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About KeithJenner

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  1. We love sitting there and always have breakfast on the seats out the back as well as the occasional lunch. However, in the evening it is a wasted space. I can see the reasoning behind changing its usage so that it will become more of a venue for later in the day. I do agree though that a big screen blocking the view could be an issue, especially if they build back from the buffet so access from the sides may be affected.
  2. Yes, Riga, Klaipeda and Tallinn are all walkable to the old towns. It is also walkable into the town of Gdynia from the port (a bit further, but not far). However they really want to get into Gdansk, which is 15-20 miles away. To get there the options are taxi or train unless they use some sort of tour.
  3. Yes, I will write something up tomorrow. I’ve got some time hanging around at airports or on trains to fill. It was a shame you couldn’t make it, but I’m glad you found the alternative. You’ll love it. 🙂
  4. It was well known that the Spirit was due to go into dry dock at some point over this winter, as NCL stated it was before it goes to Asia. I honestly can’t remember now whether we knew the exact dry dock date when I booked the Christmas cruise. I think that we did know as the dates afterwards were never scheduled, but it didn’t make any difference anyway. It was well worth the risk of disruption for us, given all the factors. As I’ve said a few times, New Year should protect us from the cruise being shortened any more, and I kind of suspected we may lose the last day. For me it is a positive change as we get the same length holiday for less money with the last day in Rome rather than in Palma, so it has certainly been a risk worth taking so far. Certainly no rookie mistake here.
  5. Riga: I have heard many good things about Riga, which is a port which turns up on quite a few itineraries from other lines, but is relatively rare for NCL. It certainly met my expectations. It is a very easy walk into the old town from where the ship docks. I planned our own walk after finding places which looked interesting on tripadvisor, and managed to see a lot whilst walking less than 3 miles in total. It reminded me of places like Tallinn, which people who have done the usual Baltic route will know. After our walk, we stopped at a bar/restaurant at Dome Square and had a few local beers and a snack, which were both excellent. Certainly, this is another of those Baltic ports which I could spend a lot more time in. Highly recommended.
  6. Gdynia (Gdansk) I was really looking forward to Gdansk, which was somewhere I had always wanted to visit. The port is in the nearby town of Gdynia, and we were planning on taking the train which looked quite easy to do, with a regular service. However, a few months before the cruise I noticed reference in the NCL shore excursions to Stutthof concentration camp. I’ve never been to a concentration camp before and thought this would be a good opportunity. As I also wanted to see Gdansk, I knew that we would have to take some type of tour rather than DIY. I contacted a few companies who either said that they were booked or would only do one or the other. So, we decided to go with the NCL tour. Afterwards, some people on the roll call did find a company to take them, but we decided to stick with the NCL tour. It was OK. I’m not a great fan of tours and our guide was adequate, but didn’t really engage us. The camp was interesting (it’s something that having now done I have no wish to see again), and Gdansk was a really interesting city, but we didn’t have as long as I would like there. If I was going again I would spend more time in Gdansk. If anyone going there would like to see Stutthof then I would recommend it, but take a private tour and expect not to have as long as you need in Gdansk. Certainly this was the port which we felt we hadn’t done as well as we could have.
  7. I’ve just finished the Ultimate Baltic’s cruise on the Spirit, which includes some extra ports on top of the usual Baltics itinerary. I had considered writing a detailed report of these ports, as they are ones which are turning up on a few more itineraries both this year and next, but as it isn’t about tipping or something else for people to argue about, it Isn’t really worth too much effort. However, I will make a few comments about Klaipeda, Gdansk and Riga in case they are of use to anyone. If anyone has any questions about any of the other ports on these itineraries (or the standard Baltic’s cruises) then just ask and I will try to help. Klaipeda: Quite a few people said they didn’t think there was much in Klaipeda, and they probably had a point, but I really enjoyed it. Someone on our roll call had found a local brewery which does tours (Svytury). Apparently it was €10 and included a tasting. As it was, we were never charged and the tour was interesting. The tasting at the end was really fun and included snacks as well as tasters of 5 beers. It would have been well worth the €10 if they had charged it. The brewery (which is Bart of the Carlsberg group) was a lot bigger than I had expected. We found a nice pub on the way back afterwards to try some more. The dock is very close to the town centre, and I thought the old town was very nice, if a bit quiet. There are a number of sculptures around, which were quite fun. I thought it was a nice, relaxing port stop.
  8. In the past the option to tether was greyed out on my phone as well, with the unlimited package. I suspect that it is one of those things that you can’t do, but there is probably a work around if you know what you are doing. Given the bandwidth, I don’t think it is really worth trying though. It’s slow enough even if just using one device.
  9. We just got off the Spirit, and there are a few rumours around about what will be happening when it goes into dry dock in January. I thought I would quickly summarise what I have found out. Firstly, it is openly being stated that they are adding a couple of Teppanyaki tables, to take it up to three. I believe they will be using the room at the back of Shogun. On one occasion when we were told this, they said they were adding 3 tables, but I think this was a misunderstanding. The other changes will apparently be significant, but the senior officer we were talking to wouldn’t tell us anything specific and said that things can still change. There is a lot of speculation that Champagne Charlie’s will be turned into an o’Sheehans type place, which makes sense due to its location. I didn’t hear anything to confirm this, and I assume the shops on that level would need to be moved. It is my guess (and I have no confirmation) that something like this will happen. There were quite a few people onboard in ports who were walking around the ship with what looked like plans. I’d have loved to have seen what was on those plans. Two specific places we saw them were Raffles Terrace and Blue Lagoon/Shanghai. I think that it is agreed by many that something needs doing with Blue Lagoon, and if they add an o’Sheehans then it isn’t necessary. I suspect that the whole block containing Blue Lagoon, Shanghai, Henry’s Pub and maybe Le Bistro and the arcade will be stripped out and started again from scratch. The presence of people looking around the area suggests that this may be correct. Finally, we were told by a staff member about plans for Raffles Terrace. I have no idea if this is correct (and he wasn’t necessarily someone who you would expect to know detailed plans), but he said that the kids pool was going and a big screen being added to create a Spice H2O type area. Also they will be building back from the buffet, at least on one side, to create a better La Trattoria (or other restaurant), rather than it being part of the buffet. Whilst the source of this may not be that reliable, I think it all sounds likely.
  10. The second bedroom is quite small, and ignores you have two pairs of adults then one will certainly have drawn the short straw if they stay there. It is just a small inside room with a sofa bed. I don’t recall for sure, but it may even just have a single bed and a drop down bunk. It does have its own toilet, which is handy as the huge main bathroom is attached to the main bedroom. Really it’s just a kids room. I have heard of adults sharing these rooms, and have also heard about the problems when deciding who sleeps where. I recall one time that someone said they swapped mid cruise. It’s a great itinerary, by the way.
  11. I’ve had a number of itinerary changes in my time, from a port being changed (ie Marseilles changed to Cannes), to one leg of a back to back being chartered, so having to delay the cruise by a week, to the multiple changes on a Spirit Easter cruise a couple of years ago when our Canary Isles cruise was changed to a Venice to Istanbul itinerary and then a Venice round trip. Both of those major changes happened about a year in advance, so there were no issues with flights, and in the case of the Spirit one we got a great deal and far better itinerary (in my opinion). The Christmas Spirit one is certainly less warning, but as they are offering hotels or compensation, we shouldn’t be out of pocket, in fact we are getting the same number of nights for less money although one night is in a hotel. I do feel for those people who were looking forward to Palma. It does seem to be an issue with dry docks and NCL at the moment. When I heard that the dry dock was scheduled for directly after the cruise I suspected that the last day was at risk (I wish I’d mentioned it at the time, as I’d have looked smarter than I really am). The Getaway had even bigger issues earlier this year as changes were made just a few weeks out and there were lots of complaints. So far, we have got off quite lightly in comparison. Luckily, I think New Year protects us from further disruption.
  12. Yes it is available and it is about $10 (actually $9.95 I think).
  13. Regarding giving tips to get better service, that really depends on the bar, and how often you use it. If you are talking about a very busy bar then it probably does help to get you remembered, but on many ships (and some bars on the busier ships) you will get great service in all bars if you go there regularly. Currently on the Spirit and I am recognised and acknowledged by name in a couple of bars that I wouldn’t expect to, having only been there a few times, but in the bars we mainly use I see no difference in the service based on whether people are topping or not. Just being friendly and getting to know the staff is more effective in my opinion. I’m sure tipping does help if you are using the staff who are wandering around taking orders, but they are relatively rare in most places I use anyway.
  14. That doesn’t always work. The machine on the Spirit isn’t working at the moment, and at the casino window they are very stingy with handing out singles. I’ve had some problems on other ships before (maybe a Europe thing for some reason).
  15. There is a whole thread about this. The report you linked looks like it may have been written after reading that thread.
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