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About jcrandle

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    Cool Cruiser
  1. DW and I will be joining the ship 7/11/15 gor the Homelands in the reverse direction. While Viking does a superb job of specifying exactly where to meet the ship in Bergen, they don't give specifics about the Stockholm port location. I wonder if one of you on the current Homelands could give the details that were in your cruise documents about where to find the ship in Stockholm. It would help in planning our departure. Thanks in advance, and thanks for all of the planning information that all of the CC posters have provided.
  2. I echo the suggestion that you try to organize a private group. We were on a private tour in 2012. I'll copy below a bit of our experience. Monday, we arrived in Cherborg and were met by our guides for the tour. 5 couples who met on Cruise Critic had arranged a tour of the beaches and landing area. Our hosts were Edward and Sharon Parks. Edward is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Royal Marines, and he and his wife Sharon spend their summers in Normandy operating a B&B and conducting battlefield tours. The 10 tourists were driven by them in two minivans. Edward had provided a commentary on CD to be played as we drove to the various locations. Additionally, the commentary referenced a booklet of some 50 visuals to amplify the information with maps, photos, and statistics about the operation. Edward’s experience and knowledge of military tactics and the history of the assault provided a wealth of information that we would never have received on a bus tour with 35 others. Our agenda was Time Location Event Notes 0800 Cherbourg Disembark Depart 0830 0930 Vierville Visit Omaha Beach Depart 1000 1015 St Laurent-s-M Visit US Military Cemetery Depart 1130 1145 Pointe du Hoc Visit US Ranger cliff assault area Depart 1245 1315 Varaville Visit Utah Beach Depart 1400 1430 St Mere Eglise Visit US Airborne Area/Lunch Depart 1545 1645 Cherbourg Embark Ship sails 1800 ------------------------------------------------------------ I addition to being excellent tour hosts, Edward is very knowledgeable on military history in general, and the D Day landings. Their website is http://www.normandy-battlefields.com/about-us.php We were accomodated in two vans driven by Edward and Sharon.
  3. For us, anywhere ON board, is far preferable to being back at home!
  4. We did the inner itinerary in Sept 2014, and were very happy with it. That said, we didnt spend a lot of angst about the outer itinerary, but considered them equally attractive. In either case, you will likely have a marvelous experience.
  5. We booked our Machu Pichu excursion through a Peruvian travel agency recommended by our Cuzco hotel. It was far less costly than Celebrity's extension, and we felt we were well served. The TA met us at our hotel in Cuzco and provided train and bus tickets (Vistadome) which we were very pleased with. We had a driver pick us up at our hotel, take us to the train station. We were met at the Agua Calientes station by a representative to direct us to the bus, and deliver a box lunch that we had requested. Our guide was very good, and we had a wonderful but exhaustive tour. After we exited the park, we ate our lunch, and our daughter went back in because she wanted to climb up to the watchman's hut, which she did. After the bus ride back to Agua Caliente, our train was about an hour late, and we were late back to Cuzco. Our driver was there, and took us back to our hotel. The only thing I would change in hindsight would be to NOT order the box lunch. While it was delicious, picknicking is not allowed in the park, so I carried three lunches up and down the stone steps, to sit near a cafe and eat them. We would have been better to have just planned to eat at the cafe.
  6. Very important. If you haven't already, GET A FLU SHOT. According to the info from CDC, it reduces your probability of getting the flu by 50%, and the risks for most folks are negligible. (See the CDC website for specific info on who should not take the vaccine). Most casino players would kill to find something that would improve their odds by that factor!
  7. General recommendation for trips that will be strenuous is to exercise to build up your stamina prior to the trip. For cruising however, the most strenuous thing you are likely to be doing is eating and drinking, so my thoughts are that you should spend extra time eating and drinking before the cruise to get yourself into shape to enjoy it.:D
  8. I have no idea, but we did MP on our own in October 2014. We were pleased with the cost and accommodations that we booked with a Peru travel agency recommended by our Cusco hotel. We flew to Cusco on the day following the Marriott day after the cruise, and spent three days in Cusco, with one day in MP. The TA arranged pickup from the hotel to train station, train tickets, box lunch at Agua Calientes (MP train station), bus tickets from Agua Calientes to MP, and return. In hindsight the only thing we would have changed would have been not to have the box lunch (which was very good), but MP rules don't allow eating in the park, so we carried the lunch up and down 80,000 irregular stone steps (OK, I'm sure it only seemed like that many) to finally enjoy it after our guided tour had completed. For this 69 year old over weight, under shape, I was reminded of Samuel Clement's quote about high school. As I recall, he said "I'm glad I did it, because it was worth it, but mostly because I will never have to do it again!"
  9. We were on the 10 night package ending 10/6/2014. We echo most of the comments in the original review (and thanks for your experiences). From a slightly different perspective, DW and I are in our mid to late 60's. We booked this cruise with our DD 37 and then husband a couple of years ago. Due to changes, we wound up changing our booking to include our DD as our cabin had a third bunk. We are moderately fit, DD is into gym and hiking and Scuba certified. This was our bucket trip (OK our follow on trip to Machu Pichu really qualified as bucket ... or maybe casket trip) but this was her forte. First our take on the food was that it was the best of any Celebrity main dining room quallty. Almost all of the food is locally sourced, due to Ecuadorian laws. We had been cautioned on Cruise Critic forums that the beef was apt to be tougher and less tasty than US palettes expected because it was grass fed. We were pleasantly surprised by the beef dishes. The seafood in our opinon was great quality, well prepared. The bar staff was very attentive, and while I disappointed with my usual request for a bloody mary, or Johnny Walker on the rocks, they came through with Yellow Warblers and mudslides for the ladies. The Naturalists were outstanding, and though they connected to us in different ways, they were all passionate in revealing the secrets or the islands to us, while balancing our safety and the protection of the environment. At home if I unrap a breath mint, I but the wrapper in my pocket, but in the islands, you really feel that you are in a holy place, and are careful not to damage it. A quick word about three adults in a cabin. First, let your travel agent or Celebrity know that you will have a three person cabin, even if the stateroom info shows that is has a third berth. Since the Galapagos cruises are controlled by the Park Commission, they enforce the maximum number of passengers per ship, so you need to be sure that you are OK. Considerations for three in a room. Always put the toilet seat down. Which leads up to the critical resource for two females and one 69 year old male in a stateroom - bathroom availability. We researched the deck plans and discovered that there were public bathrooms for ladies on our deck 3 and just one deck up for guys. We were able to find storage for everything in the cabin, except for one suitcase that would not fit beneath the bed. Our cabin attendend was able to store it for the cruise. In summary this was a wonderful cruise for us. Celebrity offered excursions that required varying degrees of physical ability and described them correctly. We tended to try to do as much as we thought we could because the excursions were so wonderful. We had to back off from a couple of plans, due to reality, but it was still the most wonderful cruise we have ever taken. I hope that you will be able to experience this some day.
  10. I am eagerly awaiting Celebrity's announcement of cruises to Nigeria!:D
  11. If there were one, it would likely be a water clock!
  12. One caution about trying to do it on your own. When we went, two years ago, the ship docked on (I believe) a Monday, when the Island is normally closed to tours. Had we planned to take the ferry, we would have been out of luck. We took the Celebrity tour, which they had arranged. There were probably 200 or so that were transported on two ferries. So if you plan to do self service, be sure to check that the island and ferry service are available on the day you are in port.
  13. Typically in ship's casinos, there is only noise when there is a big winner. I wouldn't expect to hear much noise.
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