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Leake - Answered a Question by Smith (13 Aug 08 10:32)

Fred. Olsen does operate a cashless system, just register a credit card with reception. Drink prices onborad are reasonable, decent wines are probably a little cheaper than on P&O. Tips are paid in cash at the end of the cruise (recommended at 4 per day per passenger to cover waiters and the cabin staff). Tours are fairly expensive but are similar in price to other cruise lines. Thankingfully the staff on Fred. Olsen do not badger guests keep on spending unlike some lines.

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miller - Answered a Question by Smith (13 Aug 08 11:34)

About 1 for lemonade, 2.55 pint of Boddingtons, 12 bottle of white wine, 26 for 200 cigs, 3.50 cocktail,it cost us 17 for 7 drinks.You only need sterling for: 2 to play bingo, 1 for a bet on dolpin racing, at least 1 for the gaming tables, 1 for R.L.N.I raffle ticket, and your gratuirites but only tip what you can afford and who you think has given you good service. Everything else like having your hair done, photo developing, drinks, trips, shop purchases goes on your cabin a/c. You will of course need euros for on shore. Our on board bill this week was for over 800 but we go a bit daft on holiday.

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Miller - Answered a Question by Smith (13 Aug 08 13:51)

As a regular on this ship I can confirm that it is a cashless society. You register your credit card at the start of the cruise and, if you agree with the bill which is presented to you on the last day, you need take no other action. For drinks, shore tours, laundry, shopping etc you merely present your identity card which you are given as you check in for the cruise. The only cash you will need is for the gaming tables, tips and on-shore spending. As far as drinks are concerned the prices are similar or slightly below UK bar prices. The only risk on this holiday is to overspend in the Christmas markets!! Have a great cruise on a lovely ship.

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Stone - Answered a Question by Smith (14 Aug 08 00:29)

I too am a regular cruiser on Fred Olsen and I'm sure you'll have a really enjoyable cruise. I was on the Christmas Market cruise last year and enjoyed it so much I booked again for this Christmas. There were more ports of call last year, but I chose to go again as Hamburg was amazing and it's once again included on the itinerary. You'll find the main historic Christmas market in front of the Rathaus (town hall) and six other markets dotted about the city. All the markets are very traditional with wooden stalls selling well made local crafts, gingerbread goodies, food and mulled wine. The city is beautiful and tastefully decorated with hundreds of Christmas trees and thousands of white lights. Last year there was an open air ice rink next to the Alster lake. It was great to see children and adults enjoying simple pleasures without a hint of tackiness. If you love shopping you'll be spoilt for choice with many exclusive shops and designer boutiques. The ship docked near enough to the city to be able to walk into town. Temperatures were well below freezing adding to the whole Christmas experience. Just make sure you take a warm jacket, woolly hat and gloves. I'll see you on board - Happy cruising Jan .

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Evans - replied to Stone (13 Nov 09 09:42)

I have been thinking about taking my mother on this cruise in December but concerned about the weather I expect very cold weather but is it snowing and ice just concerned if it would be if it would be safe to walk about in these conditions. but it must be a fantastic atmosphere.

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Stone - replied to Evans (13 Nov 09 22:00)

Hi Mrs Evans, I think the Black Watch Christmas Market cruise this year is only a 5 night duration with the ports of call being, Bremerhaven, Amsterdam and Zeebrugge. I travelled on Black Watch in December 2007 and again in December 2008 as I enjoyed it so much the first time. It was a very festive atmosphere both on board the ship and also in the various cities. It was very cold in Hamburg with heavy frost and snow showers and by the time we got up to Oslo we had quite a lot of snow which enhanced the Christmas feeling. It was very slippery under foot especially around the port areas and although I had purchased non-slip boots especially for the trip, they were not very effective. I'm very active, but I would imagine that anyone elderly or slightly unstable on their feet could possibly have a problem. Most of the ports of call had shuttle buses laid on which took passengers right into the heart of the city. I personally didn't use the shuttle buses, as I usually prefer to be more independent. Perhaps you could consider joining one of the tours involving a limited amount of walking, or use one of the HOHO buses. Having checked the local temperatures today, most of the cities seem to be having rain, but as we have almost another month before the cruise leaves it should get considerably colder in December. I'm sure that if you choose to travel, both you and your mother will have a thoroughly enjoyable time. I haven't visited Bremerhaven, Amsterdam or Zeebrugge in the winter, so unfortunately I don't have any experience of their Christmas markets. I shall be travelling on the 10 night Queen Victoria cruise to Hamburg, Stavanger, Oslo, Copenhagen and Zeebrugge. This is another option that you may wish to consider. F.O. Balmoral and P&O Arcadia also offer similar cruises. Happy cruising and best regards - Jan .

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