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About vakamalua

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  1. We like boutique hotels and will be staying at the Melia Recoleta Plaza in BA and Le Reve in Santiago,
  2. Easter Island is a bucket list item for us too. We thought about taking a cruise that stops there but the odds of being able to tender in for one day is about 50-50. So we are taking a South America / Antartica cruise that ends in Santiago, Chile and flying out to EI for four days from there--crossing a lot off our bucket list in one trip!
  3. Seems like all your questions have already been answered and, hopefully, allayed your worries. All I can add is--Good for You! No matter how you travel or who you travel with (including just yourself)--just keep traveling! Talk to as many people people as possible (other travelers and locals), eat local food, wander off the beaten path, have adventures, make memories and, above all, do it with an open mind. You'll never regret a day or dollar spent on travel!
  4. We have been on HAL, Celebrity and Princess ships (as well as a number other lines). Of the those three, HAL is probably our least favorite. Every cruise line and, in fact, every ship has its own personality and pros and cons. When choosing a cruise, we take into account the itinerary, our schedules, the cost and plans for before and after the cruise. We chose the Coral Princess for the 16-day SA/Antartica cruise upcoming this January. The Coral is the right size and outside scenery viewing configuration for us. The cost for a mini-suite with a converted balcony was great. We realize that the 16-day has less ports than the HAL 22-day. But the 16-day was less expensive and primarily gave us time in our schedule to add a number of DIY days in both Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires pre-cruise and time on Easter Island and in Santiago post cruise. All together, this is the right 5 week itinerary for us. Hope you find the right experience for you.
  5. Does the Coral have the Chef's Table Dinner?
  6. Great photos! Trying to decide what to do on our port stop in Ushuaia in January. Any info would be appreciated. Did you book the boat tour ahead of time or when you arrived? What was the name of the tour company/boat? How long was the boat tour? Cost? Did you see the small island with the penguins? Did you do any other touring after the boat cruise?
  7. Need help from those of you who've been to Ushuaia... We have a cruise stop in Ushuaia (7:00 am-4:00 pm) on the Coral Princess. Excursions seem to be focused either on a boat ride on Beagle Channel or a tour into Tierra de Fuego National Park (with or without a ride on the Train). --In a one day stop, would you recommend one type of excursion (Boat vs Park) over another? --Can you see enough of the Channel while sailing in and out? --Can anyone recommend a good Boat Tour company? Or did you use the ship's excursion? --If you book a Boat Tour on your own, how far from the cruise terminal is the dock that the tour boats leave from? --Is the Train worth doing? --Can anyone recommend a good tour company for a Park Tour? Where did the tour start? Looked at some private tours but really expensive for just the two of us. Would love to hear your ideas and experiences! Thanks
  8. Call the hotel for their rates (AAA, etc.). You might be able to book your one-night in a club level for what you're paying Princess. We had a fabulous stay in club last year. And you can see the port from the Chateau; a few minute cab ride.
  9. Is there something similar that says Platinum?
  10. When we were in Cartagena, Columbia a couple of years ago, we did a private tour. It was great! Our guide was knowledgable and personable. We were met at the dock and got a head start on the cruise busses which meant we beat the crowds at all the destinations like the Popa Monastery and the Fort. We had a leisurely stroll with him through the beautiful old city visiting a few sites. Best of all, he asked us at the beginning if we were interested in buying anything, we were--a hat and a piece of local art at reasonable prices--the guide knew exactly what vendors to take us to. The artist even did a painting on a small mirror in front of us. Even better, our guide waved off any other vendors coming our way, while the large group tours were surrounded by folks selling things. Cartagena's a beautiful city--enjoy! http://www.destinationcartagena.com/PrivateToursinCartagena
  11. Best? Probably subjective. We will be sailing BA to Santiago in January. We chose that direction so we could add a few days in Rio prior to the cruise--two cities before relaxing on the cruise--and adding five days in Easter Island from Santiago at the end that corresponds with the Tapati festival in early February.
  12. Is the Chef's Table on all ships? Cost?
  13. A bit off topic but...haven't been on Princess in a few year's and new to Chef's Table. --Is it worth it? What is the cost? --How do you book this? Can you do it through the cruise personalizer pre-cruise or do you have to wait and do it on line? --Is it offered only once on a cruise (will be on a 16 day cruise)?
  14. We are in the US. We book through Princess to expedite things like cabin choice and be sure to get their current perks. Then within the 60-day agent transfer window, we transfer booking to our TA who gives us a 7% cruise fare reduction (the 7% doesn't apply to taxes, ports charges, air) so we have a reduced final payment.
  15. We are Platinum but haven't been on Princess for about five years. Since then we sailed with Celebrity where the food was just OK and on a christening voyage of one of HAL's new ships where the food was really bad (I was served raw creme brûlée), the service inattentive bordering on rude, and anytime dining chaos. We've concluded that you can't pay mass market prices (often with perks) on large (and getting larger) ships and expect upscale food prepared in large quantities and have attentive service when servers have too many tables and time constraints. We are trying Princess again in January with mass market prices and mass market expectations. Their bottom line will always be the top priority for large corporations.
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