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About Wynterwynd

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    South Haven Michigan
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  1. We used ItalyTours on our recent (last week) excursion from the port of Livorno. Four of our group did the Florence & Pisa tour; four of us did the Tuscany tour (Siena, San Gimignano). There were a few glitches in communication but ultimately all went well. It was a cloudy day with rain in the afternoon so we didn’t see as much as we could have, but all-in-all it was good value for the money. Most importantly, the drivers were on time, instructions were clear, the vehicles were clean and comfortable and the drive felt safe (which can be problematic in Italy). I definitely recommend ItalyTours.
  2. The bread baked on Oceania is one of my favorite things...and at the Terrace Cafe, there are lots of bread/baguette/roll choices. If you’re on a low-carb diet, well, more for me! In the GDR, they bring a bread basket assortment to the table and will refill it. I always ask for extra bread and butter when our party is seated...the service in the GDR is slower (because food is cooked to order) but...I’m on a cruise, what’s the rush! Overall, food choices on Oceania are varied and well-prepared. As others have mentioned, the ‘surf & turf’ sandwich at Waves (I order it sans bun) is delicious and not too big (but if you want more, just order 2 or 3). Best lunch ever
  3. I’ve always found it best to book my own flights and take the credit. Use google.com/flights and filter for business class (and your preferred airlines) and then set up an alert so you know when the price is in your acceptable range. Also, know that ‘business class’ on flights within Europe (on European airlines such as KLM, Air France, etc.) generally just means an unoccupied middle seat next to you—the seats themselves are no different. But, these flights are usually pretty short. For a flight of 7-8 hours trans-Atlantic, premium economy is often comfortable enough, but as most are overnights, it’s not that easy to sleep. My personal choice is to buy business class...and I often ‘position’ to an airport in the US that has a better price than flying from my closest airport (example, Boston and NY-JFK often have better prices in business class to Europe, so I buy a ticket from there and then a separate ticket from my airport to BOS or JFK, with plenty of time for the connection). A savvy travel agent or a lot of time in front of your computer are necessary.
  4. I’ve not ever seen that argument made nor do I understand the ‘why would I...pay for others to drink’ comment. I think that if folks who can afford any of these cruises want to drink they can easily pay for either option (by the drink, drink package or including drinks). Whatever your choice, it’s something to consider in the cost/per day on a cruise...an objective cost. The ambiance of the cruise is a subjective thing (but no less important, certainly). It’s great that there are so many choices for cruising.
  5. I don’t appreciate the tone of condescension and am certainly regretting writing at all on this thread. You are paying the same price and getting the things you prioritize...so if all else (ambiance, ship size, etc.) is equal, than that is the best choice for you. If someone wants to arrange their own private excursions, doesn’t drink AND the cost/person/day is less then that might be the best choice for them. The two lines aren’t the same (for example, I prefer the food on Oceania and that’s a higher priority for me) and it’s not all down to cost, of course. My POINT is that I think that it’s worth doing the exercise to lay it all out. But, no one is forcing you to do that. Enjoy your cruise. A.
  6. There are always deals (or TA inclusions like shipboard credits, prepaid gratuities, etc.). Of course, if cost is no object, then no need to compare prices at all—just go where you want, when you want and on whichever cruise line you prefer. But there is nothing ‘misleading’ about comparing the price per day across trips and ships (see how I made that rhyme?) once you have all of the information. The point is (am I repeating myself?) that if you’re not going to everything that is included in ‘all inclusive’ pricing, then perhaps a ‘less inclusive’ option is both cost effective and more suitable. Everyone has to decide for themselves, based on their own priorities. Do I miss the larger cabin and the walk-in closet? Yes, I do. But I can spend less on Oceania and get a PH cabin that is close enough and still save money because I don’t want the ship excursions or the all-inclusive booze. And, I like the food much better on Oceania. And I love the library. But, that’s just me! And, I’m able to very easily compare pricing and features, then talk to my TA and decide from there. I find the comments on the demographics interesting—is it just the cruise line or is it the itinerary? We generally cruise with friends as we found both of our first two cruises rather ‘cliqueish;’ now we bring our own clique. Not to say that folks aren’t friendly in a very casual way. A.
  7. You’re missing the point...run your own numbers based on your priorities and make your decision accordingly. THAT is the point! You only ‘get so much more’ if it’s more of what you want in a cruise!
  8. Park near EWR and Uber to the pier. That’s what we did last summer.
  9. Truer words never spoken...you pay $1,000/day (for two) for a nice floating hotel room and then spend that day spending more money off of the ship! For every cruise (and we’ve only done a few so far) I do a price comparison for four ships/lines with the same/similar itinerary to get a price/day. Only one of us drinks, so I add in the daily bar bill (not too high because we bring our own wine on board), our private excursions, etc. We’ve been once (Alaska) on Regent...it was our first cruise and we LOVED it. Then we tried Oceania (Baltic) and we loved it more...even though the room and bath were smaller (PH) and I hate the tub/shower combo (who takes a bath on a ship floating in the ocean?). I missed the walk-in closet on the Regent ship (I forget which one it was) and the larger room. We’ve only been on the smaller Oceania ships (Insignia and Nautica) and those are plenty big enough for me, though I am not averse to trying Marina or Riviera. I like the service but really, it’s the food that is memorable to me. I don’t remember the food at all on the Regent cruise and at the time (Carlson still owned the 7 Seas line), the specialty restaurants were not all that ‘special.’ Contrast that with the specialty restaurants or even the GDR on Oceania and I have had several memorable meals (the surf and turf sandwich poolside being one of them; the lobster bisque and the caramel sauce for the ice cream are two others). Each line has it’s positives but the cost/benefit puts Oceania at the top for me...we always arrange our own excursions or take the free shuttle into town and wander around for a while. If we really want to see more of a port city or area, we make arrangements to go back on our own another time to see it ‘in depth.’ Did that this past February with 4 days in Lisbon and surrounding area. The 3 days of private touring we did in St. Petersburg is one of our best trips ever and at the time, only the Oceania cruise stopped there for three full days. It doesn’t take long to list out the cost/day for several cruises lines (include the square footage for the cabin you are considering and list your priorities accordingly—cost of bev package if not included, air or not, etc.) Happy travels!
  10. We had a PH3 cabin on a cruise last month. The butler brought us two pots of coffee and hot milk every morning at 7:15 and if we were still sleeping, we never even heard him. The hor d’oeurves in late afternoon went great with the wine we brought on board. He was also helpful in suggesting the best times to go down for dinner so as not to have to wait. We just wanted the larger room, but the butler was a plus we didn’t think we’d need. So, next two cruises we’ve also opted for the PH cabins and since this will be our first time on the larger ship, am looking forward to the loveseat back by the window—perfect for reading. Or, maybe I’ll read in the walk in closet!
  11. That Nov. cruise looks fabulous, JimandStan! Unfortunately, I will be in Singapore and Indonesia (not cruising) during that time. I will definitely pursue paying the deviation to make sure we get reasonable flights and times. Air Tahiti Nui announced a sale a week or so ago, the Dreamliner for $787 RT LAX-Papeete, but the fares went fast and are now up to $1600. So, may as well let Oceania buy them. Thanks for the advice! Annette
  12. A friend and I just booked the February cruise Papeete to Papeete and then I got concerned when I saw how limited flights are (and how expensive). I’m thinking maybe this cruise will not be for us. I’m an experienced flyer, but I don’t want to extend a 12 day cruise another 2-3 days (or more) to find flights. We can fly to Hawaii and rent a nice condo and have just as much fun. I’d consider a LA-Papeete cruise some time, maybe.
  13. We were also on the same cruise (8/14 - 8/24) and couldn’t agree more. My second Oceania cruise and we were not disappointed. Found plenty to do on the sea days (even the rockin’ and rollin’ day) and enjoyed our PH1 cabin (forward, 8011 and 8016). As noted, employees are delightful, food absolutely delicious. We heard lots of complaints about slow service, but going to the GDR a bit earlier (before 7) avoided the crush. And, really, what’s wrong with relaxing over a meal? We dubbed the cruise ‘lobster every day’ and that it was. At Waves Grill, order the surf and turf sandwich-hold the bread. Perfect sized lunch! Some of the more unusual food items—caviar twice (appetizers), guinea hen, octopus carpaccio, green paypaya/mango salad, beet/goat cheese appetizer, delicious and spicy lamb curry, chicken tikka salad, apricot sorbet. I’m not a dessert-eater but don’t miss the key lime pie. Ashoke and Ismail were our butlers, Mary and Jay our cabin attendants. Fantastic service!
  14. We (6 of us) are flying in to LGA the morning of the cruise...taking a big chance, I know. On Delta, no notice yet about travel waivers. Fingers crossed the inbound flight arrives Monday night so we can leave on the 6am out of GRR (and DCA and ORD). Worst case, it’s a 12 hour drive but we’d have to leave Monday night. Weather delays are the worst in the summer.
  15. If you can’t find beer in Prague or Cesky Krumlov, you’re not looking! The Pilsner is great and you can buy it everywhere, inexpensively. From the center of old Prague, wander down the narrow, cobblestone streets and stop at any restaurant for great (cheap!) food and beer. Branch out and try the slivovice, too!
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