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About cathaana

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    Hapag Lloyd

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  1. The after-hour access to the Hermitage inclusive of a classical concert in the Italian Room on a HL Baltic cruise was one of my absolute highlights.
  2. I remember seeing offers for single travelers in previous years but that was once or twice per calendar and always on specific routes if I recall correctly.
  3. They usually have group shuttles to and from the airport which you can use even when you have booked your own flights. They normally also offer a shuttle to a hotel where guests can relax at (in a meeting room/lounge, with food&drinks and a representative) before departing for the airport. Not sure whether they offer that on arrival.
  4. I did a mini-review of the Ovation where I included some comparisons to the Solstice.
  5. There is a splash area next to the kids slide. It was closed several times during our (Australia) cruise though. The play area for babies/toddlers next to the kids club is not too bad. Our 2yo enjoyed herself.
  6. Sorry to hear of your experience, MsSommelier. I'm not really surprised though. I love their ships and itineraries but I've had a bad customer experience as well which put me off booking them for a while. But as we are travelling with two little ones now, we have decided to give them another go as the Europa 2 really is the only option for luxury when travelling with children.
  7. Not very in-depth but a nice little English-language article about the Europa 2. It is a bit older though so maybe been posted before? https://www.forbes.com/sites/garywalther/2017/10/30/luxury-cruising-why-the-europa-2-is-the-best-luxury-cruise-ship-youve-never-heard-of/#7ec5ead52ad5
  8. Since cjw928 said that they specifically want to book Aida, talking to them about their product offering would make sense. Doesn't mean you need to book through them. The one thing a TA might be able to offer that Aida probably won't is an onboard or direct credit so that's always a consideration.
  9. Great itinerary, @mispi @cjw928 Why not try contacting Aida though their Facebook page? I would assume their social media team has somebody on it that speaks decent English.
  10. The holy grail of German cruise lines is Hapag Lloyd. 😉 Basically it's HL for high end luxury (they have the highest rated ships in the world according to Berlitz), Tui for premium (think Azamara or Celebrity) and Aida for basic cruises (P&O Australia, Costa). There is a German cruise reviewer who has extensive videos of Aida (Matthias Mörr). Might be worth watching even without being able to understand. I think the newer Aida ships are quite different from the older ones. My parents have been on Aida a few times so there are English-speakers around. I would expect most guests to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of English as most would have had at least 4 years of English at school. @cjw928 I might be able to suggest a few German TAs that would probably take a US client.
  11. There is always HL's Europa 2. It is a mostly German ship but bi-lingual. Their kids club is supposed to be quite good. I know a few people who have taken their kids and they were quite happy.
  12. I have been contacted by HL on Friday for the two Europa 2 cruises that I put options on, so things are happening. But I requested information on two other cruises that I am also interested in for which I received nothing yet.
  13. I probably suggested Transferwise, which I have used extensively. They usually come through in 2 days.
  14. There are regular discussions about Hapag Lloyd's ships in the Luxury Cruise forum if you are interested.
  15. We just returned from our cruise on Ovation and I decided to post some thoughts here as the Ovation doesn’t get a lot of comments. Caveat: We used to cruise only Hapag Lloyd but due to having kids now decided to try out some mass-market lines. We did Celebrity Solstice a bit over a year ago so there will be some comparisons. Room: We had a Grand Suite which was good-sized (about the size of HL's entry-level rooms). The bathtub-shower combo was not ideal but there was enough space to easily move around even with kids. 😉 We thought is was much better for travelling with the little ones than the Sky Suite on Solstice as we had a curtain to separate the areas. Kids Entertainment: Good program at the kids club but only having 100 spots total for over 1000 kids on board is just not okay. People started lining up to get into the little kids’ club 20 minutes earlier with usually no spots left 5 minutes before they opened. It was better towards the end of the cruise, probably because most parents had given up by then. Food: What can I say… We are food snobs and there wasn’t one single dish that I would describe as truly good but it was better than expected. We were surprised by the fact that food items such as the pizza and desserts/sweet treats were actually better on Ovation than on Solstice as we had heard that Celebrity had the better food. We had access to the suite restaurant on both ships and neither came even close to the kind of food offered on Hapag Lloyd. Solstice’s Luminae had a few good dishes but also quite a few disasters, while Ovation’s Coastal Kitchen was more consistent (in being average). The suite lounge was also better on Ovation. Not so dark and better food offerings. We avoided the speciality restaurants as our try on Solstice was a major fail and the reviews weren't very promising. Ports: RCI cancelled the exact same excursion that X had cancelled the year before so we didn’t even get of the ship in Noumea. We didn’t find it very exciting the last time around. Mystery Island was quite enjoyable. The kids loved playing at the beach and in the shallow water. There were same blue box jelly fish but thankfully only on one side of the island. Embarkation/disembarkation in Sydney: Embarkation was much easier with RCCL, maybe 20 minutes max. Was a zoo with Solstice, possibly due to the Noro outbreak on board. Getting off took only 5 minutes on both ships. Other stuff: We didn’t really do much as the kids are still too little to leave them alone in the evening. We tried the rock-climbing and the North Star which were both fun, sadly missed our appointment for the iFly rip cord thingy on the first morning (and no availability left for the whole cruise), and spent some time in the casino. After finding out it was still possible to use the on-board credit to play (with a 5% fee), I played through all of it and brought the winnings home in cash. 😄 Internet was good throughout the cruise. Service was fine. A bit slow in CK and a few forgotten water bottles when also ordering something else but overall no complaints. We have decided for ourselves that we won’t book a suite on a mass-market ship again. Food is one of our main enjoyments and they just can’t deliver. And when pricing a family cabin on a Europa 2-cruise, it’s actually not more expensive in most cases. Still, due to our super-low expectations after the Solstice cruise, we came home positively surprised. And the kids certainly had a good time. 😉
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