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roothy123

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About roothy123

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About Me

  • Location
    Maryland
  • Interests
    photography, travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Oceania & Viking
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Santorini is my favorite port, but suggest going out of Fira and exploring the island!
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    just pics, but see www.pbase.com/roothy123

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  1. Based on the schedule Captain Cook Cruises posted for a recent cruise visit, they start picking up from White Bay Terminal at 8 AM, run every 15 minutes (early morning) or every 30 minutes (later in the morning through 11:30), break for lunch between 11:30 - 12:30, then pick up every 30 minutes until 2:30 PM, which is last "from White Bay" service. There's return service as well. Note they do not go to Circular Quay, but if you're going to there, you can transfer to get there, although it's at a different wharf. From White Bay, CC goes to Barangaroo King St. Wharf # 2 in about 15 minutes. If anyone's interested in how to get to Circular Quay from White Bay, there's another thread on that subject; options include going to East Balmain to pick up the city run ferry to Circular Quay. Also, you can google Captain Cook Cruises Sydney to find their White Bay schedule. That ferry run only applies when a cruise ship is at White Bay. I don't know if the same schedule is maintained for all ships, and I don't know how accurate the schedule is (timewise).
  2. Anybody know if those shuttles from the port (Port Chalmers) to Dunedin's Octogon are free, or $20 roundtrip (NZD or possibly USD?), or if it depends upon whether your cruise ship pays for it for its passengers or not? I've read different things on Cruise Critic. Either way, it's worthwhile, as the public bus is less convenient, but I was curious nonetheless. Also, if there's a charge, do you need NZD? I'm not sure I'll have any when we visit Dunedin.
  3. Sorry; not familiar with that tour company, although I don't live in NZ/Australia and haven't researched Wellington much. It sounds like an interesting tour, though, although it doesn't appear to show you much of the central part of Wellington. That could be bad or good. I'm usually more interested in outside the cities than inside, so it has gotten my attention. I do know that you can take a public bus or taxi (though lengthy) to the Weta Cave, outside center city Wellington. Weta Cave looks pretty cool to me, although most people do a tour there, not just go take pictures outside the building and visit the shop. The tour implies a fun stop with a few fun pictures, but no real substance. Have you looked at Trip Advisor to see if there are any comments on this tour company? I usually try to do that first before booking.
  4. Just posting again so I'd get notification of replies; forgot to do that before!
  5. It's online now, but I'm waiting to do mine. Thanks for the warning on the picture!
  6. I find detailed maps essential, and love the paper kind, although I'm trying to transition myself to using online maps that I download at home. But for paper maps, things I've used/tried in the past are: See if the tourist information/visitor center for a city has good maps online, and if so, print them. If necessary, I do a screenshot of the map and then print it. Occasionally the tourist information center can send you a map (though this is getting rare, and if you're in the U.S., I would guess it's unlikely, though they may do it if you pay postage). If nothing else, perhaps there's a good map on Sydney.com. Also, DK Eyewitness Books have wonderful, detailed maps by location. Sydney's big, so I'm finding it a bit of challenge. OzKiwi, thanks for letting us know you could download Google maps. I had no clue.
  7. That's a great comment by banditoo (CJays Tour Group). The woman who runs CJays has been very responsive to me when inquiring about a tour to the thermal area around Rotorua, so perhaps she can help you. I believe she does offer a tour to Hobbiton, though perhaps as Hobbiton and somewhere else. I think it will be a tour in a car but she will offer the tour to others, not just you, but no big coach or anything like that.
  8. Haven't booked any free excursions on O, so can't comment on those. However, I've never been on a coach excursion with Oceania OR Viking where there were more than 40 people on the coach, so I don't think you'll ever be placed on a coach with 60-80 people. I also don't think as many Oceania people take ship-arranged tours (excursions) in general, compared to people on Viking. Yes, the free tours on Viking can be a little "slim" but it's really impossible to provide a comprehensive tour to up to 900 people in cities where there are many, many things to see, lots of traffic, and distances for port locations. I found Viking's free London tour much better than expected, but the Athens free tour only so-so. But Athens is a bit challenging in terms of how spread out it is, heavy traffic, distance from where ship docks, etc. Viking will offer walking tours (on their ocean cruises) and I've found those quite comprehensive - similar to the river cruise tours they provide. It just depends. It's my impression that the smaller the port, the better the free Viking Ocean excursions are. I would guess it would be the same for O, but as I said, I haven't taken any. I don't even know if O gives you a choice on free excursions (V does not) or how they do their free excursions. I DO like that with Oceania, if you forego the OLife option, you aren't paying for others to take a free tour. However, I have to admit that it's nice to have those free tours on Viking as an option. On Viking Ocean I often take the freebie (usually half day at most), come back for lunch, and go out on my own in the afternoon. I also like that the free tours are offered at least once in the afternoon. Not all cruise ships offer afternoon excursions, free or paid! We do a wide variety of options in port - private/shared car or bus excursion, ship-arranged excursion, car rental, use public transportation or taxi to explore on our own, and just about anything in between. But of course that takes planning, plus occasionally independent travel isn't very feasible in a particular port.
  9. Same for us - on R ships, inside cabins have great locations (especially F category) and seem totally adequate for us.
  10. One thing ypu can do that might help reduce the stress of possibly returning late on a private tour is to see if your cruise line publishes the name and contact # for the port agent in each port. There is usually a different one in each port. I take the port agent info with me in case I have a problem getting back to the ship. I have never had to use it, but I feel better if I take it.
  11. This is a kind of strange cruise category, because it appears to be for those in Aus and New Zealand to ask for information, yet many people think it's a place to post questions about cruising in those countries. I'm not sure what it's intended to be, but I'll at least start off by making some suggestions. A few things first, though: I haven't been to any of the places you're asking about. I'm just a pretty experienced cruiser and have information that might steer you in the direction of people who have been to places on your itinerary. Also, I'm from the U.S., not Australia, although I doubt that makes any difference. In terms of excursions, we do a variety of things - plan a totally independent day, using car rental, public transportation, cabs, etc. - find a group tour (small, 4-6 people or maybe van or sometimes large bus). Usually I find this at home and book/arrange pre-cruise, as long as we can cancel up to a certain point before the tour. I rarely book anything that can't be canceled if the ship doesn't make port (more on that later). -take an occasional ship-arranged excursion, although that's often are the most expensive option I don't like to lock myself into anything because there's always a possibility the ship might have to miss the port, get there too late to do the tour as planned, or I could change my mind about the tour, get sick, cancel the cruise all together, whatever. Most tour operators understand that cruise pax sometimes don't show up but it's best to check before committing to anything. Mostly you pay after the tours, but some may want money up front. I would not be afraid of taking private (non-ship) tours, but keep in mind that if the ship is scheduled to arrive by, say, 8, you may not be able to get off the ship to meet someone until maybe, say, 9. If your ship is a little late, don't worry - most operators monitor ship arrival and they'll wait. Don't be afraid they won't get you back on time, because almost all are pretty reliable that way - they don't want to screw up! For the 4 cruise lines I've used, we were almost always asked to be back on board a half hour before the scheduled departure time. And in ports where you have to tender (go on a smallish boat to the pier) you may be asked to get back to the tender pier a little earlier. So I usually plan on being able to meet a tour vendor 45 to 60 minutes after the planned arrival time and I ask to be back around the ship area 45-60 minutes pre-departure. To ask about excursions, I would go down to the "Ports of Call" section of these boards, and find the appropriate place to ask about New Calendonia, etc. I don't know if there's a specific Pacific Islands section or what, but with some searching you should hopefully be able to find something that looks promising. It usually helps to tell a little bit about what you're interested in - active stuff like water sports, nature/scenery, beach days, cultural things, etc. Also, I'd give a clue as to mobility if that's a problem at all. If you don't get much info in Ports of Call, you could always look at Trip Advisor. I use tripadvisor dot com, but there may be other links for it, like something ending in dot au. I think you can just search for "Noumea" to see what activities, restaurants, tours, have been rated by people. If not, look for forums or boards on Trip Advisor, similar to Cruise Critic, that may help. I've never used Viator, Shore Trips, and other places like that, but many people do. Just make sure you know if they will come to you or if you'll have to meet someone somewhere. Also, there's a site called Tours by Locals that many people recommend, although they appear awfully pricey to me. But often you can find others on your cruise (use the Roll Call section on Cruise Critic) to share the tour and price. The places you've mentioned are not ones that get tons and tons of cruisers a day (like Sydney, Barcelona, etc.) so you may have to dig a little more than most people for information and tours. But if you have the time and inclination, I think it will be worth it. In comparing price, I usually add something in for a tip on tours you book yourself. However, I know some countries/parts of the world don't tip, so perhaps that's not customary everywhere. But where I was going with this is that on the ship's excursions, nobody tips. The price is the total you'll pay, unless, of course, it states lunch is on your own or whatever. Some people just walk around in the area or the port and don't do any kind of excursion. That's not me, but in any case, some research on each port might give you a better feel for what you want to do. I would NOT assume that in each port you have to do an all day tour to have a good time. Then again, you may never be back to these places, so you should not forego excursions just because they're more expensive than you'd like. Hope that helps, and that it makes sense. I was rushing. But ask if you have questions.
  12. Well, this IS the O board, after all, so I suppose many people on here will "vote" for O over V. But I think most people who love O will at least like, perhaps like very much, a Viking cruise!
  13. I've been on VO and both sizes of O ships (love both sizes equally, unless I'm lucky enough to be going on a longer cruise than 12 or so days, when the larger ships are often a better choice). I love both lines. I find the people on O really great; Viking's almost really great. I feel O is a little cheaper, especially if you choose a lower-priced cabin. However, it's hard to compare prices, since each line includes different things in their prices. Food and service on both are great, with Viking almost coming up to the level of O. Love the included excursions on V, even if we don't take all of them. (When it comes to excursions, we're typically all over the place - independent exploration, rental cars, ship excursions, group third party excursions, etc. The V freebies are nice for icing on the cake, but of course we're paying for that icing.) Non-included excursions are a little cheaper, too. Activities, entertainment, tea, coffee bars, are similar on both lines. Decor of V is really nice if you like modern and new (I do). Of course, I haven't been on the refurbished/redecorated O ships, so it's hard for me to make a fair comparison of decor between V and O on decor. But V has wonderful bathrooms, even in their smallest cabins! I haven't found a difference in how friendly crew members are on V vs O. However, cruise directors on O seem a bit more outgoing/bouncy/cheerleading - and V's friendly and helpful but a little more "sedate." (Honestly, I don't need a cheerleader type of cruise director to make me happy, just a personable one.) I don't find the dress code to be much different between the two lines, except perhaps a tiny bit more formal on excursions and at dinner on V. But the difference is small, plus perhaps it depends upon whether you're on a Caribbean cruise versus European cruise, holiday versus non-holiday cruise, etc. Internet on V is wonderfully cooperative, any time, any day - although I've only cruised in Europe and Cuba with V, so perhaps I'd have a different opinion if I had cruised to more "out there" places. (O DOES go everywhere....) I think both cruise lines are wonderful, and we choose mostly by itinerary, with cost as secondary factor. My husband gives a little bit of a nod to Oceania (generally more activity, which suits his outgoing personality) but he loves both lines. As long as I don't suggest going on another line like X or HAL, he doesn't care whether the ship will be a larger O ship, small O ship, or V ship.
  14. https://www.portsamerica.com/operations/cruise-los-angeles-terminal-schedule is the port's schedule for cruise ships. I didn't write down your date before looking at the schedule, but I did notice that for mid December, Sirena is listed. She's at B93, which is indeed San Pedro. Occasionally port assignments can change, but I would guess this one won't. In any case, as someone mentioned, what Oceania sends you pre-cruise should confirm your embarkation point. In the meantime, the port site probably has the exact address for San Pedro if you need it. I like to check port schedules to get a look at who else will be with us in a port, which gives me a clue as to how busy that port will be.
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