Cruise Director

Hometown: Los Angeles
Joined: 08/02/2011
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About stufalk

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 ( 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.



Ship: Tere Moana

stufalk's Past Cruises

Celebrity Millennium

September 2016 - Celebrity Millennium to Transpacific

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 - Tere Moana to Transatlantic

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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Azamara Journey

November 2012 - Azamara Journey to Other (Asia/Africa/Middle East)

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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stufalk's Tips

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
Madeira, Portugal - 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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received a helpful vote on their Tere Moana cruise review - Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

received a helpful vote on their Tere Moana cruise review - Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

liked an answer to the discussion, Male Dress Code Question, on the cruiseline forum.

started a discussion, Male Dress Code Question on the cruiseline forum.

received a helpful vote on their Tere Moana cruise review - Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

received a helpful vote on their Azamara Journey cruise review - Exceptionally Warm Hospitality and Great Itinerary

commented on a Tere Moana cruise review. - "The Tere Moana was sold by its owner Paul Gauguin Cruises, but it is totally unbelievable that a staff member would have said what this reviewer alleg..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Tere Moana cruise review - Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

received a helpful vote on their Tere Moana cruise review - Exceptionally Fine & Caring Service on Ideal Small Luxury Ship

voted up a SeaDream II cruise review written by ginger152 -Our Sea Dream Yachting Trip