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    We were on Navigator in late July & Montaudon was nowhere to be found, not offered time even upon request. Perhaps on your sailing they restocked. However, we were told that Montaudon had been replaced with St. Germain. St. Germain was definitely a different quality and character than Montaudon so much so we did not order it unless it came mixed as a Kir. Otherwise, pass as it was just not a pleasant quaff. Jacquart has been for years a back up onboard but also not to our liking. To each, his/her own. I ain't drinking Chateau de Grapefruit if its not enjoyable which, to my regret, Montaudon has been for years. We also buy M at Total.
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    Getting Cash on Ship

    Charles Schwab - the best! No-fee ATM card with NO FEES period - no exchange rate fees, no foreign transaction fees, no charges imposed by Schwab or a foreign bank's ATM from which you w/draw cash. If there is a fee charged by a foreign back, Schwab refunds 100%. Best no cost way to get cash overseas from an ATM + exchange rate is nearly the same as that of AmEx and VISA. Example: cash from ATM at 10 am, then lunch at a restaurant charged on AmEx, post-lunch VISA charge at a retail store = no signficant difference in the foreign exchange rate for the 3 transactions on the same day when converting Euros to USD (deducted in USD from the Schwab account).
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    Mariner Wold Cruise in 2020

    Crooz_N, I also would be grateful for your list. We are booked on 2021 Mariner WC and would appreciate learning your thoughts. Please email me:o nacpa at cox dot net. Thank you also in advance for you kindness!
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    Tipping on board

    Another enthusiastic vote to contribute to the Crew Fund. We donate on Regent & Oceania cruises as tipping is included in the fare & staff are well compensated for the hard work & excellent effort. I was startled to see last week on Navigator, a gent openly & loudly peeling off USD bills during breakfast. Doling out cash at the end of the cruise in such a public setting reminded me of Rodney Dangefield in Caddy Shack! Seemed to be having a good time.
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    I was on this cruise and agree (smoking neighbor aside) with 3for3's assessment. The ship is showing its age apart from being cramped - paint peeling & blistered on our balcony & wood table, shower tile caulk mold, cabin carpet frayed. Staff & service were consistently excellent - except for the 2 specialty restaurants. Food at dinner was spotty, definitely not 5 Star - some entrees arrived cold, fish dry, orders mixed up. We were surprised several reasonable requests would not be accommodated - no BLT sandwich at lunch in the MDR ("not on the menu"), not able to remove cheese baked atop the special of the day fish entree at dinner (fish with cheese, what's up with that?), less salt in the soups which were oversalted. Overall, we found MDR pleasant but nothing special food-wise. For us, Veranda & Sette Mari were a mess. Too cramped, too frenzied, feeding time at the zoo, pax freely serving themselves food with bare hands at the buffet. Shouldn't staff handle the food to avoid unpleasant sanitary problems? Sette Mari when it opens is immediately slammed as there are no reservations which would stagger seating and service challenges. Which means the kitchen quickly backs up with many orders at once and the floor staff are overwhelmed. We ate there twice - entrees both times came out cold or overdone. I personally prefer an informal buffet at dinner, esp after a long day of touring, but appreciate space is very limited. Converting the casino is a great idea! Prime 7 was the worst meal on a cruise we have had in years - we are Regent & Oceania long time cruisers. Steaks ordered med rare = hockey pucks, returned twice, gave up on the third try, the meat was flavorless and tough, veg way way overcooked, service staff was visibly stressed and our meal had a long wait. We often had a table for 2 at dinner in the MDR - but we arrived 6:30 prompt. Every night when we left, there were guests outside waiting for a table to open...which means you must time arrival for dinner to be there as MDR doors open or prepare to wait for a 2 or 4 table top. The odd part about arriving on the dot for dinner for us - absence of live music in the bars until after restaurants began dinner service. It would be nice to enjoy a cocktail and listen to live music without being rushed to go to dinner but that was not in the cards. Coffee Connection was lovely - Milgram did a great job serving lattes etc with charm, patience and professionalism - we always had a seat in the morning, during the day and for his masterful cocktails before dinner. Agree on the Trivia limited space. Our team was shut out twice for lack of seating space but there seems to be no alternative. Lectures by Maya and Michael were a strange brew.
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    Penthouse Suite on Riviera, help please.

    I would also echo PHs on Riviera are great, esp deck 10. Avoid deck 11 under the Terrace. There is considerable noise early in the morning with chairs & tables moved about & vaccum cleaners going at it before breakfast. Do look at the deck plan as to the proximity of the Laundry Room as noted above. Plenty of LRs on board - Nautica has only one for all passengers - so no big concerns with congestion or hallway conversations on 10. But you will want to located as far from the LR as is feasible & available. Doors opening & sometimes the tv is put on full volume. Laundries are specifically noted on Riviera deck plans with a clothes hanger symbol.
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    World cruise thoughts?

    Thank you CBB! Appreciate the answer.
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    World cruise thoughts?

    Quick Q: since were in tax season, with the ATW cruise leaving Miami in early January, how do you handle filing state & federal US tax returns due April 15? 1099s & K1s are not issued until well after the ATW departs so I am curious how the paperwork is submitted to your CPA & how the filings are handled while you are overseas for 6 months.
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    Riviera review March 8

    I agree this one group was an outlier. Having been on many O cruises, we never experienced such unruly behavior inflicted on 1100 passengers by a small subset of the 100+ in the group. We get up early and turn in early while the problem children did the exact opposite. So we were able to avoid their late nite shenanigans at the bars (breaking glasses, becoming belligerent drunks). The group received a free cruise for surpassing targets selling property insurance policies in Canada. Not all were obnoxious. It was a subset of tattooed bare chested sun burnt dudes late afternoon soaking up drinks, sun and fun. We were PH on 10 & had to shout down to the drunks on 8 to stop yelling to each other on balconies late in the afternoon. They stopped the caterwailing when asked. Supposedly 3 goofballs were put off Riviera in Nassau, the first port (!). Others left in Antigua on Day 6 of 10. I get it: some in their 30s want to let loose on all-expense paid cruise vacation with non-stop booze. But Oceania is a very odd choice to host this shindig esp. when there is so little of interest for those who want to drink & go bananas.
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    Riviera review March 8

    Superb comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts. We were on Riviera immediately after you (boarded March 18) and agree especially with your observations on food. The Grand Dining Room at dinner was erratic with very good meals and then disjointed, mediocre dinners. On the last night (March 28) "Jacques Pepin's boeuf bourguignon served over fettucine" was recommended on the entree on the Menu Degustation = worst meal of our trip. Flavorless, a soupy presentation that looked & tasted far short of what promised to be the "star" entree. Shared our opinion with the waiters and captain in hopes the feedback assists the kitchen (good luck with that). Fortunately, other dining venues and other nights in the GDR were far better. Staff everywhere was terrific - friendly, professional, prompt and eager to please. Always made an effort to acknowledge servers and wine stewards by their name. Fantastic effort, consistently so. There was a consensus Punta Cana should be dropped from future itineraries. The senior officers concurred due to a very difficult tender process - one tender took an hour to discharge pax - not the fault of Oceania but the wind and aggressive currents. Sad to say, 100+ Canadian property insurance sales people were on board as an award for achieving sales levels. Free drink cards meant obvious problems for those couples in their 30s - loud, belligerent, boisterous and drunk daytime & night time. Not a great idea for O to agree to disburse unlimited booze to those eager to party hardy. Riviera was an odd setting for this group - Carnival or RCL's bigger ships would be more satisfying than the elderly and sedate crowd on Riviera. Several Canadian passengers (loyal O customers) said this group was kicked out of a resort last year due to the out-of-control behavior so honorees were given a free Riviera cruise. Big mistake. Thanks again for offering such a well balanced and thoughtful review. You mirrored largely our experience of 10 days right after your sailing.
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    Baltic Cruise on Oceania With Berlin Stop

    We also did Friends of Dave tour - excellent, heartily recommend the full day. Travel to/from the port/Berlin is 8 hours which makes for a very long day and limited sight seeing in the big city. Your call - but I would strongly suggest seriously considering FOD for the day.
  12. Second big vote for the Cotton House. Beautiful property (former cotton company HQ, duh), great location, wonderful staff. Photos don't do it justice - rooms are small but updated. You will need to taxi to the port but its an easy and relatively short ride. Everything notable is easily walkable or take a bus to areas of Barcelona outside the central core. The breakfast is great and wine selection is superb. We would return without question. Marriott has a number of these Autograph collection properties which we have really enjoyed.
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    Specialty Restaurants on the Riviera

    Hey European, hopefully your TA will update you on a 2nd change. The itinerary will likely have to change again in the weeks ahead. In addition to dropping San Juan, St. Maarten is now out - St. Kitts is the replacement. I can't see St. Barts remaining - that small island was decimated by the hurricane. St. B requires tendering but Gustavia is largely kaput so rebuilt facilities to accomodate visitors in 4 months is doubtful.
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    Be Wary of Smith's Car Service in London

    We have had five pickups with Smiths in the UK over the past two years - all were excellent! Drivers were prompt, knew exactly where our pickup & destinations were located, friendly and pleasant. Pickups included Southampton to London, London to Heathrow, Bath to Heathrow etc. We had very positive experiences with Smith's online in advance (quirky requests) and the scheduled pickups. No problems, all smooth & efficient. I would use Smith's without hesitation next time we are in the UK.
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    Wine Shop Suggestions - NYC

    Another strong rec for Sherry Lehman. We have ordered by mail wines as gifts from SL for many years & frequently purchase a bottle or two when visiting NYC. Prices are good, selection impressive and a friendly, knowledgeable staff make SL a pleasant place to buy wine. Good location as you will be midtown.