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About kruzseeka

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    Dorset, UK
  1. kruzseeka

    Caribbean ports

    It depends on the port but yes, it's true to say there are some 'on costs' associated with the Caribbean. Phillipsburg e.g. you can catch the water taxi adjacent to the port about $8 pp return last time I think we went - then the beach is free but we always buy loungers and an umbrella to share which cost about $15 - $20 depending on how far round the bay you go - the further the cheaper! Sometimes a free drink is included in beach furniture hire. It is possible to walk round the bay here to the beach which is free if you're up for a 20 minute level walk - or thereabouts. Grenada also has a water taxi to the beach - probably same kind of cost as above. Similarly Tortola the popular thing to do is get the beach bus (just outside the port) to Cane Garden then you need beach furniture when you get there. (Not sure of the condition of the beach here after the hurricane last year.) If you go to a hotel/resort costs will usually include beach furniture and transport. You have to weigh up the comparative costs. An all inclusive resort will of course be much more expensive. It all depends on the ports you are visiting - sometimes there is a private beach eg Doctors Cave Beach at Montego Bay where there is a small charge and again you have furniture to hire. We generally adopt a DiY approach and seldom do ship's trips - in some places eg Antigua, Barbados we use the local buses and there is a lot of availability of local tours/taxis in the Caribbean - which generally work out a cheaper. If you tell us which ports you're visiting I'm sure you'll get some recommendations but it's fair to say that we do factor in a reasonable amount at each port for beach costs - even if the beaches are free. (After ending up looking like a pin cushion after once just putting towels on the sand we always buy loungers but you may feel able to dispense with that cost.)
  2. kruzseeka


    Thanks dave, we'd like that. Much as we liked Discovery and used the Venue and Live Room after going to the theatre, there were times when a quiet, piano style lounge would have been good. We did a cruise in the Fjords last year with an itinerary slightly different from most - it sailed down to Hellesylt during the daytime, stopping overnight and going into Geiranger next day. It was fab sailing down in the daytime. I can tell you, the Crow's Nest came into its own! I thought the deck plan of Explorer seemed to have such an area. Thanks for the confirmation. I'll look at the itineraries.
  3. kruzseeka


    😊 Thank you. I certainly appreciated the strong emotional pull of Marella after a break. It's certainly a big plus so we are definitely 'looking' at doing another.
  4. kruzseeka


    Looking!!! 😁😁😁 Have a great time in the Caribbean - one of our favourite destinations too. I'd like to give Discovery a try too. Think it may have more alternative lounge areas. Must get the brochures out! 😉
  5. kruzseeka


    Hi So,ton saint. Thanks for asking - we had a great time. We did see the Lights on four consecutive nights! We couldn't believe our luck and on one night in particular it was very extensive and impressive, although with the naked eye, only white. With camera lenses the greens were apparent. We absolutely love Norway though so the itinerary was a winner for us. It's a few years since we did Thomson (Marella) but we were soon reminded of their strengths; the atmosphere on board, the fabulous crew and fantastic entertainment. 11 shows from the showteam in 14 nights so far exceeds what we see on other cruise lines that they're in a league of their own! The quality of the showteam and musicians was also better than on many ships. The ship was lovely except imo not really suited to Northern Climes. Large double sliding doors opening onto the promenade deck but adjacent to the Atrium made this area very cold. Not unusual to see folk with outdoor coats sitting in there. Given it was too cold really for sitting outside there was a lot of pressure on internal seating areas. We missed having a dedicated Horizons/Crow's Nest style lounge bar on a high deck. Bar Eleven doesn't really provide that type of area which has very little space with comfy seats. But in the Caribbean or in its winter ports it would be quite different and not be a problem. The dining room with double height windows is beautiful and came into its own sailing down the Fjords. I liked the Glasshouse /indoor pool area too and it's a lovely theatre so lots of positives. We'd certainly go again. Sorry to go off topic but I know you are interested to know my impressions. Where are you off to next?
  6. kruzseeka


    If you've done the Tunnels, Cable Car and explored the town etc and want somewhere pleasant to relax and have a drink, the relatively newly developed Marina is a nice option. It's called Ocean Village, has an interesting ship-shaped hotel, attractive cafes and restaurants on pontoon-like structures, lots of greenery around and is just a nice place to sit for a while. It's at the top of the road you walk along to get to the town centre and on the left. It is signposted as I remember.
  7. kruzseeka

    andalsnes, tromso and alta

    Fab picture J.E.C. We've just come back from Norway - first visit at this time of year and loved it just as much as in the summer. There wasn't much snow except on the mountain tops which made it very picturesque but apparently it had been exceptionally mild before we got there. Great to hear of your experiences at a colder time of year. Can you remember approx the cost of a taxi from the town centre to the base of the cable car? It would be very much more convenient and possibly not much more expensive than the bus.
  8. kruzseeka

    Cuba excursion conundrum...?

    I can't comment on the 10 hour trip. If you haven't been to Havana before, then I would settle for exploring the Old Town independently, go for a taxi ride in one of the Vintage cars - not expensive and just revel in the decayed beauty and atmosphere of Havana. We've been twice and love it. But what I would recommend is the Club Tropicana. What an experience! If we were to return to Havana, we'd definitely do that excursion again. (The blurb about the trip when we went said 'a welcome glass of sparkling wine and then some nibbles and a DROP of rum'. That turned out to be a 1Litre bottle of Havana Club between four plus a can of cola each!!!!)
  9. kruzseeka

    andalsnes, tromso and alta

    I would recommend going up the cable car at Tromso. Quite easy to do independently - take the shuttle into the city centre and go into the tourist office (labelled as tourist shop - there is more than one) ask for directions to the bus stop for the bus to the cable car (opposite Peppe's Pizza) and buy your tickets at the machine there using a credit/debit card - cost approx 3 NOK as opposed to 5 NOK from the driver (cash). You will have to buy tickets separately though as there didn't appear to be a choice for buying more than one at a time. (Norway is almost cash free - more or less everywhere uses CC). There is an electronic display showing bus times and a route map on the shelter. We didn't have to wait long. I think several buses go to the base of the cable car which drops you just below the cable car station (bit of an uphill stretch but not far at all - perhaps 100m). I think we paid 21 NOK pp for the cable car. https://fjellheisen.no/en/ There is a cafe at the top and the views are magnificent. If you can walk ok - it's not far to walk from the cable car to the Arctic Cathedral, 50 NOK each entry. The bus top for the bus back across the bridge and into town is just at the base of the Cathedral but we did have to pay 50 NOK each for the bus for the return as there was no machine at this stop. We had a lovely day doing this under our own steam - though check out the cost against the ship's trip - as all the elements added up may not be much different but by going independently, we had the freedom to take as long as we liked up the mountain at take it all at a leisurely pace.
  10. kruzseeka

    Military Benefit changes

    As I understand it, it depends on the type of obc. This is from their FAQs - and confirms your original post re needing to have the card but also lists the the types of obc which cannot be combined with the Military Benefit. Military Promotions are not combinable with certain promotional fares including, Early Savers, Savers, Onboard booking, Thank You For Cruising promotions, Ship Visit and partnership benefits, if you have any queries on combinability, please call our Customer Contact Centre. As of the 1st March 2018 Military Benefits can only be applied to a booking if you are registered with Defence Discount Service and have a Defence Privilege Card.
  11. kruzseeka

    Military Benefit changes

    It's only £5 though isn't it? And as already mentioned, can be used for other (small) discounts elsewhere. What is a more significant change is that you can no longer combine it with other benefits like obc from a ship's visit or on-board booking. You get the larger benefit of the two but not both.
  12. kruzseeka

    Direct or agent?

    I agree - we use a local agency and after trying them once and finding a knowledgeable and very efficient agent, have been regular customers since. If you can develop a relationship with someone who you can pop in and see if you have queries or any issues I think it's very reassuring. Ours will ring P&O whilst we're there and we can talk through the options with her. We always get an email confirmation from her, then another from P&O for any details which we agreed or have changed. And if she can't get an answer there and then will chase it up and ring us back. We have a good relationship and often just pop our heads through the door as we walk along the High Street to say how much we enjoyed the last trip or just to say we're looking to book the next one and will be in soon - and 'when's you day off' so we know she'll be in. Having said that all the other agents we've seen in the store have been good too. It was just pot luck we found this agent - it's just a matter of finding one you like and is efficient, knowledgeable and will do the job well. A bit like searching for a hairdresser who suits. You have nothing to lose by trying a local store, just say you'd like to check out a particular cruise (perhaps just not ready to book) and just ask questions and listen to their responses. You'll get an idea how knowledgeable they are and perhaps pick up a vibe as to whether you think you'd develop a decent relationship with them. Of course you can't know about the after service until you've booked or more especially if there is an issue and see how it's dealt with. But you can ask at the time if they offer an Agent's discount. Ask around friends and see if they have recommendations. We found ours by chance but have recommended her to several cruising friends. Good luck - I hope you find one soon!
  13. kruzseeka

    Carnival Stock Down

    Nor can I but as far as I understand it, if you can provide proof of ownership when you claim the benefit that's OK. I believe you can't claim it until after you have made full payment for your cruise but three weeks ahead of departure. Provided you hold the shares at that point I think the benefit is payable. Your statement will show the date you print or copy it for email so shows current ownership.
  14. Just goes to show that everyone has a different take on things. We loved Havana - we've been twice with 2-day calls on both occasions and would happily go again. We loved the architecture albeit unbelievably decrepit in some areas. But we found it fascinating - from the old canon barrels used as bollards to the little bars with Cuban music which could be heard all over the city and some grandiose buildings. Yes, the shops are - well unusual would be one description but whilst there was a lot of tat and souvenirs which indeed is a feature of most tourist destinations, there are some items of good quality and workmanship especially wooden items. There was an outdoor art market too. Pricing is different for locals and tourists as there are two separate currencies: the Cuban Peso for locals and Cuban Convertible Peso for tourists - tourists can only buy the latter. We found the delay getting off the ship was queueing for currency in the port. It might be worth wandering off for a while and collecting some currency a little later when the rush has gone.
  15. I'm pleased it has. :) On one occasion we took the Hoho but weren't overly impressed and Liberation Square (if I've remembered its name properly) wasn't too interesting. On a restricted time schedule, I'd rather saunter around the old town, round the clubs with open windows and music playing, to the craft market to the left of the port as you get off with amazing bargains especially wooden hand-made items and the Capitol Building area is worth seeing too. And if I wanted to do just one trip - I'd do the Club Tropicana in the evening. What a vibe! We loved it and would definitely go again if we had the chance. Note about currency - when we were leaving, they would only change back Cuban money at the port exchange booths into Sterling in multiples of £20! And the exchange rate was awful! We were all clubbing together to make up the amount then giving each other $ to approximate our share. Advice: price out the duty free before leaving the port for souvenirs and booze. Better spending your excess Cuban currency if less than £20 on excellent and very very cheap Havana Club rum or liqueurs. We had a coffee one much like Baileys for the equivalent of about £3.