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Old 02-04-2006, 12:17   #1
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Cruise Ships

I started this topic thread. Due to the increasing problems aboard "cruiseships".

If any member had any experiences onboard cruiseships. Feel free to post them here. I know, I would love to read about them. They could be both good or bad experiences. That's what this thread is for!!

Also to note. If there are people out there, who are getting burned out from working on their boats. With no end in site. Maybe chartering or taking a cruiseship may help out with that sort of stress?
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Old 02-04-2006, 12:21   #2
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Accidents aboard ships do happen, but not very often

While two recent disasters are causing some jitters, cruises remain one of the safest vacation environments around.

Two cruise ship disasters within a week have prompted questions about passenger safety both aboard and ashore.

First, an excursion bus carrying 14 cruise-ship passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Millennium plunged over a cliff in Chile, killing 12 of them and injuring two others.

Later the same week, a fire aboard Princess Cruises' Star Princess damaged more than 100 cabins before being extinguished. One person died, apparently from a heart attack, and two others with smoke inhalation were airlifted to a Florida hospital.

Each event points up the fact that accidents can and do happen even though cruising is one of the safest vacation environments, said Bruce McIndoe, CEO of iJet, a global travel risk management company.

''On a cruise ship you're in a contained environment,'' he says. ``But when you leave that cocoon, you're moving from a safe environment to one of the highest risks [shore excursions to remote locations].''

Passengers who died in the Chile bus disaster apparently had booked the tour to a remote national park on their own, not through the cruise line. ''We do not know this tour operator. We've never dealt with this tour operator before,'' said Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity's president. Later reports revealed that the operator was not licensed.

Those are important points. Most experts, including McIndoe, recommend taking a ship-sanctioned excursion. Before the cruise line makes an arrangement with a shore tour operator, it vets the company, checking out its methods, equipment, maintenance and safety record.

''You are least protected when you go into town, rent a car or taxi and go off on an excursion of your own,'' said Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise Lines.

On the minus side, ship-arranged excursions are usually significantly more expensive than the ones you arrange on your own.

Cruise lines also insist that a shore operator be licensed and carry sufficient insurance. This is not only a measure of the tour operator's competence, but provides for legal redress.

If an accident does occur, injured passengers can seek damages from an insured tour operator. To be successful in a suit against a cruise line, however, one of three conditions has to exist, says Miami attorney Charles Lipcon, who specializes in maritime law: ``If the ticket for the excursion was sold on board, if the cruise line had knowledge of a known danger, or if they [the cruise line] in fact operate the excursion.''

Just as shore excursion accidents are rare events, so is fire on board. Only 33 fires have occurred aboard cruise ships in the past 15 years -- a tiny number compared to the 90 million passengers who have cruised in the past two decades.

Moreover, today's mandated safety measures -- thousands of fire detectors and sprinklers, miles of fire hose -- have made onboard fires easier to extinguish.

However, questions remain as to why the fire aboard the Star Princess spread so quickly and so far. As a thoroughly modern ship launched in 2002, the Star Princess has adhered to all the required international fire safety regulations, including restrictions on combustible materials, insulated bulkheads, separate fire zones, sprinkler systems and fire hoses, crew training and formation of fire-fighting teams.

Princess has canceled all remaining Caribbean cruises on the damaged vessel, including the April 30 transatlantic cruise, and is sending the ship to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany for repairs.

Star Princess plans to resume service on May 15 in Europe.
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Old 02-04-2006, 12:30   #3
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Extra features, fees board cruises

Lines find new revenue by attracting passengers with enticing features

As the prime season for booking cruises draws to a close, cruise lines are finding more creative ways to entice passengers to open their wallets once aboard.

Those who formed impressions of cruise ships from "The Love Boat" might be surprised to learn there's far more to do on a ship nowadays than sip daiquiris at the pool or play shuffleboard on the Lido deck.

Cruise lines are busy adding features including luxury spas, cozy restaurants, art auctions, Internet cafes, high-end shops and specialized excursions, such as playing golf or swimming with dolphins. Passengers pay for those extras, which are becoming an increasingly important revenue source for cruise lines.

"What they're trying to do is come up with every reason to get you to spend money on board," said Stewart Chiron, a consumer expert who runs the Internet site cruiseguy.com.

Ships are getting bigger, in part to offer more amenities that generate more money. In June, Royal Caribbean launches Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, which can hold nearly 4,400 passengers and has its own water park and surfing center, among other features.

January through March is what's commonly known in the industry as "wave season," the period that's the busiest for travelers to book cruises -- including those from Charleston, which expects nearly 50 cruise ships this year.

In recent weeks, industry executives and analysts have said bookings for 2006 are fine but that they're seeing the strongest growth in what they call "onboard revenue."

At an industry convention last month, cruise executives said that while ticket prices are below the record levels of the late 1990s, higher passenger spending on board is pumping up companies' profitability. Onboard spending typically accounts for about one-quarter of a cruise line's revenue.

Robert LaFleur, a leisure-industry analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group in Stamford, Conn., says cruise lines are becoming more sophisticated in extracting money from customers. By using the Internet, for instance, they can inform passengers about activities and encourage them to book spa treatments and excursions before even boarding.

When some ships are in port, their spas even offer services -- such as teeth whitening -- at discounted prices in hopes of keeping passengers and their money on board, LaFleur said.

"What you try to do is come up with things interesting enough and unique enough to help you generate incremental revenue," he said.

A cruise ticket still covers the basics, including meals, lodging and entertainment. But with so many new ways to spend money on the seas, some passengers feel nickel-and-dimed.

Charlotte homemaker Ingrid Rand, 47, says that while aboard a Celebrity Millennium cruise on the Mediterranean two years ago, she was astonished to learn that the company wanted to charge her for taking a yoga class. She refused to pay, opting instead to do her own yoga exercises in the gym on a mat she brought.

"I think it's a rip-off," she said. "These people get a midnight buffet. At least let them get a free yoga class."

Her family also spurned the cruise-sponsored bus excursion to Rome, opting instead for a less-expensive tour guided by a sharp-dressed Italian who drove a Mercedes 110 mph en route to the Vatican and the city's best gelato shop.

Experts say passengers should have a good idea what's included in a cruise before buying. Some items, like a charge for Ben & Jerry's ice cream aboard Princess cruises, might be minor, but others could cost big money, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, an online magazine for cruise enthusiasts.

"When you're factoring in your budget for your vacation, you need to be aware of the extra cost and ensure that if it's important to you that you add it to your budget," she said.

Another option: Try to circumvent certain charges. Fred Cooke of Cruise Masters in Pineville says a lot of people have asked him lately if they can bring their own liquor aboard, to avoid steep bar bills.

Cruise lines generally prohibit passengers from bringing alcoholic beverages, except for a celebratory bottle of wine or champagne, and carriers do X-ray bags. Cooke says he tells people of the rules and has no idea whether anyone tries to smuggle booze on board.

"I say, `It's up to you.' "

Amenities at Sea

Although a cruise ticket covers basic food, entertainment and lodging, cruise lines are developing ways to make money once passengers embark. A few examples:

• Dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, Maasdam (Holland America). Cruise line says its Pacific Northwest-themed restaurant includes "savory seafood dishes such as Northwest clam chowder, Alaskan king salmon and Dungeness crab cakes. A collection of delectable desserts naturally includes baked Alaska." Surcharge: $20.

• Teeth whitening, Dawn Princess (Princess Cruises). A "teeth whitening specialist" treats teeth at the Lotus Spa. Cost: $199 ($159 on port days).

• Golf excursion, Pride of Aloha (Norwegian Cruise Lines). Play five days of golf -- two in Kauai, two in Maui, one in Hilo. Ship has pro shop on board. Cost: $910 (club and shoe rental not included).

• Glacier viewing by helicopter, Celebrity Summit (Celebrity Cruises). One of 32 ship-sponsored excursions available in Skagway, Alaska. Helicopter lands on the base of a glacier as part of the 90-minute tour. Cost: $247.

• French cooking class, Seven Seas Mariner (Regent Seven Seas Cruises). Up to 16 passengers can participate in three two-hour hands-on cooking classes taught by Le Cordon Bleu cooking school chefs. Cost: $395.

• Internet access, Carnival Destiny (Carnival Cruises). Sending e-mail or surfing the Internet at an Internet café. Cost: $3.95 set-up fee, plus 75 cents per minute.
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Old 02-04-2006, 12:35   #4
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Cruising with the Brits to Central America

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — With a violent history of earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, volcanoes and civil wars, it’s a wonder that there’s much left for tourists to see in Central America. But we found lovely beachside resorts, rivers and forests teeming with creatures, stuck-in-time colonial cities with ancient churches and shaded plazas, and residents grateful we were there.

While we were boarding a bus after a tour, a smiling man in a straw hat approached and said something in Spanish. Our guide translated: “He says, ‘Come back. Bring your friends.’”

Our Pacific Ocean cruise started in Costa Rica, the jewel of Central America, and continued to the war-weary countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala before traveling north to relative prosperity in Mexico and California. Bands greeted us in Nicaragua and El Salvador as the tourist-starved ports received their first cruise ship in recent memory.

We were onboard Minerva II, the lone ship operated by Swan Hellenic, a cruise line based in Great Britain. The line specializes in out-of-the-way itineraries around the globe, and the ship was full of older, well-traveled Brits, who turned out in force for the guest speakers and the daily shore excursions.

“We cater to people interested in learning more about the places they visit,” said Matthew Elgie, the marketing manager who was onboard for the cruise. “We like to be off the beaten path. We have a lot of repeat business, so we rarely offer the same itinerary. It’s a challenge to come up with new ones.”

The 600-passenger Minerva II was two years old when Swan Hellenic bought the ship in 2003 from the bankrupt Renaissance Cruise Line, which had ships that had been described as the Ritz-Carltons of the sea. The new owner removed the casino and the televisions in a sports bar, remodeled the spa, added a 4,000-title library and used paintings and furniture from the first Minerva to create a more sedate ambiance.

With Oriental-style carpeting, leather sofas and chairs, gilt mirrors and light fixtures and lots of brass, green marble and dark wood, the interior now resembles a comfortable country club, or, as a Brit preferred, “a country house.”

There was a buffet cafe and three sit-down restaurants, where coat-and-tie was suggested for dinner. The menus were interesting, and the wine list loaded with excellent New World vintages from Chile, Argentina and Australia for less than $20.

The food was good, in the English manner. Steaks and chops were served thin, by American standards. The breakfast buffet included kippers — smoked herring, which, I was told, was an acquired taste. I didn’t even inquire about the blood pudding.

Unlike on the larger cruise ships popular with many Americans, there was no live stage production, no ice-skating rink, no rock-climbing wall, no disco and no children. They’re permitted, but discouraged. The highlight of the nightly entertainment was a string quartet that played moving renditions of “Blue Moon” and “O Sole Mio” while we were off the coast of Nicaragua.

There was a pool on the top deck, but passengers don’t laze around sipping umbrella drinks on a Swan Hellenic cruise. The ship is not the destination, but a civilized means of getting there. Each day offered a choice of shore excursions, most of them included in the cost of the trip, which averages $4,500 per person, based on double occupancy, for a 15-day cruise.

You could look for wildlife on a river cruise in Costa Rica, hike up an extinct volcano in Nicaragua, swim at a beach resort in El Salvador or spend the day in the charming town of Antigua in Guatemala.

A fellow travel writer had advised against the cruise, saying the English were stuffy and considered Americans somewhat crude. “You’ll be dining alone,” he said. We found it quite the opposite. The Brits onboard were interested in everything, and game for anything. Plus, they talked funny, in a proper sort of way.

The land excursions usually involved rides of 90 minutes or more in comfy motor coaches equipped with lavatories. The ride gave you time to absorb the Third World countryside of blooming trees and verdant sugar-cane fields, as well as scruffy dogs and children playing in the dirt yards of impoverished homes. The townsfolk waved or stared in wonder at the strangers from the North. Young local guides, who spoke from the heart in understandable English, rode along and narrated the history, culture and politics of their countries.

“We are a nice, open, happy people — but not very disciplined, not very organized,” said Roberto, our guide in Nicaragua. “We say 7 a.m., and mean 7:30.”

Costa Rica has a lush landscape of mountains and rivers, a thriving economy that benefits from eco-tourism and a stable political structure that hasn’t needed, or paid for, an army since 1948. It also has the worst roads in Central America.

“We have three types of roads,” said Henry, our guide. “Nice roads, bad roads and massage roads.”

We were on a massage road as we headed by the coffee plantations to the Tarcoles River for a boat ride through a mangrove forest. The coffee bushes were glowing red, meaning ripe beans.

“If you see the big black ball in the tree, it’s a termite nest,” Henry advised. “If you see the black ball in the tree with a tail, it’s a monkey.”

We didn’t see any monkeys, but five minutes into the boat ride we already had seen great egrets, little blue herons, great blue herons and crocodiles, including a massive 11-footer. “They’ll eat anything that crosses the river — dogs, people,” Henry said.

Both banks of the tea-colored river were alive with wildlife, keeping our heads spinning. Ibis and wood storks sunned just feet away from a croc that basked with its mouth open, baring impressive rows of teeth. Green iguanas lolled in the bushes, while their cousins, the black iguanas, hung out among the crevices of the mud banks. Black-necked stilts prowled the shallows on spindly legs, and a pair of roseate spoonbills were pink balls high up in the trees. Circling overhead were turkey vultures and frigatebirds.

There are 850 species of birds in Costa Rica, and we saw our share.

“All this excitement — it’s too much, and it’s only 10 o’clock!” exclaimed a woman with binoculars.

On another excursion later that day, we wobbled on cable bridges suspended over the forest to search the canopy for butterflies, monkeys, macaws and toucans. We saw squat.

Decades of civil wars that ended in 1990, followed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, have left Nicaragua one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with its 6 million people earning an average of $700 a year. Cautious tourists are just starting to come back.

“In the 1980s, everybody knew about the conflict between the Contras and the Sandinistas,” said Roberto, our guide. “Now they expect to find guerrillas and tanks in the streets. But it’s not the same place. We are a poor country, with a lot of potential. Costa Rica has the eco-tourism, but not the colonial cities.”

We were headed to Granada, which was founded in 1524 at the foot of Mombacho Volcano on the shores of huge Lake Nicaragua. A walking tour took us to the cathedral and San Francisco Convent, which is now an impressive museum housing massive Easter Island-like stone sculptures found nearby and thought to be 1,200 years old.

Merchants around the Plaza de la Independencia sold ceramics made by local potters, and I bought a painted and incised vase for $8, signed by the artist, with a toucan and iguana surrounded by leaves and flowers.

The next day we traveled to the north side of Nicaragua to visit Leon, which also was founded in 1524 but moved to its present site in 1610 after a volcanic eruption. The enormous Cathedral de la Asuncion was begun in 1746 and is the largest in Central America.

We climbed a narrow staircase to the cathedral’s roof for a spectacular view of Leon, with the city’s churches rising amid red-tiled roofs and volcanoes looming in the background.

Eduardo, our guide in El Salvador, had an optimistic message about his tiny country: “Like the phoenix bird, from the ashes we grow.”

Volcanoes, some smoking, lined our route as we rode to the town of Santa Ana. A hiking excursion was canceled because one of the active volcanoes was sputtering. Indeed, the entire country lies between two volcanic mountain ranges that periodically wreak havoc on the people. Add in a bitter civil war during the 1980s that left 70,000 dead, and you can see why there are ashes in El Salvador.

“We have been at peace since 1992. Now you can travel anywhere in the country without any worries,” the guide added. “We were part of the bad news, now we want to be the good news.”

We had spent the morning at a luxurious golf and beach resort, where huge chunks of black lava rock littered the water.

Santa Ana proved to be a modern city; the Miss Universe contest was held there in 1976, before the war began. We toured the historic Plaza Colon, the imposing Gothic cathedral and the National Theater, which was built in 1910 and is being restored to its gilded glory.

Eduardo said El Salvador has the natural beauty to rival Costa Rica for the eco-tourism buck. The civil war helped by curtailing hunting in the forests, allowing the wildlife to rebound.

“We have 6,000 species of butterflies — England has 42,” he said. “We are nowhere near Costa Rica, but if any tourist comes to El Salvador, he will be treated as if he is the only tourist here.”

If any of the Central American countries can rival Costa Rica in beauty, it is Guatemala, a land of forested mountains, orchids, exotic birds and the spectacular Mayan ruins of Tikal and Copan.

The striking landscape stands in contrast to a violent past, which includes a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996 and natural disasters with earthquakes and volcanoes destroying entire towns.

Swan Hellenic’s excursions to the Mayan ruins were “supplementary,” meaning there was an additional cost of several hundred dollars because the trips involved shorts flights on small planes. My partner didn’t like the idea of flying anyway, so we opted for the tour of Antigua, which became the highlight of the trip.

Antigua is perhaps the finest colonial city in Central America, with cobblestone streets and 16th-century buildings that would be impressive even in the great destinations of Europe. We had lunch at the Santo Domingo Hotel, which is built around the ruins of an old monastery and surrounded by grounds filled with macaws, fountains and gardens.

We had to part ways with the cruise at the resort playground of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. We left for the airport while the other passengers headed out on shore excursions that included whale watching, snorkeling and rides on a glass-bottom boat.

If you go

Swan Hellenic: The London-based cruise line specializes in “discovery travel,” taking passengers to exotic itineraries in “the most colorful and charismatic corners of the world.” The 2006 cruise guide has destinations that range from the jungles of South America to the fjords of Norway. Guided shore excursions and guest speakers explore each of the destinations. This year, the line offers its first extended itinerary, a 65-day South America cruise. Swan Hellenic is a brand of Carnival Corp. Call (877) 800-7926 or visit
www.swanhellenic.com.

Minerva II: The line’s only ship has 11 decks and can carry up to 600 passengers. More than 90 percent of the rooms have either large picture windows or balconies. All rooms have air conditioning, a TV, telephone, safe and binoculars. On-board facilities include a sun deck, golf practice area, well-stocked library, Internet cafe, a gorgeous spa and beauty salon, pool and Jacuzzi, shops, three sit-down restaurants and a buffet for informal dining.

Staying in Central America: Costa Rica, of course, has a wealth of beach resorts and eco-lodges. We also found quality lodging in some of the other countries. In Nicaragua, there was the Intercontinental Hotel in Managua. Club Las Veraneras in the port city of Acajutla in El Salvador was a lovely private resort on the beach with a spacious swimming pool surrounded by cabanas hung with hammocks. Antigua, in Guatemala, has several fine hotels, including Hotel CasAzul, Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo and the incredible Santo Domingo Hotel.
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Old 02-04-2006, 16:35   #5
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I
Also to note. If there are people out there, who are getting burned out from working on their boats. With no end in site. Maybe chartering or taking a cruiseship may help out with that sort of stress?
AGREED! I often wonder if we'll end up getting any charter guests that are readers of this board. So far, the bookings we do have came from traditional marketing, rather than "who you know." Obviously, most of us on here have our own boats, so it's not entirely surprising to have no bookings from folks on this forum, I suppose.

Personally, I wouldn't step foot on a cruise ship, since I have my own boat. I can't fathom being stuck on a cruise ship and not having any input at all as to the schedule, places to stop, etc... Plus.. it seems like you wouldn't really get to experience the water like you do in a normal sailboat. I'm also not a fan of having half a day to explore somewhere. Apparently, from what I've been told, they let you off the ship for like half a day to poke around. Not enough time to explore.
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Old 02-04-2006, 16:51   #6
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Yes Sean.

One other factor not mentioned in the articles. And that you didn't mention is this.

When a cruise ship pulls into a foreign port. And people are ready to get off. You would have to wait in a long line. Thus taking up valuable time that could be used ashore!!
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Old 03-04-2006, 08:22   #7
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Just came back from a cruise to st. maaten, barbados and martinique with carnival cruise. Hated it, I was seasick, everything was so expensive didn't spend enough time on the islands. Will go to St Maaten and Barbados again but not on a cruise. You give them a credit card at the beginning and they charge everything to that. You can check on the tv everyday what you spend. Food is free but drinks you pay for unless its water or iced tea. You cannot use cash at all except for tips. Which they already charge $10.00 a day for on your card so good or bad service they get a tip. Our cabin service was great so were the waiters at the restaurant no complaints there. For $199.00 you can get your teeth whitened. There is a gym but you pay to use it. I thought everything was over priced. Never took dressy clothes so never went to the Captains cocktail party. Which of course you and significant other could have you picture taken in all your finery for $20.00++ Actually felt strange being around so many tuxedo's without a least seeing a bride or a politican. Some friends of ours had bar bills that could have covered the national debt. House wine $5 a glass or called $8.00 I dont even know what a mixed drink or beer cost. I know a lot of people regretted having one too many though. I did win $647.00 on a slot machine the last night which eased my pain a little. A charter will be in my future not a cruise
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Old 03-04-2006, 10:40   #8
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Yuck! Sounds like a terrible time. It's bad enough to pay so much money for that, but to also lose your valuable free time to such a bad experience...

I've been anti-cruise my whole life. Just never saw the point in it.
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Old 08-09-2007, 15:12   #9
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I take it you've never sailed into a foreign port and had to deal with C&I
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Old 08-09-2007, 15:26   #10
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I take it you've never sailed into a foreign port and had to deal with C&I
I take it you're new to the board and haven't read too many of Sean's 2555 posts.

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Old 08-09-2007, 18:09   #11
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I take it you're new to the board and haven't read too many of Sean's 2555 posts.

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This board is a hard place to leave... so many helpful and intelligent people.

It should keep track of your number of posts AND how many years you have been registered on the site. That way I wouldn't look like as *much* of a posting addict.
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Old 08-09-2007, 19:11   #12
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Went on a few cruises, one through the Hawaiian islands and 2 others through the Caribbean islands.. The Hawaiian one was nearly a nightmare for us because as it turns out, about half the ship was rented out to Mexican sales people who won some prize in their territory for selling something.. Kind of like a Mexican version of Mary kay cosmetics or some such nonsense. Anyway, most of the boat were filled with these loud obnoxious middle aged women all wearing the same cheap T-shirt stating their logo. Everywhere we went and did, there were LONG lines with these people and they were just obnoxious!!! ON top of that, the cruise ship tried to charge us again for the tips that were already paid for in our tickets and package. I tore into the ships director about it and at least he was very apologetic, even though we verified several times when checking in that everything was included and they still screwed up!! The excursions were very expensive and not worth it, but we wanted to do at least one luau just to say we did it. Waste of money and time!! And then we had a severely drunken encounter with one of the ships personnel on one of the tenders back and forth and we promptly reported him!! He was in uniform!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!

One thing I can't stand is severe incompetence and rampant ignorance!! Their is no excuse for it regardless of your social status and your income.

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Old 08-09-2007, 20:09   #13
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This summer, my wife, two sons, and I took a six-day cruise through the Norweigan Fjords. We joined the 900(?) passenger ship "Polarlys" of the Hurtigruten line at Kirkenes (near the Norway's northern border with Russia), and sailed down to Bergen. The ship made lots of short 45-min stops as it transferred cargo and passengers, and a few longer stops of several hours. The shoreside excursions were mostly quite hurried, and we often just stayed on board for the quick stops.

The scenery was astounding, the food very good, and the accomodations quite nice. There was a good mix of European passengers, and some from Australia and New Zealand. There were a few from the USA (as are we). We definitely enjoyed it.
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Old 08-09-2007, 20:48   #14
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We did one cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale to Mexico. We had a great time. Each night your floating hotel would whisk you to the next destination while you partied and slept. We met a cool couple on the boat and hung with them every night. Our assigned dinner table had a few interesting people including a young newlywed couple. We did the captain's cocktail for a lark with our cruise buddies. Lots of pomposity there, for sure. Captain gave a speach and he was the most boring guy I'd ever heard.

We took advantage of the port of call activities and did sea kayaking, SCUBA diving, Mayan ruin exploring. I won a Karaoke contest, not from talent, but from making the biggest fool of myself. Most people spent the 7 days totally hammered from morning till night and didn't really leave the boat except to take the "party barge" get hammered off the boat day trip.

In terms of value it was a once in a lifetime deal for us. We spent 2X our fare on the bar bill and the shore activities. Everything costs as has been previously noted. Be prepared to eat. They feed you like 12 times a day. Huge buffets. Did we have fun. Absolutely. Do it again? Nah.
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Old 09-09-2007, 01:17   #15
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Taxes!

My wife and I did a 3-day cruise from LA to Mexico about 4 years ago as part of a "brainstorming" group. Since it was work-related it was tax deductible. I enjoyed it, my wife thought it was pointless.

In January my 13-year old son and I will sail from Ft. Lauderdale for an 8-day Caribbean cruise. Again, work-related, so again the tax thing comes into play. (Woohoo! And he's handling the recording of the workshop sessions for me, so even his fare is covered.)

I don't think we'll be doing any/many of the shore excursions -- too expensive. We do plan on hitting some of the marinas in BVI, Bahamas, etc., and drooling over the sailboats we see.

In fact, we're going to plan the trip so we can hang out in Ft. Lauderdale for a few extra days just to look at boats. =:)

And, if I happen to hit on an extra chunk of money in the next couple months, I'll book the two of us with Blue Water Sailing School in Ft. Lauderdale the week after the cruise for their week-long "Course A Plus." My wife doesn't know about that possibility yet -- shhh! =;)

Jay Jennings
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