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Carmelita

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About Carmelita

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    Cool Cruiser

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    St. George, Utah
  1. Just finished a Holland America cruise which included 2 port stops in Taiwan, Kaohsiung & Keelung. We hired David Liaw of My Taiwan Journey for both days. He spoke good english, was an awesome guide/driver and was prompt both days. He always responded immediately to emails and can arrange a tour to suit your needs. We had planned to do some outdoor stuff but when it started raining heavily he seamlessly readjusted the itinerary so we still enjoyed our day.
  2. The Coral Breeze excursion we went on rivals some of our worst snorkeling excursions ever. We were just in Belize in early March 2012. We WERE required to wear full on life jackets. There were 48 people in the boat and all of us had to follow the guide, nose to butt. As a result time at the sites were very limited. For me, those factors alone make for a crappy day on the water. On the good side, the sites were great but not enough to offset the total "herd" mentality of the excursion. We had good experiences with Subway Watersports in Roatan and Eagle Ray divers in Cozumel.
  3. We've been to Hol Chan a few years back and the snorkeling is excellent. We were staying in San Pedro at the time and just picked up a local tour operator so I don't have any info on Belizean Adventures. We went on the Coral Breeze Caye Caulker tour a few weeks ago and definitely do NOT recommend it. The sites were good snorkeling but packing 48 people on a boat doesn't make for a good snorkel tour. If you choose Caye Caulker, consider trying a different tour provider and/or taking the water taxi over and going out with a local boat.
  4. We went on the 3-reef snorkel with Eagle Ray Divers and had a great day on the water. Good snorkel sites and a great crew of people, a dozen snorkelers on board and two excellent guides.
  5. We had the totally opposite experience with Coral Breeze so would not recommend them at all. Not very well organized, 48 people on board, too little time in the water, mandatory lifejackets, no lunch, very rushed once we finally got going.
  6. Armedaneian, you are right on! Back from a trip with Coral Breeze 2 weeks ago and very poor excursion especially if you are an experienced snorkeller. But, you can also just take the water taxi to Caye Caulker and hire a local boat to take you out to the reef and do your own thing, cheaper & you get to do it your way.
  7. Bill you are entitled to your comments as am I. Just because our experiences and opinions have differed in regards to Coral Breeze doesn't really give you the knowledge to interpret my "outlook on life" or my "expectations". We travel extensively - mostly independent, non-cruise - and often to third world countries - in fact I don't even consider Belize to be "third world". You continue to sing the praises of Coral Breeze and most of the more recent reviews have tended towards the negative so I feel CCers are entitled to hear both sides of the story. All I was looking for was a decent snorkel trip and this was definitely not it. On the good side, the actual underwater life was great.
  8. We went on the Coral Breeze snorkel tour the Will in Sunny FL raves about and had a very different opinion of the whole operation. Basically a waste of time and money. Caye Caulker is great, however, Corral Breeze is definitely NOT. Get off on first tender, arrive at their booth before 8:00am, hang around until 10:15 waiting to leave. Take the boat out 5 minutes, turn off the engines & sit for 10 minutes while they tell you "the plan". Continue on to Caye Caulker, pull into dock and listen for another 15 minutes while they explain snorkelling 101 to you and the other 48 passengers on board. Find out it is election day and their are no restaurants open on Caye Caulker so no lunch afterall - but you will get refund of the $6 paid. Boat out to the snorkel site (one "pro" of the trip, coral gardens is great), put on "mandatory" lifejacket (couple of smaller boats had people in the water without life jackets so not sure the meaning of "mandatory") wait for 45 people to offload into the water before you start to snorkel, listen to guides yell at you for 30 minutes, try to avoid the 88 other fins in your face while trying to take in as much of the underwater world as you can. Wait for 45 people to upload onto the boat and motor over to shark ray alley. Repeat process but as it is just standing around in shallow water the crowd isn't quite as bad. Lots of sharks and rays. Back to Caye Caulker, wander around find a grocery store open for chips & soda ($8 US for 2 - do you think they had a captive audience?). Advised boat trip back to Belize city would be 30-35 minutes, arrive 57 minutes later and wait for panicked HAL passengers to disembark as their last tender was scheduled to depart 5 minutes before our arrival. Other than the underwater life in the area, this tour totally sucked. It wasn't inexpensive and we would have been better off taking the ship tour or just taking the water taxi to Caye Caulker and finding a boat to take us to the reef for $20 each. At least with the ship tour, the organization would have been significantly better and it probably would not have been any more crowded.
  9. That's the attitude we went with, it was free money. Just monitor your account so there is no unspent OBC's when you're done. If they had not applied it we would have spent the last night in one of the gift shops making sure it was used!! As for getting the cash, I think you would only get $80 cash vs the $100 OBC and I am greedy!!
  10. We also were on March 4 Star sailing. The couple of times we ate in MDR we thought was ok as well, specialty restaurants were excellent. Service everywhere was fantastic, good crew. For us the tendering in Belize was great but as they offered free rum drinks the next day to make up for Belize tender problems we figured it must have gone to crap for the later tenders!! We got our tender ticket when they opened and were on the crew boat first out and on shore before 8:00am, guess we were lucky!! Itzmered, we were on two of the same excursions but never did meet up!! Spent the day at Maya Chan with you and also on Coral Breeze intimate (NOT) snorkel excursion! Agree on the lounge chairs but it didn't impact us as we aren't sun bathers, the aft deck always seemed to have some space when we wanted. The spring break deal is an interesting dilemma for NCL. Those kids were pounding down the booze so NCL is making big bucks off them. As a business they probably need to find the line between making a lot of money off the binge drinking one-time cruisers and trying to tone it down and not alienate the return long-time cruise crowd. We would never cruise spring break time again as we don't have to. I threw my back out first day and avoiding the screaming running around drunks on the pool deck was a bit unnerving. Fortunately we are not pool or hot tub folk as you wouldn't have had much of an opportunity to use those either. All that being said, we really enjoyed ourselves and would absolutely cruise with NCL again if the ports, itinerary & price fit our needs.
  11. Just off Star March 4 cruise so I can tell you how they applied our OBC's, your mileage may differ. First off, we had $75 direct from booking on NCL site. Secondly, both hubby & I applied for the BoA mastercard, received our 10,000 points and I redeemed them for $100 x 2 - $200 OBC. 3 weeks prior to sailing I phoned NCL office to find out about using the OBC's against the DSC. The agent explained to me 3 times (getting old so I wanted to make sure I understood her correctly ;-) ) that of the initial $75, only $25 was non-refundable and the other $50 could be used against the DSC. And most certainly the $200 BoA could be used to offset DSC. On the second day of the cruise we went to guest services desk to find out what they had to say about the OBC's. According to them neither the $200 BoA OBC nor the $75 NCL booking OBC could be used against the DSC. Not being big spenders nor big drinkers, we then had to come up with a plan to spend the $275 OBC. We had a few drinks, paid some wine corkage and dined 4 nights at specialty restaurants. The morning before the cruise ended we went back to guest services and asked for a printout of our account. We were charged $9 for somebody else's drinks on one occasion and also charged $15 for a wine tasting we never attended. But, they also didn't charge us for corkage on the 1.5 litre bottle of wine we signed for so we were still ahead of the game by $5. But, the good news was they actually DID apply the $200 BoA OBC against the DSC. So our bill was: DSC 168 Restaurants 115 Other 69 Total spent 352 Our credits fully applied: BoA OBC 200 Refund ?? 18 NCL OBC 75 Total credits 293 Balance paid 59 The NCL OBC's did show on the invoice as non-refundable and the BoA OBC did not. It looks like they applied the $18 "refund" (everybody on board rec'd this @ $9 pp) against the DSC as well so I think we were only about $2 over what we needed to spend to use all the OBC's. Moral of story, until you get your final bill you can't really be confident that what you hear is what you will get regarding how they apply the OBC's. Get a printout of your invoice part way thru the cruise if you don't think you will spend the non-refundable credits and find a way to spend them in the last couple of days. Clear as mud!
  12. Caye Caulker is great, however, Corral Breeze is definitely NOT. Get off on first tender, arrive at their booth before 8:00am, hang around until 10:15 waiting to leave. Take the boat out 5 minutes, turn off the engines & sit for 10 minutes while they tell you "the plan". Continue on to Caye Caulker, pull into dock and listen for another 15 minutes while they explain snorkelling 101 to you and the other 48 passengers on board. Find out it is election day and their are no restaurants open on Caye Caulker so no lunch afterall - but you will get refund of the $6 paid. Boat out to the snorkel site (one "pro" of the trip, coral gardens is great), put on "mandatory" lifejacket (couple of smaller boats had people in the water without life jackets so not sure the meaning of "mandatory") wait for 45 people to offload into the water before you start to snorkel, listen to guides yell at you for 30 minutes, try to avoid the 88 other fins in your face while trying to take in as much of the underwater world as you can. Wait for 45 people to upload onto the boat and motor over to shark ray alley. Repeat process but as it is just standing around in shallow water the crowd isn't quite as bad. Lots of sharks and rays. Back to Caye Caulker, wander around find a grocery store open for chips & soda ($8 US for 2 - do you think they had a captive audience?). Advised boat trip back to Belize city would be 30-35 minutes, arrive 57 minutes later and wait for panicked HAL passengers to disembark as their last tender was scheduled to depart 5 minutes before our arrival. Other than the underwater life in the area, this tour totally sucked. It wasn't inexpensive and we would have been better off taking the ship tour or just taking the water taxi to Caye Caulker and finding a boat to take us to the reef for $20 each. At least with the ship tour, the organization would have been significantly better and it probably would not have been any more crowded.
  13. Marelind, I received a different answer re the BOA worldpoints I redeemed. Agent was insistent the the $200 OBC CAN be used for gratuities. I am not convinced and will try to talk to someone as soon as I can after we board. We got the BOA card late fall and redeemed the points the first week in January so maybe they hadn't got their tracking programs in place by then. We sail next Sunday so I will try and let you know the outcome when I return.
  14. I just called NCL today regarding our 2 x $100 BoA award certificates for onboard credit. We also have a $75 OBC form the original booking. She confirmed 3 times that the 2 x $100 OBC's WERE eligible to be applied against the DSC. Only $25 of the original $75 booking OBC was NOT eligible to be applied against the DSC. We sail in 3 weeks so I will post back and let you know what actually happened! I just don't want to leave any of the OBC's on the table!
  15. Excellent report, brought back good memories from last year. Your suitcase issues reinforce why I always try to go carry on!! Can I say "I told you so" about the "cold" ;-)) . But, as you say, better to be over than under prepared. Looks like they are now assigning the boots for the cruise, we had to get a different pair on each landing, that probably makes things much more efficient & the boots get back to their proper spot. Also interesting you had a much different mix of passengers than we did, we were probably about 40% Brit, 40% German and 20% "other", I'm guessing it was because of the cruise length as the Euros have much more vacation time then the USA. So glad you had such a fabulous time, we feel the same as you that although the plan was for once in a life time, I'm guessing we will go back and likely with Hurtigruten again. Thanks for posting the report.
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