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  1. glad you enjoyed your Baltic cruise see you on a ship in fuure
  2. this is from a friend who has just got off Spirit he usually knows who to ask and below sounds reasonable 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.
  3. unfortunately we have been subjected to this kind of tactic to inflate price first time was on our first cruise with a small group got together via our roll call our tour guide suggested a place for lunch for an "inexpensive bowl of pasta" to me that suggested about 5 euros the place he took us to with admittedly a great lake view had a minimum price of 20 euros none of us knew each other well enough to object but we all ordered cheapest on menu our guide expressed surprise when we ate quickly and didn't linger with a couple of bottles of wine over lunch he sounded perplexed as he thought "tourists want that" nope we wanted sightseeing! your guide sounds genuinely annoyed on your behalf but I now make it clear from the outset what our expectations are and would certainly make a fuss if bill is a shock this place was certainly trying to rip you off have you done a review on trip advisor?
  4. travel wash is a proprietry product designed as concentrated detergent for clothes-widely available in UK at least used many times in my younger days for camping trips ideal for quick washes in sink and still uses for swimming costumes to wash out chlorine The extendable clothes line in shower works well for drip dry overnight you are not supposed to dry stuff on your balcony in the sun However now we are platinum and have a bag of free laundry each per cruise we make use of that have never had problems but then none of our holiday clothes are that valuable
  5. a few years ago we d a private tour in Turkey from cruise ship and no visa required.Mix of nationalities including UK USA and Canada I believe its only if you fly in the visa is required and when my daughter[from UK] paid a nominal fee for visa at airport after landing
  6. we used Blackberry cars last month pre cruise just the 2 of us with luggage from central London to Southampton 2 hours in saloon car £110 total post cruise we got together with 2 couples from roll call and 2 drop offs Heathrow and final drop off central London just over 1 1/2 hours to Heathrow total cost in 8 seater £175 so just under £30 per person
  7. I agree Santorini is a real challenge with mobility issues starting with fact no choice but to tender There is actually a lift/elevator from pier level up to cable car platform but its tucked away at back and very difficult to spot with crowds of people forming a disorderly line to get to ticket office steps. We only saw it once had accessed the steps which as you say are not ideal for anyone unsteady on feet . we used a private tour guide but still had to make our way to top via cable car to meet him However he was able to drive us all over island which has a lot more of interest than just Oia which we did find crowded and narrow slippery streets
  8. hi I heard several differing opinions from passengers on how they found Spirit some issues with engine noise in the cabin I cant see how they could do much in a dry dock we found our cabin clean and pretty well maintained. A couple of cracked tiles in bathroom but not too bad and I actually like the seashell patterns on them so would be shame if were replaced with plain ones. To be honest even the crew didn't have much idea what would be done in dry dock. lots of conjecture that blue lagoon should go as effectively a through corridor not ideal as eating place Champagne Charlies overlooking the atrium is the usual location for O Sheehans on other ships where can get food as well as drinks so logically that would be a likely change. you will have to review the ship in March and let us know what you think. The one thing I do hope they can fix is the efficiency of the toilet flush systems not to put too fine a point on it but you get the picture!
  9. thank you I'm sure Anglesey is lovely unfortunately Holyhead stuck off on its own island just North isn't very attractive!
  10. the bartenders are not part of DSC pool however an automatic gratuity is added to cost of each drink no need to carry cash onboard
  11. Friday 2nd August Southampton Sunny 18C Disembarkation announcements stated 7am Our Blackberry service back to London wasnt until 9 so had room service breakfast 8am then met with others sharing ride back outside Cagneys 8.30 I had already had text from Blackberry confirming vehicle details including registration. It was very quick to get off ship and we grabbed our bags and waited for our ride in the terminal 9.05 I got a phone call from our driver-he was waiting for us at Ocean terminal not QE2-head office mis communication. No problem 5 mins later he pulled up in an 8 seater Mercedes Vito which easily accommodated 6 of us and luggage Total cost £175 with 3 drop offs Our Daughters home near Heathrow, a Heathrow hotel and a final drop off at Hilton Paddington central London We were the first drop off in just over an hour. DD was papering bedroom and had just had fridge and washing machine delivered. She had taken week off work to start work redecorating new house but had been living on takeaway with no fridge until today. I headed to local shops for bacon butter and milk whilst 6 supervised DD installing the washing machine[with the nice new valve she had installed week before with remote help from her Dad] Son in law had sensibly headed to Poland for a few days with work. We had planned to stay with her for weekend and travel back home on Sunday. We had off peak return tickets for train so choice which one to catch but I rang passenger assist as 6 would require help and they secured seat reservations for the 3pm train from Kings Cross on Sunday. Blackberry cars were fully booked due to a major cycle race in London so booked with local taxi firm to take us hour journey direct to Kings Cross. Saturday 6 again supervised DD changing broken sockets and repairing floorboards in the bedroom-she getting use out of her new tool kit I did a flower arrangement Our friends K and D arrived just before lunch from their Heathrow hotel having negotiated the local bus system. It was their 45th wedding anniversary and they chose to spend it with us! Well they did want to meet up with DD anyway as she was with us on the cruise we first met nearly 10 years ago. We celebrated with fish and chips from the local chippie at end of road and a bottle of prosecco And an IPA for D. We discussed future plans for next year when doing transatlantic on QM2 Southampton to New York then fly to visit them in Indianopolis. Fond farewells and 6 and DD carried on with DIY 6 had done a bit too much however and felt fuzzy headed again so retired to bed early whilst DD and I caught up. Sunday 6 slept most of morning and we had taxi booked 1pm to take us to Kings Cross. However 12 o clock he comes downstairs baby fashion ie on his bum 1 step at a time and obviously in no state to travel home. I phoned passenger assist and the taxi company to make same arrangements 24 hours later. Monday he was feeling better and taxi turned up promptly 1pm and pulled up outside Kings Cross just before 2pm. I led way to info desk in middle of the station but 6 was having difficulty keeping sight of me in crowd-obviously another sideeffect of stroke. There is a quiet waiting room in Kings Cross which ironically is right next to the busy Harry Potter shop and the platform 9 ¾ trolley photo op. We were directed to wait there until 2.30 when rail employee collected us and helped us on to train ahead of other passengers so we could get settled . Then came train announcement that super off peak tickets were not valid on this train-guess what we had! Not an issue for the original plan on Sunday but Monday to Thursday not valid between 3 and 7 I frantically tried to find train staff and located the train manager. Fortunately she said that as had had passenger assist would not make us get off. She said fault lay anyway with passenger assist who amended journey that they should have picked up on it Back home 2 ½ hours later We were due to take another cruise in October round Greek Isles and final payment due in few days. We decided to cancel and give more time for convalescence Instead we booked a similar itinerary for next April where hopefully will see some of you .
  12. Thursday 1 August Portland Sunny 16C 60F We had arranged to meet our tourmates at Cagneys 9am so less crowded than atrium They consisted of K and D and couple and mother who we should have been on Invergordon tour. I had booked Dorset Day trips last year after rave reviews on trip advisor and good email communication. Daren runs tours in his Volkswagen camper van and books out very quickly for good reason. We were 7 of us at £100 per person and well worth it. We met Daren just off gangplank as he has license to enter port and piled into Snowy the camper van. Daren also had a goody bag for us with bottle water ,pack raisins map of area and a postcard of Poole harbour where he lives.[about an hour away] The camper van is actually only 6 years old as was one of last to be built in Brazil so benefits from more modern engine but still traditional features such as AC consists of winding down the window with a door handle! We set off 9.30 for a full day of craic and Dorset scenery. We started with a drive along coast to Durdle Dor famous rock formation. You drive through a holiday caravan park to reach the car park. Daren explained that 90% of tourists use steep long path and only get to see the formation right at end-that would definitely have been no use for 6. Instead he led us along a high path along cliffs where had wonderful sweeping views of coastline And yes once he pointed out it looks like a dinosaur drinking you cant unsee that image! Well they call it the Jurassic coast. Coming out of car park the big tour buses were passing other way so good timing. We drove just round coast to Lulworth cove a pretty coastal village with more rock formations and the bay. Very popular with holiday makers We spent about an hour here before heading inland to Corfe castle and the village. Daren managed to park in middle of small village square whereas tour buses had to park on outskirts and trek in. To say this is a popular tourist spot is an understatement we had just over an hour here for lunch and to explore. Daren again told us best points to get good views of Castle without paying entrance fee to enter the National Trust property. 3 of our tourmates had lunch in pub recommended by Daren, the rest of us grabbed a Cornish pasty from local bakery and explored slowly[no other option in 6 case] Then piling back in van driving through pretty villages with lots of thatched roof cottages .We had a side trip to the tiny village of Steeple which has a Saxon church with links to George Washington .This was of interest particularly to our American friends. Heading to Dorchester for another hidden gem. Daren told us that the County Hall building where local government has its HQ is dated from 1930s and they wanted to build a new one on land adjacent However when they started to dig the foundations they came across remains of a Roman townhouse with intact mosaic floors so that plan had to be scotched. It is free to visit but downside is that no money for keeping it intact Worth visiting. Heading back toward Portland he took us to Hardys monument. Not local novelist Thomas Hardy but Admiral Nelsons mate who he addressed his famous last words to Whether they were “kiss me Hardy” or Kismet Hardy” is up for debate Hardys family were rich locals and wanted a monument to commemorate which could be seen by ships passing coast. So on top of a high patch of moorland there is what is supposed to be a statue of an old fashioned telescope. However those of us with less than clean minds associated it with something else. There are wonderful sweeping views to be seen from there and our ship in the background. Back to ship 4.30 after a wonderful day. Last evenings are always a bit sad so got packing done as quickly as possible and cases outside room so could enjoy last evening ending up taking a final drink out to enjoy on balcony and listen to sound of the waves.
  13. Wednesday July 31 Cobh Cloudy 15C 59F I had set up a half day coach trip with e coach a subsidiary of Butlers buses Butler tend to run private tours where you hire entire vehicle whereas e coach you buy seats on large coach on individual seat basis Cost 39euros pp as opposed to ships tour costing 96 euro It was a trip to Blarney castle and gardens and again had extensive communication with company re walking and had prepaid for a mobility scooter to be on bus. There was a slight delay in disembarking but 8.15 we found driver with clipboard. Good news we were on his list Bad News they knew nothing about a mobility scooter! 6 was prepared to get back on board but Niall our driver showed excellent customer service. He persuaded 6 that the half day tour was completely possible and although nowhere was open yet to source a mobility scooter he rang head office who had a wheelchair available and we wouldn’t be charged for it and would refund the mobility scooter hire. As a result we were the last ones to board the bus but Niall got on microphone and explained that due to a mix up the wheelchair that should have been on the bus wasn’t so would be doing a short detour to pick one up. In other words he made it clear to the other passengers that we weren’t the one at fault for being last. Actually we still set off at agreed time of 30 minutes past disembarking ship. Niall was a brilliant and entertaining driver. He apologised to the mainly American bus load about driving on the “wrong” side of the road in Southern Ireland same as the UK. He then told us all in a very convincing way that in 6 months time they would be switching to driving on the other side along with America and rest of Europe………..starting with buses and trucks only That got a good laugh and as he commented good to know people were awake ! He kept us entertained with anecdotes and songs for the hours drive to Blarney Castle where we arrived 9.30 and to meet back at bus by 11.50. He also suggested that as we had beaten the large ship excursion buses there if anyone wanted to climb the hundreds of stone steps to kiss the Blarney stone to do so first as once crowds arrive can be over an hour in line. Niall unloaded the wheelchair which turned out to be brand new and still in the plastic. K had volunteered to push 6 which brought back memories of last year in Peterhof gardens As then going down slopes it can get difficult to stop wheelchair running away so 6 was applying the brakes accessible to him on the wheels. I had no desire to climb the castle and certainly wasn’t going to hang upside down to share saliva with lots of strangers who were prepared to plant their lips on an old stone And 6 certainly already has “the gift of the gab” There was no line at this point so K and D decided to climb to top but started heading in wrong direction to entrance I called them back just in time as a crowd from an arriving coach wearing NCL was approaching so they got to correct start place It was starting to rain so I took over wheelchair pushing duty to head for local café area under a canopy. I discovered the wheelchair had cycle type brakes attached to the handles so I could control down slopes-K had completely missed that So 6 felt a lot safer in my hands! We met up with Niall around 11.30 and had good “craic” ie conversation whilst waiting for last passengers to arrive. We headed back via a Cork town centre drive through and then to the Cathedral in Cobh for a 5 minute photo op. We were back at ship for 1.40pm As all aboard wasn’t till 3.30 many people wandered round Cobh including K and D It’s a pretty place but very hilly! There is a Titanic museum there as Cobh was the last port of call before its ill fated journey across the Atlantic. We headed back onboard for lunch and then relaxed around ship. US citizens had their passports collected at Check in at Southampton and this afternoon was the process to collect them from theatre. As UK citizens we had kept ours throughout. 4pm sailway it was warmer than had been all day and there were lots of people on the pier to wave us goodbye. A very picturesque sail out to open sea A very quiet evening on ship-think most people were exhausted by this time as only 1 sea day at beginning.
  14. Tuesday 30 July Dublin Cloudy 16c 60f Definitely not sun bathing weather. People in elevator heading ashore in hats and gloves Well they were from the Bahamas! I bought a map of the UK and Northern Europe from Guest Services costing $8.95 and signed and route map from Captain Have framed it and makes a good addition to our hallway at home. We were chilling out in atrium with a couple of Latte coffees when the waiter recognised us from Med cruise in 2016 when he was working Raffles bar. 6 was reading manual on his tablet for camera settings so obviously feeling more clear headed .He found photos from that cruise and yes indeed a photo of our waiter. I headed for the days Art and Craft workshop-origami tulips Unfortunately our expert from the other day had substituted another crew member armed with step by step instructions All went well till final critical stage but result no tulips miraculously appeared! We gave up and managed to make our way through a simple heart. For lunch we tried wings and soup at Blue lagoon and got chatting to a couple from Meet and Greet who were on the large coach at Giants Causeway. Their driver and guide were having an argument over whether the large coach could get down a narrow road marked unsuitable for large vehicles. Guide said she had been on loads of coaches that got down but driver wasn’t sure what .However he was overruled and guess what the bus got stuck and had to reverse back ½ mile Not a fun experience for the passengers along narrow twisty roads along coastline! We spent most of afternoon sitting Raffles aft people watching and dark clouds approaching Lots of people on shore got very wet! It’s not the most scenic of ports but 6 was fascinated watching demolishing of a concrete pier[more interesting for him that old Castles lol] Thought could send them way of Holyhead to demolish their decrepid pier! 7pm for sailaway and the pier staff removing the bridge support. High visibility jacket and gloves but no hard hat and 6 was wincing with thought of the brain injury that could be caused by it swinging just a little off course! A few drinks with newfound friends in Charlies for the evening then bed as plan to get off ship tomorrow.
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