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About RLK33853

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    Manitoba Canada
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  1. Totally agree. Sapphire is a little smaller but is more opulent with bigger public spaces.
  2. Thanks everyone for the tips and for providing their past experience. Very much appreciated. And thanks to ERBER for taking the time to start and follow through while experiencing upload difficulties. Well done!
  3. Satxdiver - thanks for the info. We are doing this itinerary for the 3rd time in January as it is one of our favorites. On prior cruises to Hawaii we have experienced slow and spotty Internet. Have they upgraded the Internet service on the Star yet, and if so, is it still spotty due to poor satellite coverage? Usually we don't care but my father-in-law isn't doing really well and my wife wants to make sure that she is in contact with the family. Thanks again.
  4. If you are on an itinerary where there are lots of early arrival tender ports, you may get a lot of noise when they lower the tenders in the morning. We always try to get a mini that is between the tenders (you can see them on the deck plans). The other option is to take a mini at the back of the ship above the Emerald Mini-Suites. Then you don't have that issue at all - but of course there is always a catch - you may feel vibration from the engines.. Either way none of this is much of an issue - just more of an annoyance if you like to sleep late. Enjoy your cruise.
  5. I usually take around 15 Toro size cigars when we cruise in Australia. Have always declared them upon arrival and tell them they are for on the cruise. Once I had to show them, but usually they just waive us through. Remember it isn't the number of cigars you have but the weight. As I recall if you are taking Toro size, you are limited to 2 or 3 before paying duty. You can purchase cigars in Sydney but they are very expensive compared to North America and many of the brands are different than what we are used to in North America. If you are going to purchase, I would buy on the ship. As many have said, inside cigar lounges are also closed on the ships due to Australian rules. Princess allows you to smoke a cigar in the outside smoking areas. Bottom line is that I take just a few with me and declare them, expecting to pay the duty. Although I have never had to. Doing it this way ensures I have the brand and size of cigar I want..
  6. We've done this cruise a couple of times in the past and are taking it again this January as well. The time changes are pretty easy since they occur on sea days, and unless you want them to be structured, the days can be as easy as you want.
  7. This just happened to us last week. We have always booked directly to hold pricing and or a specific cabin when we see something we like, and then transfer to our agent when their office opens the next business day. This time when we had our agent try to make the transfer, Princess told her that we had to send an email confirming this is what we wanted. After submitting our request via email, along with all the pertinent information, they then said that wasn't good enough and we had to submit a signed form (which was the exact information that we had provided in the email). I spoke with Princess and they informed me that this is a new policy. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me.
  8. We too, thank you for the heads up. Fare went down just over $100 and we got the Specialty Dining perk and today was our final payment. Woooo Hoooo
  9. Email the Arc Recoleta - they have offered to arrange a car and driver for us next February for a price of 1150 pesos or $30 USD.
  10. We have cruised the South Pacific from Sydney over the past three winters. After comparing prices with others on our first down under cruise, I wondered this as well and we tried to compare Aussie pricing to ours. Like you I tried to do this from North America and couldn't do it no matter what I tried. Thus we have had family members who live in Australia, and had them do the dummy bookings - same cabin type/location/cruise/date and we confirmed that the pricing in Aussie dollars (once we converted our rate to AUD) was virtually the same. The difference is that North Americans are charged the Daily Gratuities while the Aussies and Kiwis are not. The gratuities are not built into the Aussie pricing like in North America as tipping isn't their norm. From speaking to others on our cruises and to the staff, it is not uncommon for North Americans to remove the auto gratuities while sailing down under. It gets better when you find out that your OBC is changed to Aussie dollars as well.
  11. You should never be hesitant to ask a question. That is what this site is supposed to be for. Totally agree with the value of the comment cards. These are the most important thing you can do for the staff. Since we go on 3 or 4 cruises a year, and depending on the service, we do tip extra but only if we receive good service. I think that a consideration is the length of the cruise. Our typical cruise is 14 to 16 days, thus you have more time to interact and become familiar with the staff than on a 3 or 7 day cruise. You would be surprised how many people we have tipped in the past, approach us on subsequent cruises and remember details such as favorite drinks, meals, etc. This familiarity has been very beneficial to us in our travels. We have relied on crew suggestions in many of our ports and had meals in restaurants we would have never found on our own. One Head Waiter outlined an out of the way itinerary in an out of the way country for our son and his wife. It was an excellent and safe suggestion that we all appreciated. So again, tipping extra works for us but it is a choice, not a requirement. Typically we tip the room steward $20 per week, sometimes more if they are over the top good, but we also have no problem tipping nothing extra if they are just barely doing their job. If we have the same waiters every night, which we routinely end up with, we usually tip the waiter $20 to $40 per week and if we have much interaction with the assistant waiter, $20 - some of this is because we have some dietary requirements that cause waiters extra work. If we have much to do with a Head Waiter, $20-$50 per week, but lately there has been less and less interaction with them and if this is the case we don't tip anything extra. Room Service depends on what we have ordered - $1 for a bucket of ice, $2 to $5 for something extensive. And while we hate the 18% automatically added to the bar bill (why are we tipping someone if they are rude/inattentive/lazy), we have no problem tipping a little extra - $1 to $5 per day if we have the same bartender or waiter everyday. The best people to tip are those who never get one - my wife likes hot toast in the morning with specialty bread and doesn't mind waiting for it to be done fresh. I like a hot fresh and crispy waffle and don't mind waiting. Thus the person making toast and the one making waffles usually gets a $5 once a week, especially if when they see us coming they start making what we want without being asked. It is a small amount for us but they REALLY appreciate even that. Again, tipping extra is purely a personal decision and an extra hundred or two per cruise in additional tips isn't an issue for us. Remember that you have already tipped via the auto gratuity and there is no requirement to provide extra. A smile and thank you also goes a long way. Friends that we cruise with take a large bag of individually wrapped specialty chocolates and give them to crew members they appreciate. They are like the pied pipers of cruising - crew members look for reasons to interact and get a chocolate. Hope your cruise was fantastic - really that is all that matters.
  12. Thrak Don't forget you can talk to the Head Waiter on the first day and he will supply off menu items for your cruise, especially if you have a vegetarian or person with ethnic dietary needs with you. Many times they have just asked what we would like and voila, it appears as long as they have a day's notice. Ray
  13. We travel to Australia once a year and have relatives who live there who have advised us on this issue. Two things you need to know. 1. If you use your card, you will be charged a small percentage for doing so. I can't remember exactly, but I seem to think the surcharge is 2%. You can check this on the Australian board and find out for sure. 2. Tipping is done in Australia, just differently. Most Australians round up the bill. If it is 19, they will round up to 20, etc. That said, if you are at a higher end restaurant, they do expect a tip, especially if you are from North America, and trust me, they know. Either way, you won't get any attitude if you don't tip, especially at regular restaurants, etc, but we usually round up. Enjoy your trip down under. Ray and Ann
  14. We take on 4 bottles the first week, and many times we have taken on a couple more the second. Never had an issue.
  15. We have found Santorini one of the easiest tender ports as they use large local tenders which are easier to load and unload, and I believe carry more passengers than Princess tenders. Enjoy the walk to Oia - we did it on our own last time. It takes a while but it very much worth it. Wear good shoes - while the first part from Fira is very gentle and on sidewalks, the last part just before Oia is quite rocky. Nothing sinister but don't try to do it in sandals, etc.
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