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  1. Our memory of Capt. Turner is from 2010 on the Zuiderdam in the Caribbean. We were just getting into cruising, and were considering a transatlantic on that tiny ship, the Prinsendam. Capt. Turner sang her praises, saying she was much more seaworthy for that type of voyage than the larger ships, and that he had sailed her as captain, too. We signed up for that voyage while on the Zuiderdam, and never looked back. We have Capt. Turner to thank/blame for 2 voyages on the Prinsendam and our status now as HAL 5 star Mariners. He was everywhere on the Zuiderdam and one of the friendliest captains we've met in the fleet. I'm sad we won't get the chance to sail with him again, as our paths never crossed after that first, indelible impression.
  2. You can look at Tours by Locals. Very reputable, I've used them all over the world with good results. Not the cheapest option, but you can find a guide with a vehicle that can handle your luggage as well. I've booked a half day with them during our in transit day in Auckland.
  3. Thanks for the response, but I really meant to ask about Oban (Half Moon Bay). I've had one or two other independent tours where they did not offer a refund if you didn't make it. It's not unheard of, especially in some of the smaller ports.
  4. Sorry folks, I put the wrong header on the last post. I will try to get it removed. My question is really regarding Oban, NZ. I am hating that I can't edit/ delete after less than half an hour since I posted the erroneous message. As I stated, we will be arriving in OBAN at the end of February. Along with another couple, we are looking to hire a charter tour. The issue is that the company will offer a full refund only if you cancel 48 hours or more prior to the tour. So if the captain says we don't stop, we would be outta luck. I'm not asking for opinions on whether that's okay, what I want to know is the experience of those who have sailed to Oban before. Is this a port that ships usually make, or one often missed? Thanks for any experience/input.
  5. We will be arriving in Akaroa in late February. I have contacted a charter boat company, and they do not offer a refund if you cancel with less than 48 hours notice. SO that leaves me to ask if that port is often missed, or do most ships make it in? I realize there is no guarantee, but would like to have some idea of the odds before booking . Thanks!
  6. We are stopping in Oban, NZ on our upcoming cruise. It is a tender port, and we arrive in Half Moon Bay. Most boat tours seem to go out of Golden Bay, which is about a 20 minute walk. Does anyone know if HAL offers a shuttle from the one bay to the other? Or if the town perhaps offers a shuttle? One tour company offers a shuttle service for $12 NZ pp round trip. Not outrageous, but just wondering if anyone knows the shuttle situation there.
  7. We will be in Port Chalmers on the Maasdam in February, and I am planning on taking the Taieri Gorge train independently. Does HAL offer a shuttle into Dunedin, or are there taxis at the port? If HAL does a shuttle, does anyone recall if there was a charge, and perhaps the cost?
  8. I have a tendency to sort my items by cold or warm wash bags (the joy of 5 star free laundry!), and low dry or warm dry. I write it in BIG letters and have had no issues. As for lost items, we had one shirt that wasn't ours show up in our laundry, but it found it's way home. One of Bill's shirts disappeared, but was found within 24 hours. I am not sure how they do it, but they are very good at ferreting out misplaced items. They are also honest. Once Bill left a sizeable amount of cash in his pants pocket, and it was returned. We sent a "thank you" reward to the laundry, and heard from our room steward that the person in the laundry who discovered and returned the cash was very grateful for the "tip".
  9. Thanks for the preview of our June departure on the Maasdam. It will be our first time sailing out of/in to San Francisco. That's one of the reasons we booked, along with 4 new ports in Alaska and our first ever visit to Oregon.
  10. We have done as Krazy Kruisers suggests. For our upcoming cruise, I have paid for our anniversary night. Usually there is no issue with asking the Pinnacle manager to use one of our freebies for a reservation night and getting it refunded. The only problem is if there is a special event in the Pinnacle, such as a pop up of Sel de Mer or a special dinner (Cellar Master/Master Chef, etc.) on the night you really wish to attend. Whether or not you book in advance, that can be an issue.
  11. We are heading to Homer in June, and I have a couple of questions. 1. Do to school bus shuttles from the pier to town stop at the Islands and Oceans museum? We might choose to go there if the shuttle gets us at least close by. 2. Mako's water taxi lists a wildlife tour to Gull Island and looking for wildlife for 2 hours, minimum of 4 people. HAL is offering a tour that sounds pretty similar, though they say it runs 2.5 hours. Does anyone know if Mako's is the company handling this for the cruise line(s)?
  12. In Juneau you can do Mendenhall on your own, as well as the tram. The latter is great on a nice day. There are trails on the mountain and great views. Our first visit it was so foggy you could barely see where the tram was going up the mountain. We did a whale watch on that first Juneau visit, and even that was pretty limited visibility. Sitka is a great town to walk around on your own. If the tram to the totem pole park is operating, that is a help. The park is worth visiting, but a bit of a hike from the dock. We are returning there this summer, and I've heard good things about the Fortress of the Bear and the raptor center, so we might go there. It appears our cruise isn't offering an excursion there this time. In Ketchikan, a flight with Island Wings is amazing. We went to see the black bears on a rainy day, and our trip back was a real adventure since they could not fly in to pick us up. We still made the sailaway with time to spare, due to their creative problem solving, so I really am impressed with them.
  13. We have never tried salmon/halibut fishing from a boat and want to try on our upcoming Alaska cruise. There are several decent ports for this. If anyone can give suggestions on what might be the best choice in mid-late June, that would be great! We are stopping in Ketchikan, Sitka, Homer and Kodiak. We've been to all but Kodiak before, and we'll be too early to watch the bears there.
  14. Mysticsailor, I like your idea! We did the AA in 2014 and thought about doing it again. Due to the length of the cruise, it was definite that many aboard were 4 or 5 star Mariners. We made a couple of friends on that trip that we still stay in touch with. So let's tell HAL that we miss the itinerary and would love to see it return. It really was a great experience, and we wouldn't mind repeating it someday. Yes, we have other places to see we have not been, but many of the ports on the AA are well worth a second viewing.
  15. Your post is a bit confusing. First you state you are ambulatory, but use a cane. In the next paragraph you state you use a wheelchair, not a cane. Be that as it may, I think the big concern here is scooters, and people who cannot lift their legs much at all. Perhaps Cienfuegos has a lot of tidal action and at times the tender dock has a very large gap from the side of the tender to the level of the dock. I have seen on several occasions where the dockside workers and those on the tender almost had to lift the able-bodied to get them from one level to another. I've seen them struggle to move scooters on/off the tender. Frankly, at one port I was shocked they let scooters on the tenders, as it looked like a great way for crew members on the tender and ashore to injure themselves permanently. It was very difficult to disembark the tender if you were ablebodied, and dang near impossible for some. So that is likely why the disclaimer is there. I was actually glad to see it the first time I noted the written option for the captain to disallow scooters and those who would not be able to safely disembark from leaving on a tender. Safety of everyone is important, and that includes the crew and portside workers.
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