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About OC SeaPA

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    The OC, Calif
  • Interests
    wine, travel, dancing

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  1. OC SeaPA

    Transatlantic which cheaper, East or west?

    We not only look at ports & # sea days in a row, but also the flights. DH would rather have the long flight upfront, then a shorter hop home. Flights have become more stressful lately! Plus, airfares seem to be less expensive for the Oct/Nov times vs spring. That said, we are doing the Edge TA in April/May, but did get a great deal on BA home (London to LAX) using miles for business class, so should be fine!
  2. OC SeaPA


    We love Celebrity, but their anti-smoking mentality probably means our Edge cruise is our last with them. DH has been a smoker (pipes & cigars) for over 50 years. I gave up getting him to quit, and he doesn't bother me when I drink (alcohol is also bad for you, but nobody says anything about that as most everyone drinks!) Just got off a RCI cruise to Cuba, and of course alot were enjoying their cuban cigars! Carnival just upgraded their smoking area on Mexican cruises, and it was used all the time. I hate the smoking and the smell, but want him to have as good a time on a cruise as I do. Celebrity take note- Smokers $ are as good as non-smokers $! It is not that hard to have a convenient area for smokers. If you hate smoke, just stay away from that area.
  3. We sailed on Oceania for the first time this year. At their buffet the passengers never touch the serving utensils- gloved servers put the food on your plate. such a better way to go! on one cruise (I think NCL) there was a novo problem, so they used the same system- no passenger ever touched serving spoons.
  4. Just back from Cuba- DH is a avid cigar affectionado. Here's some tips- 1- not all prices are the same! Quantanamera has a 15 cigar sampler pack that was great. Paid 12.5cuc in Cienfuegos, 20cucs in Havana Rum Museum, and same was 35cuc at the terminal. Great way to go- different sizes of a mild cigar. All were exactly the same package- all "government cigars". 2- Go to the :"2nd tier" cigars- these are the same tobacco, just not as large a leaf (more from the clippings), but smoke just the same. 1st tier- Cohiba, Montecristo- are the ones that could be counterfeit. 2nd tier- Jose L Piedra- ran 30cuc for a box of 25! Another bargain- Troya- in tubes- ran 1.35cuc per cigar, and are also a great smoke. 3- Went to tobacco plantation in Vinales- got Montecristos without box, band for 3cuc per cigar. At plantation found out the government takes 90% of the crop for the "government cigars", but the farmers have 10% they can sell themselves. Gave us a sample to smoke, and even I enjoyed them! If you have extra time in Cuba visit Vinales & the caves- fantastic experience!
  5. OC SeaPA

    Private tour recommendations for Havana & Santiago

    Just back from a B2b on Empress. We did 3 private excursions- 2 with FerTours and 1 with CubaConnections. I would definitely recommend Cuba Connections over FerTours. I'll try to keep it brief why- Tour 1- FerTours- Cienfuegos to Trinidad- tour time was cut short by RCI- tendering took longer, and left at 4pm rather than 5. Asked if we would have enough time to go to Trinidad, so should we just stay local? Guide said Trinidad ok, so we went. After a boring 1.5 hr ride there, in which he spent the entire time on politics (interesting at first, but enough) walked around. He was frustrated because we were not interested in the architecture, and did not want to spend our precious time visiting his friends museum. Lunch on the way back was fantastic, but no time in Cienfuegos. Wanted to get rum & cigars- he just dropped us off at the corner (wrong corner) then disappeared! SKIP TRINIDAD- stay in Cienfuegos. Tour 2- Cuba Connections- faster in responding (always within 24 hrs, FerTours sometimes took 4 days to get back to me). Listened to what I had to say, but really was a "guide". Had a full itinerary of what to see & when, couldn't get that from FerTours. Asked to see the Jewish Synagogue in Havana- want a great experience. Wanted a show- went with Cabaret Parisienne rather than Tropicana- again great advice! Took us to Hotel Nacionale earlier in the day to get tickets ($35cuc vs $120 on ship!), and got great tour of grand hotel. Went to Fusterlan, and felt we saw everything we wanted. Tour 3- FerTours- Vinales- tobacco plantation. Great tour, but not so much the guide. After e-mailing FerTours about lack of time management on Cienfuegoes promised us a great guide- Gabriel. Instead got Amanda & a driver, so with 4 of us there were now 6 in the car for a long drive (2.5 hrs). We asked for some rest stops along the way, as 2 had blood sugar issues and needed snacks, etc. Had a great experience at the plantation, and lunch at a paladar was out of this world! Was supposed to be 6 hr tour (back at r) but as staying overnight asked Amanda if we could see everything and she said back at 6pm. Got back closer to 9am, starving! On 3 hr drive back (bad roads, so they had to go slower) both Amanada and driver were constantly on cell phones or texting- never talking to us.. Don't mean to sound critical- it really was a fantastic trip! If I hadn't done Cuba Connections would not have anything to compare with.
  6. OC SeaPA

    Empress of the Seas in Cienfuegos and Santiago

    Just off the Empress. Santiago was cancelled- there was a problem with the dock. I don't know how long until it is added- instead we had a full 2 days in Havana, so it worked out fine. However, Cienfuegos was tendered, and a slow process. They took the ships excursion people off first, so we were an hour late in meeting our guide. We opted for Trinidad- DON'T DO IT! Too long of a drive, not see much different.
  7. OC SeaPA

    No power on Empress

    Thanks. I hope the rest of the cruise was good. Was it? Was it only the first day that was messed up? In the old days when something like that happened they would open the bar up- I guess they don't do anything for "inconvenience" anymore. Started cruising in 1978- sure is different now!
  8. OC SeaPA

    No power on Empress

    We are on the empress on Nov 19th. Do you think we will be sailing, or will they pull it for maintenance? Have you heard anaything?
  9. OC SeaPA

    Now tendering in Santiago & Cienfuegos- any idea why?

    Thanks for the info. Again, I'm confused why we are tendering when everything I see says we are the only ones in port. Unless RCI found out the Empress is too large to dock? If that is the case and the ship excursions tender first I wonder what time we'll get off the ship?
  10. OC SeaPA

    Now tendering in Santiago & Cienfuegos- any idea why?

    Wow- thanks for the information. Now i guess i have something else to worry about! How long did it take to tender in Cienfuegos?
  11. OC SeaPA

    Now tendering in Santiago & Cienfuegos- any idea why?

    In Cienfuegos using Fernando at FerTours. Also using them for Havana the following week (doing b2b to see it all). Our port times are 7am to 5pm. 6 in our group, plus 3 more cc, so using a late model ac van rather than an older "classic car" (heard the roads are bumpy). Going to Trinidad first (over 1 hr drive), then lunch & Cienfuegos in afternoon, so we are at the ship, not far away in the afternoon. Cost was 450c for 9 of us (not including lunch or mojito break, which is mandatory for me!) They are most responsive.
  12. We are on Empress Nov 19, 2018, and just got changed from docking to tendering in all 3 ports, including Georgetown. We are only ship in port on all 3 days. Any idea why? We have private tours planned, and now with tendering not sure if we can make it to Cienfuegos & Trinidad. Is it worth going to Trinidad if our time is cut short by an hour or so? In port 7am to 5pm.
  13. OC SeaPA

    Coffee Card on NOS

    I'm doing a B2B in November. If I don't use it all on one leg can I use it on the 2nd leg?
  14. OC SeaPA

    Empress or MSC Armonia to Cuba?

    Here's another choice- took some research- we are doing RCI Empress B2B- Nov 19 & Nov 26- fares are very reasonable. 1st week is Cienfuegos & Santiago & Georgetown. 2nd week is a very good Havana overnight, with Cozumel & Nassau. Seeing all 3 major Cuban ports. No changing of cabins. This was the only one I could find like that this year. Bonus- RCI cooks the Thanksgiving turkey this year, not me!
  15. OC SeaPA

    Royal Carribean Drink Packages Sale

    Does RCI have anything if only 1 of the people (me) in the cabin drink? Other lines don't require both to buy. I understand they do this to discourage sharing, but not everyone drinks! Can he just buy the soda package (that's all he drinks!)