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About dingsterkat

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Wine, art, culture
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
  1. I’ve done it twice and made the ship both times. However I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a pro at European travel and can take a train without help if Plan A doesn’t work. We took a Barcelona to Athens cruise and flew in morning of to Barcelona and it all worked like it should no issues. Since we’d been to Barcelona many times we were fine and had our back up plan set. Even hit duty free in the port for allow carry on bottles. However the other time was a stressful mess. Party of 4 cruising Rome round trip. One in party had accidental fall in departure airport - just little bloody but stressful. Then bad flight delays in US due to stopped up toilets on plane caused missed connection in Germany. Arrived a couple hours late in Rome. That’s a long flight when you’re already stressed. Got off flight and found out cruise departure was delayed. That was our saving grace but because the ship was delayed our transfer was delayed. Very exhausting.
  2. I cruised the Sirena in December to Cuba for a week and thought the old girl looked marvelous and that the overall food and entertainment were great for a smaller ship. I do prefer the O ships to the R ships but the itinerary was worth it. We had a basic veranda cabin and it was clean and not tatty. Red Ginger was amazing and we often preferred the casualness of The Terrace to the MDR. I didn’t notice worn furniture in any restaurant nor in the library where I hung out one afternoon. Spa was immaculate. There was a certain group of people from a certain geographical location that seemed to complain about everything and treat the wonderful staff poorly. I would much rather have gotten rid of them than any cabin or restaurant furnishings. If you go looking for the good things you will certainly find them on the Sirena.
  3. We went to Cuba last month on Oceania and it was an awesome trip. Our ship was luxurious and such a contrast to Cuba itself. After living in Miami for years it was quite an amazing experience to meet and chat with private guides and shopkeepers. It really helped to speak Spanish. Our cruise ship was small enough to dock in all three ports we visited and fast on and off the ship. We had a two day visit to Havana, one day in Cienfuegos and one in Santiago de Cuba. We hired private guides and drivers each day in Havana and really felt like we immersed ourself in the experience. Loved visiting Hemingway’s house, seeing Pilar and visiting where he put his boat in. Okay, the rum and cigars were great too. We simply made our own private tour in Cienfuegos and that too was a great experience. Santiago de Cuba we did a ships tour and it seemed almost prerecorded/scripted. Not our favorite stop. Havana and its surroundings were interesting but it’s not a place I’d go back. The reasons to visit are to better understand humanity and politics not to visit beaches and tropical climates. Havana is really an eye opener - I left with a strong respect and sadness for the everyday people I met. I also left feeling spoiled and grateful to be able to leave. The beautiful pre-1950 building are falling apart - literally crumbling. Its worth a visit! Like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Great memories.
  4. Costa was unappealing to me - lines for everything. Took forever to get on and off the ship. Rude fellow passengers. Announcements repeated in multiple languages, bland food. Maybe it was simply the cursed ship we were on... the Costa Concordia. About a year before it was run aground. The only thing I remember as special was the drink package where they would bring you a bottle of wine for dinner, not glass by glass. But not being a huge drinker, that didn’t balance out the negatives. Stick with HAL or NCL would be my advice.
  5. We took the Dec 10 Sirena cruise to Cuba and really enjoyed the trip. My husband has Parkinsons - he can walk but not all day so we wanted to get as much as we could from our shore excursions. In Havana, on the first day we set up a late morning private excursion to Hemingway’s house via OldCar Tours. They were fantastic. Our requested 1951 Chevy Deluxe convertible was awaiting us along with driver and guide. We had a beautiful day learning about Hemingway’s time in Cuba and our guide knew every interesting fact about the house and it’s residents. The house is your typical open air tropical house with all windows and doors open wide, so when others complain of not walking through I’m confused. I could see everything from outside, but then on our private tour there were no people in our sight lines and we dawdled as much as we wanted. We then went to the area where Hemingway launched his boat - beautiful ocean but the countryside was covered in trash. A very poor town outside Havana proper - Cojimar. We tipped the guys who serenaded us on guitar and everyone was happy. We had signed up for an Oceania night shore excursion in Havana but did not go... our fault not theirs. We had signed up for the Buena Vista Social Club concert. But we lost interest when we saw on our tickets that it had been renamed the Guajiros something or other. I’m sure it was fine but didn’t feel like a bus ride. Second day day in Havana we did another private tour with OldCar Tours - saw the city and did some shopping via another awesome convertible. Wouldn’t have changed a thing on our Havana tours. Cienfuegos we had booked an Oceania tour - the submerged pearl but we found out upon embarkation the tour was canceled. No others sounded interesting so we winged it. Rented a private taxi and took a comprehensive city tour and shopped downtown at the end. Very impromptu and inexpensive. Pretty town. Santiago de Cuba we had booked the Oceania tour - Colonial Santiago. It was probably the best way to see town - part walking tour, then a cultural visit with a singing group, more touring and history. Pretty scripted and the least interesting city of the three but still enough social interaction. All in in all the private tours were better and cheaper. Loved our cruise, but unlike others on this board I think we experienced Cuba nicely and loved the people we met, but we aren’t in any hurry to return. So many more places still unexplored. I hope you you enjoy it as well!
  6. Wow thanks! Lots of great ideas! BigNance I think you win - what a great list. I missed two things on my first cruise - breakfast in the GDR and thus the lamb chops - also afternoon tea. Rum in the smoothie is brilliant 😉
  7. My second ever Oceania cruise begins in just a few weeks - a week circumnavigating Cuba on Sirena. I have ‘prepped’ for vacation by eating sensibly and exercising and am happy to say I’ve lost 25 pounds. But... I love food and I plan on splurging a little each day of our 7 night vacation. So my question is... what splurges should not be missed and which are easy to avoid? What is your one evil pleasure?. My first cruise was on Riviera in the Med and I found the croissants to be splurge worthy along with most everything at Red Ginger while most desserts at the Terrace were tasteless. Thanks in advance for your Insights!
  8. I signed up and paid for two cooking classes on the Riviera ahead of time via their website. Once onboard, one was canceled and I got a refund. The one I attended was good but not great. Might have just been the particular class. As for the Artists Loft, I don’t think there is an additional charge for that, but I don’t know as it can’t be booked in advance and in our circumstance, the first Europe cruise after a transatlantic cruise, it was all booked up on embarkation day before I could sign up. Those from the TA segment had filled it bThat was a little disappointing - the only item I mentioned as a negative on our cruise survey. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
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