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  1. We did this itinerary on Silversea, not Seabourn, but I imagine that things would be similar. The ship dealt with all of our visas on board. There were no complications. US dollars were acceptable as tips and for small purchases (only made one of these). I work extensively in Africa, so am up to date with advice - you should have all of your jabs, but, in general, you only need to think about malaria prophylaxis if the ship is overnighting in a malarial area. If it is sailing between dusk and dawn,it it generally not necessary to take malaria pills. Would agree that ship's tours are probably better - there is not a large tourism infrastructure, so options are limited. Also, almost all of the ports are industrial, so you want tours where buses come right to the ship, rather than having to make your own way to the port exit and try to pick someone up there. There aren't that many cruise terminals out there.
  2. If I recall correctly, there were three major snorkelling opportunities on the Western itinerary. Two of the three were set up so that less strong swimmers/inexperienced snorkellers could enjoy the unmissable experience as well as those who were more accustomed to it. And as those included swimming with turtles and sealions, they are one of the core Galapagos experiences. Only the third one was more challenging, with a long distance in a strong current, and as that one included swimming with penguins. 'Gentle' hikes were generally offered to all passengers, but where they were a little more strenuous, that was made clear, and other options were available. The only possible issue is the kayaking, which has to be limited by numbers. I think everyone who wanted to kayak on our cruise did manage it each time it was on offer, but it is possible that there might be over subscription. And the conditions mean that kayaking is almost always possible.
  3. Definitely doable by yourself, if there are things that interest you. Depends where you dock - you can be quite far out. Taxis reasonably plentiful, but not if there is one of the big ships in, especially if there are a lot of changeovers. Picasso museum is very good, and right next to the cathedral, which is a lovely typical Spanish gothic. In relation to modern art, the Musee Pompidou has a very good branch right at the end of the usual docking space. And if you interests are 19th century art, the Carmen Thyssen is also excellent. We were stuck in Malaga a few years ago, when the Cloud had an engine part failure, and we found plenty to do. You can also walk up to the castle, which is near the dock. And like any Spanish city, there is plenty of good food and drink to be had.
  4. Can only help with three of the ports. Siracusa is a lovely little city, and you could do worse than walk around the town, and visit the market (where they may do Shopping with the Chef) and also the cathedral. Looks like standard Italian baroque outside, but once you get in, you realise it is a fully intact Greek temple, with the gaps between the columns filled in. However, the tours to the Greek and Roman theatre and the mines/caves are worth doing. Some way from the city, although you might find a taxi. Think some people reported favourably on the tours up into the small baroque towns in the hills. Patmos only has a few things to do. We took the less strenuous trip to the church of the Revelation. It was interesting. There is a more strenuous tour which also goes up to the monastery. My brother and friends managed to walk from ship to the church of the Revelation, but it was quite demanding a hike. In Cesme, the harbour is a long thin U shape. It is totally flat, so walkable. I can’t tell you anything about tours, as we merely meandered from ship around the harbour, as far as tha castle which houses a small museum with some nice objects and lovely views, and then meandered back, stopping a couple of times for beers. Sorry I can’t help you with tour insights. Can’t even remember what was offered, but we were very happy with a DIY day.
  5. On Quest last month we just asked for sandwiches, and no sweet things. The staff were very happy to do that, and jsut give us the sandwich tier.
  6. We loved it, although it was a few years ago now and before Silver Cloud became an expedition ship. Nice combination of sea days and ports. Plenty of interesting places to visit and we had lovely weather. Also, the cruise attracted some really interesting people as guests – most of them experienced cruisers with Silversea experience, but skewed rather younger than usual; professional and interesting companions. I can’t locate your cruise on the website, so not sure what the ports are. We found that the tours were expensive, but there are limited alternatives, and it is normally not easy just to wander around, as some of the ports are a little industrial (others had nicer views). The quality of the tours was OK – none were disastrous. We would highlight some of the Canary Islands, the slave castles in Ghana, the Portuguese San Miguel fort in Luanda, Walvis Bay in Namibia and the lake village in Ganvie, Benin. The day on Principe was lovely too. Not sure if that is included in this cruise. Limited wildlife (a little in Namibia), the focus is history (including some World Heritage sites) and anthropology. If you are now on an expedition cruise the experience could be enhanced by the expedition team adn their range of knowledge to transfer in lectures. Our lecturers were fine, but a little superficial, but that is the norm on classic cruise ships. I am very used to working in some dodgy parts of Africa, but my companion is not, and was comfortable throughout. A tiny minority were taken aback at the Africa experience, mostly these were those doing only the second half cruise – those who did the B2B seemed to be more open to the experience. So I would recommend the cruise if you want to be able to experience a whole range of countries that you probably will never otherwise visit, and to do it in some comfort.
  7. Ponza is a charming, but small, upmarket Italian resort town. I'm sure there. Some of the beaches are beautiful, and from the map the magnificent Chaia di Luna beach is pretty close (other side of the island but a very narrow isthmus). however, we took the round island boat tour, which was fascinating, as they took the boat into the caves containingg the Roman fish farms (reputedly owned by Pontius Pilate). But it helps to have an interest in geology. It was possible to swim off the boat. Agree that, from Trapani, Erice is lovely. Some of the Greek archaeology (e.g. Segesta) is well worth doing. When we docked, some people found the harbour area run down and a little threatening, but I think it might have been a grumpy lot of guests. Afraid I haven't been to Bastia since I was a child.
  8. The Boi Bumba show in Paritins is rather different to the experience of carnival in Rio. It is a very small town in the middle of nowhere. The show (which is developed each year from the local Boi Bumba at carnival time) is delivered by locals in the local community centre. You are right in the heart of the action, close up to the performers, and able to appreciate the quality of the dancing and the costumes and scenery. One of my travelling companions said it was the best excursion he had ever been on.
  9. Did a similar cruise a little while ago, but carried on to Punta Arenas. The first few days - Lima and northern Chile - is pleasant, dry, but not over hot (cooled by the Humboldt current). Usually cloudy, even misty in the mornings, but clearing by midday and a sunny afternoon. The sun is strong once it does come out. Then some warmer days in central Chile. If you are disembarking in Santiago, you should be fine. Really heavy rain is unlikely - we did not get any until we were further south than you are going. Waterproofs for the zodiac transfers or tours - I did not take any.
  10. I agree that it was not cold (maybe cool) wearing a rash vest. I took two and was glad of them. A couple on our cruise had brought surfer’s swimming leggings, and those seemed a very good idea if you are susceptible to cold.
  11. They are both good. Western itinerary is the volcanically active part, and the one with penguins and flightless cormorants. North and Central is to the older, more eroded islands and the only one where you will see albatross. The rest of the wildlife (boobies, sea lions, giant tortoise, marine iguana etc) you will see on either itinerary .
  12. My experience is that there is a problem common to all the older ships, of a build up of sewage smells in all the public toilets in the back half of the ship on all floors, and a particular build up in the Bar. I assume that there is some design issue with odour traps. My experience is that Whisper is the worst, followed by Shadow, and that Cloud does not suffer unduly. However, as there is no opportunity to empty tanks when in Antarctica, there might be a similar build up on longer expedition cruises. I have never experienced problems of sewage smells in the corridors with suites. Although I have twice experienced old water water pipe breakages and floods, but the HD told me that they are common, as the constant slight movement of the ship events causes weaknesses in the joints when under high pressure. But that has nothing to do with sewage.
  13. The average rate worked out to V1/V2, whereas we always book V5 on the Odyssey class. But as we were going for a reduction on a much longer cruise, we just agreed what they would subtract from the total - which was still a very good saving.
  14. The issue that tends to complicate things a bit is when a proportion of your days were on the ‘little sisters’. When I attained the milestone, 50% of my cruises were on the little ships, and the room classifications were lower than their equivalents on the Odyssey class. It was still a very big discount , and allowed us to do 22 days in Alaska - all the way up to Seward and back. Of course, this issue is becoming less common as time elapses.
  15. The islands are very different - a lot depends on which ones are offered. They have interesting history - Spanish colonial. Most of the old city centres look like South/Central American city centres (not really surprising as this was the jumping off point for the Americas. Geology fascinating (if you like volcanoes), interesting landscapes, wine and some art museums. Worth taking tours (or hiring a car), as the islands are not large and quite varied. Although officially in Europe, you are geographically in Africa, so it is warmer then the med in April, which is presumably why they do a couple of cruises there at either end of the Med season, when storms are still possible in Europe. Hope that helps
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