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mahdnc

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    7,049
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About mahdnc

  • Rank
    5,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    ORD (03-?), SDF (97-03), PHL (83-96), LAX (82-83)
  • Interests
    cruising, national parks, photography, astronomy, blackjack, Pokemon Go
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity Cruises
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Of our cruises so far, our favorite is the Mediterranean; but I would love to do a Canal cruise!

Recent Profile Visitors

1,655 profile views
  1. I would get on a ship, but my wife won't, so that means I won't.
  2. Fri Dec 20 Sydney Day #2: Royal Botanical Garden Sydney Our son arrived at the hotel at 10:26 am. My wife and her purse were reunited at 10:31 am. After he took a hot shower and got cleaned up, we headed off to lunch. The prior time we visited Sydney, the kids absolutely loved the restaurants at the international food courts located in the Sydney shopping centers. So I let the kids pick one for our lunch and they selected the Wintergarden food court which was very close to the hotel. It is also very reasonably priced which was good because we would later eat at some restaurants that were not going to be so reasonable. With our two crises solved and with the whole family now back together, it was time for us to go out and see Sydney. During our last visit to Sydney our pre-cruise time there was all geared around celebrating New Years Eve and consequently we didn’t visit many of Sydney’s iconic sites. This time we were going to do better. After lunch we went to the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens (no admission charge) to check it out. The garden area is expansive. We spent a couple hours there which meant that we only saw a bit of it. One of the things we wanted to see were the large bats (flying foxes) that were known to camp out there during the day. We had seen them hovering above us during our New Year’s Eve cruise (Dec 2017) in Sydney Harbour and these things were absolutely huge. Apparently our information is very out of date. We asked a groundskeeper where the bats were and he casually explained that they were harming the trees in the gardens and thus have been scared off from camping there so they are now roosting elsewhere in Sydney.
  3. Fri Dec 20 Sydney Day #2: One small crisis solved, another crisis takes its place The day turned out to be a much better day weather-wise. Compared to yesterday, the temperature was not as hot and the air was a lot clearer and our hotel room view of the Opera House had improved. With my wife’s status with Marriott, we ate all of our breakfasts in the Concierge Lounge. The amount and different types of food that were available in the buffet were pretty good. When we went to sleep the night before, my wife discovered that the she left behind a critical part (gasket) that was needed for her CPAP to work properly. The CPAP is important in keeping her migraine headaches in check and the thought of going on a cruise without a working CPAP is, well, unthinkable. So while she was a few hours away of having our first crisis (misplaced purse) solved, another new problem popped up for us to address. Quite frankly, for our family a cruise is not a cruise if there isn’t some kind of forgot-to-bring-this-important-thing crisis for us to spend some of our valuable pre-cruise time (and money) to solve. It creates quite a bit of anxiety when it is first discovered, but then it makes for wistful reminiscing afterward. So after eating breakfast, my wife made a few calls and found the Sydney Sleep Centre carried the parts that she needed. It was located within a short walk from the hotel on Macquarie St. So we made a quick trip over there and they repaired her CPAP for $129.95 AUD--another crisis averted. This was not the souvenir I was expecting with our first purchase for the day in Sydney. We then went back to the hotel to await our son who would be bringing my wife’s temporarily misplaced purse, resolving the earlier pre-cruise crisis. Our son would be taking the same United flight from San Francisco that we had flown on the day before. Flying across the Pacific by himself is something our 24 year old son is very accustom to as his Apple job has him flying to China 4-6 times a year (although they fly him on Business Class). He does enough business flying with United that he is a Premier 1K loyalty club member. In fact that his why he was the recipient of the one roundtrip ticket that I had to purchase with good old fashion money since we only had enough frequent flyer points to get 3 round trip tickets-where we needed 4. He would be awarded more frequent flyer points for the paid ticket because of the generous multipliers that the Premier 1K members get compared to the rest of the family who have no such status. I bought him an Economy Plus Class fare that was eligible for an upgrade with the use of one of his upgrade certificates, but alas, when it came time to handing out the leftover Business Class seats at the time of departure, much to his chagrin he did not get one. A full view of Sydney from our hotel room
  4. @WrittenOnYourHeart, I am sorry to read about your situation. We cancelled our upcoming holiday cruise. While it is not nearly as momentous as a 50th birthday, I was very disappointed in having to cancel it. I hope your WDW vacation goes awesomely well.
  5. Thu Dec 19: Our First Formal Afternoon Tea Once we were done getting cleaned up, it was time for the three of us to go to the beautiful Queen Victoria Building for High Tea at the Tea Room. Our reservation was for noon and it was going to serve as our first meal after getting off the plane. Again this was a treat for our daughter who was discovering her passion for formal tea. All told the bill came to $165.00 AUD for the 3 of us. Afterward we did some shopping at the QVB and then we went back to the hotel and we were able to get into our room. As advertised, our Opera House View guest room (which is what we reserved) had a nice view of the Opera House. But because of the smoke from the bush fires, our first view of it from our hotel room was hazy and it was difficult to see the other side of the harbor. Although our room was located in the corner of the building, there was no window on the other exterior wall to provide a second view which would have been of the city. Our plans for the rest of the day were very modest and unambitious since we were waiting for our son to arrive in Sydney the following morning. For dinner, we took a Lyft to the Broadway Shopping Centre and we ate at Din Tai Fung which is a Chinese restaurant specializing in the Huaiyang cuisine. This chain restaurant was a suggestion from @Holly2 (post). This location was not a stand alone restaurant, but rather a restaurant inside a food court so it lacked some ambiance. After dinner, we did some more shopping where we purchased a 3 foot collapsible artificial Christmas tree with lights that we intended to set up in our large stateroom. I guess that was our first souvenir for the trip.... Before we went to bed we received this email from our tour company: “Because of the current fires burning along our route to the Southern Highlands we have regretfully made the decision to cancel the wildlife tour for tomorrow” Darn. That tour was supposed to be the highlight tour during our time in Sydney as our family really enjoy seeing animals. Part of that all day tour was to be conducted at night in order to have a shot at seeing some of the nocturnal animals in the wild such as the amazing platypus. The email was technically wrong as our tour was scheduled for two days later.
  6. Writing this review has slowed considerably because I have been so busy at work. So please bear with me.
  7. It's a shame but we saw this coming. We had an Asia cruise booked for Dec and a South Pacific cruise for Jan and cancelled them both last month (one was Lift and Shifted).
  8. For me, this is fine if I am visiting the Caribbean. However I would have to think twice about this for destination cruises that are port intensive like Europe and Alaska (and our southeast Asia cruise next year).....
  9. Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay We checked in at the front desk. Understandably, our rooms would not be ready until in the afternoon. However we were given a key to the Early Arrivals Lounge on the 6th Floor which had a nice multi-room living space with snacks/drinks and most importantly, bathrooms with showers. Originally a Renaissance hotel, it was re-branded as a full service Marriott property in 2003. The hotel was a welcome sight for our tired eyes and we were really looking forward to getting our assigned room later in the day. This was our first time at this hotel. During our only other time at Sydney for our GBR cruise, we stayed at what was then the Westin Sydney which had just withdrawn from the Marriott hotel family and became a Fullerton Hotel. The Westin Sydney was conveniently close to the shopping areas but was located further away from the harbor. So we were very eager with trying out this new location. The hotel is located near the harbor and is very close to the Overseas Passenger Terminal where Solstice would eventually dock. Unfortunately there is a very large skyscraper building (Gateway Tower) that blocks the hotel from having a full and unbroken panoramic view of the harbour and any view of Solstice when she is docked. One thing to understand that is not immediately obvious when you are trying to book a room there is that the hotel floor plan is shaped like a triangle with very specific views of iconic Sydney (as long as you are on a high enough floor). Rooms on one side of the triangle (such as ours) have a view of the Sydney Opera House but cannot see the bridge. Rooms on another side of the triangle have a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge but no view of the Opera House. Rooms on the third side look south and look away from the harbor, and consequently can see neither the bridge nor the Opera House, but they do have a nice city view. When booking a room on the Marriott website, the specific views (Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and City view) are clearly noted. We had booked an Opera House view room. The room cost us 150,000 Marriott points for 3 nights (105,000 points base + 45,000 points to upgrade to an Opera House View room) which I booked 11 months in advance. Several months later, when I decided to arrive in Sydney one day earlier to save on air fare, rooms were no longer available to book with points only. So instead we had to pay approximately $217 USD to reserve the extra night. Marriott website photo showing the triangular hotel and its specific views. As you can imagine, the location of the hotel was excellent as it put us within easy walking distance of all the main attractions around the harbor.
  10. When we are not cruising, we like visiting the national parks. So with our Christmas cruise lifted and shifted to next year, I am taking the family to Death Valley National Park to stay over Christmas and Zion NP for New Years. We will rent a Jeep and go visit Racetrack Playa to show our kids the famous sliding stones.
  11. @alwaysonaship, We did the Lift & Shift of our Dec 20 2020 Millennium sailing to a Dec 19 2021 Solstice cruise for which we already held an NRD booking. The Lift & Shift gave us better pricing than our NRD booking. We ended up cancelling the NRD booking and got our $400 deposit back as an FCC which we applied to our Lift & Shift booking. David
  12. @CharmCity2000, I am so sorry about your disappointment and I can relate to it. A couple of weeks ago I reluctantly cancelled our Dec 20 2020 cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore (Millennium). We did the Lift and Shift to the same cruise on Dec 19 2021 (Solstice). Hopefully, we will be able to go on that one!
  13. A few days ago I cancelled our Jan 3 2021 Solstice cruise out of Sydney and have an alternate vacation now in place.
  14. We've been on Eclipse 3 times and Solstice twice. The ships are nearly identical and very nice. Solstice had her mast modified to allow it to retract so that she could fit under the Lions Gate Bridge. I presume this is the same for Eclipse. I can't tell you much about the aft cabins because we have been at the very front of the ship for all 5 sailings.
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