VaCavalier

VaCavalier

Cruise Director
Los Angeles
Joined 08/2011

6

Cruises

5

Reviews

91

Helpful Votes

Strategic Marketing Consultant focusing on digital media, travel & international commerce currently living in Los Angeles (Hollywood), I have lived in worked in (my hometown) New York City (New York Times), Paris (International Chamber of Commerce, the Principality of Monaco (V. Ships / Vlasov Group) and San Francisco (law.com). Graduated from the Fieldston School, Tufts University (B.A.) and the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.). Enjoy traveling (have been on over 55 cruises), meeting interesting people from different cultures and backgrounds, reading, and theater.

Past cruises

Star Breeze

August 2020 - 16 Night Aleutians & North Pacific Crossing (Seward To Tokyo) Cruise on Star Breeze

Le Boreal

April 2019 - 14 Night Ocean Voyage (Miami To Lisbon) Cruise on Le Boreal

Superb overall experience on a modern and tastefully furnished ship

A luxury French flagged cruise ship, part of the PONANT fleet of modern ships, with country club casual dress and quite relaxed atmosphere. Very much inclusive, including WiFi, alcohol and wine (including French champagne, gratuities (though I gave extra to my cabin steward and my favorite waiter in addition to a gift to the crew welfare fund, which it gives me pleasure to do on all my cruises).

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Westerdam

September 2018 - 14 Night North Pacific Crossing (Vancouver To Yokohama) Cruise on Westerdam

Solid Premium Experience

I only cruised for 14 nights...from Vancouver to Yokohama. Overall it was an excellent Premium category experience and the Westerdam's refurbishment was excellently executed. Service was good, though I didn't feel it was particularly personalized (though many learned my name, particularly after I made a $200 gift to the Crew Welfare Fund). The Signature Suite was excellent, large and everything worked well. That said, the extra cost wi fi was so slow (much slower than I've experienced on Celebrity on the same itinerary) that it was extremely frustrating and - wi fi being important to me - would prevent me from again booking the Westerdam (or other HAL vessels, assuming the wi fi is not up to competitive standards).

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Celebrity Millennium

September 2016 - Bering Sea & Japan Cruise Cruise on Celebrity Millennium

Good Service But Less Quality & More Nickel and Diming

First let me say that the ship is in excellent condition: my stateroom (a Concierge Balcony) was impeccably clean and more than adequate and the public areas look great. I initially chose this cruise because of its highly rated, gourmet specialty restaurant, the Olympic, where in the past I enjoyed the best means of any cruise line, better than the Queen's Grill on Cunard or Deluxe Category ships. While disappointed that this venue was changed to Tuscan Grill before I sailed,  I decided not to cancel my booking: in terms of restaurant quality, that was a mistake. Tuscan Grill is far from gourmet, and lacked professional service; After experiencing 3 dinners there, I cancelled my future reservations and dined at the main restaurant, which was adequate, but due to size alone, not my preferred atmosphere. I lunched at their new Sushi on 5 venue, which was quite good but terribly overpriced (a la carte with no set menu option) as well as located off a busy corridor. Qsine is more for show than for food and I found my server and the maitre d'hotel to overplay their roles, bordering on rudeness (I went once & never again). My favorite daytime venue was Cafe al Bacio, for excellent specialty coffees and friendly service. 

 

In booking Celebrity one needs to keep in mind that they do not claim to be more than a Premium Cruise Line, but clearly they are paying more attention to RCCL accountants than the marketing department or their guests. My advice would be to compare their pricing with that for Azamara and if at all possible book the latter as Celebrity has become little more than Royal Caribbean with a better veneer. 

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Tere Moana

April 2015 - 14 Night Transatlantic (St Maarten To Portugal) Cruise on Moana

Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

Let me start with what I think distinguishes the M/S Tere Moana of Paul Gauguin Cruises from other small, deluxe category cruise ships: An outstanding on board staff, professional and truly dedicated to guest satisfaction, who enjoy working together as a well coordinated team. This is reflected in an exceptionally fine passenger experience.

The food is outstanding, both in regard to the quality of the ingredients and preparation. The included alcoholic beverages are top shelf and the complimentary wine of high quality.

While I had a stateroom with a nice balcony, holding both a lounge chair and small table with 2 chairs for drinks or dining (there is a large and varied free room service menu) on deck 5, I have seen the other stateroom configurations on decks 3 & 4, all of which are of generous size (there are no inside staterooms). The bathrooms are fine & functional, with showers that have curved sliding doors, rather than the clingy shower curtains found on other ships, and the toiletries are L'Occitane.

The bed (king size or twin configurations) is extremely comfortable with bed linens of the highest quality.

The officers, including the Captain, enjoy mingling & sharing meals with the guests (on this voyage both the Captain & Staff Captain were from Sweden).

The shore excursion options were well planned.

to summarize, on the Tere Moana, Paul Gauguin cruises provides an outstanding cruise experience, which can be recommended with enthusiasm.

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Le Boreal

Le Boreal

Sail date: April 22, 2019

Superb overall experience on a modern and tastefully furnished ship

A luxury French flagged cruise ship, part of the PONANT fleet of modern ships, with country club casual dress and quite relaxed atmosphere. Very much inclusive, including WiFi, alcohol and wine (including French champagne, gratuities (though I gave extra to my cabin steward and my favorite waiter in addition to a gift to the crew welfare fund, which it gives me pleasure to do on all my cruises).

Read full review

Tere Moana

Tere Moana

Sail date: April 04, 2015

Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

Let me start with what I think distinguishes the M/S Tere Moana of Paul Gauguin Cruises from other small, deluxe category cruise ships: An outstanding on board staff, professional and truly dedicated to guest satisfaction, who enjoy working together as a well coordinated team. This is reflected in an exceptionally fine passenger experience.

The food is outstanding, both in regard to the quality of the ingredients and preparation. The included alcoholic beverages are top shelf and the complimentary wine of high quality.

While I had a stateroom with a nice balcony, holding both a lounge chair and small table with 2 chairs for drinks or dining (there is a large and varied free room service menu) on deck 5, I have seen the other stateroom configurations on decks 3 & 4, all of which are of generous size (there are no inside staterooms). The bathrooms are fine & functional, with showers that have curved sliding doors, rather than the clingy shower curtains found on other ships, and the toiletries are L'Occitane.

The bed (king size or twin configurations) is extremely comfortable with bed linens of the highest quality.

The officers, including the Captain, enjoy mingling & sharing meals with the guests (on this voyage both the Captain & Staff Captain were from Sweden).

The shore excursion options were well planned.

to summarize, on the Tere Moana, Paul Gauguin cruises provides an outstanding cruise experience, which can be recommended with enthusiasm.

Read full review

Westerdam

Westerdam

Sail date: September 30, 2018

Solid Premium Experience

I only cruised for 14 nights...from Vancouver to Yokohama. Overall it was an excellent Premium category experience and the Westerdam's refurbishment was excellently executed. Service was good, though I didn't feel it was particularly personalized (though many learned my name, particularly after I made a $200 gift to the Crew Welfare Fund). The Signature Suite was excellent, large and everything worked well. That said, the extra cost wi fi was so slow (much slower than I've experienced on Celebrity on the same itinerary) that it was extremely frustrating and - wi fi being important to me - would prevent me from again booking the Westerdam (or other HAL vessels, assuming the wi fi is not up to competitive standards).

Read full review

Azamara Journey

Azamara Journey

Sail date: November 29, 2012

Exceptionally Warm Hospitality and Great Itinerary

I booked a back-to-back itinerary which took me from Mumbai, India to Singapore, with ports (many overnights) in India, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Myanmar and Thailand. This was a fascinating itinerary and the many overnights al;lowed for in-depth touring. In most ports I booked one of the ship's excursions (the excursion staff was the most knowledge and helpful I've experienced on over 50 cruises) while going on my own or booking a private tour (there is an onboard concierge to help with this) when we were in a port for 2 days (actual;ly 2 nights & 3 days in Myanmar). However, while I was attracted by the ports of call, what also stands out in my memory is the warm hospitality of the onboard service staff coupled with food that overall equalled or surpassed that that I've enjoyed on luxury lines, including Seabourn. Fellow passengers were, as one might expect, well traveled and a joy to meet for good conversation and congeniality. The Azamara Journey's officers were also very visible, including the Captain, and mingled socially with the guests. While my luded fine boutique wines at lunch and dinner, these are now complimentary in all bars as well. One of my favorite hang-outs was the coffee bar, where (again complimentary) specialty coffees and snacks are available throughout the day. Bottom Line: Azamara Club Cruises offers one of the best values in the business for guests who are seeking a combination of interesting itineraries, overnights in ports and the warmest service and some of the finest cuisine at sea. Bravo Azamara: Well done.

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Celebrity Millennium

Celebrity Millennium

Sail date: September 02, 2016

Good Service But Less Quality & More Nickel and Diming

First let me say that the ship is in excellent condition: my stateroom (a Concierge Balcony) was impeccably clean and more than adequate and the public areas look great. I initially chose this cruise because of its highly rated, gourmet specialty restaurant, the Olympic, where in the past I enjoyed the best means of any cruise line, better than the Queen's Grill on Cunard or Deluxe Category ships. While disappointed that this venue was changed to Tuscan Grill before I sailed,  I decided not to cancel my booking: in terms of restaurant quality, that was a mistake. Tuscan Grill is far from gourmet, and lacked professional service; After experiencing 3 dinners there, I cancelled my future reservations and dined at the main restaurant, which was adequate, but due to size alone, not my preferred atmosphere. I lunched at their new Sushi on 5 venue, which was quite good but terribly overpriced (a la carte with no set menu option) as well as located off a busy corridor. Qsine is more for show than for food and I found my server and the maitre d'hotel to overplay their roles, bordering on rudeness (I went once & never again). My favorite daytime venue was Cafe al Bacio, for excellent specialty coffees and friendly service. 

 

In booking Celebrity one needs to keep in mind that they do not claim to be more than a Premium Cruise Line, but clearly they are paying more attention to RCCL accountants than the marketing department or their guests. My advice would be to compare their pricing with that for Azamara and if at all possible book the latter as Celebrity has become little more than Royal Caribbean with a better veneer. 

Read full review

Cruise tips

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is one of the most wonderful cities in Europe. I stayed 3 nights post cruise.

Nassau, Bahamas

Decided to stay onboard as 1) have been before and 2) there had been recent reports of crime.

Westerdam

Westerdam

Book the Rudi Sel De Mer pop up in the Pinnacle Grill. I regret having bought the Elite Beverage package as the better (only 2) white wines by the glass were only available in the main dining room and pinnacle grill, not at the other bars, and no bar tender outside the pinnacle grill offered to get them for me.

Celebrity Millennium

Celebrity Millennium

Don't waste your money by dining at Tuscan Grill: the main dining room is better.

Lisbon, Portugal

Fascinating city, nice people: reminds me of a combination of Barcelona & San Francisco

Funchal, Madeira

Madeira is a scenic island with some great views. (If possible take High Tea at Reeds Hotel).

Tere Moana

Tere Moana

After a few days on board the Tere Moana you will feel like family, with all the staff members remembering your name as well as your preferences.

Azamara Journey

Azamara Journey

Dine under the stars for dinner, at the rear of the ship, behind the buffet restaurant.

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