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About Fletcher

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    travel to far-flung places
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    South Pacific

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  1. Rome is my favourite city, along with Venice and possibly Seville. Rome poses a problem since it lacks any really great hotels. It is also a problem of location. I think Rome divides into those people who want to see the Vatican and its treasures, and maybe do some shopping, and those who want to see the major classical sites such as the Forum and the Colosseum. Personally, I really only want to see the Ancient Roman sites and I also like the restaurants and trattoria of the Trastevere area. I have stayed a few times at the Hassler but it's the wrong location for me. On my last trip I had a suite with a balcony at Hotel Forty-Seven which had a fab location (5 mins walk from the Forum) but had minor issues as a hotel. The hotel with the best view, bar none, is Palazzo Manfredi but getting a room there can be tricky. I tend to avoid the US chains and that big Hilton up on the hill has never appealed. My photo is from the restaurant at the Palazzo Manfredi - see what I mean about the view?
  2. Unless you shell out for a suite with a guaranteed canal view, most hotels (such as the Gritti) will give you a shoebox for a room. Better in my view to escape the rip-off of the major US chains to a place like Ca'Sagredo with a front-facing suite. However, among the chain hotels the St Regis might currently be the best bet since it's undergone a total refurb. The Danieli is basically for big tour groups. For those with serious money, the best hotel in the city is probably the Aman Venice but even there you need to book a top level suite to get the full benefit of the setting.
  3. Ah . . . the Orion - the best expedition ship we've ever been on. Our Captain often talked about that Ross Sea trip - he actually dreaded it, days of heaving ocean and many times they failed to land any passengers anywhere, so you were lucky rojaan. It is a tempting itinerary, especially Macquarie which has a lot in common I think with South Georgia. The Orion has been part of National Geographic's fleet for several years.
  4. I think the chances of big ships like NCL or Princess getting to French Polynesia (or any other island group) any time soon are less than zilch. Big ships are plague ships. Smaller ships like the PG, which is based in Tahiti, and also the wider Ponant fleet (which owns PG) stand a very good chance of operating soon. My personal preference would be aboard Silversea's Silver Explorer starting in Santiago, ending in Osaka and stopping off at most places in between!
  5. Thru the roof. Over the top. Under the radar.
  6. There's doubt about the Meridien on Bora Bora - there are reports of permanent closure but also suggestions that the resort may close for 2-3 years for a total re-design. I'm sure the IC at Moorea won't be an isolated case.
  7. Mostly I've been gardening, the last two days clipping my box hedges.
  8. Yep, heading down to Antarctica and South Georgia . . .
  9. Just sat down for breakfast in the Colonnade, Christmas Day 2017 aboard the Quest.
  10. Well, the refurb looks like a huge, long overdue improvement. So glad to see that awful decor has finally been banished. However, the majority of the cabins are just so cramped (or quirky) that you have to shell out (as we did) for one of the four executive suites. They have relatively lots of space plus a shared balcony. The layout of the ship is also very hard to live with. I agree the Serenissima has some tempting itineraries . . there is one next March in the Caribbean that spends two days in Haiti/Cap Haitien in order to visit Sans Souci and La Citadelle. Now that's my sort of cruise.
  11. The February sailing has two advantages - it leaves from Santiago and leaves the best till last, which is South Georgia. It is also another two months down the line, further away from the Covid-19 mess. Personally, I don't see any ships sailing before next year. South America is in the epicentre of the storm right now. While South Georgia does not have the classic iceberg landscapes of Antarctica, it is still a majestic geological frenzy that also offers the extensive remains of the old whaling stations and one of the planet's most stunning wildlife spectacles. The Quest route is ideal because it avoids the internal flights between BA and Ushuaia and covers the Chilean fjords, Antarctica and SG. You compromise on the size of the ship (a genuine expedition vessel would give you a more immersive experience) but gain on the facilities, the level of luxury and the speed and stability of a bigger ship. If time and money were no object, I might be tempted to sail from Santiago to Miami via Antarctica, SG and Amazonia.
  12. Oh yes, I had forgotten about the Bali Hai on Raiatea. That hotel has undergone several ownership changes, a major fire and I think it's now closed - well before the Covid crisis. Raiatea is a wonderful island to visit with a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I append a screenshot which shows the most recent layout of the Pearl with 9 OWBs and also the 3 original OWBs which are really adjoining the land and hanging over the water. They are not on a pontoon which was first developed at the Bali Hai Moorea.
  13. Two photos - the original Moorea Lagoon Resort without the overwater bungalows. This became the Sheraton and then the Hilton with 50 OWBs off the rather grotty beach. You can see how cramped this resort is with 105 rooms. Another photo shows the original Bali Hai Hotel with the original 9 OWBs - the first in the world. The resort has gone through many management changes and with many additional OWBs. It's currently the Manava. [photos from Tahiti from the Air, 1985]
  14. I'm not a huge fan of any of the Moorea hotels, to be honest. People on cruises - invariably the bigger ships - often ask if it's worth spending one night on Moorea rather than Tahiti. If it's only for one night, it is not worth the hassle. Far better to stay on Tahiti and get a late check-out or even book an extra night to guarantee that late check-out. I honestly believe Moorea is best done as a day-trip from Tahiti, especially if you have wisely booked a rental car in Tahiti and plan to drive around the island. Then you can simply put your rental car on the ferry and drive around Moorea and soak in the splendid scenery at your own pace. However, if you plan on spending a few nights on Moorea the hotel scene is pretty stagnant. The Hilton gets a lot of rave reviews. It is a former Sheraton and has far too many rooms for the space it occupies. The modest beach has been compromised by the OWBs which start very close to the shoreline. The garden bungalows are packed close together and make the resort seem claustrophobic. If you insist on staying here, try and get OWBs 82-87 or 101-109 which do not overlook other OWBs and, instead, have decent mountain views and some OK snorkelling. It's probably on a par with the nearby InterContinental. I would always have chosen the Sofitel because of its long beach and its views across the Sea of the Moon to Tahiti. But since they built the OWBs the beach isn't what it was and nor is the view. The beach is also partly public and can get very busy. I've also seen quite a lot of litter. The original hotel on Moorea, the Bali Hai, was the first hotel in the world to develop OWBs. I think it had just five. The hotel has changed hands a lot since then and many more OWBs have been built. It's now the Manava and looks quite smart and this might currently be the best bet. There are one or two hotels on the shoreline of Cook's Bay, such as the Kaneva, which has staggering views. It's probably a two-star but since maintenance problems blight all the hotels here it might be a decent budget option.
  15. I am sorry if I upset you. All I did was to paraphrase what has been said on the BBC and other news outlets for several days now: that people are scared of going to hospital, that elderly patients with the virus have been discharged from hospitals directly to care homes without being tested. Doctors are now fearful of a 'cancer time bomb' because people are reluctant to get various abnormalities investigated. It is a worrying situation.
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