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mr walker

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About mr walker

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Sydney, Australia
  • Interests
    travel, sport
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. We recently returned from Fiji where we embarked on a new experience for DW & I - our first 'small ship' or expedition cruise. After 17 ocean cruises covering much of Australia, NZ and Sth Pacific + Alaska/Hawaii we went for something totally different. We travelled with my sister and BIL. The Captain Cook Reef Endeavour has only 63 cabins and a capacity of around 130 passengers. For our 30 Jul- 3 Aug 4N Yasawa Is cruise from/to Denarau Is there were only 58 passengers, and with around 45 staff, almost a 1:1 ratio. We had an OV cabin starboard on deck 2. It was most comfortable for us, not 5 star, but clean & comfortable. We had arrived to Fiji two days ahead of the cruise & stayed at Radisson Blu, Denarau. Very nice resort and we enjoyed Denarau, which I wasn't sure we would. Post cruise we spent a week at Hideaway Resort on the Coral Coast, which we enjoyed - the staff there are wonderful. The cruise was the highlight of our Fiji visit. A small ship in Fiji makes for a very different experience. We checked-in in about 2.5 mins & we directed to the Rumbah Yacht Club to relax, with a complimentary drink, until boarding. “I will come and get you" we were told. He was a man of his word, as just about 1pm on the dot, the bell in the bar rang & we walked the short distance to our ship. After the welcome aboard, which included a light lunch, we went and unpacked & the wonderful adventure began. We were quickly underway enroute to our first stop Tivua Is for afternoon snorkelling/ beach activities. Then back on-board for afternoon tea, drinks & canapes & then welcome aboard dinner. Afterwards adjourning to the lounge for a few drinks & the evening entertainment. From next morning the pattern was set – buffet breakfast, onto the landing crafts for either snorkelling, beach or glass bottom boats, back for a lecture from the staff on Fiji culture or the reef etc, lunch, onto the landing crafts for either snorkelling, beach or glass bottom boats, back on-board for afternoon tea, drinks & canapes & dinner. Afterwards adjourning to the lounge for a few drinks & the evening entertainment. Night times was fairly quiet with most off to bed early to prepare for the next day, but we partied on a little, as some of the staff enjoyed their kava ceremony. Crab racing & music trivia were great fun. We visited Brother Is, Naviti Is, Drawaqa Bay, Yaqeta Beach Sawa-I-Lau Is (with caves) & Blue Lagoon (where the movie was filmed), the village of Gunu & Matacawaleva School. The combination of Fiji time, the incredible friendly crew on the ship, the scenery, both above and below the water, the Fijian people, the weather, the food, a few drinks all combined for an incredible experience that we thoroughly recommend. We were sad to depart as the crew sang goodbye to us all and we all hugged and shook hands with the wonderful crew. A great time!
  2. Most coffee aficionados will have a favourite ''local'' for their coffees, near their home or work. Most of the chain coffee stores have reasonable coffee. This includes Coffee Club, Gloria Jeans, even McCafe in MacDonalds - I travel a lot for business and am always on the lookout for a place where I can access a toilet & get a coffee. It does depend on the brand of coffee they use & the skill of the barista. I judge my flat white based on the first sip - if it tastes good as-is then it's good. If not & I need to add sugar, not so good. In Australia, they will never add sugar unless you ask for it. In NZ, for a cappuccino, they will ask if you want chocolate, or cinnamon, sprinkled on it 😮
  3. In Australia most businesses likes cafes, bars, pubs, supermarkets etc do not charge a fee for card transactions - we just tap or input PIN - no surcharge or fee. Others (hotels, rental cars, airlines etc) will charge a cc fee of 1.5-3% depending on the business &/or card - Amex cards will often attract a fee of say 3% as they charge a high merchant fee. So you may find your charges at hotel will have a cc fee if you choose to settle your account that way, but they are required to advise you before you pay. Of course, your card issuer/bank may charge you a transaction fee of your card is not an Aussie one, but you would have to pay fees to get A$ to pay in cash in the first place. Your greenbacks will go a long way here with current exchange rates 🙂 Note: give Starbucks a miss - we have real coffee in Australia, especially in Melbourne 🙂
  4. Have had B2B turnaround days in Vancouver & Honolulu - both on same trip on RC Rhapsody. Couldn't have been easier: - meeting of B2B's held a few days before end of cruise at which process was explained - lunch provided after meeting - we kept same cabin, in fact for 3 cruises as we went B2B2B - account closed out each cruise & new cruise cards issued (distributed before we left ship) - boinged off ship with old card, and back on with new card - issued a pass for ship re-boarding that by passed check-in all the way to passport control - we left ship for the day at both ports to go exploring & returned at our leisure. We were told at the meetings that if we didn't wish to leave ship for the day, we would need to temporarily leave ship [zero count required by US authorities] & then return shortly later Did a Sun Princess Aus circumnavigation (+PNG) in 2017. Although we did Syd-Syd trip, all passengers had to disembark in Brisbane (first Aus port after PNG) even though we weren't really B2B. No-one could re-board before zero count. At first we were not happy to have to get off for 'no-reason' but once we had to get off we decided to spend the day on the rivercats & having a lunch off the ship, so all good in the end
  5. as others suggest, please pay. if you don't make sure you lock your toothbrush in the safe 🙂
  6. For Napier, thoroughly recommend the Black Limo bus tour. When we were there in Jan this year, we took the small group (just 6 in total) tour with and visited a wonderful winery - Askerne. We saw the sights and also visited the chocolate/fudge factory and the ice cream shop, with fresh fruit 🙂 http://www.blackroselimos.co.nz/ Cheers, Neil
  7. most or the reasons have been posted already: - prefer centrum design vs promenade - cruise ship rather than shopping mall feel as someone posted above - right 'size' ship for the passenger capacity - ship of glass, with views from almost everywhere - outdoor WJ seating - doesn't have some of the theme park type features that add to fares, but that we don't actually use - attracts less kids than the larger ships with all the bells & whistles
  8. Don't want to scare the visitors off, but reports overnight from Nth Qld of a goanna killing a dog & injuring it's owners. Need to say, that it is a very rare event, almost as rare as a dropbear attack or a Scot shouting a round
  9. Get embarkation photo taken, then take a deep breath and smile - I'm on holiday! The rest will sort it self out
  10. I suggest that the 'never discuss politics or religion' is a generalization that does not cover every situation. It very much depends on the people in the discussion, and in particular how well you may know one another. I would always be cautious in bringing up such topics with 'strangers'. Many people are actually interested in different political systems & so the conversation may head down that path. A little discretion may be required, particularly if it becomes clear that views may differ. Mr Trump does tend to get a run when people from other countries talk with US citizens, as he clearly has polarized the world it seems. You will find people who are for or against him in Australia, and some will have particularly passionate views. In my experience, more than any particular subject matter than an American raises/discusses it is the loudness in which they talk that is the cause of complaints. Now I have worked for an American company, based in Sydney, for over 20 years but my family view is that America would be a better country if only someone could turn the volume down.
  11. OK, understood - thanks. Interested that the highest min wages are for DC, much of California & Seattle 🙂
  12. Can't speak for Canada, but I suggest you are a bit out on wages levels in USA. There is a Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 ph throughout USA, indexed to inflation. Local regions/states can set there own, but only if they are higher than the Federal min. That said, workers on min wage working hospitality rely on tips to supplement the minimum.
  13. Whilst I accept that our local 'culture' is that we are not a tipping society, & I would not like to see this change, I have never in my life come across such a scenario as you suggest here. BOT, as many have suggested, in communications downunder just be yourself - we are polite and understanding peoples, and speak versions of English ie Kiwi & Aussie that are mostly understood 🙂
  14. 18 cruises on 9 different ships across 4 cruiselines from 3N to 29N from 130 to 3500 passenger capacity - enjoyed them all.
  15. on the book of faces, some are reporting they got this deal, and others are saying it jumped up to $86 at checkout. Looks as if the price is meant to be USD60.28 and then is converted at about 70c to A$86, so no deal at all. Some have screenshots showing pricing in $A and are determined that the price is honoured. One says they will cancel their cruise if it's not honoured 😮
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