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Bruin Steve

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About Bruin Steve

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    Calabasas, CA, USA

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  1. You would, basically, be giving up the lift-and-shift...You'd lose the price as well as the perks...and have to accept the new deal on whatever terms they are then marketing the cruise. The whole concept behind the lift-and-shift is to help people who booked their 2020 cruises with great prices and perks...and, by the time the cruises got canceled, the 2021 prices for the same cruise were just too far out of line. The only way I would ever consider giving up my L&S deals would be if the prices/perks on the 2021 cruises were to drop BELOW what I had booked the 2020 cruises for...Of course, that's possible. By the time this whole pandemic thing is over, cruising's allure mayt have taken such a hit that they can't sell the cabins. If so, the prices would drop. But, right now, those 2021 prices are HIGH compared to our 2020 deals...and, there's a decent chance that, once the pandemic is history, the demand shoots WAY up.
  2. It's Monday, the 13th--the first full day of the second leg...and we were in Venice after the "overnight". We've spent a lot of time in Venice in the past, so we decided to just get off the ship and wander on our own...We bought the one day Vaporetti ticket--20 euros per person--pays for itself by the third vaporetto trip. They used to have a 12 hour ticket, but this is now the shortest pass. Headed over to Burano in the morning to walk around the beautifully colored streets and canals of this "mini-Venice". Stopped for a morning Espresso in a small cafe, then headed back to Venice to San Marco for some photos. From there, we went across the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro and to a place we'd eaten at before--"Alla Zattere"--a pizzeria/restaurant right on the water on the Giudecca canal...The tables are on a sort of a barge right in the water and we got one right by the railing...a great place to have some food and watch the boats go by... After lunch, we headed back in the direction of Rialto and did a little souvenir shopping in all of the little shops, then took a vaporetto to the Ghetto, where we toured the synagogues and bought a painting from a local artist...By then, the hour was getting a little late...and all-aboard was set for 4:00 pm, so we headed back to the ship...plenty of time for drinks in the Elite Lounge prior to dinner...and a relaxing evening...Split tomorrow...
  3. Sunday, the 12th… It’s “Turnaround Day”—the day everyone gets off the July 5 sailing and a whole new crowd gets on the July 12 sailing…other than us of course. This morning the ship was full of nervous people—waiting for their scheduled disembarkation times, schlepping their carry-on luggage with them all over, worried about their flights home…except for us, of course. Those of us on the “back-to-back” were able to quietly just lounge around. They gave us a meeting time to come get our new cruise cards for the second leg, then marched us all down in a group to punch out with our old cards and immediately punch back in with the new ones. We have the option of getting off the ship to wander around Venice a bit…but, we’ve been many times and have all day tomorrow here as well…So, with all of the confusion with all of the new passengers checking in, we decided to just relax onboard. After all, we’ve had three busy port days in a row, so we could use the break. As back-to-back passengers, we are entitled to eat lunch in the main dining room…of course, we also get that as a perk with our Concierge class stateroom as well, so, either way, that is our choice for lunch…much nicer than dealing with the crowds and the competition for tables up at the buffet. This afternoon, there’s another dreaded muster drill…They really should exempt back-to-back passengers from suffering through that a second time…But, I’ll make sure to get to a bar early and carry a drink into the drill! Tonight just also happens to be our Anniversary, so we are taking advantage of the embarkation night half-price special and dining in the Tuscan Grill—always a favorite with us for special occasions like this. And, tomorrow, we’ll go out and explore Venice for the day on our own at our leisure…
  4. I ran to check my July 2021 cruises...then realized that it's crazy to even check... Yeah, the 2021 prices rise and fall...but, even now, they are WAY over what we paid... We got a great deal booking back in May 2019 for 2020 cruises, got great perks initially and picked up more along the way...then had both 2020 cruises cancelled. Used the "Lift and Shift" to switch to cruises for July 2021... Noticed today that our for Apex cruise, the Concierge cabins are now selling for as low as the same price as for standard balconies...but we already were booked into Concierge...and our price is still about $2000 less with slightly better perks (using the 4 perk price as the measure though we have 3 perks--but our OBC is $350 higher. Since we're Elite Plus, we get 240 minutes of free internet each, so we don't mind not having the internet package). I fully expect the prices on the 2021 cruises to rise and fall at times and depending on perks offered, but, I think if the end of the pandemic starts looking imminent, those prices will rise drastically as a cruise-deprived public starts rushing to book.
  5. Saturday, July 11...Today we had our last port day of the first leg—Rijecka. Again, in order to finish off our OBC, we did a shore excursion: “Golden Island Krk”… We met, again, in the theater at 8:30 and assigned to bus #1…Drove to the island of Krk…which, though an island, can be reached from Rijecka by a bridge… Went to the town of Krk on the southern side of the island and had a guided walk through the old town and visited the Krk Cathedral—a rather smallish old stone cathedral with a white interior…then, right up the street to the 12th Century Frankopan Castle—actually an old stone fort. Ate a Croatian lunch at a local restaurant. We had some free time on our own to wander around town then headed up to the town of Vrbnik with great views of the Adriatic. We walked the narrow streets of this old city, then went to a family-run winery for a tasting of Zlahtina, the local wine. then drove back to the ship in Rijecka. Tonight, most of the passengers will be packing up and putting their luggage out in the hallway in preparation for disembarking tomorrow morning in Venice…but NOT US!! We are happy to be doing “back-to-back” cruises…staying onboard for the next seven nights to do an almost completely different return voyage to Rome. We long ago decided that we never want to travel all the way to Europe for just a 7-night cruise. It’s too much of an investment in money, time and effort to just do a short cruise. So, we’ve always looked for longer cruises. We’ve done everything from 10 to 16 night cruises…and, last year, we did TWO 12 night cruises back-to-back on Reflection out of Amsterdam. But, we’ve found we can’t always find the right long itinerary. So, the next best thing to do is to string together two different cruises. Best to do it on the SAME ship, especially if you can get the same cabin for both legs. That way, when everyone else is packing, we can just treat it as another night onboard. For this one, we were able to grab the same cabin--#8115—a C2 Concierge cabin, midship on the port side—a location we really like for its convenience—for BOTH legs. So, tomorrow, we just stay put…and we get our same wonderful cabin steward for both legs as well. So, tonight, when everyone else is stressed and saddened to be leaving, we will have a very relaxing evening—drinks, dinner, show, late night drinks...totally relaxing…
  6. Had a nice slow breakfast, then met at the theater to join the shore excursion. We had so much onboard credit with our booking deal (and since we also had free gratuities and the drink package—and, as Elite Plus, we get a lot of free internet and laundry, there was little left to spend it on other than shorexes, so, we did one here). Well, Zadar was a pleasant little surprise…Our bus left the port town and headed down the coast to the towns of Skradin and Šibenik …went to a gothic cathedral (“St. Jacob”) and the Town Hall, strolled through a lot of old stone streets and through groves of olive trees . Saw some great views of the Krka River and Lake Prokljan. Then we had a nice walking tour of Zadar itself—including the Morske Orgulje—the “Sea Organ”…It’s a bunch of steps down to the water that have some sort of organ pipes below the watyer level built into them—which makes some weird sounds…Yes, edunava, definitely different! The tour was a little short with the late start. I wish we had a little more time here.
  7. It’s now Friday morning here…Sorry I didn’t get around to an entry last night…It was a long day in Kotor and, when we got back from our tour, we really had to go out to watch the sailaway from an open deck. Leaving Kotor is really amazing…They light up the walls of the town and it’s quite a sight as you sail back out of the Fjord. Anyway, in Kotor we did a private tour with a local provider. They came and picked us up as we got off the tender at about 7:30 am… First, we drove up the mountain road through 25 switchbacks to Njegusi with a breathtaking view of the fjord… Had a snack in the village of smoked ham and cheese with some local wine… Then we drove to Cetinje, the old capital, to visit King Nikola’s Palace with displays of medals, weapons, old furniture and portraits of old Montenegrin royalty. From there it was on to Budva, an incredible little medieval beach resort…we took a lap around the top of the old city walls and had a lunch at a local pizza place, followed by some ice cream… Then it was back to Kotor for a guided walk around the city, then a return to the ship for that fantastic sailaway… So, this morning, we have a little extra time before the ship makes its way into Zadar at about 11:00…We’ve never been to Zadar before, so we’ve booked a shorex—“Panoramas of Historic Dalmatia”…I can’t wait to see what we have in store here…
  8. Ahhh…an “At Sea” day…Slept in late, had brunch…It was a warm, sunny Mediterranean day…High of 85 Fahrenheit, not a cloud in the sky. So, we got a couple of drinks at one of the bars and headed back to the cabin and sat out on the balcony…Did a little reading and some crossword puzzles, then headed down to the Rendezvous Lounge for back-to-back Trivia and Music Trivia. Before we knew it, it was time again for pre-dinner drinks…then dinner… Show was a magician…lots of fun…Then we hit the Karaoke. NOBODY on this ship can sing worth a darn… Amazing how these “At Sea” days just flow right by…Time to go to sleep—tomorrow’s an early arrival in Kotor…
  9. ...showed up in my account today on the X website... Now, I am only 2,005 points from Zenith!! Maybe I'll make it by the age of 96 rather than 97?
  10. Answer is simple: NO I lifted and shifted two cruises from July 2020 to July 2021... Airfare (Booked on Celebrity Choice Air and paid in full) was REFUNDED. Lift and Shift applies only to the cruises themselves. ADD: BTW, I had a great fare--round trip LAX to Rome non stop there...$710 pp. When flights start becoming available for my 2021 dates...in about 4-6 weeks, we'll see where fares are at...I assume we will be paying a bit more for those next year.
  11. Well, today was Malta. I got up early and headed up to the top deck to get some of the best views of the sail in to port. Arriving in Malta is truly fantastic…past the breakwater and in to the medieval fortifications. Really a sight not to be missed. In port, we arranged for a private guide. Went to the prehistoric Hagar Qim…a bunch of interestingly arranged rocks—sort of Malta’s version of Stonehenge. Went all through the Medieval city of Mdina and the capital of Valetta. Saw the unbelievable Crusader church—St. John’s with the floor covered in unreal tombstones—lots of skulls and skeletons inlaid in marble. Stopped at a glass factory, where, of course, Beth bought a large colorful glass vase to be shipped back to our house. Another long and fascinating day on what has to be one of the coolest islands anywhere. Then it was back to the ship, change of clothes and up to the lounge on Deck 11 forward for the Elite Drinking hours. We’ll head to dinner around 7, then to the show…Tonight it’s a production show with the singers and dancers. Thankfully, tomorrow is an “At Sea” day—the only one on this first leg. We are going to need it…I am tired already…and we have some great port days ahead.
  12. Today we stopped in Messina, Sicily. The ship did not get into port until noon, so we had a pleasurable morning sleeping late, then a nice leisurely breakfast--no reason to rush. We did a shore excursion here, trying to use up some of our massive onboard credit. This one was fairly aggressive—as long a shorex as they could fit in—going to both Mt. Etna and to the town of Taormina. The visit to Etna was interesting, even if a little dull. We stopped in a parking area with a very touristy gift shop, but first took a walk up and around a volcanic crater (There were some more craters further from the bus parking, but we had limited time here). About halfway around the crater, there was a guy with a card table selling jewelry—allegedly authentic volcanic stones found in the crater—though I suspect the stuff may actually be made in China! Anyway, Beth could not help herself and bought a necklace. It’s okay if it’s not authentic—it cost a whopping 15 euros. Then, at the gift shop, I purchased my souvenir—a bottle of bright red liqueur—“Fuoco Dell’ Etna”…looked too cool to pass up. Then we headed down to the town of Taormina where we had the opportunity to walk along the main street—a very touristy collection of cafes and souvenir shops. Bought some gifts here—embroidered kitchen towels. Women sat in front of the stores with sewing machines customizing them for you. (So, the recipients can't return OR re-gift them!). Time flies. Soon we needed to be back at the bus for the drive back to the ship. Just got back to the ship (it’s about 7:30 pm local time)--a little late for our usual drinks and dinner, but it was worth it…after a nice full day touring in Sicily. Looking forward to another full day tomorrow in Malta.
  13. Sunday July 5 CIVITAVECCHIA , ITALY 5:00 PM Monday July 6 MESSINA, SICILY, ITALY 12:00 PM 8:00 PM Tuesday July 7 VALLETTA, MALTA 8:00 AM 6:00 PM Wednesday July 8 AT SEA Thursday July 9 KOTOR, MONTENEGRO 7:00 AM 5:00 PM Friday July 10 ZADAR, CROATIA 11:00 AM 8:00 PM Saturday July 11 RIJEKA, CROATIA 8:00 AM 5:00 PM Sunday July 12 VENICE, ITALY 6:45 AM Monday July 13 VENICE, ITALY 5:00 PM Tuesday July 14 SPLIT, CROATIA 9:00 AM 6:00 PM Wednesday July 15 KOTOR, MONTENEGRO 8:00 AM 5:00 PM Thursday July 16 CORFU , GREECE 9:00 AM 6:00 PM Friday July 17 AT SEA Saturday July 18 NAPLES, ITALY 7:00 AM 6:00 PM Sunday July 19 CIVITAVECCHIA , ITALY 5:15 AM
  14. Nicole and Pete, We have cruised quite a bit with Princess...mainly when we are unable to find a similar itinerary on Celebrity. For the most part, for us, this is on cruises here on the West Coast of North America--an area largely ignored by Celebrity/Royal Caribbean. All but one of our Princess cruises have been either in or out (or both) of Los Angeles. For us, it is just convenience. My overall opinion of Princess, is that it is a nice, middle-of-the-road sort of cruise experience. The ships have none of the bells and whistles one finds on a cruise line like Royal Caribbean, but they are well-equipped with bars and lounges, restaurants, etc. The main lacking, compared to Celebrity, is in space and comfort--Princess ships have less space per passenger, and, therefore, some venues tend to get a bit crowded. For example, the show rooms are much too small for the number of passengers--so, the caveat is to get to the showrooms EARLY--like at least a half an hour prior to the show lest you are unable to find seats. Shows like Magicians and Comedians are often held in a smaller lounge with even more limited seating--so definitely show up very early. That said, we have found a lot of the entertainment--not so much the singers/dancers but more the specialty entertainers --have been VERY good. The food is generally good--good quality, nice variety...of course, "food" is a very subjective thing. Good or bad food is not the same to everyone....but, yes, we have enjoyed it. The service IN the dining room, once you are seated, is very good. The only problem we've encountered is in getting seated with Anytime Dining...the layout of the ships is disjointed with four separate main dining rooms--which makes it hard for them to distribute the crowds. Also, at times, we've encountered the problem that unlike Celebrity, who check your dining assignments going in on the computer, Princess doesn't--and often there is the problem of a lot of folks with assigned traditional seating blowing off those assignments and clogging up the Anytime rooms. Once, we actually had Traditional seating and found our dining room always two-thirds empty though the ship had sailed full. The specialty restaurants, just as a note, are only about half the cost as on Celebrity. The cabins are another difference which is a peeve of mine. Although they claim square footage similar in size to Celebrity, the cabins FEEL quite a bit smaller...and for good reasons. First, there are different standards for measuring square footage. 180 square feet for one line is not the same as 180 square feet for another. Also, Princess tends to include the balcony in their measure. But, more important is that the Princess cabins do not make good use of the footage. Unlike Celebrity, bathrooms and closets are off a hallway--which takes away valuable square footage. Hence, the actual bedrooms have no room for a sitting area--no sofa or loveseat, no coffee table...often not even a chair. To get a sitting area, you need to move up to a "mini-suite" (Except on the Royal/Regal where we were able to get a sitting area by going to a Premium Deluxe Balcony). As compared to Celebrity, the cabins do have better storage--important in longer cruises but wasted on a shorter cruise. Another note, beware "obstructed" cabins on Princess. Unlike Celebrity where it means a lifeboat below your balcony railing, on Princess it most often means a lifeboat smack in front of your window, blocking the entire view. The Captain's Circle benefits don't come close to what one gets with Celebrity's Captains Club...and, as noted, far harder to get to Elite (only to find no free drinks), but, in your position, it won't matter anyway. And, overall, it's still an enjoyable cruise...especially if you like the itinerary, enjoy eating and drinking and being entertained. Just, again, make sure to get to shows early...and go to dinner at a less popular time (like not between 7:00 and 7:30). Have fun...
  15. Please bear with me…This is what I hope will be a detailed review of our back-to-back Mediterranean cruises onboard the Celebrity Infinity through the virtual world that exists in my mind during this Covid-19 Pandemic. We are cruising for 14 magnificent nights round trip from Civitavecchia in the wonderful world of imagination—our only way of experiencing this trip without leaving our home in Southern California. 😉 After a long and satisfying pre-cruise trip through Switzerland and Northern Italy, today we finally boarded the Celebrity Infinity in Civitavecchia. We flew in, ten days ago to Milan, Italy…a long and exhausting trip, losing nine hours worth of time zones in the process, rented a car and drove straight to beautiful Lugano, Switzerland. After a night there, it was on to Lucerne for two nights, then Lauterbrunnen for two nights, then down to Portovenere, Italy for three nights to visit the Cinque Terre. Finally, we drove down to Civitavecchia yesterday, turned in the rental car and spent the night in a delightful little bed and breakfast. After breakfast, we checked out and caught a taxi to the port. We arrived at the Infinity around 11:30 and found virtually nothing in the way of lines. Of course, we had express check-in anyway and had done most of the check-in on line at the Celebrity website months ago. We were able to go to our cabin immediately as, apparently, the cabin had not been used on the prior cruise. We have a beautiful Concierge cabin, midship on deck 8…so, we dropped off our carry-on luggage and proceeded to the Main Dining Room—as a sit-down embarkation lunch is one o the benefits of the Concierge class. Remarkably, the dining room was empty, so, service was VERY good. After lunch, we headed back to the cabin to unpack and take a nap before the muster drill. The muster drill, also, was remarkably empty. I guess many of the passengers must be late arriving to Civitavecchia from Rome. After the Muster Drill, it was on to the Martini Bar for pre-dinner drinks. We have the drink package as a perk, so why not take a little advantage? Bartender was great…got all of our orders immediately. Then it was off to dinner. We have Select Dining, so we thought we may have to wait for a table…but, as has been typical this cruise, the dining room was very quiet and we were seated at a table for two almost immediately. Had a nice dinner, then off to the Show Room for the “Welcome Aboard” show…Met the Cruise Director and then had a short set by the comedian, followed by a couple of numbers by the singers/dancers. Then headed back to the cabin for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, at 12 noon, we arrive in Messina, Sicily. Looking forward to a tour to Mt. Etna followed by a visit to Taormina. It’s going to be a great cruise. I’ll check back in tomorrow evening.
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