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karatemom2

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Everything posted by karatemom2

  1. Classic Soda Package: This package includes all sodas, fruit juices, mocktails and smoothies. The Classic Soda Package is $14.99 USD* per person, per day plus 18 percent gratuity.
  2. Will the excursion wait for you if it takes a little longer to get off the ship then you anticipate? My advice, find out the lounge where tickets are being provided for people with independent plans, and get there at least 30 minutes before it opens. We have seen people lining up an hour early, so you want to make sure you are toward the front. Also, make sure your entire party is with you. They won't give you your tickets until your full group is there. If you do this, chances are you will be among the first groups exiting the ship.
  3. Sure you can. Most places serve them both ways and you have a choice. I definitely prefer the butter and lobster only version of the roll. DH likes the Mayo version.
  4. We love Sitka - one of our favorite ports, but I think @Heidi13 makes and excellent case for the back to back 14 day cruise. We have been to Alaska many times, but I think one of our favorites was the B2B we did on the Diamond Princess many years ago. Believe me, there is more to do in every port than you could ever do on two visits. We loved having the extra time in each of these places and did something different each time. One idea for your second Skagway visit is to use it as a jumping off point to visit Haines if you want to fit in another really cool Alaska port. We loved having the turnaround day in Whittier and spent the day visiting Anchorage - our only AK visit where we saw a moose! Still memorable to this day. The extra scenic viewing days was great as these places are always changing and give different experiences each visit and even at different times of the day. We probably witnessed the most amazing calving we have ever seen on our second day at College Fjord - so very happy to have a repeat visit. Either way, they are both great cruises, but I would give the edge to the 14 day turnaround trip.
  5. I would choose a combination like that offered by companies such as Chilkoot Charters - train up, bus back. You get the best of both worlds. The scenery and ability to stop and visit spots along the way is great, but nothing takes the place of the actual train experience, IMO.
  6. It sounds like a wonderful cruise. We have been on the Emerald a few times, most recently for a British Isles cruise in 2022 and found her as lovely as we remembered. You mention that you like far aft cabins, so you might want to consider balcony cabins toward the back of the Riviera deck. That is a favorite spot for us as you can easily pop out the backdoor and be on the aft deck where the Terrace pool is located. It's a quick hop up the stairs to the buffet for snacks and Outrigger's Bar. If still available, the last two cabins aft on Riviera have slightly oversized balconies that are also quite protected, so very nice to enjoy even when the weather is less than perfect. We have one of these cabins booked for our Alaska cruise in September on the Ruby. The numbers are R747 and R746. We have never found the Terrace Pool area loud - quite the opposite, it tends to be a lot quieter then the main pool area and even with a balcony, it's nice to have easy access to open deck space if we want to get a full viewing opportunity. Not sure what ports you are visiting, but if it is a Med cruise you can find a lot of great information on the Europe section of the ports of call board. We did a Med cruise from Southampton on the Sky last summer and had a wonderful time. Edinburgh is a great city - we have visited only once and spent a long port day there and wished we had more time. It's definitely someplace to which we will return. We visited Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, St. Giles' Cathedral, the Real Mary King's Close, and the Royal Yacht Britannia. I'm sure you will love it!
  7. Just to clarify, this is true for Ketchikan only. In all other AK ports, NCL uses the same docks as other lines. One of the reasons we would not choose NCL in Alaska is due to its remote docking location in Ketchikan, but in fairness to NCL, just wanted to note that is the only port where this setup exists since this comment makes it seem like it’s the case in all ports.
  8. Lobsters are harvested year round in Maine, with peak season tending to be through the latter half of year so you will be fine. Fall colors and lobster - lucky you!
  9. Any lobster you get fresh in port in places like Maine or PEI will be better than the lobster served onboard. You might want to try a lobster roll for lunch while you are in PEI or any New England port - very delicious! I don't know where Princess sources its lobster but it will be frozen, not fresh, and they are not your typical Maine lobster with the big tails. More along the lines of langostino size. Still not saying it isn't good - but not as good as fresh lobster. All seafood tends to taste better when it is freshly prepared within a short time from being caught.
  10. Yes, still served in the MDR on one of the formal nights. The tails are fairly small, but usually they are good. I believe they are charging now for extra servings. My DH is a commercial lobster fisherman, so I'm rather spoiled, but what they serve is fine, nothing special. You will find larger tails and better quality in the specialty restaurants onboard like The Catch and Crown Grill. Still not as good as what I get at home straight from the Pacific Ocean, but pleasant enough if you like lobster.
  11. Six was spectacular as well. Really Broadway quality shows. I wish Princess would take note and do something similar.
  12. The Choir of Man is amazing! Honestly, I think I would rank it as the best show I have seen on any cruise. We love Princess, but we enjoy NCL as well and one place where NCL definitely outshines Princess is in its entertainment.
  13. There are many people with specific food allergies that may feel more comfortable having certain food items that they know are safe for them to help supplement the food onboard, which may be limiting for some with specific food or medical needs. Also, some people may just want to have a favorite snack available as the food onboard can get a little redundant and everyone has food favorites that are a welcome deviation from ship food. Also, we tend to really go all out on our port days, often venturing off on our own doing independent tours and activities. I always bring prepackaged snacks with us that we can take on these excursions in order to make sure we have sustenance while we are on the go. DH takes diabetes meds and he needs to make sure he is keeping his blood sugar regulated with frequent snacks and sometimes it isn't always easy or convenient to get something when you have ambitious port plans.
  14. Initially that was how it was launched. But now it is available to anyone as a specialty dining option for the cost of $149. It's a great experience and well worth doing at least once IMO.
  15. Yes, both Princess and NCL cruises go to Glacier Bay.
  16. There may be whale watching excursions you could book at the dock that aren't full at the last minute - not sure the quality of the vendors, but there are usually some with kiosks selling tours. Other options would be to do some hiking at Mendenhall Glacier, or take the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top and do some of the hikes up there. Most excursions are booked in advance so same day options are pretty limited - you might check Viator and see what they list since a lot of their tours don't require prepayment and have a pretty generous cancellation policy of up to the day before which would give you time to assess the weather for the day you are going to be there.
  17. I wouldn't necessarily say "no" depending on what other scenic cruising option was being offered on the cruise itinerary. That being said, personally, I don't find any of the other scenic options as overall spectacular as Glacier Bay for the glaciers, scenery, wildlife and extended viewing opportunities. So, if I only had one opportunity to go to Alaska and this was going to be an expensive trip for me then I might say no in favor of spending the money on a trip that delivered what I really wanted to see.
  18. We have cruised in Alaska with both Princess and NCL, and while I enjoyed our NCL cruises, I do prefer Princess for Alaska and the Sapphire is one of my favorite Princess ships. It does not offer the same enclosed observation lounge that you find on the NCL ships, but there are ample areas for optimal glacier viewing including the enclosed pool area if you prefer a more sheltered environment. I like to be out on the open deck or on my balcony for glacier days myself to get the best views and really take in the environment. I do prefer Princess for a few reasons in Alaska - first is that the port times are generally better with Princess than NCL which tends to offer shorter port hours, and also docks at Ward Cove in Ketchikan, which is very inconvenient and really reduces your actual usable port time there. Also, Princess just does a better job with the Alaska naturalist program and offers great speakers, including Libby Riddles. And who doesn't love puppies in the Piazza? No matter what, you will have a good experience with either as Alaska, in my estimation, is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but I would always give the edge to Princess and the Sapphire is a beautiful ship.
  19. karatemom2

    Whales!

    We really enjoyed our whale watching trip with Hoonah Travel Adventures. We have gone with G Wind before as well and they are great, but we had an equally good experience with HTA. Here’s a link: https://hoonahtraveladventures.com
  20. Yes, there are always a few armed soldiers patrolling right at the port walkway where the water shuttles drop off.
  21. Wow. How cool and exciting! Oh to be young again. I married into a family of sailors who regularly did the Newport to Ensenada races in the 80s and a couple of us wives would drive the van down to pick up our husbands and a couple of crew and then drive home while just my brother-in-law and his wife would sail the boat home together. We had some adventures for sure - but never anything scary. In fact, only ever kindness to a couple of wild young brides on the loose!
  22. Sorry that happened to you. We have driven as far as Ensenada, also Tijuana and Rosarito Beach over the years. Our friends regularly drive between their homes in Arizona and San Felipe. Our friends in Cabo, La Paz, and PV sail back and forth. Fortunately neither we nor they have ever experienced anything similar to what happened to you. Sadly there is potential for bad people anywhere you go - as you said, situational awareness is key. One has to accept a certain level of risk in any type of foreign travel. Obviously visiting ports by cruise ship carries much less risk then driving through long stretches of land.
  23. Same. We live in Southern California and visit regularly from Baja to the ports on the coast of Mexico on an almost annual basis, not to mention having friends who actually live in La Paz, San Felipe, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta. Some of these statements seem a little over the top. No wonder people get scared.
  24. Honestly, it is just a good idea to be careful anywhere you travel. We cruised the Med last year and many people were almost hysterical in their warnings about Barcelona and Marseilles. It was way overboard. Yes, there are pickpockets - but common sense prevention and circumstantial awareness are really all that’s required for a smart traveler. I absolutely loved both places and felt absolutely safe and confident in my ability to be alert without being paranoid. The ports in Mexico are fabulous if you don’t allow irrational fear to take over and you employ the same common sense you use anywhere. There are many places I would avoid in Los Angeles where I feel less safe! The Mexican people are generally warm and welcoming. There are so many fun things to do and see. I particularly love Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Todos Santos is a great excursion and an absolutely charming, authentic town. Go and enjoy!
  25. Cabo San Lucas is one of the most Americanized ports in Mexico - tons of retired expats there and other areas of the Baja Peninsula. It is exceptionally safe and welcoming. We have been there many times as well as other Mexican Riviera ports and have never felt the least bit unsafe. The areas that cater to tourists are very secure. The excursion to Todos Santos is excellent. It’s a lovely little town and you will be with a well organized tour traveling through very safe areas. You really don’t need to be at all concerned. Much of what you read in the news is not at all reflective of anything we have experienced on any of our many, many trips to the Mexican Riviera ports where we have been traveling for the past 30 years. We even have many friends who live in these cities very safely and happily!
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