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About AJCM

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    Melbourne, Australia

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  1. My understanding is that all bids are made in USD.
  2. Usually, when Aza takes your passport you don't get it back until near the end of the cruise, unless you're explicitly required to carry it on shore. I don't know the visa rules with UK but we've never needed them off the ship in Thailand.
  3. We've done this cruise several times - great itinerary; particularly as Azamara is able to dock close in at Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh and provide shuttle buses to convenient central location. Azamara takes your passport when you board. Azamara has arranged Vietnam visas on board for everyone (from memory a USD charge is added top your account but I can't remember the amount either $20 or $40 pp). Australians don't need a visa for Thailand and I've never bothered carrying around a copy of the passport. p.s. if visiting a major interest site in Bangkok such as the Grand Palace, it's worth negotiating a taxi ride to get there early. You'll still get large crowds but not as big as a bit later on. Last time we did this, rather than shuttle into the city, catching the monorail to the river, then a river boat to the Grand Palace. We find it to be much quicker and easier. From memory we negotiated USD20 to get two of us there. Never been conscious of any delays getting off the ship at Halong Bay, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh. Tony
  4. When is a double upgrade promotion fake - when Azamara's involved. Last night in Australia, they made the mistake of not updating the from price on cruise face pages. So, a cruise I'd been looking at was showing from AUD4,591pp (plus fees). However, when I went to the relevant booking page, the price for 2 in an inside was >AUD12,000. Of course, today the inconsistency has been corrected to $6,360 pp (plus fees) on the cruise face page. Interestingly, not only has the inside increased substantially overnight but the cost of a V2 balcony is now $414 more costly than before the "promotion". I've been watching 2 other cruises, as a potential B2B2B. The aggregate cost increase for a V2 over the 3 cruises is now AUD1,243 (incl. fees). Maybe movement in exchange rates can explain this increase. However, it doesn't alter the fact that Azamara has again put out a promotion which can be described, at best, as totally misleading. I'll be interested to see if any contributor here can identify just one cruise for which there is anything remotely like a genuine "double upgrade"
  5. AJCM


    One of the best benefits of B2B. Do your laundry early, then get off the ship, get your new card; book specialty restaurants and get the times/nights you want; and enjoy the port city without any time pressure; back to the empty pool in the afternoon (if weather permits). It’s a great day!
  6. It’s too late for those Azamara guests who have already been disappointed with their Azamara sponsored shore excursions and are now back home. However, others with cruises to come can organise private tours. With google, email to clarify costs and inclusions, and on-line reviews of the tour company and specific tours, it’s not a difficult enterprise. Generally, they are less expensive than what’s offered by cruise ships, while including more because you’re in a much smaller, more mobile group. Once you’ve found a tour you like, use the cruise critic roll call to find other participants (often 4 - 8). In my experience private tours usually have more inclusions, are cheaper (or more for the same price) and you share a more intimate experience with fellow cruisers. Cruise ship excursions are preferable, in my mind, when you can’t find anything better/cheaper (I think in less tourist oriented places the cruise ship take up most of the local tour resources); or there’s a concern about time frame e.g. 4 hours tendered - tempts fate that something might go wrong on a private tour. But, if you’re docked somewhere all day and allow plenty of time to return to the ship; and the tour company gets good reviews, then there’s minimal risk. You might still be disappointed from time to time but in my experience, smaller group, privately arranged tours are usually very good.
  7. Bonnie can you confirm this? It seems fundamentally wrong that someone who booked an inside can outbid someone who booked a verandah, without regard to the significant price differential on the original bookings. Tony
  8. If it’s Japan and booked out, prepare to book for the following year. Cruise lines only get to do maximum 2 cruises in Spring. We just did the April cruise, at the end of cherry blossom season. We booked a long time ahead - It was a great itinerary and is very, very popular. We loved almost every excursion we did; the one exception being Shimizu; which includes seaside views of Fuji. Unfortunately, we had white out that day; which is the sole reason this particular excursion wasn’t also great (always its luck of the draw with weather)- the rest of this excursion was great. A few days in Tokyo is very worthwhile. We did Regents land inclusion before the cruise and a few days independently afterwards. We thoroughly enjoyed Regent’s land add on overall. They took us to places that were spread out around Tokyo, so there was a convenience factor and we got to meet and interact with fellow cruisers. The only downside is large bus groups and the inevitable slowness of everything. However, we also did things independently, using the fabulous train system from Shinjuku and, after the first time, this was quite straightforward. If we did it again, we would probably use local tours or do our own thing and cover similar territory as Regent but in much smaller groups (or just the 2 of us) and experience more; with the side benefit of lesser overall cost. However you do Tokyo, this was a great cruise and Japan was a great experience. Tony
  9. If you haven’t been to Barcelona, once you’ve dealt with suitcases, walk up Las Ramblas from the cruise port (not far) - very pleasant before the tourist crowds take over; then do the Hop On Hop Off from the square at the top of Ramblas - starts at 9.30 or 10.00am. 3 routes but take the one that includes Sagrada Familia or the route that includes the Olympic hill area - both routes wonderful but I probably prefer the latter. Gives you a great overview of Barcelona, a fantastic scenic city, so you’ll want to go back. Once finished, catch a taxi to the ship - short distance, so inexpensive.
  10. In 2017, in Santorini, we did the expensive ship excursion (different line) and visited Akrotiri - very good and back to Thira. We avoided Oia Purely because research shows it’s a bun fight getting a bus back to Thira and taxis are scarce. The excursion was very interesting, the bus trip up the cliff was great, we did some sightseeing on the way back, quick wander around the pedestrian lanes and the cable car down with little queue. Back on board for a leisurely lunch with a great view and pleasant pool afternoon. Fortunately, we had seen other parts of Santorini on a 2008 cruise. There’s no doubt - Santorini is now a mess to try to do independently from a cruise ship. There were 5-7 ships in on our day in 2017. Similarly, Dubrovnik is now a very unpleasant destination - just too many people for the size of the place (again, we had visited a few years ago and we learned then what a tourist crowd is like - the lines right across the old wall we’re like the recent photos of the Mt Everest queue). So, in 2017 We did an excursion to Cavtat, which was a small very pleasant environment to wander around, with great panoramic views on the way, followed by a nice boat trip back to Dubrovnik. We then foolishly headed inside the walled city but headed straight out, because of the immense crowds, and on to the tender for another pleasant afternoon on ship. It’s just the way things are now. Too many (including us) tourists during peak months. if you can find a cruise itinerary which goes to some less popular islands in the Aegean/Adriatic, it’s well worthwhile. Also, while Mykonos and Rhodes can be very crowded, if you just wander around, you can find plenty of quiet lanes/streets; have a coffee, relax and enjoy yourself. the ports of call board on cruise Critic can be very helpful. Take notice of the overrun places and look for other activities/tours - guaranteed a better time. happy cruising Tony
  11. Given the prices Azamara now charge to guests, they should have state of the art gym equipment - they have to do some reinvestment. They save a hell of a lot of money on their “free” movie and TV show offerings, so at least provide quality, working gym equipment.
  12. Well, apparently the bean counters have won. Used to be USD398 for an upgrade and you won or lost depending on LCV status and date of original booking. People are now bidding USD700-1,000 and winning. Good luck to those prepared to pay so much - they obviously think it’s worth it. I wonder how many of the winning bids are from guests who previously would have initially booked the higher cost cabins and are now getting them for a considerably lower price - only the bean counters know. Either way, upgrades are gone for USD398.
  13. We’ve been to Da Nang several times on cruises and each time we’ve caught a return taxi from the dock to Hoi An. If you know the address for the lantern activity, they’ll probably be able to take you there and pick you up at a specified time (include time for. Wander around). Should cost USD20-30 for 2 pax for a few hours but add say another 5-10 for the driver’s lunch. I assume it’ll cost more if you want 5+ hours. If you travel with say another couple, you’ll need a larger vehicle and the cost will be higher but overall it’s still a very cheap option for Hoi An, which is 45 mins drive away. The driver will want to take you to Marble Mountain (kick back from the retailer) but the shops at ground level are interesting, you don’t have to buy, and it’s well worth taking the elevator up the mountain (very cheap) and having a wander around. You could just have a quick walk around from the elevator and take in the views and statuary for 5-10 minutes or give it an hour or more and follow the path - it’s pretty good. Hoi An is a quite special place, IMHO, to wander around. There are a few pedestrian streets that run parallel to the river worth walking around - interesting shops (although some repetition); wonderful restaurants - great food and very cheap by Australian standards; various temples; a market and just a certain atmosphere. Cooking sessions are popular there, which is an alternative activity but you don’t have time for custom made clothes - on a land based trip we found you need several fittings to get it right. Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll leaving having thoroughly enjoyed Hoi An.
  14. Good luck getting preferred date/time in specialty restaurants.
  15. I feel like I've just wasted 40 minutes doing this survey. Parts of it are quite confusing and they're clearly indicating a change toward "notional" $ credits accumulating to be applied towards on-board shopping, discounts on shore excursions and future cruises, discounted upgrades, etc. What was so broken about the existing system of points accumulation? What really annoys me though is that the survey has clearly been designed for RCI and/or Celebrity - so you get references to access to the suite lounge; loyalty member lounge, casino credits - none of which relate at all to Azamara. There is some modification for Azamara, as they refer to the 7 day laundry bag and discounted ultimate beverage package. Nowhere is there any mention of the USD398 upgrade or even the new improved (totally done for our benefit) upgrade bidding process. And just like all other feedback we're asked for from Azamara, no scope to actually write comments. Interestingly, no questions were asked as to why such loyal (Discoverer Plus) clients have taken cruises on other cruise lines in the past 2 years. I would have enjoyed commenting that since Azamara became price comparable to luxury lines, we're more than happy to take the luxury thank you. When Azamara has pricing which better reflects where, in my mind, it sits, we'll be just as happy to return.
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