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About Floridiana

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    traveling, reading, watching nature

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  1. For us, the real value was free laundry, the concierge, the size of the room and balcony, and getting off the ship without tender cards. The two young people who were our concierge were the most helpful staff members ever!
  2. I liked Macau better, but you need to bring your passport. You exit and re-enter Hong Kong.
  3. That is true. We had fast immigration with the officers on the ship and also off the ship in the terminal building, depending on the port. The process was probably fast because we were on relatively small ships. I don't remember any of the lengthy time reported by others. If your ship goes to Shimizu, you can see Mt. Fujii across the bay - if it is visible. We did not see it from Hakone.
  4. On our last trip, we had Ted, Tadasu Ohbu. www.tadasu-ohbu.com and ohbu@f5.dion.ne.jp in Tokyo. Ted knows the city inside out. I can highly recommend him. This was for our land trip after the cruise.
  5. Wow Wendy, you are really on top of your research. I have barely digested our last trip. Excellent question about Santorini.
  6. We did 3 Japan cruises and 2 land trips. Ship lines were Ponant, Azamara, and Holland America. Azamara's itinerary included the most ports. We were there in May, peak of cherry blossoms in the northern ports of Aomori and Hakodate. One Princess ship cruises around Japan regularly out of Yokohama. They advertise in Japan which means that you will have polite and well dressed Japanese co-passengers. If you can swing it, spend some time in Japan before or/and after your cruise. Kyoto is most people's favorite but be aware that it is as overrun with tourists as Rome, Venice and Barcelona. We loved the small ports like Sakaiminato and Kochi. Do some research to get a feel for the country's sights.
  7. Kochi: We loved this port. The actual port facility is outside the city and outside the tsunami berm. I am not sure how to get to the city by public transport or hoho bus because we had booked an excursion through the ship that took us to the downtown castle and a view point at the cost. If your ship offers a shuttle bus into downtown, you can explore Kochi on your own.
  8. Not true for our cruises around Japan. Azamara has the better itinerary that's the reason we took it in May 2019. However, the lecturer was a dud. He made 3 factual errors within the first 30 minutes including one that anyone would have noticed who had ever been in a Shinto Shrine. We are no experts on Japan, but it was our third time including a land trip. In addition, the excursion desk was inexperienced. I think it was a new itinerary for Azamara, only the second time around. On the bright side, they had a Japanese ambassador on board with maps and help for outings on your own. We travelled on the MS Amsterdam to 8 Japanese ports as part of a Grand Voyage in the fall of 2018. All the cultural programs on the Grand Voyage were outstanding including for the Japanese ports. The land based guides varied from ok to excellent on both cruises.
  9. Vienna has more culture: palaces, museums, churches, concerts, opera. After all, it was the capital of a huge empire and Budapest was a satellite city, capital of the Hungarian part of the Habsburg empire.
  10. Don't be surprised, the U4 is currently interrupted for track work. You need to exit, use the alternate bus and then board the U4 again. They have signs. Follow the crowd.
  11. Keith, I read about your Danube cruise on your blog. What a wonderful trip! We are just back from a different ship with almost the same itinerary, the Amadeus Queen (Regensburg - Budapest). It is a very lovely ship, one of the nicest we have been on, but they should hire a much better cruise director/excursion coordinator. I never thought this position would make such a huge difference on a small ship. I am now spoilt by the high quality of the staff we had on the MS Amsterdam.
  12. We did a Grand Voyage on the MS Amsterdam. We loved it; much, much better than our previous regular b2b HAL cruise. Better food, more activities, better lecturers, better hotel staff. Our previous HAL b2b had no lecturers and barely any activities in the second half of the cruise (Lima to Fort Lauderdale). We swore never to book HAL again, but we did and we were happy. The Grand Voyage was one of our best cruises, added bonus: I don't like HAL's desserts, ate fruit instead and gained no weight. 😉
  13. I use travel cubes for parts of our stuff. For example a special one for folded shirts. One goes into my carry on with a set of clothing. Never know whether our suitcases arrive with us or not. Other cubes for underwear and small stuff. It is true that they take up more volume than judicious packing without them. On land trips with hotel changes, I find cubes more useful than on a cruise ship where we unpack once.
  14. Lady Chew, Maybe her name was Charlotte (I don't remember), definitely from South Africa and the haircut was excellent!
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