DubaiDolly
Second Mate

Hometown: Dubai
Joined: 07/22/2014
8
Cruises
6
Reviews
34
Helpful Votes

About DubaiDolly

A worldwide traveller who appreciates the finer things in life


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Cruiseline: Cunard

Cruiseline: Royal Caribbean

Cruiseline: Seabourn

Cruiseline: Windstar Cruises

Ship: Queen Victoria

DubaiDolly's Past Cruises

Wind Surf

June 2015 - Wind Surf to Europe - Mediterranean

What exactly does '180 degrees from Ordinary' mean ?

Having just sailed into Rome on Cunard after staying in The Grills for 9 nights I suppose Windstar had a lot to live up to. But if a cruise company has a motto of 180degrees from Ordinary then expectations are high.

The Windsurf is a motorised sailing yacht and she is an attractive vessel especially when the sails are out on sailaways and occasionally when she is at anchor the sails are raised so that from the shore she can be admired. The same Vangelis music is played on all Windstar ships as the ship sails' out of port which is a quaint touch. Even now if I hear that tune I think of Windstar fondly.

Embarkation was quick although they hold you on dockside until 1pm in a tent with toilet facilities and beverages, so if you expect to board early it wont happen. Arrive as near to boarding time as you can to avoid having to wait around. Some larger cruise ships boarding starts much earlier but apparently not on Windstar.

The bags are taken from you by porters and take 100 yards to be put through the dock security scanners. The porters wait for a tip which I was surprised with as boarding Cunard in Southampton the porters gladly took your baggage as that is their job without the expectation of a tip.

Once on board after minimal paperwork the cabins were ready. Although again surprisingly passports are taken from passengers for the duration of the cruise and were only released whilst in Monte Carlo if you planned a visit to the casino as part of the special event put on by Windstar.The passports then had to handed back to reception and kept again until we disembarked on the morning of arrival into Barcelona.

We were disappointed there was no wine package available although a drinks package of 116 US$ per day per stateroom plus 15% service charge was available  which we considered to be really expensive. I do understand that some cruise companies are no longer offering the wine package which is a shame as it is nice to be able to choose a wine for your particular taste preference and match it with what is on the menu and not just have what is available on the drinks package. We chose to have wine by the glass but again were left disappointed as a glass of wine size was not mentioned on the menu i.e. 125 or 150 ml so when buying a glass I always noted that we were served a small serving where as the customers on the drinks packages were always being poured a larger serving.

We were pleased that we brought two bottles of wine onboard during embarkation to drink in our cabin. However we were pleasantly surprised that on three occasions the Windsurf did give free drinks at the Captains cocktail reception, an invite to a returner drinks reception and the night of the special event in Monte Carlo the wine flowed freely in the dinning room. In hindsight we were glad we didn't commit to a wine package has it really wasn't necessary as we are not big drinkers. Soft drinks are all included in the basic cost of the cruise which did include fresh juices and virgin cocktails for example.

The ship is well maintained. We were lucky the weather was beautiful for the duration of the cruise so we were able to spend a lot of time on deck sunbathing, in the Jacuzzi or cooling down in the pool. The Jacuzzi and pool are both salt water which was an added bonus. The only negative comment were the lack of towels on the sun beds. The crew did their best to keep the supplies topped up but everyone always seemed to be waiting for fresh towels which appeared to come directly from the laundry so maybe more towels need to be provided generally onboard the ship. Top tip are spare towels are kept hidden under the bar area.

Apart from the main restaurant the Amphora there are two speciality restaurants on the Windsurf the Stella Bistro and candles which is the outdoor area of the veranda restaurant where breakfast and lunch are served. We were not advised that we needed to book our reservations for these two speciality restaurants immediately otherwise there may be difficulty obtaining reservations for them even by the next day. Luckily we saw a queue of people gathering and realised what was happening so we managed to secure a reservation in both restaurants. However it was obvious that some people didn't manage to get reservations and daily we heard complaints at the reception desk.

Not quite sure Windsurf lived up to the 180 degrees from ordinary.

 

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Queen Victoria

May 2015 - Queen Victoria to Europe - Mediterranean

Do you want something really special then try The Queens Grill

Embarkation;  As you arrive at the ship, baggage handlers take your baggage. As we were staying in the Grills we went straight to the priority counter and within 15 minutes we were all checked in, through security and onboard the wonderful Queen Victoria. It was just after midday and all the cabins were ready which was a pleasant surprise. We went to our suite 5101. I will review the suite later.  Our female butler Elvie introduced herself and advised us that lunch was being served at The Queens Grill restaurant. The Queens restaurant is on deck 11 and we made our way there via the special lift using our room key card to gain access to both decks 11 & 12. We had requested a table for 2 and we were welcomed and escorted to table 47 which we kept for the duration of the cruise. I will review the dining later.

After lunch we returned to our suite and already our luggage had been delivered and was waiting inside our stateroom.  We unpacked and shortly afterwards we attended  the emergency drill taking our life jackets with us from the cabin. After that it was sail away and time to explore the ship. We had sailed on the QV in 2012 so we were familiar with layout and facilities. The ship was well maintained and spotless.

Leaving Southhampton to Gibralter we crossed the Bay of Biscay. I has brought some sea sick tables as it is notriously rough but we were lucky we had a smooth two day crossing and didnt need to use them.

We were fortunate that the guest speaker on our cruise was Simon Weston OBE . He gave an inspirational talk to a full auditorium as he talked about his life and future. It was very humbling to listen to him. He is a true Welsh gentleman with a wicked sense of humour.

During the sea days we were able to use the private sundeck area on decks 11&12. There is a shower on deck 12. If you forget your suntan lotion there is a communal bottle next to the cold water and juice units at deck 12 entrance to the lift.Waiters come around and will bring you your choice of soft and hot complimentary drinks. Afternoon Tea is served daily in the Grills lounge or if your sunbathing you can have it at your sunbed on decks 11&12.

Other perks for the Grills passenger would be the priority use of tenders and free shuttles at ports where buses were provided at a cost to other passengers.

Disembarking; We were orginally booked for transfer and flight back to UK which was all part of the package. We however decided to remain in Rome and take another cruise on Windstar so we were able to organise late departure of 11am from QV. Our suitcases were taken off the night before and we were able to leave our hand luggage in a secure room after we left our cabin at 08.30am. The Lido was still open so we were able to have some refreshments and sit where we wanted on the ship until we were ready to disembark. The Lido was still open as there were transit passengers onboard who were continuing onto Venice.

In 2012 we sailed on QV and having a balcony cabin we used the Britannia restuarant which at that time we didnt enjoy as the service was not good although the balcony cabin was very nice. We usually sail RCI and always have a wonderful experience especially with the service so we were hesitant to resail with Cunad and QV but we are so thrilled we did and have the experience of The wonderful Grills. It you want to really treat yourself then I would definately recommend the Queens Grill.Big Smile

 

 

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Liberty of the Seas

October 2014 - Liberty of the Seas to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

Having sailed around the Mediterranean on numerous occasions this was the first time that an additional tax had been added to the onboard billing. As well as the usual gratuity which is automatically added to Bevarages and Food items an additional 10 % Spanish tax was also added whilst on retail purchases this was an additional 20%. What happened to duty free prices ?

 On boarding we bought a wine package which we were informed was 165 US$ for 5 Bottles plus the usual gratity which was an additional 24.25 US$ There was no mention from the stewart who was selling us the packaage that there would be an additional 10% Spanish tax added and I only noticed this later when I was checking the reciept against the account system on the inroom TV. We choose the wine package as it represents good value for money and I had already preselected in my mind my favourite Red and White grapes. We were then disappointed to learn that the Red Robert Mondavi shown on the wine list was out of stock. This was not a good start to our cruise.

However generally we had a good cruise. Our junior suite 9538 was exactly as advertised. As we booked at the last minute we were allocated My Time Dinning and were unable to prebook our table requirements on the RCI website.I would recommend that on boarding the ship that you go straight to the my time dinning desk  at the main dinning room where you can  prebook your times for dinner. I insisted that I booked for the 7 days as I didnt wasnt to come back everyday and make a booking. The manager was alittle reluncant to do this but eventually did meet my request. Infact the dinning was the highlight of the cruise where we had an excellant Head waiter who lead by example his team of waiters. The service was impecable and the standard of food was excellant. We were surprised to learn that the head chef was an English Female in a male dominated kitchen.

 

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Seabourn Legend

June 2014 - Seabourn Legend to Europe - Northern Europe

"First Timers with Seabourn"

First timers with Seabourn

Having sailed on the larger cruise ships of Celebrity, RCI and Cunard we are able to compare the large verus smaller ship.

Seabourn is initimate, it has all the usual facilities of the larger ships but on a smaller scale except for the cabins which appeared much bigger than the average cabin on the larger ships. The nice thing about Seabourn Legend having only 200 passengers is that you probably get to meet or at least ackowledge all your other fellow passengers and most of the staff address you by name after day two. There is no queuing dockside to get on or off the ship. The club lounge where the shows are held seat all 200 passenegrs so need to finish dinner early to secure a seat. Dinner is served between 19.00-21.00 so you can dine anytime not having to hurry for an early seating dinner as on the larger ships and you can sit all night at your table without rushing to let other passengers dine after you. As everything is inclusive drinks and food there is no handing over your cabin suite access card to be swiped for payment.

The ships can also go further into the centre of each destination where as the larger ships are often docked along way out of town in commerial ports.

Alot more destinations can accomodate smaller ships so you are able to travel to destinations that can not simply faciliate the larger ship. Often we were the only ship in port which makes sightseeing and using public transport a pleasure.

The market that Seabourn attracts are down to earth people who do over dress for dinner. In general we felt more relaxed on this smaller and intimate ship than the usual ships that cater for the mass.

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Radiance of the Seas

October 2013 - Radiance of the Seas to South Pacific - Australia

First hot weather cruise

Having aways sailed northern Europe, Aslaka or The med off season it was a pleasure to experience a ship in warmer cimate and with plenty of days to enjoy life on board the ship.

Docked along Sydney waterfront it was easy to walk from our hotel to the ship where as Crown & Ancchor members we were able to check in straight away despite the signage stating otherwise.

Radiance of Seas has a indoor solarium and Park cafe where we waited until the cabins were ready whilst others filled the Windjammer.  Cabin was smaller than the balcony cabin on AOS but had a ncie glass balcony that we could enjoy a full view from.

Dinner at Cascades restaurant second seating allocation with table of 10 who were fellow Britsh which was a nice gesture.

Breakfast  & Lunch taken most days at Park cafe as a ligher fare served but frequenty repeated. For variation try the Windjammer. Staff were always very friendly in all restaurants. Everyone smiling was par for the course.

Bought dinning package at 60 us$ to eat at Italian Giovanna, Brazil Samba restaurant and Chops Grille. Our wine package that we purchased could be used at any restaurant on board the ship. On a 16 night  sail a change in restaurant venue is worth the small cost.

It was Melbourne Cup day one day at sea and the crowds gathered for the onboard activities by the pool. Ladies wore hats and alround everyone had a marvellous experience when watching the races on the large pool screen. The entertainment crew lead by Bobby did a marvellous job in making sure that everyone was entertained throughout the cruise.

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Adventure of the Seas

May 2013 - Adventure of the Seas to Europe - Northern Europe

"13 night Norway & Iceland"

Spectular scenic cruise

First cruise with RCI and have been back many more times. After sailing on Cunard most recently we were refreshed with what RCI had to offer. Without doubt they have the happiest and friendliest crew at sea . Adventurer of Seas is a lovely ship noting in particular the ice ring with spectacular free ice shows and the promenade shopping with the cafe promenade open 24/7 serving drinks and light refreshments. This is located on deck 4 rather than go to deck 13 for the Windjammer. A great place to sit and watch the world and fellow passengers go by.The ships entertainment crew were zany and up for a laugh with a village people costume and 70/s revival event held there one evening much to everyones amusement.

Our cabin D2 superior had tea making facilities which was nice and a first on board a ship for us.Plenty of hanging space for long dresses, large 3 sofa sofa and under bed storage for suitcases. In room flat tv showing accounts updated immediatley when you spent on board which was great for keeping track of all your expenses.

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Wind Star

May 2011 - Wind Star to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Celebrity Millennium

June 2005 - Celebrity Millennium to Europe - Western Mediterranean

"First time on Cruise for honeymoon"

DubaiDolly's Tips

Barcelona, Spain - Took taxi to airport 36 Euro including 4 large luggage. If you are departing from Terminal 1 gates E or D make sure you go through duty free first in the direction of gates A B or C as once you go through passport control you cannot visit the huge duty free area that is available in Terminal 1. At Gates E or D there is limited facilities and shops available.
Portoferraio, Elba - A beautiful picturesque old port. The day we vsiited an iron man competition was taking place. Visited Napolean residence.
Marseille (Provence), France - Take the metro (one stop ) to main railway station St Charles to Visit Aix En Provence by train. Cost 8 euro return for 45 mins journey.
Portofino, Italy - Portofino is too commercialised and attracts hordes of tourists. For a more relaxing time visit Santa Margarita 1.80 Euro one way; 15 minute bus ride along the coast.
Wind Surf Wind Surf - Bring your own swimming goggles and snorkling gear as they are not available on board the ship.
Barcelona, Spain - Use shuttle transfer as too far to walk into city in hot weather.Cable car starts at 11am dont arrive too early as no shelter when waiting so gets very hot. A visit to Sagrada Familia is a must just to see the outside. Tickets for inside must be purchased online way in advance.
Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy - A visit to Pisa recommended, we took the tour shuttle and made our on way back using public transport which wasnt quick or easy. Probably best to keep to ships tours as railway station in Livorno is a bus ride away from the main city centre and then a bus shuttle back to the ship.
Monte Carlo, Monaco - When disembarking go through the cruise terminal and get a discount voucher book for most of the major sights including the hop off and on bus. Use public transport for 3E return to go to Nice, tickets on bus.
Rapallo, Italy - Take the funicular cable car 8E return to secure fab views of Rapello and the ship tendered in the bay.
Valencia, Spain - Use the ships shuttle and explore this beautiful old city on foot. For an excellant view climb 270 steps in the cathedral cost 2 E each.
Gibraltar (U.K.) - The day we were visited Gib was experiencing a power cut so we were unable to take the cable car. I would recommend organised tours as it is not easy to visit the sights on foot as its a long walk from the ship and only a short stay as Gib is actually a refuelling station.
Queen Victoria Queen Victoria - Penthouse suite balconys on deck 4 are horizontally larger than those on deck 5.
Stavanger, Norway - Took Rodne Fjord cruise sailing up the Lysefjord to Pulpit Rock
Olden, Norway - Get up early to get great views sailing up the fiord . Visit Briksdalen glacier- breathtaking scenery around Olden
Alesund, Norway - Take hop on hop off bus to Alaska viwing point saves walking up 418 steps then visit the aquarium
Trondheim, Norway - Walk to view point for great photo opportunity. Arrived into Trondheim with cannon salute and band playing
Akureyri, Iceland - Glorious saling up the beautiful fiords with snow capped mountain views. Jewels of the North tour recommended
Adventure of the Seas Adventure of the Seas - Use Promenade cafe instead of Windjammer for self service hot drinks and fresh muffins and savoury wraps
Darwin, Australia - Take a hop on off bus to military musuem, an amazing place with fee wifi in cafe.
Benoa, Bali, Indonesia - Take an organised ship tour as taxi and roads are chaotic and often delays because of the festivals that take place too frequenly. Charged 25 US$ each for visa even if you do not get off the ship
Geraldton, Australia - Tender in and walk along new water front and visit free Maritime Musuem, worth leaving a tip. Free wifi at library in centre of town
Port Hedland, Australia - Go ashore to stock up at Woolworths. Friendly folk market stalls on cruise days. Its a refuelling stop.
Sydney, Australia - Take a ferry trip to Manley to get a great view of Sydney and see where the locals live.
Brisbane, Australia - Need to take ship shttle as moored in Fisherman Island Grain terminal and no public transport available. Take a river cruise to orienate with Brisbane
Tallinn, Estonia - Walk around this small medievil city on your own. Free wifi at Macdonalds at city gate entrance.
Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany - Seaside town worth wandering around. Take a train to Rostock 15 minute. Get ticket from ticket machine uses 5 or 10 euro notes only.
Stockholm, Sweden - Stay alittle out of main city to avoid high accomodation costs.
Travemunde (Lubeck), Germany - Visit the Marzipan ship in centre of town for quaint gifts and delicous cakes. Wonderful views take the lift at St Peter church tower for a few euro.
Klaipeda, Lithuania - Wander around small town with market stalls in centre. Huge modern shopping mall Akroplis between old town and port. Macdonalds free wifi.
Mariehamn, Finland - Visit the Pommern Musuem ship and Aland Maritime musuem 10 euro one entry fee. Free wifi in tourist information.
Visby, Sweden - Picturesque. Tourist info free 30 minute wifi and toilets available
Gdansk (Danzig), Poland - Get there early to avoid the crowds. Amber on sale everywhere. Euro accepted in market stalls and restaurants.
Seabourn Legend Seabourn Legend - Men will require a jacket every evening if they eat in the main dinning room.

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received a helpful vote on their Liberty of the Seas cruise review - Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

received a helpful vote on their Wind Surf cruise review - What exactly does '180 degrees from Ordinary' mean ?

received a helpful vote on their Liberty of the Seas cruise review - Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

received a helpful vote on their Wind Surf cruise review - What exactly does '180 degrees from Ordinary' mean ?

received a helpful vote on their Liberty of the Seas cruise review - Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

received a helpful vote on their Queen Victoria cruise review - Do you want something really special then try The Queens Grill

received a helpful vote on their Wind Surf cruise review - What exactly does '180 degrees from Ordinary' mean ?

received a helpful vote on their Liberty of the Seas cruise review - Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

received a helpful vote on their Liberty of the Seas cruise review - Spanish Tax added was a unwelcome surprise

received a helpful vote on their Wind Surf cruise review - What exactly does '180 degrees from Ordinary' mean ?