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Everything posted by MEFIowa

  1. We're at a pier farther away. The one the farthest away if memory serves me. I'm thinking we're actually overnight in Stockholm.
  2. Our B2B on Sirena in the Baltic in Aug-Sep 2024 is half SM and half cruise only. Booked the cruise only in 2022 when the itinerary came out. Added the additional part under the SM sale in the summer of 2023. Will be interesting to see how many lunches we get to have beer or wine at since this is a highly port-intensive cruise, which we wanted, and we're off the ship every day we can, first thing. Of course, we booked some O excursions to use up the credit. Mostly unimpressive choices. But then in Stockholm I want to see the Vasa ship museum and my wife the ABBA museum. 😉
  3. It wasn't hard to see that SM was a general price increase disguised to look like something else when it came out in the summer of 2023. The cruises I was looking at rose in price by $800 PP when it came out. People wrongly seem to think that there was some inherent value in SM when the fare increases that came along with it dwarfed the monetary "value" of the purported benefit. So, for example, you can have a beer and wine at lunch or dinner (hardly a big deal), but if you were off the ship at lunch doing an excursion, guess what, no benefit at lunch that day. And the excursions were tied to O, at their control, so obviously they were going to do it in a way that made them money. This was always about O increasing its profit. Does one try to take solace in their attempt to raise fares in a rather devious manner? It isn't as if generalized inflation hasn't hit the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. So, the fare was going to increase one way or another. They chose the more hidden route.
  4. Though having been on Riviera pre- (12/2021) and post-update (10-11/2023) we actually preferred the PRE- better. Not a fan of Scandinavian minimalism. I'll take say dark or cherry wood to white paint or aluminum. And so much was form over function. Dumb chairs too small to sit in comfortably where the string quartet plays, for example. And my wife prefers a bathtub, too. 😉
  5. If thru no fault of ours the excursion is cancelled due to what the Cruise Line and ship do, then YES, it is covered under our policy. Of course, we make sure to contact the excursion provider the moment we learn about the change. Do our due diligence. And in the case I mentioned, the excursion provider refunded the money. As others have said, they often seem to know about such things before we do and know that it isn't the passengers' fault.
  6. Off that B2B we did major private tours for Ephesus and Rome, and had one scheduled for Pisa from Livorno. But we missed it due to change in port to La Spezia and a transportation strike that Friday morning. Wife contacted the private tour group and they refunded us the payment, no questions asked. They knew what was going on. And we knew the night before. We contacted them immediately. BUT we also had travel insurance, just in case.
  7. I was on Riviera on Southern Gary's leg of what was our 20-nigh B2B on Riviera. We did Triest to Athens and then Athens to Barcelons. Very port intensive. Thinking we had just 2 sea days total. And we MISSED just one port due to high seas, Livorno, from which we diverted to La Spezia. One port exchanged for another So, we did hit port after port. We missed the private island in the Bahamas in 12/2021 off Riviera due to high seas, but made all the other ports. (Had to stop briefly off Key West to allow an elderly man to be medically evaucated from the ship to a small USCG patrol boat.) We missed St. Kitts off Sirena 11/2021 due to having to stop in the Dominican Republic on the way down for a passenger medical emergency. Had to stop and use our tender. Took them too long.
  8. Though you might start today by looking at the recent Cabin Upgrade Sale to see if any cruise on the list is one you're interested in. TAs don't get you the sale price, for that comes from O. You can always book the sale and then transfer the booking to a TA. But you might lock in a great price on a nice cabin to start: "For a limited time, receive more luxury for less with up to a 4 Category Upgrade* on select sailings" Cruise Stateroom Deals | Oceania Cruises
  9. You're being too modest. You might remind people who don't know HOW you got your Vista Suite. IIRC, quite the fascinating story. And who on board Riviera might've known it before you boarded or the day you boarded? And one suspects that the restaurant staff, esp. those in charge, know who is in the three (3) Oceania Suites and eight (8) Vista Suites on Riviera.
  10. Though I'm not sure you're giving an adequate presentation for others to make sense of your specific situation on that cruise. You HAD A VERY HIGH-LEVEL cabin, far above PH. Weren't you the Vista Suite (VS) 12001? You were kind enough to give me a tour of your VS. And how you got it was out of the norm. I wonder how many know that story? And weren't you eating with the other couple, so tables for 4 most nights? How many of your 9 were tables for just 2? AND what times were you eating at? We could get the early times for our A3 cabin, but not for our B3. For sadly, as we learned at the B versus A levels on our B2B that included your 10-night cruise, O wouldn't allow us to book from the B cabin at times we wanted in advance. And once they changed our 9 pm reservation to 8:30, which seemed to be the actual last time for any couples to arrive. The places emptying out by 9 pm. All but deserted by 9:30. So begs the question, HOW did you keep getting reservations when we were denied them in advance? And none available the day of. WE tried to go to the desk to get better times. Nothing was available for us on the 4 nights we had our reservations. All crummy late times.
  11. They were on Riviera in the Med (Oct-Nov 2023). They seemingly lived in the smoking lounge by Horizons. I thought Graham would've died of some lung disease by the end of the cruise. He was very approachable and it was a joy to see his work in progress during the cruise, with the final unveiling. One of his paintings was quite cheeky. Showed the derriere of a beautiful woman. Thinking it was titled something like "Full Moon". 😉 Died laughing discussing it with him.
  12. Though on all four of our cruises since 12/2021, if you wanted to spend time with the senior officers and senior crew...just hang out in the inside smoking lounge by Horizons. I don't smoke but my wife does. Pretty much met all of the high mucky mucks there on all the cruises. Only exceptions seemingly being the CDs. None of whom I've sailed with were smoking there. Three of the 4 captains we've had (we had a captain changeover on Riviera on our B2B) were heavy smokers. Oddly the new Italian captain wasn't, but a senior officer smoking told me he'd quit rather recently! Enjoyed talking to the Russian captain who was in the Soviet Army back in the day. I was USAF in the Cold War. We had some fun discussions. And the Norwegian captain smoked like a chimney. Was nice to be able to compliment specific staff to their supervisors or supervisor's supervisor in the smoking lounge. Since, say, head of housekeeping and the hotel manager are smoking there.
  13. So true! For two of our cruises it was medical issues by passengers. We had to divert to the Dominican Republic off Sirena 11/2022 to anchor and use our tender boat to send the ill passenger to a hospital there. Cost us one of the Caribbean Islands, St. Kitts, where I had been hoping to go see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Brimstone Fortress. We had to make a stop off Key West on Riviera 12/2021 to have the USCG pick up a seriously ill passenger and high seas/waves cost us our day on the private island in the Bahamas. Off our 20 nights on Riviera in the Med 10-11/2023 we only had to cancel Livorno due to high seas/waves but substituted La Spezia. Did cost us our excursion to Pisa, though I did get to "join" the Italian Communist Party in the transportation workers' strike marching down the street that day, a Friday morning. Their hammer and sickle flag reminded me why I joined the USAF during the Cold War, that we won. Of course, the strike ended at noon and the city had a massive street sale that afternoon which we enjoyed.
  14. We did a B2B on Riviera 10-11/2023. First in an A3 cabin and then in a B3 cabin. We LEARNED first-hand the "class feeling", a particular reality, when it came to making the reservations. We had the early times we wanted from our A3. We were S.O.O.L. for the B3. We could only get the latest times. Was funny how O actually asked us to change a 9 pm reservation to an 8:30 on one night. But we had learned why. Only a few couples came at or after 8:30. The restaurants emptying out by 9 pm. And we were left with just a few, with workers obviously wanting to leave, by 9:30. The 2nd time we ate late, we told the server up front: "No wine or alcohol. No bread or dessert courses for us. We know what we want and we're ready to order right now." So we were done well under an hour. Fortunately, we don't really want 2-hour meals and prefer the Terrace Cafe most nights.
  15. And do keep in mind that Riviera--unlike Marina and the 4 smaller R-class ships--has the larger therapy spa "pool". Having been on both Sirena and Riviera, the spa pool on the later is not an ordinary circular spa pool/tub, but a T-shaped therapy pool. I found it perfect between 5-7 pm on days we'd walked a lot (e.g., climbed 10,000 steps to get to the top of the St. John's Fortress in Kotor, Montenengro!). Spend an hour or so there, esp. if wife was getting dressed, doing her thing to get ready for dinner at say 7:30 or 8 pm. Weirdly, seemed I was the only one there at that time those days. Suspect it was crowded on a sea day, esp. in the sunny afternoon.
  16. IIRC, thinking it was $39 per day, where you'd pay in the Spa on any day you wanted to use it. So day by day. (Though I'd guess you could pay up front on the first day for every day if you were so inclined? But why would you. There might be a rainy day. Or a cloudy one. And you just don't want to use it those days.)
  17. Though that reminds me that on Sirena 11/2022 our Room Steward was from Goa and our Room Attendant was a Filipina. (I lived in the RP at Clark AB in 1990-91. My son, born in the RP in 1990 and now 15 years in the Navy, met and married a Filipina while stationed in N. Japan at Misawa AB. Cosmic karma?) I've found that Security was seemingly dominated by Filipinos on all 4 of our cruises since 12/2021. Lots of Filipinas in housekeeping and in the restaurants. That was true on our recent 20-night B2B on Riviera in the Med (Oct-Nov 2023).
  18. We've spent 40 nights on two O ships (30 on Riviera and 10 on Sirena) since 12/2021. In B2 (Sirena) and B3, A4 & A3 (Riviera). There isn't much class system other than for making the specialty restaurant reservations and the locked Concierge and Executive lounges and the locked therapy spa pool forward. We'll be in an F and a C for our upcoming 22 nights on Sirena in the Baltic. That's what we were willing to pay. And there is maybe 1 sea day! Two at most. It is weird how those extolling the virtues of the higher-level cabins rarely say how much they PAID to be in it. And how, if a lower-level cabin were chosen instead, that money could be used for excursions or airfare or something else. I've never been able to justify the serious increase in price, given that we cruise for ports and excursions, not sea days or the ships. On these boards you may run into the "Vista cheerleaders" and the "Allura cheerleaders", who make a big deal about sailing on the newest ships. That's bunk, too. All of O's ships are quite nice. We preferred Riviera in 12/2021 PRIOR to her renovation than afterward. Just not a fan of what I call "Scandinavian minimalism". To each their own and YMMV.
  19. So, for our upcoming 22 nights B2Bon Sirena in the Baltic (starting with 3 nights in London and finishing with 3 nights in Copenhagen), our F and C1 (the big one on deck 7) are perfect for us. I think we'll have 1 sea day. So, we'll be doing and seeing and seeing and doing every day we can. So many excursions and sights to see. I even had to agree to the ABBA Musuem for my wife so I could see the preserved Swedish ship, the Vasa. 😉
  20. I don't think we necessarily disagree at all. It is up to each person to decide which cruise line, which cruise ship, which cruise itinerary, and which cruise cabin they'll want to pay for. That suits their needs and budget. So full agreement there. BUT no one should be encouraged to feel like "PH or above is automatically better" or that "If you're not in a PH or above, you've settled for less." That's bunk. Our B3 and A3 were both perfect for us on that Riviera B2B in the Med. Would've been a complete waste of money for us to be PH or above. We spend so little time in our cabin. And we're in bed by 2200 to be off the boat the next day at 0800 for a full day of...whatever (off the ship). Forget if we had just 2 sea days out of our 20 nights B2B. Or was it just one? Just think about OUR recent cruise on Riviera. You and I were both on it. Talked to you. Gina and I did so much more in ports and excursions than you did. That was our choice and your choice. Each choice right for each of us. We were active in the extreme. Off the boat as early as we could each day in port and hopefully back at the last minute. We came to see things and do things. And if that meant taking the #38 bus in Istanbul out 4 miles to the old walls of Constantinople and a walk back, then that's what we did. So, saving money meant we could spend it on amazing excursions in places like Ephesus & Rome. AND spend 3 nights in Venice before hand and 3 nights in Barcelona after. Worth it for us. To go B3 and A3.
  21. Though certainly for the O-class ships, non-concierge B cabins and concierge A cabins are quite nice and useful. Some people may not find they get enough benefit from the A-level to leave the B-level. NO one should feel like the "have" to have a PH. Or an A. Or that they are in an "inferior" cabin, whether even G or F. I think paying for a PH is a waste of money since we cruise for excursions and ports and take port-intensive cruises. I'd rather use the money saved to take an interesting excursion, for example. But to each their own. ANY cabin on any O ship is a nice place to be if that is what you want and can afford.
  22. We took the train from Venice to Trieste on 10/30/23. On time, on schedule. Just hopped on the train in the station (no checks at all) with our luggage and she left on time. The taxis were right at the train station and the dock isn't too far away. So was easy to get to Riviera. And was a no fuss embarkation. Of course, you're doing the reverse. But the distances are pretty short. Just sign up to get off at the earliest you can. Get down to the waiting area in advance, where they'll have you exit. Be the first in line to get off. Or as close as you can. As you know, if you're nervous, you can just take the later train. Might not be direct but you'll get there.
  23. Though that "taste" can be quite different. We did Istanbul twice on our 11/2023 B2B on 2 consecutive weekends. Think it was Sat-Sun and Sun-Mon. With the overnight both times. So, 4 days and 2 nights. I'm pretty sure we saw MORE of Istanbul in our 4 days than anyone on the ship and maybe more than many do in a week. BUT we knew to get our Istanbul card to use the public transportation, had great maps, and Rick Steves' guide that game some amazing walking tour options. We literally went all over the historic old part and the new part, both on the European side. Walked for miles and took public transportation for so many miles. On the day of the Istanbul marathon when public transportation was shut down, we walked from the port terminal to Hagia Sophia & the Blue Mosque and back. Amongst tens of thousands of people. I'd bet we were the only two who took a public bus out to the old walls of Constantinople (the #38 bus) and then walked it back. That's nearly out 4 miles. Oh the things we saw as the only tourists wandering Steves' route past old walls, imperial palaces, churches, synagogues, and the Patriarch of Constantinople's area (our Orthodox "Vatican") on a lovely afternoon.
  24. Not sure the OP is really apples to apples. The point of cruising is to "sample" quickly and move on. But the point of spending time on vacation in a particular area is to dig deep and experience. They both are what you make of them So, I know what you mean about the Med cruise we were both on off Riviera 11/2023. We had a magnificent time. We're in our late 50s so we were doing all the energetic walking and excursions to see sights (e.g., all those steps up the St. John's Fortress in Kotor). We did ours as a 20-night B2B hitting so many cities from Istanbul to Barcelona. With 3 nights each in Venice (before the start) and in Barcelona (at the end). We came to see and we saw. Each day off the boat early to be on the road to somewhere. BUT I can then COMPARE our 2023 Med cruise to my solo dream vacation in PARAGUAY in April-May 2022. I spent 2 magnificent weeks in country. I did it by building my own personal route with an American who does small group and individual tourism there. We literally planned each day out in 30 minute blocks. And we drove her diesel SUV over 2000 KM from deep in the Chaco desert to the heart of the swamps of Neembucu. Usually with a guide or history expert on the day's places. With so many points in between. I took her to places she'd never been to in her 20 years dealing with Paraguay! I'd wake up at 4:30 or 5 am and immediately get up to wander around whatever city I was in. And I'd walk around them at night before going to bed. With each day filled with the places I wanted to go to. My bucket list trip tied to my love of Paraguayan history going back 40 years to my college days. I loved them both and both were so entirely different. Now if I can just do future dedicated vacations in Madagascar & the Wild Coast of S. America (Guyana, Surinam & Fr. Guiana)!
  25. Yes, outside of Miami everything...depends. In Triest on 10/30/23 nothing seemed to matter. I suspect many stayed on board, so fewer new embarkations. It was the start of our B2B so we didn't disembark in Athens on 11/9/23. For us, anyone just pulled up in their taxi and went to the entrance. Which had a tiny number of people. Seemingly more workers than passengers. There was no line at 12:30 pm when we arrived. We'd taken the train from Venice to Trieste. We grabbed a bite of lunch and then walked back off to sightsee for the afternoon before departure.
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