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  • 1 month later...
44 minutes ago, Folkfan13 said:

frantic36,    did Seabourn provide a shuttle into town in Casablanca?   I've heard that a lot of taxis can not enter the port area.

 

You had to walk to the port gate which was about 400+ metres. Seabourn nor other cruise ships have any sway with the port authorities on this. I have read complaints on the Regent board about this as well.

 

The shuttle went to United Nations Square Casablanca which is fairly central.

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Great thread!  I am always wary of Seabourn excursions but in some places there is little choice or an alternative is risky. 
 

The Seabourn Petra excursion is great.   Does anyone have any feedback for Seabourn or DIY on Safaga for Luxor (number of options)/ Sharm El Sheikh/ Aqaba for Wadi Rum/Izmir (not Ephesus)/Canakkle please?

 

 

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Just now, galeforce9 said:

Great thread!  I am always wary of Seabourn excursions but in some places there is little choice or an alternative is risky. 
 

The Seabourn Petra excursion is great.   Does anyone have any feedback for Seabourn or DIY on Safaga for Luxor (number of options)/ Sharm El Sheikh/ Aqaba for Wadi Rum/Izmir (not Ephesus)/Canakkle please?

 

 

Meant to add that as soon as we gut to the Petra approach we left our guide and established the meet up time for lunch, as our pace is about 3x.faster and we wanted to maximise opportunities but the whole day was great 

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Hi.

 

Currently on the Quest, 2-week R/T Miami sailing along Central America as far south as Colombia.  So far, one very enjoyable day trip and one so-so experience.

 

Cozumel:  Small Group Punta Sur Eco Park.  5 hours. Two large vans with 6 or 7 people took our group to the park, which was beautiful and has a lot to offer.  The ride was not excessively long.  There were a few stops in the park followed by a couple of hours on the beautiful beach with a surprisingly good light lunch included. Everyone seemed very satisfied with the day.  Because of time constraints, we were unable to take advantage of some of the park’s attractions, so if you’re feeling adventurous, it might be better to arrange your own transportation and plan to spend more time there. Definitely better than walking around Cozumel’s tourist traps.

Grade: A-

 

Belize City. Mayan City of Alton Ha and Belize City. 4.5 hours.  We had been to Belize City recently so we were not expecting much from the panoramic tour of the city. However, we were not expecting to be herded like cattle onto a crowded, indoor line/mob scene/super-spreader event before being corralled onto large, jam-packed buses.  It took forever to get to the Mayan City, with not much to see along the way.  The ruins were interesting and the guides were good, but we had only about an hour at the site. Around 2:30 we stopped for a skimpy lunch (one anemic chicken leg, rice and beans, and cole slaw - beverage not included) in a rundown venue. People were not enchanted. From the time we gathered in the Grand Salon for the tour until we got back on the Quest, 6 hours had elapsed for 1 hour of sightseeing.  
 

Grade: C

 

 

 

Linda

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  • 2 weeks later...

Review of two shore excursions in Australia / New Zealand given Odyssey is doing the itinerary a few times in the coming months. 
 

Port: Philip Island, Australia

Excursion: Philip Island’s Famous Penguins 

Duration: 4 Hours

Price (USD): $139

Recommended: Yes 

 

A solid excursion with scenic drive across Philips Island to Summerlands, where the fairy penguins return to shore. 
 

Plenty of wallaby and Cape Barren Geese to be seen. 
 

Our guide Peter was great with a balance of facts and stories. 
 

New visitors centre has a cafe with hot meals for dinner, useful as the excursion departs around 6:30PM and finishes four hours later. The vegetable green curry was quite good. 
 

Naturally the highlight was seeing the penguins return to shore, and that alone was worth the price of admission. 
 

 

Port: Picton, New Zealand

Excursion: Wine & Garden

Duration: 5 Hours

Price (USD): $300

Recommended: No

 

Draw card of this excursion is the visit to two iconic wineries of the Marlborough wine region. 
 

Prologue is the communications manager from Cloudy Bay, by far the most iconic winemaker In Marlborough, was onboard to give an afternoon talk and host a speciality dinner. Asked if any of the shore excursions would include a visit to CB and she indicated that one would. 
 

Asked at the Destination Services desk the following morning and was told they weren’t sure so I didn’t book. Received a call at around 5PM advising the tour would be visiting  CB. Appreciated the follow up so booked the shore excursion. 
 

Departing the ship at 9AM our first stop was Woodend Garden, which is a lovely space but about the size of a football field so an hour here felt excessive. 
 

Second stop was Hunter Wines, which had a nice garden setting out the back of the founders original home now used as the cellar door. Nice wines but a standard tasting which retails for NZ$15. 
 

Third and final stop was a boutique winery Fromm, which focussed on red wines like Pinot Noir rather than the white wines like Sauvignon Blanc that Marlborough is famous for. Being a smaller outfit, the experience here was good and the Pinot was excellent. 
 

Then it was a drive back to the ship by about 1:30PM, so just over 4.5 hours total. 
 

Putting aside the Cloudy Bay issue (we actually drove past…) there was nothing unique or special about this shore excursion to justify the price. If you enjoy wine, you’ll probably get more value putting that $300 toward a wine dinner aboard. 

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1 hour ago, Coathanger said:

 

Putting aside the Cloudy Bay issue (we actually drove past…) there was nothing unique or special about this shore excursion to justify the price.

 

We have a stop in Picton next year and have organised a private tour. It took a lot of time and research as I was surprised how costly the cost of a private transfer was and then you had to pay for tasting per person. Thankfully I found someone but it still cost NZ$900 for 6.5 hours but there will be 8 of us.

 

Last time we were in Picton in 2013 we had a lovely lunch and wine tasting at Herzog, they no longer do lunch. We were also supposed to have a tasting at Cloudy Bay but CB cancelled the day before. The substitute winery was a reasonable and lots of others enjoyed it. This time I made sure I booked Cloudy Bay privately and well in advance. I had to book two tables of four as they don't do big tables. 

 

I think Cloudy Bay as much as Seabourn might try is not ever likely.

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1 hour ago, frantic36 said:

We were also supposed to have a tasting at Cloudy Bay but CB cancelled the day before. The substitute winery was a reasonable and lots of others enjoyed it. This time I made sure I booked Cloudy Bay privately and well in advance. I had to book two tables of four as they don't do big tables. 

 

I think Cloudy Bay as much as Seabourn might try is not ever likely.


Thanks for sharing your experience. Seems like Cloudy Bay is one you have to book direct with, rather than through a shore excursion. 
 

I mentioned to the sommelier in The Restaurant last night that it’s an opportunity to create a wine enthusiast version of ‘Shopping With The Chef’ given they seem to have some relationship with CB already. 
 

He did also mention that Peter Gago from Penfolds was aboard another Seabourn ship last year, with BIN 707 being particularly memorable. 

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I'm curious if the winery at Cloudy Bay is a very special experience? Many wine tasting experiences are pretty similar — nice grounds/gardens, some background on the winery, tanks and barrels and bottles, and of course tasting several wines. In the case of Cloudy Bay, many of us have undoubtedly tasted their wine, and anyone can do so in most of the world (including aboard a Seabourn ship). So my question is what's extra special about visiting this winery which would make deciding on a$300/per person excursions a go versus no-go decision. (Just to be clear; I'm not critiquing/criticizing/disagreeing in any way; I'm genuinely interested, because we will make it to New Zealand one of these years!)

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1 hour ago, cruiseej said:

I'm curious if the winery at Cloudy Bay is a very special experience? Many wine tasting experiences are pretty similar — nice grounds/gardens, some background on the winery, tanks and barrels and bottles, and of course tasting several wines. In the case of Cloudy Bay, many of us have undoubtedly tasted their wine, and anyone can do so in most of the world (including aboard a Seabourn ship). So my question is what's extra special about visiting this winery which would make deciding on a$300/per person excursions a go versus no-go decision. (Just to be clear; I'm not critiquing/criticizing/disagreeing in any way; I'm genuinely interested, because we will make it to New Zealand one of these years!)


Fair question. I was keen to see Cloudy Bay specifically given the history in establishing the wine industry in New Zealand.
 

Typically look to book a more in-depth or behind the scenes tour where possible to go beyond a standard tasting, which I agree are mostly the same.

 

Had a great experience at Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek staying at the hotel, which is part of the Virgin Collection, and getting a behind the scenes tour of the working vineyard on site and learning the importance of canopy management from their winemaker. 
 

Will look at something like the First Taste tour for a future trip:

 

https://www.cloudybay.com/en-au/visit-us/marlborough-first-taste-tour/

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4 hours ago, cruiseej said:

So my question is what's extra special about visiting this winery

 

I am glad we will do it on a private tour because when I was organising the booking I have requested to get a chance to try their current selling Te Koko which is a favourite wine. I know I will likely pay extra from the rest of the group but that is fine. It is not something you would normally get a chance to do easily elsewhere. Living in Australia we are likely to send some wine home as well. They do have a good choice of various white wine varietals.

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Don’t know if it is possible, but years back we took an extended land trip through NZ. It was incredible. The winery that we absolutely loved was WooingTree on South Island. Their Pinot’s were off the hook ( I know, NZ is known for Sauvignon Blanc).  We brought a couple bottles home, and chanced laying one down for 10 years….still crazy good….which for some of our CA Pinot’s  is quite impressive. Maybe an independent tour could incorporate them for anyone interested. I have no idea how far from port they are since we were not on a cruise, but if so, will be well worth checking into. We hope to return to NZ someday. What beautiful  country, people, experiences. 

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When we did a land trip in New Zealand we went on a small group tour with Bubbly Grape. They were outstanding, taking us to some excellent vineyards. Our favourite (unexpectedly, because we thought it might be too commercial), was Cloudy Bay.

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