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Everything posted by Beejay4016

  1. Like Lyndarra, we did Hahndorf as a shore excursion last year. We were on a cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Auckland to Fremantle - a fantastic cruise, if that's the one you're doing. Yes, it is a very pretty place, but it feels like a film set, really quite artificial. I'm glad we went, but, having lived in Germany for a few years, it just came across as a super-themed picture-book idea of what a German town should look like. It's pretty, it's tourism-central, and, as mentioned, rather expensive. I imagine the original settlers would have a real laugh if they could come back and see the place. If you get a chance, though, while you're there try to visit Beerenberg's premises (fabulous jams and pickles etc): https://www.beerenberg.com.au/59/Farm-shop A nice little bonus on our excursion was stopping at Mount Lofty on the way back to the ship. Great views on a clear day.
  2. All nationalities. Cabin crew are often Indonesian (Holland America Line have their own training school in Indonesia, and it shows in the fabulous level of service), or from other Asian countries. On the Astor, when she was here, a lot of those people - the stewards, serving staff, etc, were from Eastern Europe. There were also, with P&O Australia, certainly some Australians employed on board, other than officers, and we came across plenty of them when we did a P&O Australia cruise. I just don't believe those photographs are genuine; I believe the complainant has gone out of his/her way to smear the vessel and the company, possibly because of employment issues or whatever. I just don't buy it. Let's face it, the officers in charge of the kitchens would not allow standards such as those shown in the photographs. No, I don't buy it.
  3. She has been operating in Australia for the past few years, since her HAL time, and I don't think any Australian crew would put up with conditions such as that. I have my doubts about that whole report and some of the photos. I would suspect some are either fake or slightly "manufactured" by a crew member with an axe to grind. There's no way conditions would have been like that when she was sailing as a HAL vessel, and, as I said, Australian crew wouldn't have put up with such conditions either. Very dubious.
  4. That's handy to know, so thanks for the tip. I don't expect we'll need it on our Christmas cruise as it's only a 10 nighter, but I'll make sure I have a few dollar coins with me.
  5. Thanks for posting here, Gaybo, and for the positive comments. There are always whingers on every cruise and, sadly, they tend to be the ones that post the most. Your post has made me even more excitable about our Christmas cruise on the VdG.
  6. Could be the best way to spend Christmas, methinks - and hopefully with lots of lovely traditional fare.
  7. We did the Norwegian Fjords on the Ryndam, and she was our favourite HAL vessel. It's just a beautifully sized and laid out ship. Would love to do one of those fabulous Maasdam cruises, but just too pricey at the moment. We are booked for the Christmas cruise on the Vasco de Gama and really looking forward to it - a blissful 10 nights out of Adelaide away from the whole "My family or your family this year?" saga.
  8. What superb service. The test of a company is always how they handle problems, and it seems this has been handled superbly.
  9. Vasco de Gama - Pacific Eden - HAL Statendam. Who cares if she's old; she was a lovely HAL ship.
  10. They were great. Their rep in Hong Kong kept in contact with my mother-in-law and husband when they were up there, and I dealt with things here and it was handled so smoothly. I can't understand anybody who travels without insurance. It's that old saying, isn't it: if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.
  11. Back on topic, though. With our Commonwealth credit card the travel insurance is now through CoverMore. It used to be with Allianz, which was fine as my parents-in-law were with them and when my father-in-law had a stroke while on a cruise up to Hong Kong, everything was covered without too much stress - all the medical expenses in Hong Kong, a medivac flight back to Australia after just over two weeks in a HK hospital, the hotel for my mother-in-law and my husband, their meals etc, even their travel expenses going to and from the hospital every day. The only issue we had was with their doctor back home in Oz. He was away on holidays when it happened, and no other doctor in the surgery would provide the insurance company with the medical details that they needed. That delayed things for a couple of weeks, but I have to say the hotel in Hong Kong - the Novotel - was fantastic, accepting that confirmation of payment of all expenses would come through in due course. Our next cruise is a domestic one with CMV. They actually insist that you have travel insurance, and you have to provide the details when you complete all the booking documentation. They do actually say that they have the right to refuse embarkation to anybody who doesn't have travel insurance. Top idea.
  12. Well said. Donning a headscarf after a massacre doesn't make you suddenly a great leader, just somebody who knows how to play the media. This is a woman who used to work for Tony Blair. If that isn't enough said, what is? I am so glad she's yours and not ours. We supped a nice bottle of bubbly last night to celebrate Shorten's defeat. People seem to forget that during the days of the "great" Hawke and Keating many people lost their homes as unemployment went through the roof and interest rates reached 18%. And let's not forget the financial mess from Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. I guess some people just long for the 'bad old days", but I'm with you. 🙂
  13. It's one thing if the music is way too loud, but I think that wanting lower volumes so that you can chat with friends isn't really on. People go to watch a show. Whispering to your companion during is a show is one thing, but holding a conversation while others are trying to watch (and listen) can be cause for a few stern looks, and rightly so.
  14. But they are going on her again - this month (might have already done). Makes one wonder.
  15. They did, and we were on that cruise. It was fantastic - Auckland to Perth via a few NZ ports, Sydney (which, unlike Bubbeh, I think is a fabulous city with superb scenery and heaps to do), Hobart (always gorgeous), Adelaide, and then on to Perth. It was a top trip, but for people who don't handle swells possibly not the best - I think quite a few people found it a tad rough sometimes. Re the NZ ports, it was Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, and Picton, so for people wanting to visit Fjordland, Christchurch etc it's no good.
  16. Two very different lines - classic v not. For me it would be a no-brainer, but we love HAL. Also, while HAL seems to be definitely for an older crowd in the USA, here in Australia that's not really the case. We have more holidays than you get in America, for instance - 4 weeks a year is the basic standard, with many people getting more than that - and so cruising is quite a popular holiday for people for whom taking 2 weeks or more on a cruise is no issue. We've done four cruises in this region with HAL and the average age was probably mid-50s to 60, and much the same on Celebrity. Sure, RCI is very much a family line, Carnival tends to attract the 20-somethings a lot. I think Norwegian is a fairly evenly spread demographic. In New Zealand, I do hope that whichever you choose stops at Akaroa as it is a really lovely spot. Picton is a gorgeous place to visit (if you're interested in aviation or wartime history do an excursion to Peter Jackson's (oh, in NZ do refer to him as Sir Peter Jackson) fabulous Omaka Aviation Museum. It will blow you away. Probably our favourite port is Napier, the art deco town that oozes charm. Wherever your cruise takes you in NZ, though, you will find friendly people and stunning scenery. If the only way we could visit New Zealand was on a Carnival ship full of drunk 20-somethings, we'd probably take it - just make sure we only ventured out of our cabin to eat or go ashore.
  17. My question to the OP was in respect of the fact that they have sailed on the same vessel three times in the near past, and so I wondered whether they had the same issues on those three previous trips or these were problems that arose suddenly. Re your comment, often a company's response is related to the way in which they are approached - the old saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar. I have found CMV Australia brilliant at responding any queries I raise with them.
  18. We had a concierge cabin on the Solstice, and it was lovely. The bathooms are really nice, and we (not skinny people, and my man is 6'3" tall) found the shower to be fine. No bathtubs in the bathroom. The bed was great, and with the concierge staterooms you get comfortable balcony furniture, afternoon snacks, fresh flowers in your room, and there are some other benefits as well. On our NZ cruise there was only a couple of hundred dollars difference between the concierge and balcony cabins, and I felt it was a couple of hundred well spent. Go for it. The ship is beautiful, although we do prefer HAL and the smaller vessels, and there is always something happening.
  19. The old saying is you can fit a boat on a ship, but you'll never fit a ship on a boat.
  20. My suggestion would be to get on a ferry up to Perth - a lovely ride along the Swan River, and you end up right in the middle of the city. The middle of Fremantle has been undergoing major works for the last couple of years and is a total mess. Yes, the Maritime Museum, along the dock from where the cruise ships tie up, is worth a visit, but that's just about it. I think that they have recently even closed The Round House because of safety issues. And then there are the drunks ... Having said that, for great Italian food you can't beat some of the little restaurants and cafes along 'The Strip', and there are some really interesting shops along High Street, particularly a couple selling wonderful Aboriginal art.
  21. Last night's episode of Coast New Zealand had a really interesting section on the history of Akaroa, and watching it was just lovely - brought back great memories.
  22. Perhaps it's just on vessels sailing out of the UK. And, yes, I'm lucking that my man is always willing to go to the onboard coffee shop first thing in the morning to get coffee while I still laze in bed.
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