learned long ago that the answer to most questions in life involves money. On CC we don't publish what we pay. I will say that I keep track of a stateroom's size and price per square foot. A second consideration is what extra was received for the value paid. We paid what I consider a high per square foot rate for a mid-sized room. For that we got no guest entertainers, no orchestra, and we have to pay for the specialty restaurants. Every line has a plus or a minus. Here the plus is a new ship and great staff. Its just not enough to overcome the cheaper price of similar accommodations and amenities on other lines listed on my signature line. Some items are truly personal preference such as the addition of a dedicated steak venue as opposed to another Asian restaurant. These personal preferences should not be used as ammo to downgrade the SS product. We had a great opportunity to experience SS. I'm glad we chose to do it and would consider it again for the right time and cruise. Now if only American Airlines will come through for us tomorrow........ signing off, Preston
  3. 932, 933, 934 and 935 are directly under the bar (port side) and galley (starboard side) which are on deck 10. At times, it sounds like the heard of buffaloes has been turned loose up there. At lunch the 3 piece group plays there and you can easily hear the music in your room, regardless of whether or not you want to ...
  4. Masks, these seem to be making a comeback. Juneau was the worst with threatening signs not to enter unless masked. As previously stated, there are no mask police on board and you see some passengers without and some wearing N-95s every minute of the day. The ship has attempted to comply with social distancing, but does not really adhere to it. Case in point; two nights ago was a lively show. The shows have all been moved from 10PM to 6:15 (right at my normal shower time). This show was also moved to the Panorama Lounge on 9 as opposed to the theater. The management grossly underestimated the attendance, every table in the lounge was occupied and it was standing room only around the perimeter. We did get a table, we just had to remove the small sign that said that the table was closed due to social distancing. If I didn't feel safe, I certainly had the option to leave. Speaking of shows, last night's show was the first with live musical accompaniment. Again at 6:15 two singers, did an opera show with the ships piano player. They really did a good job but unlike the previous night, it was not well attended. Yesterday we were the only ship in Juneau. Apparently many of the shops and restaurants took the opportunity to give their employees the day off. Juneau appears to be the most impacted by the loss of ships. I would estimate that 50% were closed for the day or had completely gone under. Our mere 250 passengers did not cut it. Food, we didn't get into La Dame last night as nobody canceled. We are on the waiting list for tonight again. We may have a better chance as the sea is a bit rough today and I suspect that more than a few are ill. Tonight is formal night. We are in the lee of Queen Charlotte Island today but we may lose some of the protection tonight. Preston
  5. The adventure continues though I was busted. Monday night we were seated the the very last table, all the way in the rear of Atlantide. A great couple was seated next to us and we struck up a conversation. Suddenly, out of the blue, our friend asked if I was the one writing on CC? Busted, must have been something I said? Yesterday, was a cold and windy day in Skagway. It was typical for this time of year. Skagway has grown over the years and a number of the businesses did not survive. A few odds and ends notes. I'm pleased to see that SS does let the crew out on a limited basis. Yesterday our butler and a number of other staff got to go on the White Pass excursion. I'm sure that it was a great break for them as Covid does limit the crew visits ashore. On Crystal last month, no crew were allowed off the ship. We met more than a few who had joined the ship in mid April and had not set foot off the ship. Even with an uncertain future, this crew seems very happy. Now for a note on the room. Don't ever get either of the SS suites that are directly under the bar or kitchen on deck nine. The noise from above can be deafening at times. In fairness, this is only during the day and never noticed at night. Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier was this morning. The rain largely held off and we even saw the sun peak through several times, a rare event on this cruise. As with all glacier trips the ship crept in as close as possible and the sights were great. La Dame is proving hard to get into. The last formal night is completely full - we are on the wait list for tomorrow night. We'll be in Juneau this evening at 6:30. Overnight at the dock so it shouldn't be too rough. 🙂 Preston
  6. Interesting, I wrote the above (my previous) post yesterday. When I signed on today I found that it was still there. Generally I'm not too bad with technology but I have no excuse. Today in Sitka it is pouring. The rain held off to a drizzle for a walk around town this morning, but the fog and rain moved in around noon. Again, welcome to SE Alaska in September. Now to answer a few questions. After a few drinks and a wine or 2 at dinner my palate could not distinguish between warm and cold water lobster. Its all good and I suspect that there is plenty of storage. Another question was a good one about the Muse's next destination. The crew has been given a script for this. When asked, they will mention a possible charter out of Japan and the fact that they are not sure about that. Given how locked down Japan was for the Olympics, I doubt that that will happen. I did get out of one crew member that they thought that they were getting a ride to the Philippines. This makes sense. First, we know that there are no revenue cruises planned. Therefore without money flowing in there has to be good plan to lay-up the ship until needed again. Second a large part of the crew is from Indonesia or the Philippines. Plane tickets are not cheap and the ship will not be laying up in Seattle anyway. Last month on Crystal we learned that it took a crew of about 80 to keep the ship in good condition. That's a lot of money. Whatever they do, it is already planned and the plan centers around money. We can watch on Marine Traffic the time that the Muse spends in Seattle before setting sail for cheaper waters. This must be a huge topic for the crew and as stated above they have a script and are likely warned (sternly) not to speculate about their future employment around the guests. They are complying. The hamburger yesterday was OK. 3 out of 5. It was rather thick and did not seem to be the best cut of ground beef? I may have it again but I won't be raving about it. Dinner last night at La Dame was excellent. We both had rack of lamb and enjoyed sitting next to a colorful couple. Service was perfect and we were attend to by the head sommiliar (head wine guy I can't spell that). We are off at 4 for Skagway. This will be somewhat of a homecoming for me as I lived there for 2 years in the 90s. Hopefully we'll get to see a few rays of sunshine? Venetian society party tonight. Whoopee, a free drink! My wife is a past customer so I guess I get to tag along. I still owe everyone a few interesting pictures .... Preston
  7. More on food .... these cruises are truly for the newly wed, the over fed and the almost dead. We fit the middle category. To answer an earlier question I actually prefer Oceania's food. On the newer Oceania ships there are 4 specialty restaurants in addition to the MDR. I like 3 of the 4 and have always had good food there. The pizza just stinks. I am also a pickey eater. Meat and potatoes. Drives Nina mad. SB is good but there is very little variety. Regent keeps up with Oceania and Crystal is very good as well. Interestingly the very best dish I have ever had on a cruise ship is the beef carpachio (surely I spelled this wrong) which is available on Crystal's Prego (Italian specialty). Last night we couldn't make up our minds on where to eat. We passed Silver Note and scored a reservation at 8, about an hour after we made the reservation. We had a drink in the Observation which was partially closed for the 70 travel agents on board. I do not know if the 70 are just the agents or if that includes their spouses. On the way out of the lounge my wife met a travel agent from her hometown of Louisville. Small world, my wife knew about half the agent's clients. We proceeded to Silver Note and we managed to add the 2 ladies to our table without a lot of hassle. Another sore for the can-do customer service. The jazz music and atmosphere in Silver Note were top notch. The menu is rather limited, but excellent. I had lobster, 2nd night in a row, but this one was Maine and served in a creamy sauce complimented by the Bourbon that I was enjoying. The Mrs. had the lamb tenderloin which had an excellent sauce. We will definitely be back. The show last night was one of the cast singers doing rat pack music in the lounge 9 aft. The guy did a good job of it and it seemed to be better attended than the show in the main theater? Time change last night also may have kept folks up a bit later. We have typical SE Alaska weather today in Wrangell. Cloudy and misting rain. Not much here but still its great to get outside. I had hoped to try a burger today but am getting push-back about not wanting to be outside. La Dame tonight, we are looking forward to that and after all we have a big chunk of shipboard credit to eat up ..... but now time for that burger. Preston
  8. Interesting question, I had the lobster and Nina had the Sea Bass. Interesting because SS publishes the menus in advance and you are able to do research as to what or where you would like to eat. Atlantide advertised that the lobster came fro Honduras, not Maine while several of the other restaurants had Maine Lobster. Still I had it and it was good, though I should have asked for some extra butter. Nina likes small portions. She is not satisfied to order food and leave some behind so she asks for small portions (it comes from her father - I once saw him have a hissie because the CC brought him 2 pieces of fish, not the one he asked to be brought). She asked for 1 piece of Sea Bass and that is exactly what they brought. It really was small, appetizer sized, but she was happy. And we did have the pizza for lunch. I'll try it again but it does need some improvement. The cruise line pizza score: - The worst was "finest cuisine at sea" Oceania. The crust tasted and had the consistency of cardboard. We took this to the French Hotel Director, and he agreed (pre-Covid). The best was Crystal, (last month) where one could order pizza from Silk, the Asian (go figure) restaurant on the covered-over pool deck. Regent made it hard to get pizza and I would rate SB the middle of the pack along with todays pizza. I ordered it well done, but it seemed as if the cheese was barely melted and not piping hot. I'm going to try it again with more specific instructions. Interestingly, the crispy-est part of the crust was the edges which were done and tasty. We tried to get a reservation for La Dame tomorrow night but it was full..... wow a post Covid first a waiting list. No problem, we will get in the following night at the least. It really sort of rubs us the wrong way to pay for the specialty restaurant. We crossed the South Pacific on Oceania (top suite) and were all we had to do was let our butler know where we wished to dine (MDR or any of the 4 specialty venues) prior to noon. No limit. No extra charges. Neither of us are Asian food fans so we won't be paying for the Japanese restaurant or be hitting the Indochine. We are considering heading back to Hot Rocks the matre-de (I can't get that one close enough for spell check) is excellent and has promised to tuck us in out of the wind and under the heater. No cast show tonight, just one member of the cast with a specialty show in the lounge on deck 9. Again, a hole that would normally be filled by a guest entertainer on similar lines. Finally, a correction. I said that there were a few travel agents on this cruise. It seems that all that we have met are TAs. We may be one of the few aboard paying full freight. Preston
  9. Sea day 1 is in the books. All was well but it clearly was one of the stranger weather days encountered. Rain in the morning, bright sun at lunch heavy rain at tea time and a clear weather perfect sunset, again enjoyed from the Observation library. The captain's welcome reception was sparsely attended, and it was a formal night. About 10% wore black tie and a large percentage wore at least a sport coat and tie. Very few were seen without even a sport coat. Dinner was Atlantide, which was 4 out of 5. Service was great but there was a very loud party of 2 seated next to us which detracted from the ambience. The show was excellent but I am beginning to see some Silversea differences when compared with SB, Regent, Crystal etc. There is no live orchestra but rather a sound track to back them up. These folks were good and the addition of a live orchestra would have greatly improved the experience. It also looks like there are no guest or special entertainers. No comedian, no sax player, magician etc. We have seen loads of these shows over the years and they of course run the gambit from excellent to needing to be keel hauled. Perhaps this is a sign of the times or perhaps this is always the norm? We did encounter our first Covid protocol that was found to be not so pleasant. When you enter one of the shops, your are greeted with an employee with a 1 quart spray bottle that insists on spraying your hands. Walk across the isle the the other shop, yes you get sprayed again.... The internet continues to be excellent. I guess that I have the higher access speed as a perk of the room? I find the app of my cruise . com to be useful. Yesterday I mentioned that the system was confused . Here is a screen shot of the system that does not know if we are in Alaska or Japan. One note received from last nights welcome reception. The passenger count of 279 was outnumbered by having just over 400 crew. SS has apparently not cut back on the staff due to the lighter loads as a quick check of the internet shows a full crew compliment of 411. Aboard Crystal in late July and early August crew members were being sent home to reduce costs. Kudos to SS as the experience for the passenger is excellent but the accountants probably are having heartburn. Pizza with drinks at lunch and perhaps a few pictures from around the ship which I find interesting. Preston
  10. Well, as soon as I hit the submit button I turned around and we have a perfect sea day. Sunny mid-60s and not too windy. We have seen lots of whale spouts but no breaches. Vancouver Island mountains are visible, but we are too far out for them to be spectacular. Regarding masks, we are asked to wear masks when moving around. I have not seen any incidents yet. 90% to 95% of guests comply inside, but a few forget. There are certainly no mask police, as there were on American Airlines en route to Seattle. Overall I would consider it more of an inconvenience as opposed to a distraction. Some guests over-comply and wear them at all times, fully their choice. Of interest I don't think that Silversea has fully recovered from their internet outage (hack?). Yesterday the TV position has us in Kushiro, Japan. Tomorrow the TV shows us headed to Tokyo. We had lunch on the pool deck. The music was a bit loud as we were seated close to the band but the bright sunshine and beverage overcame that. We had lamb rotisserie which was very good. Tomorrow we will try the pizza. I look forward to that as we have become somewhat of reviewers of pizza at sea. Hint - the secret is in the crust, not the ingredients, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Preston
  11. Greetings to anyone interested in the Muse and its last trip north to Alaska. My first comment is that our vaccine works, we passed our test and boarded. My wife and I arrived at Seattle's Pier 66 on a perfect Seattle day. Covid testing was as advertised, done behind partitions. We arrived a little later to avoid the 2PM rush and were rewarded with little to no wait. We were told results would be available in 45 minutes and it only took about 20. We did not hear of anyone denied boarding due to a positive result. We did hear about a couple from Florida who failed to bring their passports. Boarding denied. My guess is that their TA is partially to blame for not emphasizing this requirement. Ours didn't but we read the requirement somewhere. The rest of the boarding was efficient and without incident. This is my first Silversea and my wife has not been on this line since 2004. My first impression is that the muse is a close cousin of Seabourn's Encore. Very similar design, without the huge restaurant and SB's single specialty restaurant. This is our second cruise post Covid. We were on the Crystal Serenity in late July. The boarding and cruising with reduced loads is quite similar. The ships and itinerary are quite different. Aboud Muse we have a mid-sized room. We prefer a room with a butler and this fits the bill although I think all room have butlers here, quite unlike Seabourn where even to top suites have no butlers. We put our butler to work, ordering drinks to the room, making a reservation at the Hot Rock/Grill last night and morning coffee. Things are a little bit slower that butler service on other lines but definitely not out of line. Silversea butlers seem to be about 70% butler and 30% cabin steward. There couldn't have been a better evening for a departure from Seattle last night. Clear skies and about 70 degrees. The standard introductions and sail-away festivities were held by the pool. We learned that there are about 280 people on board (less the 2 that missed the passport instructions). This is about 80 more than the last cruise which surprised me. We have since learned that there are a fair number of travel agents aboard likely enjoying a reduced rate cruise offered to those in the industry. After cleaning up we headed to Tor's Observation Library. The forward views and sunset were fantastic. This my just about top any port departure that I have enjoyed. The only downer that we observed was a topic of previous posts; one individual wearing his ball cap in the lounge. No action was taken. Dinner at the Grill was great. Our theory was that the weather was as good as it would get so best to eat outside while you can. He never returned but we were quick enough to pull the meat before it was overdone. A few comparisons with other lines from my first day. - I find the per day price to be higher on SS than similar square footage rooms on SB and Oceania. Pricing is about where Regent comes in but Regent delivers more "all inclusive" (whether or not you use it) - We had read on other boards that SS service and food would be not up to the higher end cruise line standards. There is lots of cruise left but there is zero sign that this would be correct. - Activities are a bit scarce, but this is generally OK with me. - We really like the fit and finish of the ship. Its new which is a big plus for us. Newer ships have so much more to offer. We have given up on the "R" ships of Oceania, the older Regent ships, and are considering ditching Crystal. - The internet is fine. I had an hour long Zoom call today, without problems. TV was out this morning. Today is a dreary but dead calm day. Formal optional is tonight so we'll see what that brings. Preston
  12. Greetings Linda, It was great to meet you on the shores of Bimini earlier this month! We certainly enjoyed the cruise! I think that I would add that there is a BIG difference in Seabourn and Crystal in the upper suite categories. There are no butlers in any cabin on Seabourn. Crystal butlers are your advocate and we use them. On our recent cruise, our butler showed up nightly to make drinks and bring any canapes that we might want. On Seabourn, you buy the larger cabin and that is all you get. No extra nights and very few extra perks. I call it socialist cruising, everyone gets the same. As for service, Seabourn clearly trails, IMHO. Crystal has lots of Philippinos who are eager to serve. No so with Seabourn. Seabourn winds in the ship category. The Crystal ships are getting old and our rule of thumb is never go on a ship more than 20 years old ... Serenity is getting close. Nina and I are off to Alaska on Silversea next week. Her first venture on SS in about 20 years and I have never sailed with them. We have a mid-sized room and all suites have butlers which seems like it would de-rate the service. We'll see. We are hearing of low passenger counts and that masks may be back. UGH.... either the vaccine works or it doesn't. Regards, Preston
  13. Greetings from the Serenity. A short post about the experience. We had a rough start with our flight being canceled from West Palm Beach on Saturday morning. At midnight the day prior to the cruise I was on line booking 2 Jet Blue tickets. The flight was on time and we had a quick transfer to the Convention Center for our Covid Tests. From the moment that we arrived things have been perfect. The testing was fast and efficient (2 wanna-be passengers tested positive and were off to the penalty box). Transfer to the ship was great and on board it was Crystal as we remembered it. As Keith1010 reported (we are in the same state room occupied by Keith and his wife for their 2 weeks) you feel safer here than at home. Everyone is vaccinated and additional protocols are being taken as well. There is very little impact to your on-board life from the protocols. The one exception we have found is that the tracking bracelets don't stay attached to your arm so we keep them in our pockets. As long time Crystal cruisers we have seen many familiar faces on staff. ALL have a great attitude and we see no reason why we would not have taken this cruise. But - we are 2 of only about 320 passengers on board a ship designed for 1000. This is great news for me but bad for the long-term financial future of the line. There is no line/cue for anything at anytime and the staff are tripping over themselves to assist. But back at the home office I'm sure that the marketing folks have to get butts on board. I would encourage anyone considering one of these cruises to come. With that in mind my wife and I decided that we would like to extend the cruise for 2 days and disembark in Miami where we are close to home. We understand that others have made similar requests. The request was forwarded to the home office for consideration. Our suite was not available for the two days following next Saturday. Understandable. However we were quoted a near-by PS for the full cruise cost of over $12,000, all for 2 days. The concierge profusely apologized and let us know that headquarters said that they sell cruises, not nights. IMHO, this is a bad decision as they have the opportunity to collect extra revenue. However $3,000 per day per person isn't going to happen. In the 90s, I worked 2 years associated with the cruise industry in Alaska. My boss ran the port and had a knack for knowing when a line was in trouble. When he smelled trouble, he put the line on "cash only" for port fees and dockage. He was almost always correct. I hope that this isn't one of those situations and that this line can ride out the weeks and months losing money with low passenger counts. As stated above, the staff show no signs of giving you anything but a perfect cruise. If you book and things go south (bankruptcy) American Express will get you a refund and travel insurance would add an extra layer of protection. We're glad we came and do wish that they had been reasonable about a 2 day extension. Oh well, we'll report if they have a change of mind ..... Preston
  14. Gary, We’ll miss you but perhaps you can reduce the expense and trouble by boarding in Miami? We are a bit nervous as we plunked down a fair chunk of change for a large suite and don’t have insurance. Couple that with 14 days in a penalty box for a positive test and we get more nervous. It sounds like there are ways to escape but it would take a few days to organize. To further complicate things we are now in Florida until traveling to Nassau on Saturday. Florida is a hotspot for infections. We are going to trust the vaccines and hope for the best! We are being smart but will not become recluses in fear of the virus. We wish a speedy recovery for your wife & good luck with the claims process. Preston
  15. Gary, perhaps I missed a post but did you have to cancel? You’ve been very active in posting on this board and I know that you were looking forward to the cruise. Preston
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