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Sonora5

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About Sonora5

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    St Louis Missouri USA
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Barcelona, Copenhagen

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  1. A sea day! We had so many ports on this cruise, with few sea days in the first three weeks. After a rainy day in Lisbon that was a little disappointing, we were looking forward to kicking back. I did not take pics of any menus or food. I know those are popular and I will try to do better next time. We ate in the Lido on a lot of port days. The food there was good! There was rarely a line for anything. We liked the variety and the consistency. The aft end of the Lido had a special buffet of appetizers and small salad items. There were also nicely prepared seafood dishes quite often. We also got room service a lot. Sometimes we were very lazy and we had one of the concierges order for us. Mr S would get himself a generous pour at the lounge honor bar and we would settle in to our room. We got room service for breakfast a number of times also. They actually made a nice omelet on this ship, which does not always happen. Trivia was usually played twice daily. The early trivia was hosted by cruise director Kelly, who really seemed unhappy to be there. The afternoon trivia was hosted by assistant cruise director Tino who was great. Entertaining, funny, personable, and great trivia questions. He also hosted 2 or 3 music trivias and we begged for more. If you are lucky enough to have Tino on your cruise you will have a good time. After a relaxing sea day we were ready for Madeira, our last port before our seven day Atlantic crossing.
  2. Thanks kazu. This is fun to do, it was a great cruise.
  3. This is really fun to read. Thanks. I agree with those who yearn for a book trading shelf. To make book trading fun, check out bookcrossing.com On our recent cruise on the Oosterdam there were bookshelves in the Crow's Nest that people were using to trade books and magazines. The magazines I left were scooped up right away. Daniel Madeira taxis is the bomb. Love them.
  4. Don, I think you are mistaken as to much of what you have said. We were not late. The disembarkation was late. We did not exit at the wrong end of the building. 8 of us in the group met on board and walked off together. There may have been two people who were late but they weren't us. The guide was nowhere to be found. When we did find her-8 of us-she had no useful information about how long we would have to wait for the bus or anything. I was rarely off taking pictures. The rain was bad luck but not the fault of Spain Day Tours. Leaving us out in the rain because their bus was late was. I am glad you had a good time, but I request that withdraw your comments about what I was doing because they are not accurate. I think you are thinking of a different couple. We toured Gibraltar in the rain and it was a great tour.
  5. I decided I would share this info if asked. It was Spain Day Tours. I had never used them before, but I know they are a popular company with a lot of good reviews. There were at least two other couples on the tour who were pretty unhappy. I think the owner of Spain Day Tours got wind that this tour was not all it should be, because he emailed me three times asking me how the tour went. I waited until I got home to respond. We had a little bit of email correspondence. He offered me a free tour which was nice, but he also claimed that everyone else was happy with the tour, which I know was not true. He offered another couple who complained two free tours. I doubt I will accept the offered free tour. I appreciate the gesture, and his willingness to try to make it right. However, I am a little unhappy that he lied and said everyone else was happy. My conclusion is that I would not use them again. I like smaller tours on vans, 6-10 people, where we can all get to know the guide and driver, and where plans can be amended if we all agree, and where we can ask questions and are not dependent on those listening devices you wear around your neck. That kind of shenanigans is best left for ship tours.
  6. Our next stop was Lisbon. The sail in to port through the Tagus estuary was lovely. We enjoyed it on our balcony for several hours despite the off and on rain. When we finally got to port we were delayed in disembarking for about an hour. I think this was due to the rain and the water levels. Unfortunately, even though we were an hour late getting off, our tour provider was nowhere to be found at first. We searched up and down the row of buses in the rain and finally the guide turned up. She appeared to be jittery and disorganized. Our "van" was not there yet. We milled around until it showed up. The guide was not helpful. Our first stop was the Cathedral. Our group was larger than we anticipated, 16-18 rather than the 8-10 I thought we were getting. We had to wear annoying little hearing devices around our necks. Her commentary was not great anyway, and she did not make herself available for questions. We will never know who Senhor Dos Passos is, or why he was entombed in great style in the Cathedral. On to Cascais, where she directed us to a restaurant that was full. We gulped down a small meal elsewhere, bought a couple of things and back on the bus. On to the Pena Palace where again lack of communication was the order of the day. There was no info available from the guide about what to expect getting up to the Palace. Two gentlemen stayed behind and the guide expressed no concern or interest about this. The Palace was interesting but the outside was an ugly orange/yellow. There is a large house near where we live that is the same color, we laughed about that.The grounds are nice and there is a tram that hauls you up almost to the palace. We were not told about the elevator until the tour was over, and I know there were people in our party who would have preferred to use it. The interior of the Palace contains lots of nice things arranged in a scattershot fashion. The grounds are very nice. Back down to the bus in the tram and off to Sintro, where the guide took off up a hill. We enjoyed a nice snack at a little cafe and then went back to wait for the bus. We were then driven back to Lisbon and offered a tour (dark, rainy) of the City Center. Only one couple chose to do this, and the rest of us waited on the bus for them. Dreary day, dreary night, when we are back in Lisbon in two years I will book a different tour. Next: Finally, a sea day!
  7. Gibraltar We had always wanted to call in Gibraltar. We have sailed by it many times at night and could only see the outline of the large rock. So we were really pleased to have this port this time. We did a 3.5 hour tour with Inside Out Gibraltar tours that we booked with three other couples. Our guide, Dennis, was wonderful. He met us promptly at the pier, which was a relief because it was a cold and windy tour, raining off and on. We got a great overview of the island with Dennis. He was very knowledgeable and fun, and promised not to let the monkeys jump on me. We saw the cave-big and spooky, and you can go down I don't know how far. Light up with blue and green lighting. There is a souvenir shop just outside. We also visited where the macaques are fed, and then went on to the tunnel. This had the option of going in pretty far. We didn't go too far. There is a great place with an expansive view just outside the tunnel, and we got some cute pictures of a mother and baby monkey. We also visited the moorish castle, interesting, and some big gun-100 ton? We went down by the sea, and then drove across the runway. Dennis offered us the option of being dropped off in town but we all decided just to go back to the ship. For a rainy, windy day I think we did rather well. Of course, since we were in a small van rather than a giant bus, we were able to drive right up to all the attractions. Next: LIsbon
  8. Sonora5

    Medallion Events on Board

    We wore ours to the lunch immediately following the event where we received them. Not sure what to do with them now, but I do not think we will pack them and wear them again. By the way the ceremony was way more fun then I thought it would be, I was glad I went.
  9. We love you too, get on board the Rotterdam with us!
  10. We got in to Cartagena at about 8 am and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Much better than the gray skies of Barcelona and Mallorca. We had booked a segway tour with Anne and Eugene. We are experienced segway riders but it was their first time. We met the segway guide right at the pier, and we proceeded to do our "training" right there on a wide, flat plaza. I went first to show Anne that even a klutz could master a segway, and soon all four of us were swooping around with ease. I think our guide's name was Sergio, and there was also a second person from Cartagena segway to help. Cartagena has a lot of history as a port that changed hands many times, and also was (and is) a center for shipbuilding. Early submarines were built there in the 1880s. We swooped by the Maritime Museum (closed on Mondays) and learned about the ship names in the sidewalk bricks. We went to the Calle Major-lovely, filled with shops and cafes, and with a very photogenic City Hall. Then down the malecon to another interesting site, and up the small mountain to a scenic overlook. There was a castle, and we were also treated to a sweeping view of Cartagena, including Roman ruins and a soccer stadium. All too soon we were returning our segways. Mr S and I decided to revisit the Calle Major on foot. We wondered around, bought some lottery tickets and magnets, and stopped at a cafe to have a snack. The croquettes were so-so, but the pour on the gin and tonic was very generous. We tipped accordingly and headed back to the ship. Trivia and Happy Hour. Next: Gibraltar
  11. Mallorca: Well, you are not really going to get a report in Mallorca. We decided we had been running around too much, and we gave ourselves a sea day. Mr S needed one more day to recover from his cold, and I was ready to chill. We cancelled our segway tour and lounged around. Based on the charges on our statement, I am thinking we hit happy hour pretty hard, and I imagine we played trivia with our amazing trivia team. Mallorca is great, we have been there a few times already and will certainly go again. But we needed a rest day. There will not be many pics so fellow cruisers feel free to post some. I may see if Mike has some from a prior cruise to put up. Next: Cartagena
  12. That is great news! I have already started a Roll Call. There is another couple from our cruise, Tom and Karen, who are also joining us on the Rotterdam in 2020.
  13. Unfortunately we woke up to a cold and rainy day. We were passengers "In Transit" so could leave the ship when we liked. We had booked our tour to start at 8:30 am. Andrew and Alex were waiting for us as we exited the ship. We were quickly tucked into our vans and headed out. Andorra is about a 3 hour drive from Barcelona, so Andrew had arranged for us to stop halfway at the medieval village of Solsona. We enjoyed a little snack there and took some pics of the very old buildings. Andrew explained to us that they are very Catalan and independence minded in that region. I got a smile from a matron who looked at me quite suspiciously at first when I greeted her with the two Catalan words I know: Bon Dia. (Good day). Our snacks were good, there is a bakery right up the main walk that serves nice things including some delicious chocolate. On to Andorra where Alex took our passports to be stamped after we passed through border control. Always nice to get a nice new country stamped in your passport. The sky was heavy and snow was predicted, and there was a lot of traffic carrying skiers hoping to hit the slopes. We were in the Pyrenees! We drove up and up and up to a place called Naturlandia. Kind of like Six Flags only with nature. This would be a great place to take kids. There is a tobotronc, pony trekking, a big climbing structure, a little track for mini car racing, etc. A nice big lodge as well. Due to the impending snow, however, Naturlandia was closing early so we toured around a little and headed for Andorra La Vella, the capital of Andorra. This is where things got a little sticky. Apparently one couple in the other van wanted to go back to the ship early and started badgering our guides and the folks in the other van. I did not realize what was going on soon enough to nip it in the bud. We did get to have lunch in Andorra la Vella. but did not get to see as much as we would have liked due to this awful couple. I actually thought at first we were leaving quickly because of the expected snow. Lesson learned. I felt very bad for Alex, the nice young woman guide in the other van, because I think this couple bullied her into this rush back to the ship. As we were not sailing until 11 pm, there was no reason for their behavior. Anyway, they will never tour with me again. Back to the ship. Next: Mallorca
  14. Andorra: For our second day in Barcelona we booked a private tour to Andorra. In fact, this tour was so popular that a second group also booked it. Note on private tours: I often engage a tour company and customize my tours. This is what I did for the Andorra tour. I have gotten to do a lot of neat things this way, and I have been fortunate enough to convince other cruisers to join us to keep the cost down. So, for Andorra, I booked with Spanish Trails. I had used them before and been extremely happy. The Andorra trip is not on their website, but if you email them they will set it up for you. Ask for Andrew to be your guide.
  15. Such a great bunch of cruisers! Please everyone book the Rotterdam for Oct 3, 2020 TA. I will have some great tours for you! I already got some cool ideas from a friend who has done some of those French ports.
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