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BobTroll last won the day on August 15 2017

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About BobTroll

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  1. BobTroll

    Hawaiin ports

    To complement the "Big Mac" Albatross burgers?
  2. BobTroll

    Which P&O Rome Excursion?

    That is difficult to answer, without knowing the precise name of the excursion. Your cruise documentation (or the on-line cruise personaliser) should provide a detailed description. However, the Roma Train and Coach Combo excursion described at www.pocruises.com/cruise-destinations/rome-cruises travels by train from Civitavecchia to Roma San Pietro and returns by road (or vice versa). The website states that the train is not exclusive to P&O. However, the photos do not resemble any of the public Trenitalia trains, so I suspect P&O have purchased an allocation of seats on a privately operated excursion train. I suggest you ask P and O cruises (use their standard rate number 0345 355 5111 or the switchboard number 023 8065 5000, in preference to the expensive 0843 number).
  3. BobTroll

    What do Cruise Lines call 'All Inclusive?'

    I have also disembarked from cruises with zero cabin accounts with the following cruise lines: Azamara Club Cruises Regent Seven Seas Scenic (river cruises) and APT (river cruises) But of course, these cruise lines include gratuities and drinks in their published fares. In other words, I paid for them up front. Regent, Scenic and APT also include shore excursions
  4. BobTroll

    Should Speciality Restaurants Cost Extra?

    Supply and demand? Perhaps they are trying to encourage passengers on longer cruises to make a second reservation.
  5. BobTroll

    Hawaiin ports

    We cruised around the Hawaiian islands in 2002, so these comments are woefully out of date. Furthermore, we had booked a pre-cruise hotel stay in Honolulu, and managed to explore Oahu independently. We did not book ship's excursions on other Hawaiian islands, so I cannot comment upon organised shore excursions. However, the following details might provide a few pointers. When we reached one port, we found that our options were very limited. (I think the port was probably Nawiliwili on Kauai Island, although I might be mistaken). There were no taxis at the harbor and we had missed the free bus to the shopping center in Lihue (the only town of any size). Consequently, we walked almost three miles up the hill to Lihue, where we discovered there was little to do, apart from visiting Hilo Hattie's souvenir shop. We hadn't travelled all the way to Hawaii to purchase t-shirts etc., so we caught the bus back to the ship. We met a delightful American couple in Hilo Hatties (they subsequently became good friends), so when the ship reached Hawaii Island (the Big Island), we shared their rental car and visited the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The National Park, with the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa active volcanoes, is a "must see". I would research each island carefully because although ship's excursions are usually be overpriced, they might be the best option. You could also consider car hire.
  6. BobTroll

    Should Speciality Restaurants Cost Extra?

    I recent years, we have sailed with various lines, including Azamara Club Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and most recently, P&O Cruises. The main Compass Rose restaurant on three Regent Seven Seas ships, Mariner, Navigator and Voyager was excellent, so there was no need to look elsewhere. Even so, we dined in Signatures (French restaurant), Prime 7 (the steakhouse) and Sette Marina (Italian restaurant) at no extra charge. Regent's all-inclusive fares are much higher than any of the mass market cruise lines, but we were more than happy that we received value for money - and the alternative restaurants were really wonderful. Food in the main restaurants on Azamara is usually very good, so we were not tempted to pay extra for either of the speciality restaurants (although we have used them in the past). We have sailed with Princess many times, most recently in May 2017 on Crown Princess from Southampton. Princess have cut back on the number of menu choices and quality in the MDRs. We were amazed to discover that Princess had even replaced steak medallions (which used to feature as an "always available" option) with a burger, if you didn't fancy anything from the day's menu. I am sorry, but I do not expect them to offer burgers for dinner in the evening. We did not dine in any of the speciality restaurants, so I cannot comment on quality or value for money. However, we shall be less likely to choose Princess for another cruise. Our last cruise on P&O's Aurora in August 2017 was a revelation. Food quality and service had improved significantly since our previous P&O cruises (in 2011 and 2014) and we were particularly impressed by the range of gluten-free options. There was no need to patronise any of the speciality restaurants, but we wanted to spend some of our on-board credit in Atul Kochhar's Sindhu Indian restaurant. That was very disappointing and my wife's Akkha Gosht (spiced roast lamb rump) was so tough that it was virtually inedible. She should have sent it back! They charged £20 per person for the meal and following our our return to the UK, I discovered that the cover charge should have been £16. I raised the issue with P&O, who refunded the amount of the over-charge. Our cruise fare already included all meals in the MDR, so any cover charge should merely cover the extra cost of any speciality options. Value for money is very important. £16 per person was too much for what we received - and £20 per person would have been really excessive. For that amount, we could enjoy a complete, top quality Indian meal, in our home city of Leicester. Following our experience of Sindhu, we shall not bother with any of the speciality restaurants on P&O.
  7. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have never been members of the EU. And although the Irish Republic is an EU country, it is not within the Schengen Area. So for historical reasons, the UK, Eire, the Channel Islands and the IOM have always comprised a "common travel area". In theory, you do not require a passport to travel between those territories. There is still an open land border between Northern Ireland and Eire and although the UK and Eire are separate nations, you you do not need to produce any documents to cross the land border (in the same way that you can travel freely between all European countries within the Schengen Area. But although it might not be an official requirement, the fact remains that all airlines and many ferry operators insist upon production of a passport or government issued photo ID, before they will allow you to travel.
  8. Passengers must present their passports or acceptable photo ID at the start of the cruise. The cruise line will record the details - so for virtually all itineraries that remain within European waters, the ship does not need to retain any of the passports. Throughout the cruise, local officials will view and may receive copies of the ship's manifest, containing passport details for every passenger and crew member. Consider what would happen, if local immigration authorities at each port had to insist upon a face to face passport inspection. Everything would grind to a halt, because It would take hours for every passenger to complete immigration formalities (which happens, when large cruise ships arrive in the USA). Within Europe, the immigration authorities rely upon cruise lines to operate suitable security procedures. That is why the procedures include passport examination prior to boarding. Then, passengers can go ashore at most European ports without having to show their passports - and that includes disembarkation at the end of the cruise. So when more than 3,000 passengers walk off P&O's Britannia at Southampton after a Mediterranean cruise, they won't even need to show their passports. Furthermore, officials from the UK Border Force will board the ship, to process immigration formalities for non-EU nationalities.
  9. I don't know the duration of your proposed cruise. However, if you opt for a two week itinerary, you will have the opportunity to visit many islands. Some will be better and/or more interesting than others. The choice of itinerary is vitally important, because some two-week cruises on American or International cruise lines cater mainly for the American market. Many of these Caribbean cruises are actually back to back itineraries, which sail from Miami or Fort Lauderdale and return to the USA after seven days. They sail again from Miami or Fort Lauderdale and visit different islands, during the second week. These itineraries waste a lot of time, sailing between the USA and the Caribbean - time when you could be enjoying the islands. Furthermore, British passengers have to obtain ESTA approvals and endure USA immigration three times (firstly, upon arrival at Miami Airport and then, each time the ship returns to the USA). I am not recommending any particular cruise line, because like you, I am not too keen on "British sail-away parties" and some other aspects of P&O. However, many P&O fly cruises in the Caribbean are complete two-week itineraries, which sail to and from Barbados. These cruises have some major advantages. Passengers can fly on dedicated charter flights from their local UK airports to Barbados. They don't have to clear immigration or customs upon arrival in Barbados, and buses take everyone directly from the aircraft steps to the ship. P&O also transfer all of the luggage directly from the aircraft to passengers' cabins on the ship. At the end of the cruise, they collect the luggage from your cabins and take it to the aircraft. Passengers collect their luggage from the baggage carousel at their home airport. That is surely better than having to fly via the USA, clearing American immigration and customs several times and wasting time sailing between the USA and the Caribbean.
  10. BobTroll


    We have just returned from a Mediterranean cruise on Aurora. Before we booked the cruise through Bolsover, we checked the availability of various cabin grades on the P&O website. Although this cruise was almost fully sold out, we could have selected our cabin number from a rather limited range of unsold cabins - or we could have booked a cabin on a guaranteed basis. After allowing for the on board credit, there was little difference between cost of a Select or Saver fare - so we opted for Select fares. That enabled us to specify our dining preferences, etc. We booked a "guaranteed" outside cabin in a grade which, according to P&O, was "sold out". We received our cabin allocation three weeks prior to departure! And although we would have been happy with the grade we had booked, we were delighted to receive a three grade upgrade to an outside cabin, in a much better location. Cruise lines know that some passengers will cancel. That is why they accept bookings on a guaranteed basis. If there are no cancellations in the specified grade, they might move other passengers who have paid the full fare to a higher grade. Otherwise, the guarantee will take effect, so you should always receive the grade you have booked or a higher grade. Furthermore, you are more likely to qualify for an upgrade, if you book a cabin grade, which appears to be sold out.
  11. BobTroll

    P&O Cruises have sold Adonia!

    The same principle applies to Oceania Cruises. However, Oceania and Azamara cater for an entirely different market sector - and their cruises are much more expensive than P&O. That is why they are probably viable. Originally, there were eight, virtually identical, "R Class" ships, built for the former Renaissance Cruise Line. Having purchased Ocean Princess from Princess Cruises last year, Oceania Cruises (part of the NCL Group) operate four of these ships. Princess have retained Pacific Princess, but as both Princess and P&O are owned by Carnival, I fear she might not survive for long. Azamara include much more in their cruise fares. Having enjoyed four cruises with them, I believe they provide reasonably good value. Oceania's fares are particularly eye watering, so I doubt whether the majority of P&O customers would be prepared to pay so much. Although I am not a fan of P&O, I have never sailed with Oceania.
  12. BobTroll

    Princess Or P&o?

    I am broadby in agreement with Sinbad's comments. However, it is worth bearing in mind that Princess have ships around the world and the clientele tends to be multinational, with a significant proportion of passengers from the USA. They operate several ships from Southampton and most of the passengers on voyages from Southampton are British. Consequently, the atmosphere on those voyages is more akin to P&O. Generally speaking, I prefer Princess to P&O. However, I did not feel my latest cruise from Southampton on Crown Princess was up to their usual standard. You can read my review at www.bolsovercruiseclub.com/cruise-reviews/gluten-free-special-jelly-tapioca-pudding-crown-princess-13-may-2017 I have not cruised with P&O for a few years. However, I have decided to give them another try - and will sail to the Eastern Mediterranean on Aurora at the beginning of October. I will be interested to see how they compare. With regard to loyalty benefits, I suggest you telephone Princess on 023 8065 5000 (the Carnival Switchboard). Ask for Princess Cruises Captain's Circle and quote your P&O Membership numbers. The Captain's Circle will be able to confirm whether your P&O cruise history will entitle you to loyalty benefits on your first cruise and if so, at which level. The Captain's Circle Elite tier is much more generous than the upper tiers on P&O. It includes "goodies" such as priority embarkation and disembarkation, unlimited free laundry (wonderful!), a reasonable allowance of free Internet, priority access to the tenders at tender ports, complimentary minibar set-up, and a 10% discount on purchases from the shops. But unlike P&O, you will not receive a 10% discount on purchases from the restaurants, bars or shore excursions. Furthermore, Princess do not invite everyone on the top tiers to a luncheon with the officers. (They usually arrange one special function, but that is confined to around forty of their "most traveled passengers".)
  13. There is a simple reason why P&O restaurants are always full for both sittings - and it is not necessarily because a lot of passengers like set times. It is much easier for cruise lines to operate fixed time dining because they know how many meals to prepare for each sitting. If you opt for a "Saver" fare, you will forfeit the right to demand a dining preference - and P&O will decide when and where they want you to dine. By ensuring that both of the fixed sittings are full, they manage the numbers on freedom dining. In theory, that should prevent excessive queues at peak times..
  14. If you have selected any time dining on Princess ships, you can reserve a table for two, four or more passengers - at a time to suit you. All you need to do is to telephone the reservations line at 8 am.
  15. Princess allow passengers to choose between fixed sittings or anytime dining (apart from their one and only small ship - Pacific Princess),. On the largest Princess ships, at least two thirds of the capacity of the main dining rooms is available for the anytime option. There is one notable exception. Diamond Princess, which is based in Asia, offers cruises from Australia, Singapore, China and Japan. Many of this year's voyages on Diamond Princess were round trips from Tokyo (Yokohama). So although Diamond Princess is a very large ship, there is no anytime option on the Japanese itineraries. The main dining rooms revert to fixed sittings - to cater for the preferences of the many Japanese passengers.