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CHICAGOPAUL LIVE!!!!! 15 Night Bering Sea & Japan TRANSPACIFIC CRUISE - LIVE BLOG

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Good Evening Everyone. We had a truly wonderful day on Otaru today and I have yesterday and today to update for you. For some reason the internet just started to run slow so I hope to have an update for you all tonight but if not it will come in the morning! 

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Good Morning from the sunset bar. We are currently sitting here having breakfast with Reddy and likely a quick drink before we depart for our tour (10am tour booked through the ship). Today it is sunny but a little cool with the wind but a great day to be out and about. 

 

Lots to update you on and tomorrow’s sea day will allow me to do that properly but in the meantime here are some photos from Otaru, our stop yesterday. 

 

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Internet is running very slow this morning so hopefully a few of these photos actually go through. 7AB5A3C7-DB01-4274-B540-0AD8A0231E04.thumb.jpeg.a5ebc7b69d89f16799b2ce647843b481.jpeg

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Breakfast with Reddy at the bar 

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Hello Everyone. With a sea day tomorrow I will finally be able to post a lot of info tomorrow but let me start getting caught up a bit before we get ready to head to the martini bar before dinner as usual. 

 

We just arrived back to the ship from our all day tour of Hakodate. It was a fantastic day and it was a Celebrity tour so I definitely want to review that in detail for you and I will. First let’s chat about Otaru yesterday. 

 

In Otaru we did not book a tour. Instead we went out with our new friends and toured the city on our own. Before being allowed off the ship however we had to clear customs. The Japan government sent border patrol officers on the ship and everything was set up in the Rendezvous Lounge. Everyone was given immigration group numbers a couple nights before and the group numbers started being called at 7:15am. You had to bring your passport and filled out immigration form. We were group number 6 which was called by 7:40. We waited in line maybe a total of 2 or 3 minutes and we were seen by an agent who took our finger prints and a photo and scanned our passport. They put a sticker in our passport and a sticker was placed on our sea pass card so they knew you cleared immigration when getting off the ship. The process was extremely organized and painless. It was a breeze. 

 

Luckily our friends too had group 6. We had plans to meet at Al Bacio at 8am. We did just that and then grabbed breakfast in Blu before heading out into town. I wanted something like since I hate touring around with a very full stomach   I went with the Blu parfait which was pretty tasty and hit the spot. 

 

Upon leaving the ship there were tables set up where you could get maps and ask questions from the local tourist office. There was a paid shuttle into town but we decided to walk. It was about a 30 minute walk into town but it was a relaxing walk. The port area looks like any random port area that mainly services freight or ferries. Once we reached the main shopping street we started taking photos and looking at all the cute shops that were just starting to open. Some shop owners were slowly starting to come out and offer free samples of whatever random food or drink they were selling. They were offering samples in such a very friendly way almost as if they were your friend and wanted you to try something off their plate. 

 

We made our way to the canal in town as we planned to take a short canal cruise. We bought tickets for the 11am canal cruise using a coupon that was given to us from the tourist table. The total cost for the 20 minute canal cruise was 8,100 yen for 6 people. Regular cost is 1,500 per person so we saved a little with the coupon. The canal cruise was cute and short. We had headphones given to us so we could hear it in English. We got some great photos of the canal during the cruise, learned a bit, and had some fun. The tour left exactly on time and you had to arrive 15 minutes early to board the boat. 

 

After the tour we decided to grab a beer at a restaurant we saw on the canal. Well it was set up as a German restaurant. So strange. But it was a Otaru brewing company. We each grabbed a medium sized beer that is brewed in house. We had 5 Pilsners and our friend Brad had a darker beer, I forget the exact name but it looked to me like more of a dark amber ale. We all enjoyed the beer and laughed at the strangeness of the decor and food menu (which was Italian and German) in the middle of Japan. Total cost for 6 beers was 3,980 yen. I gave Edward a 10,000 bill but when I did I told him it was a 100,000 bill (I wasn’t thinking) and told him to expect 60k back in cash. Well I go to the restroom and Edward is paying the bill and is quite disturbed when he only gets 6,000 back. It made for a funny silly moment but I take full blame for it! I misspoke haha. 

 

After the beer beer we decided to visit the highest point in the area which can be reached via ropeway (tram) but getting to the tram area will take either. The center of mountain itself is called the Otaru Tenguyama. We went one of the bus stations and ran into a nice gentleman who worked for the company running the shuttle for Celebrity. He told us we wanted bus no 9. The next bus was to arrive at 12:47 I believe it was. Exactly at that time the bus arrived! 

 

Before the bus got there we were a bit confused about how we pay for the bus. A woman working inside the station made it seem like we could pay with cash so we hoped that would be the case. She was right. You enter through the back door and exit through the front and pay then. It cost 220yen per person for the rude which took around 22 minutes I’d say. 

 

The tram ride to the top was not too bad, only 1100 yen with a coupon we had. It’s normal 1200. The views from the top were beautiful and the weather was perfect. There are small grounds in the area to walk around with some shrines as well as the mountain goblin which you are suppose to rub his nose for good luck and fortune. 

 

Edward and a few others decided to take this little bobsled ride. It was almost designed for kids but was a lot of fun and made for some funny video that I’ll post later. 

 

After this we grabbed some ice cream (Ice cream is everywhere) checked out the view once more and then went back to wait for the next bus. 

 

When we got back back to the main town we started walking around. We were planning to go to a sushi place that our friend looked up but we couldn’t find it. Instead we started to walk around and nibble on random things being sold. Many places had small take out windows or small street stands. I had a warm bun with crab. Others had buns with beef or crab. We also tried some fried chicken, some Macha and a few other random things. We didn’t eat much since we knew we were having the Veuve dinner that night. 

 

The main shopping street we started on in the morning came alive in the afternoon filled with tourists and locals. All the shop owners or restaurant owners were so friendly. Everyone was smiling everyone wanted to offer a sample. It was wonderful. It was such a quaint street filled with so many wonderful and quirky to some down right bizarre foods. We made it back to the ship exhausted around 4:50pm. 

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Our friends we explored Otaru with 

 

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The boat for the canal cruise 

 

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The “German” Otaru Beer company 

 

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View from the canal cruise 

 

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Waiting for the bus 

 

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View from the mountain 

 

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Edward and Andrew on the “bobsled” 

 

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Warm bun with crab 

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I'm glad you enjoyed Otaru, I just wish it hadn't rained when we were there, I could have poked around on the main street most of the day, we also had beer at the Otaru brewery, I didn't write down what we ate, but it was good.

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We were on a b2b on the Millennium to Alaska just a few weeks before you, so it's been really fun to compare experiences.  Thanks for such a detailed review.  What an amazing trip.  I visited Japan as an exchange student many years ago and have always wanted to go back.  Someday! 

 

Here's my photo review of the Millennium if anyone booked on her wants another one to read.  https://profcruise.com/celebrity-millennium-review-and-ship-tour/

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Good Morning from the Sunset Bar on our last sea day and second to last day of the cruise. Wow how time has flown! Lots to catch up on with all of you and I’m excited to spend the day updating all of you and sitting around drinking. Let’s start with today’s Daily before I go back in time and explain the last couple of days for you. 

 

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The night of Otaru we had our Veuve clicquot dinner. This was a dinner in Tuscan with a special menu paired with champagne and wine. If you remember last week we had an issue as this dinner was suppose to be on the 14th but was moved to the 12th but no one told us until last minute. The second time the dinner was to be hosted was on the 18th so that is when we did it. 

 

We were told 8 people were suppose to show up but in total, including us, there was only 5. 

 

We started with meeting in Cellar Masters at 6:30 with the other 3 for a glass of Perrier Jouet. We introduced ourselves sipped some champagne and our glass was quickly filled again. Just before 7pm we were escorted to Tuscan where a lovely circular table awaited us. There was one empty seat and shortly after the dinner started a Celebrity staff member joined us. Her name was Carolyn and she manages the shops on board. She was a pleasure to talk to. She actually helped open the shops on the Edge and has worked in high end retail for years and has specifically been working for LV for a while. She was bubbly, friendly, and just a natural person at conversation. 

 

Lets check out some photos from the dinner. 

 

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This was an incredible poached pear salad 

 

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Sea Bass Crudo. Very good. Just needed a dash of salt. 

 

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Scallops over a wonderful parsnip purée Gorgeous presentation 

 

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Terrific Filet. Perfect in cook point and quality. Excellent 

 

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Dessert #1 

 

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Dessert #2 

 

The presentation, the service, the food, the ambiance, etc was superb. Wily was our sommelier. She is terrific and is the Somm in Tuscan this cruise. Each champagne was explained. We learned history of the company, tasting nuances between each champagne, enjoyed two different wines, and even a champagne cocktail. 

 

The cost of this dinner was $150 per person. The people we were sat with (Carolyn from the shops excluded) were....interesting? I’ll share the story at a later date as I want to get everything else reviewed. Carolyn however was absolutely lovely. 

 

If you are a champagne fan and like Veuve I recommend it. They kept pouring the champagne and would give you more of whatever you really liked. 

 

If you have a large group it would be even better. Now the $150 is a hefty price tag. But I will say the way they treated the dinner and doted on us was fantastic. 

 

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Here are a handful of pictures from yesterday in Hakodate. I’ll post a full recap on the tour explaining all the details but right now let’s get you some fun photos of our day. 

 

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1 hour ago, chicagopaul said:

Good Morning from the Sunset Bar on our last sea day and second to last day of the cruise. Wow how time has flown! Lots to catch up on with all of you and I’m excited to spend the day updating all of you and sitting around drinking. Let’s start with today’s Daily before I go back in time and explain the last couple of days for you. 

 

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Paul,

 

Thanks for another excellent review.

 

I did not see, in the schedule above, a Friday night Shabbat service for Jewish guests (and, of course, last week there was no Friday night for you!).  On most cruises I've been on there is a Shabbat service on Fridays at about 5 PM.  I've always found these special and one of our favorite memories of many cruises. I know you may not be Jewish, but is there a way you can find out about what happened?  I've always been tempted to do this very cruise but it never occurred to me that this option for Friday night might not happen.

 

Thanks,

- Joel

 

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Thanks again for taking us along! Took me to a place on the other side of the world, love living vicariously through the two of you!

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1 hour ago, cl.klink said:

 

Paul,

 

Thanks for another excellent review.

 

I did not see, in the schedule above, a Friday night Shabbat service for Jewish guests (and, of course, last week there was no Friday night for you!).  On most cruises I've been on there is a Shabbat service on Fridays at about 5 PM.  I've always found these special and one of our favorite memories of many cruises. I know you may not be Jewish, but is there a way you can find out about what happened?  I've always been tempted to do this very cruise but it never occurred to me that this option for Friday night might not happen.

 

Thanks,

- Joel

 

 

I’ll see if I can ask about this. I believe that they may have removed them from the Daily but have them posted by guest relations on a board as I know they do that with some gatherings too. I’ll see what I can dig up for you. Since it is Friday here I will swing down to 3 and check. 

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How have we liked the full stretch of Sea Days? 

 

Wow, is it not crazy how time flies. One moment you’re boarding the ship with 15 days ahead of you and the next you’re making preparations for debarkation and to go back home. I’m currently sitting on our balcony with my laptop. This way I can properly review everything the past few days as it is much easier for me to type on here versus on my phone.

 

Several of you have asked how we’ve enjoyed the sea days, what activities we’ve participated in, and now that the long stretch of sea days is complete, how we fared.

 

I know there are some people who get the daily list of activities, circle a bunch and have a packed full day of things to do. For us, we’re the opposite. Instead we prefer to have a lazy routine and enjoy doing nothing. If something peaks our interest then we will go to it, but we avoid trying to plan anything of any kind, with the exception of some special dinners or dinner with friends. Instead, we find ourselves falling into a routine.

 

On this cruise our routine was breakfast in Blu almost every morning, followed by drinks at the Sunset Bar with Reddy, even when it was very cold. We dressed in layers and even had blankets. If Reddy was stuck out there we figured we could keep him company for at least one drink. We would then usually go to Al Bacio for either some coffee or tea. I’d write a little, or maybe read some news or play a game on my phone. Edward would do the same. Then we would have lunch and perhaps a drink at the Casino Bar. Then Edward would usually go back to the room and I might stay in the casino and gamble a little or head to the grand foyer and watch either the paper airplane contest, egg drop challenge, bag toss, etc. Then I’d head up to the room, check work e-mails, watch a little TV, take a nap, write a little on this blog, then shower and get ready for martini bar and then dinner. We’d eat and drink into the night with old friends and new, maybe catch a show or a dance party and we would wake up and start all over again. That is how we handled sea days. The basic routine became our routine not out of necessity, but by simply letting ourselves fall into doing exactly what we wanted to do in that moment.

 

Were there too many sea days? No, there could never be too many sea days, at least not for me. I could tell for some, nearing day 7 that they would becoming anxious for the sea days to be over. I know the crew too were starting to feel as if they were being held captive and couldn’t wait to go ashore. For me, as excited as I was to explore a new country, the first sight of land was met with a heavy heart knowing that our journey was nearing the end.

 

Would we book a cruise with this many sea days again? In a heart beat.

 

Now, I mentioned my routine above because that is what we ended up doing. From an activity standpoint there has been a lot to do on board and a lot too that would interest us. The Beyond the Podium speakers have been plentiful and dealt with a large variety of topics. We’ve watched them on TV in the afternoon when they are replayed. Our friends have attended trivia every afternoon as part of their routine. They’ve said it has been very well attended and they are still handing out small prizes for the winners. Each sea day there was a different fun event in the foyer whether it was the baggo (corn hole) challenge, putting competition, paper airplane competition or egg drop…even if you didn’t want to participate it was fun to watch. Live music was throughout the ship in a variety of places from Cafe Bacio to Rendezvous lounge, Cellar masters, or Sky Lounge. There were some outside activities on the warmer days and each evening there was a show of some sort whether its as a comedian, piano player, mentalist or production show. Silent Disco was on multiple nights, the ABBA party was a blast, and the DJ was more than open to taking song requests on slow nights. The casino was never that busy but there was a solid group of regular players that are wonderful people.

 

So, there has been plenty to do on sea days regardless of who you are. But me personally, I prefer my little routine I mentioned above.

 

Hakodate

 

Yesterday was Hakodate and we were set on a tour we had booked through Celebrity over a month ago. This tour was to take us to Onuma national park, Goryokaku Tower, and go to Mt. Hakodate peak via a cable car. The one nice thing about this tour is it did not start too early so we could sleep in a bit and enjoy our morning. We woke up and had breakfast from the buffet but ate it outside at Sunset bar so we could talk with Reddy. In the morning I had stepped out onto the balcony to check the weather. It seemed slightly cool, but not too bad. A very light jacket should more than suffice I thought. Well, good thing we ate outside. As soon as we stepped out onto the Sunset Bar we could feel the strong winds and cool air. We decided to layer up and add a sweater under our jackets. It was a smart choice.

Our meeting time was 9:45am in the theater. We got there 5 minutes early, got our stickers (group number 6), grabbed a couple bottles of water, and waited for our number to be called. Exactly at 9:45am our group number was called and we left the ship and boarded a nice coach bus and met our tour guide. Everyone was on time, no stragglers, and we found ourselves leaving the port a few minutes for 10am.

 

Our first stop was Onuma National park. Our guide explained the itinerary for the park. We were going to arrive there around 10:45am and take the 11am lake cruise. Then we were going to go on a walk around the park for around 45 minutes and then we would have lunch, followed by roughly 45 minutes of free time.

 

The lake cruise was cute and given the fact that it was a cool day I was glad we were in fully enclosed boats versus open air boats though the open air boats would have made for easier photos. However, we still got some great photos and video. After the cruise the guide took us on a walk and we were able to see the beauty of the park, the volcano in the distance and snap some wonderful photos and take some photos together. We had a wonderful group. No one was complaining or causing delays. Everyone just went with the flow and it was a very nice time.

 

After the walk we went to lunch in the grounds of the park. The restaurant was a multi-level space and the tables were long (16 people or so) tables stacked in rows 5 or 6 deep. Clearly this place was set up for large tour groups. The lunch was a “sea food” lunch which consisted of salmon, scallops, shrimp, and vegetables on a small little hibachi that was already cooking the food when we arrived. We has shrimp sashimi on the side along with miso soup and rice, plus two different sauces. The food was decent. Nothing to write home about, but pretty good and fresh, especially for a tourist spot and for such a large group grouping (we had 36 in our group but there were several other groups all eating at the same time).

 

After this we had some free time. Our guide mentioned a brewery down the street. So we wandered the park a little, took a few photos, and then went to the brewery for a quick beer. We both chose the IPA and it was excellent. 540yen per beer. After this we used the restroom and headed back for the bus. This is Japan after all and you have to be on time!

 

From here we then headed to Goryokaku tower where we had great views of the city, took some photos, and meandered around another park (some great historical significance here but didn’t have too much time to spend here). From here we were to head to Mt. Hakodate to take the cable car up to the top. However, as I mentioned before today was very windy. As a result the cable car service, the ropeway as they call it here, was not operating this day. So they too us up to the top by bus.

 

Now as you can imagine we were in a good sized coach bus. The roads leading to the top of a mountain anywhere in the world are typically not large roads and typically the the side rails are minimal. This was definitely the case here so if you’re afraid of heights or plunging to your death in a bus then you’d definitely get an uneasy feeling a few times during this trip up the mountain. However, I have an inherent trust in the Japanese when it comes to many things so I figured we were in good hands. I’m still here able to write about it so you know I survived!

 

We reached the top of the mountain and walked up to the observatory. The wind was blowing strong and the air was cool. Everyone zipped up their jackets but at the same time were readying their cameras. The views were spectacular, but the rain clouds in the distance obscured much of the mountain side. On a clear day this would have been even more wonderful.

 

After this we made our way back to the ship. In total the tour lasted about 7 hours. Everything was on time and well organized.

 

Our tour guide was very suite. She was worried about getting everything and I think a little paranoid about making a mistake which led to a few funny moments of her counting and recounting multiple times people on the bus and also trying to figure out drink orders for lunch so everything would be ready when we sat down to eat. She’d apologize over and over again if something went a little wrong, but no apology was needed. She was very sweet, made sure everything was in order, and throughout the day gave us random facts about buildings, Hakodate history, etc.

 

On the way back she sang a Japanese song for us, gave us some treats including some origami, and even taught us a few words in Japanese.

 

The cost of the tour is $159.75 per person but we booked it online when they had a 20% off sale on shore excursions.

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Wow - hard to believe that your trip is coming to an end.  I so enjoy reading your live blogs.  Thanks for doing this.  Also thanks for having a morning drink with Reddy every day.  I know Reddy HATES the cold weather (I can just picture him shivering behind the bar!) so he was probably very grateful that you guys popped up to say good morning to him.  Wishing you a safe journey home.

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Good Evening here, good morning and afternoon for the other half of the world. 

 

While tonight is not the last night of our cruise it sure feels that way given the day in Tokyo tomorrow. We also know several people who are disembarking tomorrow so it was a bittersweet night and tomorrow will be as well. 

 

Tonight was evening chic night and I wore my tux and Edward a nice jacket and tie. 

 

I have much more to update all of you on but must get to bed now as it’s midnight here and we plan to get off relatively early tomorrow to start the day and explore Tokyo. 

 

As always thanks so much for following along. This trip was much needed, not so much from a stress standpoint at work or home but more of a personal mental break I needed. It’s proved to be everything I hoped it would be and more. I’ll continue to keep you all posted! 

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Paul, back in March my wife and I sailed the Edge. We ran into IMADE working the sunset bar, whom we have meet before on a previous cruise. On one instance, I grabbed a few snacks from the buffet and proceed to sit at the sunset bar and ordered a drink from IMade. He politely told me I cannot eat at the bar and that I needed to find another seat. This seems conflicting from your experience on Millennium. Are you aware of any official policy on that? Obviously coming from the States, its normally accepted to eat food at a restaurant bar. Just curious on your thoughts. Thanks

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1 hour ago, lamondys said:

Paul, back in March my wife and I sailed the Edge. We ran into IMADE working the sunset bar, whom we have meet before on a previous cruise. On one instance, I grabbed a few snacks from the buffet and proceed to sit at the sunset bar and ordered a drink from IMade. He politely told me I cannot eat at the bar and that I needed to find another seat. This seems conflicting from your experience on Millennium. Are you aware of any official policy on that? Obviously coming from the States, its normally accepted to eat food at a restaurant bar. Just curious on your thoughts. Thanks

 

We, too, have experienced having to move elsewhere due to food not being allowed at the Sunset Bar on S Class ships...

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We were told we could not have food while sitting at the Sunset bar, we had to move to a table.  That was on the Solstice.  

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Paul:  I thoroughly enjoyed your photos of both Otaru and Hakodate.  In Otaru we also took the tramway, and have similar photos of the canal.  And in Hakodate we also visited the G. tower and the day we visited the tramway up to Mt. Hakodate was also closed due to winds so we drove up. I have at the impression, which may not be accurate, that the tramway is closed frequently due to winds.

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3 hours ago, lamondys said:

Paul, back in March my wife and I sailed the Edge. We ran into IMADE working the sunset bar, whom we have meet before on a previous cruise. On one instance, I grabbed a few snacks from the buffet and proceed to sit at the sunset bar and ordered a drink from IMade. He politely told me I cannot eat at the bar and that I needed to find another seat. This seems conflicting from your experience on Millennium. Are you aware of any official policy on that? Obviously coming from the States, its normally accepted to eat food at a restaurant bar. Just curious on your thoughts. Thanks

 

33 minutes ago, jelayne said:

We were told we could not have food while sitting at the Sunset bar, we had to move to a table.  That was on the Solstice.  

 

1 hour ago, cruisecatmama said:

 

We, too, have experienced having to move elsewhere due to food not being allowed at the Sunset Bar on S Class ships...

 

Hi All. This could very possible be the rules on the S Class. However, on the M Class the sunset bar is connected to ocean view cafe. As a matter of fact the out door seating for the ocean view is at the sunset bar so that’s why we are able to here. On the S Class ships the sunset bar is one deck up and separate. So I assume that’s the reasoning for the difference. We’ve seen a good handful of people eating at the sunset bar here. 

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Paul...

Sad to see it end for you...but happy it  was a good cruise & provided the break you wanted..   We all need that some time.  Thank you for a great review, insightful comments, and so many  excellent photos.  Enjoy Tokyo...safe travels.

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Thank you so much for your live blog, I have been on your journey. . I am heading onto the Millennium from Tokyo on 2nd October and its my first cruise and I am going solo.  So reading all your posts has made me feel somewhat more confident that I will be okay on my own, even though nothing you have mentioned has been about solo travellers. Love your blog (fab writing) and photos and quite looking forward to a martini or two and some fine wine😁. I hope my cruise is as friendly as the one you were on. xx

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Thanks for your review, it looks like it was a great trip. After your review I 'm more inclined to take a long trip and I don't think I'd be bored but I think I'd stick to warm weather climates.  Maybe a transatlantic that goes south would be my choice.

 

Thanks for the review, have a safe trip home.

 

BBG

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It just cant be, this 2 weeks passed with the blink of an eye. Please stay on for the BKB I need me live reviews.

I am doing this same cruise next September on the Eclipse.

Loved all the pictures and stories. I hope you will do a final recap.

Norma

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