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About sj-cruiser

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Music, art, wine, food, hiking, bicycling, science fiction, science non-fiction

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  1. In the past we've displayed computer games on the cabin TV on a HAL cruise. I was wondering if anyone has successfully done that on a Norwegian ship. We'll be in an outside cabin on the Spirit and was wondering if it was worth bringing the HDMI cable to do the same thing on that ship. In the past I've had to use a universal TV remote to bypass the restricted remote that the cruise line provides you. I don't mind doing that again.
  2. While in Kirkwall we went to a place near Birsay to try to see Puffins, and also saw: Skara Brae Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones of Stenness Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn Highland Park Distillery Our driver/guide also took us to a friend's farm to see their two cool "sheep" pigs. They are fuzzy pigs that were very cute and friendly.
  3. We were there on May 25th, took the train from London and stopped at Majestic before heading to the trip. It was a great place to get wine with very reasonable prices and knowledgeable staff. Sarah helped us choose a couple of ports for the cruise (we like port and cheese as a self served snack/dessert in our cabin.) I looked around and their selection in other areas was fairly good as well. I was very impressed.
  4. When we were there on May 27th on the Royal Princess the train was very easy to get. It stops right at the port and we could see it from the ship when docked. If you have any interest in Irish Whisky I highly recommend the Jameson Distillery tour. It was one of the highlights of our trip. It is very interesting because it's a tour of the old distillery with lots of great information and interesting recreations of the work that was done there. It's a very photogenic site as well if you like old buildings and old equipment. The premium tasting at the end of the tour was absolutely wonderful. I tried a whisky that was so smooth and interesting I wouldn't have known it existed without the tasting. It was the Middletown Very Rare that goes for 180 Euros a bottle. I'm glad I had a chance to try it. If you do go to the distillery get a taxi from Cobh rather than Cork because Cobh is closer to the distillery than Cork (You pass the roads to Cobh going from Cork.)
  5. Did all those ports (except Liverpool) last week on the Royal Princess and your assessment was correct. We did hear that one of the dock ports we went to could be dock or tender but I don't remember which one. We were unable to stop in St Peter Port due to high winds. (May 26, 2018)
  6. We booked ours about a month before the cruise and the only time available for us was the last time slot. It was crowded but we had a good time. If you do have the last time slots some of the tasting areas start shutting down shortly after (within 30 minutes) you complete your self guided tour. The booking was easy, just did it on the Guinness Storehouse web site.
  7. I would choose Kirkwall and Dublin rather than just Dublin. Lots of interesting places around Kirkwall. We were there last week. Be sure to make plans before you get there. The taxis were all booked when we got there and we only got a taxi by dumb luck.
  8. We were there last week. Definitely make arrangements before you get there to be sure you have a tour. The hop on hop off had a huge line when we were there on the Royal Princess. We dumb lucked into getting a taxi because our driver had driven her son to school and was available. All the other taxis were pre-booked or for locals only. It was well worth the 40 pounds an hour for five hours of tour seeing most of the major sites.
  9. We were in Kirkwall last week. I *highly* recommend making plans before you get there because resources are limited. The lines for the T11 were horrible when we were there on the Royal Princess. We went to the two downtown taxi services and both of them told us all of their taxis were already booked. The only reason we got a taxi was dumb luck. Our wonderful driver and guide Mary had given her tour to her husband and then taken their son to school before heading into town. We were lucky to catch her as she was approaching town and she was free. It was 40 pounds an hour and our tour around Orkney took 5 hours but was amazingly interesting. It might have taken us more time than it would take you because we were trying to find puffins and visited two places without seeing them. (Puffins generally are out at sea during the day feeding when the ship is in port) We visited all of the major neolithic sites (very interesting) and some other places as well including the Highland Park Distillery. After the taxi tour we went to a bar downtown and tried some of the local scotches and one gin. I generally don't like gin, but since it was a rhubarb flavored gin I thought it was worth a try. It was amazing. It was Rhubarb Old Tom from the Orkney Gin Company. It was more of a dessert drink and was very enjoyable. I highly recommend trying it and buying a bottle at the bottle shop in town if you do like it. We went other places in Scotland that had their other products and they said they can't get the Rhubarb Old Tom outside of Kirkwall.
  10. We were there just last week and we were lucky to find a cab to drive us around and get a tour. Be sure to make arrangements before you get there if you want to be sure to get around. I would highly recommend using a taxi rather than driving yourself because a good guide/driver will know when to visit various places to avoid the throngs taking the buses. We had Mary who runs tours and had a fantastic time. It was 40 pounds an hour and our tour was five hours but it was well worth it. We did all of the major neolithic sites and finished up at the Highland Park Distillery and felt it was one of the best days of our cruise.
  11. We were just in Le Havre this week. It was easy to walk from the dock to the city center but took about 20 to 25 minutes. One person said it took them 40 minutes. We didn't go to the information center, so I don't know how easy it is to get a tour from there. We did walk around between about 11:30 and 2:00. Be advised that many of the businesses close for lunch during this time. The big grocery stores were open during lunch but smaller specialty stores were closing including some of the pastry shops. We got some pastries from the shops and they far exceeded any dessert we got on the Royal Princess. I highly recommend this if you like desserts. Princess was charging $8 each way to and from the city center per person. We definitely thought that would have been a rip off for what's there. The walk is reasonable.
  12. Just back from the cruise and the trip to Howth and the walk along the sea cliffs was very enjoyable. The first portion of the walk is a little bit more urban than I expected but quickly gives way to a nice section of more wild landscape. There were quite a few people doing the cliff walk but we were able to have some less crowded sections of trail. There were some very nice views along the way and the day was wonderful. We easily made it to the Guinness Storehouse before 5 PM and did the walk through there and then had a pint at the top. It was very crowded and people tended to stand close to the windows even if they were not looking out of them. Not the best experience but there were some nice views.
  13. San Francisco - I've never been to San Francisco on a cruise ship because I live close by, so this is information from a local rather than from a visitor. My wife and I like to go up to San Francisco for bicycle rides with our dogs (who ride in seats on the backs of our bicycles.) One of our favorite routes takes us right by the San Francisco Cruise terminal and is great for most people. There are a number of bicycle rental options in San Francisco, but you should probably make arrangements for a bicycle to be sure you get one if this is your intended activity while in San Francisco. There are several bike share options that allow you to make unlimited 30 minute rides at a set price for the day or for one 30 minute ride at a set price as well. This wouldn't be a great way to to do a bicycle ride in San Francisco unless you like to stop a lot. You can also take public transit or walk from the cruise terminal to get to several of the bicycle rental places. We usually start our rides around AT&T park (where the Giants play) but it can be started where you get the bicycle rental. We ride along the Embarcadero (the street the cruise terminal is on) on the bicycle and walking path until we get to Fisherman's Wharf. From there it really makes sense to get on Jefferson Street until you get past Fisherman's Wharf and get to Aquatic Park. From there the bike and walking path continues. Once you get to the end of the park you get to the only big hill on the route. Lots of people get off of their bikes and walk up the hill which takes you into Fort Mason. From the top of the hill ride down through Fort Mason towards Marina Green. Ride through Marina Green (I like taking the path closest to the water although there is one close to Marina Blvd as well.) Continue riding towards the Golden Gate Bridge through the Presidio. You can keep riding until you get to the end of the bicycle and walking trail at the Warming Hut and cafe. Then you have to get back on the road if you want to go out to Fort Point at the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you're up for walking your bike up another hill you can walk it up to the south end of the bridge and bicycle across if you wish. If you have plenty of time you can also ride down from the north end of the bridge into Sausalito but this is done on roads with a fair amount of traffic so it isn't as pleasant as the rest of the trip. From Sausalito you can take the ferry back to the ferry building if you have time. Another option is San Francisco is to take public transit to the Golden Gate Park area and ride through the park. There are several places to rent bicycles around the park but note you will be going downhill as you go towards the ocean and uphill on your way back.
  14. We were considering bicycling in Bar Harbor but we did the Great Head trail from Sand Beach after taking the shuttle bus there and then did the Ocean Path for a while before picking up the shuttle again further down the road. There were very few people in the Great Head trail when we were there in late September.
  15. Ken, thank you for the feedback. What better sights would you recommend convenient to the Luas? We're considering Howth because we like to hike and the cliff walk looks like it would be a nice hike.
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