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alicat58

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Posts posted by alicat58

  1. Hi Jim

     

    Thanks. Got it! No mention of my two favourites anywhere though. I like an Aperol spritz or a Hugo spritz. Nevermind.

     

    By the way on page 38 of your Singapore to Downunder trip. Longterm lurker.

     

    Alicat(aka Riana)

  2. 12 hours ago, Jim_Iain said:

    Try the current sailing.   The menus are loaded.    For a good Idea of prices - Cellar Master -  Pool Bar for good list of representative prices for beer and basic drinks etc.

     

    Hi Jim, how do you do that i.e. look at the current sailing of the ship. We are going on Infinity in february.

  3. I would appreciate if anyone could post some current bar menus to give me an idea what is available. We have the classic package which seems quite limited. We have mainly wine and like a coffee.

    Thanks for any help.

     

    Alicat

  4. On 4/4/2023 at 9:08 PM, Beamafar said:


    👍

     

    So, tonight was ‘Tropical’ night.  I don’t remember it being a theme, before, but there were quite a few in colourful garb,

     

    We went to Guest Services to ask if we would receive a rebate for today’s unused portion of the Premium drinks package due to being stuck in this … place.  Just received the following in our cabin
     

    A3BB9003-C4FE-4A64-A922-0C8EE1D78C94.thumb.jpeg.9af53cc1e5d5b578d0532b062c8485cf.jpeg

     


    I’ve checked our onboard account and we have, indeed, received €80 OBC. 

    Not sure how I could not quote your whole post but WOW! you got a refund for that Saudi day. We had TWO on Splendida in December. Like you we organised ourselves prior to getting into Saudi waters and toasted them off out balcony watching that self same tower in Jeddah. Felt a bit like naughty kids but hey-ho. Those were the worst ports ever.

     

    Enjoying your posts Bea.

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  5. On 1/8/2023 at 8:11 PM, kessdarln said:

    Thank you for the review.  On this cruise does Port or Starboard matter for a balcony? 

    I have no idea. I mix my left and right up all the time so no idea which is which. I think our cabin had an even number. In Yahnbar we had a nice view towards the restaurant area where all the action was. Cannot remember the other ports. Sohkna looks post apocalyptic so I really do not think it matters. It was also extremely dusty out. There was a quarry or something next to the port.

     

    Sorry I cannot be of more help.

     

    Alicat

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  6. On 1/2/2023 at 12:06 PM, stephenSJ said:

    Was the Saudi visa cost reimbursed because you had a package from MSC that should include cost of visa? We are going on  this trip later in January as a fly cruise but booked with a travel agent and i have seen no mention of being able to be reimbursed for the visa we have to buy anywhere on msc website. 

     

    Hi stephenSJ

     

    We used a TA but they booked the MSC cruise and fly for us. Hubby found the bit about reimbursing somewhere in the small print about getting visas for this cruise. Assume it will be same for you as you are also in the UK. Might be different if booked from other countries. I doubt that he kept the info as he actually printed it out and if I remember the guest service people on the ship took the print out.

     

    Good luck finding it. I suggest you search around and take a print out with just in case they want to wriggle out of repaying you.

     

    Alicat

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  7. Back again.

     

    Regarding the Saudi visa. We got the eVisa and it cost $130 each if I remember correctly. You need this as far as I know, even if you don't get off the ship. I might be confused with the Egypt one here. For Egypt you need a multi entry visa even if you don't get off the ship. Pretty sure of that. They we selling the additional visas on board for $40 I think. When getting the Saudi visa follow the link through the MSC info page for Red Se cruises. There are many middle men doing these and clearly they charge more. We managed to get the Saudi visa money back from MSC because we booked a fly cruise. It was a massive performance though as the staff had no idea about this. Fortunately hubby took a copy of the webpage and they emailed head office and we got the money on the disembarkation day. They would have happily not stuck to their contract.

     

    Back to the ports:

    Yanbu: Once again arranged an excursion. Expensive yet again. We were on a coach to and ancient village close to the mountains travelling through desert. The ancient village was a cluster of mud huts and a water source which looked pretty modern. There were a few farmers around this area with small date farms. We then went back to Yanbu and walked around a bit. Total waste of time. The ship docks right next to the "old town". You can get off and stroll about yourself. It was quite lively the evening as there are lots of restaurants in the area and a small market as well. We did not get off the ship.

     

    Sokhna: This is the port for Cairo and the pyramids. We stayed on the ship as we have been to the pyramids in the past(hubby twice). 

     

    Port security and customs: 

     

    I have already mentioned boarding in Egypt.

     

    There was not much in Aqaba but they took our passports and returned them the following day. We just filed by the emigration officers. Same on the way back. Not a soul there.

     

    Jeddah: Face to face with an emigration officer. They take your photo and finger prints on arrival. On return to the ship once again face to face and one finger print. 

     

    Yanbu: Just walked through.

     

    Leaving Hurghada was beyond a joke. You walk past a chap who checks your visa. Then you go through the scanners with your cases and get patted down(fondled 🙂). Book your cases in a the desk. Go though emigration who looks at your passport, go through the scanners again and get patted down again and then you think thank goodness that is done and they do the same for UK flights before you board. Did not look whether I had liquids in my bag though and that is still in place.

     

    Final thoughts:

     

    Remember all the bars are alcohol free or closed when in Saudi and do not open until they leave Saudi waters. We got some wine before and kept the bottles in our cabin and borrowed a bottle opener from a bar man. This might not be an issue for some but we like our wine.

     

    If you have absolutely no other way of seeing Petra, Luxor or the pyramids this cruise will be great. I think a land based visit will be much better. The excursions are just to rushed for these amazing places.

     

    Once I have overcome my disgust of being patted down so many times I might go to Luxor and stay for a few days.

     

    What is going to happen in Petra after it was evacuated today after a flash flood I am not sure. 

     

    We have been on a cruise a few years ago that went to Dubai, Fujairah and Muscat and we did not enjoy it. I think visiting the Middle East is a personal thing and some might love it. I think it is also a good option for Muslims to visit Mecca and Medina. I do not think non-Muslims could go on these excursions. Maybe Nuvolablue can help. I noticed he gave some info on the Roll call and it looks as if Petra was actually cancelled last week because of the Truckers strike.

     

    Well, that's it. Now looking forward going back on the Virtuosa early March AND retirement in July. 

     

    Alicat

     

    If there are an

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  8. I hope everyone had a good Christmas.

     

    A bit about the ports:

     

    Luxor: I have mentioned before that we boarded in Safaga and I was unfortunately unable to go to Luxor.

     

    Aqaba: Petra is supposed to be 2 hours from the port. I thought it would be an early arrival and off the ship quickly to spend as much time as possible at this amazing place. How wrong! We met in the theatre at 10:10. We docked a little before that. Then everyone on the coaches ready to go. Not a chance. We have to go in convoy. 10 odd coaches. Oh , and there is a truckers strike on(I know MSC could not have predicted this) so they are concerned about security. Fair enough. Not seen any unrest or for that matter many trucks. The 2 hour journey took 4 hours with multiple road blocks and delays.

     

    We got to Petra about 15:00 I think. We were supposed to have lunch then but you only get to Petra once in a life time I think. We had the worst tour guide ever. She sprouted a large amount of utter nonsense about biblical stuff, geology etc. Gave minimal instructions getting off the coach with a result we had no idea where she was. Did not wait for everyone to get off and then start the walk. Same thing walking in Petra. She'd march off and then stop and start talking with only a handful being able to catch up or hear what she said. Did not really stop much along the way to discuss what was there. Once we got to the Treasury she said if you want you can walk back now and go and have lunch but be back at the coach at 16:45!!! Nothing about seeing the Rose city and it took probably 50 minutes to get to the Treasury. 

     

    We decided to forgo the expensive lunch we paid for as part of the excursion and spent more time walking around towards the amphitheatre before we headed back.

     

    I am very unfit and a bit overweight. The plan was to get fit for Petra but unfortunately I got Covid at the end of October and was ill for three weeks. That put a spanner in the works for the get fit plan.

     

    Walking into Petra is down hill and did not seem steep at all. Just very dusty. Believe me, it's steep. I thought I was going to die walking back. Of course you can get a buggy or horse but seeing we marched into the site at pace we thought we'd walk back and take more photos.

     

    Lunch on the way back was a packet of ketchup flavoured crisps and a kitkat.

     

    There are clean restrooms but no loo paper. Remember to take some tissues ladies.

     

    Two things to take from our experience. DON'T book the lunch. Either get the packed lunch deal or pick something up in one of the shops/restaurants on the way out. Also make sure you take water and buy water for the way back.

     

    As usual there were stragglers that did not pitch till nearly 17:30. Then we were again in another convoy of 20+ coaches going back to Aqaba under police escort with flashing lights. Only one stop this time but took 3 hours.

     

    Jeddah: We booked an excursion which lasted for 4 hours. It was basically a coach trip along the Corniche with a few sites and then a walking tour with various stops. Supposedly visiting the Unesco heritage site of old Jeddah. We were stopped by a singing group of men(clearly a pre-arranged thing), walked through a "market" and visited a house where people could go for a loo break. It was padded out to the extreme. If I recall this was about £68 pp. 

     

    There was a shuttle bus to the city(I think free) and it is possible to get a map and do this on your own. I would suggest you do and not waste your money on the excursion.

     

    My take on Jeddah. I have never seen so many unneutered cats and pregnant kittens in my life. I am a mad cat lady and this made me extremely sad. I asked the guide about TNR but they sadly do not do this here. If I could load the lot and bring them home I would have. I don't think my old boy(ginger and white nearly 16 year old) would have appreciated it. Don't thing borderforce UK or the husband would have been so keen either.

     

    I'll get back to you tomorrow with a bit more. Bearette more Saudi info tomorrow.

     

    Alicat

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  9. We have recently returned from this cruise. I have not done a cruise review for a long time but would like to share information and our experience of this cruise. I won't be adding photos.

     

    We booked this cruise a few months ago and I was extremely excited about seeing Petra and Luxor. As we have been to the pyramids and the old Cairo museum in the past I was not bothered to see those again. I am aware that the museum has moved to the pyramids. 

     

    We booked a "Fly cruise" through a travel agent. Unfortunately the only option was flying to Hurghada which meant I was unable to visit Luxor. It was an uphill battle to get the tickets issued by MSC and we had to pester the TA for these. We only got our flights about a week prior to the cruise and had to fly a day early. This was not an issue as it was a Saturday and they put  us up in a resort overnight. Why MSC would use Hurghada(Safaga) I have no idea. There are very few direct flights from the UK to this port. We ended being on an Easyjet flight for the 5+ hours flight. Those who live in the UK would know that this is less than ideal.

     

    Visas: We arranged our Egypt E-visas and Saudi visas very easily a couple of weeks prior to leaving.  For those who got the "pending" on the Saudi visa, we also had that,  but then found that the payment was taken and the visas issued within minutes. We did not require a visa for Jordan. This might be different for other countries.

    More on the Saudi visa later.

     

    The info is on the MSC site , just a little hard to find. It might also change from time to time so I suggest look closer to the time of your cruise.

     

    We are Diamond on MSC and yet our boarding time was 16h00. It was quite a rigmarole getting on the ship as well, so be prepared. We had a transfer included. Our chap collected us from the resort and we were taken to Safaga. This took about an hour. We were dropped off at the terminal, did the usual bag drop off and then had to either walk some distance to the ship or wait for a coach to take us. They only let the coaches go once they are full so we decided to walk.

     

    We only just managed to get a Mojito before the bars were closed for an hour for the safety drill. Herding cats sprung to mind as they were still trying to get people to do the safety drill the next day. Like the most cruise lines MSC asked you to watch the video in your cabin, call the number on the screen and go to your muster station to scan your card. Easy-peasy.

     

    Dining times: First sitting was 19h00 and second was 21h30. We were first sitting which was great for us. We were allocated to a table for 6 but managed to change that a few days later. I cannot recall the opening times for the buffet but it stayed open for fairly late because a lot of excursions were long and passengers arrived back too late for the MDR.

     

    Food: As this was a cruise with many Muslin passengers there was no pork of any kind on the ship. The breakfast sausages were either turkey and chicken frankfurters or beef sausages. The bacon was beef and looked pretty unappetising. Due to this there was no Eggs Benedict but Eggs Royale and Eggs Florentine were available.

     

    The food both in the buffet and MDR was pretty good. There were lots of local options as well as the usual MSC fare. I had plenty of the local options and really liked them.

     

    The ship: It was our first time on the Splendida and we really like the ship. She was spotless. The cabins were a bit dark(we had a fantastica balcony on deck 9 midship). The woodwork in the cabins is a very dark brown and the curtains a dark green/teal colour. Our cabin did not have a full couch but a single(uncomfortable) seat. The balcony was bigger than some and had much nicer furniture(sort of plastic rattan). The bathroom had an over bath shower with the dreaded plastic curtain. There were plugs and USB ports at the desk but not at the bedside which I suppose one would expect from an older ship.

     

    I am going to leave things here for now but will add more on the weekend. Unfortunately I have to work to pay for more cruises.

     

    If there are any questions I will answer as best as I can but please give me time to get back to you.

     

    Regards

     

    Alicat

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  10. Disembarked Splendida on Sunday. We managed to get our Saudi visas quite easily before leaving. Just printed them out. Also got a refund from MSC as we had a fly cruise. The customs on arrival was quite intense. Photo and finger prints taken.

     

    I will do a review on our cruise and our impressions. Just need to get some Christmas stuff out of the way and I am also back at work for the next two days.

     

    Alicat

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  11. 23 hours ago, nuvolablue said:

    ooking forward to hearing your experiences of this cruise. I will be doing the same starting on 18 Dec from Safaga for 7 nights.

     

    How are you getting to Safaga Port ?

    We booked a Fly and cruise. We still don't have flight times or tickets. Apparently will get them by the weekend. I assume it will include the transfer from Hurghada to the ship.

  12. Hi Essiesmom and sorry Philk hijacking your thread

     

    I wonder where the info about Egypt ports being cancelled are coming from. There is nothing on the MSC site but that is nothing new as we know. I wondered whether it could have something to do with the Football world cup which starts the 20th of November.

     

    My biggest problem with MSC roll calls are that there are so few English speakers that there is not always a roll call for your dates as well as the multiple embarkation ports of course. That I am used to having cruised with Costa for many years.

     

    Let's hope MSC let all involved know what is potting.

     

    Alicat

  13. Were doing the Red Sea cruise starting 11 Dec. Husband spoke to MSC who said we needed the Egypt visa but can get the Saudi on there. We board in Safaga and also go to Ain Soukhna which is the port for Cairo.

     

    Would be interested to hear what you learn.

     

    Alicat

  14. Gosh, long time since your post and no replies.

     

    Cape Town is pot luck but in general May is not too bad weatherwise. I lived in Cape Town for 16 years and would say June/July were more wet. Nights can be colder but not freezing. A little like the shoulder months in the UK.

     

    The best place for safari's are what used to be called the eastern Transvaal. There are some places closer to Cape Town but you will not have the same experience. It also depends whether you want to go to one of the luxury lodges or Sanparks reserves. There are some places closer o Port Elizabeth both private and Sanparks. There are malaria free areas.

     

    Hope this helps a bit but shout if you want to ask more. I'm not up to date with all that goes as I have been in the UK for more than 22 years.

     

    Alicat

  15. Yes, alcohol will be available for our guests on board MSC Bellissima during her winter season in the Red Sea as it is similarly on our cruise ships that have in the past operated in the Gulf and will do so also in winter 2021/22. In respect to the Saudi Law, alcoholic drinks will not be served during the stays in Saudi Arabian ports. Our long list of non-alcoholic drinks will be enriched to offer even more tastier drinking choices when the ship stays in Saudi Arabian ports.

     

    From MSC FAQs. Presume they will do the same.

  16. 57 minutes ago, ohnonotmeagain said:

    Horizon. We where directed to the side entrance in ?? baggage claim,[ breeze block walls, no permanent check ins] NOT through the main entrance

    That does sound like the baggage claim. Walked through it when disembarking in July. We entered through the main entrance on 3/7. There were so many people just standing about. I don't think they were MSC because of some of the comments. It was fortunately not so packed because it was "that cruise". The one when MSC suddenly only allowed vaccinated pax. We only knew we were actually going 2-3d before we sailed. 

  17. On 9/13/2021 at 3:50 PM, ohnonotmeagain said:

    There is practically NO social distancing, even before you get on board, we had to wait an hour and half in what I can only describe as a glorified shed with hundreds of other people waiting for paperwork to be checked , that's even before the covid test.

    Which terminal was this? 

  18. Very sad that MSC has slipped their previous handling on board. We were on her on 3/7. We had a LFT prior to boarding and one mid way through the cruise. Temperature check every morning whether you went into the main dining room or buffet and also asked to wash your hands or use the hand sanitiser. As it was pre 19/7 mask were worn everywhere in doors and only taken off if you sat at a table eating or having a drink. No more than 4 people in a lift as well. All food in the buffet served by staff wearing gloves and masks. Social distancing was mostly observed by passengers but there were a few large groups who got together at times.

     

    Had quite enough of this pesky virus but it looks as if we are going to have to put up with it for much longer if you look at the infection rates.

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