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About Bluestar01

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Adventure, Music, Reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean, NCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Thanks so much. we are traveling with our twin/teenage daughters, who at least right now, aren't showing much interest in cultural sites, but more in to nature/gardens etc, so I'll start narrowing the sites we would want to visit first by looking into the tour guides recommended. Thanks.
  2. Hello, Just recently booked 7 day Scandinavia/Russia cruise on RCCL, ports visiting will be St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallin, Visby (Sweden). From what I've found & read so far, St. Petersburg we'll need to either book excursion through the cruise or authorized visa-free tour operator, so that's out of question for DIY. Trying to be frugal & save some money. This is our first time cruising in Europe. What ports would you recommend for DIY? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
  3. We'll be taking our first ever RCCL cruise in July 2020 on Jewel of the seas. Previously cruised only on NCL which has an APP & $9.95 /pp fee to use it for communication (text & call) while on board, very convenient features, especially to get hold of family members. Is there any thing similar on RCCL? What';s the best hack/way to communicate with family members while on board? Thanks.
  4. How do different cruise lines compare? Done only NCL in the past, but with Baltic, seeing more options with Costa, Holland America & MSC cruise lines. Thanks.
  5. Thanks for your responses, so in summary look for Baltic cruise or Norway-Sweden cruise & 7+ days recommended. Good info to start.
  6. Hello Looking at Europe cruise in July/Aug 2020, just started with initial research. Will be traveling with tweens & teens, have already been to most if Europe except Spain, Greece, Scandinavia, & Portugal. What would you recommend? Looking at 5-9 days cruise. Must sees? most enjoyable with kids? Any insight to start my research will be appreciated. Thanks.
  7. Sorry for the delay in reporting, I should had labeled the above post as Sea days instead of Day 1, because actually it was Day 1 & 2. From here on I'll just review our port & excursion experiences. We arrived in Ketchikan on Day 3, it was raining, which is expected as its in the rain forest area. We had booked excursion through Ketchikan Taxi cab tours after researching the posts on CC as well as trip adviser. Tim White is the owner of the company however, we were guided by Dave who was the previous owner, a very nice gentleman, well informed and the world traveler. This was very affordable and personalized excursion that I had found. Its a guided tour of Ketchikan for approx 3 1/2 hrs with stops at tourist locations. We saw some wildlife on the way such as bald eagles, seals, missed a bear sighting just by a couple if minutes. Also saw salmon run, the historical town, Totem pole park, glacier waterfall etc. We saw several other buses doing a similar route, but those won't stop at all the places. Dave took us 3 times to check on the bear my kids wanted to see! He had umbrellas & binoculars in his van & it was just 4 of us, so very personal guided tour. Disembarkation from the ship to the port was very well handled by NCL. Day 4 was Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. We had booked whale watching through Alaska Humpback adventures. Steve Olmstead the captain of the boat is again a very pleasant & dedicated captain. I found his info from CC board as well. Its a small 6 people boat which sails out from Auke bay. He came to receive us at the cruise port. Prior to reaching to Auke bay he provided a short city tour showing Governors mansion, downtown, etc. He was very good communicator and explained the kids about whales. We must've seen over 11 humpbacks that day, it was a beautiful day raining at first but the Sun came out. Being from OH & away from ocean, whales were a big attraction for our family and this personalized guided whale watching experience was out of this world. We could hear the whales breathe also smell their breath! (& it smells like H2S!!) Many other whale watching tours do not take kids younger than 12 in such pvt boats, or costed more than Alaska Humpback adventures, so I strongly recommend this tour for up close and personal whale watching experience for the entire family.
  8. Day 1: Sea Day We explored the ship further, attended CC meet & Greet. Few of the officers had come & were mingling with the crowd. Other than the usual dining rooms & bars, there is Starbucks on deck 6 , Atrium. The Local is in place of O'Sheehan's on deck 7 from where you can see the events happening at the Atrium. Deck 8 has nice Waterfront hallway which is nice place to view glacier while cruising. Also, they open up deck 6 forward when the ship gets close to the glacier. The Tradewinds shops & other shops had specials going on the entire week, my daughters loved to collect the free charm bracelet & the charms they give away. The art gallery was smaller than few other ships we've been on. But overall enjoyable. The pool area on deck 16 was a hit & miss location, while being closer to Seattle & Victoria it was nice & pleasant, however, otherwise, cold & rainy, yet we saw a few sitting in the hot tubs every night. Only 2 hot tubs in the general pool area, a couple more in Spice H2O on deck 17. Usually there would be line to get into one especially on nicer day. The two big slides ocean loop & aqua racer were a lot of fun. The kids water park was fun as well. There was a small but a separate adult pool in the main pool area. On the same deck 16 there is Galaxy pavilion in aft where there are lots of 3D,4D even 7D virtual experience games, video arcade. Nice games, but all are $5/player/game so ends up being expensive. I wish NCL had kept few at no charge. or atleast had the arcade play for free & not give out prizes etc. The Joy speedway & Lazer tag is another specialty of this ship, however, that too paid, $15 per player for the speedway & we never went to Lazer tag. The speedway is good though. Another thing we noticed during our sea days are the teens & tweens don;t have much to do for free, because of the weather they can't use the pool much & rest all stuff is paid. the trivia & game shows at the Atrium were not that great either. However, my teenager ended up winning something during 'know it all' game show. Here are some random pictures
  9. All right here is some more: although cruised before, this was first trip to Seattle as well as to Alaska. Pier 66 cruise terminal in Seattle is very crazy busy place, we had rented a car from Avis which is few blocks away from the pier, so my husband dropped us off at the terminal with luggage while he went to return the car. NCL & port staff had made wonderful arrangements as to pick up tagged luggage by the drop off location. Avis rental was however another story, just 2-3 employees working & catering to the needs for many, so it took a while for my husband to come back to the Pier. The embarkation process was smooth & timely. Waiting area was nice and well equipped, the NCL staff was courteous. Once on board we decided to check out the ship, enroll our kids in splash Academy and then check out the bar & Garden Café (the buffet area). Remember Seattle has beverage tax until the ship is docked! Joy is big ship, however, it doesn't feel that big, there are enough elevators, so except for at the time of disembarking at the port, or after mandatory safety drill or just getting out from the Theater, where exodus of passengers try to get on elevators, typically we'll get the elevators and wouldn't need to wait/climb. Deck 16 is where the buffet is, as well as pool, spa, fitness, & H2O spice area. Deck 15 has a wonderful observation deck which we found out on the 2nd day, very nice enclosed area where one can sit for hrs enjoying the ocean. The cabins were available by 1 pm & even all the luggage came by 3 pm. Our most recent experience on NCL Epic past yr was unpleasant, where the staff was rude, the food lacked variety, elevators were busy etc hence we were a bit skeptical about this cruise, however, Joy was very pleasant.
  10. Frankly, my younger one is 10, & she stayed in kids club just once, there were 6 yr old twins in our grp & unfortunately they didn’t like the kids club at all, it’s called Splash academy in NCL. Although signing kids in on first day was an easy however, a lengthy process due to lines & just a few cruise employees working, I would recommend to sign them as soon as you get on board. Also every time you’ll sign kids in & out they’ll need not just yours but kids room key as well.
  11. Since our extended family is Seattle based, we stayed with them, however, quiet a few hotels in the vicinity of the port, we were looking at Marriot before making plans with the family.
  12. These boards have been very useful for all of my cruise experiences and I hope my review will be useful for anyone else looking into this magnificent ship or the itinerary. We sailed from Seattle, inside passage, 7 nights cruise on NCL Joy on Aug 24th. We were traveling with our school aged kids & extended family including older uncle & aunts. The extended family was based out off Seattle, so it was just us flying from OH to Seattle, we reached a day early & rented car to visit Mt. Rainier, if not seen before, definitely worth a drive. Our itinerary was as follows: Day 1: Embarkation from Seattle Day 2: At sea Day 3: Ketchikan: Ketchikan cab service Day 4: Juneau: Alaska Humbacks whale watching Cruise Endicott arm & Daws Glacier Day 5: Skagway: Frontier excursions trip to Yukon with dog sledding Day 6: At Sea Day 7: Victoria B.C.: Butchart Gardens & Butterfly gardens Day 8: Disembarkation at Seattle Following disembarkation, we roamed around Seattle, visiting popular tourist attractions such as Pike Place market, Space needle, Boeing factory tour etc prior to flying back to Ohio. Overall the cruise was excellent, the ship was very good, the staff & food was awesome, & the scenery was breathtaking. I would write about each day in detail, this was just the summary. Hope you'll enjoy the journey.
  13. Thank you for your review, we'll be on Joy next week, very much looking forward to it. Do you remember/know what time was all aboard when the ship was in the ports? We're a little late to book excursions & the one I'm getting in Ketchikan is starting at 10:30 am, about 3 hrs duration, so ending by 1:30 pm, the ship's sail away is 3 pm, hence wondering if we should go for it or not. Thanks.
  14. Thanks for your advises & insights.
  15. Hello: Anyone experienced a guided cab tour other than by Ketchikan cab tours? I found their name from the recommendations from CC & Tripadvisor, however, unfortunately they don;t have a taxi available for the time we are looking at. Are there any other taxi services available in Ketchikan? Thanks.
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