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About lackcreativity

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Nottingham, MD
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  1. lackcreativity

    Is Livorno worth a visit?

    Thanks, all of you, for your suggestions. We have been to the large food market in Florence, and that was enjoyable, so I think we should have enough to pass the time there.
  2. lackcreativity

    Specialty Restaurant Availability

    We also travel in veranda cabins and have managed to secure reservations in each specialty once on board on both of our cruises, often more than one in each. It helps to be flexible on time slots, and in Chef's Table you may not get your first choice of menu. We have enjoyed all but one of the Chef's Table menus (and maybe we just don't like Peking duck?), so we are happy trying new things. Download the Viking app before you board, as you can also make and track reservations from your phone or tablet. I suggest you book early in the cruise, but don't be afraid to check availability later as people do change their plans and slots may open up.
  3. lackcreativity

    Questions about Empires of the Med.

    This was our first ocean cruise, and one of our best vacations ever. We also had taken a Viking river cruise first, which convinced us to give an ocean cruise a try. We took our second cruise this fall, and have another VO this April, and hope to do others in the future. We used a mix of included and optional excursions, depending on what we wanted to see in each port. Viking provides free shuttle service in several of the ports, so after our tours in Athens and Dubrovnik, we remained behind to explore on our own. For the included tour on Santorini, you are given a ticket for the cable cars to make your own way down to the tender location in time to be back on board before sail away. We enjoyed a lovely lunch on our own there. I do a lot of research before making my decisions, and using the information on the Viking website about the excursions, Google maps to figure out the distances, and Pinterest to see what the sights I don't know look like, I have been really happy with our selected excursions with Viking. Enjoy your trip!
  4. lackcreativity

    Is Livorno worth a visit?

    I am considering a cruise itinerary that has an overnight in Livorno, with the opportunity for shore excursions on two days. We have been on land based tours of Italy and have been to Florence twice, and Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Cinque Terre. There is an excursion to Greve that I would do one day, but for the second day I wonder is Livorno worth a visit? Is transportation available? Could we spend a few hours there on our own?
  5. lackcreativity

    St. Petersburg: Alla Tours vs. Viking Tours

    We generally try to avoid hot weather and crowds, so we will be there May 1-3. I'm pretty sure it won't be hot, and I am hoping the crowds will be less intense. I think we will manage to enjoy ourselves even if it is crowded: Venice is one of our favorite cities and the crowds there can be overwhelming! Viking's own Karine Hagen claims St. Petersburg as her favorite city, so my expectations and enthusiasm for this trip are quite high. I'm sorry your experience did not live up to the city's reputation.
  6. lackcreativity

    What's up with having different dates for when excursions can be booked

    We haven't tried that one, but would like to do so. We have sampled four menus in the Chef's Table, liked two menus , didn't care for one (but maybe we just don't like Peking duck?), and the Sweet and Salty meal was among our top meals of all times. Yes, the portions of the five courses are small, but we were not hungry afterwards. In general, the portions in all venues are more reasonable than those served in many American restaurants. You can always request more, but I appreciate that approach, and sometimes there was even room for dessert!
  7. lackcreativity

    What's up with having different dates for when excursions can be booked

    We sail in veranda cabins, and do not have the option to book dining reservations in advance. Even so, on both of our cruises we have been able to make multiple reservations for both Chef's Table and Manfredi's. Towards the end of the cruise, things did fill up, but if you book early you should be fine. I have read that sometimes you can even just walk up and get a seat. I believe that they only use a portion of all possible dining slots for advance reservations, reserving others for on board booking. You may not get the time you want, but it can still be done. We ate later than we usually do, but that wasn't a problem. In Chef's Table, it's a tasting menu and the portions are small, and in Manfredi's we don't order all courses, so we weren't stuffed afterwards. A nice stroll around the ship afterwards and we were fine. Even if you aren't eating until 8, you can stop in the World Cafe when it opens and have some sushi or whatever little appetizer you choose.
  8. lackcreativity

    Viking Sun World Cruise 2019

    Conni Gi said: "We are SAILING! I thought it would never get here! Just reading the Viking Daily and soooo happy to see that the legendary BYRDS’ lead singer and guitarist (Jim) Roger McGuinn will be onboard at least part of the cruise as a guest /enrichment lecturer!! Love all their songs, and I used to teach their “Turn” as poetry in my English classes!" Ah, my husband is so envious, and I too would enjoy Roger McGuinn's addition as a guest lecturer on one of our Viking cruises!
  9. lackcreativity

    St. Petersburg: Alla Tours vs. Viking Tours

    I appreciate all your comments. Your unanimous support for Alla is reassuring, and has eliminated my second thoughts about what is, after all, a "first-world" problem. I had lost track of the fact that this type of travel is only meant to offer a taste, and even three days in St. Petersburg will not be enough to see everything, but I am most grateful to have the chance to see it at all. Thanks for reminding me.
  10. lackcreativity

    St. Petersburg: Alla Tours vs. Viking Tours

    That's pretty high praise, given your experience. Thanks for the input.
  11. lackcreativity

    St. Petersburg: Alla Tours vs. Viking Tours

    The Faberge Museum is high on my wish list, but Alla only allows an hour to visit, while Viking allows two hours inside. This is behind my confusion! I guess that the smaller groups may help speed things along with Alla!
  12. lackcreativity

    St. Petersburg: Alla Tours vs. Viking Tours

    We will be there May 1, 2, and 3. Will it be too early in the year for the Gardens to have much impact?
  13. We are on the Viking Sky on April 26, 2019 for Russia and the Baltic Sea. I have already booked a spot with Alla Tours for their three day Grand Tour, and thought I was all settled with that plan. I know about the lower cost, the smaller group size, and the excellent recommendations. The schedule covers every single place we want to visit. Why am I having second thoughts? Viking has just posted the excursions, and it seems that at every location, the time allotted on a Viking visit is longer than on the Alla tour (even after deducting for travel time). We would see fewer of our desired sights, but spend more time at the ones we did get to see. This alternate plan to use Viking of course depends on our ability to book the excursions I am considering, and our willingness to pay the extra, and deal with the larger groups. The more limited Viking itinerary would include the Hermitage, a walking tour, the Catherine Palace and Gardens, the Faberge Museum, a canal tour, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. Alla does all that, and adds St. Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral, Peterhof Gardens, the impressionist collection of the Hermitage, and a subway ride. Does anyone have any input, just on the issue of more time at fewer places? I am pretty sure this will be the only time we get to visit this beautiful city, so I would appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance.
  14. lackcreativity

    Early planning

    Peregrina, Since a World Cruise is not in my future, I'll just have to keep hoping. I suspect Viking appreciates your most excellent presence on this forum, so maybe you could put in a good word?
  15. lackcreativity

    Early planning

    Your final point, regarding increases in cruise prices, is one I hadn't considered. My "dream" itinerary of a western Mediterranean with Taormina and Valletta is not yet offered by Viking, but I could always book one of my four "maybe" choices and switch it should a better one appear!