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roaming_kiwi58

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Everything posted by roaming_kiwi58

  1. We are also on the 8 September Croatia cruise, and I have been able to see the shore excursions for every port for some time now - at least probably 2 months I think. Just annoying not to be able to download them all in one document.
  2. We have sailed Azamara, Oceania and Silversea. Azamara is undoubtedly our preferred cruise line. Though we have not sailed them since Covid and since their change of ownership. We have two Azamara cruises booked later this year. The small bathrooms do not bother us. How long do you spend in the bathroom?! Oceania has been disappointing on several of our voyages, but we do like their itineraries sometimes, so would use them again. We spent 21 days on the Silver Shadow last August/September. We were extremely disappointed, to say the least. Not worth the price, not by a mile. Yes, the cabins are nice, but that was as far as it went. Service was erratic and sometimes appalling. Food was ordinary, sometimes poor. My husband had to reject his servings on numerous occasions and some of the food I got was very marginal. We are not complainers and usually go with the flow, but this trip was certainly not what we were expecting for a “luxury line”. The F & B manager did admit they had problems with recruiting and training staff. After some not so great included shore excursions we ended up cancelling several of the others we had booked, preferring to do our own thing. The formal dress thing is ridiculous – we witnessed the extent the staff go to, to force some men to wear jackets! Various other niggles. There were a few children onboard, so you cannot say it is a childfree line. We are itinerary driven and would normally sail just about any cruise line if the itinerary is right. However, we would be very reluctant to use Silversea again. We want a better experience than that when we are spending that much money! But that is all just us. I strongly believe people have to find out for themselves what cruise line suits them and other people’s opinions may be totally irrelevant! Given that, I am not sure why I felt driven to put a response on this thread, as I usually avoid expressing too many opinions, which are mine and mine alone! Maybe because Silversea really was a huge disappointment and has therefore stuck in our minds! Back in my box....
  3. Food is subjective. We have done numerous cruises with Azamara and Oceania, and always found the food on Azamara to be "better", or certainly more suited to us. Oceania food is over-rated in our opinion. As well as the nature of the food, one particular gripe we have with the Oceania food (on numerous cruises pre Covid - have not travelled with them since Covid) is that it was invariably cold, often because they use cold plates. When we complained about the cold plates they said they couldn't heat the plates because people might get burnt. How come other cruiselines warm their plates? Up to you whether you like the food of a particular cruise line!
  4. We went to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica with Hurtigruten, on the Fram, in January 2019. Fantastic trip! South Georgia the absolute highlight, for the amazing wildlife. The cabins on the Fram were small, but it doesn't matter when you don't spend much time in them. We had two landings each day, weather permitting. The only excursions that were extra charge was the camping overnight ashore, and maybe the kayaking - not sure, as we did not do it. Lots of chicks to be seen. We had previously done a "sail by" to Antarctica with Holland America. We felt the lectures on HAL were actually better than those on Hurtigruten. The naturalists on HAL were excellent. But of course the landing experiences and the closeup with the wildlife on the Hurtigruten trip took the whole experience to another level. However, we enjoyed both trips very much and would do either again, given the opportunity. I would particularly love to return to South Georgia. Probably won't happen unfortunately, as we are collecting health issues as we get older and we still have other places on our bucket list!
  5. We had two days at KK from a Windstar cruise in March 2023. The city seemed rather rundown and badly affected by Covid. Many shops were closed - in fact the majority were closed. Not just the food outlets (it was Ramadan), but every sort of shop. The ship was docked, not anchored. There was not much at the port. They ran a shuttle to the other end of town, to a large shopping mall, which could have been a mall anywhere in the world. The mall was busier. We went walking from here, but everything outside the mall was so quiet and mainly closed. The second day we did a ship tour to Mt Kinabalu Park and the Botanical Garden there. To be honest we found the whole experience somewhat underwhelming.
  6. When we visited Koh Samui a few years ago, we just walked from the tender pier to the shops, and as far as a couple of beaches, and to a lookout point.
  7. On Silversea in September we were dropped off at Perrotti Park. Very convenient location.
  8. We just came off the Silver Shadow a week ago - we were on it for 21 days. We had emergency alarms three days out of 4 in a row. The first one was on an at sea day, and was a fire in the incinerator room. The crew were running around in lifejackets, but there was minimal info for the passengers. The fact they closed all the fire doors meant we just had to stay where we were, though we weren't actually told that is what was expected of us. After about an hour we were told the emergency was under control. Next day we had another emergency alarm, again while at sea. Burning smells had been detected on 4 decks. After about 45 minutes the captain announced the smell had been traced to a faulty air conditioning unit. Two days later we had an alarm about 11pm, while overnighting in Boston. No instruction to do anything, and about 15 minutes later we were told the "slight emergency" was under control. We thought alarms at sea - particularly fires - would be rather more serious than a "slight emergency". We also found the distinct lack of information about what was going on, or what we were supposed to do rather disconcerting. This was our first cruise on Silversea and to be honest, for a number of reasons, we were not very impressed.
  9. We have just come off a B2B Silversea cruise in Canada/USA. I noticed on the shore excursion documentation we received onboard that it stated tips on shore excursions are expected, and not included. That may have been included in the paperwork before embarkation as well - I don't remember. We did not tip all our guides, as we thought some of them were very poor, but we did tip the good ones. Mostly other cruisers were tipping - but then they were mainly Americans, so that was no surprise. We are NZers, and not used to tipping. It is always a conundrum to us, when and how much to tip. We would certainly not always tip - only in places where we know it is expected - such as the USA for one example. We got Canadian and US dollars before leaving home.
  10. We tried to book a number of included shore excursions as soon as we booked the cruise we are currently on (eastern Canada/USA), which was about 6 months out. We were alarmed at how many of the shore excursions were not available. We ended up with 5 wait listed tours. Close to sail date they added some more tours and rejuggled timings of tours. All of our wait listed tours were eventually confirmed, though not at the times we had requested. FYI once on board we ended up cancelling several of our booked tours, as we were somewhat disillusioned with the tours we did early in this 21 day B2B cruise, and preferred to do our own self guided walking tours in some ports.
  11. We were in Halifax yesterday. While it was very foggy at sea, we ended up with a lovely warm sunny day ashore. We walked inland from the port as far as the Public Gardens (very colourful & well maintained) and the Citadel. Not keen on museums and the like, but as we had not gone into the citadel in Quebec, we decided to do the one in Halifax. Saw the changing of the guard. They were having trouble with the cannons. The shopping centres we passed were all closed, as it was Sunday. Ended up on the waterfront for the walk back to the ship. It was very busy there. Heaps of eating and drinking places - none of which we tried, as we have been eating more than enough onboard the ship!
  12. We are currently on Silver Shadow. Have not seen any reuseable water bottles supplied by Silversea. Glass bottles of water in the fridge, which we use to fill our own reuseable metal bottle. Plastic bottles of water are at the gangway for you to take when you go ashore.
  13. The bus requires the exact money for the $3.75. There were 3 of us, so we gave $11.25 each time. You can see the route of the 800 bus on the rtcquebec.ca website I hope this link works: https://www.rtcquebec.ca/en/schedules-and-routes/bus-schedule/all-routes/800/terminus-chute-montmorency In town we got on at stop 2664 D’Youville. This stop is in Boulevard Honore-Mercier, near the intersection with Rue D’Aiguillon. We were staying at the Clarendon Hotel, so we walked down Rue Saint Jean, and turned right into Boulevard Honore-Mercier to find the bus stop there in that block. There is a pdf map of Parc de la Chute-Montmorency on the Sepaq website. Here again I will try a link: https://www.sepaq.com/resources/docs/ct/pcm/pcm_carte_du_site.pdf We chose to start at the top, where the bus terminates. You have to walk back a bit from the bus stop to the pedestrian entrance – there is a sign – also when we went there was a person directing you to the pedestrian entrance. From there we chose to do the circuit in a clockwise direction, because it was easier going down the steps on the other side. We got back on the bus to return to town at the bus stop where we got off, but it does actually go a bit further down to turn around, and people got on there too. It is really easy to do the falls on your own, and it is good to be able to enjoy the whole site in your own time. I would highly recommend doing it this way. Hope this helps! Enjoy Quebec, it is such a lovely city!
  14. We were there 10 days ago. We did the #800 bus to the falls. The bus fare is #3.75. We entered the park at the top, near the terminus stop of the bus. The park entrance fee was $8 (including tax)for seniors 60+. We then walked across the suspension bridge, down the stairs on the other side, to the centre at the bottom, which has a shop, and is the base for the cable car. The cable car was $13.15 one way for 60+, including tax. At the top we walked back to the bus terminus to get back into town. We did not think the cable car was worth it, but we wanted to do the circuit, without having to climb back up the steps. There is an extra boardwalk that entends from the bottom of the stairs, which is closed at the moment.
  15. Yes, agree for us too. Always surrendered passports on every cruise. I was wondering why someone was targeting Canada as requiring passports required ashore. It certainly hasn't been the case this last couple of weeks!
  16. Not our experience in Canada. We are on the second part of a back to back in eastern Canada. Our passports were taken off us on the first day of our first cruise, and we have not seen them since. Some ports have just checked our ship card when reboarding. Some have asked for extra ID, such as driver licence, not passports.
  17. We are currently on a cruise Quebec to Quebec, and stayed at the Clarendon for two nights prior to departure. Our single friend also stayed there, and arrived the day before us. We were all very happy with the hotel. Excellent location, helpful staff. I would certainly use this hotel if we ever stay in Quebec again. Our ship was docked at Quai 30. We were told Quai 22, but it was changed to 30. We did not receive any notification that it had changed, but the taxi driver knew it was 30, not 22. Quai 30 is further out than 22. We were getting a taxi anyway, because of luggage. The taxi fare was $11.20. Adding the tip, I gave the driver $15. Enjoy Quebec!
  18. Yes, well, that is a problem! One trusts them to give you the right information. But if you get into a dispute then shouldn't they be able to produce a recording of any conversation? Never tried it, but they always tell you they are recording any phone interactions.
  19. For years the policies I bought from Southern Cross have been online, with no interaction with an agent. When I bought the latest policy from Allianz, my travel agent started the process with the basic information (destination, date of travel, ages of travellers) and a quote. If I wanted pre-existing conditions covered then I had to ring Allianz to answer medical questions and whether there was extra to pay to cover these. Given my experience with Southern Cross, I found it useful to be able to discuss medical coverage with an agent at Allianz.
  20. Yes, the answers to questions were usually ‘yes’ or ‘no’. However, given my previous experience with Southern Cross charging for conditions which had not been diagnosed within the last year, or had a change of medication, I asked for confirmation of coverage and lack of charging, to make sure I had not misunderstood the agent. We then had a discussion about conditions which were considered stable because of my answers, not being liable for an extra charge.
  21. They did not cancel the whole policy - but they did cancel all the medical cover for my husband. As the policy was no longer fit for purpose I cancelled the whole policy. They gave me a refund of the policy cost, less an admin fee of $35. I did object to paying the admin fee, given they changed the policy, but they refused to budge. What really stunned me was that they could cancel medical cover which they had already agreed to (and we had paid extra for), when he got another medical complaint which they did not want to know about! Isn't buying insurance about covering the unexpected? I did tell them what I thought of their action, but got no response.
  22. For many years I used Southern Cross for insurance for my husband and myself, for many land tours and cruises all over the world. Over the years we claimed 3 times – once for a broken camera, once when my husband became ill in Poland and once for travel delay expenses when American Airlines cancelled our flight from Puerto Rico to Dallas and left us stranded in San Juan for three days. No complaints with SC handling of any of the claims, happy with cost of premiums. In October 2022 I bought a policy from Southern Cross for an Asian cruise in March 2023. I had to pay an extra $200 or so to cover my husband’s existing medical conditions – being on medication for high blood pressure & high cholesterol (medication unchanged in years), and a benign kidney tumour which was completely excised in February 2022. In December 2022 my husband was diagnosed with nodular melanoma and had the first of several surgeries. I rang Southern Cross to advise them of the change in medical condition, but intention to go ahead with travel, as surgeries were being arranged around travel dates. I was expecting them to say they would not cover the melanoma but the rest of policy would continue as agreed. No way! They immediately cancelled ALL medical cover for my husband, even all the previous declared conditions which I had paid extra to cover. They did refund the excess I had paid for cover. We thought this was appalling. You buy insurance to cover the unexpected, but when the unexpected happens the insurance company removes all your cover!? What is the point of buying the insurance? I cancelled the Southern Cross policy altogether – had to pay a $35 admin fee. I will never use Southern Cross again. I got a policy for our March 2023 cruise through my travel agent, with Allianz. It actually worked out a little cheaper than the Southern Cross policy because they did not charge any extra for the blood pressure, cholesterol or kidney tumour – they considered all conditions to be “stable”. They would not cover the melanoma as surgery was ongoing, but we were okay with that. The Allianz excess if claiming was higher than Southern Cross - $250 compared to $100. That has been our experience with travel insurance!
  23. We have done 8 cruises with Azamara and 3 with Oceania, all pre-COVID. So I can’t comment on very recent experiences. Azamara is definitely our preference. But we are itinerary driven, so if we see an itinerary of interest we will consider it, no matter what cruise line it is with. As well as Azamara and Oceania we have travelled with Viking, Windstar, NCL, HAL, Hurtigruten and Katarina, so do have lots of comparisons. Yes, there are differences in the inclusions between Azamara and Oceania, and you have to consider what would be value for money for you personally. A lot of people say the food on Oceania is better than Azamara, but we strongly disagree with that. Food is subjective. We have enjoyed much more interesting food on Azamara, and very ho-hum food on Oceania. One constant annoyance on Oceania was the cold plates, leading to cold food most of the time. We complained on several occasions and they said they couldn’t preheat the plates because passengers would get burnt! Well how come they heat the plates on other cruise lines? In our experience Azamara are more motivated to give the passengers a good cruising experience. One example of this is when missing planned ports of call, for weather or whatever other reason. If this happens on Oceania they just delete the stop and they do not refund port charges either. Azamara will reorganise the itinerary and replace the lost port, even at very short notice. Once we were on Oceania when a visit to Mykonos had to be cancelled due to high winds. It became very obvious that we weren’t stopping, as we were nowhere near land, there were no shore excursions staff about to advise what was happening, and it was after reporting time to go ashore, but no announcement was made until later. Eventually they announced no stop would be made, so “enjoy your day at sea”. When we had Mykonos cancelled on an Azamara cruise, they did some reshuffling of the itinerary and added a stop at Bodrum to replace it. We have found Oceania to be very secretive about port changes. We had one cruise which had 4 port cancellations or changes. Upon boarding we were given a letter telling us the new itinerary. They must have known before then and could have told us much earlier. Two of the cancelled ports were in Egypt and had been being cancelled by all cruise lines for months, but Oceania were insisting up until boarding day that there would still be stops in Egypt. We did not believe them, are we were proved correct! We have always found the staff on Azamara to be much friendlier and obliging than on Oceania, adding to a more relaxing and enjoyable experience on Azamara. But everyone is different, things change over time, and you have to work out what suits you.
  24. We did a 2 day cruise in Ha Long Bay as part of a land tour in Vietnam a few years ago. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed it. Overnight you anchor somewhere out in the bay, which was very peaceful and it was lovely to experience the sunrise and sunset in such a tranquil spot. We also visited a floating village, via much smaller boats from the junk (not really a genuine junk, but an imitation in appearance) we stayed on. And there were some island stops. A few years later we did a day cruise in Ha Long Bay, while based on an ocean cruiser which anchored near Hong Gai. By the time we were taken by bus to the marina where the boats that cruise Ha Long Bay operate from, it was only a half day cruise. You don’t go as far out in the bay (obviously, due to time available). We were disappointed in the second experience, but then we had done the longer cruise on the bay previously, so it was never going to be as good! The scenery is beautiful. If you want more detail I would have to dig out my diaries from the two trips, rather than relying on memory. Which I can do! For us, seeing more of the country would be of more interest than NYE, but everyone is different with different interests, so only you can know your own priorities. Yes, the extra cost, when you have already paid for your bed and board would make us think twice too.
  25. Yes, with the Fram we stopped at several of the West Falklands Islands too (tender of course). As you say the wildlife was truly amazing. But we enjoyed the stop in Stanley too - great souvenir shopping! However for wildlife nothing beats South Georgia! Penguins for miles on the beaches! Oh, would love to go back to South Georgia or Falklands!
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