Tag Archives: Oceania Cruises

A month in the sun, and then PAYBACK

We haven’t posted in a while… because we decided to escape from the cold winter for the month of February.  We were scheduled to fly out on February 9, and of course, there was a forecast for a severe winter storm for that day!

On the morning of February 8, as we were trying not to worry too much about the weather, we received an email from American Airlines stating that they would waive all change fees if we wanted to rebook and fly out early – and so we took advantage, and left on Feb 8.  Fortunately, we had mostly packed already and our good friend Dave was able to take us to the airport for our flight.

At least we had eliminated the stress of wondering if would make it out, and instead had an extra day in Miami.  A few days in Miami, a 12 day cruise on Oceania Riviera in the Eastern Caribbean, 6 days in the Florida Keys, and another 6 on Amelia Island.  Can’t complain about a thing.  It was beautiful weather, we did mostly nothing, and had a wonderful time.  Below is one of the few photos I took, of a bird in Granada.

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While we were away, the weather at home did the usual NE flip flopping, 70 degree days, 10 degree days, any type of weather, you just name it.  So, the day after we arrived home, the temperature dropped to the teens, and the snow came.  And it just didn’t warm up.  And the snow came again (winter storm Stella, anyone?).  Guess the lousy weather was our payback for going away.

While we were away, the thread on Autumn Dream’s cover “gave up” and one of the sections split apart, at the peak of the frame.  Fortunately, the boat yard called to let us know, and Dave and Pat came to the rescue, taking the cover off the boat and bringing it home for us before even more damage could be done – they had one of those good “70 degree days” to do it.  We’ll post more about the cover another time.

So what is going on?  Well…. when we were in Amelia Island, we visited Waterman’s Bluff (our land) and remembered why we bought there in the first place.  They had some new homes under construction and we found a design that had everything we were looking for.  We had already made the decision to put our house back on the market when we were on the cruise, and this just confirmed out.  So now we are back to our former plan…  House is on the market, and we will just wait and see what happens.  In the mean time, we are going to enjoy life at our home, and cruise on Autumn Dream this summer.

I finished the crochet project I was working on before we left, I’ll do a different post for that.

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Singapore March 30

So after spending three days in Vietnam we were off again in route to Singapore.  As it is 614 nautical miles from Saigon to Singapore we had a day at sea again.  We love days at sea.  Time to relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee and a relaxing breakfast!  One great thing about Oceania is that included in your cruise fare is some of the simple things that other cruise lines charge you extra for.  Like a cappuccino, or espresso or even soft drinks.  This is all included with this company and not part of another cost center to make the company more money and to milk the customer dry!   Also they have a coffee bar staffed with an actual Italian Barista!  My new best friend Marco!   Marco was great!  We saw him almost every day and had some good laughs and generally great coffee.  He would see Beth and I coming and greet us in Italian.  Then ask us if we wanted dui cappuccino or Americano.  He would then hand craft our coffees with a smile and then try to push some wonderful pastries on us.  However in our quest to remain passengers and not become cargo, most of the time we just had a coffee or two and watch the world and water go by!  Did I mention that they have a wonderful English tea every afternoon with sandwiches, fresh pastries and off course tea (or coffee in our case).  This off course is served in 10 forward (deck 10 forward a lounge that they call Horizons, but being Star Trek fans and since it is on deck 10 and in the forward part of the ship Beth and I always referred to it as 10 forward).  It included serving staff with white gloves and rolling carts overloaded with yummy stuff.  Once again part of the cruise line subversive plan to turn us into cargo.  We mostly resisted the temptation but occasionally had a scone with clotted or whipped cream.  Had to take a few for the team so I could write about how good the food is!  So after tea it is happy hour!   That means two for one drinks.  So on the days that we did not go to tea you could find us in Martinis bar having a Bombay Sapphire Gin and tonic!   Then it was time for an early dinner.  Life at sea is good.  Also sea days give you much time to sit on your balcony and catch up on all those books you have been meaning to read and watch the other ships and sea life go by.  We did see a ton of sea life.   Birds, marine mammals, sea snakes, sharks, flying fish, trash (unfortunately).   All this time we have been sailing still in the South China Sea.  That would change the day out of Singapore!

So on Wednesday March 30 we arrived in Singapore, bright and early.  The approach to Singapore is great to see.  You will never see anywhere else in the world such a collection of ships of all shapes and sizes, waiting to go into the port.  Fascinating!  Also since Singapore sits only 4 degrees above the equator it is very hot there!  This day of our visit it was 99 degrees F with 99% relative humidity.  This is typical weather for this city.  Since Beth and I have been here before we decided to treat it as a sea day and hang out on the ship.  The other reason for this is that it is a pain in the ass to get off the ship.  You have to go through immigration getting off the ship and getting back on the ship.  Being on the ship on a port day has real advantages as you have the ship to yourself!  I’ll never own a 600+ foot ship but this give me a taste of what it would be like!  So another day to relax be for the intensive ports of Phuket Thailand and Myanmar that would be up next.

For your enjoyment here are a few photos of Singapore from our 2010 trip there!  Wow it has been 6 year almost to the day since we have been here!   Time passes quickly!

Promptly at 8:00 PM (during our dinner) we set sail for Thailand!   Next post Phuket!

Vietnam – March 26 – 28

Last time I left you we were in route to Nha Trang Vietnam via the South China Sea.  So having left Hong Kong Thursday evening March 24, we spent Friday at sea.  It was a great sea day for Beth and Kevin.  The seas were a little rough and we like that!  Also we were finally out of the rain and into warmer temperatures.  OK this is a cruise and everyone always ask about the food.  Well Oceania Cruises prides itself on their food.  Well I can confirm that the food was great!  Service was also very good.  I won’t get into specific meals as you can see example of the menus on their website.  I will say that if you love seafood you will not be disappointed.  Shrimp, lobster, scallops, squid, fish etc….   Also if your into red meat that was all good also.  As a little teaser, for lunch if you eat at the Waves Grill you can get great burgers.  Also you can get surf and turf, grilled lobster tail and sirloin steak on a chibata bun!   Also you can have a milk shake made with excellent ice cream to go along with your sandwich.  Oh and don’t forget the truffle French fries….    It goes on and on.   Safe to say you will not go hungry.  Safe to say that the food anywhere on the ship does not disappoint.    There are a total of 5 dining options on the ship.   Two special restaurants – a steak house and an Italian bistro.   Both excellent!   Also the main dining room (great service by our server Dragion from Serbia).  The buffet and waver grill.   Needless to say after 35 days on the ship it is easy to become cargo..   Fortunately, although we enjoyed ourselves and did put on some weight we were nowhere near the typical 10 pounds/week cruise weight gain! J    Actually we made out OK!

On Saturday March 26 we made port at Nha Trang Vietnam.  This was our second time to Vietnam but first time in Nha Trang.  Below are some photos take around town and at the port!

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Approaching Nha Trang Shipping Port 

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Nha Trang Cruise Terminal 🙂

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Nha Trang Budha (one of about 100,000)

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Nha Trang Market

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Customs Office 

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Stunning Hindu Temple in NhaTrang

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Nha Trang Fishing harbor

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Neighboring Ship.  Our ship was a bit nicer!

Leaving Nha Trang at 4:00 PM Saturday we were off to Saigon.  We were excited to go back to Saigon and cruise up the winding beautiful Saigon River to spend two day docked at the center of Saigon.  But alas do to earlier recent heavy rains in the region the cruise up to the city was not going to happen.  I think we had a pussy for a captain.  We ended up docking 2 hours outside the city at the commercial port.  This port is in the middle of nowhere….   Suck city!  So the first day we did not plan any shore excursions so we just hung around the ship and relaxed and read.  Not a bad way to spend the day but being in the city center and watching the life on the river like our last cruise was not to be this time.  Day two in “Saigon” we had an excursion to the Mekong River.  This was supposed to be about a 6 hour trip including lunch.   However because of where we ended up docking this was now a 10 hour trip with mostly ass time on a bus.  The actual excursion was OK but not exactly as advertised.  However the lunch as very good and we enjoyed the Vietnamese food very much!   Beth will post some photos of this excursion a bit latter.

At 4:00 PM on Monday March 28 we left Vietnam for a passage to Singapore, where we would arrive on Wednesday March 30th.    More to come.

 

19- March- 2016

19- March- 2016

Beth told you this was coming!  So enjoy!

We left Boston at around 6:45PM on 19-March-2016 starting essentially a 40 day circumnavigation of the earth.  The first flight was on American Airlines bound for LAX.  This first flight was a 7 hour non-stop flight that would get us into LAX at around 10:30 PM LAX time (1:30AM our body time).  When we decided to do this trip we also decided to take advantage of the business class upgrade that Oceania Cruises lines was offering.  As it turned out this was an excellent idea.  So the first leg was in AA First Class which actually for a US based airline is not bad.  Food was good, seat was comfortable and they have an excellent audio video system with a good sized screen in first class.

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Beth in First Class on AA

Upon arrival in LAX after a smooth flight we had our first real pleasant surprise at LAX.  As international flights leave from a different terminal than the domestic terminal you use to have to leave the secure area of the terminal and trot about a half mile to get to the international terminal.  Not a problem in the typical California weather and actually a good thing to get the blood flowing again, but since you have left the secure area of the terminal you have to go through security all over again.  This is a pain but for the flights going to the pacific region they all leave between 11:30 PM and 1:30 AM.  So this being LAX there are a lot of flights and the lines are very long!  I have experienced this twice in the last two years.  Once going to Australia and once going to Fiji.  These lines can take 3 hours, so the chance to miss you flight is very real!  However since we were flying business class there is a expedited line and this shorten the wait to about 1 hour.  Well LAX has finally joined the 21st century and built a link that allows you to stay in the terminals secure area, eliminating a additional security screen and a potential 3 hours in line.  So after a 15 minute walk we were ensconced in Cathy Pacific’s business class lounge with food and drink and comfortable seating a plenty for our 2 and a half hour layover.  Life is good.   At about 1:00 AM we walked to the gate and boarded our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Now let me tell you Cathy Pacific’s business class is excellent!  Great seats- for sleeping and relaxing, good food and attentive staff.

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Beth in Business Class Cathy Pacific  –  see legroom does exist!

In all my travels my rating of airlines business class  places Singapore Airlines at #1, Cathy Pacific at #2, Qantas at # 3, Air Tahiti Nui #4, Fiji Airlines #5, Delta #10.

Well after 22 hours of flying we arrived in Hong Kong and had our second nice surprise.  Once we cleared Immigration, got all our bags, cleared Customs we were suppose to meet our pre-arranged hotel transport.  Coming out of the customs hall there was a guy with a sign that had out name on it.   Good start….  gets better- we were whisked out of the terminal into a waiting luxury van for our private transport to the hotel.  This was a bonus, as typically on a cruise you have to hang around the airport till everyone going to the pre-cruise hotel arrives.  In this case just us!

After a 25 minute drive from the airport we arrived at the beautiful Shangri-La hotel for our 3 night pre-cruise stay in Hong Kong.    So after travel for 5 days and losing a day somewhere in the Pacific Ocean we really needed a coffee and since our room was not ready yet (it was 8 AM after all), well go figure across the street was you guessed it was a Starbucks!

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Beth with first Starbucks coffee as you can see by the photo quality kevin really needed a coffee

So we dragged our jet lagged assess across the wet soggy street (did I mention it was raining very hard) and had a coffee and some breakfast!   Coffee always tastes better after traveling for days and days.  Then back to the hotel where Beth managed to convince the hotel staff to take pity on us and get us into a room so we could take a nap in a bead that was not moving.  Now the Shangri-La hotel in Kowloon is a stunning hotel.  Because we managed to get into a room before ours was ready we may have received a downgraded (not harbor view) room but it was a great room and had a great bed!  No complaints!

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Very comfortable room in Hong Kong

So we took a 2 hour nap and a shower then set out to see a soggy Hong Kong.  We came 3 day early because we wanted to spend some quality time in Hong Kong.  We have been here before and always wanted to return.  However our 3 day pre-cruise was going to be a wet and cold visit.   Most of what we were looking to do was outside.  So we changed plans and adapted to the wet weather!  All I’ll say is that we had have our share of high end shopping malls like nothing I have ever seen elsewhere in the world!  We did get some interesting good meals and recovered from jet lag in before getting on the ship.

Thursday March 24  –  Transfer to ship day!  So we showed up in the lobby at the appointed time and 600 or so of us were transfer to the ship by bus.  This took 15 minutes and we were aboard the Oceania Nautica in another 15 minutes.  Time for lunch in buffet.  Wow is all I can say!     At 4:30 we had the lifeboat drill then at 5:00 PM we set sail from Hong Kong China for 35 days till we arrived in Athens Greece!  So the sail away out of Hong Kong was spectacular if wet and cold.  But as we had a balcony cabin we could enjoy the passing city.  Next stop after a day at sea is Nha Trang, Vietnam.  I’ll do the next blog posting about our few days in Vietnam, so stay tuned!

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Foggy Hong Kong sky-line

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Foggy sail boat race start and a junk