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Our Holy land cruise witha pre stay in Istanbul. Part one.

Our Holy land cruise witha pre stay in Istanbul. Part one.

Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:16 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Right now, Marija, my normal life is already there. But you are right. I'm well and truly stuffed without my e-mail account - I can't even access my website as yet. I'm growing tired of this learning curve. I'm old. Aren't I meant to know something by now?

Obviously not. I remain as incompetent as ever.
dogster1 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:24 AM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
'Twas a pre-planned abandon ship, thursday - to connect with my very dreary month on Azamara. I did have some very good adventures in Athens, tho'.

But this is jacket's post - not mine. I am muzzled.
dogster1 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 02:04 PM
  #43  
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Well I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Its about time for a new chapter in this TR so here goes. First of all I was wondering about the new title for our dogster and wow what a drag that must have been. We had a brief power outage today and I was nuts just rebooting my Imac and TV's.

thursdaysd: Thanks for the sympathy. It is a drag getting ill while on vacation but it wasn't too bad. At least it wasn't like coming back to the USA in 1982 with a little present from India... typhoid fever!! Two weeks in the hospital, a 10 lb. wt. loss and a long recovery. Dr. Percy will appreciate how scary it was as was the ATB of choice at the time, chloramphenicol which can be pretty nasty as well.

Well I left off with my head in the toilet basically. had a bit of a temp and some mild chills that noc but by the next day I was recovering, getting down some fluids and had become afebrile. Again it was a day at sea so if one has to be sick this is the time. We had a full day planned in Athens with Dennis who Percy had recommended and I was sure he would be fine. Funny thing is that the private drivers seem to be a close knit bunch. As mentioned the guys we used in israel seemed to know each other or about each other. Well the fellow we used in Rhodos much to my surprise knew dennis. Wow! Small world. Unfortunately we did not get the chance to find out for ourselves. By the afternoon of the day B4 we ported in Athens it became clear that if we went out at all a full day was out of the question. Just not well enough for that. I called Dennis and I felt really bad about canceling as one knows how bad their economic situation is and now he had little time to drum up more business. In fact I had emailed him a few days B4 to firm up plans as wildcat strikes were being called inc. cabs and private drivers. We were all set to go. I must say he handled it very professionally and I hope some day we can tour with him.

By the next morning we decided to just cab it to an from town so at least we could say we saw some of Athens. So off we went. We took the shuttle to the terminal and the driver didn't get lost like in Haifa . So now there is a line of cabs but some guy came up to us and asked if we wanted a cab. I asked how much and he said I'd have to walk with him first. Uh uh. I was born in the morning but this this morning. So I asked a cop how much the cabs cost, got that reaffirmed by the cabbie we hailed and off we went. Now this guy was a sheer riot. And very nice. His English was pretty limited but his manner and smile made up for it. He reassured us several times he was not "taking us for a ride" so to speak by using the phrase "its good. No mafia,no mafia." So for a nominal extra fee which we agreed to ahead of time we saw a few places including Hadrians Arch, the Acropolis which I was in no condition to climb, the 1st Olympic stadium from 1896 and some Greek soldiers on patrol in their traditional uniforms.

So after the quick tour he dropped us off near the plaka and made sure we had a map and gave us some directions and suggested a nice area to eat. Pretty nice guy indeed. definitely "no mafia." Bear in mind that we have been traveling north so Athens was pretty cool compared to Israel. I had a LL Bean safari jacket with like a million pockets but it was pretty thin so we stopped at a souvenir place to get a hoodie for me. It was just too chilly. We strolled the plaka, got some souvenirs for our family back home and decided to head back as I was still down about 1/4 tank or so and was getting tired as was Sue. We got a cab to the terminal and as luck would have it the driver had been raised in the US and had moved to Greece as an adult so he spoke fluent English and he was able to explain the debt issues this proud country is having. He said once they switched to Euros prices skyrocketed and they have not been able to catch up at all. Instead they had to borrow more and more and now are near default. It seems many Greeks feel that way. However they feel now it seems like there will have to be significant concessions made to restore stability.

We got back to the ship just fine and I was able to have a meal in the MDR though my appetite was down a bit. The next day was a sea day which we spent for packing. We decided to self disembark which I think was handled by Celebrity, well lets just say it could have been better. All of us had to meet at a certain time by a 4th floor lounge. So there we went with many others as well. And we waited. Then they said its OK to go. So all of us who were waiting now had to get on the elevators which of course became jammed so we finally had to get on an up elevator just to get space. I think they should have let us go in groups as long as they had us in one place. They just turned us loose and it was like one of those Black Friday moments when the doors opened and everyone barged in. Or just say the self disembarkers can exit between a certain time or by certain elevators. I do think that some better planning is in order. The way it was done was a bit haphazard.

Next will be final impressions overall and a ship review. BTW dogster you can read about IST up top. Are you still in Mumbai amigo?
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 04:23 PM
  #44  
 
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My goodness , you were really under the weather.!

I would not wanted to have had to use Chloremphenicol antibiotic.

Too bad about Dennis, but at least you got to see some of Athens.

Were you at the top on the Acropolis...I guess not, because you said you were too weak to climb.

I recall strolling the Plaka area, only it was 90+ F, nice for beer but not for a lot of walking.

Okay , waiting for the ship review
Percy is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 02:58 PM
  #45  
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So as for impressions inre of the cruise line. First fo all I must say we have never felt so welcomed B4 on any other line which includes 4 cruises on Princess and 2 each on CCL and RCI. I was amazed at how nice everyone treated us. Not that the others were inadequate, its just that X was that much better. The room was ready though later than planned 2/2 all the extra cleaning and disinfecting necessitated by the NV on the prior cruise. Our cabin was immacualte and all the nicities promised for conceirge level service were there though I must say the binoculars w/ this package were just so so.

The ship itself was clean as a whistle and the on board service was generally ver good. Now bear in mind that except for a few days during the middle of the cruise the wait staff had the added burden of passing out all the condiments even to the extent of putting salt/pepper on the food and passing out all the food in the buffet and even pouring the drinks from the coffee and H2O dispensers. One could tell the onus it put on them but I never heard them complain. Well done guys.

We saw a few shows and liked what we saw as far as song and dance routines were presented. We did walk out on the hypnotist show which we found pretty boring, even after waiting 30 mins. or so.

Food is always a subjective issue so lets go there with my opinion. For the most part dinner in the MDR was pretty good. The aged sirloin and the gorgonzola crused sirloin were really good. Osme nights the entrees were just Ok but for the most part the food ws good for me. However we had one big problem. My wife preordered Indian food like we usually do and x noted upon arrival in our cabin their acknowledgement of this request. Howeve every night for the 9 or 10 nights we ate in the MDR out of 12 the chef served pretty much served the same thing. It was chicken curry, rive, lentils or chick peas and rice. We asked Alex the maitre'd to ask the chef to make a vegetable dish and that she didn't wasnt fish as Alex asked if there was something she did not want. The next night she got fish and no veges. We then asked Alex to write our requests and present them to the chef. So what happened? Zero. No changes. Even our table mates commented that she was getting the same stuff every night. On the last night he served a chicked (of course) biryani which was inedible. We and our table mates tried it and could not get past one bite. It has more mint flavor, which never is in a biryani, than a mojito. I even asked if the chef was Indian. Alex said he was from Goa. Geesh. This was truly disappointing. Of all the other 8 cruises we ahve been on the Indian food was way superior to what we got on the Connie and its truely uinfortunate as most other personnel performed very professionally which is why I would try X again.

I wrote a letter to X about everything, the good and the bad and ended up speaking someone in CS. Given the circumstancs of bad food for all those days I felt something should be done in the way of compensation even just a little. After all that would ensure us of returning pretty much and I think we were due. I mean how would you like the same food all the time? Fugedaboubit!! I convinced this guy of my POV and we now have credit for speciality restaurants for two.

Speaking of that lets talk about our dinner at Tuscany. Well the food and service were great but more important the company was even better. This is the night we dined with sassafras, her hubbie and the one and only dogster now rechristened dogster1. Or as my wife said "hotdog." It sort of fits. I must say we had a ball and talked like old friends. Sass is a super gal and Nigel or the dogster is funny, charming, affable and put a smile on our faces. In short we had a blast and I hope someday we can meet again.

In sum the cruise despite the dreaded NV rearing its ugliness was one of the bset we've ever had. The sites of historic importance are amazing, the people we met both on the ship and on shore, esp, the guides I will never forget. If you ever get a chance to see the Holy land by all means go, go, go. Just be sure to wash your hands a lot so you won't have to go, go, go.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 01:08 AM
  #46  
 
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lol. Well now dogster is back. Yesterday I regained my Hotmail and with it my access to the world, phew. Lordy, I hope that doesn't happen again. So dogster1 will be abandoned - till the next time.

Yup, still in Mumbai.

Fascinating to read your take on it all, jacket. Really interesting. Now, if Sass will write her report... lol. I'm not sure mine will pop out. I'm kinda ambivalent, without any major insight, right now.

All I really determined was that I must never go on any ship's tours in Israel, ever again.
dogster is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:47 AM
  #47  
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I do look f/w to something from Sass. And you if you feel so moved. As for the tours though we had to pony up more $$ for private tours for me it was well worth it. Now Sumi is not so keen on history but I am, esp. the ancient stuff so wow! this was something I'll never forget.

As for the future vacas we'll see. We had planned Alaska on Princess again but cancelled this as all we wanted was the land tour stuff really. Now we are thinking about RCI's mega ships, the Oasis or the Allure though the ports are not too exciting really. However the ships are a big part of the attraction. Then I brought up the idea of Kuala Lumpur as I would like to see it, have a friend there and most importantly she can get her Indian food as there is a significant Indian population there. Cheers guys. Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 01:14 PM
  #48  
 
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Celebrity food quality had slipped through the years. I won't call them sub-par, but they are just like the rest, an also-run. They used to stand out. We too had similar experience like Larry on "boring" food. There were choices, but always the same choices. When you choose the same appetizer for 10 days, there really isn't any chocies (viable choice).

Larry, you have not mentioned anything about the ship's coffee so far ... how did you like their "brew" coffee on the buffet?
Eschew is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 02:36 PM
  #49  
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Oh God. I almost forgot. its was for me pretty bad, both that and the coffee in the MDR. Glad I brought the Starbucks Via. BTW the Bistro on 5 which was the crepe place was I thought well worth the $5.00 cover charge.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 05:39 PM
  #50  
 
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Enjoyed the whole report.

Why is coffee in many places in Europe so much stronger than our own here. !

Oh well, I just drink less of it.

Happy New Year
Percy is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 02:55 PM
  #51  
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Not just Europe but also from whatI have seen Central America as well. I do like it that way personally. BTW have you ever heard of the most expensive coffee in the world, kopi Luwak which goes to about $300.00-500.00 per lb? if not I'll give you the low down.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:15 PM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Jacket, I just got back in town and caught up on your wonderful trip report. Really sorry to hear you got sick, but you timed your symptoms quite well! It's always been a fear in the back of my mind to get really sick right in the middle of some incredibly inconvenient travel.
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:06 PM
  #53  
 
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Tell me about this $$$$$$$$$$$ coffee !
Percy is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 02:44 AM
  #54  
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Thank you SPT. The timing was pretty lucky. Would have hated to miss a day in Israel. Percy here's the "bottom" line on kopi luwak.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 07:34 AM
  #55  
 
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Thanks for the info.

Guess I will stick to regular coffee.
Percy is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 07:39 AM
  #56  
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I am tempted to try it actually. You can get it in 4 oz. portions, around $90.00. Maybe one day.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 05:28 AM
  #57  
 
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Oh jacket, if you like I'll swallow a few dozen beans.

You can have the results for free.
dogster is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 01:42 PM
  #58  
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That is a really good one. BTW R U still in Mumbai?
jacketwatch is offline  
Jan 8th, 2012, 05:26 AM
  #59  
 
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Nope, Bangkok now. Lordy, I've been on the road a long time. Three months now. I jumped to Thailand 'cos I just couldn't do any more Indian food. My stomach blew up - or out, as the case may be. I think after your norovirus experience you'll understand what I mean.
dogster is offline  
Jan 8th, 2012, 11:38 AM
  #60  
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I sure do. You have to be so careful eating there. When do U go back home for a while?
jacketwatch is offline  

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