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Smudge

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Smudge last won the day on November 5 2012

Smudge had the most liked content!

About Smudge

  • Rank
    Member
  • Birthday 06/08/1964

Personal Info

  • First Name
    Ally
  • State
  • Country
    United Kingdom

Cruising

  • First Cruise Year
    1965
  • Cruises Sailed
    22
  • Days Cruised
    324
  • Favorite Cruise Line
    Costa
  • Favorite Shipboard Activity
    People watching
  • Favorite Itinerary
    Asia
  • Favorite Port of Call
    Mumbai
  • Favorite Port Activity
    People watching
  • Places I've Cruised To
    Hong Kong, Sanya, Da-Nang, Saigon, Manila, Brunei, Borneo, Singapore, Medan, Langkawi, Port Klang, Phuket, Colombo, Mumbai, Goa, Cochin, Dubai, Khorkhaffan, Muscat, Aden, Salalah, Safaga, Aqaba, Alexandria, Corfu, Venice, Hurghada Dubrovnik, Savona, Civitavecchia, Malaga, Cadiz, Funchal, Tenerife, Cape Verde, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador Bahia, Macieo, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn, Port Stanley, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Puerto Chacabucco, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso
  • Last Cruise Date
    May 1, 2012
  • Next Cruise Date
    December 10, 2012

Details

  • Hobbies & Interests
    Until very recently I was a discussion board administrator and have previously been a moderator on several boards, I stepped aside due to a friend needing someone to care for them due to illness. I also have an interest in aircrashes that stretches over 35+ years. I enjoy travel of all kinds.
  • Occupation
    Retired heavy goods driver and drag racer.
  1. I always travel alone, Costa Crociere's ships are 50% with single cabins without single supplement and the other 50% of the fleet without single cabins are 30-75% single supplement. Allegra had single cabins, both inside and outsides...she and her sister Marina had handbuilt cabins, not the usual prefabricated ones found on modern cruise ships, so they were very spacious. Only once did I sail with someone else in the same cabin and that was a 2 night shakedown cruise on the then brand new Norwegian Gem before she entered service. I wouldn't share a cabin again, nothing wrong with the person who I shared with but I just prefer to be on my own...same at mealtimes too, always go for a table to myself if at all possible. Comes from living alone, I guess.
  2. My packing has become a bit of an art....and as yet, I have not managed to go overweight on the flights (that is not to say that I might one day though). At home I have two fitted wardrobes...one 4ft wide with everyday type clothes and one 8ft wide that has the cruise/holiday clothes.....in the cruise wardrobe I have 15 full on formal dresses, all floor length cos I absolutely love formal nights Generally I pack a month or so out....usually one full outfit for each day/evening of the trip plus enough formal dresses to cover how ever many Gala nights happen on the cruise. On my longest cruise/stay which was 34 nights, I still managed to take just one checked suitcase at 23kg + one handluggage suitcase + flightbag and all were under the weight allowances. My next trip is 7 days on the ship with a night each end at the local airport hotel (due to early flight out, late flight back and having train journeys to/from the airport)...I have packed enough for each day and evening, incliding 3 full on formal dresses in a single 22" suitcase, so for the first time I am looking forward to flying with handluggage only
  3. I personally hate all the media involvement in this accident. Aside from the obvious (and not so obvious) mistakes made on the ship that evening, there are the many design & equipment issues, the training of senior crew and officer selection issues that need looking at closely across the cruise & ferry industry as a whole, not just at Costa Crociere. Another issue that the cruise industry as a whole should look at is the employment of media savvy people who can be deployed to the scene of an accident immediately to handle the media noses. By that, I do not mean ringfence them as such but just ensure that accurate statements are made that are able to be backed up (ie proven accurate) and that all crew & pax reply to media with "no comment"...and that goes for the rescue services too, since the Italian coast guard officer went way over the line more than once in the immediate aftermath. He can think what he likes about those involved, but he should not have made those opinions public fodder....or at least he should have kept it for the police investigators/court only. One part of the early media coverage that really p'eed me off no end was the use of footage allegedly of a staircase aboard Concordia with water running down it....every media outlet grabbed it and flashed it across the internet and on TV....only to find that it actually came from a Carnival ship, a quarter of the size of Concordia in 2009...but it made great news fodder, didn't it? Undoubtably there were alot of judgement errors that evening...that goes without saying. But it was too early and is still too early to dish out the blame for what happened. Something that I learnt a very long time ago when studying aircrashes, it takes a multitude of failures both human and equipment and training to come together to cause an accident and I suspect that Concordia will have more than a few causal factors cited.
  4. I stayed here for 2 nights post cruise in 2006 (Norwegian Crown Cape Horn cruise over Christmas & New Year). Like its contemporary in Santiago de Chile, this Sheraton was exceptional...just as you would expect. Rooms were large and well maintained with good amenities, I had a port view room which was nice...other pax had rooms that overlooked the clock tower and they said that it kept them awake to to quarterly chiming, so anyone wanting to stay here, try and get a room that overlooks the port as it is much quieter. The hotel itself was in good order, it has a restaurant onsite as well as a few shops too, mostly high end shops. Compared to the Panamericano that I stayed in last year(2011) the Sheraton Hotel & Convention Center is far superior...even with the noisy clock tower outside. For a pre/post cruise stay on Cape Horn or Atlantic repositionings this is a good hotel that offers decent value for money for a couple of nights stay.
  5. I stayed here for 2 nights pre-cruise in 2005 (went on a Cape Horn cruise aboard the then Norwegian Crown over Christmas/New year). The hotel itself was in a good position for getting into the city center but not too noisy or built up, so fairly quiet compared to most hotels in cities. Very high standard of decor, service and maintenance by staff who always smiled and were very friendly & efficient. There is a small restaurant within the hotel that included a buffet breakfast which was excellently presented and very tasty & fresh. The rooms are typical big hotel chain rooms, en-suite bathroom with the normal amenities, very clean and no traffic noise whatsoever. The drive to Valparaiso was fairly reasonable...I used the cruise line transfer that left just after 10am and arrived in Valparaiso at around midday. I believe taxi's are available for those who travel independently. Sheraton's are renowned for quality and this one did not disappoint, highly recommended for those wanting a pre or post cruise stay on Cape Horn or Pacific coastal cruises.
  6. Although I did not stay here as a part of a cruise holiday, I would certainly recommend it for those heading to Galveston who are travelling into the region from other parts of the US or from elsewhere in the world. The hotel is typical Hilton...decent rooms with good facilities. The staff are courteous and helpful, the hotel is easy to get around and offers some good views across the city. There is a small outside pool and a Rio Ranch Steakhouse on the premises. I stayed here for 4 days in 2008...literally right after Hurricane Ike visted the area. Despite the damage elsewhere in the city and surrounding areas, the hotel was OK...very clean and presentable, it offers excellent value for money for a night or two pre/post cruise for those who do not want to rush about getting to/from the ship. I would have no hesitation staying there again if the need arose.
  7. I spent one night pre-cruise here in 2011 and was far from impressed. From the outside the hotel is grey and uninspiring to look at. It used to be part of the Crowne Plaza group and it showed that the maintenance had dipped since leaving the group quite badly. My first impression was a dowdy old lady that was once quite a beauty...marble floors that are chipped, lights that either flicker or don't work, mismatched furnishings in the public areas and rooms and just a general feeling of lack of love given to the building. Location wise its not too bad, just over the road from the Opera House and Obelisk...but be aware that the traffic outside is murderous 24 hours a day. There is also a problem with pickpockets too, so be aware of where you are at all times. My biggest bugbear was arriving after a 22 hour flight at 10am and being told that I had to wait til 3pm for a room...not acceptable in what was a highly recommended hotel for air travellers who just want a shower and sleep after a long flight. After intervention from Costa Crociere representatives everyone magically got rooms immediately. Departing the hotel was also a shambles....a definite case of couldn't organise a drinking session in a brewery came to mind. The hotel staff asked all 1900 pax to place the cases into a room...fine except there are 3 coaches all leaving at different times and the hotel did not seperate the cases into their groupings despite the cases being labelled into groups to make it easy for them to seperate them. The best part of my stay (apart from getting out the door) was the breakfast buffet...superb...huge choice or hot & cold dishes, beautifully presented and freshly made. Could not fault that part at all. My recommendation would be to use this hotel if no other was available.
  8. I stayed at this hotel in 2010 prior to my cruise aboard Costa Allegra from Singapore to Savona. The hotel is in the Marina Bay district of the city and within easy walking distance of the Mer-Lion and other attractions around the city. Shopping is a breeze since the hotel is part of a large covered mall with a variety of shops and restaurants. The architecture of the hotel is breathtaking on the inside, shaped like a giant beehive of 23 floors, the hotel boasts glass elevators that travel up the center of the atrium...NOT for those (like me) who do not like heights, however. There is a service elevator available which seemed to get quite alot of use when I stayed there for 4 nights. Service & food....not up to the 5 star standard that I anticipated. Service was surly and the included buffet breakfast was overcooked and dried out due to be prepared and laid out way too early...I invariably arrived to eat at 6am when the buffet opened and the food was already dry under heat lamps. Overall my stay was disappointing...the hotel pool which overlooks the bay was closed due to maintenance, the rooms were badly in need of maintenance and my room was above the kitchen and service roads, so often noisy and smelly. Asking to change to a better room was like asking for blood out of a stone, so I wouldn't recommend that you try. So...one night, it would be OK, but anything longer than one night you maybe better off looking at another hotel.
  9. Thanks MaryLou...it was a good cruise, very enjoyable and I got to meet some great pax and crew along the way too, some of whom I have stayed in touch with. I much prefer the longer cruises, gives me more time to recharge the batteries. this one was three weeks in length, my longest so far though was Costa Allegra in 2010 at 6.5 weeks. The English hostess, Rachel, lives in Barcelona and I shall be spending the day with her in the city during my forthcoming cruise aboard Costa Pacifica in December.
  10. "A long and enjoyable transatlantic" Click here to view the cruise review
  11. "Fly, stay & cruise from the Far east to Europe over 35 days" Click here to view the cruise review
  12. "A two week tour of the Far East" Click here to view the cruise review
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