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PSULion

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Posts posted by PSULion

  1. I would recommend finding an online brokerage or bank (I won't make a referral here, but they are easy to find with a search engine) that offers worldwide free ATM withdrawls. Keep a minimum in the account and top it off before a trip, then you can pull money out in the local currency without ridiculous transaction and ATM fees. I did it in the past on a cruise with an extended European land trip (Portugal and Spain) and didn't incur a since penny in ATM fees. Plus, ATM transactions covert the currency at a much better exchange rate than most other currency exchange venues.

     

    John

  2. As previously stated, the just completed Regatta trip started the planned shows at 9:30. The theater is "ok" and the ceiling is very low, making for an intimate atmosphere.

     

    A few suggestion:

     

    1. People tend to sit in the rows like they do in church, filling in the "end" seats, often leaving inside seats unoccupied while people stand in the back. If you try to shimmy over to one of these inside seats, you can get a nasty look for the "end" seat fillers that are unwilling to get up or even shift their legs over and they often don't do a good job of guarding their drink from getting bumped.

     

    2. O should provide someone to guide people to their seat with a small flashlight, especially if someone arrives just a few minutes into the show. I noted several people stumbling over legs, walkers, table legs, etc. that were protruding into the walking aisle.

     

    3. If you are REALLY tired, perhaps you should not attend the show if you plan on napping during the show, and worse yet, snoring! Twice, gentlemen near me fell asleep with unusually loud snoring that to say was a distraction is an understatement.

     

    4. If you plan on eating in any of the dining venues and the start of your dinner is 8:00 PM or later, you better only have a limited selection of food courses or tell your waiter to kick it up a notch (especially in the main dining room) if you plan on making the 9:30 PM show.

     

    5. I didn't find the chairs particularly uncomfortable, and I am afraid if they were MORE comfortable, too many people would be napping.

     

    John

  3. Just finished my last fabulous meal at Toscana. Time to leave the ship in the morning. Great cruise, full review to follow. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all the great people I met on this cruise and on this board.

     

    John

  4. If you have a driver only, I think $5 or $10 a head is appropriate assuming the driver is good, and depending on the length of the tour.

     

    On a tour with a driver and a guide, I usually just tip the same to the guide, and I always assumed they shared with the driver (who is more likely a "professional" driver that receives a better salary I would think, but don't really know).

     

    If the guide is exceptionally good, an extra $5 I am sure is appreciated.

     

    John

  5. I understand the potential problem with shared condiments.

    What do you suggest as a solution? Individual packets?

     

    Another cruise line used little glass bottle of prepackaged condiments. That worked well. I would even prefer the packets, but they are at times annoying to open.

     

    I wouldn't touch that mayo that is sitting out on the tables for hours (days?) on end, sometimes in the sunshine. I understand ketchup and mustard usually have enough vinegar as a preservative, but evey bottle you buy retail in the USA always says "refrigerate after opening."

     

    John

  6. Posting on the sixth day of the 12/9 Regatta trip. Will post a full report upon my return. Will try to answer any questions in the meanwhile.

     

    Highs:

     

    1. Food and drink package

    2. Friendly staff

     

    Lows:

     

    1. Pool is chilly IMHO.

    2. Shared condiments in Waves (personal pet peeve).

     

    John

  7. I am utterly disguested by how many men I see that do not wash their hands after using the toilet! One time I called a guy out on it and I got a verbal tongue lashing about how I should mind my own business!

     

    Its almost like they need one of those nightclub bathroom attendants that are seeking tips to make sure you wash up like your mommy told you to.

     

    Of course, this is true everywhere, not only on cruises (yuck!).

     

    John

  8. I see the original OP message is ancient, but can anyone comment on the temperature of the pool on the Regatta. On a competitor line that starts with an "A", I found the pool (and "hot tubs") a bit cool...Thanks.

     

    John R.

  9. I do not really have an opinion on open or fixed dining, but for the record I usually eat later (the second seating on my two Crystal cruises).

     

    I am wondering, people often reference "the waiter learns my preferences." What preferences does the waiter learn? I mean, other than maybe than the type of water you want or how much pepper you want on your salad, if any; most dining decision seem to be meal specific (i.e. selection of meal items, wine selections, etc). What am I missing regarding "waiters learning my preference?"

     

    Thanks, John

  10.  

    Because they don't sweat the small stuff? On Celebrity last month it worked that way. I don't see any reason whey Oceania wouldn't do it too since they're a better line. Right?

     

    You buy the nights until the END of your cruise. The next morning's debarkation is the end.

     

    I thought I asked a stupid question, but I am glad there IS some shared confusion! LOL

     

    Thanks all,

     

    John

  11. You can purchase the drinks packages at any time. You may not suspend it for the balance of the cruise or any other part of the cruise.

     

    When you buy the package a few days into the cruise, how do they calculate the days you actually pay for? I guess the actualy number of full days remaining, since I don't think you can get booze on the last day at breakfast (although a departing bloody mary or mimosa might be nice!).

     

    Thanks in advance, John

  12. Sorry, but you were bragging earlier about your so-called "pre-tipping". I fyou think that gets you better service you are not only deluded but insulting the professionalism of the staff.

     

    Regarding your comment regarding my delusions, you might want to spend some more time with some service industry workers that rely on tips. I know the British don't have a tipping culture, so you likely have a different perspective on this. Either way, tip or don't tip, I don't think it matters on Azamara or other lines that include tips in your fare.

     

    Guess that wasn't my last post! LOL

     

    John

  13. Careful, Robin. Some people don't feel the need to brag publicly about their tipping practices, or simply don't feel it proper to influence others into doing something that isn't necessary or customary, so they keep things to themselves.

     

    You cruise so often on Azamara that you feel many members of the crew are like family to you. Someone cruising Azamara for the first time and asking the "tipping" question here isn't going to see things that way.

     

    And one would assume that when Azamara says "gratuities are included" the amount a different cruise line would charge daily for gratuities is somehow being included in crew members' compensation on Azamara ships. If not, then it's Azamara's bad and I think it would show in an unhappy crew.

     

    If individual passengers want to show some kind of additional generosity to crew members--for whatever reason--I view that as a personal gesture that is nobody else's business, and, because these passengers choose to do so, it should not reflect in any way on other passengers who might choose to do things differently because their circumstances are likely different (e.g., personal financial situation; frequency of Azamara cruises and consequent closeness to crew members; services required from crew members; etc.).

     

    Bonnie's statement of Azamara's policy on gratuities as written above should suffice.

     

    The OP asked about tipping, so people responded. I don't see anyone bragging publicly about their tips. In fact, if you tip on board, it should be discreet so as to not to call attention to either yourself or the crew member.

     

    Most things we do is on a cruise is nobody's business, but Cruise Critic would be SOOO boring!

     

    John

  14. My point in "extra" tipping, and by extra I don't mean extravegent, is that if I pay a few thousand dollars for a crsuie, a few extra dollars in the grand scheme of things means nothing, and if it helps out a hard working crew member or someone that went well above and beyond, then so be it. It is also amazing how quickly the bartenders get your drinks when you "pre-tip" a $20 at the beginning of the cruise (call it bribery if you wish).

     

    John

  15. I brought on a bottle of Louis Jadot, Pouilly Fuissé.

    I paid $20 + corkage of 15 for a total of $35.

    On board it is $59 + 18% for a total of apron $70 so I saved $35 on one bottle.

     

    This is also why I think all wine bought on board should have a $5 flat fee gratuity instead of a percentage.

    It doesn't take any more work to open the $180 bottle than it does to open the $30 bottle so why should the person buying the expensive bottle have to pay a $32 tip while the person who buys the $30 bottle pay a $5 tip for the exact same service.

     

    Lois

     

    This is a great post! When I tip in a resturant, I add a $10 tip on the wine regardless of the price of the bottle ($20 if wine is extra special and requires decanting) and then 15-20% on the food. I 100% agree with your assessment.

     

    John

  16. I tip extra for room service, at the beginning of the cruise for a few bartenders, and at the end of the cruise for a good room attendant. I usually don't tip at dining venues except for something exceptional (i.e. a special birthday or aniversary celebration with a cake).

     

    I realize it is "included" but a few bucks isn't going to bankrupt me.

     

    John

  17. Yet another reason not to do the beverage package. Generally does not make sense financially unless you drink like a fish every single day (what if you catch a cold?), but it does avoid having to sign chits for every beverage, which some detest.

     

    I don't think you need to drink like a fish to make the beverage package a good value, especially if you consider the convenience of fixing your costs and not having to sign those annoying chits (this is supposed to be luxury after all). A few pool side drinks, pre-dinner cocktail(s) and a few glasses of wine with dinnner seems to exceed the drinks package cost (especially at O's inflated drink prices). The Drink Police seems to think that anyone that buys a drinks package is obsessed with getting their "money's worth" with overconsumption.

     

    Cheers!

     

    John R.

  18. Quick note from August Insignia cruise:

     

    With stops in Bordeaux as well as other ports in Portugal and Spain, I never thought once of taking the beverage package -- I knew I would be buying plenty of wine onshore and bringing back onto the ship. (Noted repeatedly on the Oceania CC board that there is never a problem with this.)

     

    Here is a note about paying corkage fees that I've not seen mentioned: Every night I would bring one bottle of wine to the MDR or one of the specialty restaurants that I had purchased while on a shore excursion. I would also purchase a nice bottle of wine to also drink during the meal. (There were usually four of us at the table.) I'm assuming that buying a bottle of wine made a difference, but I was never once charged a corkage fee for the bottle I brought into the restaurant. I even asked once (but only once), and was told not to worry.

     

    MOST good landside resturants where you have a decent relationship with mangement will waive the corkage if you buy a bottle. I usually like to buy a white or sparkling wine, and then cork a nice red wine, and usually the corkage will be waived on the red, especially if you share a taste with your waiter or sommelier. YMMV.

     

    John R.

  19. If I recall, there was a waterfall "poolish" area in Spice to the right when you walked into the Spice area.

     

    John R.

     

    I am so sorry :::::hanging head in shame:::::::, 12 hour days back to work have kicked my butt these past few weeks but I have some time this extended weekend and will finish this review! pinky-swear.

     

    Before I get to uploading more pictures, I'll try to answer some questions.

     

    Ilovetotravel: Seriously, the door had it's own mind ey?? There is no pool in Spice on Breakaway or Getaway, it must be something only on epic? There are a few hot tubs, but they were also packed.

     

    shabachbooknook: We did NOT need a passport in Tortola. We did the Baths tour with just a drivers license. In fact, I'm looking at the Dailies right now and all it says is to be sure to take your seapass card and a picture ID. You're good to go :).

     

    JustHAPPY & Garnet: Yes, it's yogurt Parfait. It wasn't as good as it looks, but as Peritax stated, that cheesey thingy is SOOOOO good.

     

    Floridian: Not sure about the butler fetching for you, I'm not a butler sort-of gal :).

     

    Bacon: I posted the entire right side column of the menu. If Chicken Parmesan was located on that side of the menu, it's gone. Unfortunately, I have no recollection what was on the left side of the menu. Maybe beyondships menu's can sort it out?

  20. If you can afford an Azamara cruise, surely you can afford to buy your wife a nice bottle of Champagne? :)

     

    The lack of a sparkling wine has been discussed here ad nauseum. It is ABSURD that Azamara does not include ANY sparking wine on their inclusive list, and in my opinion is a real negative of the brand (not enough to make me skip an Azarmara trip, because yes, I can afford to buy real champagne on the ship), but nonetheless, a short sighted oversight by whoever puts their wine list together. I mean, come one, how much sparking wine can one drink anyway (and they can likely buy a Prosecco or Cava at a better price point than the inclusive wines).

     

    John R.

  21. Did you find out what the air credit would be? Might be worth doing your own arrangements.

     

    It was $300 a person, not bad, but the flight back on the 19th was expensive because of the proximity to Christmas, so I didn't want to deal with booking my own arrangements.

     

    I am very flexible on flight times (I can sleep on any airplane at any time!), but I just need to know the airline and flight times so I can plan my travel to San Diego for some pre- and post-cruise down time (I live in Las Vegas, which is not an O gateway for this cruise and their Vegas up-charge was ridiculous, and I have friends to visit in San Diego anyway).

     

    John R

  22. Hi all,

     

    I will be on my first Oceania cruise in December and will be flying from San Diego to Miami. I am using O's air, and was wondering:

     

    1. Will O put you on a red eye flight to Miami from the west coast (which I really don't mind at all).

     

    2. Does anyone have any insight on what airline(s) O utilized for the San Diego - Miami flight?

     

    Thanks,

     

    John R.

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