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Everything posted by afcandrew

  1. afcandrew

    Silversea cruises

    If you are in the market - and have the budget - for a luxury cruise, they are certainly worth the money. I've never cruised with Silversea but was lucky enough to have dinner and an evening aboard when a friend was sailing them out of London. They often do deals with quite low single supplement. I would also recommend checking out Crystal too, in a similar level.
  2. afcandrew

    Spirit of Discovery

    It is indeed Owt πŸ˜„
  3. afcandrew

    Spirit of Discovery

    I'm looking forward to seeing Spirit of Discovery next month on a ship visit in Southampton. If anyone wants me to look at or photograph anything specific, please let me know and I'll do my best.
  4. afcandrew

    Newbie Cruser

    Welcome aboard the good ship Bolsover Forum! We are a friendly lot. Well done for booking your first cruise - but be aware that many of us have found it to be a rather addictive pastime 😁. From the one cruise I have done on Marella, they do solo travelling rather well. On the first night there was an early evening meet for coffee or drinks with one of the social hostesses so that solo pax could meet each other. From that, it was agreed that anyone who wished to could meet in one of the bars at the same time each evening and then those that wanted to could go into dinner with each other. There was one large table that was reserved every evening for solo pax. This was helpful as there is only open dining on Marella (i.e. turn up when you want as opposed to two sittings with set seating) I have done the majority of my solo cruising on P&O ships. P&O often allocate solo pax booked on 'Club Dining' (i.e. same table at the same time each night with the same people) to dining tables together and then pax often go off at the end of the meal to the theatre show or for a drink. P&O also have a morning coffee meet in one of the bars for solo pax every sea-day, hosted by some of the Entertainment Officers. Btw, without wanting to teach you to suck eggs, 'pax' is short for passengers. I had cruised for many years with my partner before he died in 2012 and have found it a wonderful way to holiday alone since then. Ships are usually very friendly places and there are plenty of opportunities to chat with others and 'pal up' with other solo pax for independent trips ashore etc. I'm sure you will have a great time. Please feel free to ask any other questions you have about cruising generally or as a solo. You'll get plenty of good advice on here. Andrew
  5. afcandrew

    Marella Discovery - Naples to UAE

    Thanks for sharing your experiences on this cruise David. Petra is definitely on my wish-list but I think I will probably do it on a land-tour rather than a cruise. So many of the cruises that call here also visit/start/finish in a middle eastern country with discriminatory, repressive laws, which is a bug-bear for my personal moral code. Glad you enjoyed Marella again. I think I am still scarred by my experience on Discovery 2 😁
  6. afcandrew


    I'm recently back from 10 days away but since returning have managed to get the tree up and a minimal number of Christmassy things put out. Bought my Christmas Wreath yesterday so that is now out on the front door. This afternoon will be on Card-writing duty!
  7. afcandrew


    To find the "Brochure by Post" bit to tick, go to "Before you Sail", then click on "Personal Details" and then scroll down almost to the bottom of the page. You'll then find "Your holiday information - the way you want it", which gives you the two options.
  8. afcandrew


    Strangely enough, I received an e-mail from P&O yesterday inviting me to log in to the new 'My P&O Cruises' for my cruise due in 46 weeks - the e-mail told me it is 46 weeks. It promises that I will be able to book all sorts of things like shore excursions (sorry but I refuse to call them "shore experiences"), Spa treatments, Speciality Restaurants etc. Naturally, as my cruise is still 46 weeks away, I was sceptical and of course I was proved right. None of these can be booked yet. I was able to log in easily enough and enter some personal details such as Passport etc. I had a general look through and sadly there are all sorts of oddities and errors. It is interesting to note that the length of my cruise is 18.666666666668 days! I can book Parking with CPS - which is the only company approved by Cunard. Each port-day is listed separately with a description of the port but the page tells me I have "Time to relax and enjoy our on-board facilities". There is a link to a sample Menu for Sindhu but it doesn't work. Under "Gifts", I can order some ship "souveniers". There are two paragraphs about Travel Insurance, one of which says insurance is "strongly advised" and a second immediately after it where it is "a condition of travelling with us". Under 'dining', it tells me that "we'll bring breakfast to your cabin for a small charge on selected ships" - the latest brochure still suggests continental breakfast in the cabin is still complimentary. Lastly, those more mature travellers will be relieved to know that you can select dates of birth going back to 1882 so can keep cruising until they are 137 years of age 😁. Ah, the weird, wacky world of P&O IT πŸ˜‚
  9. afcandrew


    Thanks for that Dysart Cruisers. And well done for getting into My Cruises and using it! On another forum I contribute to almost everyone has found it difficult to access and use. I really don't know how P&O manage to be so dreadful at IT. Their most recent website re-design is dreadful and now the new cruise personaliser seems to have followed suit...
  10. afcandrew


    Wow - that is steep. I was last on Cunard about three and a half years ago and whilst I felt the drinks were expensive then, they now seem well over-the-top from what you say...
  11. afcandrew

    P&O 2021 and 2022

    On a standard inside cabin? Probably none but Β£30 if lucky πŸ˜‚.
  12. afcandrew

    single cruisers turned over again

    With the number of cruises on sale at any particular time, I would think a computer programme plays a part in this. There are very few single cabins to start with so once they start selling, I would imagine the prices increase due - as HLM said above - supply & demand.
  13. afcandrew

    P&O 2021 and 2022

    The dreaded P&O IT system strikes again.... Will they ever sort it out???????????
  14. afcandrew

    single cruisers turned over again

    But sadly Davybe those sort of deals are few and far between. For a solo to get a remotely decent deal, you either have to book as soon as booking opens or be in the right place at the right time and - as you have said - be incredibly flexible. Many of us (even those no longer working) do have other commitments to work around so can't always just drop everything and go. I am quite flexible in terms of cruise line (9 different ones so far) and destination but won't sail on large (>2000 pax) ships. I certainly agree about using a decent TA though!
  15. afcandrew

    single cruisers turned over again

    Totally agree with you Mitch. It doesn't make sense and it must be because they hope they will ultimately make more money out of selling them subsequently at a big premium. In addition, the single cabins on Aurora, Arcadia and Britannia are in poor locations - right forward and on Arcadia & Britannia, very high up.
  16. afcandrew

    P&O 2021 and 2022

    I've had chance to have a good look through the brochure now and it is very clear that they are slanting their marketing heavily towards a younger demographic. The photos of 'passengers', i.e. Models, in the brochure feature mainly 30/40 somethings, which may possibly end up being the situation on Iona but probably not on the other ships! I do understand why they are doing this but some in that age may feel it a mis-representation of a cruise they sail on. I have also seen a half-page ad in the London Evening Standard aimed at a younger demographic too, suggesting a typical day on Iona will be Glacier Hiking in the morning and crafting a new Gin in Iona's distillery in the afternoon...
  17. afcandrew

    single cruisers turned over again

    As someone who sails solo regularly, yes it is very annoying and, I think, particularly unfair as it is something we have to put up with year-round (as opposed to seasonally). I do find it particularly unfair when cruise lines 'crow' about how good they are to single pax and then weight single cabins with a hefty 'supplement'. Of course, it isn't officially a supplement - just that they charge 30-50% more than one half of a pair travelling in a twin/double! As has been said, many lines do this. CMV regularly do 'bogof' offers where one person in a double/twin goes free. More often than not, there is no offer at all for solo pax, who pay twice the standard price! Its always worth asking a cruise line if they will give you double obc if you are paying double - it occasionally works! Some of the ultra-luxury lines such as Crystal and Silversea do sometimes offer very low or even no single supplement on some cruises but of course they are more expensive to start with (but with high standards to match) and are more often than not fly-cruises. Fortunately, I have two friends who I can cruise with in addition to sailing solo - and I get on really well with both of them.
  18. afcandrew

    P&O 2021 and 2022

    I also received the brochure yesterday. It seems that some people have got a full (195 page) edition whilst others have got an extended 'pamphlet' just listing all the cruises. The full brochure is a bit wasted on me really as I am only interested in Arcadia and Aurora these days. As I am on Arcadia for 39 nights in early 2021, I might have been interested in something for late Summer/Early Autumn 2021 but there is little on offer to satisfy my choices. I think I'll probably hope to get a late deal on another cruise line for the latter stages of 2021. The brochure strikes me as being quite different in style to those in previous years. It seems consistent with the current evolution that appears to be happening at P&O. Lots of use of the word "adventure" and trying to make out that if you go with P&O your are a traveller, not a tourist. There is a 4-page spread on Iona unsurprisingly.
  19. afcandrew

    Where is everyone

    Hi everyone, I've been absent for a couple of weeks or so too. Fortunately for me, I was avoiding all the rain by being down in Southern Spain. I think it is quite normal for forums to go quiet at times - especially out of the main Summer cruising season. Andrew
  20. afcandrew

    Lisbon: where does the ship dock

    According to the Port of Lisbon website, you will be berthed at the Jardim do Tabaco (aka Tobacco Quay), which is by the new Cruise Terminal as pictured by Davybe above. From memory I would say it is no more than about 10 minutes walk (I am fully mobile but no Olympic Athlete 😁) to Praca do Comercio, the huge square that forms the very southern end of the city centre. Of course, it depends what you want to do/see in the city as to where you want to be but there is a Tourist Office on the square and many buses/trams cross the north side of the square. Like many cities, traffic can be a pain so it is sometimes quicker to walk than get the shuttle if you are reasonably mobile. The city centre is reasonably compact but there are also several tourist attractions in Belem for which you would need public transport/taxi/HOHO to reach.
  21. afcandrew

    Jordan Visa Requirements

    Sounds ideal for you considering the circumstances David. Not that I have been on any but it does seem that the 'luxury' cruise lines operate mostly port intensive itineraries. I think I might end up one day doing a land-based holiday to Jordan as most cruises only allow a day for Petra and no-where else. It looks as though Jordan has a number of interesting places to see. The other option for me would be a cruise calling in at Aqaba and Israel for Jerusalem. I'm not religious but feel that is somewhere else I want to have on my wish-list.
  22. afcandrew

    Jordan Visa Requirements

    Hi David, That sounds great - Petra is on my wish-list! Probably best to check with the cruise line. I have just looked on the website of a small tour operator I have used that also provides holidays in Jordan and they say that they provide a free visa if you are staying 3 nights or more... Where else does your cruise stop at? Andrew
  23. Overview of Coral Princess Alaska Cruisetour, July 2019: Getting to Alaska Our flight to Seattle was on a Virgin Airlines Boeing 787 in Economy. We had looked to upgrade to Premium Economy but the price was prohibitive. It was a good flight with decent food and great cabin crew. Immigration at Seattle Airport was a nightmare, taking an hour to actually get into the immigration hall and another hour to get seen. The immigration official was very polite. As per our instructions, we got the hotel shuttle from the airport to the Hilton Doubletree Hotel. This was ideally located about 5 minutes from the airport. It is a VERY large hotel and I had read reviews about long queues at the Front Desk, which was indeed the case, taking about 20 minutes to get to the front and get checked in. Our room was somewhat old-fashioned but clean and comfortable with very comfortable beds. We had a very pleasant dinner at the 13 Coins restaurant a few minutes along the road from the hotel. We had booked the whole flight package through Princess and they had very kindly booked us on to an Alaska Airlines flight to Fairbanks at 0630 the next morning, meaning a 4am wake-up call... Fairbanks Due to the early flight, we arrived in Fairbanks by mid-morning, taking into account that Alaska is one hour behind Seattle - 9 hours behind the UK. We were met at the airport by a Princess Rep and transferred to the Fairbanks Princess Lodge very efficiently with a small number of other people. The Lodge is nicely situated on the river with pleasant public areas, although the main restaurant was rather dark and dreary. The buffet breakfast was not good. Our room was fairly basic but again had comfortable beds and we were lucky to have one with a river view. On day one, we took a shuttle into the town centre for a walk around in the pleasant, sunny weather. We went to the local cultural centre, which provided an interesting film and lots of interesting exhibits showing the history and way of life in Alaska. we then had a nice wander along the river and a very tasty, home-made, blueberry ice cream before getting the shuttle back to the hotel. In the evening, we had a pre-booked excursion to Pioneer Park for a Salmon Bake meal, followed by a theatre show all about Fairbanks and the Gold-rush. It was all very touristy - but hey, we are tourists! On day two, we were on an all-day included tour. This started at the site of the Alaska Oil Pipeline, an 800 mile pipe transporting oil across the State. We then boarded a replica train to visit Gold Dredge 8, a restored gold dredging 'factory'. It was interesting to learn about how they dredged for gold and we all got a chance to pan for – and find – some small chips of gold. Mine were – apparently – worth $18. You can of course buy a myriad of things to put your gold into – most costing more than the gold you had just panned!Complimentary Coffee & Cookies were served in the on-site shop. After the return train journey and further coach ride, we arrived at a Steamer Landing Stage, where we had an included lunch before getting on the Paddle Steamer. The sail along the river included seeing a float-plane take off and land, a stop alongside a famous Husky Kennels with demonstration and a visit to a re-created Athabascan Native Village with guided tour. Again the weather was warm & sunny and a good time was had by all. Complimentary snacks were served on board and you could also buy beers etc. That night, we ate at 'Pike's Landing' just up the road from the Princess Lodge. It was a pleasant meal taken out on the terrace by the river and was very busy. A local woman with her niece asked if they could share our table and we enjoyed great conversation with them. Denali On day three, we transferred to Denali by coach to the Denali Princess Lodge, just down the road from the entrance to the National Park. This is apparently the largest hotel complex in Alaska. Rooms are in mainly two-storey blocks scattered around the site, again on the edge of the river. The site includes several restaurants and shops but there are also independent restaurants and shops just across the road. Our room looked recently refurbished and was comfortable but could have benefited from better lighting. That evening we had pre-booked an excursion to go on a horse-drawn wagon into the Tundra and have a meal in a wooden pavilion. This was great fun and to our surprise also included alcoholic refreshment with dinner! Day 4 saw us on our full-day Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park. This took us some 65 miles into the Park amidst great scenery and we saw lots of Caribou, a Moose, Ptarmigan (the State bird of Alaska) and Dall Sheep. Sadly we did not see any bears. Nor were we luck enough to get to see the top of Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Due to cloud cover only about a third of visitors get to see it. That night we tried to eat at a local restaurant but there was a long wait so we ended up eating on-site at 'Fannie Q's', named after a local pioneer woman. It was a nice meal with a singer/pianist entertaining us too. As in Fairbanks, it was strange to see the sun still pretty high in the sky after 1100pm! Day 5 saw us transferring by rail to Coral Princess in Whittier for our cruise. This was 8.15am – 5.30pm. I thought this might feel like a long day but it flew by. It is a double-decker train with 'dome-car' on the top level for good views and restaurant facilities downstairs, together with outside viewing platforms. The food was surprisingly good and pretty much on a par cost-wise with the Lodges. We enjoyed pleasant conversation with both Breakfast and Lunch table-mates. The scenery was amazing on this trip and really show-cased how diverse the State is, passing by/through mountains, plains and coast. Also, we were lucky enough to get a great view of Mount Denali along the way. Coral Princess We had deliberately chosen the Coral as we both prefer (by today's standards) smaller ships. She is just over 90,000 tons (so a smidgeon bigger than P&O's Arcadia) and carries approximately 2000 pax. Built in 2002, she obviously shows some small signs of wear – mainly around balcony doors etc. but is very well-cared-for internally. She had a re-fit in January this year. Internally, she is typically Princess, with many similarities to P&O's Oceana, which of course was previously Ocean Princess. Our standard balcony cabin was fine, although the shower stall was pretty tiny. She has very good facilities for her size – Main Theatre, two show-rooms – one over two decks, four bars, two main dining rooms and two for-fee restaurants, two pools (one indoors) and five jacuzzis. Food and service were very good – probably a notch above P&O. Whilst I seldom have any complaints about P&O, the staff on Coral were generally quite outgoing without being over the top or 'in your face'. Evening menus were good, with meats cooked exactly as requested but as is usually the case with USA cruise lines, vegetable accompaniments were not exactly generous. We ate in Sabatini's, the Italian for-fee restaurant one evening, where the food was fabulous but served in far too large portions. The Horizon buffet was far superior to those on P&O but as someone who is fairly conservative with food tastes, I sometimes felt the choice was limited for me. Princess cater to a very diverse cross-section of pax meaning a lot of asian dishes daily. This was particularly difficult at breakfast time, when dishes included noodles, congee, steamed cabbage, baked apple and bread & butter pudding with custard... The breakfast in the main dining room strangely had a very limited menu and when I did have Eggs Benedict there, I was somewhat disappointed at the cheap, thin cut of 'ham'. Musical Entertainment was very good, with the production shows being outstanding. To be honest, they blew P&O out of the water with the shows in all respects - staging, performance and professionalism. Their most recent shows are produced by Steven Schwarz, who wrote the Broadway & West End hit show, 'Wicked'. We didn't see any of the comedy shows or partake in quizzes as we thought they would be totally geared to Americans. We heard very, very few other English accents on board. Princess provided very good, expert guides to the area to broadcast across the ship whilst glacier viewing etc. Thanks to having cruised with Princess before and many with P&O, we were both at Elite Level in the Captain's Circle Loyalty scheme. This gave us priority boarding in Whittier, upgraded toiletries, CanapΓ©s in our cabin on Formal nights, Deluxe Afternoon Tea in the cabin on one day, a stocked mini-bar, 150 internet minutes (each), unlimited free laundry, Elite Lounge each evening with complimentary snacks and low-priced drink specials, free wine-tasting event and disembarkation lounge with refreshments. There were only 30 Elite pax on this sailing so in lieu of a 'most-travelled' event, we were given one complimentary cover charge per person to use in either of the specialty restaurants. The afternoon tea was ridiculously generous and the food would have served 4 easily. There were 10 finger sandwiches/rolls, 7 scones (with jam & cream), 10 cakes and 6 cookies! Needless to say, we couldn't get through anywhere near all of it! Apparently we were in the top 10 most-travelled on this cruise. We were also lucky enough to receive a bottle of champagne at the Captain's Circle Party when ours was one of the three invitations drawn out at the 'raffle'. If we had purchased anything in the on-board boutiques, we would have received 10% discount but to be honest, neither of us actually ventured into the shops. Drinks on-board were – as you would probably expect – expensive. A couple of g&ts routinely came in at around $21 (Β£17)and a couple of cocktails at $23 (Β£19) by the time the 18% gratuity was added on to the bar prices. The cheapest bottle of wine was around $38 (about Β£32). Overall, I was pretty impressed with Princess and would happily consider cruising with them again. The major drawback for me is that they have very few 'smaller' ships sailing where I might want to go. Hubbard Glacier The first day was a sea day, with a visit to the Hubbard Glacier in the afternoon. A very impressive glacier and we stayed here for a couple of hours. Glacier Bay Day two of the cruise was also at 'sea' in Glacier Bay National Park. We had visits to two glaciers here as well as passing by others. A glorious day in lovely weather. Skagway Our first port of call, a pleasant little town – quite picturesque. We had booked an independent tour here (with Dyea Dave) which took us up into the Yukon Territory of Canada by mini-bus. As part of this, we visited a small Husky Dog-Sledding kennel, where we were able to meet some 4 week-old puppies, a stop at Carcross Desert – an area of sand dunes totally unexpected in where it is – Emerald Lake and the village of Carcross, where we had lunch. On the way back to Skagway, we were dropped off at Fraser to get the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, a narrow gauge railway with spectacular views and twists & turns. Along the Klondike Highway we were lucky enough to see a number of Black Bears, which made up for not seeing any in Denali! On arrival back in Skagway, we had to visit the Skagway Brewing Company to try their famous Spruce Tip Blonde Ale – which incorporates hand-picked Sitka Spruce Tree tips. It was gorgeous. Juneau The State Capital of Alaska but quite small by our standards. Here, we had pre-booked a helicopter flight through Coastal Helicopters up to the Herbert Glacier, where we were able to get out of the helicopter and walk around on the glacier, tasting some of the ice-cold melt-water too. Wonderful sunny day and a fabulous experience. When we returned to the town, we walked around the main sites before going back to the ship. Ketchikan A small, quaint albeit touristy town. We had pre-booked an independent tour with Island Wings on a float-plane up to an area called the Misty Fjords National Monument. It was far from misty, being another gorgeous, warm & sunny day. The scenery from the plane was stunning and we then landed in a remote fjord and were able to get out of the plane on a small beach. Another stunning day. On our return, we had some lunch on the ship and then went for a little walk around the pretty town and picked up some last minute souvenirs. Vancouver After the last day at sea, we disembarked in Vancouver, where we had three nights booked at the Pinnacle Vancouver Harbour Hotel. Disembarkation was fine but there was a long queue for taxis. Tip – if you can manage your luggage easily, go through the Convention Centre/Hotel and pick up a taxi in front of the hotel! During our time here, we saw Gas Town, Fly Over Canada, the Capilano Suspension Bridge & Park, Granville Island and Stanley Park. Well worth a few days at the end of the cruise. Getting Home We took a taxi to the airport for our Air Canada flight home. We had upgraded to Premium Economy and it was worth it for the extra space alone. The flight was on time and after landing at Heathrow, were back to my house within less than 2 hours of touch-down. Conclusion This was a stunning trip and easily the most fantastic holiday I have ever had. The natural wonders were the star of the show and the middle three days of the cruise were amazing. I have to keep convincing myself that I have done this. It is a long flight and it is a very expensive holiday but thoroughly worth it. I am very happy we chose to do it with Princess and would highly recommend them for Alaska. Many thanks to Dawn MacIntosh, Susan Parr and their colleagues for their help & attention in putting this package together.
  24. afcandrew

    New to forum

    I cruised on QE in 2016, which was the first time I had been back on Cunard since my first cruise on QE2 in 1995! Thoroughly enjoyed a round-Britain on her and thought the service & standard of food was very reminiscent of P&O in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sadly, drinks prices on all American Lines are much, much higher than those based in the UK. My main gripe with Cunard is that they constantly talk about their British Heritage when everything is geared to American tastes. Nothing wrong with American tastes but just cut the spouting about your British Heritage...
  25. afcandrew

    Britannia refit

    Of course, this is part of the fleet-wide change as P&O give Hardings the heave-ho after many years. Like many, I have seldom bought things in the on-board shops. In over 20 cruises, I can count on one hand the number of purchases. I agree with most of the comments here that there are few bargains. Its the same situation at airports. In addition, you often find that the items on sale aboard or on aircraft are "exclusive" so you can't even compare them with standard prices.