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Everything posted by chipmaster

  1. You are indeed fortunate to have that opportunity, others have to umm, make choices, happy vacationing
  2. All things in life are trade offs some have more than others, a cruise is a choice of ports and time as a start, duh! as to Vatican we had the whole afternoon, I think one till four, so we toured the museum, the cathedral as well as Sistine and the square. I could bore you with many shots, but no selfies, but Iā€™d we did it this year my kids would have had a lot of iconic selfies šŸ˜‚ must be terrible to have the brain so easily overload and tire, I am the opposite I get expected and jazzed at what is possible, but can appreciate how that requires you to make the choices you do šŸ˜
  3. Sunset is into the Ocean when we were there so the cliffs will be bathed in falling light, here is how it looked as we were there in the morning, YMMV i would say / suggest to endure the crowds to see the wonderful views and experience. Of course you can just enjoy the ship, download a few pictures online and say how wonderful, better yet do a staycation and save more with no fighting at all (take the last thought totally tongue in cheek šŸ˜‹) for prospective how it can look from up top, brave the crowds!
  4. Beg to differ, while not for everyone we had the standard one day in Port at Naples, Florence, and Rome We used RIL for all three hmm Naples; Pompeii for 90' then off to Amalfi coast, wonderful meal, 3 stops and long drive back. Was it ideal, probably not but what an amazing efficient day hitting so many wonderful places Florence/Pisa: 1st stop Pisa and a climb to the top ( priceless ), off to Florence; David, quick stop at museum and three churches, some shopping, ideal maybe not, but timeless whirlwind Rome: Colleseum, Trevi, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, lunch than Vatican, pretty nice day too. Maybe not relaxing to some, but for others perfect and efficient. My kids and my 70 year old parents and parents inlaw got to see so much with little drama, worry. Now in today's social media crazed world boy my kids would have gotten a long string of likes ( call it shallow ) every once in a while we pull the 200 odd pictures we saved from that we go OMG we saw so much how special, but hey what rocks your boat. Now did we have time to explore the back alleys and offbeaten path things and eats/wine, not like we did on our recent 7 day cruise that was less hectic, but I'd not have changed that for anything else at the time. As long as those planning know what they are getting into. Every to go place is overcrowded, good you make choices that work for you, no need to degenerate how others might want to experience it šŸ˜‰
  5. My impression with Costa and MSC is the mix of passengers will be more European focused, not a bad thing but something to be aware of. While sailing a Carnival, Princess, NCL, RCCL, HAL or other will likely have a rich mix but more from No. America.
  6. A vacation is all about spending time and money in a way that is rewarding to you. When a newbie comes and asks, so easy for us to pontificate, even I do it šŸ˜ For someone to say one day in Rome is a waste, what do they know of the person and interest to say that? Or whatever blah blah blah .... I have never taken a vacation whether land/cruise/island or weekend that I regretted. It was mostly though thru and comprehended what the tradeoffs were/was, sometimes you learn a bit and on the next you are wiser. What would be more useful is to share tradeoffs šŸ˜‰
  7. For Greece you can do it by land/ferry, but if you want to cruise we looked and found NCL (Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Argostoli, Dubrovnik ) was the most efficient, no sea days at all really. The only miss was Athens but we had been there before and wasn't high on our list. Every cruise is a marketing, logistics and scheduling balance and you'll need to make some tradeoffs.
  8. You don't want to do that there were a couple cafe's but I'd not call that a great experience at sea level, while the cliffs look grand from the ship at the base less so. Plan 45' waiting and enjoy a good drink/meal at the top is my recommendation. Don't go all the way there and sell yourself short.
  9. Personally having been there a few weeks ago, I'd say just hire a taxi, faster and more convenient, a few dollars/euros more but well worth it.
  10. Host Jazzbeau got it right!! Med is all about the ports and think of the ship as your moving hotel. Every morning it ends up in a new port, no different if you were city hopping do you focus on the hotel chain you'll be staying at or the city / location / time of the hotel availibility. IMHO focus on the list of port cities you are interested in. Cruising enables you to hit 4-7 possible ports in 5-10 days, somethign any day / land would be exhausting. Just as long as you understand you get only a day in say Venice, Rome, Athens or some other grand city, unless of course your sailing ends/starts there. A few years ago we did a Princess Venice-Barcelona ( we got Naples, Athens, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Marsailles ) there were a few ports that we could have cared less about but that was what we got for the big5 for us. As to cruising ruining cities or tourism, that reality is rich people who can fly and the got to get a selfie to share or tell my neighbors I hit the bucket list is what is killing tourism. Everybody wants to sail in and out of venice ( have to admit did it for the second time at sunset, beautiful, they just don't want anyone else there to spoil their experience,just like everyone wants to climb Everest or visit whatever is the latest fad place, the rich jet set is not to be denied) . The big cruise sail there because the people want to be there, our the tour guides take the rich to Mt. Everest, those criticizing are those calling the kettle black, LOL. Happy planning, you'll have a blast as long as you pick your ports/excursions and understand what a cruise port day is like and the limitations, the ship line is less important
  11. Good to see you found the As forums There will be people who sing praise of the Tracy Arm Fjord and the beautiful sail in, the reality is it can't compare to Glacier Bay. I've done both, one is a National Park for a reason. We enjoyed the Tracy Arm but you really need to take the add on small tour excursion to get most, that is a unique experience not available in Glacier. For Glacier and earlier by a week would make me highly encourage you to consider spending extra for that.
  12. My parents who were in their 80's at the time did venture to do a little shopping but IMHO could have considered that like shopping on the ship and put them in the didn't venture off the boat. It one port they did take the scenic train and found that while interesting not worth it for price and effort and what they got. No crime, enjoyed great meals, no crowds and spent little. They still had their gorgeous scenic inside passage and two glacier viewings, a few formal breakfast/lunch and 6 sit down timeless dinners with grandkids ( they enjoyed hearing about our helicopter/dog-sledding, fishing and whale watching ) but it was their choice and joy to not experience. Everyone COT is different, and the ship w/o the crowds could be a dream vacation for some.
  13. Here is the link: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/33-alaska/
  14. 2:30 am and everyone lined up outside, must have been an experience, did they throw overboard all those that skipped that one, LOL
  15. As other posters noted there is no "best" there is budget, schedule, price and what kind of experience you desire. With kids you need to balance the kids club, what they are interested with this very port intensive cruise. We did a Med with younger kids and as they kids got older what they liked/tolerated as well as experienced/remember changed as did what we focused on. I have always selected cruise line based on purpose; Med/Greece all about the ports ( not only the port line-up, but time in port are important, never forget your time is port is shortened by whether you dock / tender and you need to be onboard a good 30' before, but you really don't want to leave that 30' window to chance, so what you do with your excursions factor in too. We just got off a NCL Star ( Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Argostolion, Dubrovnik ), the only thing missing was Athens of which we didn't have ahead of Venice so it was a slam dunk for us. We much would have preferred RCCL or Princess as a line/ship experience but their sailing dates and ports just couldn't match, and in the end as disappointed as we were with a few things on NCL it was so wonderful because of the ports, for other cruises we'd not have made the same choice.
  16. I've done an early Sept, the first week and the reason price goes down are two fold 1) Demand summer has ended and ability for anyone with kids to either bring them, leave them and find care is way down ( won't discuss leaving them home, a good hot button topic here, LOL ) 2) Weather is less than ideal, just look at the internet trackers, it will be colder, nights longer, and rain comes in more often than not. Of course others will chime in about a perfect weather sailing. On our sailing we had the most gorgeous / chilly day we could dream of for Glacier Bay, couldn't have been better, but on our last Port of Call things were so bad we did,n't even go down for dinner, safest place to be was laying down in the bed. My wife who never gets seashick was ill for two days from the motion, and I was numb with meds, Contrast the Sept sailing where we got rained on in 2/3 ports and had to wear jackets for 40 degree Glacier sailing, our summer sailing with kids a decade later was all shorts except open whale watching where we had to wear a jacket. I'd always opt for more expensive and crowds if your schedule and tolerance of the crowds enables it. You should pose your question in the Alaska forums as more diehard alaska cruisers are there to tell you also about excursions. For example the helicopter/dog-sled will be shut down for sure by September, as might some other things.
  17. GAS at it's best, currently have my D5 and Df for sale and already sold my D810 Took my Df on my last cruise, thought I'd use it but the iPhone worked out pretty well capturing the Kodak Moments. Making a photo album, honestly the only pictures that could have been a bit better with DSLR were of course sunset. If I was lugging the DSLR or mirrorless around everywhere it would have taken the joy a bit out of the vacation, it was left in the cabin after sailway and first hike in Kotor, and never once missed it in Santorini or Dubrovnik I can fully understand the joy of shooting and getting the shot in my many past days of shooting and thus.... For those that love to shoot, getting focus, prospective and the joy of setting up the shot, nothing here that can't be done in an older generation camera, what is interesting the ergo and buttons for the most part to be very same. One can debate if the joy of shooting comes from more pixels, faster/more focus points, or better ergo and menus. I know my D3s and D700 from almost a decade ago brought equal joy and don't think the pictures they produced were any less pleasing, but bring on the specs šŸ˜‰ 3500 buys a lot of new used lens and save some $$$ for a porter, LOL I can't wait to see if the wifi and bluethooth enables syncing with a smartphone or homewifi network/TV as easy as Android or iOS.
  18. Ever have awful Table mates? Internet at its best, LOL! "Awful" says it all, I'd say we've dined with couples and families and cruisers we felt terrible sorry for, didn't understand. Generally if you are that "close" you come to somewhat feel sorry/pity for someone else's awful, but agree given a choice we'd chose to move to a different table, after all it's vacation!
  19. You need to be comfortable and thick skinned to not be embarrassed and laugh at yourself, hard for many to see themselves in the mirror šŸ˜‰
  20. IMHO doing research and more research, and once you know you want to book the cruise then book ASAP, they always allow cancellation but once they are full that is it. Personally think in many ports the NCL is the most expensive, least interesting options and on our recent tour ( Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Argostoli the only place we did a tour was Sanitorini, and if I was to do it again, it would be DIY
  21. All comes down to what you plan to do, crowds and the weather. Hour is the minimum to do a little shopping and to walk all the way and just enough time to get an iconic picture/selfie, LOL. If you are more cultural and want to explore or shopping, you'd likely need two hours, but if there during the hottest of the summer, perhaps you'd take a lot of time in the shade catching a drink or cooling off. + long, luck we waited after the worst heat of the day, almost was going to just do the walk down, but the free cable car ticket and views were fun to do as the sun set. If I had to do it again; probably do the speed boat from the tendering dock and DIY, but the crowds really have taken some of the magic away, but the views are indeed spectacular.
  22. What are your priorities, specific ports ( Santorini, Athens, etc. etc. ), then as important could be the port time ( tendering / docking ), schedule ( ships rotate in their sailing ), then each cruise line each have their own style ( they work really hard to create that image Princess, NCL, RCCL, Carnival etc. ) then the ship and their amenities too. IMHO the cruise line is least important for a port intensive cruise; schedule/ports-time are the most important thing. A bad or poor scheduled in port can't be made up by good bar, pool or dining on the ship.
  23. While possible, really not to often, I can't remember it happening once in about 700K miles over the last couple years, but a good worry. What scares me more are the many passengers who can't even safely lift their bags to put in the overhead.
  24. Seriously, LOL, I've done 350K/year and don't know how many miles and cobbled sidewalks I've dragged my BR, still going them little wheels and spinners.
  25. My quick thoughts after doing my first NCL 1) NCL does seem to be very low key and the freestyle does seem to be great for a relaxing fair. I was less impressed with food/entertainment so have a big of a bias. 2) Did Princess Alaska with a group of 10, including my 3 kids a) Think Princess has at the time a huge number of sailings making choice easiest b) One way is always better, but you need to do air so does take more money, but enables possible land add c) Don't forget the glacier's visited are critical; You really want Glacier Bay! d) Don't forget cost of excursions/activities that adds up quickly if you want to do anything big e) Cabins like outside balcony are nice but wouldn't get these at the compromise of a-d) Lots of deck space for viewing and it is often cold and windy, also prepare and expect rain
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