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About GradUT

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Arlington, Virginia

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  1. GradUT

    How exactly does YTD work?

    We were a party of 2 who chose YTD on a Mexican cruise. Even though we arrived around 8pm, we had a wait of 20 minutes on Elegant Night and a projected wait of 45 minutes on the last night. (We bagged the dining room and ate pizza upon hearing that the wait would be that long.)
  2. If you aren't in any rush, opt for a leisurely breakfast followed by grabbing a cup of coffee or tea to drink on deck. Then you can disembark with the last group around 10am and have NO lines. We've done this a couple of times and it worked great. In fact, while we were sitting outside in Long Beach with our coffess, we were able to watch some seals swimming around the ship!
  3. GradUT

    Things to do in Copenhagen

    If your ship docks at Oceankaj, which the larger ships do, then you will not be near any shopping or dining areas. You can take a cab (pricey) or take the bus—easy and cheap. For details on taking the bus, see the “Wonderful Copenhagen” thread on this forum. And I agree that the Free Walking Tour is an excellent use of your time (and tipping money for the guide.) I also found Rosenberg Castle interesting and Rick Steves includes a good tour of it in his book. It’s much more detailed than any of the signs in the castle.
  4. GradUT

    Excursions in Australia & New Zealand

    If you provide a link with the description of the snorkel tour out of Cairns, I may be able to give you an idea of the provider. I know that several of the cruise lines use Reef Magic which is basically the same type of operation as Quicksilver is in Port Douglas. Like Quicksilver, Reef Magic is a large boat (capacity of several hundred passengers) that goes to a fixed pontoon on the Outer Reef. There you can snorkel in a proscribed area and also see the Reef without getting in the water via glass-bottom boat rides, semi-submersible rides and an underwater viewing area. What you do NOT want out of Cairns is any tour that takes you to Green Island. The coral is in poor condition (thus less sealife) and the island is overrun with tourists. An excursion to Green Island is a waste of time and money. And finally—the cruise ship itineraries make it difficult, if not impossible, to do privately-booked snorkeling excursions. The snorkel tours require you to check in from 8:00 - 8:30 am and they don’t return to port until 5:00 pm. These times rarely work with the times the ship is in port. But if it does, consider Wavelength out of PD or Seastar out of Cairns. They are both excellent companies.
  5. GradUT

    Help a Mom Out

    It's not the amount of alcohol in wine vs. hard liquor. It's the number of drinks that each bottle contains. A bottle of wine contains about 4 servings and a bottle of scotch contains about 16 servings. If you assume that Carnival charges $10 each for a glass of wine and a shot of scotch, then Carnival "loses" $40 on your bringing a bottle of wine. They would "lose" $160 by your bringing on a bottle of scotch. So, it's all about the money.
  6. Rick Steves’ “Northern European Cruise Ports” is an invaluable resource. I suggest you read it to help you decide on/plan your cruise.
  7. GradUT

    Alaska cruise

    We always get a balcony cabin, so we did so for our Alaska cruise. It was the only cruise where I thought it was a waste of money. It was too cold to sit outside on the balcony and on the day we cruised Glacier Bay, we got seats on deck which were better than our balcony. I recommend you skip the balcony and use the savings on excursions.
  8. GradUT

    Port Arthur recommendations

    It’s totally possible to self-tour at Port Arthur. All tickets, even the basic entry one, include a guided 40-minute tour of part of the complex. In addition, you can add the tours of the cemetery and Puer Point for A$30. I definitely recommend doing that. There is a lot to see at Port Arthur, especially if you do the additional tours, so plan to get there early!
  9. The boat trip from Port Douglas to the Quicksilver platform takes about 90 minutes. Conditions depend on the winds, so it’s impossible to predict what conditions will be like in February. However, having gone to the Outer Reef several times in somewhat choppy conditions, I was always fine by taking the seasickness remedy that works best for me (ginger tablets) prior to boarding. November - May is stinger (deadly jellyfish) season in the Cairns/Port Douglas area. Stingers are found off the beach so you have to swim within the confines of a stinger net and, advisably, while wearing a stinger suit. But stingers are rarely found off the Reef. Nevertheless, your boat will provide stinger suits for you to wear while snorkeling as a precaution.
  10. GradUT

    Gala Nights?

    The longer the cruise, the more likely you will find passengers who “dress to the nines” on Gala Nights. So, it’s no surprise that the poster on the 34-day cruise saw lots of people dress up. And, it’s no surprise that you will find very few people who dress up on a 7-night cruise. You will be in the minority if you dress up for Gala Night, but who cares?
  11. GradUT

    Arriving at Cozumel at noon

    We caught a cab from the port to Paradise Beach resort. (The prices are posted and fixed -- about $15 as I recall to Paradise Beach.) There's a great pool, nice restaurant, beach chairs and umbrellas, etc. You can order food and drink from your chairs, but if you don't want anything, they won't keep coming by to harrass you (which we appreciated.) Just Google "Paradise Beach Cozumel" to see their website.
  12. GradUT

    Dinner times?

    Yes, the main dining room and the buffet are free. There will be one or two restaurants on your ship (depending on what ship you are sailing) which charge an additional fee and which require reservations. If you have a 6pm dining time, that means you go to the dining room to which you are assigned at 6pm. Depending on the size table you requested or have been assigned, you may eat with other passengers. (That’s something we enjoy doing.) If you want to make changes to your dining time or table size, you can try to do so at a specific time on the day you board. You are not required to eat in the dining room if you don’t want to. But should you choose to dine elsewhere, it is common courtesy to let your waitstaff and table mates know in advance so that they aren’t waiting for you.
  13. GradUT

    Carnival Pride October 14-21

    Did you go to the Motown show hosted by Dr. E? We were on the Pride in September and that was one of the most fun shows that I’ve ever encountered on a cruise ship.
  14. We did the 2-day Grand Tour with Alla a couple years ago and it did include lunch on both days. There was only one stop for shopping and the store accepted USD and Euros. Likewise, the gift shops in the museums accepted USD and Euros as did the kiosks in the port terminal. I really don’t think you’ll need any rubles unless you want them.