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Everything posted by cruiseej

  1. @rosepark I can't answer your question directly, but can support what others have said about luxury cruise ships running at or close to full capacity with crew. We were on a Seabourn cruise in the Caribbean two weeks ago on a ship which, when full, would hold about 450 passengers and 335 crew. On our cruise, we had 113 passengers and 347 crew! As noted above, some crew members had come aboard and were in quarantine for 14 days, in preparation for other crew members who were to depart soon after. But it was basically a full crew complement even though the passenger count has been running between 20% and 30% since cruising resumed in mid-July. (The passenger count will increase significantly as we get into November and December, the more normal Caribbean cruising season.) It was clear that Seabourn wanted to provide a top-notch experience for passengers, cutting no corners due to to low passenger load; they understand that positive word-of-mouth about the experience and feeling safe while cruising from the early cruisers will help drive passenger counts upwards as the months roll along.
  2. @How much longer? We're in the same boat as you, literally and figuratively.;) After two years of waiting for the Wind, we have now re-booked on the Cloud for next year. Sigh. We were on the Cloud once before. It lacks some of the amenities of the much larger ships, nor is it as new, but for our previous expedition trip in Greenland, we did not have any complaints with the ship. From my recollection and looking at the floor plans, most of the veranda suites in the Cloud have a walk-in shower. In my opinion, this is the best arrangement for a small bathroom on a cruise ship -- unless you really like to take baths. (We just got off a Seabourn cruise and perhaps the one thing I don't like about their great ships, it's the wasted space of a large tub which we never use and a very tiny corner shower in which we practice our contortions to get clean! 😉 A separate tub and shower can be great if you like taking baths; if not, a separate shower is a waste of space.) On the Cloud, I believe the suites with the combination shower/tub simply have a tub instead of a walk-in shower. The bathrooms are the same size. The advantage of this is that it gives you the flexibility to take a bath should you want, but the downside is that if you're showering, you have to step in and out over the high side of the tub... which can be a little bit of challenge if you're at sea and the ship is rolling a bit! My wife and I prefer the suites which omit the tub and simply have a walk-in shower. (Only the top five suites have the "double water drop" on the deck plan, indicating both the presence of both a tub and a shower.)
  3. It really depends what you're looking to do in Venice, and for how long. If you're staying one night, and primarily want ease of transportation to/from airport and the cruise terminal, then a hotel like Olimpia could be a good option. If you're staying for a couple days and want to be able to walk around the city and visit tourist sites, you might want a hotel closer to the Grand Canal and the nearer St. Mark's Square. We liked the Hotel Locanda Vivaldi, on the Grand Canal less than a 5 minute walk from San Marco, especially if you pay for a room with a new of the canal, and the smaller Hotel Le Isole -- but water taxis can't come up the narrow canal this hotel is on, so it entails a roughly 150 meter walk to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop.
  4. @marazul Since the flights are included, if Seabourn air determines the passenger can't be booked on a flight which arrives in time on the day of embarkation, wouldn't they would fly the passenger a day early and put them up in a hotel at their expense?
  5. @Lvshack It's not apparent to me, either. 😉 The only one live posting on this forum right now seems to be Lois, who is on the Spirit off the west coast of Africa.
  6. I'll respectfully disagree. If you forget about any hype about Thomas Keller, and simply dine in the restaurant, there's some really good food served there, in my opinion. Since the menu doesn't change, you probably wouldn't eat there more than once or twice a cruise, but we find it is a nice option, certainly not the negative you describe it as.
  7. Having 85 minutes to deplane, claim baggage, get through customs, and get to the port would make me nervous. Even a small delay in your flight could leave you in a bad position. Add the uncertainties of travel in this COVID era, and I would definitely book air with Seabourn so they take responsibility to get you to the ship -- and you might get them to fly you in a day early and put you up in a hotel rather than risking missing the ship.
  8. And we are now booked with friends on an Odyssey cruise in late February, Sint Maarten to Barbados. 🙂I have several questions for anyone who has been on a cruise from Sint Maarten, or is booked on one in the next few months... I'm nervous about planning to fly from the northeast US in February on the day of embarkation; there's a reasonable chance of a winter storm somewhere in the east disrupting air travel. I'd appreciate if anyone traveling soon has information about testing requirements for arrival and boarding if flying to Sint Maarten a day or two before the cruise. Any recommendations for a hotel in Sint Maarten for a day or two? Does anyone know what hotel(s) Seabourn uses? This cruise does not go to Carambola Beach; will there be a Caviar in the Surf event somewhere, or is that only done at Carambola Beach. The port stops are: Sopers Hole/Frenchman's Cay on Tortola Gustvaia on St. Barts Basseterre on St Kitts Cabrits on Dominica Fort-De-France on Martinique Saline Bay on Mayreau in St. Vincent And The Grenadines Any recommendations for excursions in any of these ports would also be appreciated, since we can only leave the ship in these ports on ship excursions.
  9. It was not open when we were there two weeks ago. There was a sign that they were re-opening in November, I believe. Once the hotel re-opens, I'm not sure if Seabourn will be able to use the beach, lounge chairs and beach bar as they have been for the past few months.
  10. Ah, I see. The sample menu you linked to for the Colonnade is an "American" menu. But it's not like that every night. As I mentioned, the French menu that drew us there had an excellent onion soup, escargots, perhaps the nicest chateaubriand I've ever had, an excellent creme brulee, and some other courses they tried to ply us with -- it was a great meal, and decidedly not TK nor American cooking. They do the Thomas Keller fried chicken meal once a week in the Colonnade; if it's not your thing, just eat elsewhere that night, and come back for the Indian menu (if that's your thing), or one that appeals to you. I think the Thomas Keller Grill restaurant is pretty far removed from the dining experience he offers at French Laundry and Per Se. We've had multiple fine meals at the TK Grill -- and it's definitely not all about a giant slab of meat (although one of the menu options is a ginormous steak if one wants). And as I said, the ever-changing menus in The Restaurant provide a good variety of dishes and cuisines. We also learned during our first couple cruises to ask for whatever you want; we often each get an appetizer and main course, but get an appetizer-sized portion of another main course we'd like to try; sometimes three appetizers and no main course, always double lobster on the night it's on the menu... 😉 I just hope Seabourn will borrow a bit of the S.A.L.T. approach to include more locally procured food & wine in the future.
  11. The factor you may not be taking into account in the main dining room, aka The Restaurant. The menu here changes daily (although there are a number of "classic" choices which are available every day), and it's not what I'd call "American" food. They have a large number of menus in rotation, so you won't be seeing the identical menus week after week. We find the food in The Restaurant to generally be quite excellent. We look at the menu for The Restaurant first, and on days we find the options less compelling, we check out the menu in the Colonnade. (On our last cruise, we bypassed a Chef's Dinner -- a 6-course tasting menu -- in The Restaurant because we like the look of the french restaurant in the Colonnade... and had one of our best meals of the cruise there. That said, I think Silversea has hit a home run with the S.A.L.T. restaurant. My only real complaint with the food on Seabourn has been that while it's quite good, it doesn't adapt much to where we are in the world (except for periodic specials the chef may obtain from local purveyors). I don't think Seabourn needs to go as far as S.A.L.T., but they definitely have some catching up to do to offer more food options inspired by the region where the ship is cruising.
  12. @don731 Thanks for sharing the text of the message about the cruise to/from Miami. It seems like Seabourn has decided masks are going to be with us for awhile, and it's good that they are making people aware of this well in advance of the cruise. We can all hope that some day the need for masks will be behind us, but it's probably not going to be in the next four months. I'd be interested to hear from anyone traveling on a cruise departing from Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten in the next few months if you have received a similar letter, and what the stated testing requirements are. The country seems to require a PCR test within 72 hours or antigen test within 48 hours of departure for people coming from most countries. I'm wondering if Seabourn will do an additional antigen test at the pier, as they have been doing in Barbados since the summer, or not. And what will the requirement be if you fly into Sint Maarten a day or two early? Will it be necessary to get a test somewhere on the island? I suppose the next unknown regarding travel as we go into 2022 is whether/when any cruise lines or airlines or countries begin mandating booster shots. As the miracle of the initial vaccines turns out to provide maximum protection for a limited time, and more and more breakthrough cases are occurring with vaccinated people, it just seems inevitable that the requirements for travel might develop into: fully vaccinated for a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of [6][8][10][12] months since the last initial shot or booster shot.
  13. Let me chime in about St. Kitts... We've now been to the big "Caviar in the Surf" beach day on St. Kitts twice. The first time in 2019, we decided not to do any morning excursion because we wanted to get the the beach as early as possible, get our beach chairs, and enjoy a nice beach day, complete with the caviar event and, more importantly, the grilled lobster tails at lunch. (Okay, it's technically a full-on barbecue with ribs, burgers, fish, salads and more, but as far as we're concerned, the ability to have unlimited lobsters tails hot off the grill is all this was about!) We were there on Christmas, and the staff was celebrating as much as the passengers; many, many staff members, including all senior managers up to the hotel director, f&b director, and cruise director, were thrown in the water by fellow crew, and it was just a great, joyous day for passengers and crew. Last month, we were back, and after talking to the Destination Services managers about how the tours were specifically timed to get back to the beach around noon, before the caviar at 12:15 and lunch following, we decided to book one of the excursions: the St. Kitts Scenic Railway. We wanted to actually see some of the country, not just go to the beach and then back to the ship. There was both a good and bad component to our decision. The excursion was definitely worthwhile: we saw a lot of the St. Kitts countryside and learned a lot about the country's history and culture from our excellent tour guides on the bus and the train. The bad part was just a fluke, I assume: there were some mechanical problems with the train after we boarded, and we sat for almost 45 minutes before the train pulled out. Well, you can't shorten train tracks, and you can't speed up a narrow gauge train beyond its rated speed, so there was no way to make up the time. Most people rolled with the delay, since there wasn't anything we could do, but a couple passengers were uptight and grouchy about us being late. The railway folks were in constant contact with the ship, so they knew we were going to be late getting back, and indeed, we arrived at 12:45 instead of noon -- just in time for the caviar in the water portion of the day to be ending. In the graceful way Seabourn deals with most things, they did their best to deal with our delayed arrival, as a team of crew members and senior managers swarmed to meet our buses with glasses, flowing champagne, and caviar on crackers. (Perhaps the first-ever Seabourn "Caviar in the Parking Lot" event? 😉) We went straight to the lobster lunch, enjoyed that every bit as much as the first time we were here, and enjoyed several hours in the afternoon relaxing on the beach and in the water. Despite the delayed train, I'm glad we did that excursion because now I feel like I have actually visited St. Kitts. But if it had been my first time and we missed the caviar event in the water, I would have been disappointed. (I should also note that we had caviar almost every day on the ship, so we did not suffer from the lack of caviar on the beach!) I assume our delayed excursion was an anomaly, and I'd recommend the scenic train tour if you want to see much more of St. Kitts than just the beach. The train tour starts with a short bus ride from the port to the train depot, a train trip around more than half the island, and then the bus picks you up to travel the rest of the way back to the beach. The train is a two-level train: a fully-enclosed, comfortably air-conditioned lower level, and a fully-covered but open-air upper level. Seabourn books enough space so it was easy to freely move up and down -- which was important when we had two short torrential rain downpours and everyone retreated inside while the staff repeatedly worked to dry the seats so we could go back topside.
  14. @don731Thanks for that information. So you need to get a test (do they specify PCR or antigen?) 48 hours before boarding, but then no additional test upon arrival or boarding the ship? Interesting, and a little surprising; it sounds like they doing that to cut their cost of testing. Oh, I see that you're doing the cruise roundtrip Miami, right? That's probably different than all the other cruises departing from other countries.
  15. At home, everything isn't prepared for you such that you don't have to get up to make your dinner! And yes, it's for the novelty of the experience. Some find it fun, at least once. (Also note that you can dine in the outdoor restaurant but ask them to prepare your steak if you prefer not to cook it over the hot rocks.)
  16. Taking the last question first: yes, if a tour is canceled for any reason, you are refunded. Taking the middle question about advance booking next: the cruises have been pretty empty -- under 150 passengers -- since July, so very few excursions have been selling out. They're expecting significantly higher passenger counts as we get into the traditional Caribbean cruising season next month, so it's possible that if a group traveling together all books one excursion, it could sell out. I have always preferred to book in advance to lock in what we want. You can cancel most excursions onboard if you change your mind by the deadline, which is typically two days in advance. (Exceptions are some of the high-priced excursions, like private car or boat.) If you have onboard credit and want to use that for excursions, you can book and pay in advance, and then ask in Seabourn Square for them to reverse the transaction to use up your onboard credit first. If you have a credit balance at the end of your cruise, if the credit is from the refunds of your pre-booked excursions, you'll get the balance credited back to your credit card. In other words, you can pre-book and pay, but get that money back to the extent you you onboard credit to use up.
  17. I suspect it's simply a matter of the size of the ships more than the clientele. I think the best summary of advice here for @SSCAF001 is to first contact SS to explain the situation and inquire if they will have a jacket you can borrow on whatever sailings you book. If the answer is no, then the suggestion is to purchase an inexpensive jacket online and have it shipped in advance to the ship would solve the problem, albeit at a cost, or to find a lightweight wrinkle-resistant jacket which can be rolled up small and light and taken on your travels.
  18. Friends are considering an Odyssey Caribbean cruise in February, and we might join them. All the Odyssey cruises so far have been roundtrip Barbados, and thus subject to Barbados-imposed rules for only "bubble" excursions. This cruise is sailing from St. Maarten and ending in Barbados. Has anyone seen any information from Seabourn yet about what the travel protocols will be for entry into St. Maarten and whether independed shore travel will be allowed. (Of course, what we know today may change 10 times before February; I'm just looking to see if there's any information available.) Also, Seabourn has only listed cruises on the website through early January as requiring passengers to be vaccinated; has anyone seen any statement from Seabourn about whether the vaccination requirement will be extended late into 2022? It's hard for us to decide to book if Seabourn isn't going to require passengers to be vaccinated. (And I'm not even venturing into if or when there might be a booster requirement.)
  19. I would like to see the Chilean fjords one day, but with one of us still working, we couldn't ever do Seabourn's 24-day cruise encompassing South Georgia Island. We selected a Silversea cruise because it was 18 days, even though we would have preferred to go on Seabourn. Unfortunately, next year's Venture cruise to South Georgia, 20 days to/from Ushuaia, costs more than $15,000 more than the comparable 18-day Silversea cruise. As much as we'd like to sail on the Venture, that's too big a price differential for us, so we're sticking with Silversea for this voyage.
  20. Thanks for the link, Wes. While it's a fine puff piece on the expedition cruise industry, I find that it conveniently and conspicuously ignores all the pitfalls and problems cruise lines are dealing with. Silversea recently canceled its much-heralded "first expedition world cruise" on the Cloud, and canceled more than half a season's sailings on the Wind due to both supply-chain delays in work on the ship and the need to merge two sets of itineraries into one -- but none of this is mentioned in the article. Seabourn has had multiple delays and cancelations launching its first expedition ship. I also found Combrink's quotes about the future of new expedition ships to be self-serving. He says “I don’t think we are going to see huge further growth, especially considering the last 18 months. I don’t think there’s a huge desire for many companies to go out and build more tonnage,” he said, pointing out to the fact that many of the recent newbuilds were replacement vessels, replacing old tonnage. Huh? Seabourn, probably Silversea's most direct competitor, is set two bring two new expedition ships into service in 2022 and 2023; neither replaces an existing ship. Ponant in launching its latest new expedition ship this winter, and has two more under construction. Viking, Crystal, Sunstone (Vantage), Coral, Hapag-Lloyd, Lindblad, and Mystic (Atlas) are some of the cruise lines with forthcoming new expedition ships. These ships are generally not replacing older expedition ships, they are expanding this segment of the cruising industry. If anything, Silversea is a bit unusual in that it does not have any new expedition ships on order or under construction.
  21. I'd note that all the Seabourn cruises so far have been roundtrips from/to Barbados, so Silversea is adhering to rules dictated by Barbados about keeping passengers in a bubble, irrespective of what might be allowed in the countries visited. As we get into the winter season, there are cruises starting from different countries, so it's not clear what the rules will be. Will a cruise departing from Philipsburg, St. Maarten and ending in Barbados be required to adhere to the bubble travel rule in all ports? I don't think we know yet. I don't know if even Seabourn knows yet. (If anyone has seen anything definitive about this from Seabourn, please share.) And whatever is known today may be out of date by next week. If independent travel in ports is something you consider a must, or no masks on the ship is something you consider a must, then this probably isn't the time to be traveling, because these things are subject to change on very short notice. (We were recently on a Barbados cruise where there was no mask wearing on board; the following week, the rules changed.)
  22. They spent many months planning for the return to cruising in the Covid era, and I'm certain they have a detailed set of protocols. The N95 masks which appeared suddenly after the outbreak on the Ovation were a piece of such a protocol. I'm also pretty certain they're not going to publicize their operations plan. There are many different contingencies -- what if one passenger tests positive? what if 2-3? 4-7? more? what about crew members? where is the nearest major hospital? what does the local government require? etc., etc. -- and the protocols probably fill an entire manual... and they're not going to publish such a document.
  23. I wonder if they were influenced at all by the Covid outbreak last week on the Seabourn Ovation in Greece. It appears to have been well-contained; the protocols they had in place prevented further spread on the ship. Nonetheless, 5 people tested positive and they and traveling companions were offloaded and are in quarantine in a hotel. While the wife of one passenger who is posting about it is asymptomatic, apparently another person has no been hospitalized. And this is on a ship which, like the Moon, has fully vaccinated passengers and crew -- but breakthrough cases like this are not unexpected. I don't know if SS is revising protocols based on experiences on other cruise lines, but they may have just decided that any extra preventative measures they can employ are worth it to try to avoid Covid cases on the ship.
  24. Yes, that was more recently. But when they announced their agreement with the government of Chile last month, they trumpeted they would be sailing all there ships from Punta Arenas. When Barbara Muckermann and Conrad Combrink stopped replying on Facebook to questions about the Wind in the last two weeks, that was my indication that we were in trouble. Now that the full picture has emerged, it seems to me that the cancellation of the Wind's season likely is more due to the cancellation of the Cloud's world cruise than a delay in finishing the renovation of the Wind. Once they canceled the Cloud world cruise, they were stuck with a ship in South America with nowhere to go. By moving all the Wind's trips from January through June to the Cloud, they saved the cost of running two ships and having one without passengers. It's likely that the renovation work did fall behind, but considering they announced it would be sailing just a month ago, it's probably not too far behind. Perhaps they would have needed to cancel the first cruise due to the delay. But with the ability to serve all the Wind itineraries in the second half of the Antarctica season on the empty Cloud, it didn't make sense for them to staff the Wind and sail her to South America for just a few cruises before the Cloud could take over. If the Cloud hadn't been there, I'm pretty sure the Wind would have sailed this season, even if it was a little late. So those of us booked on the Wind in November and December became collateral damage in the cancellation of the Cloud's world cruise. Since we want to see South Georgia, and the holiday timeframe is the only time that works for us to take a cruise that long, we're stuck waiting until next year. 😞
  25. I would think market visits with the chef would be rather difficult during a crossing -- unless they hand you all fishing poles and your market visit is trying to haul in enough for dinner! 😉
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