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Everything posted by jamieandsam

  1. I hate Regent's website for booking excursions. Really clunky, slow, and hard to use. And if you want to make a change you have to call Regent. I wish they'd go with a system like most of the other cruise lines use.
  2. jamieandsam

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Cairn Mom, what ship/cruise are you on? I'm on Regent Seven Seas Voyager that arrives in HK on 2/29 - I'm doing Lantau Island tour that day. I disembark on 3/1 in HK and am scheduled to be there until Tuesday the 3rd, but depending what's going on, may change that.
  3. We were in 2513. I wouldn't recommend the cabin, not only because it's dated, but it was forward Deck 2, and we were awoken several mornings but the tender deck being put out, by the anchor, and/or by the gangplank being set up. It wasn't a huge deal for us because it was around the time we were getting up anyways.
  4. Cruise was Montreal to Boston, with port stops in Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Sydney and Halifax Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor Maine. Quebec City was fabulous, we toured the city and went to the falls. We had included lunch at Chez Muffy, which was excellent. I've been to PEI before and it was still wonderful. They were still recovering from Hurricane Dorian, so there were areas without power and we saw a lot of downed trees. At the Anne of Green Gables home the bathrooms were running on generators. Tour included lobster lunch which was great. Sydney, Nova Scotia is a waste of time. We did a walking tour which was fun but not very impressive. We had been to Halifax before so we did the Hop On Hop Off bus mainly as a way to get between sites. Lots of tree damage from Hurricane Dorian so we couldn't go to the public garden. It wasn't storm related but we couldn't go to the Titanic Cemetery either, I didn't really understand the issue. Halifax is a great city, and others mentioned their tours were good. We didn't do a tour in Bar Harbor as we had been there before as well. Acadia National Park is always fantastic and people on whale watching boats said they did see whales. If you stay in town, it's mainly cute shopping.
  5. I just returned from a week on the Zaandam, Montreal to Boston. I was so disappointed and thought I'd share my review. I'm a frequent cruiser, generally Princess, Royal Caribbean, and NCL. It's been at least 20 years since I was on HAL but I know it has an excellent reputation. The Zaandam did not live up to it. Food: Dinner in the main dining room was poor. I ordered red meat 2 or 3 times, and the meat was overcooked (I ordered medium rare) and texture was off. Lobster tail was overcooked and wasn't served with melted butter. Desserts were okay, but weren't as described. Fish tasted like frozen fish was used. Service was mediocre, our waiter seemed tired all the time, and on 2nd gala dinner, service was atrocious. Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was excellent, steak cooked appropriately, and huge servings. Well worth the $39. Lido Buffet has a great salad bar for lunch and dinner. Breakfast food was average. Main courses at lunch and dinner were mediocre. Desserts and ice cream were average. Buffet closed at 2pm and didn't re-open until 5:00 or 5:30 so if you were hungry in the afternoon or when returning from shore excursions, your options were Dive-In Grill or afternoon tea (which I heard was good but I never went). Dive-In Grill for hot dogs and burgers was good. Ship: The Zaandam is in need of renovation. The bathroom tile was coming off the wall in places and looked like it was from the 1960's. We did have a tub/shower combo which is a rarity on a ship, but I would rather have not had to climb over the high tub edge to get in the shower. Cabin was well-designed and had a lot of closet space. I found blood on my pillow cases - wasn't from me - pillow cases were immediately changed but this grossed me out anyways. Public spaces were nice. Entertainment and Activities: Main stage shows were terrible, with the exception of the stand up comedian. I never saw Amanda, the cruise director, anywhere except for the main stage shows. She did not seem particularly enthusiastic. America's Test Kitchen was ok, but needs an overhead mirror so you can better see what the chef is doing. Not enough seats in there. I didn't go to any of the computer workshops, but there are a lot of these, mainly on working with digital photos. There were almost no daytime activities. Trivia was boring and questions so obscure. I only ever saw one other cruise entertainment staff other than cruise director, and she wasn't very enthusiastic either. There was a fabulous string quartet, but other entertainment was terrible. I was so bored on this ship - and other people felt the same way. Jamie
  6. I stayed at the Twin Palms Resort and Spa. It was amazing!
  7. It's a private tour, so is more expensive for that reason. They're really fun and knowledegable people who will adopt the tour to what you're interested in.
  8. I highly recommend http://www.sydneyprivatedaytours.com.au/. I used them when I was in Sydney last year, for a trip to the Blue Mountains. Julia and her husband (whose name I don't remember) run the tours - Julia was fabulous and we ran into her husband while out there as well and he seemed great. On my cruise in 2020, I have 2 of their tours booked.
  9. I am doing a tour in the Pattaya area, not booked through cruise line. There's a lot to do, including beaches, elephant sanctuary, tiger zoo (although reviews online are mixed of that), floating market, and much more.
  10. jamieandsam

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Maybe that's why my rate is lower.
  11. jamieandsam

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Thanks for the heads up. I just rebooked my hotel in Hong Kong (2 nights post cruise) and saved almost $100 US per night.
  12. Thanks vada_9. This is very helpful and I just changed my tour for Napier.
  13. Would love some input. I am booked for a shore excursion in Napier to Cape Kidnappers for a Gannet Safari. My cruise begins in Auckland and I'm doing a 3-day pre-cruise tour of Auckland. I was reading that tour discussion last night and read this in the description: "Muriwai Beach on the rugged west coast. A stop is made on the cliff tops overlooking the beach. From here there is a walk of approximately 250 metres, through native plants, to the lookout. At the lookout you will be able to see the gannet colony. This is one of only two mainland gannet colonies in the world. You will be very close to the birds and depending on the season and time of day, you will be able to see their various activities such as nesting, feeding and displaying. Gannets are spectacular aeronauts and you may be able to see their wonderful displays as they dive for fish." So my question is should I change excursions in Napier as I'll be seeing them in Muriwai Beach in Auckland. There's so much to do in NZ that I if I will experience them in Auckland, I'd love to do something different in Napier. If you've been to Muriwai Beach, is that a good place to experience the gannets? Thanks, Jamie
  14. Marc, where did you find this info. I'm on Regent Voyager next year and trying to figure out which port we're at. I'm hoping it's not Phy My. Jamie
  15. Have you joined the Roll Call for the cruise? I'm doing Auckland to Hong Kong and there are 2 roll calls that I see, one for Auckland to Shanghai (now Japan) and one for Bali to Hong Kong.
  16. Does anyone know where Regent Seven Seas docks in Ho Chi Minh City? I'll be on Seven Seas Voyager. Thanks, Jamie
  17. I'm taking a Regent Seven Seas cruise that ends in Hong Kong on March 1st. I realize it's a way off but I'm getting nervous about all that is going on in Hong Kong. I'll be spending a few extra days there at the end. I have a friend whose parents live in Hong Kong and she was just visiting them. I asked her if I should be concerned and she said she thinks once school's back in session, the protests will end. Has anyone been to Hong Kong recently? What's your experience? Thanks, Jamie
  18. I've used Tours by Locals before and they're great, just expensive. Thanks.
  19. Hello. On RSSC Voyager in February with a day and half at Laem Chabang. I've been to Bangkok before so am looking for a private tour guide for the Laem Chabang/Pattaya area. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks.
  20. When I was in Sydney last year, I took a private tour to the Blue Mountains with Sydney Private Day Tours. They were fabulous, I highly recommend. In fact I have 2 tours booked with them next January. http://www.sydneyprivatedaytours.com.au/
  21. I've done a lot of cruises, mainly in the Caribbean, a little South America, and the Mediterranean. In January will be traveling on Regent Seven Seas cruise that includes New Zealand, Australia, and many Asian countries. Regent Seven Seas is arranging for the necessary visas although there aren't many. I was just reading in some forums that in many Asian countries you have to go through immigration when you arrive, with long lines and long delays for getting on shore. I've never had to go through immigration in a cruise port before (even in Cuba), so this surprises me. Is this the norm? Is it only for Asia? If the ship has arranged for the visas, will that reduce issues? Any feedback or experiences greatly appreciated. Jamie
  22. Thanks for this feedback, it’s very helpful.
  23. Will be booking shore excursions soon for Regent Seven Seas Voyager that stops in Ho Chi Minh City. There are 2 different Mekong Delta excursions and I'm not sure which to take. I'm pasting descriptions below. Feedback greatly appreciated. The first tour is included at no cost - the 2nd tour has a cost of $149. Looking at maps, it seems to me that the first tour might not have much time on the actual river but I'm not sure. Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jamie Tour 1, no cost, 7 hours: Departing the pier, drive to the delta port of My Tho where the exploration on the Mekong River begins. One of the great rivers of the world, the Mekong begins in the Tibetan Plateau and tumbles 2,795 miles to the Mekong Delta and the South China Sea. In Vietnam, the river divides itself into dozens of tributaries and becomes the Cuu Long or Nine Dragons that fan out into a rich delta, covered with green rice paddies and orchards of coconuts, mangos, pineapples and bananas. Upon arrival in the provincial town of My Tho, visit the 150-year-old Vinh Trang Pagoda, with its interesting combination of Asian and European architecture. Continue your drive to the Mekong river bank. Upon arrival, board a boat to begin your trip down the Mekong River. Pass fruit orchards, stilt houses, fish and shrimp farms, small canals and all manner of boats. Pause at Thoi Son Island, with its tile-roofed houses and fruit trees bearing plums, mangoes, and lychee-like longans. Walk around the village and stop to taste the local fruits and honey tea and enjoy some local folk music. You’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant where you have a chance to taste local dishes such as elephant ear fish, spring rolls, rice balls, grilled pork and steamed shrimp. After the lunch, continue to walk into the village for a sampan ride within a small canal bordered by fruit trees, villages. Most sampans are made of wood and are used to carry fruits and people in small canals. Afterwards, cruise back to My Tho, where you'll re-board your coach for the return drive to the ship. Tour 2, $149, 8 hours (the extra time is driving time): Explore everyday life on the Mekong Delta during this picturesque visit to Cai Be, and a boat ride on the Mekong River. Depart the pier in Ho Chi Minh City for the 2-hour drive to Cai Be. Along the way, you will pass through miles of flat rice fields, small villages and highways bustling with bicycles and oxcarts riding to and from the market. You will have numerous photo opportunities to capture life in the country, including rice threshing and milling, vegetables drying on the flat, hot roadside and children caring for their water buffalo. Upon arrival at Cai Be, located in the heart of the Mekong Delta, you will see the century-old floating market, where people living along the canals exchange goods from their boats and display their wares on long bamboo poles protruding from the boat. Across the way is a French-built church that provides a scenic background for more photo opportunities. Next, you will embark a private boat for the highlight of the day: a chance to discover the day-to-day life of the friendly locals living along the Mekong River. Your trip will take you through a maze of canals, past many boats, and on to one of the many islands in the Delta to visit the traditional homes of fruit farmers and fishermen. You will stroll in a mandarin orchard, and visit an ancient teakwood house located within the orchard. You will be treated warmly by locals offering tea and garden fruits, then see where they make coconut candies and rice paper. After sampling some local fare, you will take the boat back to town, and rejoin your coach for the 2-hour return drive to the pier and ship.
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