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Everything posted by WisRiver

  1. We did the 13 day coastal express, Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen last year. While most port stops are 15-30 minutes long, it seemed like everyday there was an extended 3-4 stop in cities like Tromso, Trondheim and Kirkenes, In addition there are several excursion booked through Hurtigruten where you leave from one port and rebound in another port. For example, the excursions to the North Cape and in the Loften Islands were the hop-on, hop-off type.
  2. From Wikipedia: "American mahjong is a form of mahjong standardized by the National Mah Jongg League[12] and the American Mah-Jongg Association.[13] It uses joker tiles, the Charleston, plus melds of five or more tiles, treats bonus tiles as honors, and eschews the chow and the notion of a standard hand. Legal hands are changed annually. Purists claim that this makes American mahjong a separate game. In addition, the NMJL and AMJA variations, which have minor scoring differences, are commonly referred to as mahjongg or mah-jongg (with 2 Gs, often hyphenated)" The easiest way to tell if you are playing American Mah Jong is the use of joker tiles and a card describing winning hands. I have seen people on board playing traditional Mah Jong with their own sets.
  3. We were on the Noordam last fall on the San Diego/Sydney and circumnavigation of Australia cruise. Mah jongg was scheduled every afternoon in the Half Moon roomon deck 3. HAL provided four sets. Passenger were playing American Mah jongg rules and brought their own 2022 cards. In addition there were two more MJ sets in the game area of the Crows nest on deck 10. In October, 2021 we were on the Rotterdam transatlantic. HAL had four sets available and we played in the MDR on deck 3 next to the bridge players. We will be on the Oosterdam this November. I am fairly sure people will be playing MJ.
  4. We stopped in Halifax of a Voyage of the Vikings. We, a group of four, had booked no excursions. There were several taxis outside the cruise terminal who offered trips to Peggy's Cove. I do not remember the exact price but it was extremely reasonable. Since we had our own cab, we moved at our own pace. It was about an hour's drive. Our driver was an Iraqi student studying marine engineering at Dalhousie University. He was an excellent local guide. He suggested a stop at the cemetery for the Titanic victims. We were in Peggys Cove for about two hours, and dropped outside the Maritime Museum in Halifax. We had time to walk back to the ship along the waterfront boardwalk with a stop for some fresh oysters and mussels at a harbor side cafe. We had great weather.
  5. Where does the ship stop before you arrive in Sydney? Last year we did a B2B from San Diego to Sydney continuing on to circumnavigate Australia. . Our first stop in Australia was Brisbane where we had to clear immigration. We did not have clear immigration again and did not have to disembark in Sydney (although we did).
  6. If the taxi line is long when disembarking at Vancouver, is a ride sharing service such as Lyft or Uber quicker. Our flight from Vancouver to the US leaves at 11:45 AM. We plan on self disembarking at the earliest time.
  7. We were in Melbourne on December 11 and 12, 2922. I was in error when I said we were in South Australia and it was winter. Nevertheless, it was a cold, wet, and windy day on our visit to Phillips Island.
  8. Last year we had an overnight stop in Melbourne while on a Holland America cruise. We used Wildlife Tours for our trip to see. the Penguin Parade. https://wildlifetours.com.au/tours/1-day-phillip-island-penguin-tour/. Phillips Island is about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. The penguins do not come out of the ocean until sunset. We left Melbourne at about noon. Once we reached Phillips Island we toured a koala reserve, and had the chance to do a seashore walk. We did return to Melbourne until about 10:00 PM. It was winter in South Australia, and the weather was terrible. Cold (10 C0, windy and rain. We were prepared, rain jackets, rain pants water resistant hikers and warm fleece. We skipped the seaside hike. There was a one hour stop in Cowes late in afternoon to get a bite to eat. Despite the weather the Penguin Parade was extraordinary. The little penguins do not mind the weather. For me a once in a lifetime experience.
  9. What car rental company are you using that allows you to pick up the car in Vancouver and drop in Seattle? So far I have checked with Hertz and Enterprise, and they say I cannot drop in Seattle from Vancouver.
  10. We have done two cruises to Iceland and a 21 day driving trip around Iceland. The driving tour was a vastly superior experience. We made four stops on the Holland America Voyage of the Vikings. This cruise only whetted our appetite for Iceland. After we did the driving trip we did a 8 day circumnavigation of Iceland on a Hurtigruten Expedition. If you only have a short period of time to see Iceland, the circumnavigation with extra days before and after the cruise in Reykjavik. It is hard to spend the afternoon soaking in a hot spring on a cruise. On a driving tour you can end almost everyday with a hot soak. Iceland has a number of excellent restaurants which not be available on a cruise.
  11. Four years ago we booked a Neptune Suite on the 8th deck on the Eurodam. All of the aft corner Neptune balconies on decks 4-8 are larger than the Neptunes on the side with the 4th deck aft balcony being the largest. The 8th deck Neptune was a great hangout space for our large group (ten) including four teenagers. They had easy access to pizza and the Dive In on the 9th deck. We had no problem with noise from moving furniture near the SeaView pool in the morning.
  12. When we stayed at the Radisson we were starting a Hurtingruten Expedition cruise. Their ship was able to dock in the Old Harbor, about a five minute walk to the ship. In 2019 we were on Voyage of the Vikings, and the Zuiderdam did an overnight stay in Reykjavik, and docked at the cruise port. We took a taxi to and from the Harpa.
  13. We liked the Radisson Blu; central location, nice staff, good (not great) breakfast, clean quiet rooms. It is a good business class hotel, without a lot of charm. On our next trip to Iceland in October, we will be staying at the nearby Center Plaza Hotel.
  14. Last year we did the Hurtigruten 13 day Coastal Express. We had cold, wet, windy weather in Bergen and Alesund, mild cloudy weather in Trondheim and Tromso, sunny cool weather further north and wonderful summer weather in Oslo. We checked the weather just before we left the US and knew that we would face cold and rain. We added extra rain gear. Kaisatsu's advice in #4 is right on point.
  15. We are doing an Iceland stopover on our way to Europe this fall. We will rent a car. We have made three trips to Iceland including a Hurtigruten cruise around Iceland last year. We were in the same situation as the OP. We were to arrive at 6:30 AM and did not start our cruise until two days later. We rented a car from Blue Rental at the airport. We were staying at the Radisson Blu in the center of Reykjavik. We drove to the hotel in hope that we could get an early checkin. No such luck, but we did leave our luggage at the hotel. We had breakfast in a nearby cafe. We had booked tickets at the Sky Lagoon for noon. We drove out to the Sky Lagoon, had a wonderful two hours in the warm water, sauna and steam bath. We drove back to the hotel, checked in, took a nap and wandered around the city center. The next day we checked out, and drove along the south coast to overnight in Vik. We drove back towards Reykjavik stopping to see the new volcano. We dropped the car at the Blue location in Reykjavik and embarked late in the afternoon. Taxis are very expensive and I do not like riding the bus with luggage. The rental car did not save us much money, but it gave us lots of flexibility. Icelandic highways are well maintained with good signage. We did not go off road so did not need an AWD vehicle.
  16. Several years ago (pre-covid times) we did the Buenos Aires-Santiago cruise. A significant number of passengers were from Argentina or Chile. The Latin American passengers were much better dressed than the English speaking (Canadians, Aussies and US). Given the state of the their economy, I do not know if there will be many Argentines. Nevertheless, my suggestion, try and dress up a little for the gala nights.
  17. We have sailed out of Fort Lauderdale four times. We usually stay in a hotel along 17th Street, Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites, etc. The first time we took the free hotel shuttle from the airport and the shuttle from the hotel to the cruise ship. When we took the "free" hotel shuttle we had to wait almost an hour, boarded in a crowd, and I had to stand. As a result there was a long line at check in. The next day we had booked seats on the hotel shuttle at 11:00 AM. There was a crowd waiting to board, and we had a hot ride to the ship. Again we had to deal with a crowd getting off the bus. The next departure (two years later) we used a cab (pre-Uber) from the airport and from the hotel. No crowds (but there was a line for cabs), air conditioned cab, and help with our bags. In the last few years we have used a cab from the airport and Uber/Lyft from the hotel. No problems. The Uber/Lyft/taxi was about $15, less than two shuttle tickets. I have negative reviews about Uber/taxi services, but our experiences were positive.
  18. We have sailed out of Civatavecchia on HAL twice. The first time we took the HAL shuttle. We did a lot of waiting. First we had to wait for the bus after our flight landed. Second we had to wait for other passengers from other flights to arrive. We were loading a 44 passenger coach. Finally our group was checking in at the ship at the same time. The second time we took a taxi. This was in 2018, but the taxi cost was about the same as for two persons for the shuttle. There was no problem finding a taxi. When we arrived (1 PM or so) at the port, we were ahead of the bus and almost no wait.
  19. We were on the Noordam in October and November, 2022 from San Diego to Sydney. We had a crew show during the afternoon of a sea day. We also had a passenger show demonstrating their newly learned ukulele and hula dancing skills. Both shows were fun.
  20. For some of the excursions you will board at one stop and meet the ship one or two stops later. This is especially true for the North Cape excursions.
  21. You can do the Holland America Voyage of the Vikings. I am not sure about the 2023 itinerary, but in 2019 we left from Boston, visited the Maritimes, Iceland and Norway, and ended in Rotterdam. After a day in Rotterdam, we reversed the itinerary and ended in Boston. Otherwise you could leave from FLL on Holland America in the spring,, spend the summer in Europe and come back in the fall. There are worse ways of spending the summer. We have done six transatlantic in the past ten years. We have to fly one way ( Icelandair seems to have the best one way fares).
  22. We have sailed twice with a group of ten. We had anytime dining and gathered at 8 PM. Absolutely no problem. The first night staff seated us at a large table, and that was our table for the rest of the cruises (7 day cruises to Alaska). We got to know our wait staff and they got to know us. It might be a problem if your group wants to eat earlier, but you can ask. Late dining seems to always be less crowded than the earlier times.
  23. There is a reason why aquarium class cabins are less expensive than upper deck cabins, the upper deck cabins offer a better experience. The lower deck cabins can be darker because of the smaller windows. There is more noise. Even if you are tall enough to look out of the windows, you are looking at the water surface. I personally think the better experience is worth the added cost.
  24. We have taken two Viking River Cruises, Bucharest to Amsterdam (21 days in 2019) and Basel to Amsterdam (7 days in 2021). On both boats we used the laundry service. We had no problems or complaints. In the morning we would stuff the bag with dirty clothes, fill out the form and leave for the cabin attendant. Laundry would be back that evening or the next day. We do a lot of cruising, so we do not take anything delicate, shrinkable or not colorfast. We take clothes that we have run though our washing machine at home.
  25. If your schedule permits, I would try to arrive in Europe a week early. In October, 2022 we did Basel to Amsterdam on Viking River. We flew into Paris 10 days before departure. Our experience is that the first two or three days after a US-Europe flight time for recovering from jet lag. In 2022 we took a train from Paris to Basel, overnighted in Basel and then got on the boat. There were several people who flew into Zurich, and started the cruise immediately. It seemed they were not fully in the swing of things for a couple of days. I would also add that you should be prepared for rain. Viking has umbrella's available, but waterproof walking shoes and a rain jacket are helpful.
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