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  1. Our first O cruise was on the Marina from Rio to Buenos Aires in Feb. 2019. This was the last complete sailing of the Marina prior to the disrupted sailing to Lima already mentioned. We have almost 50 cruises behind us but none on luxury 6* lines. Have sailed in everything from an inside to a Royal suite. I remember what it was like in the 80's so I think you are seeking sublime service. The ship was clean. For the most part the food was good. The internet was embarrassingly bad for the 21st century. The officers were businesslike and were not overly friendly to new cruisers. We saw greater attention paid to long-time O passengers and those on the b2b segments. It was noticeable. Our cabin stewardess was particularly unpleasant. The waitstaff was efficient and some were delightful. By day 3 we booked another O cruise so how bad was it? It was really quite nice. We looked past those things that bothered us and appreciated the itinerary and the crew and staff that kept our ship afloat. That, after all, is what they are employed to do.
  2. You are better off with a ship's tour on Tortola with a vetted company. There were way too many rogue jitneys in the past. It's a beautiful island. Enjoy your day there.
  3. We've used George's Taxis too. You can probably find that company and others on the Ports of Call boards. I'd definitely recommend a private transfer and there may be others on your Roll Call who wish to share transportation. Enjoy your cruise!!!
  4. The Delta terminal is not big so you have that going for you. Take turns going for breakfast on the ship while your companion watches the luggage cause there aren't many food options on the Delta side of the terminal. If you have TSA pre that would be helpful too. I abhor self disembarkation. Those who recommend getting to the disembarkation area at least an hour early aren't kidding. And handling your luggage via crowded corridors and elevators is daunting. Also be prepared to use the stairways if you can't get an elevator. Be sure that you have any major purchases handy with sales receipts in case you are the one in a hundred who gets checked. Keep your passports and probably Covid info handy as well. Don't purchase alcohol or tobacco products beyond the "legal" limit. Don't carry off prohibited items like fruit/fresh food. The list of don'ts goes on and on. Think about anything that will impede your forward progress. It's going to be tight but under normal circumstances doable.
  5. I hope you are not planning on flying down the day of your cruise.............Hmmm Chicago in January. Depending on the days you are looking at in January you may hit some high fare days around MLK weekend. If you are seeing a reasonable fare on Delta book it. Southwest may not be any lower. It sure wasn't when we checked more than two dozen flights pre Covid.
  6. Do your homework. O air in a premium class might not be your best financial option. Then if you book your return with O after the land part you will pay an additional $175 per person deviation fee. The hotel too will be more expensive than doing your own booking. Hotels in Monte Carlo are just a few minutes from the pier in a taxi unless it's during the prior two weeks to the road race when they are setting up barriers and stands, even then it's a short ride. A cruise travel agent can assist you with air and hotels throughout your trip. In your case a travel agent will make your lives easier.
  7. If you really want to specialize your itinerary use a local tour guide like SPB, Alla or any of the others recommended on the Ports of Call board for Russia. The last time I was there on a cruise and I arranged a specialized tour with SPB and the small group of 6 got to do everything on our joint list without herding and rushing. One in our group needed a wheelchair so we did not move swiftly. We all benefitted from our planned itinerary with a knowledgeable guide. If you are on one of the larger ships you will waste quite a bit of time going back and forth to the ship. If you are on a R class ship docking within sight of The Hermitage that's not as big a problem.
  8. Why not compromise with an A class cabin. If you don't want a butler but want a mid level dinner reservation plateau with the benefit of the lounge that would be my choice. The cabins are roomy enough especially for a port intensive itinerary.
  9. We have used the laundry service. I wasn't too impressed - pardon the pun. I had to take some items to the onboard passenger laundry room to press clothing that came back too wrinkled. We also were missing items twice when the laundry was returned. I think we eventually got everything back but it took a few days. The service is fine for men's underwear and t shirts but I wouldn't use it for delicate attire.
  10. No matter where we sail we always put our tags on at the pier. Even more importantly remove your tags before you arrive at your departure airport. Many moons ago my suitcase became a part of a FLL theft ring. The police told me it was because I had left my cruise tags on the luggage. This was back in the day when cruising was not so "universal" if you know what I mean.
  11. If you want to see wildlife book an aft cabin. Sailing from Icy Straits in an aft is, I think, what you want. Land animals returned to the shore through the narrow straits and whales and other sea animals followed the ship. This has happened on both of our Alaskan cruises....probably would have happened again if our May cruise (on another line) had sailed.
  12. amypet, If you scroll down a little further on Cruise Critic there is an entire thread dedicated to travel insurance. We always purchase travel insurance and never buy from either the cruise line or travel agent. Shopping for the right policy is a chore which, in almost every case, must be completed within two weeks of the initial booking (deposit.)
  13. We were supposed to have been on O in Alaska right now so I can't address how they handle the great state. One of the things I did like about our O itinerary was the longer day in Sitka. The stop there was longer than any other itinerary I checked. You will get better cuisine on O, especially compared to Princess. And for the most part the ships are smaller which is another plus for us. Even though HAL and Princess are the most experienced Alaska cruise companies we avoid both lines. RCI and Celebrity also offer land trips. What I would highly recommend is a southbound itinerary. You can explore Alaska up to Fairbanks and Denali independently. A little research goes a long way. Southbound itineraries sail from Whittier or Seward which are both within beautiful drives or train rides from Anchorage. Most of these itineraries end in Vancouver, another plus. Vancouver is almost 1,300 miles south of Anchorage which makes the trip home easier. Most of the port stops are indeed the same. There are some longer itineraries than stop in Haines and along the Canadian coast. Don't rule out a sailing from LA or San Francisco. Those sailings stop in Astoria, Oregon which is an absolutely charming stop especially if it's on a Sunday market day. The Alaska boards might address many of your questions about the state. Do look carefully at the times in each port if you are comparing cruises. It's a glorious place and think about this booking as your first Alaskan cruise.
  14. Jeans are fine in Blu. The only time I have witnessed the maitre 'd refuse entrance was for a passenger with holes in their jeans. Regular jeans and any collared shirt, turtleneck or dressy pullover are perfectly appropriate.
  15. Lucky you, We were supposed to board an Alaska sailing today. There is lots of great Alaska information on the Ports of Call forums. I'd definitely suggest you plan a whale watching excursion. The last time we were there you could not get this excursion from Hoonah (Icy Straits) but I think you can do one there. It's a great stop for wildlife but if you want a little more "cosmopolitan" day think Ketchikan or Juneau. Think layers when you select your wardrobe. Shoes and outerwear should be waterproof, not water resistant. Waterproof clothes gave us the freedom to saunter off to Tracy's Crab Shack while our sailing buddies ran back to the ship to dry off. I doubt if you can get up to Emerald Lake from Skagway because it is in Canada so the train might be an option there. You can self book the train and will get a better car. The terminal is not far from the docks. And, if you are docked near the helicopter port you may experience a wind tunnel affect. Bundle up! Alaska is addictive. Enjoy your first trip.
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