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MarkBearSF

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Everything posted by MarkBearSF

  1. This is similar to the policy on Cunard. (Also guest lecturers) Their first timer cruise cards have a red stripe on the edge ...and are disparagingly called "red tops." Again, regardless of personal status level.
  2. HA Inadvertent humor via damn spellcheck. I suspect you meant "phishing" (as in "fishing" - but spelled like the band Phish). I believe "pishing" is Yiddish for something else entirely.
  3. It's especially bad on the Grand (and old Star and Golden) because there are only two aft elevators that go down to Deck 6. On our 10 day Mexico cruise, we had one of the Oceanview cabins near the "art" gallery off the Piazza. Unfortunately, my husband has mobility issues and difficulties with stairs so we had to take the elevators from 5 to 7, walk aft, and then back down from 7 to 6. Heading to dinner, the elevators were usually already filled, and with a dinnertime crowd milling in the lobby on 7 waiting to go down. It often took over five minutes to catch an elevator before or after dinner (late seating). As a result, although we prefer traditional dining, when on the Grand or her departed sisters, we've chosen Anytime Dining to avoid Botticelli. Of course, now it's changed - and the new ship home-porting in SF will be the Ruby - which has all four elevators go to Deck 6.
  4. I really enjoyed the Concierge Lounge on our QG crossing. Especially as my cabin's WiFi went south on Day 4 of the crossing, I found it handy to hang there for an hour or so on my laptop. Especially enjoyed the snacks and tea sandwiches - and the concierges were such a great help for anything aboard. (No need to queue at the Purser's Desk) Also, for your two bottles of spirits, you may see a list of available brands. This isn't exhaustive. Feel free to request your favorites, even if it's not on the standards list. (In our case, we asked for Tanqueray 10 gin and Glenmorangie whisky) Although the Queen's Grill is magnificent, don't miss the delicious pub lunch in the Golden Lion Pub. (The lunch menu in the Grills is the same as in Britannia) And, indeed, the Britannia Restaurant is such a magnificent space, I'd consider an open seating lunch there one day, if you've not dined there before.
  5. I believe that there may be security considerations at play here. You are forbidden to use your phone in the arrival pre-clearance area. As a result, they may be disinclined to offer WiFi throughout.
  6. Of course on Cunard, it's all traditional dining and all tables are assigned with the same wait staff in all categories, including the standard Britannia MDR. (The difference being assigned times and seatings in Britannia class vs open, anytime seating at your table for Club and Grills.) We will be on our first Club Class cruise on the Grand in October and I had hoped that it had been like on Cunard, that our table and staff were waiting for us whenever we cared to dine. Nonetheless, I'm sure we'll have a wonderful experience.
  7. Most everyone would prefer to dock in Manhattan vs Red Hook. I believe the factor is the length of the ship. if she sticks out too far into the Hudson she becomes a hazard. So the QM2 docks there, but her smaller sisters Vickie and Liz will usually dock in Manhattan. The larger ships in the Princess fleet require Red Hook. Conceivably, there could be a situation where a Manhattan berth is unavailable pushing the ship to Brooklyn, but rare. And likewise, a larger ship can be granted an exemption to dock in Manhattan (I think it happened once with the QM2). I believe that they're expanding the facilities in Red Hook to handle two simultaneous ships in port, but it was likely delayed with the COVID freeze and I don't know its current status. By the way, I also believe that Carnival financed much of the port to accommodate the QM2. So, yes, RC and Celebrity ships dock in their pier at Cape Liberty, the NCL ships, although big, are short enough to dock in Manhattan, and do. And Carnival-related ships dock in either Manhattan (if they can) or Red Hook (if they're too big for Manhattan)
  8. As majortom10 observes, it's a long way from now till May, so it's far too early to have any clear answers. According to the 26 July "Sail With Confidence" letter, "Pre-embarkation Covid-19 tests will be required at the terminal and will be complimentary. We will update this page as necessary and update all guests prior to their holiday departure date." And if there were to be some issues with providing them at the Redhook pier (It could happen), remember that you're in NY, and there should be many options for you to be tested. (The local drug stores have been offering tests and there's practically a Walgreens or Duane Reed on every block in Manhattan)
  9. Assuming you sail out of Redhook (the largest/longest ships cannot dock in Manhattan) - there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity. It's an industrial/dock area that is getting gentrified, but still is mainly parking lots and construction. Of the three airports, LaGuardia, LGA, is closest (but still under construction in many areas. And you cannot fly from long distances there) Second is JFK and third is Newark, EWR. Depending on where you spend the night before, it may not matter (if you stay in the West Side of Manhattan, EWR can be convenient.) Your airport will likely be determined by your choice of airlines as much as anything. I would recommend checking out Brooklyn for your overnight, but I love Manhattan and would personally stay there (and I'd try to fit in a Broadway show). Either would be great, but neither is near the airports. (I wouldn't recommend staying right near JFK or LGA). I always recommend a car service for transportation with cruise luggage between airports, cruise and hotels. There are two highly competitive services in NY. We use Dial7 (dial7.com) or 1-212-777-7777, or their own app. The other company is Carmel (carmellimo.com) or 1 - 866-666-6666 or their app. We travel to NY and take the QM2 from Redhook often. We always do Dial7 from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the ship. Other options are taxi, Lyft/Uber or mass transit (I don't recommend for this port). There also is a wonderful passenger ferry that stops right next to the ship and travels to Manhattan for a few dollars. However, although they have racks to accommodate it, we're not crazy about doing that with cruise luggage.
  10. For what it's worth, I'm certain they were available in July 2019 and the previous September. If memory serves, between the two trips, I ordered steak twice and for starters, selected shrimp (prawns) with cocktail sauce a couple of times and a caesar once. At no point did I see any indication that servers needed Head Waiter permission to do it. I've heard rumors of the choices being printed on the menu or Daily Programme, (most often on the QE or QV) but have never noticed it myself. For the record, I believe the items are: Starters - Prawns with Cocktail Sauce, Caesar salad, Mains - Rib Steak, Chicken Breast, Salmon, Side - Steamed Veggies. For those who've done it, how does this compare to the Britannia Club Ala Carte Menu?
  11. True. But, since I live on the West Coast, I often take cheaper, short little itineraries to Mexico and repos (including an upcoming 5 night to Cabo) - trips, which on Carnival or many other lines would def be a booze cruise, but I still don't see it on those cruises. Not doubting the OP's experiences, but I'd like to point out that the scene he describes is highly unusual for Princess.
  12. We'll be traveling in a suite for the first time in October. It's a five-day trip to Cabo from LA. We're staying on board and treating it as a luxurious five days at sea. Anyway... Among the suite perks is a minibar setup. What exactly is in the setup and can we swap mini bottles to our preferences? (In our case it would work out to be 60% gin 40% scotch, no vodka, bourbon, rum, tequila)
  13. DocLawDog - I must say that the cruise you describe would be HIGHLY unusual for Princess.
  14. It's my understanding that a negative COVID test is required to enter the US by air, sea or land. Last week, we were on a Viking cruise around Bermuda (it was heaven!) and we had daily testing onboard (we had to spit into collection tubes each AM) so it was easy for them to produce our letter of our negative test to check into our flight home from Bermuda. I'm not expecting the rigorous daily testing on our upcoming Mexico cruise to Cabo in October. However, I'm concerned where we will get tested to return to the US (assuming it will be at customs and immigration in San Pedro). I'm hoping it will be available onboard, as my husband has mobility issues and we were planning on staying aboard while in Cabo.
  15. Of course I agree about the many advantages of working with a good TA. In the case I listed above, my TA was good, however the TA at the group agency ignored any requests and passed on nothing (It was like a dysfunctional game of telephone). Lesson learned - do not use a subcontract/pass-through relationship. However, I still appreciate visibility into my booking and the ability to monitor and take care of things like advance reservations for dining and excursions (Functions provided on most other lines). Although my wonderful TA does a heroic job of keeping track of her clients' needs and details, another set of eyes is always a good thing, And, as I count down the days, I love going back over the details of the booking...
  16. A couple of years ago, Cunard "gave" me an unwanted upgrade in a cruise where there were two TAs handling my booking. (A group with one who was supposed to pass on info and a bit of commission to my usual TA, but wound up being a brick wall or a black hole - choose your metaphor) In any event, the only way I was able to see this was by the change of the cabin number in the VP. And why can't they fix the caption on the bed arrangement?
  17. Last night, I noticed more things that are special about Viking. It happened in the men's bathroom, of all places! I had appreciated the cloth towels next to the sinks. (I wish Cunard did this. Holland America does) And I love the sea sounds over the speakers. (It DOES help "inspire" things and probably helps cover any untoward sounds). This time, I rushed to the bathroom and dashed into a stall. I noticed a little can for "sanitary disposal" and little bags above. OH NO, I wondered. Had I dashed into the wrong bathroom by mistake? When I tentatively emerged from the stall, I was reassured by the sight of urinals. And I thought "huh?" And then I realized that Viking had simply made accommodations for trans men to be able to use the facilities. Thank you, Viking.
  18. I don't think there have been announcements on this, but my impression is that all cruises will have the overnight at the Dockyards.
  19. Another seemingly unused facility is the Restaurant bar near the stairs. It looks like a large passenger bar, but I never see passengers there. Is it used by the serving staff?
  20. I also love the paintings in The Restaurant. And I just got out of the post-theater jam around the elevators. I can imagine what it's like on a full ship. Are the little movie theater alcoves in the theater ever closed for movies?
  21. Lunch today at the nearby Pompano Beach Club. Beautiful.
  22. I'm currently loving our cruise on the Viking Orion around Bermuda and am in awe of the design of her. Everything seems so well planned, the decor is beautiful and the fit-and-finish of the details is impressive. Which made me think. No design or plan is perfect. Inevitably, there will be things that just don't quite work as planned, or new improvements. Obviously, with so many ships queued up (and the advantages of keeping the same design for training and operations), there would likely be little opportunity for major changes, but I'd imagine there would be little changes would be made as they refine their product. Are there differences as they've gone through the years?
  23. One silly thing, I'm so happy that MSNBC has changed their ads over the past 18 months. On cruises, that is our default channel, and the spaces that are filled with "normal" commercials at home, are all Internal MSNBC promos on the satellite feed - so by the third day, you almost know the six of them by heart. And before the pandemic, they hadn't updated them in a year or two, so the same damn ads were on 3-4 cruises.
  24. We went on a wonderful catamaran/swim/snorkel excursion this afternoon. The water was beautiful. Tomorrow, we don't have any excursions scheduled, but are planning to take a taxi to the nearby Pompano Beach Club for lunch. Tonight is Manfredi's. I'm thinking steak. We enjoyed the Asian menu at the Chef's Table and have signed up for Mexican on Sunday night. (Coming from San Francisco, the California Cuisine menu wasn't appealing - also because the main course is fish, which my husband is allergic to) Everything is fabulous. I can't imagine a more wonderful return to sea.
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