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  1. Hello, can someone please help us out of the differences in food quality in the free dining on norwegian vs royal caribbean and the shoreexcurions on norwegian vs royal caribbean , and holland america- we did holland america and the tours were fantastic- did royal car for europe and vendors not so great for tours- hoping norwegian is better
  2. I have just had an email about a change of itinerary for the cruise I'm taking on Sunday morning. The Star departs from Venice and the first POC was meant to be Kotor, Montenegro, which I was really looking forward to seeing. I had heard the sail in to port is amazing. Now, less than 48 hours before we depart, there's been a change (apparently it's because of an order issued by the Venice Harbour Master) and we won't be going to Kotor at all - we will be making a "technical stop" at Bar, Montenegro - and won't be able to get off the ship at all. So the first POC will be Corfu on Tuesday. Does anyone have experience of claiming any sort of compensation for this kind of change? Last time I cruised with NCL, they changed the itinerary so we didn't sail into Stockholm but went to Nynashamn instead, but at least they put on free coaches to Stockholm so we still got to go there. This time we will miss out on a whole country.
  3. We are booked on the Norwegian Gem 14 day cruise departing Boston on Oct. 25, so there are a lot of at-sea days. Does anyone have experience with the kids programs and activities on board the Gem? The kids are 9, 8 and 6. We want to ensure some 'free-time' on board for our daughter and son in law! Thanks for any information and advice. We have cruised before but not with young kids.
  4. I have booked a cruise on Meraviglia for next August, visiting the Norwegian Fjords. I suspect that the 1st port stop, described as Hellesylt/Geiranger is actually just dropping ship tour passengers off at Hellesylt and continuing on then to Geiranger for the day. Can anyone confirm this or otherwise? Ken
  5. "Sorta" Live from the Explorer in the Norwegian Fjords Should any friends or family members be reading this and become concerned about the title of this thread, no worries, I am (at least as of this writing) still fully 'live. So wherefore the title? In our BCL (Between Cruising Life), my wife, Jeannie, and I, take great pleasure in traveling vicariously via travel blogs and trip reports, mainly on Cruise Critic. Last year, I decided that I would try to "give back" by posting reports of my cruises. And while I find them a lot of fun to do, I have a problem: due to the speed of my brain and fingers (or, more correctly, lack thereof), I sometimes find that it takes me an inordinate amount of cruising time to do my posts. And let me just say how in awe I sometimes am when reading the reports from some of my CC brothers and sisters who have figured out how to do great reporting while still getting full enjoyment from their cruises. But for my part, I find that by the time that I a) formulate a series of semi coherent thoughts b) hunt and peck my way around a keyboard, correcting enough errors to make it quasi comprehensible c) scroll through my photos (I tend to take an unreasonably large number of photos) and identify those that may be somewhat post worthy and d) wait................................while................................they.........................load............................. enough time has gone by that may cause me to miss out on my beauty nap. Which tends to make me cranky. Additionally, I must be ever mindful of the fact that sufficient attention must be paid to my better half, lest some more interesting options for the day's company happens by. One can never be too cautious. On the last trip we took, which was a Uniworld river cruise in France, based on my previous experiences with river cruising and how much leisure time would likely be available, I made no attempt to report live, but rather waited until I got home and reported day by day in retrospect. While this worked out pretty well, there are some limitations to this approach. In the event that an incisive, pithy, or erudite thought enter my head🤔🤪🙄, the chances of remembering such hours later are slim, the chances of remembering weeks later are pretty much nil. Also, there is no opportunity for spontaneous interaction. For example, if I am already home, and someone should ask me, "who is the chief electro technical officer, and how long will he or she be onboard?".....I dunno. Should someone request that I "please tell Sommelier Freddy that Clarice and Hannibal say hi and are enjoying his recommendation for a nice Chianti"......no can do. So what I thought I would attempt is a hybrid report of sorts, in which I would post a brief note about our activities, and a few snaps, and try to answer any questions. Then when I get home, fill in some of the details and add more photos, quite possibly more than you may wish to see. Hence, "sorta" live. I have invited those on our roll call to join in, hopefully will get some more input. Bob
  6. Hey all! Shadowmeboy here! Well we just got back from a Canada/New England Cruise on the Norwegian Dawn out of New York City and of course I took pictures! Do you want me to share them? I thought so! Let's get this trip aboard the Norwegian Dawn started! My wife, Susan, and I, Matthew, love to cruise and do it any chance we can. In 2016 we sailed the Norwegian Sun on a Southbound Cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You can read the review here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2529761 The Norwegian Sun is pictured below in Sitka, AK. In June of 2017, We sailed the Norwegian Escape to the Western Caribbean. Review: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2516206 The Norwegian Escape pictured below in Costa Maya, Mexico. In December 2017, We sailed the Norwegian Star to the Mexican Riviera over Christmas. Review: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2581330 The Norwegian Star pictured below in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico In June 2018, We sailed the Norwegian Jewel Northbound Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Seward, Alaska. Review: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2557365-north-to-alaska-shadowmeboys-jewel-shimmering-pictorial-review/ The Norwegian Jewel pictured below in Juneau, AK from the Mount Roberts Tram In November 2018, We sailed the Norwegian Bliss on a Eastern Caribbean Cruise out of Miami. Review: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2614687-shadowmeboys-blissful-eastern-caribbean-pictorial-cruise-review/ The Bliss docked in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin islands About us: My wife, Susan, is a school teacher and I work for a grocery store. Susan and I have been married 12 years (June 30th)! Due to her school schedule, we cannot sail as much as we would like. We live in the Pacific Northwest, along the Columbia River on the "dry" side of Washington State among the Apple and Cherry Orchards. Most of the pictures in this review are taken with my Canon Rebel T5 DSLR, My iPhone 10R, Susan's Samsung Moto G5, or canon g7x. With this being an odd numbered year, our June cruise is somewhere other than Alaska. We decided we wanted to visit New England and cruise out of New York City. We cruised along with Trace and Maria, who we became friends with on the 2017 Norwegian Escape cruise! They were happy to come along as they live in Connecticut, aka no major travel to the ship. We then stayed with them post cruise and explored NYC and the other New England states. So we chose the Norwegian Dawn! The Norwegian Dawn anchored just outside the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. Please feel free to ask questions along the way! I will try to answer them as quickly as I can. This review will be very picture heavy, but I love to relive my journeys through my pictures! I hope you enjoy them as well! - Matthew
  7. Agree. We have stayed in the Haven on the Getaway and on the Bliss and at no time did we encounter many children, and those we did were very well-behaved. We didn't have an issue with them taking over the pool or hot tub either.
  8. Cruising to South Pacific on Norwegian Jewel We are interested in cruising in the South Pacific. Has anyone traveled there on the Jewel? We are open to all your thoughts and comments. Thanks Wapak
  9. Live webcam showing the Norwegian Escape and Celebrity Summit are currently at Dockyard. Even if the Gem was late sailing home from BDA, still has time to catch up by "speeding" and/or if they ride on a good, strong tailwind like the Escape this past weekend. Gem's webcam showing blue skies and calm sea, great for sailing.
  10. HOLLAND AMERICA BOARD'S FUTURE CRUISE LISTING Updated August 16th, 2019 We all love to hear what cruises you are booked on. I post the Bon Voyage threads 7 days before sailing so, to be included in this, you need to post your details here to allow sufficient time to be on the updated Future Cruise Listing. It’s better to post earlier than later but if it is later please post THREE weeks in advance to make sure it doesn’t get missed. We would also be interested to know if this is your first cruise, your first HAL cruise or if you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Details needed are in the 2nd post of this thread. Please use REPLY and not QUOTE when posting to this thread. Using 'Quote' makes a very long thread and difficult for others to read. While this list is a lot of fun, please don't mistake it for a Roll Call thread. You can go to the Roll Call Section here on Cruise Critic and find your cruise to sign up there too. That's where your Meet & Greet planning, tour sharing, and other activities specific to your cruise will be happening. This week’s additions and changes are in BOLD and highlighted in aqua (sea colours). AUGUST 2019 Eurodam - 17-Aug-19 - 7 day Alaska Cruizer Bill & Cruizer Diana Rotterdam – 18-Aug-19 – 20 day Icelandic Fjords & Greenland Explorer dfish N Statendam - 18-Aug-19 - 7 day Viking Sagas we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th & with Aug. 25th, Sept. 8th, 15th, 27th & Oct. 7th Empress of the Seas (RCCL) - 18-Aug-19 - 6 night Western Caribbean rafinmd - 1st time as Diamond Plus N Statendam - 25-Aug-19 - 14 day Jewels of the Baltic asebastian we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th & 25th & with Sept. 8th, 15th, 27th & Oct. 7th Cailey53 - 1st sailing as 4* Mariners N Statendam – 25-Aug-19 – 53 days - ? we’re sailing away…. Veendam - 26-Aug-19 – 12 day Voyage of the Explorers JR42 ksmaxey & DW Amsterdam – 26-Aug-19 – 14 day Great Alaskan Explorer StLouisCruisers – celebrating 50th wedding anniversary on board Av8rix N Amsterdam - 31-Aug-19 - 7 day Alaskan Inside Passage crunchii & Zarmengar SEPTEMBER 2019 Oosterdam - 01-Sep-19 - 7 day Alaskan Explorer/Hubbard operakatz Zuiderdam - 03-Sep-19- 12 day Colors of Canada & New England vms & majormomma- mother - daughter trip lynanken Eurodam - 07-Sep-19 - 7 day Alaska Explorer R/T Seattle Gonzowifey - 1st HAL cruise & 1st Alaska Oosterdam – 08-Sep-19 – 7 night Alaska Explorer razzinger – 1st time on HAL & to Alaska, 9th cruise overall N Statendam - 08-Sep-19 - 7 day Norse Legends we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th, 18th, 25th & with Sept. 15th, 27th & Oct. 7th Amsterdam - 09-Sep-19 - 14 day Great Alaskan Explorer IrishSmileyM3 - 3rd HAL cruise, 1st Alaska, celebrating 12.5th anniversary N Statendam – 15-Sep-19 – 12 day Iberian Adventure travelqueen101 - celebrating 60th birthday we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th, 18th, 25th, Sept. 8th and with Sept. 27th & Oct. 7th Zuiderdam – 15-Sep-19 – 12 day Quebec to NYC mamaofami – 60th anniversary trip Amsterdam - 23-Sep-19 - 35 day Incan Empires ArtsyCraftsy woodworker & knitter Veendam - 25-Sep-19 - 23 day Panama Canal Av8rix N Statendam - 27-Sep-19 - 10 day Mediterranean Mosaic we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th, 18th, 25th, Sept. 8th, 15th & with Oct. 7th Eurodam - 29-Sep-19 - 16 day collector R/T Vancouver - Hawaii & Pacific, Mexico pizzadog -celebrating 54th wedding anniversary cemnm18 - celebrating DW's birthday gypsymama5996 Westerdam – 29-Sep-19 – 13 day North Pacific CrossingK rwams – with granddaughter OCTOBER 2019 Rotterdam – 05-Oct-19 – 14 day European River Explorer doncarlos & Fishbabe N Statendam - 07-Oct-19 - 10 day Mediterranean Dream I like vacation - celebrating an anniversary & achieving 3* status we're sailing away.... - B2B2B2B2B2B2B following Aug. 4th, 18th, 25th, Sept. 8th, 15th, 27th N Statendam - 07-Oct-19 - Best of the Mediterranean Dismomx5 - celebrating 35th anniversary on their 4th HAL cruise Koningsdam - 31-Oct-19 - 13 day Passage to America vinonme2 -with sister, DS's 1st cruise, pre-cruise stay in Lake Como & Tuscany for 2 weeks Eurodam - 15-Oct-19 - 4 night Pacific Coastal msmayor - B2B with 7 night Mexican Riviera Koningsdam – 18-Oct-19 – 13 day Mediterranean Legend we’re sailing away…..- B2B2B with Oct. 31st & Nov. 13th Koningsdam – 18-Oct-19 – 26 day Mediterranean Legend & Passage to America Sailingdutchy Vict0riann Cruizer Bill & Cruizer Diana Queen Mary 2 - 18-Oct-19 - 7-night Eastbound Transatlantic rafinmd - B2B2B with Crystal Bach Oct 25 and Crystal Serenity Nov 5 Eurodam - 19-Oct-19 - 7 night Mexican Riviera msmayor - B2B following 4 night Pacific coastal N Amsterdam - 19-Oct-19 - 7 day Eastern Caribbean DFD1 N Amsterdam – 19-Oct-19 – 14 day Eastern/Tropical Caribbean saturn93 Rotterdam – 19-Oct-19 – 32 day Holy Land and Passage to America aliaschief & DWaliaschief Cinder Again Oosterdam - 20-Oct-19 - 17 day Circle Hawaii cat shepard Zuiderdam - 20-Oct-19 - 10 day Panama Canal Sunfarer RetiredNow AMA Amacerto - 27-Oct-19 - 7 day Legendary Danube (Nuremburg - Budapest AZNATIVE2000 - visiting Prague Oct. 21st precruise Crystal Bach 25-Oct-19 - 10-night Enchanting Moselle rafinmd - B2B2B following QM2 Oct 18 & with Crystal Serenity Nov5 Amsterdam - 28-Oct-19 - 51 day Tales of the South Pacific Traveling Dot FlorenceItaly Veendam - 30-Oct-19 - 7 day Eastern Caribbean anderson1203 - first HAL cruise Koningsdam - 31-Oct-19 - 13 day Passage to America we're sailing away.....- B2B2B following Oct. 18th & with Nov. 13th NOVEMBER 2019 Eurodam - 02-Nov-19 - 7 night Mexican riviera dobiemom Crystal Serenity - 5-Nov-19 - 19-night Explorer Combination - Barcelona to FTL rafinmd - B2B2B following QM2 Oct 18, Crystal Bach Oct 25 and with Symphony Nov 24 N Statendam - 10-Nov-19 - 7 day Eastern Caribbean Crazy For Cats the2ofus- B2B with Nov. 17th Judyrem - first HAL cruise, 70th birthday celebration Himself DFWGUYZ - achieving 3* on this sailing Koningsdam - 13-Nov-19 - 11 day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer we're sailing away.... - B2B2B following Oct. 18th & Oct. 31st Celebrity Silhouette - 14-Nov-19 - 8 Day Southern Caribbean Cruisinetta N Statendam - 17-Nov-19 - 14 day Western/Tropical Caribbean taxmantoo the2ofus- B2B following Nov. 10th Volendam – 20-Nov-19 – 30 Night Amazon Explorer Loreto – celebrating 50th wedding anniversary Chergs N Amsterdam - 23-Nov-19 - 7 day Tropical Caribbean Cruise twin - with twin & a friend celebrating the twins' belated birthday grest - celebrating Thanksgiving birthday N Statendam - 24-Nov-19 - 7 day Tropical Caribbean HELENPSL - annual Thanksgiving cruise with Angelo N Statendam - 24-Nov-19 - 14 day Tropical/Eastern Caribbean oldpharmguy Koningsdam - 24-Nov-19 - 10 night Southern Caribbean Seafarer wdw 1972 Crystal Serenity -24-Nov-19 - 7-night Caribbean Cornucopia from Miami rafinmd - B2B2B following QM2 Oct 18, Crystal Bach Oct 25 & Crystal Serenity Nov 5 DECEMBER 2019 N. Statendam - 01-Dec-19 - 7 day Eastern Caribbean deliver42 Eurodam - 01-Dec-19 - 10 day Panama Canal partial transit DFD1 - celebrating birthday Maasdam - 03-Dec-19 - 20 day New Zealand & Pacific VK3DQ - first HAL cruise, with MIL, celebrating 95th (MIL) & 73rd (VK3) birthdays on board N Amsterdam - 07-Dec-19 - 7 day Tropical Caribbean 1ANGELCAT- celebrating with friends - 1 receiving their Platinum medallion sp2 - celebrating 23rd anniversary & sp2's birthday & their 25th cruise Rotterdam - 06-Dec-19 - 15 day Panama Canal sambamama - 1st time on Rotterdam & West to East Panama Amsterdam - 18-Dec-19 - 17 day Panama Canal Holiday Infi Veendam – 18-Dec-19 – 10 day Southern Caribbean Seafarer Holiday Crazy For Cats Zaandam - 18-Dec-19 - 22 day Holiday South America& Antarctica RetiredNow - B2B with 09-Jan-20 Volendam - 20-Dec-19 - 16 night Christmas & New Year hal lover - 1st time on Volendam Westerdam - 21-Dec-19 - 14 day Far East Discovery TN Fem Rotterdam - 21-Dec-19 - 17 day Panama Canal (FLL - SD) dbaudit & Doc Bear- 2nd Panama Canal Koningsdam - 22-Dec-19 - 11 day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer Holiday jagger16 - 1st extended holiday cruise Oosterdam - 28-Dec-19 - 7 day Mexican Riviera LynnObie - 50th wedding anniversary with 3 daughters, spouses & 2 grandchildren JANUARY 2020 Koningsdam - 02-Jan-20 - 10 day Southern Caribbean Seafarer RevNeal Amsterdam – 04-Jan-20 - Grand World Voyage we’re sailing away…. mame42 scluvsrain Scrapnana DeepWaterMariner – 2nd World Voyage N Amsterdam - 04-Jan-20 - 7 day Eastern Caribbean kcohleffel - 1st HAL cruise Volendam – 05-Jan-20 – 77 day Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage Oak Hill Cruisers travellersrest TBcruiserguy N Statendam - 05-Jan-20 - 14 day Tropical/Eastern Caribbean ger_77 - escape from the frozen tundra Zaandam - 09-Jan-20 - 22 day South America& Antarctica 0bnxshs & Missy's Mom – birthday celebration on board & achieving 5* RetiredNow - B2B with 18-Dec-19 bobalink - 1st time on Zaandam & South America N Statendam - 12-Jan-20 - Eastern Caribbean pjck71 - celebrating 25th anniversary & DH's 50th birthday, 2nd time on HAL Westerdam - 16-Jan-20 - 30 day Far East Discovery Collector pictonite Koningsdam - 22-Jan-20 - 12 day Caribbean aliaschief & DWAliaschief Crystal Serenity - 22-Jan-20 - 40-day World Cruise Segment Los Angeles to Sydney rafinmd - B2B with QM2 March 5 Silver Wind - 23-Jan-20 - 11 day Eastern Caribbean Randyk47 Regent Seven Seas Mariner - 24-Jan-20 - 131 day World Cruise ArtsyCraftsy - first World Cruise N Statendam - 26-Jan-20 - 14 day Tropical/Eastern Caribbean forwardho - celebrating birthday on board FEBRUARY 2020 Oosterdam - 05-Feb-20 - 17 day Panama Canal VintageGeo-1st time through the Canal Zuiderdam - 08-Feb-20 - 7 day Tropical Caribbean OVgirl - B2B with 11 day Panama Sunfarer cruise N Statendam - 9-Feb-20 - 14 day Tropical Caribbean Typhoon1 Zuiderdam - 15-Feb-20 - 11 day Panama Canal Sunfarer OVgirl - B2B following 7 day Tropical Caribbean Feb. 8th Eurodam - 16-Feb-20 - 14 day Panama Canal (FLL - SD) RetiredMustang summer slope N Statendam - 16-Feb-20 - 7 day Tropical Caribbean Brewgirl1 - 3rd HAL cruise, travelling with parents & adult children Koningsdam - 23-Feb-20 - 10 night Southern Caribbean Seafarer esimon - Robert, Ellen, Lynn and Will Ohio MARCH 2020 Queen Mary 2 - 06-Mar-20 - 50-day World Cruise Segment Sydney to New York rafinmd - B2B with Crystal Serenity January 22 Zaandam – 07-Mar-20 – 31 day South America, Inca & Panama Canal Discovery kazu Rotterdam – 11-Mar-20 – Panama Canal San D to FLL DeeniEncinitas - B2B with Oceania Riviera – March 30th summer slope Oosterdam - 14-Mar-20 - 7 day Mexican Riviera KroozNut Westerdam - 14-Mar-20 - 14 day China Explorer LTC_Motes - daughter's graduation cruise Koningsdam – 15-Mar-20 – 44 day Voyage of the Americas – (FLL – SD) Overhead Fred – longest cruise ever Maasdam - 15-Mar-20 - 19 day South Pacific madera1 Eurodam – 18-Mar-20 – 18 day Circle Hawaii lakeside42 jeda -celebrating 40th anniversary - B2B with Pacific Coastal Apr. 5th CaliforniaAC - with friends Bill & Di Cailey53 Oosterdam - 21-Mar-20 - 28 day Hawaii, Tahiti, Marquesas Tomndeena crystalspin & dr'spin - belated celebration of dr'spin's retirement at end of 2019 VacationingCharlene Oceania Riviera – 30- Mar-20 – TA Miami to Rome DeeniEncinitas – B2B following Rotterdam March 11th APRIL 2020 Eurodam - 05-Apr-20 - 6 day Pacific Coastal jeda - B2B following Mar. 18th Rotterdam - 06-Apr-20 - 16 day Azores & Normandy Explorer grest Oceania Riviera - 19-Apr-20 - 10 day Monte Carlo - BCN DeeniEncinitas - Christmas present from DH Zuiderdam - 19-Apr-20 - 14 day Passage to Rome kazu - followed by visit to Galicia, Spain N Statendam - 19-Apr-20 - 14 night TA to Amsterdam TriumphGuyAL - 1st HAL cruise, 4th overall - celebrating 43rd anniversary on board Veendam - 22-Apr-20 - 17 day Azores & Normandy Explorer lizzies_mom Westerdam - 25-Apr-20 - 16 day North Pacific Crossing Taters Oosterdam - 25-Apr-20 - 7 day Pacific Coastal lazey1 - 1st time cruising as 5* & in a Neptune wrap around suite MAY 2020 N Statendam - 10-May-20 - 14 day Jewels of the Baltic rwams Zuiderdam - 15-May-20 - Mediterranean Empires gwilli Maasdam - 18-May-20 - 14 day Great Alaska Explorer TomAndJane woodworker & knitter Zaandam - 23-May-20 - 7-Day Canada & New England Discovery BRWolf - (Bruce and Karen) JUNE 2020 N Amsterdam - 03-Jun-20 - 24 day Mediterranean Empires/Adriatic Dream taxmantoo JULY 2020 Zuiderdam - 02-Jul-20 - 24 day Northern Isles & Jewels of the Baltic Lucie73821 N. Statendam- 19-Jul-20 - 7 day Norwegian fjord Bramcruiser AUGUST 2020 Viking Orion - 04-Aug-20 - 68 day Grand Cape Horn Adventure ArtsyCraftsy Zuiderdam - 09-Aug-20 - 10 day Jewels of the Baltic shudie- B2B with Aug. 19th Caribbean Princess - 16 day Greenland & Canada StartrainDD Zuiderdam - 19-Aug-20 - 19 day Viking Passage I like vacation Vict0riann - big birthday on board shudie- B2B with Aug. 9th Queen Mary 2 - 21-Aug-20 - 7-night Eastbound Transatlantic rafinmd - B2B2B with Crystal Serenity 30 Aug and Zuiderdam Sept 17th Crystal Serenity - 30-Aug-20 - 13 day TA Discovery (BCN - Que) rafinmd - B2B2B following QM2 Aug 21st and with Zuiderdam Sept. 17th SEPTEMBER 2020 N Statendam - 13-Sep-20 - 12 night Iberian Peninsula Poulsbo Cruisers - 30th anniversary cruise Zuiderdam - 17-Sep-20 - 10 day Newfoundland & New England Discovery (Quebec to Boston) rafinmd - B2B2B following QM2 Aug 21st and Crystal Serenity Aug. 30th Viking Sea - 21-Sep-20 - 10 days Empire of the Mediterranean (Venice to Athens) terrydtx - 1st Viking Ocean cruise, celebrating50th anniversary Koningsdam - 26-Sep-20 - 7 day Wine and Country & Pacific Northwest crunchii & Zarmengar OCTOBER 2020 Viking Tir – 01-Oct-20 – 14 day Grand European River Cruise (Budapest to Amsterdam) aliaschief & DWaliaschief - 1st Grand river cruise Westerdam - 07-Oct-20 - 37 day Inca & South America Discovery GeorgeCharlie N Amsterdam - 13-Oct-20 - 12 day Mediterranean Romance canadianbear - 1st time in Europe Rotterdam - 15-Oct-20 - 15 day Transatlantic (BCN - FLL) sambamama- 1st time to Africa Zaandam – 31-Oct-20 – 14 day Southern Caribbean Overhead Fred NOVEMBER 2020 Westerdam - 13-Nov-20 - 14 day South America Passage (BA - Santiago) Taters N Statendam - 22-Nov-20 - 10 day Southern Caribbean Seafarer cruiseguy56 Westerdam - 27-Nov-20 - 22 day South America, Antarctica & Solar Eclipse Loreto Zuiderdam - 29-Nov-20 - Southern Caribbean Cruisinetta DECEMBER 2020 N Statendam - 02-12-20 - 11 night Southern Caribbean Wayfarer wdw1972 N Statendam - 02-12-20 - 21 day Caribbean (B2B Dec. 2-23) cate54 - mother & daughter cruise Zuiderdam - 09-Dec-20 - 11 day Panama Canal Sunfarer Mr and Mrs CIQ -retirement cruise grest Westerdam - 19-Dec-20 - 22 day South America & Antarctica Holiday StartrainDD - pre-cruise trip Dec. 13th to Igazu Falls Noordam - 20-Dec-20 - 15-day Far East Discovery LTC Motes - party of 7 NCL Escape - 27-Dec-20 - 7 night Eastern Caribbean msmayor - holiday cruise to celebrate with adult children JANUARY 2021 Koningsdam - 02-Jan-21 - 7 day Mexican Riviera mab4285 - first solo cruise & HAL cruise as an adult Amsterdam - 04-Jan-21 - 128 day Grand World Voyage vinonme2 Maasdam - 04-Jan-21 - 40 day Australia, Indonesia & Indian Collector aliaschief & DWAliaschief - B2B2B with Feb 13th & Mar 4th N Statendam - 06-Jan-21 - 21 day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer crystalspin - with dr'spin, mom & DBr0 & SIL, celebrating 30th anniversary & DB's 60th birthday Koningsdam - 09-Jan-20 - 24 day Collectors' Cruise - Hawaii & Mexico DeeniEncinitas FEBRUARY 2021 Maasdam - 13-Feb-21 - 19 day Papua, New Guinea & Phillipine Adventurer aliaschief & DWAliaschief - B2B2B following Jan. 4th & with Mar. 4th Rotterdam - 21-Feb-21 - 32 day Hawaii, Tahiti, & Marquesas Overhead Fred josumello - first HAL cruise samsonmo MARCH 2021 Maasdam - 04-Mar-21 - 25 day South Pacific Crossing aliaschief & DWAliaschief - B2B2B following Jan. 4th & Feb. 13th N Statendam - 21-Mar-21 - 10 day cruise doone - Friends & Family cruise AUGUST 2021 Oosterdam - 22-Aug-21 - 7 day Alaskan Explorer crunchii & Zarmengar HAPPY CRUISING EVERYONE! Jacqui
  11. Yeah that's correct.... Will be aboard the Getaway and will be at Costa Maya from 7AM to 2PM. I really like Costa Maya and it's one of my favorite ports but not crazy about the times we are in port. Of course if we were there for more traditional hours say 8-4/5 we would go to Maya Chan like we always do. But since it takes a little while to get there and to return I'm looking at other options. Can I beat just going to the Tropicante? Your thoughts and thanks!
  12. I’ve scrolled through numerous pages of cruise critic reviews and threads and through the cabin compilation and I still can’t decide! Its our first time on celebrity and it is an 11 night southern Caribbean itinerary on the constellation. In the past we’ve done mainly balconies or jr suited on royal, plus a couple less enjoyable cruises on Norwegian and carnival. Options are 1140–aft aqua. My understanding is that would have a bigger balcony but we’d lose access to the retreat. I’m worried about noise and privacy based on some reviews but would love the bigger balcony. Other option is a sky suite for about $800 more on deck 6. Like the idea of the retreat deck with 5 sea days and also the extra restaurant. Thoughts on which we should choose? Am I missing any other pros/cons? I’m being so indecisive!
  13. Hi all, First time cruising down in New Zealand and I have a few questions and couldn't find too much in the search and hopefully someone with mroe experience or a local Kiwi/Aussie could give some help. Normally I try the roll call but since so few of us are on those for non US cruises, trying my luck here? My itinerary is as follows: Day Cruise Ports Arrive Depart Mon Auckland, New Zealand (EMBARK) --- 6:00 pm Tue Bay of Islands, New Zealand 8:00 am 6:00 pm Wed Tauranga, New Zealand 6:00 am 5:30 pm Thu Napier, New Zealand 9:00 am 4:30 pm Fri Marlborough (Picton), New Zealand 8:00 am 6:00 pm Sat Akaroa, New Zealand 8:00 am 6:00 pm Sun Dunedin (Port Chalmers), New Zealand 8:00 am 6:00 pm Mon Cruise Doubtful Sound --- --- Cruise Dusky Sound --- --- Cruise Milford Sound --- --- Tue At Sea --- --- Wed At Sea --- --- Thu Sydney, Australia (DISEMBARK) 6:00 am --- Do you know which ports are tender ports? I was thinking I'll book the cruise excursions for those and I was trying to check and on the board, it says Auckland is a tender port which suprises me being such a large city but that doesn't affect me so much. Do you know about the others? Next, what are some of the recommended excursions? I have two little ones, a 2 year old and a 5 year old so somethign that is family friendly would be awesome. If you have any must dos or good for them, please share! It says we arrive at 6AM Sydney, does anyone know if a 12:00PM flight is catchable assuming no special priority disembarkation or would we need that? Lastly, I have seen reviews that the 8th floor being aboe Bliss is a horrible level. Are there any other places that would not be recommended to book? Thanks! Yi
  14. I fly to Miami Saturday evening and will board the Empress for a 6 night getaway to Key West, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. This was (for me) something of a last minute booking, just a couple of months ago. My style is a bit different than many, I will normally post just once a day unless something unusual, and my style tends to be narrative more than pictorial. This thread will be a companion to my blog (http://getawaysfrom21044,wordpress.com) which will also be the hosting site for my photos, and at the top of the page are tabs to pages with Compass and menus. A bit about me. I’m pretty much an out of control, sailing on several lines, but mostly Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, and to a lesser extent Royal. My totals for this year will be 94 days HAL, 33 Crystal, 26 Cunard, and 6 Royal. My Royal activity has been mostly out of Baltimore (Enchantment and then Grandeur), but I’ve also sailed Allure, Anthem, Monarch, Jewel, and Radiance (not yet on the mid-size ships). I tend to prefer smaller ships although amenities and service are also important. I’m a bit unsure of the Empress as although my 3 favorite ships (Crystal Serenity, Crystal Symphony, and Prinsendam) are roughly the same size the Empress carries more people than any 2 of them combined. I hear she isn’t crowded and hope that will be true; I really like her Bermuda itineraries next year. This will be my first cruise as D+. I welcome questions although it may take me a little while to respond. I also invite any of my roll call members to add their perspectives to the thread. Roy
  15. Hi, I know what Norwegian has promised to pay refunds and credits for the restriction to Cuba sailings - I'm just wondering if anyone has received the 50% fare credit yet and I had a few questions: 1) Was the 50% based on fare, taxes, and any other fees paid? 2) Was it off the entire fare for all travelers in the party? 3) Does anyone know if the "future" cruise credit is limited to a dollar amount, number in party and/or to certain destinations? Thanks so much!
  16. This thread can go on forever. Nothing can change the already configured "Encore" which was built/designed by people smarter than us. Sorry folks. As a solo traveler (most of the time), there are only "Studio Cabins" available on the Breakaway Class and + (minus Joy). I don't want to speak for the entire clientele in the Studios, but I must say that Spice was a great place to hang out away from the kids. The Grotto (on Escape) was perfect to cool off. With the elimination of that space on new/impending ships to dry dock, well, who knows. Replacing calm spaces with Laser Tag for an up charge is beyond me. Let me get this straight...Laser Tag (a game which includes guns and shooting people) overrides basic deck space for the average person. Hmm. I kinda get the Go-Karts (for those who want to pay to partake), but I just have a hard time with "Laser Tag" taking space based on today's societies attitude with guns, etc. Nuff said on that and PLEASE this is just JMO! Vibe: A general advertisement on their website says this: Found on board Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, and Norwegian Getaway, Vibe Beach Club is one of the cruise line’s hidden gems. Vibe Beach Club is an all-adult (age 18+), limited access lounging and sunbathing oasis. If you search deeper, you may find this: The private whirlpools offer quiet and deep relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Norwegian also limits the number of passes that can be purchased to enter Vibe Beach Club in order to ensure tranquility by never allowing the club to feel overcrowded. There are plenty of cushioned chaise lounges and chairs and a full-service bar for ultimate relaxation. These first-come first-served passes must be booked through Guest Services once you board, so it’s a good idea to go straight there on embarkation day. Huh? How deep do you have to search to find out that it costs $$$ and you pretty much have to be 1st in line and RUN to a destination to obtain these passes? What about people who aren't on CC and saw the glorious advertisement for the "Vibe"? Poor saps 😞 It's all good. There will always be a cabin waiting for me somewhere throughout the cruise industry, and NCL will not miss me and my measly Studio. LOL! 🙂
  17. I was wondering if anyone has had experience with where you can and cannot fly? We are on the Getaway next month from Copenhagen to Warnemünde, Tallinn, St. Petersberg, Helsinki and Stockholm. I believe we can fly it in Tallin, but not sure about the other places. And I am assuming drones off the ship at sea are a no-no.
  18. Introduction: We are about to embark on our 33rd cruise, but first time MSC! We love Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, but have enjoyed all our cruise experiences, including Carnival, Costa and Celebrity. We are definitely ‘glass half full’ people who are still amazed and grateful that we are able to afford cruising. I hope we will have enough wifi (2GB) for the duration of the cruise so that I can report daily. I will try my best! I don’t typically write a lot, and share most of our experiences in pictures. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. I will try my best to find answers during our 14 days on this beautiful ship! We board tomorrow, and can’t wait to share the experience with you, in a virtual world. Our Itinerary:
  19. A review of the 7 night Inside Passage Alaska cruise aboard the MS Volendam 24/07/2019 – 31/07/2019 I found this forum really helpful before we took this cruise so thought that I would compile a review as it might help someone else. I really enjoyed Oakman58’s recent review too and it was just being published before I started this cruise. My husband and I decided to celebrate our honeymoon with 3 nights at the Calgary Stampede, 9 nights driving through the Rockies staying in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff prior to our final week on the cruise through the inside passage. It was both our first time to Canada and it was amazing. Just fabulous scenery, atmosphere and friendly people. We spent nearly every day in the Rockies hiking of some sort, so the cruise was the rest and relaxation component to the honeymoon. We were first time cruisers. I had a friend here in Perth who had done this exact cruise 2 years previous and loved it so that was the main reason we chose to go with HAL for our first cruise. We decided to go for the Neptune Suite (I know I know quite possibly ruining future cruising experiences!) and had the explore 4 package thing which included $200 on board credit and a Pinnacle grill dinner and the signature beverage package. I looked up this forum for advice on rooms and a lady on Trip Advisor that regularly responds on forum posts about HAL over there. We went with 7028 on the port side. Embarkation day We flew from Calgary to Vancouver and were booked in to stay at the Four Seasons which included “transfers” from the airport and to the ship. All this meant was a woman with a clip board accompanying us from the baggage carousel to the taxi queue and giving us a taxi voucher to get us to the hotel (obviously if we had of known that we would have sorted it ourselves). Once we checked in to the Four Seasons, we were given another taxi voucher to get to the terminal the next day. We were advised to board at our leisure from 10am. That afternoon in Vancouver I raided Sephora for products you can’t get here, and we picked up wine to bring on board and a few other bits we wanted. We then explored Gastown for dinner. The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel (not included in the package) and headed for the cruise terminal for about 11.15AM. The Four Seasons was a nice enough hotel. Very expensive I think it was around the $400 mark, we were booked into a standard room but were upgraded to a high-level corner room with city views when we checked in. The PanPacific was more expensive at the time we booked according to my T.A. I had been advised to not bother boarding until nearer 2pm but we were both excited to get onboard and explore and suss the place out. We had a straightforward boarding process from dropping our bags off to checking in and clearing customs; we were in our room by mid-day. Stateroom 7028 Our first impression of the suite was just WOW its huge. There was a bottle of sparkling wine on ice just above the mini bar which is included in the Neptune suite package. Next to that was the Nespresso machine. The mirrored cabinets had glasses and some crockery for use. The suite just has so much storage and space it was great. There were drawers everywhere. The mini dressing room area with the mirrored wardrobes was great for extra space so as not to clog up the bathroom but we found the bathroom to be of a decent size. The shower was amazing. The bath had jets in it, but it was quite small, we never ended up using it. A tip I had from here was to use the toiletry bags that hang to save on bench space and that was useful but there are three shelves on one side of the sink that can be used to store toiletries and a long shelf beneath the sink to tuck things away. The bathroom was the only place that had good light for doing your makeup. The dressing room area was dark yellow light. In the bedroom the mirrors behind the bed were kind of smoked. The hair dryer supplied was terrible – just the travel size one that is normally thrown in for free when you buy a good hairdryer or hair straightener. That was disappointing. There was one plug point (for normal voltage) in the dressing room area so you could plug in other appliances. The other single plug point was by the bed where the Bose unit was. Again, another tip from here was to bring a power board which we used here. The TV was pretty old school and the picture was never clear, but not that big a deal for us as we weren’t there to watch TV but it’s a bit unusual in this day and age. Might be challenging for those with children. When we went out to the balcony there was still a plate with left over dessert on it.. which indicated to us then that the balcony hadn’t been cleaned at all from the previous passengers that morning. At that point our two stateroom stewards called in to introduce themselves. They were both Balinese, so we got chatting straight away, it’s our go to quick getaway holiday destination here on the west coast so we have been many times and knew the areas they were from. We mentioned the plate on the balcony, so they were quick to sort that out while we headed off to the Neptune lounge to meet the concierge. The concierge welcomed us in and introduced herself. We got straight onto making reservations for dinner as we had gone with open dining. We asked for a table for two by a window after some discussions around which floor was open dining and fixed. The Gala nights were for the next night and the Sunday the day where we were going to be in Glacier Bay, so we booked in the MDR for 7:45pm for all the sea days and gala nights and the Ketchikan day where we were leaving port at 6pm. She said there was no guarantee of the tables but that they would try to accommodate us. We booked the Pinnacle grill for our last night on the ship. We had a coffee in the lounge – the coffee in there was very good. Finding good coffee in Canada had been a major challenge of our trip thus far so this was great bonus. We decided not to eat anything there at this point. There was a small Bain Marie which had little sandwich rolls, salad plates and sushi and then another sideboard of dessert plates and biscuits. The lounge is fairly small, one dining room size table for six, one for two people and then two sets of couches and chairs. From there we headed off to explore and get our bearings. We went up a deck and found the spa and gym, so we took a tour. My first impression was that the gym was a good size and well equipped with resistance machines as well as cardio equipment. There are probably 6 cross trainers, 3 bikes, 2 rowers and 6 treadmills around the perimeter facing out to sea with weight machines in the centre and a free weights area off to one side. The far side of the room had floor space for the various classes scheduled for the week. The Spa tour went through some of their treatments and specials for the week. We then got to the thermal suite. We had pre-purchased a couples pass for the week. They told us again that they only give away 20 passes for the week, so it won’t be too crowded (more on that later). There are only 5 loungers and one spa pool that would comfortably fit one couple. There is so much wasted floor space in that room where they could have either had more loungers or a much bigger jacuzzi/mineral bath. We booked in for 75minute massage package for the next morning. We then went through different bars and food options on deck 4 and 5. The Lido was serving lunch that day and we hadn’t eaten yet so decided to try it out.. and that was the last time we ate at the lido all week haha. It was chaos. Lots of people don’t know how to queue and the wait staff didn’t appear able to keep up with clearing the tables and resetting them again. There were two sides to the restaurant but appeared to be serving the same food on both sides. I wouldn’t be keen on buffets anyway, but this was hard work. We ate outside where it was quieter. We headed back to the room and the luggage had been delivered, I think this was around 2pm. We unpacked (I was dying to do this after moving around every 3 days prior to this). We headed back to the lido pool area and had a drink there, testing out our signature beverage package cards! The weather was good in Vancouver that day, the sun was out. We explored the rest of that deck and went up another level to the sports courts and walked around the deck. The spa was having a draw for $500 credit at 4.30pm so we decided to go there for that as you had to be present to win. We were out of luck so headed back to the sea view pool to take in leaving Vancouver. It was quite lively out there with music and special cocktails. Everyone taking pictures and chatting. We headed for our own balcony then for awhile to just enjoy the scenery as we sailed out of Vancouver. There was a cocktail party in the Neptune lounge that evening from 6.30pm. Our dinner reservation for the first night was 7pm so we only had a half hour to mingle in the lounge. It was quiet in the half hour we were there with guests from 4 staterooms. We got chatting to a nice couple from Vancouver with 250+ sea days celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary. They gave us a good run down on the ins and outs of the ship to get the best out of it and the Neptune suite so that was cool. There was a bit of a line up at the MDR, but we were at the top in a minute and we were led to our table. We were thrilled we were on a two-top right at the window at the back of the ship. This ended up being the table given to us every night we dined in the MDR just the two of us. The waiter and sommelier were really good and attentive. We found the service in the MDR to be really attentive. I can’t remember now what we had but I know we enjoyed all of our meals in the MDR. Once or twice my husband chose the fish dish and found it to be a bit on the blander side but overall, we would give our evening meals a solid 8/10. We had the signature beverage package and found there were quite a few options for nice wine in the $11 and under price range including a French Cotes de Provence Rose and Chilean Sauv Blanc. We ended up in the Crow’s Nest that night for a few more after dinner but had a relatively early night having had quite a few drinks over the day. When we got back to the room, they had spread rose petals all over the bed and floor and made two swans out of the towels in a love heart. Leaving Canada Place. 25/07/2019 Cruising the Inside Passage We had a couple’s massage book for ~10am. We both woke up pretty dusty after the wines so gratefully hit the Neptune lounge coffee machine for a fix when we woke up. We could have used the machine in the room, but we were only 3 doors down from the lounge and the coffees were so good there. The lounge has food available all day long. They had mini servings of bircher muesli every morning, so I grabbed two of those to enjoy with coffee on the balcony before heading to the Pinnacle Grill. There were pastries, muffins, fruit, yogurt and other light breakfast items in the morning. As part of the Neptune suite you get to have breakfast in the PG between 8am and 9.30am. The menu is huge, and you can order as much or as little as you want. They would start you off with coffee/tea and offer mimosas or juice and then a selection of pastries while you were waiting for the breakfast. This first day I think I had a smoked salmon eggs benedict which was great. Service was pretty good in here as there are a limited number of guests. We went for the couple’s massage then which was 75mins of bliss particularly as we were a bit hungover! We used the thermal suite afterwards and had the jacuzzi to ourselves for 10-15mins and then used the loungers to relax for a while. Later during the day there was a knock at the door and Bagus delivered us a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a note from the cruise director wishing us a happy honeymoon which was a nice gesture. That evening was the first Gala night. Fresh flower corsages were included for us which was nice. The concierge took some pictures for us and we went to the Ocean bar for pre-dinner drinks. The chairs by the window are comfortable here with great views, we liked going here before dinner for a drink. We both dressed up, I was in heels and a cocktail dress and himself had a dinner jacket on. We got quite a few comments – people asking us if we were on honeymoon etc! I think we must have stood out a bit with the corsages and I would say less than 25% of the people I seen that evening were wearing suits or cocktail/evening dresses. The only tuxedo’s I saw were a few gentlemen I recognised from the Neptune suites. We got chatting to the couple we met on the first night and they said that people tend not to dress up for the gala night anymore. We went in for dinner at 7:45pm and were escorted to the table we had the previous evening which we loved. Teddy and the sommelier Ivan were straight over with menus and taking our orders. I can’t remember exactly what was on the menu, but I know we enjoyed it. We were probably closer to 10pm by the time we got up to the Crow’s nest on the top deck. They tended to have a DJ on at that time and happy hour. The place really filled up and the dance floor was busy. We got chatting to two other couples travelling together from NZ and Canada and ended up on the dance floor with them, it was some craic altogether. I don’t think we finished up until near 2am that night. I vaguely remember getting back to the room and there being an elephant on the bed and as it was gala night there were truffle chocolates left out for us with the when and where fold out for the next day. 26/07/2019 Juneau 1pm – 10pm. At about 10am a small boat pulled up alongside to collect passengers heading off on the Tracy Arm Inlet Excursion. We had ordered room service for that morning. Like the day before I grabbed coffees and some small bircher mueslis from the lounge. Room service arrived; everything was still hot. I went with salmon again, but the other half had gone with the steak which was just huge. When we docked our side of the ship was facing out to sea which was nice. There were 3 other ships docked in port. We arrived early about 12pm. We had a small lunch in the Neptune lounge (every day there were several salads, mini sandwich rolls, sushi etc we never had lunch at any of the restaurants other than here) They announced people could get off about 12:45pm. We had booked Harv and Marv’s whale watching tour independently after researching tours online and were due to be collected at 1:30pm so we decided to go have a wander through town. There was nothing appealing about Juneau. Jewellery shop after jewellery shop. We headed off on the tour bus then as planned just after 1:30pm. Only 10 people were on the small boat which was great for being able to see at all times and for taking pictures. We got quite a show and seen 6 whales and some seals. The bus drive on the way back stopped at a bridge with a nice view of the glacier with wildflowers in the foreground. We also seen numerous eagles and stopped for better pictures. We had initially planned to go up on the cable car/gondola for a look out over Juneau and do the walk from the gondola up to the peak but decided against it in the end. Earlier that day we pre ordered room service off the MDR menu to arrive at 6.45pm, to save time having to change for the MDR. Our intention was to eat on board in the room and then head back into town for another walk around and maybe a drink in one of the local bars. As we were quite underwhelmed with Juneau, we enjoyed a lovely 3 course meal on our veranda and the sunset as we departed. Impressive display by the humpback whales on our tour with Harv and Marv. Views from our veranda. 27/07/2019 Skagway 7am – 9pm. Due to the warm weather early in the season the musher camps were closed the first week of July on the glaciers and the excursions were cancelled. You could still do a helicopter flight seeing trip with a walk around on the glacier. We had both done proper glacier flightseeing and hikes in New Zealand previously so were happy to find something else to do. The appeal was to see the huskies. Instead we hired a car and drove the Klondike highway ourselves. We hired the car through Avis in Skagway. I think it was about $160US for the day including insurance. Most of the cruise ship tours involve getting on the train with a stop at Caribou crossing which is a very fake tourist set up from what we seen (and going by reports from a couple of passengers we spoke to that evening who did the tour, the organised lunch was meant to be awful which I also read on a recent review on here). We went to see Emerald Lake and made a stop at the Yukon suspension bridge just to have a look. I think they charged $20pp person to walk across it. It wasn’t that amazing a feat to see really. Our day of driving was a mixture of overcast rain and minor sunshine, so I don’t think we got to see it at its best. We went off the beaten track a bit though down Tagish road to the Southern Lakes resort and restaurant. I am so glad we did; we were the only people there and had one of the cheapest (during our 3-week trip) but most lovely lunches. There are quite a few walks around there and they have canoes and kayaks for rent. This part is back in the Canadian Yukon. It’s funny it was probably one of the things we liked best about the Alaskan cruise was the day we drove back into Canada. We left Skagway in the car about 9.30am and got back around 4pm. Before leaving that morning on our way to Avis we had a look around town and went to get a coffee in one of the cafes. The wait staff were dressed up in clothes from the mid 1800’s. I don’t understand why that would be appealing to tourists, just seemed very fake to us and unnecessary. We headed up to the spa for a quick dip in the Jacuzzi and then called into the Crow’s nest for a drink before getting ready for dinner. It was meant to be a takeaway drink, but we got chatting to an Australian couple we met in Jasper. The Crow’s nest is a great spot during the day for the views with plenty of seats by the windows, not just for the late-night drinks. We had dinner reserved that night in the MDR for 7:45pm and were still seated when we departed Skagway at 9pm. https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Southern+Lakes+Resort+%26+Restaurant/@60.2796092,-134.6510264,10.54z/data=!4m11!1m2!2m1!1sreastaurants+along+tagish+road!3m7!1s0x0:0xc2ac86414a634f32!5m2!4m1!1i2!8m2!3d60.1646571!4d-134.3760967 http://*****/ The suspension bridge Emerald lake Views over southern lakes – down Tagish road Volendam in Skagway 28/07/2019 – Glacier Bay 8am – 6pm We ordered room service breakfast again and by this stage discovered the baked honeyed ham. This was a winner on the breakfast menu for us. We ate breakfast around 9am on the veranda, the temperature hadn’t quite dropped yet as we were only starting into Glacier bay. Fast forward to 10:30am and we had beanies and jackets on. They open the bow of the ship when in Glacier bay. We went down there for a little while and they brought out pea and ham soup for everyone. Really tasty. There is a Glacier bay national park guide on the ship describing the glaciers and points of interest over the tannoy and it was also played through the tv in the room. We headed back to our veranda then as we had just as good views of the glaciers from there and it was less crowded. The when and where had approximate times listed for when we would be passing key glaciers so that was useful to make sure you didn’t miss anything. We used the gym in the afternoon and the thermal suite afterwards. It was quite busy. The spa pool was freezing though. We let one of the staff members know and then a few of them came in and out testing the temperature. It was another 30minutes or so before they said oh its broken, we will have to get someone to look at it. We had afternoon tea ordered to the room for about 3pm. This was a plate of sandwiches, some quiches and then small deserts. It was a nice novelty. They have afternoon tea daily in the MDR too. From about 4pm onwards the Neptune lounge changes over the food to cold entrees, things like crab mayonnaise and bread, chips, dips, olives etc. We got some of these about 6pm while we were getting ready for dinner. The second gala night was scheduled for that evening. New passengers boarded in Skagway the day before. The concierge in the lounge gave us corsages again (apparently you get them for just one of your gala nights and because there were new passengers on board there were corsages ordered for them and she had some spare). We went for pre-dinner drinks in the ocean bar and were seated at our usual table in the MDR. That night during dinner we seen humpback whales which was a real treat. Dinner was fabulous, surf and turf sort of affair. After the dessert they brought out cake for us with Happy Anniversary written on it (I guess they meant honeymoon ha) and a few of the waiters gathered round to sing while they presented it, it was a nice touch, but we were mildly embarrassed! We met our new friends again later that night in the Crow’s Nest for after dinner drinks. When we got back to our room two truffles were left with the when and where for the next day. The seagulls came so close to the balconies and clearly were used to getting food. There was a family 2 doors down from us who were annoyingly letting their children feed them from their hands! 29/07/2019 – Ketchikan 10am – 6pm We had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill and organised to join our friends for dinner that evening in the MDR. The instant messenger on the navigator app was handy for messaging people without needing the paid internet so we were able to communicate with our friends for dinner plans or meeting for a drink. We had planned to do the Deer Mountain Trail, but it was really overcast and spitting rain, so we were not overly enthused. On a clear day you can get amazing views apparently. We caught the local bus instead to the Totem Bight national park. The bus service is hourly. There is a guide map to the meaning of the Totem poles but even taking your time to read them all and stop at each one you are done in 30mins max. We walked around the shoreline a little and then got the bus back to town, which was an experience in itself in terms of people watching. We hopped back on board to grab some lunch in the lounge and then went off again for a wander to see the salmon trying to get upstream and a wander through Creek Street. It was nice to see this, and it is quite a colourful town but still quite touristy. Probably our favourite port of the 3 stops. We seen Bagus during the day (our stateroom steward) and cheekily asked where do we get more of those delicious truffles? He said he would take care of it. That evening we were a party of 6 for dinner and were seated by the window in the same area we had been all week just one table back from our usual one. It was good having the same sommelier and waiters. After dinner we headed to the Crow’s Nest for happy hour and the music. Happy Hour didn’t mean much to us with the SBP but for the others it was good. We were actually able to order them drinks some of the time. If the waiters thought it was odd how many drinks we were ordering they never said 😊 When we got back to the room that night there was a white chocolate bowl filled with all sorts of different truffles left out for us! Eagle we came across, watching the salmon Creek street 30/07/2019 – Cruising the inside passage We had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. The bircher muesli is really good as are all the egg benedict options, the omelettes and the “hearty skillets. Everything is customisable and there appears no limit to the sides you order. It was a relatively overcast day until the afternoon where we could appreciate the scenery more and wrap up to sit outside on the veranda. In the Neptune lounge they offered us the use of the internet complimentary if we wanted to check in online for flights. All luggage was to be placed outside your room by midnight. We were given colour tags to put on the bags and advised we could depart at our leisure by 9.30am at the latest. We booked another round of massages and used the gym and the thermal suite where we were assured the spa pool was repaired. It was so busy though and with the spa pool really only big enough for 2 people it’s just awkward when other couples get in while you are there. I don’t believe they only give out 20 passes. After Skagway the thermal lounge was always busy. Although with only 5 loungers that is not hard. Before dinner we seen humpback whales again. Such an amazing sight to see. A dinner at the Pinnacle Grill was included in our package and we saved it for the last night. It was probably our most disappointing meal. Judging by a large party seated next to us they were unimpressed. For us it was just that the starters came out cold and it took forever for them to come over to take our order. My husband had ordered the lobster bisque, I think I had a tart of some sort. They apologised profusely topped up our wine and went to make new starters for us. The service was slow the whole evening. The large party next to us while seated at the same time, were only served their starters as we were finishing our mains. We both ordered steaks with a couple of sides. They were cooked as we requested but we had steaks as nice in the MDR on the previous gala night. The table next to us (they were so loud and wanted everyone to hear obviously) complained that 3 of the steaks were not cooked the way that they wished them to be and 2 of them were the wrong cuts, rib eye instead of fillet or something. The waitress (the same ones who work there at breakfast) was apologising for her mistake in recording the order, but they were really annoyed and didn’t want to wait for new ones to be ordered. The maître D came down about 10minutes later (he should have been over straight away) to try diffuse the situation but they were just so riled up at that point demanding a refund of the $39pp to dine at the PG. The desert we chose was a deconstructed Bomb Alaska and it was delicious. We headed off then to meet our friends for a quiet farewell drinks in the Crow’s Nest. By this stage we were over all the food and drink so wanted to take it easy knowing we had a full day of travel the next day. That evening in the Crow’s Nest there were a lot of the officers which we hadn’t seen really at all during the week. As we moved into the open waters around 10pm it became a lot rockier and the fog was thick, so the foghorn was going every 5 minutes or so through the night. As with the previous night when we got back to the room Bagus had left all sorts of chocolate treats out for us. Earlier that day we made sure to tip him and his assistant for looking after us all week. 31/07/2019 Arrive in Vancouver at 7am. We had our last breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill around 8am. They were already starting to announce which group colours could depart. We said goodbye to Fritz in the lounge and the two room stewards Bagus and Adi and headed off with our hand luggage about 9:15am. It was a quick process through immigration and our bags were waiting for us in the terminal. We got a taxi with the suitcases back up to the four seasons and asked the concierge if he would take our bags for the day which he did. We walked down to Stanley park for a few hours and had lunch before heading to the airport to make our way back to Australia. And that is pretty much our cruise review. We really enjoyed the cruise experience and were happy that we chose Holland America. I will summarise the main points again; Neptune lounge So handy for coffees and light meals throughout the day instead of having to make your way to the Lido or the MDR or one of the cafes. They change the food around 3 times from breakfast to lunch from 11am to canapes and Hors D’Oeuvres after 3pm. The concierges are great for reservations and any queries on your account or general information. Main Dining room Thoroughly enjoyed all our meals in the MDR. We were on level 4 on table 124 by the window at the stern. We tipped the sommelier and waiter well after our first meal. They looked after us well all week. We also tipped the maître D on the second last day to thank him for giving us the same table all week. The Pinnacle Grill Breakfast and dinner Breakfasts were good. It’s a massive menu with so much choice and no limits. Table service is good. As mentioned earlier it was nice to try it for dinner, but the service was slower than in the MDR and our starters were cold which didn’t happen any other evening in the MDR. The sommelier was also much slower getting around the PG than in the MDR. The Lido Based on our one visit I would describe it as chaotic. The one lunch we had was nice, but I cannot fairly comment on the food quality and choice over the week. Signature Beverage Package As I have seen other people here say, do the math before and work out if you think it is likely to drink 15 drinks per person. As was explained to me the speciality coffees were unlimited and not a part of the 15drinks. Bottled 500ml waters were also not limited. We got this as part of a full package through our TA. Being inexperienced we followed our TA’s advice and she encouraged us down this path. I don’t think we got anywhere near the value of it. Probably the first night we had about 9 drinks each over the day but for the other day/nights it was <6 so we offered to “buy” drinks for our friends here and there. Typically, if you just have 1 drink pre dinner and split a bottle of wine over dinner it might work out cheaper to just buy as you go. Thermal Suite pass I imagine on the bigger ships the thermal lounge is a much better experience as the mineral spa looks to be more of a swimming pool than a jacuzzi. Pre cruise it cost $139 per couple and onboard it was $159, I think. We had one of the days where the jacuzzi was too cold, another day where it was completely full and we couldn’t use it at all and on two of the other occasions we felt under pressure to only use the jacuzzi for 5-10mins as there were other people waiting to get in. The loungers are really relaxing, and we enjoyed using them but there are no guarantees you will get one at the time you go. Like I mentioned before there is loads of wasted floor space in there, they could have fit another jacuzzi or two more loungers in. The Spa – Services The two massages we had were great and incredibly relaxing. Both times we took up offers where they reduced the prices to try and encourage passengers to use the spa so I would say wait until you are on board to book. While using the spa and the thermal suite they give you towelled robes and slippers/pool shoes. There are showers and saunas in the women’s change room area and mirrors with a hair dryer. The gym Lots of cardio equipment and weights through the centre. The gym was surprisingly busy any time we used it no matter what time it was. The cardio equipment was the most used from what I observed. They run several classes a day from spinning to yoga etc for an extra cost. There was also a personal trainer available too, again for an extra cost. Entertainment The main shows are on at 7pm and again at 9pm most nights. We looked in once or twice, but nothing really appealed to us. Just the way our dinner reservations where we weren’t going to be able to make a full show. We didn’t feel we had that much free time to fill either that we wanted to get to one of the shows. With having such a nice room and veranda we were happy entertaining ourselves there or using the thermal suite and then listening to the live music at the Mix bar or Ocean bar pre dinner and the DJ up in the Crow’s nest after dinner. Talking to others on the cruise it didn’t sound like the entertainment was that great. The pianist though that played in the Mix bar I think it was attracted a good crowd each evening. The casino we just passed through – not our scene. Stateroom 7028 Massive room, very spacious and comfortable bed and pillows. Lighting in the dressing room could be improved and a decent hairdryer would not go amiss. Location is good for being near the lounge and not too close or far from the stairs. The main downside is directly opposite is as service room/lift for the staff. Early morning (like ~ 6AM) I would wake up to the rattle of cups and cutlery and hear that door open and close. If you are light sleeper, I would bear this in mind, there wasn’t a morning where I didn’t hear them. Otherwise though we couldn’t hear our neighbours through the wall. The balcony is huge and also very private from your neighbour although you can still have chats if you wish across the balcony! Laundry This was included with the suite and was so useful. Even just for ironing shirts and dresses. They usually returned the clothes the same day if they were collected in the morning. Thank you for reading!
  20. We are booked on the Serenade of the Seas for a 16 night cruise from Copenhagen to Boston, a cruise which the crew has nicknamed The Arctic Express. Before joining the cruise in Copenhagen we have elected to spend two days in Bergen, Norway. It has been on my bucket list for years and as long as we are this close to Copenhagen it made sense. Little did I know. P re-Cruise Day1 – Bergen, Norway After a long flight, which has taken us almost to the top of the world, we have arrived safely in Bergen, Norway. I only wish I could say the same for half of our suitcases! Thank goodness the half that arrived contains my thermal underwear! Bergen, as it turns out, is Norway’s second largest city and lies just north of its sister city – Icenbergen, and deep within the Arctic Circle. Well, maybe not deep within, but certainly closer than I have ever had any desire to so visit. In preparation for our trip I have packed in layers – a Badger Microfiber Windshirt, a Rip Curl Falcon Windbreaker Jacket and a Canada Weather Gear fur lined Heavyweight Sherpa Parka (with detachable hood) – guaranteed to protect down to minus 30 degrees! To avert frostbite I have a brand new pair of Merrell Coldpack Ice + Zip Polar Waterproof Winter Boots – to be worn over a pair of Nordic Gear Unisex battery heated Lextra Sox– for which I have an ample supply of extra batteries. I may not exactly have the Lagenlook, but I should be able to come home with all my fingers and toes. Lest you think that this is overkill, I might mention that some of our other stops on our upcoming cruise includes Iceland, Greenland, and someplace known as the Shetland Islands – which (according to Wikipedia) has a sub-polar climate and averages 250 days of snow and rain a year! Not to say Bergen can’t give the Shetland Islands a run for its money. We have arrived here in the Middle of Rainfest – which celebrates the record set several years ago when it rained every day for 85 consecutive days! In Bergen we are staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Now why they dropped the “e” from “Blue” I have no idea, but I am thinking that it was a marketing decision to distance the hotel from the word “blue” which is the color generally associated with freezing. I should also note that the hotel is exactly (I measured) 950 feet from the Fish Market. Now I have nothing against fish, but as our room is actually facing the market, I am somewhat concerned that we could be awakened by the early morning din of the fish mongers setting up shop and by some girl named Bornhilda pushing a wooden wheeled cart over cobblestone streets shouting “cockles and mussels” - or the Norwegian equivalent! After unpacking in our room, we went downstairs to explore the hotel and stumbled across a cozy little library. As we perused the room I couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be an authentic Torbjørn Afdal Krobo bench over by the window. Hurrying over to inspect this amazing find I noticed that upon its highly polished rosewood top were two books. The first book, apparently a self-help book entitled “Living with Hypothermia,” was a well worn leather bound book with a number of dog-eared pages, and the second tome appeared to be a Norwegian romance novel entitled “When Helga Freezes Over,” by Drs Ingrid and Frigid Ingebretsen – which appeared to be equally well read. I couldn’t help but wonder if these were omens of what was to come. After exploring the hotel we headed to the bar area to decompress from our long flight from Atlanta. As the weather was rather warm for Bergen– mid 30’s – we decided to take a table outside and we each ordered an aquavit – a traditional Norwegian drink. As we were enjoying our drinks we were startled by a large furry animal that darted by our table and was being chased by two hotel employees. The animal was unrecognizable but basically resembled a cross between a raccoon and a shaggy Meerkat. I have no idea why the employees in white coats were chasing the thing, but if tonight's menu includes something called “Chef’s Surprise,” I’m having the fish. Dinner that night was somewhat of a challenge. Call me naive, but I had thought that in Bergen they would speak, oh, I don’t know – Norwegian? I guess the fact that Bergen is in Norway influenced my perception; but, in fact, they speak a dialect called Bergensk. So I was somewhat at a disadvantage at dinner as I was not sure that the few Norwegian words I had learned would now work. But, as luck would have it, the language for ordering a beer is pretty much understood worldwide: Waitress: “Vil du ha en annen øl?” SailorJack: (recognizing the word for beer – ‘øl’, I quite proudly replied, “Yaaa, shøøer.” And, needless to say, my linguistics were shortly rewarded with the arrival of a bottle of Hansa beer – brewed right here in Bergen. Obviously, my worries about conversing in Norwegian – and even Bergensk – were for naught! Now if someone would have only told me what Lutefisk was before I ordered it! P re-Cruise Day 2 – Bergen, Norway One of the “must-do” things to do in Bergen is to take the Fløibanen funicular railway up to the top of Mt. Fløyen. There are two main reasons why Bergen residents do this: 1. The top of the mountain is over a 1,000 feet higher than the city which means it is 20 to 30 degrees colder up there – just perfect for a brisk hike in the mountain woods. 2. The funicular was built in 1918 and it is fun to see if a hundred year old funicular will actually make it without a serious incident. There were two main reasons why I was adamantly opposed to getting on the funicular. (See points 1 and 2 above). Let me add a third reason – the funicular car was not heated! I know this because I lost the discussion to Jill and we are now sitting on a bench a thousand feet above the city. As I gazed out over the harbor I realized two things – 1) I didn’t bring enough jackets, and 2) it was about to rain! Just then, one of the funicular attendants came over and inquired as to whether or not I would like a map of the hiking trails on Mt. Fløyen. I explained that, while I would ordinarily like to walk around the top of a Norwegian mountain in the freezing rain, old war injuries precluded that particular enjoyment for me. He was very understanding, but pointed out that some of the trails were very easy and were less than 4 kilometers in length. Now, I have no idea what a kilometer is, but if 4 of them are longer than the distance from the bench I was sitting on to the bench in the funicular car going back down the mountain I concluded that that was not really a viable option. “But, Jack, almost everyone else who came up on the car with us is heading for one of the trail heads.” My own wife has apparently turned on me! SailorJack: “Of course they are are all heading for the hiking trails – they are all Norwegians!” SailorJill: “And just what makes you think they are all Norwegians?” SailorJack: “Everyone of them has on short-sleeved shirts and walking shorts and what appears to be little helmets with horns on them!” And so it came to be that an aging war veteran, loaded with 16 pounds of cold-weather clothing (including batteries), and staring pneumonia in the face, spent an hour hiking through the wet woods on top of a Norwegian mountain while on his restful vacation. However, based upon my experience on top of Mt. Fløyen (and for the edification of those reading this review) I think I can now rather positively postulate that a kilometer is roughly equal to 15 minutes. P re-Cruise Day 3 – Copenhagen, Denmark After a short flight from Bergen we have arrived in the capitol of Denmark and have made our way to our hotel – the Copenhagen Plaza. Built in 1913 it is considered relatively new by Danish standards. To provide some perspective on Danish timelines, it is located not far from Nyhavn (Danish for “New Harbor”) - which was constructed in 1673. So if a waterfront canal built 400 years ago is considered “new” then a hotel built near the end of the 19th Century is almost like new construction! At least that is how I explained it to SailorJill when the Taxi dropped us off and she stood there and silently stared at our 105 year old hotel – with what must have been 16 train tracks running along side the hotel. SailorJill: “And just how are we going to sleep next to Grand Central Station?” SailorJack: (In an effort to look on the bright side): “Those tracks probably weren’t there when the hotel was built.” SailorJill: “Forget the tracks – I’m not sure trains existed when this hotel was built! As I had prepaid for the hotel we had no choice but to pick up our suitcases and make our way across the train tracks and enter the hotel. All the while with visions of ‘My Cousin, Vinnie’ parading through my mind. Like many of you, whenever the word Copenhagen comes up the first thought that immediately comes to mind is – Lief Sonne. Lief is sort of a Danish anti-hero. For 46 years he has been collecting beer bottles and has now surrounded himself with over 20,000 UNOPENED bottles of beer. I have trouble keeping a twelve-pack in the fridge over a three day week-end and this man of steel can avoid temptation for 46 years! But how does someone keep 20,000 bottles of beer in a two bedroom home? Here is where Lief’s genius becomes manifest. Because many of his bottles contain Carlsberg beer, he has convinced the Carlsberg brewery to allow him to store his collection in the brewery – giving Lief unlimited and unfettered access to the largest brewery in Denmark! Pure brilliance! It’s roll models like him that keep people like me going. The museum is on our itinerary to visit! Anyway, after unpacking we headed out to explore the city by jumping on a HO HO. As you may have guessed, I am not referring to those little chocolate sponge cakes (although I am at a loss as why you would want to jump on one), but a Hop-On Hop-Off bus. Alighting from the bus, and as we strolled through the city, I couldn’t help but notice an entertainment facility with a very large neon sign that read, “Girls! Girls! Girls!” SailorJack: “Look Jill, they’re playing an old Elvis movie. Let’s go inside?” SailorJill: “You know perfectly well that is not a theater! The answer is NO! We are not going in there to look at girls – and we’ve had this discussion before!” She was obviously referring to a discussion we have had about my frequenting a little neighborhood dining establishment down the road from our house in Atlanta called Hooters. When we first moved there, and when I was much younger, I used to have business dinners there because the wait staff was, well frankly, the wait staff was quite attractive and they wore really cute little outfits. When I tried to explain to Jill that it was strictly business I got the very intimidating “you've got to be kidding me” eye roll that I think every woman is born with – leaving me with a mile long guilt complex. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still occasionally eat dinner there, but now it is because they have wide, well lit parking spaces and they have an early evening senior special. (Sigh) Later, after a delightful dinner, we decided to take a stroll to see the Little Mermaid – one of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen. As we passed through a small park we were greeted by an attractive young woman dressed in stiletto heels, a low cut blouse and a very short leather skirt: Attractive Woman: “Hey Cowboy, what are you doing in the park this time of night?” SailorJack: “Actually we are going to see the Little Mermaid.” Attractive Woman (coming forward): “Well, for 500 Kroner I could be your very own Little Mermaid.” SailorJack: “What’s a Kroner?” SailorJill: “Jack, you're an idiot! Let’s go.” OK, so I was a little slow on the uptake. Apparently, that was my introduction to the fact that, well, that illicit sex isn’t illicit in Denmark! Coupled with the ready availability of cannabis on the street, pornography in the stores, and over 100 breweries I am beginning to understand why the United Nations has rated Denmark as the happiest country in the world! Day 1 – Copenhagen, Denmark (boarding day) We boarded the ship around noon and, as the rooms would not be ready until 1:00, we went up to the Windjammer Cafe where we were treated to a welcoming glass of Champagne. A nice start to our cruise! But even better yet, I came upon not one, not two, but THREE ice cream machines! Little did I know that these frozen treats were a precursor of what was to come! (I would later in the cruise come back aboard and have a big bowl of ice cream to warm up!) For the cruise we had signed up for My Time dining and enjoyed our first dinner aboard the Serenade. Returning to our cabin after dinner I found a disturbing note on our bed that started off, “There has been an error in our compass.” “My God”, I thought – “we have been sailing in the wrong direction! We’re going to miss our first port!” “Jack, the note is not referring to the ship’s compass but to the daily newsletter ‘Cruise Compass’ and if you would finish reading the note it says the error is in regard to the published dress code.” “Well, if they had capitalized “compass” in the first place they could have avoided all this confusion” “Jack, I’m reasonably certain that you may be the only one confused here.” Day 2 – Skagen, Denmark We have arrived in Skagen, Denmark – the first of several ports on this trip with a population somewhat equal to that of my high school. Actually the population trend in Skagen roughly equals the bell curve used in my high school math class: Population in 1930 –4,048 Population in 1980 – 14,050 Population in 2017– 8,080 Located at the very northern tip of Denmark, it occupies that windswept point where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea. Into this little town, cruise ships (among others) dump nearly 2,000,000 visitors a year – giving the town an annual ratio of 247 tourists for every Skagenite. Although ostensibly a fishing port, approximate 2 out of every 3 buildings in town are devoted to selling T-shirts and souvenirs. What Skagen is most noted for, however, are the Skagen Painters. In the late 1800’s Scandinavian painters congregated at Brondums Inn where they would socialize, play cards, celebrate and eat and drink, and, if time permitted, to paint. I had initially imagined that their annual gatherings were similar to Jill’s monthly gathering of bibliophiles for their monthly in depth discussion of the Book Club’s book of the month: Book Club Member #1: “What did everyone think of this month’s book?” Book Club Member #2: “I thought it was good. But enough about the book, whats up with Angelina Joli and Brad Pitt?” Book Club Member #3: “What were we supposed to read again?” Book Club Member #4: “Who needs more wine?” But the painters were actually very active and were to Denmark what the Impressionists were to France. A museum in Skagen has a collection of nearly 1,800 works of art from the artists and is one of the sights we wish to take in while we are here. Being of sterner stock than most (and because it cost $5), I declined Jill’s adamant urging that we take the shuttle into town and, instead, elected to walk the short distance. True, it was raining a little on us on the way into town, but we had a good tail wind and made pretty good time. Towards the end of our visit to Skagen the real rain began! It was cold and the wind, which had been behind us on the way into town, had now become a head wind so strong that it snapped my umbrella in half. Soaked to the skin and with both of us shivering, I caved to Jill’s baleful glare and approached the return shuttle and asked for a ride back to the ship. The driver was most accommodating and asked for our ticket. I didn’t have a ticket. I asked the driver where I could get a ticket and he informed me that the shuttle was run by the town and not the ship, so I had to go back to the tourist building at the port to get one. Upon my return he would happily let me board the bus – and he said this with a straight face! Then, to my stunned dismay, he apparently spotted Jill and said that he could not in all good conscious let a lady walk in such freezing rain and invited her aboard! To her everlasting credit, she declined the invitation and walked with me back to the ship. It turned out to be the longest and coldest (and I am not necessarily referring to the weather) one mile walk of my life. By the way, I spent the night on the couch and vowed to buy a ticket on every shuttle for the rest of the cruise. Day 3 – Stavenger, Norway We are back in Norway – giving lie to the conventional wisdom that says a trip to Norway is a once in a lifetime adventure – because it is so expensive you can’t afford a second visit. On this, our second visit, we have arrived in Stavenger – the Oil Capital of Norway (thanks to the discovery of oil in the North Sea) and the fourth largest metropolitan area in Norway. So, are we going to spend some time walking among the 200 year old buildings in town and enjoying a nice relaxing beer? Of course not. Jill has signed us up for the Pulpit Rock Adventure Hike. Apparently, our experience on Mt. Fløyen was merely a preliminary bout in our ongoing contest to see who is the fittest! Either that, or there is some unwritten rule that when in Norway you must climb a mountain! Oh well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. After all how bad can a “hike” be? As we prepare to go ashore, Jill suggests I sit down while she goes over the itinerary and the supplies we need to bring. I am a little nervous when I spot the glint in her eye as she opens the brochure: “Guided Hike: Set out on a five-hour journey across rugged mountain trails where you’ll glimpse dazzling lakes and native fauna. Guests must be able to walk for approximately five hours over uneven terrain and steep inclines and declines, avoid the occasional rock slide, and be able to navigate over icy patches of frozen ground. The tour will operate in all weather conditions except snow.” Wait! I quickly look out our balcony door. Is that snow I see? My suggestion that we rethink this tour is met by the innocent little “But Jack, this is an expensive tour and it is to late to cancel and get a refund.” I can’t believe it! This excursion sounds more like an advanced training exercise for units of the Norwegian Special Forces – not a shore excursion for middle aged tourists who have been visiting the all-you-can-eat buffet for the past three days! “Maybe if I tell them I don’t think I can carry my CPAP up a 2,000 foot mountain?” “Jack you don’t have a CPAP. And why would you be taking one on a hike anyhow?” It is slowly dawning on me that I may have to go through with this. I look at the brochure and it says to bring a snack with us. A snack? On a five-hour mountain climb? What if we get trapped in a snow drift? What if we are faced with total exhaustion (a more likely scenario)? We are going to need more than a snack – I’m thinking lunch – and maybe dinner! Maybe I can hire a local porter to carry our food and maybe a six-pack or two. I could probably sell enough beer at the 2,000 foot summit of Pulpit Rock to pay the porter. Day 4 – Lerwick, Shetland Islands – Scotland We have arrived in Lerwick, which is the largest port city in the Shetland Islands. For our visit here we have rented a small compact car to see the local sights. In retrospect I may have been the sight the locals saw. Unbeknownst to me, the Shetland Islands are part of Scotland (which, apparently, is still part of the United Kingdom) – which means, for some ungodly reason, they drive on the left side of the road. You can imagine, then, the surprise I faced when I got in the car and found no steering wheel! I looked over at Jill and found her smiling at me – with her hands firmly gripping the aforementioned steering device. “Why Jack, you want me to drive – how sweet!” Getting out of the car I quickly switched positions with Jill – much to the apparent merriment of the guys in the rental office. Once underway I found that once in the left lane you can do your basic driving - much as you would do in every other country in the world. However, the trouble comes when you try to make a right hand turn – you have to remember to swing across all the lanes and not into the first one on the right – something I failed to do most of the time. My biggest problem was trying to make a right hand turn after stopping at a red light – as it took me a second or two to orient myself as to what lane I needed to use – much to the consternation of the cars in back of me. However, my moment of indecision revealed to me the answer to the question that have baffled scientists for years – “what is the shortest period of time that can accurately be measured? The answer to that question is that period of time between when my stoplight turns green and the car in back of me leans on the horn! And, if trying to make a right hand turn was not embarrassing enough – they have this little Machiavellian traffic maze called a round-a-bout – a traffic feature apparently inspired by the Celtic design of Stonehenge. A round-a-bout, like Stonehenge, is ovoid in nature, mysterious in its origins (no one in the British Department of Transportation will publicly admit to designing it!) and debatable as to its purpose. That said, once I entered it I think I went through a quarter tank of gas trying to get out of it. Now Lerwick is a small town of less than 7,000 people, so my attempt to get out of the town to find those little ponies apparently created quite a stir. After a while, I noticed what appeared to be the same three cars following me through town - apparently just to see how many near collisions I managed to encounter (and avoid!). I’m thinking it doesn’t take much to amuse the good citizens of Lerwick. Note to future visitors: Do not rent a compact car here with a floor mounted gear shift. You have to reach over with your left hand (all while trying not to drift over to the right lane), find the gear shift knob, and try to find the right gear – all while trying to figure out how to make a right hand turn (or get out of a roundabout!) In groping for the floor mounted gear shift knob I actually grabbed Jill’s knee so many times she thought I was trying to recreate our first date. But I am digressing. Lerwick proved to be a very interesting town. We passed a small sign telling us that a right hand turn would take us to the Ro Ro Ferry. I didn’t know if this was an actual name or if the sign was just too small to add the two “w’s”. But, as I was now avoiding right hand turns we never learned what a Ro Ro ferry was. The next sign indicated that just a few kilometers ahead was the Bod of Gremista. I had no idea who Gremista was, but if she was that notable that the town of Lerwick pointed out where she lived it seemed like the place to go – and it didn’t require a right hand turn! Well, as it turned out, Bod was not short for “body” but is their word for “booth,” which in turn is their word for “station.” The Bod of Gremista was, it turns out, sort of an ancient B&B for fishermen. It is now an interesting little museum featuring textiles and period artifacts. After a brief stop to admire and marvel at Clikimin Broch we made our way to Fort Charlotte. Not only was this the only stop that didn’t make my spellcheck to berserk, but it is also serves as the base of Shetland’s Territorial Army. Now how many you knew that Shetland had an army! Dating from 1652, the fort held off the Dutch Fleet in 1667, but was burned to the ground in 1673 by the Dutch during the Third Anglo-Dutch War – apparently in retaliation for defeating their fleet in 1667. It was rebuilt in 1781 and housed a garrison during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and the Napoleonic Wars. One of the must do things for any visit to Great Britain is a lunch of fish and chips and we made no exception in Lerwick. What made this lunch extra special was a desert on the menu – Spotted Dick. It is a traditional pudding desert that dates back to the first half of the 19th Century. Often the object of smiles from visitors to Great Britain, it is now proof that Political Correctness has arrived in that nation. Back in June, Strangers Restaurant (the restaurant that serves Members of Parliament in London) renamed the dessert (and I swear I am not making this up) Spotted Richard! Apparently the MPs were blushing so hard when they ordered it that the restaurant felt that “Richard” was less likely to cause a stir. As a result, the politicos in London now dine on a desert named after one of our late Presidents! Back aboard the Serenade after our day ashore, I read in the Compass that tonight’s dress code was “casual” and it suggested that the ladies might want to wear a sundress. A SUNDRESS! Who brings a sundress on an arctic cruise? Day 5 – At Sea and Crossing into the Arctic. Apparently crossing into the Arctic is a big deal – akin to our previous crossing into the Antarctic – where freezing water was hauled up from the sea and poured over our heads. Anyway, we are being told to go up to the pool deck for our initiation into the Order of the Bluenose (even though I estimate the temperature be a great deal south of 32 degrees!). As I came onto the deck the first thing I noticed was the entire medical staff standing by – apparently ready to treat cases of hypothermia, heart arrhythmia, frostbite and acne. I wasn’t quite sure what was in store for us, but it couldn’t be good as I noticed that the Diamond Plus and Pinnacle passengers were being discretely escorted to the nice, warm Spa where their initiation probably involved being forced to drink a poor vintage Champagne containing little ice cubes. As a result of the ceremony we were all elevated to the Status of “Bluenose” and a Certificate attesting to that status – signed by the Captain – was later delivered to our stateroom. In full disclosure, however, I seem to recall that I had previously achieved Bluenose status when in the employ of a small local company – although, now that I recall, the color may have been a little different. This afternoon, apparently as part of a new international law regarding sailing in Arctic waters, representatives of the ship presented us with a clear plastic bag – about the size of an 80 gallon trash bag – and instructed us to put our cold weather clothing in the bag and to store it where it would be easily attainable. We were told that when the ship sinks, we could then grab the bag and have our cold weather clothing with us on the lifeboat. SailorJack: “But we didn’t bring two sets of cold weather clothing. What is my wife supposed to wear to keep warm when all of her cold weather clothing is stored in the plastic bag?” Ship’s Representative: “Couldn’t she wear her sundress?” Day 6 – Akureyri, Iceland We have arrived at the northern city of Akureyri – the fourth largest city in Iceland and home to some 19,000 people. It was founded by the Norse Viking, Helgi “the Slim” Eyyindarson. Records recovered from the excavations near the town allegedly indicate that before surviving two winters in Iceland and eating nothing but fish he had previously been known as Helgi “the Corpulent” Eyyindarson. Little is known of his wife whose name was (and I swear I am not making this up) - Thorunn the Horned. What a cool name for a Viking wife! Can you just imagine the coolness factor when meeting someone new? “Lars, I would like you to meet my wife, Thorunn the Horned!” Or, “Your Majesty, may I present Slim Eyyindarson and Thorunn the Horned.” Unfortunately, I must report that Jill has refused to discuss adopting a similar name. Anyway, after getting off the ship we walked though town and headed to the Botanical Gardens. The gardens came as a complete surprise to us as we were not prepared to see such a wide variety of very beautiful annuals, perennials, and small trees in Iceland. Along with various statuary and sculptures the gardens proved to be the highlight of our visit to Akureyri. Back in town we visited the Akureyrarkirkja – or at least we tried to do so. The Akureyrarkirkja, or Church of Akureyri, is a very imposing Lutheran church that is located in the center of the city and towers over everything around it. The church is renowned for its 3,200 pipe organ, beautiful stained glass windows and the model ship hanging from the ceiling. The church is one of those things that you must really, really want to see because it sits on top of a really big hill and you must climb approximately 600 steps to reach it. Jill initially said she would wait for me at the bottom, but I convinced her by suggesting that it would be a shame to miss a church with a ship hanging from the ceiling. So off we went until we got half way up the hill and came to a sign which said, “Church closed for Private Ceremony.” Avoiding Jill’s eyes, I reasoned that since we were already half way up we might as well go up the other 300 steps and see the outside of the church. Why they didn’t put the sign at the bottom of the steps I don’t know, but I think it was a bit of local humor directed at the tourists from the three ships in the harbor. One of our long standing traditions in each port is to find a nice little cafe with outside tables and order a couple of local beers to toast our visit. Along the town’s main street, we found just such a place that not only had great Viking Beer, but free Wi-Fi. As we were about to raise our glasses, a gust of cold rain blew in and SailorJill, with a quick kiss, departed for a seat inside the cafe. Apparently both of us sitting at an outside table with a couple of beers is not quite the long standing tradition I though it was. I could hear SailorJill inside the cafe conversing with some other patrons. “Is that your husband sitting out there in the rain?” “Yes. I think when he was younger he played one too many hockey games without his helmet. He’s Canadian, you know.” I still don’t know which statement was the deepest cut. Day 7 – Reykjavik, Iceland – Day 1 We have been sailing in very rough seas during the night– waves up 16 feet – when, as we neared the port of Reykjavik, the ship shuddered with such ferocity that plates in the Windjammer flew off the tables. That’s when a waiter yelled out, “We hit a whale!” In all likelihood it was simply a rogue wave as the only whales I had seen were in the Casino. We have finally docked in Reykjavik – the capital of Iceland and with 123,000 residents – its largest city. It was founded by the Norseman, Ingólfur Arnarson and is thought to be the site of the first permanent settlement in Iceland. The name Reykjavik apparently comes from the old Norse “Reyk” meaning “freeze” and ‘javik” which loosely translates as “yer buns.” We got off the ship around 2:30 and while downtown seemed easily walkable from the pier, I was first in line to buy tickets for the shuttle!” Getting off the shuttle downtown we were immediately hit with both a freezing rain and a strong North wind. In other words – it was a great day! Just what you would expect in a country called Iceland! We joined a walking tour of the city and spent three hours exploring this very interesting city – and dodging the rain. Now you may be wondering just how cold Iceland really is. Well, it is so cold that the roads are heated! Seriously – the country runs pipes filled with hot water under the roads to keep them from freezing. I point this out simply to highlight the fact that tonight’s dress code is, again, the ever ubiquitous sundresses for the ladies! Perfect for an after dinner stroll about the deck. Day 8 – Reykjavik, Iceland – Day 2 Today we have signed up for an 8 hour tour called “The Golden Circle.” As I explained it to SailorJill, we were going to see, among other things, the third largest Geo-Thermal plant in the world, a geyser, an amazing waterfall, and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian Teutonic plates are moving apart at the rate of 2.5 cm a year. SailorJill: “Teutonic plates?” SailorJack: “Pretty cool, huh!” SailorJill: “Jack, its TECTONIC plates. The only thing you are going to see on two Teutonic plates on this cruise are Wiener Schnitzel and Sauerbraten.” SailorJack: “Sorry.” Anyway, as we are standing waiting for our tour bus, a light rain begins to fall, and an obviously frustrated traveler turned to a young lad who was passing by: Frustrated Traveler: “Does it ALWAYS rain in Iceland?” Young Lad: “I don’t know sir, I’m only seven.” As we depart Reykjavik and head into the interior we are struck by the large lava fields and the multitude of vents in the earth from which boiling hot clouds of steam are streaming skyward. We are also struck by either the complete lack of trees or the very stunted ones which we occasionally passed. The Vikings, our guide told us, had basically denuded the island chopping down trees for houses and boats. Today, trees that are making a comeback are either small or stunted. Which leads to the question and answer, “What do you do when lost in an Icelandic forest?” “Stand up!” The highlight of the tour, for us, was seeing the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is one of Iceland’s most visited sites and is located in Thingvellier National Park. The geological formations and the vistas were amazing. As we stood on the high escarpment of the North American plate I suggested to Jill that we climb down the 300 feet or so to the actual rift valley itself – that area between the two plates. How many people, I argued, can say they have actually stood in the rift between the world’s tectonic plates. The utter lack of any response from Jill suggested that I may be experiencing a rift of a more personal nature. I wish I had the space to describe in more detail what we saw and experienced on this magnificent tour, but I am already getting too verbose. As others have before me, I have decided to award the island an “N” - which would make it “Niceland.” Needless to say, if it is not already on your bucket list – it needs to be. Day 10 – At Sea - Prins Christian Sund We spent most of today sailing through the Prins Christian Sund in Greenland. I do not have the words to describe the absolute beauty we encountered during the 6 hours we sailed through the Sund. As we moved through the clear, still waters, the Archipelago offered up breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, icebergs, fjords and just pure unadulterated stunning scenery. At one point we came upon a glacier so magnificent that the Captain stopped the ship and spun it 360 degrees so that everyone could see and photograph it. We even had a narrator speaking from the bridge who provided additional details about what we were seeing. Many of our friends that we later spoke with called it the absolute highlight of the cruise! Day 11 – Qaqortoq, Greenland As we near the coast of Greenland disturbing news reports began surfacing about an ecological impending disaster in Greenland. The news is reporting that a “300 Foot Tall Iceberg Weighing 11 Million Tons Threatens Greenland!” Apparently it has moved to within 600 feet of the Greenland coast and if it calves it could create a devastating Tsunami (Italian for “Bigga Wave”) that could wipe out an entire village. And I have signed up for a snow mobile safari in Greenland! I can see the headlines on BBC now - “Giant Tsunami hits Greenland – Idiot Snowmobiler Feared Missing.” I am going to have to reassess my time ashore! Tsunami aside, we have finally arrived in Greenland (the largest island in the world that is not a continent) – most of which lies north of the Arctic Circle. Most of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. It is estimated that should the ice sheet melt it would reduce the island’s size to about that of Aruba. Specifically we have docked in the small town of Qaqortoq – a town of less than 3,100 people and the first town I have ever visited that is spelled with three “Qs and NOT A SINGLE U!” Spelling aside, there was another unique facet to Qaqortoq. The snow season here lasts for 7.8 months – from October to the following June. Then the rainy season picks up for 8.4 months – from June to the following mid-February. In other words, every month of the year is either in the “rainy” season or the “snow” season. There are only two months in the year where the temperature gets above freezing – July and August. So which month does RCI bring us – (hint) its not July or August! I am willing to bet that the Greenlandic language probably has no word for “sun tan.” I am also beginning to suspect that it probably has no equivalent words for “tank top” or “flip flops.” Heck, if I brought our two tubes of Coppertone ashore I could probably corner the sun screen market. Renting a car in Qaqortoq is really not an option as the town (and, again, I swear I am not making this up) has no roads leading into or out of town. There are hiking trails leading north into the Arctic, but unfortunately we will not be in port long enough to avail ourselves or this excursion. The only way to get out of town is by boat, dog sled, or snowmobile. That probably accounts for the low crime rate in town: BREAKING NEWS: Three men wearing ski masks robbed the Grønlads Banken and fled in a rusty pickup truck. They were apprehended after a chase that lasted for six blocks and ended when the road ended at city’s edge. Nuka Agpalinguarssuak, the driver of the get away car attempted to disguise his pickup by covering up the numbers on his license plate - despite the fact that he owned the only pickup truck in Qaqortoq – and he had then hoped to escape by losing the police in traffic. However, none of the other 12 registered cars in Qaqortoq happened to be on the road at that time. This is the first time that the Serenade has visited this port and it is quite obvious that the town was not prepared for tourists as there was only one single little store selling souvenirs. It was a small shack about forty feet by forty feet and it seemed like all 2,000 passengers were crammed into it trying to get a souvenir from Greenland. As you might imagine, the store was sold out by the time the last tender left for the ship. In the end, a few last minute shoppers, desperate for any souvenir from Greenland, were actually making offers to buy the cashiers rings and scarf. Day 14 -Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada Our cruise from Greenland took us directly south to Nova Scotia – except for a small dog-leg to avoid Labrador, and we have arrived at the port of Sydney which is situated on Cape Breton Island – which is the northern most part of Nova Scotia (New Scotland.) As my family immigrated to Canada from Scotland it will be interesting to see how much of Scottish culture made the Atlantic crossing. The ship docked right by a very nice boardwalk and as Jill was fiddling with her camera I turned and found myself staring at the world’s largest fiddle (talk about a perfect segue.) Yes folks, Sydney is the home of the world’s largest fiddle - standing 60 feet tall, the ten ton solid steel fiddle was built as a tribute to the folk music and traditions of the Celtic people of Cape Breton. I can now strike it off my bucket list of “must see” items – like the biggest ball of twine (Minnesota), the world’s biggest ball of rubber bands (Florida), and the world’ biggest collection of sneakers (Nevada). One of the more interesting attractions, however, is St. Patrick's Catholic Museum. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church on Cape Breton – dating from 1828. Sydney was but a small community at the time and was bereft of skilled carpenters – which left the church in a quandary as to how to built a roof for such a large structure. The problem was solved by employing local shipbuilders to build the bottom half of a ship. They then turned the newly build keel upside down and placed it on top of the church – giving it a very unique roof. The downside to the solution was the fact that the church fathers were not aware of just how much that would cost until they received what became known as the Keel Bill. It is said that this later became the inspiration for the title of a movie staring Uma Thurman and David Carradine. Day 15 – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada We have arrived in Halifax – which has the second largest natural harbor in the world – second only to that of Sydney, Australia. The harbor was also the location, on December 6, 1917, of the largest man-made explosion in history – prior to the advent of nuclear weapons. Thousands were killed or injured in and around Halifax as temperatures from the explosion exceeded 9,000 degrees; and where the resulting tsunami devastated the Halifax area and wiped out the Mi’kmaq first nation village. Today, there are numerous monuments around the Halifax area dedicated to remembering the victims of that tragic day. To start our day, Jill wants to visit Citadel Hill which is the site of a British fort and the highest point in Halifax. I was all for it until she came to the “highest point in Halifax” description. I politely demurred on the grounds that I had already climbed two mountains for her on this trip and I was just not prepared to make it a trifecta. SailorJill: “But Jack, we can take the funicular up to the top.” SailorJack: “It has a funicular? Well lets go.” As we neared the base of the hill I could not immediately see the funicular station so I inquired of a nearby vendor: SailorJack: “Could you please tell me where I can get tickets for the Citadel Hill funicular, please.” Vendor: “There nay be a funicular here young lad.” SailorJill: “Jack, I could have sworn that I read somewhere that there was a funicular.” Outplayed, and not for the first time, I accepted defeat - and so, with no other option in sight, Jack and Jill went up the hill. But to Jill’s credit, the climb was well worth the effort. The Citadel was fantastic. First erected in 1749, the current star shaped citadel was completed in 1856. It is now a National Historic Site and one of the most visited historic sites in Atlantic Canada. As we were buying the tickets for the museum I discovered that the greatest part of the visit was the opportunity to be a soldier for a day! For a modest fee I could actually become a soldier in the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment. As I described it to SailorJill, I would get a white military blouse, wool kilt, sporran, red wool doublet, wool socks, boots, spats, and - wait for it – an authentic Snider-Enfield .057 caliber breech loading rifle that I actually get to fire – three times! Not only that, but after firing the rifle we get to go the sergeants mess and drink a beer! This is unbelievable! As I ask SailorJill for the credit card she addressed the issue: SailorJill: “You are not going to fire a rifle.” SailorJack: “But I promise to be very careful.” SailorJill: “That’s what you said on our summer camping trip when you shot and killed my sleeping bag.” SailorJack” “It was a pellet gun!” But I knew the game was up. I still remember the look on her face when I shot that hole in her brand new, never been used, Jimmy Choo Sleeping Bag. I’ll be paying for that accidental, albeit, exuberant, accidental shooting for years to come. But there was no point in arguing – when Jill gets that look in her eye even the air wants to leave the room. I was not going to be SoldierJack today. Anyway, disappointment aside, we enjoyed the park’s employees who dressed in period costumes from the mid-Victorian era, the reenactors dressed in their military regalia, the firing of the noon canon and the informative guided tours throughout the Citadel. For lunch we went back to downtown Halifax and visited a restaurant that advertised ‘traditional Canadian cuisine.” As it had been a few years since my last visit to Canada, I was looking forward to a good down home meal. However, the first thing I noticed on the menu was something called “Poutine.” I’m sorry, but I had trouble juxtaposing the words “cuisine” and “poutine.” OK, they did rhyme, but I had never heard of poutine before and I wasn’t even sure it was a real word. Well, as it turns out “poutine” was apparently a French word for “messy bowl of potatoes covered with cheese curd.” According to our waitress, the name is alleged to have originated from a noted French Canadian chef, who, when the menu idea was explained to him, exclaimed, “ça va faire une maudite poutine”- which translates as “it will make a damn mess!” And, again, according to our waitress, it has since become a beloved Canadian national dish. Needless to say, we passed on this item and enjoyed a true Canadian lunch of Nova Scotian Lobster Rolls and Saskatoon Berry Pie. Note to Readers: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – Canada’s national public broadcaster – aired a program detailing the results of an online survey asking Canadians what they considered to be the greatest Canadian inventions of all time. In that survey poutine came in at number 10 – beating out (and I swear I am not making this up) the electron microscope and the Blackberry. The National Institute of Health and Welfare latter postulated that these results clearly demonstrated the debilitating effect that long cold Canadian winters and Moosehead beer can have on a persons ability to effectively and rationally participate in online surveys. Further demonstrating the accuracy of that assessment is the fact that the Wonderbra came in at number 4! Yes, folks, we Canadians voted that a dish with cheese curd and a push-up brassiere were two of the most important Canadian contributions to Western civilization of all time. Now, perhaps, you can better understand how it came to be that we purchase these products with something called a Loonie. Day 17 – Boston Sadly, Our Arctic Express cruise has come to an end and we are heading home to plan our next cruise. But I would like to end with an admonition: Yes folks, its true. The Wonderbra truly was invented in Canada and the sale of untold millions of Wonderbras has greatly helped to lift our sagging Canadian economy.
  21. We are getting ready to book our first Norwegian cruise on the Getawayfor April 2020. We've sailed Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past. We book balcony rooms, mid ship. On the Getaway, which deck do you recommend for quiet? I will take any other tips or tricks that I should know about Norwegian.
  22. We just got off the Jewel, sailing from Vancouver to Seward. There have been a few detailed reviews recently, so I'm just going to mention a few things that stood out to us. We were in an aft balcony 10168, with four of us (2 kids, 15 and 12). It was definitely cramped, but we managed. I expected the cabin to be crowded, and it was. But there were a few unexpected highs and lows. First, the good. They really do a great job a maximizing storage. Even with four of us, we managed to get everything reasonably put away and organized in the room (the bathroom is another story, but more on that below). The luggage all slipped under the bed, and there were enough drawers, closet and shelf space for all of us. I was pleasantly surprised. Also, strictly as a sleeping area, it worked fine. It was tight, but we all had plenty of room (one large bed, plus a loveseat that made out into something a bit wider than a twin, and another twin that came down from the ceiling). Our room steward did a great job. The room was kept clean, and we always had towels, etc. for the four of us. They usually turned down the room while we were at dinner, and typically had it made up while we were at breakfast. It was impressive. Now, the not so good. The bathroom is TINY! There was virtually no space to store things, and you could hardly turn around without bumping into things. The shower itself was actually manageable, but the toilet and sink areas were, to us, unacceptably cramped. We managed, but it was really tight. Also, with the room turned down for sleeping, it was an obstacle course getting out onto the balcony. Others have mentioned this, but it really is crazy. You have to cross over the "loveseat" bed, while simultaneously ducking your head under the pull down in order to get outside. It was awkward, at best, and took away some of the pleasure of having a balcony, particularly at night. Aside from the room, and its good and bad points, we really enjoyed the Jewel. We were on the Getaway a few years ago, and enjoyed that as well, but everything about the Jewel felt less crowded the entire week. I will gladly trade some of the extra amenities the Getaway-sized ships offer for the less crowded feeling of the Jewel. I thought it was a perfect size. Finally, one comment about the food. Generally speaking, we had good to very good food. If you expect high end land based restaurants, you will be disappointed, but we had few bad meals (or even bad dishes) and some really good things - with one notable exception. Everyone in our group (my family of four plus my parents) agreed that Cagneys was, by far, the worst meal of the entire trip. And it wasn't just a one-off thing. My father and daughter went a second night and also had bad food (and service). As just a few examples, two of the three steaks were significantly overcooked (medium came out almost well done). The fish came out nearly raw (and cold). We never got one of the sides or the bread we asked for, and despite being told about all the wonderful condiments for the baked potatoes, never even got butter for them (let alone, the bacon, cheese, chives and sour cream advertised). I'm sure they would have fixed some of these things, but we were all trying to get to the show that night, and we had already been there nearly two hours by the time the entrees arrived. The manager apologized profusely, but when you have the pre-paid meal plan, there's really not much they can do to make up for things. They did have some chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our room the next day, which I appreciated, but the meal was ruined. I had read that Cagneys had gone downhill, but I never would have believed how bad things had gotten without experiencing it for myself. We had really good experiences at Teppanyaki, La Cucina, and Le Bistro, and even pretty good food at Chin Chin and the main dining room. But I would not go to Cagneys again unless reviews get better. Seriously, the worst steak you have the entire trip should not come from the steakhouse - but there you have it. I'm happy to answer questions (to the extent I can), but those were the main highs and lows.
  23. Sat Seattle, Washington Sun At Sea Mon Ketchikan, Alaska Tue Juneau, Alaska Tue Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier Wed Icy Strait Point, Alaska Thu At Sea Fri Victoria, British Columbia Sat Seattle, Washington Join the Bird on an Alaskan adventure on the Norwegian Joy. Alaska is one of our favorite locations to sail. The scenery and sea life can’t’ be matched. We sailed on inaugural Bliss last year and were scheduled to be on inaugural Joy (until NCL cancelled our cruise). A few months later, we are ready to experience the beautiful Norwegian Joy!
  24. Hi Everyone! I have been debating this for about a week now and keep going back and forth on my options. My family of 8 are planning a cruise for summer 2020. That being said, we are currently looking at two options and I need some honest feedback in order to make a good decision. Option 1: Sail on the Carnival Sunrise out of NYC June 15, 2020 on a 9-day Bermuda (docked for 2 days), Grand Turk, and Half Moon Cay cruise. We are looking at booking two connecting ocean view rooms in the hopes of getting upgraded for a minimal cost to a balcony like we usually do since we have platinum status with Carnival. Option 2: Sail on the new Norwegian Encore out of NYC May 31, 2020 on a 7-day Bermuda (docked for 3 days). We would be booking two balcony rooms since NCL's rooms tend to be smaller and we will have 4 people in each room, plus the balconies are cheaper than ocean view for this specific sailing! We have cruised NCL only once before on the Escape and liked it a lot, but did find some things that we preferred Carnival better. I have read some horrible things about the new Carnival Sunrise that makes me weary, plus we have been on the sister ship, Sunshine, when it was new and did not have a good experience. The Sunshine problems were mainly due to other rude passengers, not necessarily the boat itself although it was pretty crowded AND the Sunshine had an adults only pool in serenity which the Sunrise does not. The dilemma comes that the Carnival cruise is a fair amount cheaper for a cruise that is two days longer and goes to two more ports compared to the NCL cruise. Anyone that has sailed on the Sunrise, feel free to leave opinions on the decision you would make! Obviously, no one has sailed on the Encore yet, but maybe if you have sailed on the NCL Bliss, that would be most comparable. Thanks!
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