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About edinburgher

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Edinburgh, Scotland.
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    Travelling, especially cruising!

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  1. Eglesbrech, I know you like Fred Olsen. We have sailed both Fred and Marella. Pros and cons for each. We no longer sweat the little things, we are mostly now itinerary driven but still want a decent level of accommodation, dining, entertainment etc. I think you will find a broader demographic on Marella than you would on Fred ships. And if kids are not your thing, book an adult only Marella ship or travel outside of school holidays. We have rarely seen any children on Fred. We were onboard late Nov/early Dec on a Caribbean itinerary. Loved the actual ship, cabin etc, and were just lucky that the cabin we pre-booked was convenient for the gangway at each port. Meant we didn't need to walk the length of the ship getting off and on again. We would book that ship again, and book the same cabin too. Decor and furnishings were modern and fresh looking. Shows were good. The singers could really sing and the dancers could really dance. That didn't always happen in the past. Loved having a fridge in the cabin, also loved a decent size shower, and even better, the glass door instead of the clingy curtain. Also liked the chilled water dispensers on each cabin deck. Excellent idea. Good selection of books, games etc. Dress to Impress Evenings saw many who were indeed "dressed to impress". We think Marella do a good selection of food in every area where it is offered so never felt the need to pay a surcharge. That said, if the options in the MDR in the evening were not especially interesting for us, we opted for the no-fee Italian. This is half of one level of the MDR open in the evenings. Two menus, depends on the evening you go. We really enjoyed that. Ate there four times. Can really recommend it. The same arrangement exists on Discovery 2. Only faults with the MDR were that sometimes the food was not as hot as it could have been. Service on our sailing was not noticeably slow. The buffet was fine for breakfast and lunch, although a couple of times we got sandwiches or pizza from the area opposite and ate out on the terrace. This is a really lovely area. Tapas and pizza/pasta in the evenings. As for the rest, what to say without offending someone? Yes, I would say that "warm water" cruising as opposed to "cold water" cruising attracted a different demographic. There were indeed many who appeared to eat and drink all day and evening-I think. They were also loud. They mostly hung out around the pool area and bars there. We heard a few stories but whether or not true we never found out. We don't especially like the pool area on any ship as it is usually too noisy for us. Endless quizes, games, music of all types. Many people enjoy this, we personally do not. We prefer a quieter area. so we had minimal contact with them. The louder element we never saw in the evenings at all and we were off the ship most days. They didn't appear in the MDR or the show lounge or any of the quieter lounges/bars. I think they mostly just hung out around the pool bars. We liked the Squid and Anchor but in the evenings it was very crowded and very noisy, but there were alternative lounges/bars. So, to sum up, you can make of it what you want. Our experience was very different from the experience of others. We enjoyed our version, they probably enjoyed theirs. Each to his/her own. Nothing wrong with that. Sailing tomorrow on Explorer 2. First time for us. Will be interesting to compare.
  2. Can also recommend a visit to the Santuario Montenero for the stunning views (but only on a clear day) So easy. Bus #2 to the square below, go up on the little funicular railway. We bought a Livorno Card but that was a few years ago. Gave us unlimited bus rides and free or reduced entry to some museums and a discount on the boat trips. Go to Tripadvisor Livorno for ideas.
  3. It was £46pp booked over the internet before we left. Onboard there will probably be a £2pp extra charge as that is the usual way they do things. Marella remove all shorex several days before departure date, after that they are bookable onboard. If a shorex is selling very well they will sometimes not allow any more internet bookings as they always hold some places back for onboard booking. They indicate that on the shorex list next to the excursion. On ours, the DIY Rome by private train from Civi was still showing, but marked as being fully booked for internet bookings, although it could be booked once onboard. It must have been popular.
  4. As above, a shorex. MdC is a gateway port rather than a destination port. It is north of Livorno which is also a gateway port, but has DIY options for travel elsewhere and some sights in town. We have been there several times. Some gateway ports are OK, some are not. MdC doesn't offer much at all in town. Being north of Livorno meant that for the first time we could consider Portofino and SM from MdC as it is closer to where we wanted to go. It is the only time we have seen this option so didn't want to lose the opportunity in case we never return. We prefer to DIY where possible but the DIY travel options meant it wasn't doable. We even looked at only doing SM but even that was a challenge. La Spezia was about the best we could DIY. Wanting both Portofino and SM we booked the shorex. Two coaches did the trip. It was lovely. The ferry crossing was short and scenic with views of both Portofino and SM from the sea. There are useful websites such as rome2rio which give you travel options, timings and costs for each. Simply enter start and finish points. And check local trains etc.
  5. Two years ago it was a fixed price of E30 from/to a certain radius of the centre. There was a notice at reception and our hotel called for one when we were ready to leave. It may have increased since then. Try doing an internet search or e-mail your accommodation to ask.
  6. We were there just recently. Had also visited Florence, Pisa, Lucca in the past. I think there may have been a port shuttle into Carrara itself but didn't pay much attention as we booked a shorex. Heard that people who stayed in town didn't think much of it. Our shorex was to Santa Margherita and Portofino. Both really beautiful. Can recommend this. Look at pics and TripA info online. You will want to go! Bus to S.M., free time, ferry to Portofino, free time, ferry back to S.M. then bus to the ship. Only downsides for us were that we had a poor guide, also thought that we could have had more time in S.M. and less in Portofino, but I think they were working around ferry timings. In St Raphael we tendered right into the centre at Quai Amiral Nomy next to the superyachts alongside one side of the Jardin Bonaparte (actually the roof of a car park) Tourist info and the Basilica across the road, promenade, beach, marinas etc just steps away. Frejus is an inland town almost joined on to St. R. We took the public bus there in the morning, explored the lovely historic area, and returned by a different bus which dropped us almost at the tender point. Afternoon in St. R. Had a great day. Two totally different experiences. You can read about Frejus and see photos of the historic centre on TripA. The buses terminate at the bus station, and the historic centre is across the roundabout, less than five minutes walk. You can see the cathedral spire from the bus station. Walk towards it.
  7. Returned last Saturday. Unsure if Marella have the same dock throughout the season or not, or if they swap with Aida (or some other ship) at some point. Boarding day, turnaround day, and departure day we were docked in the same location, in our opinion the best one, closest to the main road. Aidanova was also there on the same dates, and we think also on turnaround given the activity and their timings. They were opposite us in a much further away location and were using shuttles. Portopi shopping centre was just a few minutes away across the main road and uphill. If you want to shop, just follow the crew! Returning by bus, this is the stop you want. Going into Palma by bus, exit the terminal building, cut across the little garden in front (ever so slightly left-ish) which takes you to the main road. Turn right. Bus stop is a three to four minute walk from there. We never heard nor read anything at all to do with Marella shuttles in Palma.
  8. Definitely look at tomsportguides mentioned above. Excellent map, diy walk and info for this lovely small town. It is a more relaxing day if you have had busy cities before Catagena or have busy cities after this stop.
  9. Should you change your mind about a private tour guide and decide to go it alone, it is a really easy port to do this. Tomsportguides is excellent, as is the visitmonaco website. The latter has links to buses too and even a section for cruise passengers with suggested itineraries for a short stay of only a few hours. There are bus routes, timetables and fare info on the buses link. They also have suggested walking routes depending on your interests. It is compact but steep so if you want views from above, get a day ticket for the bus to get you up and down although the old town is walkable (with the elevator) from the port. Tomsportguides shows you how. Lots to see and do there, including gardens, museums, the old town, the casino etc so you will be spoiled for choice. We bought a day ticket for the buses. Bus route#6 with its terminus at the Exotic Gardens for outstanding views although check in case that info has changed.
  10. If it isn't too late, we had a great day there and I posted this fairly recently in reply to a question on the same subject. Hopefully you should find it helpful: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2612237-st-vincent/
  11. Many thanks to posters above who gave feedback as never sure what others think. I was only concerned that some might book without doing homework first. GOQ has done three river cruises to our one and could maybe add some tips, info and/or opinions especially if he thinks differently to me. I don't mind criticism!
  12. Didn’t want the post to come across as very negative towards river cruising, only wanted to caution against booking a river cruise without doing a bit of homework first as they are so different from ocean cruises and might not suit everyone. There are also a number of issues which can affect them quite seriously, including the dreaded water levels, locksmen strikes, any accidents caused by river traffic other than river boats etc. Our evening entertainment was mostly a quiz, a glass blowing demo, a man playing an electronic keyboard, a couple of local acts who board at one dock and jump ship one or two locks further along. They offered local music, song and dance. These are probably typical of most lines although you would need to ask others as we only experienced one and heard about others from friends. Food was actually excellent for us. More meals focused on dishes from the countries and regional areas we were passing through, wines ditto. And we really really enjoyed close cruising, so there were pros and cons. On the River Cruising Forum there are some stickies at the top, this is one of them: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2435910-what-to-expect-on-a-river-cruise/ and another: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2652192-river-water-levels-in-2019/ We know several people who have tried river cruising with mixed results. Some have had no issues, others have had more than one curtailed, cancelled or turned into a bus tour. For anyone unsure about river cruising, Fred Olsen does what we call “hybrid” cruises. IE they offer some river cruises but on an ocean liner. We did their German Waterways last year onboard Balmoral. River cruising with the advantage of the facilities of an ocean liner. It suited us, might suit others too. More established river cruise lines are much more accommodating for regional flights, and sometimes there is only a small supplement to pay, other times there is no extra charge. And some can offer rail instead of flights. Some include all shorex, some include some drinks with meals, others are AI. I would suggest that you compare a total package with Tui against that of other river cruise lines And read the River Cruises Forum too.
  13. Quote Flights (non TUI) will be from across the U.K. End quote Hmmm. Yes and no. Could not find a "choose airport" option and looking for Scottish airport options was taking too long as had to do a partial booking on each to find "alternative flight options". Finally gave up and called the river cruise tel number and spoke with someone who advised that only one itinerary had Scottish airport options (supplement applies) and that is the Bavarian Discovery itinerary-on three dates. Depending on the date, these are only Glasgow OR Edinburgh, not Glasgow AND Edinburgh. Hopefully she gave me the correct info. We only did one river cruise, a 14 night Budapest to Amsterdam and could have been interested in the Iron Gates itinerary, but it won't be with TUI. Anyone considering a river cruise who is unfamiliar with river cruising should read all about them on the river cruise board before booking, as there are many "pros" and "cons" and river cruising is very different to ocean cruises. They are generally not suited to anyone with a disability, in part as "rafting" is often needed. This is where 2 or more boats are moored together. On a couple of occasions we were #3 of 3. This involves walking up and down temporary walkways which connect boats to the riverbank. The more expensive balcony cabins can appear attractive, but boats often only sail at night as most days you are ashore. When docked alongside, balconies and doors usually have to be locked for security. Curtains often need to be closed for privacy as members of the public could be walking or cycling along the towpath just feet away. If you are "rafting", there could be cabins on the "rafted" boat which are only inches from yours. And yes, you can see everything. High and low river levels can have a huge impact. We really enjoyed ours, but it was not impacted by river levels. We knew we were relying on luck when we booked it, and were lucky, but we have been wary of booking any others since then. Do read the river cruise boards so you can make an informed decision.
  14. Sorry, trying to help but may have been a bit harsh. The two maps on the visitrijeka website are the same as what we were given at the port. If you didn't look at them back in December, looking at them now can help you decide whether you book a tour or do it yourself. There is lots of useful info on that site. Sites such as whatsinport also give you bus numbers for the castle, although a short taxi ride would also be an option and cheaper than a shorex. You could always taxi up and bus down. It is an area worth visiting and there are a number of cafes and bars up there. There may be costumed staff with samples of local drinks at the port.
  15. The castle area is very attractive. If you are confident using a local bus to get up to the castle and down again (and it wasn't difficult at all) you will be dropped back into the town centre which is easily walkable with the sights close together as you will see on the visitrijeka website maps and info mentioned above. Otherwise consider a shorex.
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