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Everything posted by robbie21

  1. Back in 2017 we chartered a 35 passenger boat out of Cairns. In researching this trip I found many adverse comment on the cruise line excursions to the pontoons. We also later heard similar comments later from fellow passengers. Crowded, dead coral, bad food, etc. We did not want to take a ship excursion to the reef. Our situation was a late arrival in Cairns, around 10AM. The small boats normally leave around 8 AM so we were unable to take a regular excursion on our own. The ship excursion was the only option or so we thought. Anyway, I contacted the Seastar and arranged a charter of the whole boat. We were a group of 8 and I filled the rest of the slots via the roll call without difficulty. It was a 2 or 3 block walk down the waterfront to the boat slips. We were underway by 10:45. Wonderful day. Spectacular weather and we anchored about 10 feet from the reef. They had a glass bottom boat for some of the non-swimmers. The reef was spectacular. Good food too. We got back in around 5:30 PM. We had 4+ hours on the reef which was ample given that we could just step off the stern and we were there. All in all a terrific day. I started this process about 6 months prior to the cruise. I made the charter on faith that I could fill the boat from the roll call. Turned out to be easy. There was a fair amount of "administration" in collecting checks and making payments. Because of a fluctuating exchange rate determining the price was a bit tricky. I ended up $75 ahead. By consensus of the group I spent it on a bottle of wine that night.
  2. For android users consider Google Fi. International calls 0.20/min. texts are free world wide. Data is $10 a Gig anywhere. Seamless to use - just use your phone as you would at home. At sea use wifi calling.
  3. thanks for the tip on checking for YouTube videos of the excursions. We have found that some Regent excursions are wildly mislabeled as "Moderate". Last year on one of our "Moderate" level excursions we started out with a very steep 4 block climb. One member with a heart condition could not make it. He said he could walk fine on level ground but did not have the cardiovascular capacity for heavy exertion. There was a delay while he recovered enough to settle into a sidewalk cafe and we went on to find that there was essentially no level ground on this excursion - all up and down some on steep streets and some on stairs. We were all exhausted by the time we caught up with the gentleman waiting in the cafe. This excursion should have been labeled heavy or at least noted as very hilly. There were several other excursions that we felt were not properly described both in level of exertion and in the sights we were to see. We were not at all happy with the Regent descriptions of some of the tours we took.
  4. I don't quite understand how a wait list can be "full". That seems to contradict the definition of a wail list. Nevertheless, if that's the way they do it I will follow your suggestions. Thanks, cwn
  5. We recently booked the June 20, 2024 cruise on Mariner. When trying to book excursions we saw that there were some excursions shown as full with no option to wait-list and others full but offered a wait-list option. The 3 tours we wait-listed on cleared within 5 days. The questions are, why do some excursions list as full with no option to waitlist? And, is there any way to get on a waitlist for those excursions?
  6. We were is Israel in June of the Vista. 3 days of private tours with a group of 6. We paid and tipped our guide and driver in dollars. We used credit cards everywhere else including fast food restaurants and more formal restaurants, supermarkets and for souvenirs. CC's had a provision for tips in restaurants. Our guide would have found an ATM but advised against it. He was right.
  7. The machines were easy to operate. The liquid soap dispenser on the wall kept overflowing. It keeps running and dribbling for a long time after you release the button. Hopefully someone will have put up a sign by now.
  8. To answer the question of evening on deck temps and wind -Its the tropics evening temps are generally in the 70's, sometimes low 80's. Usually the ship is under sail in the evenings hence you are going mostly downwind with negligible apparent wind. We always take a stroll around the deck after dinner often with a drink in hand. Note also that the bar, although covered, is open to the elements on both sides. Enjoy
  9. Getting back to tipping (or not) in the specialties - I have had the Maitre d' refuse a tip in one of the specialties a long time ago. She had twice worked us in without a reservation. She said she was not permitted to accept tips although some did it under the table she did not. She suggested I recognize her by name on my mid cruise or final review. She said that promotions and bonuses on Oceania are heavily influenced by passenger reviews. We have subsequently seen her several more times, each time in a higher position. Last time we saw her she was food and beverage manager. A by name recognition that leads to a promotion is worth way more than any tip you could give. Keep it in mind.
  10. Stayed at the Sofia in July. Great buffet breakfast. Really annoying motion sensitive lights in bedside table and bathroom. If you roll over and toss the blanket off the edge of the bed the light goes on😱. Other than that a nice hotel in a pretty nice neighborhood. Lots of little restaurants nearby if you like to walk about.
  11. Star Clipper cruises do require a reset of expectations. Planned port times can vary. Also, sometimes their shore excursions can be a little different than other cruise line so ask the cruise director what to expect. If you don't like what's on offer there will always be taxi drivers hanging about quite willing to take you wherever you want. If you don't have a specific destination they will usually give you a general tour of the area or even suggest what is best to see. We have had some outstanding tours this way. If you are a type A planner 😉 you can google taxi companies ahead of time. They often have stock tours, and prices. You call them when you are ready. Finally, you can simply walk about in the port or even stay on the ship. In some ports they will have the water sports team put out the sailboats and kayaks. Relax and wing it 😁
  12. Just returned on Sunday from a Regent cruise ending in Italy. Hit four Italian ports. Masks were "required" only on tour buses. Compliance varied. Some guides wore masks and some did not. No enforcement against those not wearing masks. Observed similar variable compliance on public buses. Masks were not required on tenders. Perhaps 10-20% wore masks. Personal preference. On board we saw a few with masks on elevators, etc. Staff continues to wear masks. Don't recall seeing a masked person on the street in Amalfi or Portofino despite the crowds. Seems like the Italians have given up on enforcing mask mandates.
  13. The direct answer is NO! An 11:30 flight will not be "easy" to make. It's possible with luck and perseverance. The luck part is getting off the ship and linking up with transportation. Luck also involved in Seattle traffic snarls. Note that this is construction season for WA roads. Lots going on in the waterfront area as well as the freeways. Could take 30-40 minutes or 2 hours. No way to predict. Also, do you have TSA precheck? If no, the odds go down. SeaTac airport is not the most efficient.
  14. I have found that QR code menus are seldom convenient to use. Generally you see only a small portion of the menu and have to scroll up or down a lot. Sometime you have to zoom to read it and then zoom back to scroll to the next section. You can't, for example, flip from the wine list back to the entrees without scrolling and zooming. Basically a frustrating PITA. Waiters have told me that they get lots more questions on the menu when QR codes are used and it wastes their time.
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