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kentchris

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About kentchris

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    Cool Cruiser

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  • Location
    Overlooking the Straights of Dover
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Cunard, Saga

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  1. Why? The full capacity of the GDR is needed for dinner but not for breakfast and lunch, so using otherwise unneeded capacity in the centre of the ‘room’ (as mentioned by IbizaLover it’s a series of connected spaces rather than a single space) for the cold self service options at breakfast and lunch makes sense. We never realised there was a dedicated buffet area in Pole to Pole, not that we had breakfast or lunch there more than a couple of times each and were never told it was an option, so as far as we were concerned it may as well not have existed.
  2. A thoughtful feature I don’t remember seeing mentioned is that when you turn the bathroom lights off only the downlighters go out completely: the mirror illumination dims to give a nightlight effect. Sea day tomorrow: two port talks and a Q&A with Wayne Sleep. The clocks don’t go back to CET until tomorrow night which will make Monday’s visit to Kalundborg relatively relaxing.
  3. A couple of things before I forget: the deck forward of the Britannia Lounge is open to passengers, although on our first sea day the interior doors to the lobby opening on to it were blocked possibly because it was jolly windy. We found the alternative access from Deck 11 port side - it would be an excellent viewing platform for port arrivals - the bridge roof cuts the view downward a little but it’s otherwise a good alternative to the Sun Deck. The fridge is a a funny little shallow affair with space for a couple of wine bottle sized bottles lying on their side in the middle and a couple of spaces either side where one might chill small things like mixers (a carton of milk is standard).
  4. They are tables used for dining in the evening but which are repurposed for buffet purposes, eg breakfast (which I forgot in my previous post), lunch, and special occasions. There isn’t a buffet in the sense of an area set aside for that purpose, but a bit of table shifting creates an ad hoc buffet as necessary.
  5. The internet went a bit flaky last night so a belated update. We did the two day Grand Tour in SPB. It’s available in two versions of exactly the same itinerary, one coach sized parties and the other 10 people maximum in a minibus. We opted for the expensive version in the hope that 10 would be a more manageable sized party which I think was a good call. We didn’t seem to get around that much faster than the full sized tour but we had a bit more flexibility as we could get into and out of venues more speedily, and could opt to walk a couple of times instead of taking the bus between nearby venues. When we had a bit of time spare after the Spilled Blood yesterday we were given the option of 20 minutes stroll in the park next door. Last night’s dinner was a Saga special - a full Russian themed affair which I would have loved to tried (menu below). We were in Coast to Coast for our second visit and the sixth alternative restaurant meal we’ve had so far, but only the second one we’ve actually booked. The seafood platter was as good as everyone has reported - a must have. Today’s call at Tallinn was nice although the weather was a bit dingy. It’s good to be back in a Eurozone country, although nearly all the attractions and all of the souvenir shops we visited in SPB accepted most hard currencies, or credit cards for tiddly sums so that people wouldn’t be landed with worthless roubles in change if they paid cash. Last night’s GDR menu and today’s ‘Today’:
  6. There’s no buffet: the tables in the centre, under the space open to The Club, are used for the cold display at lunchtime (and when there’s a buffet meal such as the late night Russian Buffet a couple of nights ago).
  7. The GDR lunchtime menu doesn’t mention that there’s a salad selection available, possibly superior to the Grill’s lunchtime offering, plus fresh fruit and cheese/biscuits (I didn’t check if there were cold desserts) so there’s little to choose between them in terms of the food.
  8. There’s plenty of clearance under the bedside sockets.
  9. After a hard day of excursioning, with something of a blot when we didn’t have anywhere to sit down to eat our packed lunch (Explore Ashore all busy running evening excursions so complaining yet to come) we returned to the sight of Viking Jupiter departing - we’d run into their excursions in the Hermitage in the morning. Viking’s ships are the nearest in size/capacity, style, and comfort of Saga’s competitors that I’ve been on so it was nice to see her. Dinner in The Grill for the first time. We could see why it’s a popular option for many: more starter options as there are salads in addition to the GDR offerings, plus a daily roast. All served buffet style so as much or little as one wants, and more importantly at one’s own pace. And even more importantly the tot of port with one’s cheese is free there, but charged for in the GDR (although that’ll presumably change once SoD goes AI). The alternative venues tend to operate at a slowish speed, presumably as they’re cooking more to order, and the GDR has been almost too slick on the two evenings we’ve dined there so far. The GDR has oddly been rather slow and disjointed for the couple of lunches we’ve had there so needs to get its act together for when people don’t necessarily want to linger. Early opening hours in the GDR as they had to set up for the Russian Buffet at 10pm which was to revive people who’d been on evening excursions, some of which had been pretty cold. Everyone on my table had expected something fairly simple, but there was plentiful caviar with the trimmings, vodka, and champagne. The hot offerings were soup, goulash, chicken Romanov, breaded fish, prawns with vodka and tomato, plus a roast which I didn’t inspect and various veg. All of which was still being replenished at 11pm, with senior hotel staff including the executive chef keeping an eye on things. People seemed rather impressed... Another early start tomorrow so that’s all for this evening. I leave you with tomorrow’s dailies and a couple of action shots from the Russian Buffet.
  10. Early night tonight as our tour has an 08.00 departure in order to have enough time to see everything on tomorrow’s schedule. Note tomorrow’s late night Russian Buffet in the GDR for people on evening tours, and anyone else fancying a shot of vodka or two and some caviar...
  11. Michelle Dunne, not Kayleigh Lane who was named in our book. The Executive Chef was named as George Streeter: John McCerery is credited on board as running the show, so it’s anyone's guess who’ll turn up.
  12. Thanks Lincslady, that supports the impression I’ve got about how Saga do these things - ie that they’ll go a long way to keep their customers happy. Back to tonight: we got into Coast to Coast on spec, asked at the desk at 7.20 if any tables for two were likely to be free later, were advised to ask again in half an hour and to have a drink in the Club bar in case something came up. Just after our drinks arrived the maître d offered us two seats immediately at a table for four as there’d been a cancellation, which resulted in a very pleasant evening. And we’ve still got our table for two booked for Friday. The only upset was running foul of the ‘no entry after the show starts’ rule at the Playhouse where Peter Donnegan was performing. Wayne Sleep was just in front of us and wasn’t impressed by being turned away. The clocks go forward again tonight as we approach Helsinki, but after an intensive four days there, in SPB, and Tallin we’ll start getting the time back.
  13. We scored a fourth alternative restaurant visit in five nights by having a word on our way back from our afternoon in Stockholm with the maître d at The Club to see if he had a table for two tonight. He offered shared tables before 8pm, but when we said that was too early for us he suggested we call back at 8pm. We arrived at 7.50 and the earliest table due to be free was at 8.30, but we were only sat with a drink for 15 minutes before we had our 2-top. Another excellent meal and a win for flexibility on time. Tomorrow’s dailys - we’re getting so far ahead on the port talks that it’s difficult to relate to where we actually are on any day. At least previous talks are now on the TV under video on demand. BTW the rug/shawl was delivered as promised. It may as well be as new as the ones provided for all the difference we can see. That goes down as an above and beyond bit of customer service - we had happily accepted we couldn’t buy a rug so there was no need to give us one...
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