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About sofietucker

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Beautiful Tidewater, VA
  • Interests
    gardening, reading, live music (esp jazz & blues), snorkeling
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity, Holland
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

Recent Profile Visitors

618 profile views
  1. We're 4-star Mariners on HAL, Elite on Celebrity, usually stay in suites. We got spoiled by the Prinsendam and really prefer SMALL ships, which are non-existent in the mainstream lines anymore. So we're transitioning to Oceania, Azamara--not true luxury, they say, but at least smaller. Our TA said, well, the expedition ships are small. But we like to eat really good food, ideally listen to some live music, dress up a little, visit the spa... Expeditions don't seem to have those features. Then she said Windstar. Again, we don't want to be barefoot-sailboat silent. We considered Tauck (Ponant) but it sounds like it might be TOO sedate--and I say that as a fan of Holland, lol. A good balance for us has also been river cruising; Avalon has an in-house musician aboard, so there is music in the evenings. They once brought on a German rock 'n roll band--it was so much fun!
  2. Cloth towels and tissues near the door are standard on HAL ships.
  3. 4-star Mariners, we always stay in Neptune suites. You are mistaken about the fridges; they are not BROKEN, they are actually coolers. Perhaps they did indeed find you a fridge that cooled more, but it is actually in your documentation--in the fine print, even on their website--that it's a cooler, not a refrigerator. That is why they advvise you to request a fridge in advance if you need to keep your insulin (for instance) at a certain temp. Also in your documentation. And if you are not in a suite, there is now an upcharge for a fridge instead of a cooler...
  4. My speculation is that the family didn't want to stay on the tour but that was the only way to go ashore, so they took it and then peeled off from the group when they could, thinking they could just link up at the end of the tour. Have done this myself many times--including telling the tour leader my plan, and arranging when to rendezvous (have even signed waivers from time to time saying they didn't have to wait for me). But NOW, for MSC--and the other lines--it would be a nightmare to try to maintain the bubble if people violate the policy--never mind contact tracing & all. So they have to strictly enforce the policy and thereby discourage "creative" solutions that can literally kill people.
  5. Wow, excellent questions. Have taken 100s of tours over the years, innumerable episodes of peeling off from the group to find a WC. And no more browsing in shops to find the best pottery? That cute bistro, etc.? Would we be relegated to the artificial, highly controlled shopping areas that have become so common? What will that mean for the economies of the many places that depend on cruise tourism?
  6. I'm still communicating badly, lol! We're NOT having anything to do at all with the OLife Choice. You are exactly correct about having to pay for it! The OBC that we ARE getting is due to the suite. So we're not paying for it.
  7. Agreed! The rare times we've used the transfers is when it would be too complicated otherwise (to IJmuiden from Amsterdam--though I understand that port is not going to be used anymore anyway; to Rome from Civitavecchia--have done the train but not really worth it). We do try to share a ride when it's a bit of a hike, especially if folks are staying at the same pre- or post-cruise hotel. I see that Ravenna is replacing Venice as the departure port for RCCL--that would likely be a ship's transfer as well.
  8. So the OLife option--which includes air/transfers/free internet and one additional perk (shorex, $300 OBC , or bev pkge) is $800 more than the cruise-only fare. Of those OLife perks, we would only choose OBC because the others are moot in one way or another. But fine print is that it covers $715 or so air credit--plus a deviation fee of $195! So really OLife would cost $1,000; instead, we'd decline the air and take their $500 credit. Thus we'd end up paying $800 for the privilege of "free" $300 OBC and "free" $500 air credit. (I have found a raft of perfect flights for $174 RT, plus we will have with hotel shuttles for both airport and port...) The Sirena cabin size will be manageable--though we did just see a video pointing out that the baclcony is fully covered. Might be re-exploring that, lol.
  9. Not confused, I just explained it confusingly, lol. O Life Choice is marketed as "Offering you the flexibility to personalize your vacation experience, this package includes Roundtrip Airfare* and Free Internet, plus choose one: OBC/shorex/bev pkg." We chose the OBC as the preference among the optional suite perks--this is separate from OLife Choice, so we are not paying for it except as part of the suite price (we agree; why pay for something as a "benefit"? Crazy). Free wifi is a given for suites.
  10. Well, we just jumped! Having to cancel our most recently booked cruises (Maasdam this past April; X Eclipse coming up Feb) along with losing a month-long land trip to Spain this Sept, has made us itchy to book SOMEthing for the future... A year and a half from now, things should be settled down somewhat. We're HAL 4* & Celeb Elite; we prefer smaller ships, but with the loss of the Prinsendam, that's done. A bad HAL cruise this past Dec and X's move toward ever-bigger ships have pushed us to see what else is out there. No expedition ships; we like to be spoiled. So O and Azamara were the likely choices. After being seduced by the "Ultimate Sale" discussed here, we narrowed down and booked 2 cruises: Riviera Dec 2021, Western Caribbean, and Sirena Western Mediterranean, April 2022. Both PHS, though it looks like the Sirena suites may be pretty small? The perks sale, it turns out, is not really all that... Free wifi comes with the stateroom. We tend to book our own excursions. Bev pkg is fraught; especially with being able to bring on more wine, it's simpler to again, DIY. So we went with the OBC. (Our TA gives us free gratuities, which wasn't even an option, lol.) OLife is not for us: we always fly at least a day early and picky about flight itineraries; would have to pay an extra $195 for flight deviation out of Norfolk (!!); could take the $500 in compensation but why? Can find cheaper flights--incl. transfers--on our own and simply pay $300 for whatever on board, instead of paying $800 for the "free" $300 OBC and $500 air compensation.
  11. Wow! Great info! It was actually a travel agent who told me that, lol. I should have done my due diligence and checked wikipedia before posting. But thanks so much; I now have learned that: Amber mining in the DR is incredibly dangerous and primitive (foxhole mining) Much Dominican amber famously has inclusions and is transparent A great deal of the Dominican amber is young, aka subfossil copal resin--which can be determined by seeing if the surface turns sticky with a drop of acetone nailpolish. The hymenoptera protera tree also existed in Africa, Indonesia and Central America, from whence copal also was exported to make varnish and resin The blue amber is made from said tree--and so also found in Indonesia Personally, I haven't enjoyed my 3 previous visits to the DR, which involved soldiers with machine guns guarding the tourists... Guess that's why I haven't learned about the amber (which weirdly, was not featured on our ship's shopping & port info, as recently as this past December). Emerald shops in Cartagena felt safer, lol. If an itinerary takes me back there, I will have to hunt down the $$$$ Amber Museum.
  12. On a Caribbean cruise in January, we were in astonishingly glass-like waters while traveling between Aruba and Grand Cayman. My manicurist and I discussed other seas--calm and rough--that we experienced; she said the worst she'd been in, besides Drake's Passage, was Bass Strait between Vistoria (Melbourne) and Tasmania. Whoa! We'll apparently be passing through next February on our way out of Melbourne to the Pacific--and back! Anybody have experience? How long does the ship actually stay in this "notoriously rough" water (sez Wikipedia)?
  13. Wow, the snark in both of your replies to me. I do read several outlets of national and international news every day, including that about cruise lines, the status of ships and pax still at sea, as well as those whose passengers have disembarked, travel advisories, etc., so yes, I am aware. I would not dream of trying to contact HAL; as Orlando Ashford has said, the current policies are temporary. I do have a message in to my TA, marked "not urgent" because I have until Dec 31st to sort out rebooking with HAL, and 11 months untili my next booked cruise. I do read this website's forums for information. Others--including travel agents and ships' crews & staff--who post here often have professional insights/inside scoop/personal experiences to share. Isn't that why you are here as well? I have found a great deal of useful information on the CC forums, both over the years and as recently as today. In fact, I have actually learned some things on this very thread. I suppose we all respond differently to the uncertainty and stress of the local and world situation. Take care of yourself and stay healthy.
  14. yep... Not my point. I want to know if I will get my cash back from cancelled cruise for which I was only given FCC and apparently I may now be barred from future cruising, making my FCC moot.
  15. I'm pretty upset that after we have had to cancel next month's cruise (HAL, Sea of Cortez), Celebrity has now offically said no one over 70 and no one with health conditions, incl diabetes, without a doctor's note. I'm 65, have both heart stuff and diabetes. And have finally reached the good-bennies categories on both cruise lines. Wondering what will happen with our South Pacific cruise in February on Celebrity; none of my ethical docs would write me a note, I bet. Plus, though we took to FCC on the HAL cancellation, will I ever be able to use it if they won't let me cruise? Or will they refund the $$? HAL's entire demographic is elderly, and they are nowhere near cultivating a millennials culture among their cruisers. But every single person I know 70 & above has diabetes/heart/COPD/kidney/Parkinson's, or SOMETHING.
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