Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Posts posted by groovechick

  1. Thanks Shipshape. I'd already told them that it wasn't advisable to try Rome on their own, and Pompeii/Herculaneum is really only if the ship's excursions sell out. We just got a quote from a very reputable company for a private tour of Pompeii/Veusvius/Herculaneum but it was way beyond their budget (and mine, come to that!). They just ned to get their finger out and book what they can.

  2. Thanks Pensioncruiser. That's what son (who is organising everything) is intending to do, but he was so disappointed to find that the Pompeii/Herculaneum excursions seem to be sold out because he's wanted to visit there since he was a child.  He's done enough cruises to know the risks of DIY; our first couple of family cruises we stuck to ship's excursions bu then tended to go DIY as much cheaper and usually better. We DIY'd the Caribbean without mishap, but all the operators were very carefully researched beforehand.

    • Like 1
  3. Son is taking girlfriend on a cruise for their 1st holiday together. Son has cruised several times with the family, mainly on P&O, girlfriend has not cruised. Girlfriend is one of those who has to be informed of every last detail before she goes anywhere and is expecting son to provide said info as he's cruised before, regardless of the fact he's never been on Marella. So son has tasked me with finding out the info for him! 😄 So please be kind to a Marella virgin...

    The cruise is on Discovery 2, flying to Palma, departing in 2 weeks' time.


    1. The checking in/boarding pass/luggage tag process seems to be pretty similar to P&O, but I'm not clear about luggage, as I've seen conflicting info on here. If flying out to Palma, do you check in luggage in UK and not see it again until it arrives at your cabin, or do you have to collect it at Palma, take it on the coach transfer, and it's then transferred from the coach to your cabin?


    2. Are Marella still doing Dress to Impress nights? I've read it's usually on the first sea day. Girlfriend loves to dress up and I believe was thinking of going full evening gown, but I said I thought that might be a bit OTT. Advice please?


    3. Cabin plug sockets - UK, US or European? And are the hairdryers any good, or is it better to take your own?


    3. Dining arrangements - are you allocated an MDR, although not a time/table, or do you just turn up to whichever one you fancy? Is there are charge for room service?


    4. Excursions: if you've pre-booked excursions, are you issued with tickets and will they be waiting for you in your cabin? When you set off on the excursion, do you just hand over the ticket to board the coach or whatever? If an excursion sells out quickly and there is a lot of demand, are Marella likely to put on extra coaches/sell extra tickets? 


    5. The son & girlfriend are thinking of having a beach day in Ajaccio. Is there a nice beach near the cruise port or would they have to go further afield?


    6. Any recommendations of reliable companies you've used that offer transfers to and guided tours of Pompeii and/or Herculaneum? Son desperately wanted to do this (one of main reasons for booking this cruise) but the excursions appear to be sold out. When do excursions go on sale, as I wondered if it was showing "sold out" from the previous cruise?


    7. They are thinking of doing the excursions to Rome where you have a guide with you for the first part, then have time on your own. Is Rome fairly compact, easy to navigate and see additional sites, or are attractions widely spaced? How is Rome for pickpockets (son is well trained, but girlfriend less careful)? And what if they want to grab drinks/ices/snacks - are prices extortionate? I presume it's best to find somewhere in a quiet side street rather than a café on a main square? How easy is it to get to the Trevi Fountain - is it near other sites of interest? 


    Thank you very much in advance for your patience dealing with all these questions.

  4. 23 hours ago, DamianG said:


    34 years in financial services, Brexit preparations (reducing UK costs to free up funding for an EU based office) did for me.



    So sorry to hear this Damian. Over the years DH has been made redundant 3 times from different sectors (financial services software, telecomms software and retail), most recently just over a year ago. I'll keep everything crossed for you but I'm sure you'll be snapped up before too long.

    • Thanks 1
  5. On 7/20/2020 at 4:14 PM, DamianG said:


    Apart from the Captain I'm making up the staff names as I go along (with a theme linking them all) but it is nice to know that there is a real Senior Waiter called Sachin who is excellent at his job!


    On Britannia I remember a Sachin who manned the omelette station. I had a cricketing conversation with him because of Sachin Tendulkar. I know sod all about cricket really, but can bluff my way as DH and FIL (father-in-law) are big cricket fans. I think I got away with it. If I didn't Sachin was too polite to say! 

    • Like 1
    • Haha 1
  6. On 6/30/2020 at 9:35 PM, grapau27 said:

    I am so sorry to hear of your son's mental issues and his suicide attempts which are sometimes a cry for help and hopefully you can help him through it.

    Good luck to his friend with his new venture which your son might get involved with and might help his depression.



    Thank you Graham. My son can't get involved in the glamping business because that is in Derbyshire, while we live in Hertfordshire, and my son hopes to return to university in late September. 

    • Like 1
  7. (Abbreviated) cruise story. 19 November-3 December 1994, Sea Princess, captain Colin Campbell, cruise from Jordan to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Greece . We were seated on the Purser's table so info we got was from a reliable source. It was the first time Sea Princess was based in a foreign port (i.e. not returning to Southampton at the end of each cruise), they were trialling it, so having teething problems. 

    Flight out to Aqaba delayed IIRC, so arrived on board very late and had a very early start next morning for our tour. Jordan was uneventful, Petra was stunning.


    We were supposed to dock at a port for tours to St Catherine's monastery, Sinai, but couldn't because of strong winds and a dust storm which reduced visibility to nearly zero.


    In the months running up to the holiday there had been a lot of terrorist activity in Egypt, with bombings and shootings of tourists (my mum didn't want me to go). We were docked at Safaga, a mainly industrial port right on the southern tip, so all tours started really early as it was a 3 hour or more drive to get to the main sights.  

    We had to be on the dock at about 5 am to be escorted by the Egyptian Army across the desert, there we were, all sitting on the coaches, waiting 2 hours for the army to to turn up! Escorted across the desert by jeeps with machine guns mounted on them. Our tour to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings was uneventful, but the tour to Cairo the next day was another matter. Our tour guide tried to persuade the whole coach to divert to his cousin's jewellery shop somewhere in the Cairo back streets and it took some very forceful refusals before he got the message, which caused him to sulk and pretty much give up his guiding duties. There was a pre-arranged point for the coaches to meet in a square and form up in convoy for the return journey, but for some reason, once we'd boarded, our driver decided to drive to a patch of waste ground and sit there, where we were sitting duck targets for any terrorists, with our army escort nowhere to be seen!  Eventually the other coaches and the jeeps turned up and we set off. Our driver had been seen having an altercation outside a café with one of the other drivers whilst we were sightseeing. Unfortunately they decided to continue this on the drive home, with the other driver racing his coach up behind ours, nearly ramming us, and blinding our driver with his lights. Our driver would then speed to get away, or make erratic swerving manoeuvres. At the time we were driving along a narrow road, with a sheer rock face one side and a steep drop to the valley floor on the other. At one point the coach tilted so we were on one set of wheels only, then rocked back! All this in the pitch black, late at night. We finally got back to the ship, exhausted, and not just from the long day. Our nerves were somewhat shredded!


    The ship started to run out of water because water we had been due to take on in one of the ports (presumably there was no on-board desalination plant) was not fit for consumption/use, so we had to sail on to another port. As a result drinking and bathing water was restricted and we were encouraged to drink other beverages, with the result that Sea Princess also started to run out of beer, wine etc., because she couldn't restock in the same way as when based in S'oton. 


    She also started to run out of food because they had not received the provisions they expected. Produce such as salad and fruit had been ordered, they were supplied with turnips. As I said, it was the first time Sea Princess was based elsewhere other than Southampton and local suppliers tended to supply what they had, not what was requested. There was nearly a riot when they were down to the last wheel of Stilton (I'm not joking!). The purser was a lovely guy, called Ian I think, who lived in my home area of the Peak District, so we had quite a bit in common. It seems quite ironic that both he and Captain Turnbull live just about as far from the sea as you can get!


    In Israel we went on a tour to Jerusalem, but were delayed getting there because of major road works on the way from Haifa. Our tour guide thought it would be a good idea to take a short cut through the Muslim quarter, just when all the worshippers were leaving the mosques after Friday midday prayers. There was an absolute stampede of people through the narrow streets and unfortunately they took every opportunity to steal cameras, watches, jewellery, bags, etc. I got badly crushed, which was rather worrying as I was three months pregnant with our daughter and had to be checked over when we got back to the ship, but no harm done apart from some rather nasty bruises (daughter's just had her 25th birthday). It took the shine off the tour though because I was worried and suffering stomach pain, so I couldn't fully enjoy visiting the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Nativity, etc.


    From Heraklion we were supposed to sail to Piraeus and have a day in Athens but we couldn't get out of the harbour due to strong winds and snow (the ship was smashed into the dock a couple of times), so our cruise was cut short and we were flown home from Heraklion - absoluty no mention of compensation, OBC for future cruises or anything of the kind.


    I'm sure there are other little bits I've forgotten, but those were the "highlights". We just accepted that it was part and parcel of the holiday and looked on it as an adventure, if not the relaxing holiday we had planned!


  8. 19 hours ago, AndyMichelle said:

    Oh no!! Poor you, that puts our little niggles into perspective. 

    Try to stay strong and help him through these horrible times, the poor soul. 

    Nice people are welcome on our jaunts and glamping in the Peaks sounds amazing, but my guess is he will be very busy without our help... 

    Just off to say a prayer for your family, stay strong. 


    Thank you Andy. I do hope Christian (my friend's son) is successful, but there's a lot of competition in that market. I've never tried camping or been keen on the idea, but if it drums up a bit of business for him I'll give it a try. Couldn't be worse than an awful B&B I was accommdated in many years ago, when working in Germany...

    You like cruise stories? We've got a humdinger about our 2nd ever cruise, it was eventful to put it mildly - ran out of water, nearly ran out of food, desert crashes, punch ups, missed ports...

  9. 23 hours ago, Adawn47 said:

    I'm sorry to hear of your son's struggles, but please take heart. I can fully understand how you are feeling right now. When our daughter was just 15 we began to realise there was a problem. We also had to deal with many serious attempted suicides. Since diagnosis, therapy and correct medication she's doing well. Yes, she can still sometimes have what she calls her 'moments' but with our phone chats she comes round. She's now 53, a mother and grandma to 2. So stay strong and always be there for support. A loving mum can sometimes be the best tonic.



    Thank you Avril. He has had a really rough few years - a high performance swimmer tipped for the top by a former Olympic coach, then diagnosed with a serious heart condition caused by an autonomic nervous system malfunction which has made competing and training really hard and impacted his GCSEs and A levels. This and other issues led to his mental health problems; he made it to uni and the high performance swimming team he'd been accepted on to kicked him out because of his depression. The final straw was finding out his girlfriend of 3 years had been two-timing him for some time. I'm lucky that we have a very close relationship and I've been able to do as much as possible to help him. The counselling is definitely starting to help - he had to drop out of his first year at uni, but he is determined to return in September. It is so good and encouraging to hear of people who have come out the other side. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

    • Like 2
  10. 29 minutes ago, ann141 said:

    I am sorry to hear of your sons struggle with mental health problems.I hope the counselling he is receiving continues to help and improve things for him.We live in Chesterfield and on a recent trip to Matlock we noticed a new glamping business.I wonder if it is the one your friends son set up?

    Thank you for your good wishes Ann.

     No, the only info I have is that the business is in Grindleford. My sister and niece live in Wingerworth.

  11. 10 minutes ago, P&O SUE said:

    Sorry to hear about your son’s struggles, it must be even more difficult in these times to get help too.

    Thank you P&O Sue. Indeed, although in a strange way lockdown has probably been good for him, in that it has kept him away from the people/things which were/are at the root of many of his problems and given him time to learn to cope.

    • Like 3
  12. 6 minutes ago, pete14 said:

    Sorry to hear about your son’s issues. I hope he is receiving the professional help he seems to need to go alongside the support you are undoubtedly providing. 

    It is a pity you can’t give any more information about your son’s friend’s glamping business. The Peak District is not a million miles away from us and a short break would be good. I don’t suppose he has called it ‘groovechick glamping’ or anything else so recognisable. Some of us on here have virtual shares in a virtual caravan which would lower the tone of any glamping site. Beware contact from a Mr Kalos! 😎😇


    Thank you Pete14. I have asked my friend to let me have the details/link to website. I will DM you if she comes through with them. Mr Kalos will not get a warm welcome - no caravan pitching allowed, plus I think he'd need a turbo boost to make it up and down the hills!


  13. 11 minutes ago, DamianG said:


    I'm so sorry to hear of your son's struggles and hope that you and him can find the right coping strategies. Sincere best wishes for the future.


    Thank you Kalos and DamianG. He has been trying to get help and support from the NHS for 14 months. He has tried several antidepressants which were ineffective and gave him horrendous side effects. He has already been waiting 12 months for counselling and has been told it will be at least another 6, so we are paying privately, which we can ill afoord, but what can you do when it's your son's health and wellbeing? We are starting to see some improvement, so fingers crossed. 

    • Like 3
  14. I've just caught up on this thread and can I say what a wonderful lot you are! Thank you for giving me more laughs than I've had in a very long time. It's been a horrendous few months and not just because of the virus (our teenage son is struggling with depression and anxiety and has made 2 serious suicide attempts). We cruise rarely (every couple of years) so I don't post here much, but I love reading the threads. I would very much be up for joining your cruise withdrawal club Andy. Quite agree about the beauty of the UK. We have holidayed in quite a few places and do lots of days out, but there is so much more to see. 

    I don't know if I'm allowed to put this and if not mods please edit, but if anyone fancies glamping in the beautiful Peak District (my home patch), my friend's son lost his job and home in London due to coronavirus and has gone "home" and set up a glamping business with a friend. He's hardworking, enterprising and deserves a bit of luck...

    • Like 1
  15. I would choose Azura every time. We were on the Britannia Christmas cruise in her maiden season and whilst we had an amazing cruise, family opinion was divided on the ship - son loved it, husband thought it was ok, me and daughter not so keen. Speaking personally I was underwhelmed by the decor, thought the cabin (we had an inside) was dingy and depressing and the ship generally lacked soul. In her favour her buffet is better laid out and easier to circulate in than Azura's, the adult only area is nice, the in-cabin TV service is better, but I didn't like the positioning of the Glasshouse. I don't think the extra £1500 is worth it. 

  16. On 4/30/2020 at 5:21 PM, Harry Peterson said:

    I think I'll keep out of this before I'm accused of running multiple profiles!  However, I did say that it was a combination of the unions and bad management - a recipe for disaster, which is exactly what it proved to be.


    If only unions and management (and government) could learn to work together in this country, as they do in Germany, rather than constantly fighting for party political reasons we'd be in the healthy financial state that Germany's in instead of the state we're in.  I don't recall seeing ten years of austerity cuts in Germany - they have more sense, and realise that cutting investment in the future and infrastructure is economic madness.

    The unions and government don't work together in Germany, the unions dictate to the government. The unions are very closely allied with the political parties (as in France). Unions like IG Metall make the rules. Germany has indeed had austerity cuts, growth fell significantly in 2019 and social spending/investment has been virtually zero for the last 10 years under Angela Merkel's no new debts policy. The east, always the poor relation, has been hardest hit, with poverty reaching its highest levels in 2019 since reunification, rising work insecurity and earnings inequality.

    • Like 1
  17. 15 hours ago, Vampiress88 said:

    that’s good to know John. 

    will try and get them to go separate first. 

    I need date night. 


    15 hours ago, terrierjohn said:

    I think if you ask the kids club organisers they will put both girls in the same group if you insist.

    Not in my experience John, unless it's a cruise with very few children, or few in that particular age group. They do sometimes combine groups for activities, though, especially in the evening.

  18. Don't be put off by Bajamar beach. If you dock where we did it's directly across the harbour, in a fairly industrialised area and with the black sand doesn't look very attractive, but when you get there it's really nice. Quiet, spotlessly clean, friendly locals. Despite being so close to the port the water is brilliantly clean. Basic amenities - small booth selling drinks, showers, toilets. Very few sunshades though and I don't remember loungers.

  19. A handful of large clothes pegs or the purpose-made towel clips to hold your towel onto the sun lounger/rinsed out swimming cossies onto a lounger or chair back to prevent them flapping around or blowing away in the breeze. Matalan often have them coming up to the summer holidays, or TK Maxx. They are also available online. At a pinch you can use big hair clips (the kind with 2 sets of teeth and a spring).


    Coloured baggage tags or something to help you identify your luggage quickly in the sea of bags at Southampton when you disembark, esoecially if, like ours, your lugge is black Somsinite, so looks identical to everyone else's.

  20. 7 minutes ago, Britboys said:

    I hope I am not the only 'freak' here... 😁

    Fellow 'freak' here. We've cruised "en famille" and not taken half of the things mentioned here. I don't want/expect to have every home comfort available when I go away. I can live without a certain type of biscuit for a week or two. I understand everyone's different and if you have the luggage space and want to take whatever it is, then go for it.

    • Like 1
  21. I haven't read through all of this thread, so this question might have been addressed already, but do you think that prices on Aurora are increasing because P&O see her as the ship that attracts the more traditional, frequently retired cruisers with high disposable income, whereas the new ships are the equivalent of "stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap"?

    I would be disappointed if Aurora were to become unaffordable for us as she's my favourite. I didn't like Britannia so doubt I would like Iona,  and I enjoy the formal nights as I never get to put on the full glam day to day. Where do people see Azura and Ventura fitting into this? I quite liked Azura, never been on Ventura.

    I do wish people would not get so hung up on the Butlins at sea issue and just take people as they find them.  We have met some quite unpleasant and uncouth "traditional" cruisers and, as I think I may have mentioned before, on our penultimate cruise we met an extended family at whom many would have looked askance - tats, piercings, unusual haircuts, didn't bother with formal nights, but respected the rules about which areas you could use)  - and were the nicest, kindest, most generous, fun, intelligent company and whose young children had impeccable manners.  

    • Like 2
  22. 35 minutes ago, crimson moon said:

    My wife and I have sailed many times with P & O as a couple, however, this summer we are travelling with our daughter, son in law and granddaughter who will be seven for the first time.

    DD has booked a stateroom with an upper Pullman but is a little concerned that as our granddaughter is a bit of a wriggler in her sleep she may slip beyond the bed guard.


    I know that extra bed guards can be obtained but my question is do we need to request one prior to sailing or do we just ask the cabin steward when we board? 



    IIRC your granddaughter would have to wriggle right down the bed to escape the bed guard. I seem to remember that they run all along the side apart from where you put the ladder. Now if it's throwing pillows overboard in his sleep as my son did... I had many a rude awakening!

  23. Food themed nights in the buffet are pretty much most nights, or every other night. Dressing up themed nights are as Andy says, the only one anyone really bothers with is black and white night, which is one of the formal nights. If there's a Tropical Night the gentlemen tend to wear brightly coloured Hawaiian shirts (the waiters wear them instead of their usual uniforms); it's a casual night so easy for ladies to do tropical!

    • Like 2
  • Create New...