Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Posts posted by Tricia724

  1. ....I don't understand the objection to having more choices to dine. Some people seem to think variety is somehow unacceptable. :confused:


    Well, that's kind of our point, too. Some of the others, myself included, see the glass show as an enjoyable experience which brings a welcome variety to the activities onboard. You can't walk five minutes in any direction without running into food on a cruise ship. The glass blowers are not only artists, but they are educational and entertaining. I spent quite a few hours up there on Eclipse, but like everything else in life, it's not for everyone.


    Next cruise is Silhouette. I'll decide then whether I think another pricy restaurant was a good trade-off.

  2. Both of my reservations say "On Hold - Expires in 24 Hours." It's been that way for weeks now.


    We originally booked directly through Celebrity, then transferred to a TA. I mentioned this oddity on a previous thread, and another cruiser said she had the same message and called Celebrity about it. The answer? A "glitch" in their system.:rolleyes:


    If this is the message you are getting, rest assured, you're not alone.

  3. You are planning a trip that is over a year away. Not much stays the same in this world. The ship that is getting great reviews today may be getting panned by then, and a ship with problems today may be problem free in a year. And honestly, another person's problem may not be a problem for you.


    Go with your instinct and book the cruise that you think will most meet your needs. You certainly will have plenty of time to cancel and rebook if you change your mind.

  4. All of those cruise options were very nice choices, but you can't go wrong with Alaska. Just consider this trip a "preview of coming attractions" or an appetizer before the main meal. Once you realize how much there really is to see and do there, you will likely want to plan a longer trip for a later date.


    I'm not sure whether anyone has mentioned it, but even though the cruiselines mention the arrival or departure point as "Anchorage," none of those ships actually sail to or from Anchorage itself. Princess ships use Whittier, and the HAL and Celebrity ships use Seward. Both of these ports are on the Kenai peninsula and are south of Anchorage. Travel time is 2-3 hours, depending on the port and mode of travel. Of course, you can arrange transfers with the cruiseline, but you need to factor that transfer into your travel calculations since time is an issue for you.


    Of the four choices you have listed, my personal choice would be one of the three that ends in Vancouver. The Princess Grand cruise (Vancouver to Whittier) would mean you would disembark in Whittier and then make your way to Anchorage and fly home from there....more hassle at the end of the cruise, a longer flight home, and depending on your airport, perhaps fewer flight options. Disembarking in Vancouver is much more time friendly and possibly will provide you with more flight options. Basically what I'm saying is to put your longest travel time at the beginning of your cruise (since you are picking up time traveling east to west.)


    Everybody has their personal preferences and tastes, but I wouldn't get too wrapped up in which cruiseline to take. Alaska is the star of this trip, not the ship. The port times run later, the days are long, and you will want to spend as much time exploring as possible. Even on the sea days, you will find yourself out on deck (or your balcony, if you have one) looking at glaciers or watching for whales or wildlife. All of the cruiselines have naturalists and/or Park Rangers to provide information and commentary. I've done two Alaska cruises on Celebrity and three on HAL, and all were fine. I've also done a couple of extended land trips which were even better.


    Alaska is beautiful. I hope it will work out for you.

  5. I can't take too much sun but occasionally I like to sit on deck for an hour or so and look for a chair in the shade.


    On one cruise I took, day after day I found that all the chairs in the shade were taken.....not occupied.....but saved with a shirt, hat, flipflops, etc. Where were these people? I learned that they were sitting in the sun by the pool! Some people got up early and saved chairs both in the sun AND the shade and shuttled back and forth. In my mind this is so far beyond rude and inconsiderate that my vocabulary can't describe it.


    If your butt's in it, it's your chair. If you have to go somewhere and you know you're going to be gone for a while, take your stuff and give some other cruiser a break. That person also paid good money for their vacation and would like a little time by the pool, too.

  6. One of my favorite Christmases ever was several years ago when we opened our eyes Christmas morning and we were on Amsterdam in Antarctica. Talk about dreaming of a white Christmas! The sun was shining and penguins were drifting by on ice floes. A lovely, quiet, pristine beauty. It's a picture I've carried in my head ever since. We spent the cool, crisp day out on deck, just walking around, breathing in the fresh air, drinking hot chocolate and talking with the other passengers. Wonderful.


    The ship was beautifully decorated, and Santa was there for the children (a few extended families but not a lot.) One of my favorite things was on Christmas Eve when some of the staff and crew got together about 11:00 PM in the theater for a carol sing.


    I remember the people who were seated at our table in the dining room, but I don't have a clue what was on the menu. I'm sure it was something good.


    This was probably my most "untraditional" Christmas ever, but definitely one of the best.

  7. I've done several b-t-b cruises and have enjoyed them all. We are currently booked on Silhouette for 24 days b-t-b in July for a Baltic cruise and a British Isles cruise. If we have to bear the expense and inconvenience of flying to Europe, we want to get the most bang for the buck, and doing two cruises makes the airfare more cost effective.


    My only reservation is that I do not love the cabins on the Solstice class ships and their ineffective storage space. On our last 14-day cruise on Eclipse, I kept my suitcase open under the bed and used it as a drawer. That over-the-bed shelf doesn't work for me....I'm too short. But it's not a deal breaker, and we'll get by. At least we have the same cabin for both cruises, so we'll only have to get organized once.


    A couple of drawbacks to doing b-t-b cruises may be that the menus repeat and sometimes the entertainment and onboard activity repeats. That's not a problem for us because we are itinerary focused and consider the ship our hotel rather than the destination.


    I think in the end it depends upon your own personality and preferences. If you think you're going to like it, you probably will.

  8. It was 1970, I was young and single, and my college alumni association sent me a flyer with a great deal on a one-week cruise to Bermuda on the (now defunct) Greek Lines "Olympia." I was intrigued, so I asked a friend who worked with me whether she might be interested. She was. Over the next 14 years, we sailed together six times. Our last two cruises together were in 1983 and 1984 on the magnificent Rotterdam.


    Life intervened along with family responsibilities. I now had a SO, but he wasn't so sure he wanted to cruise. In 2000, out of boredom and curiosity, we attended a travel show, and the door prize was a discount certificate for a future cruise. I won. Both of us thought it was some kind of sign, so we booked the brand new HAL Amsterdam for a 10-day Panama Canal cruise. Couldn't have been more perfect. My SO was hooked, and here we are, something like 25 cruises later and still enjoying the ships.


    We don't limit ourselves to cruising. We do land trips and have recently tried out some vacation resorts. Still, cruising has been a big part of our lives and hopefully will continue to be for a long time.

  9. Not sure if it is worth is as we have already bought the signature amenities package (which includes laundry, high tea and some of the other Neptune perks).


    This is our first cruise ever on any line and we would hate to foolishly turn down a great deal but.....


    OK....here's my take.


    You've never been on a cruise. You may not know it, but you are already in a great position....likely an SY or an SS. This is really a nice amount of space for a cruiseship cabin. Is a Neptune Suite better? Yes, no doubt. There is more space and additional amenities. Is it worth the extra $798? Maybe yes, maybe no. You have already purchased the signature package, so you already have some of the amenities of the Neptune Suite.


    Whether you take the upsell or not, you are going to be surprised when you walk into your cabin. Although cruise ships are commonly referred to as floating hotels, you will find that even the suites are not like the suites at the Marriott or Hyatt (especially the bathrooms.) There is a limited amount of space available on cruise ships, and the cruiselines are masters at making the most of the space available. All of the cabins are designed for maximum utility and comfort. And once you realize that you likely will be spending much more time outside the cabin than in, especially on your first cruise, you may find the additional expense to be not a good value.


    Speaking for myself....I have been cruising since 1970. I have had every stateroom category from an inside to a suite. The inside didn't work for me, the suite was great. I try to get the best value for each cruise.....sometimes it's a basic balcony cabin, sometimes more. I think each of us needs to assess our personal circumstances and determine how much is enough and how much is too much.


    Since this is your first cruise, my recommendation would be to stay where you are, get a feel for the ship and the cruising experience, and use the extra money for excursions or expenses. Once you are onboard and see the ship and the cabins, you will have a much better frame of reference for the future.


    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  10. When we flew out of MIA to Ecuador last year, I noticed how many people paid to have their bags wrapped in plastic. I had never seen bags wrapped up like that before except for suitcases with broken zippers. Of course, there is a disclaimer that says that the bags may still be opened for security purposes, but I'm sure it's a deterrent.


    MIA is probably my least favorite airport in the USA for many reasons. I don't think I've ever flown in or out that I didn't have some kind of problem.


    I always use TSA locks, but they are almost a joke. I can't tell you how many locks my friends and I have had removed. I honestly think some of the airline people just steal the locks.


    I always feel bad when I hear of visitors to our country who are victimized or treated poorly. I'm sorry, amberben, that your friends had their gifts stolen. Not the type of memory we want people to have of our country. Unfortunately there are some bad people in this world, and we have our share of them.

  11. We booked b-t-b cruises on Oct. 29. When I sign into my account, the two cruises are listed and are marked "booked."


    When I click on the "Manage Reservation" tab for each cruise, it takes me to the detail page where under Reservation Status it says: "On Hold - Expires 24 Hours." Huh? Of course it's said that for quite a while now. Haven't a clue where that came from.

  12. This has been a very informative article on many levels. I thought I knew what a "service animal" is, but after reading and rereading the ADA postings, I am dismayed at how ambiguous the description really is. For example:


    "Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA." (Emphasis added by me)


    This statement merely gives some examples but the "performing other duties" leaves the door open for interpretation....or misinterpretation....as the case may be. What concerns me most is the reference to a dog that is "trained" without any restriction or clarification about the training itself. One of the postings stated that the dog woman on board supposedly said that she trained the dog herself. So now dogs that are "home schooled" are protected under this Act, too?


    In addition, no one is permitted to question the dog's training, qualifications, or social abilities or object in any way, so all a person has to do is declare their dog a "trained" service animal that alerts him/her to (fill in the blank) and airlines, hotels, restaurants, ships, etc. are obligated to allow the animal free rein.


    Wow. Just wow. I actually was foolish enough to think that real service animals had documented training and that cruiselines had the right to ask for proof.


    With this law written the way it is, it sounds like there could be many more episodes similar to this one in our cruising future.

  13. Two things:


    1) Better storage space. The hanging space is too small, and the over-the-bed storage space is not workable for people like me who are 5' 3" or shorter.


    2) Add a third bank of elevators. Waiting for elevators on the S-class ships is like watching paint dry....slow, frustrating, and unproductive. If you're going to keep increasing passengers, at least have the decency to make it easy for them to get around.

  14. If the first ship in the Millennium Class was the Millennium and the first ship in the Solstice Class was the Solstice, maybe Project Edge will become the new Edge Class.


    That will make for some fun conversations in port when you tell someone "I'm on the Edge..."


    Maybe we should just name them Tranquil and Placid. Ah, too boring, you say.


    OK, then, how about nomenclature near and dear to Celebrity cruisers: Upscale and Unlimited (drinks, fun, whatever). This could be the new "U" class. Think about the marketing possibilities....


    1) The U-class, where it's all about U....


    2) U will love the new Celebrity ships where U are always Number One....


    3) U are the center of our universe. (Hey, if this works, the third ship in the series could be the "Universe.")


    The possibilities are endless. Celebrity, are you listening????

  15. We did b-t-b cruises on Ocean Princess in 2008 in the South Pacific when she was Tahitiian Princess and really enjoyed those cruises. The small ships are perfectly suited to sailings in the islands and don't overwhelm the smaller ports. At that time we thought the ship was lovely and felt the same way when we sailed her sister ship, Azamara Journey.


    I'm glad she is going to Oceania where she will be restored and appreciated. I would gladly sail the R-class ships more often if economics permitted. I still have sailing Prinsendam on my bucket list. Almost made it a few years ago. We booked, HAL canceled.


    The more I sail larger ships, the more I appreciate smaller ships.

  16. This is not a "one size fits all" world, and we all have our different likes and priorities. I think that's a good thing, especially when it comes to cruising. It would be a shame if we all wanted the same cabins, the same dining, etc. I'm always glad when I hear others prefer other options because it means I have a much better chance of getting what I want. OK, back to Aqua, here's my take.


    Our first experience on the Solstice class ships was a one-week Caribbean cruise on Eclipse. We had an A1 balcony with select dining. The cabin was fine, quiet, big balcony on the hump, but dining was not a great experience. We are the type of diners who prefer to use open seating dining on ships the way it was originally designed.....when we are ready to eat, we go to the dining room. Obviously we don't have a reservation because we don't know when we will want to eat. On this particular cruise, no matter what time we appeared at the dining room, there was a line and a lot of tension with the staff in charge of seating. When we were seated, either alone or with others, we found ourselves in a very noisy environment. The food was usually good, but the chaos and drama were not enjoyable.


    We did think that Eclipse was a lovely ship, though, and a year later sailed on her for a two-week Caribbean cruise in an Aqua cabin. When we had our meals in Blu, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Don't get me wrong....every meal was not excellent, but it was nevertheless a far better overall experience than our previous one. And we loved having breakfast there. Our Aqua cabin was an A2 over one of the Spa rooms, and it was very quiet. We really didn't use the Persian Gardens, so I can't address that issue.


    We recently booked two European cruises on Silhouette and once again chose Aqua cabins. It works for us, and I hope it will work for you, too.

  17. The same thing happened to us. We recently booked two 12-day European cruises and learned about the CC discount the same way you did....by typing in our CC numbers on Celebrity's website and discovering the cruise was discounted $750 per cabin for each cruise in Aqua class.


    So, we booked with the Captain's Club discount because the other option at that time for Europe was 2 choices from the 1-2-3 program. We didn't feel the drink package was worthwhile for us, and the combined $300 onboard discount and free gratuities would have been worth less than $750.


    Fast forward one week from our booking date, and Celebrity comes out with the 1-2-3 all-inclusive package which would allow us to rebook and get all three of the bennies, so it's a new ball game. We shopped out our two cruises and found a travel agent who had group space so we got a good price reduction on each cruise, as well as an additional cabin credit from the agent. We gave up the Captain's Club discount but wound up with lower cruise prices, the full 1-2-3 package, and extra money to spend, so we've definitely improved on what we had.


    Right now it's a win-win for us, but who knows what will happen a few months down the road. It all depends on supply and demand.


    I really enjoy Celebrity's product, but navigating through their maze of offers, options, and obstacles is truly frustrating.

  18. For our first ever river cruise, we took the June 8-15 westbound trip from Clarkston to Portland on the Empress. Because neither of us had ever been to Washington or Oregon, we also booked the post cruise package in Portland.


    To begin our trip, we flew into Spokane, WA for our overnight hotel stay at the Historic Davenport Hotel. What a fantastic start to the trip. We loved this hotel, its spacious rooms and Victorian decor, a trip back in time to a more elegant lifestyle. Think “Gone With the Wind,” but with electricity and modern plumbing! Our hotel check-in went smoothly, as did our transfer the next day to Clarkston which took us about two hours. At the dock we picked up our room keys and boarded. Our cabin was a nicely appointed “C” cabin midship on Discovery Deck with a private balcony which worked out well for us. We also thought the public rooms were pleasant and comfortable.


    I’m not going to do a day-by-day commentary because, quite frankly, the stops were in small towns and they kind of run together in my mind. Other posters have commented about the HOHOs, the hop-on, hop-off buses, which are well run and provide an excellent opportunity for getting a glimpse of the area. I was pleased to discover that each bus also has a local guide to provide commentary and answer questions, and they added greatly to our enjoyment. We also tried two of their premium excursions, the jet boat ride through Hell’s Canyon and the bus trip to Multnomah Falls.


    The river experience was even better than I had anticipated. I loved sitting on the deck in a big rocking chair overlooking the paddle wheel watching for wildlife and just enjoying the relaxing flow of the river. I always enjoy going through river or canal locks, and the eight locks we traversed were particularly interesting because of the fish ladders for the salmon and other migrating species. The first part of our trip was bright and sunny, and the scenery was starkly beautiful. Mid trip we began to experience climate changes, and the temperature dropped, the wind came up, and we had some rain. None of it stopped us from having a good time.


    We did not have a full ship on our trip which meant that we never had any problem being seated in the dining room or finding a seat for a show or event. The passengers were some of the nicest people we have met in a long time. We enjoyed pleasant conversations at meal times, on deck, and during excursions, something we have found lacking of late on ocean cruises, particularly those on larger ships.


    I can’t say enough good things about the staff onboard. We were greeted with smiles and a willingness to go the extra mile to please us, even when things were not going well, and there were a few rough patches. Food service had lost a couple of people the previous trip, and at times it was obvious that they were understaffed. It was also obvious that the people who were serving meals were making an extra effort, and for the most part, everything went well.


    The post-cruise package turned out to be a great deal. It was an extra $399/pp and began immediately upon disembarkation in Vancouver (port of arrival) with a sightseeing tour of Portland, lunch, and a trip to Mt. St. Helens. The second day we did a walking tour of downtown Portland. Our hotel was the Portland Marriott, small but nice. We also had two full-service breakfasts included and a transfer to the airport for our trip home. I thought the post-cruise stay was well done and probably the best value of the trip.


    While the trip itself was a great adventure, I have to say that our experience with the American Queen home office left much to be desired. We got caught up in a price change situation somewhat similar to that discussed in another thread on this board, only in our case, there was considerably more money involved. I won’t go into detail because we eventually got a resolution, but I think this company needs to take a serious look at their pricing model. They could also use some training for their customer service people. Enough said. I really don’t want to beat them up because they obviously are having problems right now filling the Empress and keeping the Queen on schedule.


    We sincerely hope they will get their act together and keep the boats afloat because we loved the trip and would like to do another. Something else that is very important to us is that this company proudly flies the American flag, and we want them to be successful.


    If anyone is still awake after reading this saga and has any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer them.

  19. Pat,


    I noticed on one of your later posts that you live near Pittsburg. Is it near Latrobe? I was born in Latrobe some 78 years ago but my parents brought me to California at the age of 12.


    Small world, huh? Everyone in Western PA knows Latrobe since it's Arnold Palmer's home town. Latrobe is roughly 20-25 miles east of Pittsburgh, and we're about 50 miles west, so not too far. I've been to Latrobe. Nice small town. You're probably a lot better off in CA this winter, though. Lots of snow here.


    At least now, as I look out my window at the white stuff on the ground, I have a nice river cruise to anticipate. Just paid off everything the other day, so we're ready to go.

  20. I'm sure that the AMERICAN EMPRESS will be a wonderful cruise and hopefully you'll want to come back to America's rivers on a real steamboat! When you do though, take my advice, and travel on the Upper Mississippi River or Ohio River. The scenery is so much more beautiful than the Lower Mississippi. The Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers are lovely too. The Lower Miss. is lined by levees and the river is always muddy; there just is not as much to look at down yonder.


    That's just what my guy said about not wanting to go south on the Mississippi....that it's muddy and he's seen it! Well, I've seen the river, too, but never cruised on it. So I think it's highly likely that if we ever do another river cruise it will probably be the St. Louis/Minneapolis trip.


    Funny thing is that we live about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh and are close to West Virginia, so everyone thinks that going from Pittsburgh is a logical thing to do. But we've seen a lot of the Ohio River in the PA-WV area and have spent enough time in Marietta and Wheeling, so the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati leg would not be much of an adventure for us. I do agree with you that the Ohio is a beautiful river, and even the day cruises are lovely, particularly in the fall.


    We are just happy being on the water, whether it's a river, lake, sea, or ocean. Having some great scenery or wildlife viewing is icing on the cake.

  21. Thanks for the information, Calliope. Very interesting. See what a newbie I am? Ship propulsion is not one of my fields of knowledge, that's for sure. I just get on them and let someone else figure how to get me where I'm going.


    I'm sure we'll enjoy seeing the Snake and Columbia Rivers on the Empress and who knows, perhaps later on we'll try the Queen. My original idea was to book the Queen and do the traditional southern route on the Mississippi, but my traveling companion is much more enthused about the western route, so we compromised....we're doing it his way!

  22. We are Ron & Joan from So. California. While we have cruised extensively on Holland-America this, will be our first river cruise. We have booked the eastbound trip of American Empress from Portland to Clarkston sailing on May 18. Are there any others on this Forum also sailing on that trip?


    We welcome any suggestions for Newbies on these river cruises.


    Ron & Joan


    We're not on your cruise, Ron & Joan, but I just booked the westbound trip on the Empress sailing on June 8. We're first-timers, too, as far as the river cruises go, so would appreciate your comments about the experience and any tips you can offer when you return. Sailing the big steamboats has always appealed to me, and we're finally going to see what it's like.



  23. We did the Galapagos cruise last year. Nice ship, nice cruise.


    I think since Celebrity canceled you, they should work with you to find another suitable date AND honor the price you paid for a comparable cabin. I would keep after them about adjusting the price. Let's face it, there is no point in onboard credit because it's an all-inclusive cruise, so the only real area to work with is base price.


    And don't let the cabin location stand in the way of taking this trip. Like you, we booked early and wanted specific cabins because when we looked at the diagrams some appeared much more "convenient" than others. When we got on the ship, we laughed about it.


    This is one cruise where the cabin location doesn't make as much difference as it does on the larger ships. Xpedition is small, and you can get anywhere quickly. This is truly a cruise where you are so busy, you simply use your cabin for showering and sleeping.


    Good luck and I hope it works out for you.

  24. We were also not impressed with our tour in December, 2008. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't as good as it could have been. Gail was our guide, and he spent so much time talking about his personal life and family that we had a hard time getting a feel for the area. Pointing out a hospital or church doesn't make a tour memorable. He was unable to answer many questions people on the tour asked about vegetation, wildlife, and the culture, and he didn't really seem to care that he didn't know about them.


    We were in a mini-bus with a driver who only spoke Spanish, and Gail could not communicate with him because he didn't speak Spanish (at least not at that time), even though he lived in Chile for many years. Fortunately for us, one of the passengers on our tour did speak Spanish and served as interpreter when instructions needed to be given to the driver. She also stepped in at the restaurant where the servers spoke no English.


    I think if you get Annie or Veronica as your guide, you'll be OK. They are both bilingual and from all we've heard are good guides. Timing is everything.

  25. It's not really a movie, but I'm watching "Into Alaska" with Jeff Corwin, a $20 purchase from the Discovery Store. It's a collection of shows aired on the Travel Channel.


    I find Jeff Corwin tough to take in large doses, so I'm watching one or two segments at a time and enjoying the scenic splendor that is Alaska.

  • Create New...