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Lilycat2010

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About Lilycat2010

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  1. Lilycat2010

    St. John Beach with Amenities- First Time Help

    Thanks for your responses!
  2. Hi, Sailing to to the island of St. John for the first time. I understand the beaches are spectacular and the thing to see. We are traveling with my parents, who will require shade, bathrooms, and snacks. I am wondering which would be the best option? It seems like reports state that some are still recovering. Can anyone advise? Thanks!
  3. They did offer priority tendering to suite guests. Although, I had read here to be off early and it totally paid off. In fact, even though we were escorted down to the tenders, when we arrived just before 8:00, there was no line. We took the cable car up, and also had no lines. We had planned to head straight to Oia, and met another couple also seeking transport so we shared a taxi over. We were able to enjoy Oia for hours with minimal crowds. We got our photos in, and explored. Each turn was prettier than the last. Around 11:30, we got hungry and found a restaurant with beautiful views to enjoy a beer and some hummus and tzatziki. When we walked out on to the main drag at around 12:30, it was a mob scene. So busy! Maybe October will be quieter, but we felt we had enough and headed back to the ship. We got the cable car around 1:30 and again, no lines.
  4. Hi, we're just back off the August 31 Italy and Greek Isles 10 day cruise on the Reflection. We are in our early 50s and very active. We generally cruise twice a year and have tried many lines. We've never had a bad cruise, but Celebrity is our reigning favorite. We always book a balcony cabin, but we were celebrating and decided to try a Sky Suite. I've been to Italy on several trips, but never to Greece. And my husband had never been to Rome. This was our first European ocean cruise also. We have done a lot in the Caribbean, New England, and a European river cruise. We spent 5 nights in Rome ahead of the cruise and loved the city. We booked some private tours and had prearranged a lot there, and for our cruise stops ahead of time. We had a private transfer to the cruise port and arrived around 10:45. Since we were suite guests we were some of the first to board and we got to wander and explore with very few people around. Then, we popped into Luminae for lunch. I won't give a play by play of our cruise, but I will highlight a few things. First, I did a lot of searching ahead of this cruise to see if a suite is 'worth it'. For us, it was a pretty awesome experience. We loved the roomy cabin. It felt about twice the size of a standard balcony cabin. We were on 12 in 2177. We also loved the larger balcony with the big table. We had a few breakfasts out there when we had early tours. We weren't sure we knew what to do with a butler, but Alex was super friendly and helpful. We had the premium drink package as a perk and it included sparkling water. We asked Alex for a few Pellegrinos in our cabin and from then on, he always made sure our fridge was stocked. Our room steward was also top notch. We did spend some time in Michael's club and found it welcoming and peaceful. We usually had a cocktail there each evening. We would also pop in to pick up a drink, beer or water randomly through the cruise. The bar staff and concierges there were all great. Luminae was a high point for us also. I've always enjoyed Celebrity's main dining rooms, but Luminae definitely offers a step above for both the food and service. How do they remember names and likes and dislikes? My husband likes ice in his water, and I do not - they always greeted him with a large glass of ice. These little things make a good impression. We had Rosebud as our waiter and requested him for each visit. We liked Luminae so much, we cancelled our reservation at Murano (my husband's favorite specialty restaurant), because Luminae felt just as special. My husband is a big 'ambiance' guy. At first, he didn't really like the look of Luminae and kept pressing me to go elsewhere, but by the end of the trip, he didn't want to eat anywhere else. The only missteps there for us were the fish dishes. We didn't care for any that we ordered. The pastas and soups were awesome. We also loved every other main dish we ordered besides the fish choices. So, we would definitely do a suite again for the right price. But we also won't hesitate to book another regular balcony cabin. In fact, we're booked for a 12 night British Isles cruise in 2019, and the cost of a Sky Suite is not justifiable for us. We'll probably wave fondly at Luminae while we head to Opus, but we'll still have a great cruise. We did eat in one specialty restaurant - The Porch. We booked for dinner at sunset leaving Santorini. It was a beautiful dinner and we enjoyed the views. The food was okay. Good but not memorable. We also had a few lunches and breakfasts at the buffet, which we enjoyed. I especially like the outdoor seating there. We went to a few shows and they were pretty good. We enjoyed some of the specialty acts, but didn't see them all. The Flyrights - they were so fun. Tre Amici were also super talented. We skipped most of the Broadway review type shows. We do visit the casino regularly and I am not fond of the new Blue Chip club. I think I'm Onyx. I'm Gold with MLife and felt that I got better perks from that relationship in the past. We aren't high rollers, but do spend a few hours at the tables each day, usually with the minimum bets. When we checked in with the casino host at the end of the cruise, he wasn't able to offer us any comps, which was disappointing. I did have some luck in the casino and wound up ahead at the end of the cruise, but as much time as we spent in there, would have thought a dinner or something was warranted. I'm a big planner, so I either booked a private tour ahead of the trip, or planned something DIY. The only ship's tour we did was a walking tour of Rhodes. We enjoyed it, and our guide was great, but the equipment was spotty and sometimes we had trouble hearing her. Overall, we loved the cruise and think it was our best yet. The ports of call were fantastic. We'd like to go back to spend more time in Greece. We met so many nice people on board and the whole trip just exceeded our expectations. Please feel free to ask any questions, happy to answer.
  5. Here's a recent trip report. Please feel free to ask any questions! I sailed the Reflection with my husband and my parents. I had a balcony cabin on the 9th deck mid-ship. Nice location, quiet, plenty of storage. My sweet husband ordered me a dozen roses onboard for our cabin. They were beautiful and really lasted the whole 10 day cruise. They were prettier each day. The whole journey was really great. We boarded quickly and had a nice lunch in the buffet. We waited until the cabins were open to eat, so the crowds had moved out. The muster was a bit of a bust. We had to line up very tightly near the photo gallery. It was very hot and long and I got claustrophobic and a bit dizzy. There were lots of complaints about the set up. My parents are older and they really struggled. Other than that, I loved what the Reflection had to offer. We had great food in the Opus dining room each night. We ate in Murano for my birthday and they made it really special. What a decadent meal. We ate the remainder of dinners in Opus and enjoyed each one. We had Anytime dining, but reserved the same table and waiter each night once we got settled. He provided excellent service and great recommendations. No complaints about the food! We do enjoy the casino, some of the lectures, trivia, etc. We thought the entertainment was lackluster. With the exception of Jayne Curry, who is phenomenal, all the other entertainment was so-so. We didn't go to every show, but poked out head in a few times and walked out. We didn't hear glowing reviews from others. The singers and dancers on board seemed talented, but the guest performers weren't our cup of tea. One comment was the chic nights. I had read on CC about the lack of formal clothing, so we really didn't bring anything super dressy. Wow, was I surprised! I saw a lot of sparkly gowns and tuxedos. We didn't feel out of place in our resort casual wear, plenty of others were dressed down, but many men had on jackets and many women were in glam wear. We didn't participate in any ship excursions. We tend to do our own thing with locals or on our own. We did enjoy all the ports immensely. I loved the overnight in St. Maarten. It gave us the opportunity to have dinner onshore and try something completely different. Disembarkation was a breeze. We took advantage of the Luggage Valet service and shipped our bags straight home. It is the best money spent. To leave with no bags to drag around is such a pleasure. We are booked again on the Reflection to the Greek Isles. Just my husband and I - more of my birthday celebration! We booked our first suite and I'm very excited. We also booked again onboard to go to the British Isles on the Reflection next year. I'd really like to try the Edge, but the itineraries released so far don't work for us.
  6. I haven't sailed NCL in a few years. Travelling with my hubby and parents in about a month on the Gem and we all enjoy casino table games. We're not big slots players. Can anyone tell me what games they offer on the GEM? I'm sure there's blackjack, craps, roulette. But do they have 3 card poker? Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em? Or any others? And does anyone know the table minimums? Thanks so much!
  7. Lilycat2010

    Oasis 9/19 Cruise with Extended Family

    Yes, there was a non-smoking side, but the tables were not all open at all times.
  8. Hi, Wanted to provide a report on our Eastern sailing on the Oasis of the Seas. There were 9 of us travelling - me and DH, parents, aunt, sister and BIL with their 2 kids (12 and 9). My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and we wanted a fun, family vacation. Overall a really great trip and an excellent choice for a big group. There was plenty to do for everyone and we were all able to stay satisfied. The ship was pretty amazing. We had ocean-facing balcony cabins. The cabin size was great and the balcony was the largest I've had (previously sailed NCL, Celebrity and HAL). Unfortunately, ours was pretty filthy on arrival. There was still trash in drawers, lots of hairs in the bathroom and general gunk on the surfaces. We did point it out and they quickly deep cleaned the cabin and sent us champagne and chocolate covered strawberries for our troubles. Nice touch! We had My Time Dining and got reservations for the times we needed once on board. We got a great waiter the first night - Alfredo, so we asked to be at the same table each time. It worked out great. They had a 'group' desk for check ins for large parties, and that really helped. Overall the food in the main dining room was quite good. One or two items, I didn't like, but that's any restaurant. I did not, however, like the Windjammer. I went for one breakfast and didn't return. I just didn't like the choices, flow or overwhelming crowds. At least on a ship this size - there is something for everyone! We did some MDR breakfasts and a few in the Park Cafe, which was really pretty good. I know food is subjective. The other venues for us were hit or miss. We loved Giovanni's and Izumi for dinner. The hibachi was so much fun with a big group. They squeezed an extra chair for us since we had 9. We had a blast. We had one lunch at Sabor, which we also loved. My DH and I had dinner at 150 Central Park and felt let down. The ambiance and service were impeccable. But the food was just so so. He loved his steak. I disliked the lamb. Dried out! We both disliked the grapefruit dessert. My parents went with my sister to dinner at the Solarium Bistro one night and also reported it was mediocre. Oh, and my DH and dad grabbed a Broadway Dog and were disappointed. They threw them out. The service and entertainment on the ship could not be beat. Everyone we encountered was friendly and upbeat (with the exception of one surly dealer in the casino). The shows were fantastic! We saw the Aqua show and Come Fly with Me with reservations. We also caught the ice show and the headliner without reservations. Didn't make it to the comedy shows or Cats. Really top notch performers! We didn't use any RCL excursions. We all kind of did our own things in the ports. We had been to each before. For us this cruise was about Oasis and being together to celebrate with my parents. I usually get a massage on a cruise, but didn't use the spa this trip. It was a lovely area though, and the gym was really nice. Lots of room and equipment. It was connected to the track, too, so we could walk to get some cardio and then enter to use the weights. Nice! The pool deck was crazy busy. It was a first cruise for me where I didn't even put on a bathing suit. It was just a bit hot for me to lie in the sun, and the pools were so crowded, I just didn't feel it. I did enjoy going up to watch the Flowrider and check things out, but really didn't stay. I'm usually in a hot tub each day, but couldn't handle the crowds. My sister's family did enjoy it, though! This probably caused me to spend too much time losing money in the casino. :) Otherwise, I'm sure I would have come out ahead! Ha! It was smoky, but they had plenty of options for table games and they did have some non-smoking tables open in the evenings. We did try to soak up as much fun as possible. We played trivia, shopped, walked all the neighborhoods. I loved Central Park. Man, that is one cool place on a cruise ship. I had good intentions to try the Rising Tide bar and the zip line, but didn't make either. The Champagne Bar is an elegant stop for a pre-dinner drink. For us, and the occasion, the Oasis was a great choice. However, I don't think I'll choose this large a ship again in the future. For me and DH, a slightly more intimate, relaxed ship is a better fit. Our next booking is actually the Serenade in February. Hope we enjoy it. Glad we did the Oasis once, though!
  9. My DH and I just returned from our Romantic Danube cruise on the Viking Skirnir - Budapest to Nuremberg. We booked our own air and extensions in Budapest and post-cruise to Prague. Overall impressions of Viking were good. We had a French balcony cabin which we really enjoyed. Honestly, our biggest complaint was the pillows. They were terrible. If that's the worst of my vacation, man do I feel lucky. The service and food overall were very good. We've done quite a bit of ocean cruising on HAL and Celebrity and felt that the food on Viking was a notch above. The tours were very good. We only took one additional tour and enjoyed that also. I can say - no real entertainment. We knew that going in, but would have enjoyed an evening or two of options. We were impacted by the low water levels. We were only able to sail as far as Passau. We bussed to Regensburg and highly enjoyed it. We chose not to bus to Nuremberg due to the length of travel. I felt like we missed out and we were disappointed, however it did not ruin the trip for us. We had pre-paid through a third party (Prague Airport Transfers) for a transport from Nuremberg to Prague. The Viking concierge was so helpful and contacted the company to have the transport changed to meet us in Passau and it wound up being less expensive. We were really pleased with the service. There were a lot of angry passengers, however. I can't blame the cruise line for river conditions. I did feel very sorry for those with early flights home from Nuremberg. Viking only put up folks with pre-10:00 am flights in hotels in Nuremberg. Others had to get up as early as 3:00 am to be transported to the airport. I felt for them. The number one complaint I heard from others was about the balcony cabins. Many felt frustrated that we were docked next to other ships and that they couldn't use them. I was surprised so many people were unaware. I had done that research here and my TA also warned me. I feel that Viking should give people a warning about that. Overall, we had a fantastic trip. We met some really nice people and have good memories. We are a bit younger than the average river cruiser, so we may wait awhile until we take another, and would be open to trying another line. We actually really enjoyed our DIY time in Budapest and Prague and may only do the group touring sporadically.
  10. Lilycat2010

    Izumi on Oasis

    Woo hoo! Good to hear. Thank you!
  11. Lilycat2010

    Izumi on Oasis

    Okay, so I'm the sister and we need a little more scoop. We are a party of 9, hoping to get a table at the hibachi at Izumi. I understand that the tables are set up for 8. My sister was having a little brain freeze. :) Two are children, do you think we could be accommodated? I know our family would enjoy it. Thanks!
  12. Lilycat2010

    Newbie Questions

    Thanks for taking the time and giving some good feedback. Some of these cities I've visited before and some I haven't. All are new to my DH. Good to know this part of the Danube is well covered by Viking. Reading the itinerary, it does sound like they have the hot spots covered from a touring standpoint. We leave from Budapest. We are doing a DIY few days in Prague at the end. That, I've been researching! :) Thanks again! We are really looking forward to our trip.
  13. Lilycat2010

    Newbie Questions

    Hello! I'm a fairly frequent ocean cruiser and an 'on my own' European traveler. Taking my first river cruise with my DH leaving August 31 with Viking on their Romantic Danube cruise. So excited! I'm mid-40s, DH is early 50s. We love a combination of touring and relaxation and hope to get that on this vacation. A few probably stupid questions... 1. How much 'on your own' planning is necessary for each town/stop? I know Viking offers a daily excursion/tour. And they offer some up charge excursions. It sounds like these are a couple of hours at most? Does the ship staff offer suggestions of things to do on your own? Do you read up with guide books ahead of time? I'm normally a serious planner, but I just haven't had the time prior to this trip and I'm hoping it doesn't bite me. 2. Viking's website isn't super helpful. Will they send me pre-trip documents? Do I need to go seeking these? 3. I'm reading how the Danube river levels are an issue. At what point would Viking let us know about any changes to our itinerary? I sure hope our very first river cruise doesn't turn into something else. Thanks for any feedback!
  14. Lilycat2010

    LOCAL VILLAGE BAR vs. JACK'S SHACK Grand Turk

    We were just in Grand Turk last week. We didn't make it down to Jack's but stopped in at Island Jerk. We had a great experience. We drank several $3 beers and had some delicious conch fritters, jerk chicken and jerk pork. We just sat at a table under and umbrella and enjoyed the view. Our waiter was very friendly and helpful. I would recommend it.
  15. Lilycat2010

    Grand Turk on the cheap

    We stopped in at Island Jerk on Grand Turk. We reached it prior to Jack's. My dad was getting tuckered out walking through the soft sand, so we decided to stop. We loved it. We had $3 beers, jerk chicken, jerk pork and conch fritters. It was very inexpensive, and delicious! We just sat at a table under an umbrella and enjoyed the view while we ate and drank. The food was awesome. Our waiter was so nice and helpful. He even sat down and chatted with us for a while. The place was pretty quiet. I don't think anyone else was eating there besides us. I could recommend it for sure. There were a few folks using the beach chairs and umbrellas. Not sure if there was a charge for that. Hope this place makes it, we would go back.
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