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Everything posted by pingpong1

  1. Hi Poss - In my "former life" (while working for a living), I (like Gnomie) traveled quite often to London. Most of my business was over at/near the American Embassy (formerly located in Grosvenor Square) in the Mayfair district of London. That's probably not traditionally considered by most to be a "quiet" part of London but it's a quite "posh" and dignified area - and - actually it is pretty quiet. Not near Piccadilly, the east end, or the docks. Actually, if you walk just a few short blocks off of Oxford and Bond Streets, and a block or two away from Hyde Park, it's a lovely area of the city and I discovered many little "secret parks" and "off-the-beaten-path" quiet places, over the many years I went there, to sit on a park bench and just "absorb" the feel of the city. I loved it. Off to the side of Grosvernor Square is the Marriott Hotel. That's where I booked most often. Just a short 2-3 block walk towards Hyde Park and Park Lane is the London Marriott, and just a bit more of a walk would be the Grosvernor House (Marriott, as well), also on Parklane. All 3 properties are Marriott's and a short walk to Hydepark, Marble Arch, and all the shopping on Oxford Street. All 3 are close to the Bond Street Underground Station. Once you get inside the actual hotels, they are all very quiet with pleasant and relaxing lounges and modern rooms. Inexpensive......Hell No! this is London! But as far as hotels go in London, they are all top notch properties. As others have mentioned, if you "shop the specials", and book as a true/blue loyal Marriott Rewards member, you can get (slightly) discounted rates. They even offer "senior citizen" rates. Inside the Grosvernor House, you will find the JW Steakhouse, which in my opinion serves the very best American-style filets and steaks you'll find anywhere in London (or all of England, for that matter). The restaurant is an easy walk from all 3 of the Marriott properties I mentioned. Out of the 3 hotels, my preference was always the Marriott Grosvenor, right in Grosvernor Square. And dollar for dollar, I always felt the "best value" was to book an Executive Room/suite on one of the upper floors, which gave you included access to the Executive Lounge on the ground floor of the hotel. The lounge offers complimentary buffet breakfast, complimentary beer/wine/cocktails and snacks in the afternoon, and complimentary drinks and desert later in the evening. The complimentary meals and drinks offered in the Executive Lounge, which would be included with your Executive Suite, more than offsets the added cost of having to pay "extra" for those meals/drinks elsewhere. The Executive suites are large, nicely decorated, and very comfortable. Booking online with your Marriott Rewards membership will get you a discount. You will also receive a discount for multiple nights. I highly recommend all 3 hotels.
  2. Alainciao - I have a very subjective question for you and I don't think there's any single "right" or "wrong" answer. It's about your "perception" of the Viking experience (in terms of price for value) vs. the Regent experience. And no, the question is not directly about food! While you were on your Viking cruise, and after having gone on many past Regent cruises, were you thinking or feeling that despite the fact that Viking was most likely "cheaper" than Regent, that you'd still rather pay more money (even if it meant taking fewer cruises), but still returning to Regent in the future as your "got to" cruise line? Or was the value/enjoyment you received on Viking - for the price you paid, "good enough" to make you want to cruise on Viking more often in the future and "cut back" on future Regent cruises? Best Regards.
  3. Simone - Thanks, again, for both pictures! It looks like everyone is having a good time on the cruise. Continue to have a great time, especially as you start visiting all the wonderful ports ahead of you.
  4. Simone - You're the GREATEST! Thanks So Much for doing that for me. It's greatly appreciated!!
  5. Hi Simone - I'm enjoying following along. Let me know how the Meet & Mingle went. Also, if you participated in the "Slot Pull", were there any big winnings! At the M&M and Slot Pull, If you happen to see a "Mature Lady" (about 5'3") with short silver hair, glasses, and accompanied by several other women about her same age.....That would be my DW (dear wife), Mary. Tell her I (PingPong/Kel) said, "Hi". You might see her group of "Gribble Girls" (6 girls total) around the ship during the week. Maybe all of them will be in the hot tub or at one of the bars. Best Regards.
  6. Hello Simoner - Thanks for the posts. Please keep them coming, along with the nice pictures. What time did you sail out of Cape Liberty? Was it around 3pm (1500)? Regards.
  7. Hi Simone - Really looking forward to your reviews. My wife and her friends will be on your same cruise. I'll probably get more info from you than I will from her!! ;p
  8. So, you're a Regent Platinum? Based upon what you've told us so far, I'd be really disappointed if I were on that cruise! Entertainment, Food, Excursions....there really isn't much left other than the suites, friendliness of staff, and the quality of the alcohol. Looking forward to more of your opinions/experience on the cruise. Thanks a lot.
  9. Ok, I'm curious. Is Oasis the first major cruise ship to be fitted out with wheels and axles, so it can "drive" from Orlando to the nearest body of water? Just wondering? :D
  10. rimmit - Thanks so much for the quick reply. Your Blog is coming out fine and is very, very enjoyable. Your kids are definitely "charmers"! Hope you continue to have a great cruise (with maybe a few less "surprise pees"!). Best Regards.
  11. Hi Rimmit - Really enjoying your post and blog. DW and her 5 girlfriends will be boarding on Friday (9/7) for the 10-day to Quebec. They, of course are all excited. My question, which will be very subjective....Do you see many school-age children on board the ship, or is the ship now mostly adults, due to the beginning of school? I'll leave it up to you to define "many children". Thanks!
  12. DW boarding the AOS on Sept 7 for the Cape Liberty to Quebec City 10-day cruise. She's getting excited and is going with her 5 best friends from college. I get to stay at home with "the cats". Oh Boy!
  13. I'm always befuddled by many peoples' "outrage" at having to pay a $7.95 room service fee for the "luxury or convenience" of having meals or drinks brought to your room? In many cases, these seem to be the same people who seem to have no problem with multiple cruises booked at any given time, take frequent vacations, book excursions and upgraded staterooms, dine in specialty restaurants, frequently stay at hotels, and don't mind paying parking fees at terminal garages, etc., All of those expenses add up to many thousands of dollars every year and certainly eclipse any amount that would be spent on room service charges? What am I missing here? It just seems that even multiple $7.95 room service charges during any one cruise, makes up such a small part/percentage of the total cruise expense, I'm not understanding why it seems to cause so much "heart burn" among some folks? Is it just "the principal" of thing (something that used to be "free") that causes the annoyance? If I'm not mistaken, isn't $7.95 about the same price as just one "upscale drink" at the bar? It would really bother me to have to "niggle" over each little additional expense while I was on vacation. Life's too short! Regards to all.
  14. Barb - Since you say that you "travel pretty frequently" and that you do your banking with Chase - Have you considered getting one of the terrific Chase "travel oriented" Visa cards? Go to Chase's website and check out the details on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Card. It's been rated as "the best" travel card by Money Magazine in 2017. You get 2X the Ultimate Reward points for all travel and dining related purchases. After you get the card, if you charge $4K worth of expenses within the first 3 months, you'll get an extra 50,000 Ultimate Reward points. Remember, nothing says you can't pay off the CC bill the next month with cash from other sources. You can use those Ultimate Rewards points towards future travel expenses like airline, hotel, and cruise expenses and get an additional 25% redemption discount. There is no foreign transaction fees charged when using the card for purchases in other countries. I use a Chase Sapphire Reserve card for all dining and travel expenses and collect a ton of Ultimate Reward points. I use that card for all my travel expenses, including restaurants to maximize my points. The points can be used as "cash credit" towards paying off the monthly CC bill or can be used towards future travel expenses. Using the card to pay for cruise fares and airline tickets also give you complimentary travel insurance for those trips. No, I don't work for Chase! But I've done a lot of research on this and the Chase travel card products have been the subject of many positive reviews on another Cruise Critic board discussion. I wouldn't "sweat" the 3% foreign transaction fee on your debit card, either, for a cash withdrawal. If you were to pull out $1,000 worth of cash from an ATM in a foreign country, you're only talking about a $30 fee for the convenience. And I don't think I'd ever be walking around anywhere with that much cash in my pocket to begin with. Regards.
  15. As Portolan correctly stated, it is what it is. The tenders' primary function is to save lives in case passengers have to abandon ship in case of imminent sinking or fires on board the main vessel. They are not meant or designed to be a luxury cruising vehicle/experience. Obviously, they serve "double-duty" as a means for conveyance into ports where berth-side docking is not possible. There size, shape, and accommodations are primarily designed to meet the first purpose. If they were designed more spaciously and luxuriously to meet the second purpose (and become larger with fewer passenger capacity), they would fail to meet the first primary purpose. Seems a small enough price to pay for a few minutes (riding one from the ship into port) in order to visit ports which would not otherwise be able to accommodate a ship visit. I don't think you would find much difference in the size/design of tenders no matter which cruise line you happened to pick. Regards.
  16. I honestly don't want to sound like I'm picking on you here, I'm really not, but if RCCL just doesn't measure up to people's likings anymore and food is certainly a big part of the cruising experience - why do they continue to keep coming back to the same "product" that they don't like? Just wondering?
  17. Gilly/others - Completely agree. I was tempted to weigh-in earlier but decided to wait to see what others had to say first. For some, an increased feeling of intermittent vibration (on Navigator) seems to bother them and therefore, they choose the other ships, instead. Perhaps some also feel a bit claustrophobic on this smaller ship, too. And then, there's the illusive "brown water" issue that some have experienced and other have never seen, or they just except it and work around it. We like the small ship "feel" of Navigator, the intimacy, and it's not too far to walk to any venue. We find it easy to meet others on board and as Gilly stated, the theater is great (not a bad seat in the house) and the standard suites are quite spacious. Drib could probably provide more info on this but it seems that the per diem rates on Navigator, for a lot of their itineraries, are a little more reasonable (i.e., cheaper) than some of the other Regent sailings. I know this isn't a "show-stopper" for most, but I found it a bit disappointing when they eliminated the Connoisseur Club a couple of years ago. I found CC to be a pleasurable little "oasis of solitude" tucked back in a quiet little corner of the ship. But I guess in this case, I had to surrender that pleasure to the "tyranny of the majority". In the end, I guess we like both Voyager and Navigator equally well. I'm happy when I'm on any Regent cruise and look forward to cruising on both ships in the future.
  18. I once spent a "lifetime" in the Vatican museum and chapel! After finally "escaping", I swore I would never go back again. Neither would the other 5 relatives/friends who were in our travel group together. The Basilica itself - sure - for about 30 - 45 minutes. But certainly not the museum and chapel! Just buy "the book" and look at the pictures! Unless your goal is to earn a college degree in ancient/medieval Roman art - by the time I saw the 246th tapestry, along with the 120th marble statue of the "Madonna and Child" (surrounded by all the angels in the universe), I was ready to impale myself on the nearest sharp object I could find in order to put the agony to an end! :o The 2-3 hours (which really seemed like 2-3 lifetimes) of standing in one place for long periods of time, or slowly shuffling along with the other thousands of captive onlookers, plus the heat, the absolute absence of any benches or seats to occasionally rest on, added to the seemingly endless and appallingly boring descriptions (by the our guide ) of all the minutia of each and every brush stroke, thread, and nuance in every one of the thousands of pieces of art that had to be "taken in and stared at for an interminable about of time to fully appreciate" - before the exit to the building blessedly and finally came into view! If you haven't been to the Vatican before, I'd definitely recommend a walk through the Basilica, but I think (after visiting Rome no less than 10 separate times over the years) that there are far more interesting places to see around Rome (than wasting valuable time in the Sistine Chapel and Museum). Particularly if your time is limited.
  19. Perhaps a "warning" to the staff?......."Virtually Impossible to Please"?? Just Wondering :o
  20. Perhaps it was caused by the Spaghetti & Meatballs from the delightful evening in Sette Mari? ((Sorry - I just couldn't resist)) ;p
  21. RachelG - So did I! And I actually thought it had really happened! And I was wondering if I was going to have to cancel my 2 booked cruises. Yikes! :o
  22. RCandKC - I personally would not be too concerned about the relative (small) size of Navigator, in comparison to the slightly larger sizes of the other Regent ships. If you encounter heavy seas or a "full blown storm", it wouldn't make much difference whether you're on Navigator, Voyager, or Explorer. You are going to feel the power of the ocean, no matter which ship you were on. As a career "Navy man", I did a north Atlantic crossing on the USS Truman (CVN-75). A Navy "super carrier". 104,000 tons, 1,000+ feet long, and 250 feet across (beam) at the flight deck. By contrast, the "little Navigator" is 29,000 tons; 560 feet long; and 80 feet across. We went through a "huge" storm on the Truman and there were plenty of sailors (including me!) who were "revisiting their lunch". Despite being on one of the largest ships in the world...the sea still "won" that day! :D Size wouldn't have made any difference. Just hope the seas are relatively calm during your transit. Many of us love the Navigator and I would look forward to any cruise on her on any itinerary, no matter where it was going! Best Regards.
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