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  1. We did Antarctica in 2007 on the Prinsendam and then again this past January on the Seabourn Quest where we had zodiac landings on six days. We chose Seabourn this time as we wanted to try the zodiac landings. When it was over, DH and I discussed the two experiences and each has pros and cons. Not sure which way was best. On both trips we had excursion folks on board who shared lots of information. Both trips were spectacular in their own way. On the Prinsendam we had non-stop scenery - absolutely breath taking - penguins right up close and next to the ship on bergie bits and swimming in the water. Non-stop views. It was difficult to even take a break for meals. Absolutely spectacular. And, as mentioned earlier we also had the Palmer Station folks visit. On Seabourn we had a lot of the breath taking scenery, including some incredible moments such as floating in the Lemaire Channel at sunset ... but during the day, due to the landings, the ship was anchored off shore of some bit of land that was full of penguins and easy to walk on but not necessarily spectacular to look at. Everyone had a chance to go ashore (about an hour or so each day) and the rest of the time you were on board looking at the often gravel covered beach. While on shore there were penguins and birds galore and we were really up close and personal with them. So ... less scenery, more penguins. And, of course, the whole dressing in many layers to go ashore ritual, and the daily required briefings. Each stop seemed to have a different species of penguin. Not sure which way is best - but you can’t go wrong doing it either way as Antarctica is incredible. Incredible enough for us to repeat the experience.
  2. We went to Iguazu independently in 2007 post cruise. Stayed at the Sheraton on the falls (I guess that is now the Melia). The falls were spectacular. Iguazu is definitely worth seeing. Very different than Niagara. It was easy to do independently but we were post cruise and you are mid cruise. If you are interested in seeing Rio and the falls on your five day overland I would do it. Unless you go that way again you will miss the experience. The fact that the hotel is away from town and on the falls added to our visit. Our room had a view of the falls and also a memorable sticker on the sliding glass doors to our balcony (there were no screens) - the sticker warned not to leave the door open as soon the room would fill with insects and later with monkeys.
  3. A few years ago in Kauai we went on an excursion that was all about the movies that were filmed there (including the pilot for Gilligan's Island). We were on a bus that only accommodated 20 folks tops and it was equipped with large video screens. We saw movie clips, heard tales about the making of the movies and visited the sites where they were filmed including the no longer in use hotel that was the site for Elvis's Blue Hawaii. One of of the best excursions ever - but it was not on the offer list when we ported in Kauai in May on the Noordam. If it is available I highly recommend that trip.
  4. On September 23 the Ovation will tender at Newhaven for Edinburgh. Not sure if that will be the same place they tender to in August. It is listed on the cruise itinerary on line for our cruise and also on our Seabourn cruise confirmation if you want to check for your journey.
  5. Interesting to read this thread about Vancouver to Seattle transfers. In May we sailed the Noordam from Honolulu to Vancouver. Must admit that the cost of the trip (we booked a fairly last minute Signature Suite guarantee) was unbelievably more than reasonable. The cruise was wonderful - just what we wanted. We were headed to Seattle to visit family for a couple of days before flying home. After booking and paying for the cruise as well as air to Honolulu and hotel as well as air home from Seattle we looked on line for the HAL Vancouver to Seattle transfer. It was not there so we called our TA who was told that HAL was not offering that service for this cruise only. We looked at Amtrak and the times were all wrong - we really wanted to get to Seattle quickly to maximize our visit there. So we booked a private town car. A bit more expensive than the expected HAL transfer but we assumed it would be fast and comfortable. They said they would not bill our credit card until we actually took the transfer. Our card was billed the next day. When we got on board the Noordam, second day out we got a flyer from HAL wanting to know if we wished to book their Vancouver to Seattle transfer. Much less cost than what we had paid, but our credit card had already been charged by the Town Car company so we were stuck. To make a long story short it took us almost two hours in Vancouver to connect with our driver. No one in Canada Place could tell us where to go and the Car Service was equally clueless. In the end, after many phone calls to the car service (including the many times they hung up on us after promising the driver would be right there) we did meet up with our driver — but only after lugging our bags through Canada Place and across the street and down the block. The car was clean, very nice, and quite comfortable ... but the two hours of hassle to get there hardly seemed worthwhile. It appears that HAL is a trifle inconsistent on what they promise - and it also appears that connections at Canada Place are very difficult to make. After reading your tale of woe - not sure who gets more blame here — HAL or the transportation services, or maybe even Canada Place.
  6. We sailed the Prinsendam several times between 2007 and 2018. We will miss her very much and were saddened that it did not work out for us to be on her final cruise. The photos of a beloved ship being eviscerated that were posted by Copper 10-8 (thank you Copper for doing this) are both horrifying and exciting. So sad to see what is left of so many very familiar spaces - yet there is a somewhat exciting hope to realize that she will have another life very soon. On our last Prinsendam voyage it was quite clear that she needed big work ... water dripping from the ceiling into the dining room and kitchen, teak decking that was so thin that it squished down and squirted water up from between the teak boards after rain ... we are, however, very sorry that HAL chose not to do the necessary work themselves. One of her big attractions were the small ports where we could enjoy the sights without hordes of other cruisers as well as the more intimate atmosphere on board ship. As to the future - we are currently on the fence. After much soul searching last year we chose Antarctica for January 2019 on Seabourn rather than Prinsendam (we were lured by the zodiac landings) and we have to admit that the Seabourn experience, in total, was outstanding. Last May it was a Pacific crossing on the Noordam which was unbelievably inexpensive yet it was also a stellar cruise experience. For September we will be round trip Dublin on Seabourn. Not sure where we will land, though we definitely prefer the small ship experience - but due to tariffs we will cruise only a fraction of the days that we cruised on HAL. Too bad we can no longer have this experience on Holland America.
  7. We entirely agree that we enjoy ports that are less influenced by the large cruise lines. We don’t travel to Alaska or the Caribbean to go to Diamonds International. It is the little quirky ports that keep us traveling. We do not travel to shop. We travel to see, smell and taste the world. We took many many cruises on Holland America's Prinsendam because of her ability to get into some of these small, out of the way ports - and we are now slowly switching our allegiance to Seabourn for the access to these smaller destinations - though, admittedly due to the tariffs on Seabourn there will be fewer days at sea for us.
  8. We used a car service from Vancouver to Seattle last May and had a terrible experience. It was Seattle Elite Town Car. Many great reviews on yelp and elsewhere on line. Yet, they could not tell us where to meet their car. We called, as instructed, when we arrived at the port and asked where to go. They could not give us an answer. We called back and forth for over an hour. Kept being promised the car was on its way to us. Never offered to have us talk to the driver himself. Did not even offer us a liscense plate number to identify the car. In the end we had to lug our cases through Canada Place and across the street and down the block to meet the driver. Car was very nice and it was very clean. Driver was also nice. We are senior citizens so dragging our bags was not fun. Not sure who to blame (though dispatch and reservations were probably most at fault). If you are looking for a car service to Seattle I suggest you avoid these guys.
  9. Any suggestions in Dublin? We are looking for two days post cruise in September. We do not know Dublin at all - our first time in Ireland. We will be at the Intercontinental one night precruise with Seabourn package - not the least expensive choice but Seabourn makes arrivals after those long international flights so easy and we know we will not be ruining our trip on the first night.
  10. A couple of weeks ago on the Noordam I purchased a rather attractive refrigerator magnet as a keepsake to remember this cruise. It had the Noordam's name on it and some of her stats - on the back it had a price tag sticker that had the price on it, and the label “Princess Cruises”. In general I think the items for sale in the shop by the new concessionaires to be an improvement over the old ones (e.g. merchandise specific to the ship that we were on - something that had long ago disappeared under the old management, some rather attractive clothing and gear) - but clearly from the OP's post and my observations they have a long way to go in terms of familiarizing themselves with the cruise line.
  11. Used internet (middle level package) on the Noordam Pacific crossing this month - middle level package - not the speediest but much better than a couple years ago - only one day out of seven where service was iffy - I assume it was location related. We really appreciated the unlimited package.
  12. We are docking in Buenos Aires right now. If there is more to post I will do so later or in a couple of days.
  13. February 2, 2019. Punta del Este, Uruguay Ground Hog Day - do they have ground hogs in South America? If they do, do they predict how much more summer the Southern Hemisphere will receive? If they do, the ground hog sure saw its shadow today! What wonderful weather. Sunny and in the upper seventies or low eighties. The ship was anchored off the coast of what looks like a beautiful resort community - the coastline is lined with sandy beaches, a large marina full of pleasure craft including lots of sail boats, lots of trees and lots of high rises (yeah, that tends to happen in resort communities). We had plans to get off the ship, we intended to get off the ship, but being the not so intrepid travelers that we are - we thought about the polar vortex (which we do understand has all but left the Midwest) and then we went out on our balcony to test the weather - and it seems we stuck there. It was so beautiful with bits of sun and a hefty breeze that the morning just melted away. We need to remember this on Monday morning when we land at O’Hare. Too bad we can’t take any of this weather away with us. This afternoon the ship held another great food extravaganza outside on the pool deck - we didn’t even stop by to see it as frankly, with all of the wonderful food we have eaten this trip, I really couldn’t see having any more as we still have dining room dinner tonight!
  14. February 1, 2019 - At Sea For our first day and a half at sea as we head up the coast of Argentina there was some ship movement - nothing really notable except in the directness of our walk and for those occasional bumps at night that tend to wake me up. This morning when I awoke we were gliding on flat seas in bright sunshine. Right now the temperature is in the sixties and I am typing this outside on our balcony. Small pangs of guilt of short duration occasionally flow thru my being in sympathy with those at home who have had to deal with temperatures of twenty below zero F this week. But they quickly pass. Nothing special today - just a sea day - and disembarkation tags and info day - no more briefings but still the lectures and conversations on board continue. Tonight there will be a farewell event, and the dress is formal. At the farewell event they played the video prepared by our onboard photographers - and after dinner we each received a small metal box with a thumb drive in it - the video and other information about this cruise, crew and our expedition team is on the thumb drive. Very Nice! Tomorrow we will be in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
  15. Cherylgrrl - we did not kayak. Several of the excursions actually went, several were cancelled due to wind and seas. I suspect the cancellation policy for kayaking is the same as for other shore excursions but do not know for sure. If your excursion is cancelled you get you get your money back - I spoke with many who over booked themselves just in case but they did not mention the terms for cancellation. Sorry. Someone else might know.
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