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Posts posted by LibertyBella

  1. Just got off Enchanted and yes, they were available at Guest Services, but not really discussed on the Patter or shared broadly.  They were the same little maps with highlights marked and briefly described. We took them, but as we were on tours most days, did not need them.


    Not sure if they were handed out as well at the port talks, as we were never able to make any of them.  My philosophy is if I do not have shore excursions booked at least four to eight months in advance, then I am behind the curve!

  2. Six of one, half dozen of another.  We like both and would sail both, especially in Europe. HAL and Cunard also make the cut. For me, the priority would be itinerary, budget, air fare arrangements, and costs, etc. 


    We tour every day we are in port, so that expense is also significant for us, more than on-board costs.


    We also limit our cruise length, as we have pets.  Have fun planning!

  3. Guess I am in the minority, because I rarely go on CC to complain (just once about Viking airfare), and I usually don't ask questions. 


    After 50 years of cruising, I have seen cruise lines come and go, so I tend to hop around, depending on itinerary, budget, mood, etc.  Also, we have NEVER purchased a package, because--we started cruising before the Internet existed, so we do not want to use it on vacation, we are light drinkers so only order a la carte, I usually purchase the most elaborate shore excursions so the small amount provided is meaningless, and we are small-average eaters (one entree, each, please.)


    I just sailed Enchanted Princess out of Rome last week, and we had a very busy schedule of touring, so no time for leisurely room service, or trying out specialty restaurants, or even relaxing by the pool or in the spa. 


    Oh well, I saw the most magnificent historic and archaeological sights while on the cruise, which was the main reason for sailing.  We enjoyed all of our meals, and liked the shows, all the activity, etc.  


    But we sailed the Greek islands on Celebrity in 2019 out of Venice, and equally enjoyed that cruise, also extremely port heavy.  And we sailed Cunard last year, and also loved all the dressing up and traditions.  And we were on Viking just a few months ago.


    And I would not hesitate to book many other different cruise lines just for the complete joy of cruising! (Yes, we like Carnival, NCL, and RC just to relax on the ships.) I am SO happy to see the cruise industry survived Covid and is forging ahead.  I am always ready to say, "Bon Voyage!"

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  4. Just back from a Princess cruise out of Rome (with Naples as the next stop), and there happened to be a train strike in Rome on embarkation day, so yes, hundreds of folks were delayed/late and had to join the ship the next day.  I even met one woman who joined the cruise four days late, as she had some other issues with travel.


    Luckily for us (not really luck, I am an intense planner) we arrived in Rome multiple days before the cruise, and also took a private shuttle car to the port.


    Since your ship is departing late at night, you should have no problem boarding the same day the flight arrives (there may be a one or two hour cut off for embarkation before ship departure).  Do you have transportation reserved already from the airport, or will you take a taxi?  The cost is about 150 Euros for a taxi.  Does RC offer some kind of transportation you can purchase?


    Have a great time!

  5. Just got off the Enchanted Princess last week and my room was spotless upon boarding.(Yes, we also inspect and wipe down.) We met our steward right away, and he was great!


    Of course, we arrived in the early afternoon, and I know some people want to board first thing in the morning. 


    It sounds like your room was not touched at all in-between cruises.  


    No worries, just ask for it to be cleaned. I am sure your steward will be on the ball after such an unfortunate arrival.  Have a great cruise!

  6. I, too, am a crazy cruise photo collector, and have actually brought home HUNDREDS of photos from one sailing in previous all-inclusive packages, but on my most recent Princess cruise (this past week), I opted for the smaller photo package of five photos (although I almost ordered the ten, but actually bought six), and I found myself more or less satisfied.


    Why?  First, we had port calls just about every day, and we were on all-day excursions, many of which left very, very early, always before the photographers set up their little "Welcome to port so and so" shots.  Because we were not on board most of the day, we missed all the casual photo opportunities. 


    Okay, we love getting dressed up for formal nights and also posing for photos.  But, many of the backdrops were just too dull or too modern for our taste.  We like the more traditional style backgrounds, and prefer normal full-body shots, versus strange poses.  So we found ourselves with limited options, and tried to make the best of what was available.  Let me say, picking our very favorite shots and poses was in some ways a lot more fun than just taking everything home.  


    In any case, the proliferation of phone photo taking has probably hurt the cruise photo industry, so they have to cut back on previous generous offers.  

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  7. I do not know why the idea that cruise excursions are too expensive or too full of slow people has circulated so strongly.  I have been cruising and traveling internationally for decades, and I almost always first review and usually book the ship excursions before I decide to do anything independently. After spending all that money on a cruise and airfare, I do not want to be a cheapskate about the sightseeing portion, nor do I want to be standing in long lines trying to purchase tickets. The main reason I do not choose a ship excursion is if the excursions offered are not comprehensive enough, or if we have already seen or done everything offered.  I usually book many of my excursions as soon as I make my cruise deposit.


    I have been extremely pleased with most of my ship excursions, and usually I book the longest, busiest excursion that I can find with lunch included. My costs usually run about $100.00- $200.00 a day or so per person for these types of comprehensive tours, no matter the cruise line, and the meals are quite excellent and unique! Also, sometimes it is impossible to arrange a similar tour independently, and I do a great deal of research before I visit a location.


    Cruise excursions often depart from the ship first, the transportation is quite comfortable, the guides are knowledgeable, and the arrangements are streamlined. Yes, the guaranteed return to ship is a bonus.  By the way, we are exceptionally active and fit for our age--husband is scuba certified and skis every weekend during the Winter; I can dance in the nightclub nonstop after touring ruins all day.


    As to wandering around, we only do that if we have been to a port previously, and if there is nothing of critical interest we wish to see.  Regarding Rome, I would almost say forget about a day trip--the city deserves multiple days to truly be discovered.  


    I just sailed last week from Rome to Athens on a Princess cruise with pre-and post-multi day stays, and used Princess shore excursions for most of my tours (the non-stop Ephesus tour that departed at 7:00 AM was superb; We were FIRST to visit the throne room at Knossos; and so forth). 


    Some of the decisions come down to the port itself--what interests you, what is your physical ability, are you comfortable being on your own, do you have any specific sites you wish to see or things to do, can you manage the language, etc.  My strongest recommendation is to do a bit of research about each place you are going to visit so you know well in advance what is available. Have fun planning!


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  8. I do not necessarily think that the waiters should keep the 15% tips individually, because there may be some bars that are much more popular than others, and the workers who are assigned there will make out much better than colleagues who are in the slower areas.  I am not sure if rotations occur, or if seniority plays a role in assignments, either.  I do not see this as any kind of master plan against crew by Cunard, but perhaps just a way to even the playing field.  I ALWAYS tip in cash above and beyond to those staff who provide me with exceptional service.  Ordering a drink one night from a random waiter does not qualify, but someone who regularly serves me and knows my likes and dislikes will definitely receive an envelope at the end of the cruise.

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  9. Just returned from a Med cruise and it was SCORCHING, but I am a sun lover so I dressed appropriately and continued all my non-stop touring and excursions.  We even saw some of the Greek wildfires up close as our tour bus roared past the fire and the smoke.  I discovered the granita drinks in Italy, a cold slushy fruit mixture, and they became my drink of choice while walking in the cities.  I also recommend starting to tour very early before the crowds and intense heat, and then taking a long leisurely lunch break. However, in the end, some folks just do not have the ability or the physical stamina to tolerate such hot weather, so they should reschedule their travel.

  10. Just returned from Europe cruising Rome to Athens.  The heat was scorching in some places--and the sites like the Acropolis were closing from late morning until 5:00 PM to avoid the intensity of the sun.

    Rome was absolutely PACKED--the Trevi Fountain was a joke with people everywhere.  We took a day trip to Villa D'Este and sometimes found no one else around anywhere when we posed for photos at all those gorgeous fountains.


    The Vatican museums were shoulder-to-shoulder and the Sistine Chapel allowed visitors to pretend they were sardines.  Our guide told us that Vatican City makes its own rules for tourism, and does not limit numbers at all.  It is quite a different experience at the Borghese Gallery, where visitor numbers are strictly enforced.


    I do enjoy hot weather, and the opportunity to cool off in the cruise ship swimming pool and air conditioning is a welcome relief. I try to prepare for sunny days with light clothes, a hat, sunglasses, and water.  I have been to Europe other times of the year, and sometimes the constant rain and cooler days can negatively affect touring for me more than the heat.  I have also seen tourists knee-deep in water in flooded Venice, which completely ruins the walking experience.  The prices may be better and the crowds much less, but often for me low season is not always an improvement.


    One other thing to note--the number of American citizens who have passports has increased exponentially, and young people today are more inclined to spend their money on experiences like travel, versus things like new cars.  Yes, I recall with some nostalgia my travel days of the past, but I continue the journey to complete my ever-expanding bucket list.



  11. Got my first passport when I was a little girl (decades ago) and I have kept it up-to-date ever since. I have all my old passports, and they have some memorable stamps in them.  It is great that passports are valid for ten years now, so I can plan accordingly.


    I have definitely been hearing a lot of horror stories about recent passport renewals and applications--it just seems there is a surge of travel post-Covid that is overwhelming the agencies. I have never had to bother with Real ID or birth certificates, and I kept my maiden name at marriage, so travel identification for me has been streamlined my entire life.

  12. Gosh, I am loyal to cruising, but I rank Princess way up there as one of my favorite lines. (Yes, I sailed the original Pacific Princess Love Boat back in the early 1980's!). I am sailing on Princess in less than a week (Italy & Greece), and I have already been online checking out shopping ideas, even though I have been to both countries multiple times before. (Yes, I love, love, love to shop.) Last time I cruised to Greece I took Celebrity (right before Covid!).


    I have always had very pleasant port and shopping guides, but let's face it, they have to focus on what stores they are told to promote. Their little talks are fun, but mainly for beginner shoppers. I often go anyway, just to get the coupons and the free maps.


    As for almost missing the ship?!  There is a big notification on Princess Patter what time everyone should be on board--that is the traveler's responsibility ALWAYS.  The only way to cede responsibility is to book a Princess shore excursion.  


    As for comparisons, I do think Celebrity is the closest in style--RC is aimed much more at families with children, while Princess and Celebrity are a bit more sophisticated and upscale.  Holland America is similar, with perhaps an older crowd, and we also love Cunard, because of the elegance and the traditions.  Would I ever let one employee stop me from traveling anywhere or shopping anywhere?  NO WAY.  But then, I have been cruising for fifty years, so I mainly rely on my own knowledge and experience!



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  13. I took my first cruise fifty years ago, and nowadays I pay absolutely no attention to status on any cruise lines. I have been on more than ten different lines, and I have sailed on at least three cruise lines that have completely ceased all operations. I have seen so many changes I have almost lost count (there used to be lots of bunk beds, definitely no televisions, one restaurant for everybody, flaming desserts, etc., etc.)


    I rarely drink, and I have gone to enough ship parties to last a lifetime. I refuse to do laundry on ships as well!  


    I agree prices have increased, but I am absolutely INUNDATED with great cruise offers all the time--yes, they are still out there if one has a flexible schedule.  However, we also like to take land tours, ski vacations, and driving trips, plus we have a lot of pets.  Last minute air-fares can also be pricey.


    You have several more decades ahead of you to enjoy the cruising life style!  Life is short, so live it up!

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  14. Santorini is a stunning landscape!  Arriving there is very scenic.  We especially wanted to visit Akrotiri (ancient city buried by the volcano eruption), thought to perhaps be the origin of the story of Atlantis. A bus met us right off the ship and we headed out to the archaeological site.  We also did a stop at Oia, quite congested, and the famous view involves a long line up and only a brief photo opportunity. Shopping is fun but pricey. I am not sure that I really HAD to see Oia--it is a pretty village but I like the historic sites better.


    Are you also going to Mykonos?  There are a lot of architectural similarities there to see, and it may be less stressful to navigate.


    I find almost all places in Greece involve a fair bit of walking, and many of the walkways are narrow and not flat, or have cobblestones.


    We had plenty of time to walk around Fira, go to the prehistoric museum and eat lunch, but we did line up for about forty-five minutes (very hot) to get the cable car down, although it was the very end of the day.  We are in very good shape, and could probably run down the steps if we had to, but we heard they were full of donkey poo, so that was not appealing. The cable car was fast and relaxing.


    If you really want to get off the ship, then plan on getting back on early before the crowds so the cable car line is less.


    Have a great visit!

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  15. I cannot blame Viking if people do not understand the voucher "rules." 


    It is not Viking's job to hold everyone's hand and make sure they thoroughly read terms and conditions.  Many, many people on this website want to do everything themselves, and then blame the cruise line if it does not work out, instead of taking responsibility for not learning the travel parameters.


    I used a Viking voucher this year, left over from the pandemic, and my mother had one as well which she decided not to use.  I learned all the rules about the vouchers and I had her transfer the voucher to my brother.  I warned my brother that if you cancel and do not use it, you lose it.


    Travel insurance is not always a fail-safe anyway, as it has its own set of terms and conditions.


    The bottom line is never accept vouchers unless you fully understand how to use them.

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  16. I have never played any cruise ship trivia games, although I do enjoy watching Jeopardy.  I do know that cell phones make it all too easy to "do research."  No wonder teachers do not want phones in classrooms.  Essay questions are always best!


    My dad used to win all the table tennis contests.  That was a game of SKILL.


    I remember the Carnival Hairy Chest contests.  That was a game of BIOLOGICAL luck.


    My brother likes the Karaoke singing.  He says it is all in the stylistic approach--it is okay if you are not perfect with all the lyrics.


    You can find me dancing in the nightclubs.  They never give out trophies, but I always feel like I am winning when I am spinning!



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  17. I am also a Bermuda fan!  The island is so clean, lovely and safe, much different from some other higher-poverty Caribbean islands. The pink sand beaches are gorgeous and the sand is so soft.


    I have been to Bermuda several times on several different cruise lines, including that RC stop of two half days.  Bermuda port charges are a bit costly, so by doing it that way, passengers are really only charged for one full day. 


    I really think you cannot get the flavor of the island at all with the half days, as you barely have time to tour, shop, get to a beach, go snorkeling, etc., etc. It is just like a quick introduction.


    I am always ready to return to Bermuda!

  18. EZAir is just a service--not a substitute for a travel agent.


    You are responsible for selecting your flights, and you need to continue to monitor them on your own, as you would if you made independent air reservations.


    Most airlines make you pay immediately for tickets--the fact that Princess allows people to reserve space far in advance without ticketing is a unique element. 


    However, as soon as I made final payment for my cruise, I also made sure my airline space was ticketed and my seats were assigned.  I then went to my flight accounts (I am a frequent flyer on the airlines I chose), and verified that all was confirmed.


    Yes, airline travel has been exceptionally difficult and overly busy this year, with pilot shortages, weather challenges, route changes, technology system crashes, oversold flights, etc.  It could also be the airline just decided to "kick you off" for a group of other travelers paying full fare.


    I agree that I spend a little more or drive to an airport that offers non-stop, direct flights.  


    I also agree that if problems do arise, one must be very persistent with Princess. However, I would probably give them a few times to resolve the situation in some other way before spending money on new tickets at the last minute (unless it was a dire emergency). 

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  19. Are you a beach person or a city person?


    My husband is scuba certified, so he does not care what the excursions are in the Caribbean as long as he can scuba, which we may have to arrange privately if the ship does not offer it.  We also like the catamaran snorkeling excursions.


    The private beaches are always nice for relaxing, sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling, etc.


    San Juan has a great deal to see, especially the Old City and the fort. If you would like to see a rain forest, that is also unique. Of course, Puerto Rico requires more than a one day visit.


    Sometimes I book Resort for a Day (use of hotel pool, beach and lunch) if I do not like any excursions.


    I took the power motor boat ride once, and all it did was mess up my hair with a lot of wind.


    I went horseback riding in Grand Turk in the ocean, and I almost fell off the horse, as the saddles were flimsy.  That is one of least favorite ports for shopping or strolling.  I have toured a lot of the island and nothing stood out too much.


    I have also taken the glass bottom boats and submarine rides--you stay dry and get to see the fish.


    Have a great cruise!

  20. Some women enjoy wearing dresses more than pants, and I am one of them.  I have daytime dresses and evening dresses, and of course, evening gowns (which will never be taken on a Viking cruise, oh well.). 


    Of course, itinerary is always the deciding factor--in colder climates I will wear sweater dresses with boots, in warmer climates short sleeved easy flowing cotton dresses with Skechers shoes (day touring).  


    I do live in a four-season state, so I have a a great collection of clothes and shoes collected over many decades, and luckily, my sizes have not changed too much.


    The good thing is I also have a husband to accompany me, and he carried those big red Viking umbrellas for both of us as they are a bit cumbersome, but they certainly protect from the rain.

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  21. We used to always do late dining, but then we would be in the nightclubs until the wee hours of the morning. 


    Recently (over the past few years) we have switched to early seating. Sometimes it is a rush returning from an excursion and hurrying down to dinner, but otherwise it is nice to eat right away when the tables are newly set up, the waiters are fresh, and afterwards we have the rest of the evening open. 


    I will say that dining time may depend on the itinerary of your cruise--if you have nonstop port calls with busy full-day excursions, it works out well to allow for ample sleep, but if you have many sea days late dining would be fine.


    Have a great time!

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  22. 1 hour ago, S.A.M.J.R. said:

    Because THEY. ARE. NOT. NEEDED.  Some people don't like spending money they don't need to.  


    Hopefully this will be the first of MANY years of cruising, and since adult passports are valid for ten years, and children's for five, who can say where one might go in the future?  So many children are traveling internationally with their families, so being prepared in advance in always the smarter move.  

    Have a great cruise!

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  23. The only people who do not look good in a white dress are those that have convinced themselves of that misapprehension. Adding the lace overlay gives it a touch of historic elegance. You will look great, @eltigre


    Actually white, black, and other neutrals look fine on just about everybody, everywhere!


    I would never hesitate to wear white, although I mainly wear it in Summer, but I have a few beautiful white cashmere and angora sweaters I wear in the Winter.  A white silk blouse with a nice suit is striking year round.


    There is no better time than a vacation to wear a special (new) outfit.


    Happy cruising!

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