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Mad-about-Tigger

Newbie booked 1st P&O Cruise to the Med

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Hi everyone, we have just booked our 1st Cruise with P&O to Valletta, Venice, Split and Kotor, in May this year.  We will be on Oceana.  I am trying to get my head around the idea of cruising, we usually Taylor our own holidays as we like to be off the tourist trail.  I have been reading your invaluable advice, and so far feel you have guided me well. Thank you for your guidance.  My query now is about excursions, we would just like to be taken on shore, to the town / city centre but be left to explore on our own. What is the best way of doing this please?

 

is anyone else on our cruise that we could perhaps meet for a drink and share knowledge with?

 

Diane.

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Hi and welcome to CC 🙂

 

At some ports the ship is near enough to the town for you to make your own way there - often on foot. There are always taxis at the port but they tend to want to do an all-day tour rather than a quick hop into town. Valletta is a good example of this. 

 

At other ports the town is a bit further away and a shuttle bus is provided, either by the port authority or the cruise line. Whether you have to pay for this will depend on who provides it and what type of fare you paid with P+O.

 

P+O will also probably offer excursions where a coach takes you to the attraction and you are free to do what you like until you are due to meet the coach to return. These will be more expensive than DIY.

 

There are also private companies that offer tours, you can often find these on TripAdviser.

 

In addition, if your 'roll call' on this site is active people might be organising small group excursions privately.

 

There is a section of this site that deals with ports of call and often has very good information therein.

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

Hi everyone, we have just booked our 1st Cruise with P&O to Valletta, Venice, Split and Kotor, in May this year.  We will be on Oceana.  I am trying to get my head around the idea of cruising, we usually Taylor our own holidays as we like to be off the tourist trail.  I have been reading your invaluable advice, and so far feel you have guided me well. Thank you for your guidance.  My query now is about excursions, we would just like to be taken on shore, to the town / city centre but be left to explore on our own. What is the best way of doing this please?

Welcome to Cruise Critic! I think you will enjoy a Med cruise - many ports are easy to DIY (do it yourself) - check to see where your ship will dock in each port. I second joining your roll call - others may be forming private tour groups or making DIY plans. BTW - we never book shore excursions through the ship - we either DIY or join a private tour.

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P&O normally have a shuttle bus into town which is free if you book select fare and a small charge if you book a saver fare.  Many ports you can walk off the ship straight into town anyway.  Own arrangements for excursions is cheaper you just do what you want based on information you have found on the internet on where to go and what to do.  The only thing you need to worry about exploring independently is returning to the ship in time as it is not going to wait for you on very late returns.

 

Regards John

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I don't know Kotor, but the other ports are easy to DIY.

 

Valetta you port right in town. You might want to take a bus or taxi to the old town of Mdina. Beware if you want to take a boat trip to the blue grotto the weather and seas have to be perfect, so I suggest you don't pre-book.

 

Venice. from the cruise berths walk to the "people-mover" which takes you to a piazza. On the other side of the piazza take the vaporetto (water bus) down the Grand Canal to the Rialto Bridge, then walk thro St Marks Square to the insignificant but historic Bridge of Sighs. P and O will probably offer you the option of a boat-shuttle between ship and St Marks Square. This goes down the main shipping channel, not the Grand Canal, and is probably poorer value but is also a pleasant way to travel.

If your ship overnites take the opportunity to walk the streets in the evening, after the day-visitors have gone - a totally different atmosphere

And don't miss the sailway down the guidecca channel past st Marks Square, one of the best sailaways in the world.

 

Split is very easy to DIY. Ship will be berthed 10 to 20 min waterfront walk from the Diocletian's Palace, the centrepiece of the original small walled city. Bear in mind the currency is the kuna. credit cards widely accepted, euros too in some outlets, but best to have a little local jingle in your pocket.

 

Youve joined your RollCall on cruise Critic, PandO also have their own version.

But we Brits aren't into RollCalls like our American cousins, so you might find three response disappointing

 

Oceana is my size of ship, about 2000 pax. 

And PandO is a good choice for a Brit first-timer.

 

Have a good one

 

JB :classic_smile:

Edited by John Bull

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Thanks JB for taking the time to reply to me, really useful information here, I won’t be pre booking any trips, you’ve given me the confidence to DIY.

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16 hours ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

Thanks JB for taking the time to reply to me, really useful information here, I won’t be pre booking any trips, you’ve given me the confidence to DIY.

 

Organised tours are available through people like www.viator.com  I have used them in the past and found them reliable.  The type of thing they do is smaller groups; for example a chauffuer driven motorcycle and sidecar tour of Lisbon for up to two persons, segways, bicycles etc.  You must ensure the tour is feasible based on the ship docking time.

 

Regards John

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50 minutes ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

Hi John,  I really like the idea of the bike tour, how do I find out when the ship docks?

 

thanks

 

Diane.

 

This is tricky, P&O tend to publish morning in port until late afternoon, early evening or overnight in port.   I would say generally you can be off a ship at least by 9am or to be safe 9.30am where they say arrives morning.  Leaving about 16.00 is safe with an afternoon departure but the cruise line always publishes the get back on board time in the newsletter overnight.   Booking independent tours needs careful consideration.  Shore side tour operators can be flexible with things but you got to look at the exact details and email them with specific questions.  If you tell local operators you are on P&O Ventura for example they can see your predicament and work round it with small groups.

 

Regards John

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My next question is do I need to pre book restaurants? I’m slightly confused as we selected the 8.30 pm dining slot, but when I log onto my cruise account it’s asking me If I want to book a restaurant?

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26 minutes ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

My next question is do I need to pre book restaurants? I’m slightly confused as we selected the 8.30 pm dining slot, but when I log onto my cruise account it’s asking me If I want to book a restaurant?

 

This will be encouraging you to book the pay-extra 'speciality' restaurants. You don't need to do anything else about your regular dining - unless you discover you haven't got what you asked for when you get on board.

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You could end up being allocated Club Dining (Fixed time and table for the whole cruise) at 8.30 and find this good.  If you were allocated club at 8.30pm, the next thing is table size, based on number of people sharing the table.  I ask for club and a very big table every time, some newcomers find this  strategy unattractive.

 

Upgrade restaurants, with a supplement payable is only used by me on the rare occasions I want to change my time.  A few times I have walked past the restaurant and enquired about "now" successfully a few times thus lengthening my after dinner evening time.

 

Regards John

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6 hours ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

Again, thanks for the advice. We really don’t fancy the Gala nights, so that may be a good time to try one of the other restaurants. 

 

Minimum requirement for gentlemen on gala nights is a dark suit/tie.  It is not that onerous and you can freely access the whole ship.  The number of gala nights is on the P&O website for each cruise plus any themed nights. Themed nights may or may not be formal nights.  They do not specify which nights gala nights will all be because nobody knows accurately.  The captain can shift things around due to different circumstances, weather rough seas ports closed due to local problems etc.  The gala nights are usually on sea days but not first day of cruise and unlikely on last day of cruise.

 

Regards John

Edited by john watson

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@john watson I know there is somewhere on the PandO site that tells you how many formal and themed nights to expect, but I can never find it! Can you point me in the right direction please? I am expecting 2 formals per week, but not sure if they will fit another into the odd few days (24 days).

 

OP - sorry for jumping in on your thread.

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14 minutes ago, Slugsta said:

@john watson I know there is somewhere on the PandO site that tells you how many formal and themed nights to expect, but I can never find it! Can you point me in the right direction please? I am expecting 2 formals per week, but not sure if they will fit another into the odd few days (24 days).

 

OP - sorry for jumping in on your thread.

 

That's fine all threads are not exclusive to OP/contributors.  No end of interested parties come in on a direct or tangential basis and are also read by loads of others who have not posted.

 

Regards John

Edited by john watson

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Thanks John, that confirms 7 formals, as we hoped/expected 🙂

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On 2/24/2019 at 5:24 PM, john watson said:

 

That's fine all threads are not exclusive to OP/contributors.  No end of interested parties come in on a direct or tangential basis and are also read by loads of others who have not posted.

 

Regards John

John, I need your help again please ☺️ I’ve printed off my luggage labels and folded as instructed, but some of the information, such as my name, phone number, name of the ship embarkation date are on the inside of the label, with the coloured stripes and numbers on the outer side. Is this correct or am I being a bit daft here??🤪

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Mad-about-Tigger said:

John, I need your help again please ☺️ I’ve printed off my luggage labels and folded as instructed, but some of the information, such as my name, phone number, name of the ship embarkation date are on the inside of the label, with the coloured stripes and numbers on the outer side. Is this correct or am I being a bit daft here??🤪

 

When folded correctly the information left on the outside helps the porters and crew direct the cases to the correct stairwell, forward/midships/aft and deck number. It describes your cabin number, voyage  A bit like a postcode to efficiently get the cases to the correct deck and right end of the ship. Similarly the cruise number to make sure they do not reload disembarking cases back onto the ship etc.

 

Personal information, name, phone number is on the inside, discretely for security reasons and only if a case is thought to be lost they can contact you on your mobile.  You would not want this information too easy to read by people, by casual observation of suitcases who could deduce you are away from your home for a week or whatever. Anyone working with suitcase handling caught on camera peeking inside luggage labels will be asked to explain their actions.

 

It seems you have correctly got the labels constructed.

 

Regards John

Edited by john watson

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