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post #31 of 88

Hold the phone! I've cruised about a dozen times, on four or five different lines. Here are my thoughts:

 

Food safety: IMHO, no different worries than in any land-bound restaurant. I have never been sick from food, nor has my husband.

 

Illness on cruise ships: any time you have a thousand people together, somebody will get sick and share the "wealth". We always use Purell etc., wash our hands frequently, don't touch elevator buttons, door handles, etc. with hands (we poke buttons with our elbows). You'd have the same problems in a school or large workplace where there are lots of people around. Norovirus ins't exactly an exotic, rare infection. Just ask a daycare worker. If you have a compromised immune system (as I did at one point), take extra precautions or choose a different vacation. By the way, I've had serious health problems since 2006, and cruised several times in those circumstances. I spent a lot of time in Celebrity Solstice's infirmary, some in Coral Princess's and also in Oceania Regatta's. All had very professional health care providers who were good at what they do: deal with people who have acute and chronic problems during their vacations. I wouldn't hesitate to visit the medics on any ship. Solstice's team had to provide me with infusions of antibiotics over several days, and I couldn't have been better-cared for by my own doctor (who just about walks on water). I also had a good experience with several acupuncture treatments for lower back pain while on Solstice.

 

Cruise lines: Yes, Holland-America is skewed "older", more genteel feel as I hear from those who sail with them. We had bad experiences on a 4-day cruise on a large Royal Caribbean ship 11 years ago, and on an older NCL (Spirit) three years ago. The food was, frankly, poor and the service perfunctory. Here are my recommendations for Alaska: Princess- choose a smaller ship like Coral Princess or her twin, Island Princess. I think they have about 1975 passengers on board. Fewer people than the huger ships (less chance of illness, possibly) but also, its smaller size allows it to get all the way into College Fjord and Glacier Bay, which are the prime jewels of any cruise to Alaska. We cruised on Coral in Alaska and a few years later on a Panama Canal cruise. Oceania has even smaller ships (685-1250 passengers) and are pricier, but they have excellent food, superb service and excursions for experienced and novice travelers wherever they stop. Definitely upscale and pricier, but they are running 2-for-1 cabin pricing, airfare included, gratuities included, and some cash for onboard expenses. We cruised in the western Med with them. Celebrity is the upgrade brand of Royal Caribbean. We've been on Solstice (2850 passengers) in the eastern Med and were on Summit last week, its first week after a total re-do in drydock. Summit is about the same size as Coral Princess, and we liked it a lot being part of the first group to cruise on her since overhaul. The food is good and excursions aren't too pricey. Excursions in Alaska will run higher than in the Caribbean, so when you look at that, please compare region to region to get a better idea. Princess was first, I think, to "do" Alaska, and their excursions were great in our opinions. Be aware we did that cruise in 2004, though, and Panama Canal in 2007.

 

Whichever line and ship you choose, it's worth checking out what they have for people celebrating special occasions. wedding010.gif

 

I have used CruiseCritic.com for information, but please keep in mind: opinions there are just that, opinions. They've drawn heat in the past when it was learned some of the "members" were shills for the cruise lines, so caveat emptor. On the other hand, I got a lot of helpful information there, too, including using Captain Larry's Orca Adventures for whale-watching out of Juneau. You can find my reviews there under the same screen name I use here.

 

Enjoy your cruise! 

 

 

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post #32 of 88

I also refer to cruise critic. It gives much insight as to the publics reaction to various lines.. It is true one sick passenger could bring the whole ship down.

    I do many of the same things you do, but do not eat raw fruit or vege's.  I even take a can of Lysol spray with me for the room, and no I am not paranoid, just experienced from the past.      Its funny I cruised many   years ago on the Old Italian Lines, as well as French and US lines and can't recall any massive outbreaks of sicknesses. In those days (70s) a large ship had 400 to 500 passengers and 200-250 crew. Now one has 4000-5000. Litterally they are floating cities.

   If you lined each up stem to stern in a straight line you could probably walk the decks  from Florida to Bermuda, like a bridge over the water without getting wet.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #33 of 88
Thread Starter 

Thank you both!  Yes I did read many posts on cruisecritics, and you're right, some did sound like "plants" and then you also need to take things with a grain of salt.

 

So Mezzaluna, you prefer the Princess' smaller ships, Coral and Island, for better viewing?  Anything else?  Did you have the traditional or anytime dining?  My husband wants to do the anytime, he did not care foe eating with people that he didn't know.

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post #34 of 88

Both kinds of dining have plus and minus. I have met and sat with many real nice people on cruises and with one or two have kept up with communication  over the  years.

At  anytime dining you can  always change your time and seat  and venue.if you do not like who you were seated with prior.

If you don't like eating with people you do not know, then how will you ever get to meet anyone.? You could have missed out on some great and interesting folks. Everyone is there for vacation and to relax and have fun  and are in great frames of mind.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #35 of 88
Thread Starter 

Very true chefedb...

I guess he looks at it as sitting down to a very expensive meal that's being served in a cafeteria hall. 

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post #36 of 88

I agree with Chefedb: both types of dining have their merits. We now prefer anytime dining (or whatever it's called on the various lines). As for the Coral and Island: Both are 8 years old now, and I don't know what renovations have been done. But that size ship (whatever tonnage... I don't know!) is good. My husband once told me Princess was first to offer cruises into Glacier Bay, which is a national park. Later, others were allowed in. But the smaller ships with fewer than 2000 passengers can get all the way into the bay (as well as into College Fjord), pivot and return to the sea. Larger ships have a harder time. Also, if there's anywhere you should splurge on a veranda cabin, Alaska is the place. There's so much to be seen while the ship's in the Inland Passage! Consider whether choosing a starboard cabin when sailing north, and a port cabin when sailing south so you're on the "land side". However, viewing from deck has its merits too, if you prefer to save on an inside cabin and put your funds toward excursions, wine, etc. I read a few reviews of Coral on Cruise Critic, but the few I read didn't focus on the condition of the appointments in cabins, etc. to any extent. 

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post #37 of 88

I agree it is THEE place where I would say a balcony is a must.(ALASKA) As far as the caribe you don't need a balcony as only thing to see is water and other ships. On other cruises save your $ take and ocean view or obstructed view room . But don't take an inside room . Its like solitary confinment, and they are all smaller then the rest.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #38 of 88
Thread Starter 

You both hit the nail on the head!! 

We have agreed that a Mini-Suite is the way to go for us. 

And when you say starboard and so on, you mean that if we are North bound to get a room on the “passengers side of the car”?  

I was also trying to find out about wine with dinner on board at their website, but all I find is they Wine Bars that they have. 

When we went with my company, everything was taken care for us, we didn’t put out a penny, even the tips at the end.

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post #39 of 88

Kaneohegirlinaz, yes: starboard is the "right" side of the ship, as you face the "front" (bow, or forward); port is on the left as you face the bow. You have the idea! I would ask you which week you're going, but I avoid noting, or asking others to note, dates when you'll be away from home. nono.gif

 

I hear the mini-suites are good, with a bit more room and a bit higher level of service.

 

I think it's safe to say wine and other liquor (and premium coffees, for that matter) are at an extra charge. You will also want to tip the sommelier if you use his/her services. Also, if you don't finish a bottle, they'll tag it for you and you can enjoy it at the next meal. 

 

Enjoy your cruise! Let us know how it goes.

Mezz

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post #40 of 88

Tips    They automatically add it to your total cruise cost and its paid in advance.Depending on line $12 to $15 per person per day The whole crew shares by % in total gratuity taken in on ship.  If you go to bars or order drinks at pool 15% more is added to the that tab. You have to  figure a 7 day gig   $105.. per person billed tip added to fare, and depending how much you use bar or drinks at pool   about 75 to $ 1.00  per drink so 2 drinks per day about $14.00 more  per week per person. So total  For 2 people  $238.00 per week tips.  Keep in mind everything on ship is Tara(its called nickle and dimming) Thats the way they make the real $$$. In fact everything you buy at suggested stores on shore , ship gets a piece of the action. In some cases so does cruise director.

 

PS  Another ship on Sunday or  Monday  returned to Lauderdale with a load of sick people.??? Dont' know whats going on this year but it isn't good.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #41 of 88

It's flu season, Chef Ed! My husband has been home three days with it- a new record for him. That, and that people on vacation are less likely to pay close attention to door handles, buffet spoons,etc. When there's a known round of something on board, the crews I've known switch to serving you at the buffets, rather than passengers doing it themselves. I noticed on Celebrity Summit they installed newer sneeze guards with better coverage, and allowed less self-service in the buffet lines. I got used to being called "Madame", as in "May I serve you some roast beef, Madame?" Very retro, very much healthier. :D 

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post #42 of 88

True but in the past most of these outbreaks were food related.  In particular in this  this number(152) and this occuring so quickly (2 days out) Don't think it is flu as we know it.  I have seen men using mens rooms not wash hands many times on ships as well as other places.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #43 of 88
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Tips    They automatically add it to your total cruise cost and its paid in advance.Depending on line $12 to $15 per person per day The whole crew shares by % in total gratuity taken in on ship.  If you go to bars or order drinks at pool 15% more is added to the that tab. You have to  figure a 7 day gig   $105.. per person billed tip added to fare, and depending how much you use bar or drinks at pool   about 75 to $ 1.00  per drink so 2 drinks per day about $14.00 more  per week per person. So total  For 2 people  $238.00 per week tips.  Keep in mind everything on ship is Tara(its called nickle and dimming) Thats the way they make the real $$$. In fact everything you buy at suggested stores on shore , ship gets a piece of the action. In some cases so does cruise director.

 

PS  Another ship on Sunday or  Monday  returned to Lauderdale with a load of sick people.??? Dont' know whats going on this year but it isn't good.


Okay, so chefedb, maybe I'm a little thick today, but I don't seem to understand about the tipping and the bar tab...

Are you saying that the tips are already built into the total upfront cost of the cruise?  I think I read on Princess.com that it's $14/day/person

And that a drink at the pool (like I'll be in anything less than a PARKA!!) cost $1.00?

Also, what do they charge for wine with dinner?


 

 

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post #44 of 88
Thread Starter 

Mezzaluna, you mentioned that you and husband now like the "anytime dining" and that's confusing to me as well.

Can we truly go to eat at anytime and at any table, even just the two of us minus any other passangers?

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post #45 of 88

$12 to 14 per person per day is added to your bill. Not included in price of cruise . Each drink, soda   and wine order is again tip charged at 15% that you sign for on a running bar tab. Be it at the pool, in your room or at the dinner table. As I said everything is nickle and dime XTRA. If you eat in the steakhouse, its $25.00 xtra pp plus tip, and it is not really $ 25.00  because it is replacing the dinner you already paid for in your total cruise feeich lets say is worth $12.00. Some guest refuse to pay the 14.00 per day grat and legally you can, because it is a gratuity. You can leave whatever you want at end of cruise. They don;t tell you this though.. They say "The suggested gratuity is 14 pp per day.'' The crews work hard to make you stay a pleasant one. Side trips are expensive . The only one you should take is the visit to the Glasier in Alaska, you really can't go yourself. All other things in most ports you can do on your own  for less $ useing local cabs and buses. Negociate price before gtting into any cabs, anywhere as there is no set fee. Its whatever they can get. Example  a few years ago I toured all around Haiti for about $8.00 a day. A tour from the ship was then about $35.00 a tour, not a day. Remember you are a tourist in there place.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #46 of 88
Thread Starter 

I sat down to figure out just our land excursions and it came out to $272; that’s being conservative. 

Man, I don’t know about this trip!  My husband did say that we should do it up right on this one, but gosh…

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post #47 of 88

Known fact in industry. Cruise lines make more $$$$ on xtras then o amount charged initially for the cruise.  Thats to much for excursions which you could do for 1/2 on your own, but it's your $ and your choices.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #48 of 88
Thread Starter 

So, chefedb, would you say that the train and so forth up in to Denali, the land portion of "cruisetours" is worth it?  I mean, Princess Cruise has their own train that takes you back there and then puts you up and then tours you through the park and brings you back to either Anchorage or Fairbanks I think.  We thought about the option of no meals included and fending for ourselves in the local eateries.  Any thoughts?

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post #49 of 88

You  You can probably when getting off the ship get a trip and tour right then and there .. Every port , in any country even Russia ,no matter where I was ,I was able to go around the entire place by private transport cheaper. I even went 1/2 with an other couple and we rented cabs to go around to places, still cheaper. Alaska is beautiful as is Iceland, and Denmark. Go into the outskirts of towns or cities and you wont know which one you are in. Go online and investigate  Denaly tours and check it out a little research now could save you time and $$$$

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #50 of 88

Several items here:

 

Tips: Typically, they're charged to you automatically. If you wish to give envelopes with separate tips to each person who served you, as in the old days, better save the last day of your trip for that! You can adjust the amounts, yes- up or down as need be. You can also hand someone extra money as you leave (as we did our cabin steward). Better make sure you know what Princess's policy is, just to be sure. We haven't cruised on them since 2007. As Ed said, when you eat in a venue with an upcharge (such as Sabatini's steak house), you'll have to add that to your bill. You can pay it through your shipboard account, though, like everything else. Remember, you give them your credit card information when you check in at the dock.

 

Excursions: Certainly, what Chefedb said is true: you can find someone to offer you a taxi ride/tour, or a whale-watching tour or whatnot, once you leave the pier where your ship is docked (or where your tender left you off). CAVEAT: If the excursion is late returning to the ship, you're on your own to meet up again with the ship. Also, certain liability issues may not be covered by an independent operator. We took the Captain Larry Orca Excursion in Juneau (he's independent) after I checked at Cruise Critic and talked to someone there myself. We were especially relieved when we saw the Coral Princess's naturalist come on board the excursion with us! Not that she had any official capacity on that little boat, but it was a final check of reliability for us that she came along. The naturalist, by the way, holds talks and also, when you're sailing in certain places (like Glacier Bay), s/he will give commentary through your cabin's TV. One more benefit to having an outside cabin.

 

Eating on shore: In Alaska, I wouldn't worry at all. However, you've already paid for meals on board; it's a personal choice. I bought smoked fish (canned and in sealed pouches) to bring back. We ended our cruise in Vancouver, B.C.- that is, in Canada. I don't recall a difficult trip through customs when we got to the Vancouver airport, but you will have to go through customs if you debark in Canada.

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post #51 of 88
Thread Starter 

LOL

Okay, English is my second language

I had to Google ~ Caveat ~

Funny you mention the land excursions Mezz, my husband I were just talking about that and we had thought about the travel insurance that is offered, just in case.  Unfortunately, his brother had to be flown by helicopter out of Denali on their Alaska cruisetour on the  Princess line.

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post #52 of 88

Alhough I hate to buy it, I take cruise insurance WHY? Because if you get sick prior to cruise and have to cancell you get your $ back. You mention you are retired as I and wife are. Therefore you are not youngsters then buy cruise insurance . Which will cost about 125.00pp 7 days. Please read it there are different insurers.. One or two of them are even owned by cruiselines. Many cruises now are quoting prices with insurance included. Going back to tipping they cant force you to tip by adding to your bill . and it is computed and added  on daily basis but presented to you on eve or morning of last day of cruise.you can elect to tip on your own ,but 95% of guest let them add it. They can only suggest. 12 to 14 pp per day.   Overall as far as cruising . I have been on about12 different ones and excluding 1 they were all good. You don't live out of a suitcase, you know you have a comfortable bed and clean room, plenty of good wholesome  food, Mostly friendly people that speak your language and are pretty safe. Unlike many hotel destinations I have been to.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #53 of 88
Thread Starter 

Very good points chefedb, and no we are not youngsters, maybe in our heads we are, but our bodies say other wise!! 

And yes, we are most assuredly purchasing insurance, of course after reading through everything first!!

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post #54 of 88

Some cruise lines give you a price with THEIR insurance included, don't grab it right away you do not have to take theirs you can buy private and most likely cheaper. If you refuse cruise line insurance your fare should drop anywhere from 175 to 190 a week and you can buy private for 120 -150. So again shop.

I am going to take a cruise end of June and I am starting to shop now.(another tip always give minimum deposits) and when you call travel agent or cruise line direct, make sure they send you all info by E mail so you can save it and later on refer to it  in case of problems. Some of people working for large travel agencies know zilch and have never been out of their own state.If possible deal witha an older rep.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #55 of 88
Thread Starter 

What fun, you know you’re are the second person that told us that they are going on a cruise this summer? 

We will definitely look closely at the trip insurance.  

Another question please

how do you book your cruises? 

With an independent travel agent or online with the cruise line? 

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post #56 of 88

Direct  with  the line, Some of people working for agents have never even been on a ship. This way if threr is an error only they can take blame and not blame each other. Its same price either way

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #57 of 88
Thread Starter 

okay, that makes sense

do you call the toll free number and talk to a live person or direct online?

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post #58 of 88

Live rep. only or inquire by internet. In fact use their website , it gives menues, room, locations, itinerary,shows 360 pictures of rooms. If you are going to Alaska get a balcony room for the caribe you don't need it . Take ocean view obstructed it is cheaper then ocean view and is not that obstructed. If you take balcony for caribe all you see is ocean. for Alaska you see whales, seal and fantastic panoramas. All the islands in carib are the same, Shopping for overpriced JUNK (made in china) I don't even get off anymore I stay on ship and have a ball.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #59 of 88
Thread Starter 

Well, not sure how this is going to go, we’ll see, it may be our last cruise. 

We have been checking out the Princess website and just waiting for 2013 schedule to become available. 

I still haven’t sign up with a password and all yet, but I’ll do that soon.

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #60 of 88
Thread Starter 

Okay, Princess put out there schedule and fares for 2013 today !!

I was nervous as to the price, but it’s under what I thought it would be

I signed us up online and now I just need to call the 800# to get minutia questions answered

I even picked out our stateroom , wahoo !!

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
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