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About dreamercruise

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  1. dreamercruise

    Scenic Eclipse

    Would you share your positive experience? Please tell which Scenic cruises you took? I am looking for some reassurance about my favorable impression of Scenic.
  2. dreamercruise

    Antartica Expedition Cruise - which cruiseline?

    Thank you soooo much for your information and suggestions, Maryann. Your provided link “travel to the poles” is extremely helpful. Per the info., my husband and I found our ideal cruise, and booked it today. i understand that it is difficult for people to recommend a particular cruise/cruiseline, because we all have different interest, budget, and physical abilities. We were thinking about taking a short Antartica cruise via Scenic Eclipse, but backed out when the ship’s launch date has further been delayed. At the same time, Silversea kept sending me promotion emails. From browsing the various itineraries, we decided to add Falkland Islands and South Georgia. After our Antartica expedition, we shall come back to the same links to explore Arctic sailing next. i think other people who come across your post will benefit as well.
  3. Thinking about taking this expedition cruise, preferably adding Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Which cruiseline do you recommend and why? Please include both existing and new ships. Does a bigger ship (200-500 passengers) have a better chance of making landing in rough sea? On the other hand, does a bigger ship have a disadvantage due to too many people getting transported to shore? Which time of the year is best to take this trip? I am thinking about January, because I want to see penguins. Are there good months as wells?
  4. dreamercruise

    Hong Kong day tour?

    You will not have much time for sightseeing. The HK airport is quite far from the city. The airport express train is 45 minutes to an hour away from the city’s airport station (depending on your stop in the city, Hong Kong side or Kowloon side). Then, you will need additional time to get from the city airport station to your sightseeing destination. The round trip airport-city transportation plus the 3-hr early arrival at airport for international flight really eat into your available sightseeing time.
  5. dreamercruise

    Concerns about Scenic from a US person

    Just took Scenic’s Mekong River cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City in January. Extremely satisfied with the ship, crew, service, itinerary, and everything else. Looking to book an expedition cruise with Scenic when the new schedule comes out in a few months. We are from US, and have no issues regarding booking and communication. No need to anticipate/worry possible problems and stress out ourselves. We have done ocean and river with Viking. Like both operators. We choose based on itinerary. Viking’s ability to swap ships in the Budapest to Amsterdam route is a plus.
  6. dreamercruise

    Avalon for Galapagos?

    Cannot comment about Avalon vs Celebrity vs NG, because I have not done this expedition cruise yet. I shall be doing a 7-day/6-nt LG cruise (northern and western route as opposed to the 5-d/4-nt eastern route) in late May on La Pinta (by Metropolitan Touring). Won't be able to provide experience until after the trip. However, from my research, I have learned the followings: 1. The experience is definitely different between bid and small size ships. Smaller ships have more personal service and the ships can get to places which large ships cannot. Smaller ships are generally more expensive (and perhaps more luxurious). Avalon ship has only 8 cabins. La Pinta has about 12 cabins. Celebrity Expedition is larger. 2. Best time to do La Galapagos is between May and June, when it is more sunny and the water is less rough, and also October through November (less likely raining). Depending on the time of the year, you will see different animals. In May, you will see nesting of sea turtles, marine and land iguanas, and mating of blue footed booby. In June, you will see waved albatross laying eggs on Espanola, and humpback whales (also Whale sharks in the very north). The cruise price will vary accordingly, so keep the above two points in mind when comparing cruise fare. In addition sailing dates, ship sizes, and ship operators, keep in mind the inclusions and exclusions such as hotel stays, intra air, gratuities, park fees, and transit control card. I have the early bird special which includes two hotel nights (a must before start of cruise), free intra flights between Quito and Baltra Island, all airport transfers, park fees/transit control card, and one-day city tour (with Middle of World). The only expenses I pay on my own are my international air and an extra hotel night in Quito at end of program. As for Machu Piccu, best time to visit is June through August, when the weather is most comfortable and less rainy. I also booked a separate 9d/8nt land tour in early July (different operator). I prefer to focus on the points of interest in each trip to get the best experience. Therefore, timing of trip is as important as operator choice. Besides, my mind may get numb and my energy level may suffer from long and strenuous trips. Lastly, don't forget to bring high altitude medication for Machu Piccu. Just in case, bring pocket size mosquito spray, mosquito repellent bracelets, cool long shirts/pants, and hiking sneakers (preferably some waterproof ability).
  7. Sorry about late response. The land tour company may not be suitable for you, because it is non-English speaking tour. Although I also have difficulty translating everything to English, I still join their land tours because the service is superb and the tours are designed to be “door-to-door”, pampered luxury type that I do not need to think or worry much about every step. Their Machu Piccu (9-d/8-nt) tour includes an overnight stay at Belmont Sanctuary Lodge in Machu Piccu. The hotel location allows me to have ample time (after arrival from train ride plus a full day the next day) to explore the area. Back to the Galapagos Island expedition, I am considering the 7-day Western route instead, because of more islands to visit than the 5-day Eatern Route. Since that the La Pinta cruise includes hotel transfer and air arrangements (1.5-hr flight) between Quito or GYW and GPS airport, and that there are multiple flights between Quito and GPS daily, I need not worry about missing the yacht due to flight delay/cancellation. However, I plan to fly into Quito two days early, just to make sure there is no issue from any delay in international flights. Which time of the year do you plan to go? Don’t forget to let us know your experience and impression.
  8. Sorry about late reply. I have been busy preparing for my next cruise. Free tours in Prague, contact info@extravaganzafreetour.com. Website http://www.extravaganzafreetour.com. You can make reservation directly via website or call 420 721 713 601. We reserved online when we arrived in Prague. Tour#1 OLD Town & Jewish Quarter, 2 hrs duration, starts 11AM and 3:30PM daily Tour #2 Charles Bridge & Prague Castle, 1.5 hrs duration, starts 1PM and 5PM daily Tour #3 Communism and Bunker Tour, 3.5 hrs duration, starts 11AM, Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat. This one is not free. Price 600 CZK or 22 EUR (includes entrance fee to nuclear bunker) We did the first two tours. Ran out of time, so we did not do the Communism tour. Instead, we spent a full day in the castle area. We also revisited some of the places on our own in between dinner. We could have easily stayed one more day. Free tours for Budapest: sign up via http://www.triptobudapest.hu/v2/tours/the-original-tour/ We did two walking tours using their service. All of the free walking tours were guided by enthusiastic, knowledgeable professionals/volunteers who speak English fluently. The tours are top notch, and are much better than those included or paid excursions from cruise ships. We learned a lot from the tours, which are among the memorable highlights of our trip.
  9. We are looking into Yacht La Pinta (more luxury) owned by Metropolitan Touring, which also owns and operates Santa Cruz II, Finch Bay Eco Hotel on Santa Cruz Island, and Casa Gangotena in Quito (where you get flights into and out of GPS for the expedition). You may want to browse their website for various itineraries. We are interested in the 5D/4N Eastern Route. We need to add at least one night in Quito and GYE for international flight to/from US. Therefore, shortest trip duration is 7-8 days including international travel. Since our schedule is flexible, we shall add 1-2 days in Interesting Quito. Metropolitan website shows a total of four different expedition lines (which they own) to accommodate various price ranges. I believe they offer a combination tour for both Galápagos Islands and Machu Picchu. We shall also be doing Machu Picchu, but with a different land tour operator whom we prefer for (proven) excellent service and acceptable luxury. As much as we want to combine both trips, we think it is best to visit these places separately for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
  10. Three years ago, we took a 15-day Grand European cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. Flew into Prague early and spent four nights there. Took a train from Prague to Budapest and spent two nights there before boarding the river boat. We made our travel arrangement and tour planning, per research on TripAdvisor. The experience was particularly memorable and educational (more so than the river cruise itself). TripAdvisor is right about needing to spend about five full days in Prague, because there are many things to see and do in a relaxed way there. We felt fortunate having ample time to spend in museums and castles/palaces and explore local area/food (sample varieties of beer). In particular, we were able to get into the Budapest palace/museum on our own free day, but could not do so with the Viking cruise because the place was closed on a Monday. There was no language problem. The area was safe and easy to navigate, mostly by walking and public transportation. We used Uber in Budapest, but no taxi/Uber needed in Prague. The train ride between the two cities was very comfortable. We booked reserved seats online while in US. One surprisingly interesting thing to learn is that our bus ride from Prague airport to town (luxury feel, local coach bus) costs only $4 USD for three of us. The bus dropped us off within steps of our hotel. Tip - book as many free walking tours as you like and can fit into your schedule. The tour guides are very good, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. We learned a lot from the walking tours. We enjoyed visiting both Prague and Budapest, and shall return some day.
  11. dreamercruise

    Midnight Sun Air

    Thanks for your suggestion. I bought Therm a Rest seat cushion from Amazon. It it light and compact. It weighs only 5-6 oz, and you can roll it up.
  12. dreamercruise

    OBC, what to do with it?

    OBC can be used to pay for Viking arranged car service to airport and future cruise certificate (for each future cruise booked within one year, $100 per person cost becomes $200 fare reduction).
  13. dreamercruise

    Has anyone done the "Waterways of the Czars" with Viking?

    I am so glad that I posted my experience in this thread. At first, I had given up on Viking (expected more luxury). I did not intend to complain publicly. I was only giving advice to OP. Unexpectedly, I gained knowledge from others’ responses. Indeed, the one positive that stands out from our Russia river cruise is appreciation of Russian History and culture. My husband and I particularly enjoyed the history talks onboard, Russian ballet performance (excursion), and the Russian musical instruments performance (excursion). From now on, I need to do more research on cruises to determine which ones have more luxury and which ones have more focus on history/culture. Another surprise is Viking showing very sincere interest in our not-so-satisfactory cruise experience with the genuine intention of improving the cruise and encouraging us to try their other cruises. As in the case of other posters, Viking generously offered us future travel voucher which we readily applied to our next cruise. Considering our stellar Grand European cruise experience and superb Viking customer service, we think it worthwhile to cruise with Viking again. I always like happy endings when reading others’ problems/issues satisfactorily resolved. Do not expect happy ending also happens to us.
  14. dreamercruise

    Has anyone done the "Waterways of the Czars" with Viking?

    In hindsight, I would have flown to St. Petersburg and Moscow ( multiple flight stops or a combination of train and air) and do sightsee8ng on my own. My suggestion to you is to fly to Moscow and d9 land tours. If you like, you can add St. Petersburg t9 your itinerary, as St. Petersburg is worth revisiting.
  15. dreamercruise

    Has anyone done the "Waterways of the Czars" with Viking?

    I just came back from this river cruise a few weeks ago, so I can share my experience and viewpoint. Before I start, I need to provide some background. My husband and I took our first Viking river cruise, the Grand European, two years ago. We love the relatively small group of passengers, long port time (hours of fun stop and only one “sea/river” day), convenient/easy access to town/city, modern/comfortable cabin (although small), and no casino/boring onboard shows. In fact, we love first Viking river cruise so much that we booked both the Russia river cruise and an ocean cruise shortly after. Before we started our Russia river cruise, we were planning to sign up the Southern France and Portugal river cruises. Unfortunately, our experience onboard the Russia cruise was so disappointing that we changed our mind about booking the new river cruises. To keep things brief, let me list the most important shortcomings. 1. The ship is quite old. The sound insulation of the cabin is almost none. I could hear our neighbors cough and chat ( in addition to TV) as late as 2AM and as early as 5AM. I had to take a sleeping pill every night to help me get a few hours of sleep. Once the medicine wore off, I had no choice but to stay awake till breakfast time. 2. The stops are out of nowhere, and there is not much to do. Port time is very short. The only two places worthwhile visiting are the starting and ending ports of St. Petersburg and Moscow, where one is better off skipping the river cruise and staying in a hotel in the city center. Most top points of interest can be easily accessible on foot or by public transportation. For example, we went to Peterhof Summer Palace by taking a hydrofoil from pier within steps from the hotel. 3. The included excursions are given in large groups. I remember our walking tour (Up Close Of St. Petersburg) and Hermitage Museum had over 30 people. For a 5 hour tour, we saw about two hours of things. Imagine the wait for all people to get on/off bus, check in coats, check bags, and two bathroom stops. Let’s not forget the hour-long ride between the point of interest and ship, total 2 hours per excursion. In summary, I feel like paying 4-Star price for a 3-Star product. This river cruise is in a different category than the Grand European river cruise. Per my own experience, I realize that I cannot expect different river cruises have the same consistent quality even with the same cruiseline. I shall wait and see how the ocean cruise goes before deciding if I should drop Viking.