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Everything posted by smtcan

  1. Port charges and taxes are listed separately by American cruise lines because they are non commissionable items. We have always had port charges refunded while on board if ports are missed. The payment is by refundable on board credit, so if not used it is paid back to your credit card.
  2. Celebrity also loads three drinks onto your card to be used each night during the "Happy Hour" times as well as unlimited drinks in the lounge. They are somewhat limited in choice, but we found that bar tenders will often substitute similar drinks once they get to know you. We enjoy the drinks and snacks n the lounge where we can meet other frequent cruisers, but picking up a glass of wine on the way into the show or the dining room is an advantage too. We rarely have a drink package because it doesn't represent value for us.
  3. I have never taken the Rocky Mountaineer, but I suspect I would feel the same as you. I have driven from Vancouver to Calgary once and the reverse direction twice and loved every trip, even the one when I drove all 2,600 Km myself. My mother and aunt were my passengers. We enjoyed being able to stop whenever we wanted and go off the main road to explore. We took two weeks for the trip, which included four days in Vancouver and two in Calgary. Friends took the train in July and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
  4. We have cruised with Princess several times both on older and newer ships and have only once been disappointed with a meal in MDR. That was prime rib, which I usually enjoy, but which was overcooked and stringy. I have never tried P&O, nor do I intend to, so cannot compare. I prefer a more international atmosphere on my cruises, both in fellow passengers and in food. We cruised on Royal Princess with a ten member family group and everyone was able to find something on the menu to suit them each night.
  5. We have used the train into Rome twice. It is quick, easy and reasonably priced. You do need to plan what you want to see and check out how to get around once you are in the city. RoninRome is a good resource.
  6. I am generalizing, but often the people who miss the ship have been in a local bar, not on a tour. When we take a private tour we always ask to be back an hour before all aboard time. In these days of social media, a company that caused passengers to miss their ship would be out of business pretty quickly.
  7. To be serious ..... I have never taken duct tape on a cruise, but when my suitcase was damaged recently a fellow passenger provided some to repair it. He just had a small amount wrapped round a pencil, but said he never travelled without it. Duct tape may be on my list from now on.
  8. I believe Spain has a tourist tax for cruise passengers while in Spanish waters. I am not sure if it is called a tourist tax, but it affects prices on board. Also, isn't the reason most cruises include a non EU port tax related? Sheila
  9. It depends entirely on the port regulations. Some are more stringent than others and require all passengers to leave the ship, others don't seem to worry. It is not within the cruise lines control, they have to follow local rules. I have embarked and disembarked in Dubai, but never on a B2B, so can't advise specifically on that.
  10. We are not heavy drinkers and only have a drink package if it is included at a very low additional cost. In fact our next cruise will only be the second time we have had a package in more than 30 cruises (although some of those were before the advent of packages). I very much doubt if cruise lines are seeing diminishing returns however. I'm sure their system works to maximize their profits, Fewer drinkers, fewer staff needed, lower overheads. After all, they have a captive clientele. Sheila
  11. One of my favourites always was Myfanwy, but since it was played at my Mum's cremation I have difficulty listening to it.
  12. I always enjoy Dave Brubeck,but my abiding memory of Take Five is hearing it played on a saxophone by a street musician in San Francisco. We were there for a week and every day he seemed to be at the same cable car stop playing the same tune. I told my grandaughter recently how we enjoyed the cable cars and hung onto the rail on the outside. She thought it was very dangerous until we explained the San Francisco cable cars go on the ground, not up mountains!
  13. I feel that I have exhausted the Caribbean and Mediterranean ports and cruises further afield are getting expensive when air fare is included. We blew all our airline points on our up coming Asia adventure, which made that cruise affordable, but I don't know where we or how we will travel after that. The benefit of being able to travel at the last minute is often outweighed by air fares. Guided tours have no appeal so road trips may be an option.
  14. Cruise prices were stable for quite a number of years, although this was done by reducing inclusions and cutting corners. I suspect that if prices had increased by smaller increments over several years, todays prices would not seem so out of line. This doesn't make me feel any more inclined to pay for a cruise at the moment. I just hope the prices become more realistic while we are still in good enough health to benefit.
  15. I will wait for prices to come down before I book after our spring Asia cruise. If they reach a level I am prepared to pay, we will be on a ship. If not we will look at other options. I have several places on my bucket list, the Grand Canyon and the US National Parks out west and New Orleans come to mind as do several European destinations the are worthy of more time than the brief port stop we had on a cruise. Our money is finite, so unless one of my preferred cruise lines (which do not include P&O) has acceptable prices we will not cruise. Unfortunately as long as passengers pay the
  16. I can't imagine there would be a big demand for sailing out of UK in the winter months. The weather is so unpredictable and the length of time taken to reach sunshine would put many people off. The outward journey would not be too bad, because of improving temperatures, but the return would be depressing for me. We once cruised to the Caribbean out of Baltimore. There was snow on the decks when we left and it took three days to reach the sun. The Caribbean was hot, but the three days back North had everyone crowded inside. Even though the snow had gone when we got back, it was still a
  17. Princess comes close to Celebrity in my opinion. I have cruised on Star, Ruby and Royal and enjoyed them all. I like their International Cafe for a light lunch or snack and their MDR food is quite acceptable. The only thing I don't like is plastic plates and mugs in the buffet - makes it too much like a canteen in my opinion. However, the coffee, tea and juice table service there is a plus.
  18. Just ask your cabin steward and he/she will remove the kettle. It does take up a lot of room, so we had ours' taken away. A kettle in the cabin is not a priority for us.
  19. Small denomination US bills are best for the reason mentioned above. You do not want change in local currency.
  20. Silhouette has two US sockets and one European two pin. The hairdryer uses the European and is quite powerful, not like the older type that were fixed to the wall. With a plug adaptor for UK to European, British hair appliances should work reasonably well. They will probably not work in the US plugs unless they are marked dual voltage. Even then some functions may be limited. I had a UK dual voltage dryer that would only work on the lower speed in US. All the plugs on Silhouette are by the desk. I have not seen any USB charging points. They would be very useful. Hope this hel
  21. I my experience, the OBC provided by the cruise line is generally non refundable, while anything from the Travel Agent is refundable. The ambiguity comes in when a TA has purchased OBC from the cruise line at a reduced price. On Celebrity (same company as Azamara) OBC is marked NR on your account on TV if it is non refundable. In your case I would definitely ask your TA to pursue the matter with since you were misinformed on board.
  22. If you fly into Canada you need a Canadian ESTA, but if you cross from USA at a land border you do not.
  23. On Celebrity we like the Elite breakfast in the Tuscan Grill - quiet atmosphere and great views. I don't like a big breakfast, so on other lines we use the buffet to find my favourite smoked salmon on a croissant. I don't enjoy the MDR for breakfast or lunch because the menu choices are usually too large for me. Unless we are very late getting back from a tour we choose the MDR for dinner.
  24. Some large US agents book group space at a preferential rate and can pass the lower cost on to their clients. I have booked several times with a particular representative of a large online TA and he knows our preferences. We were looking at a particular cruise and he asked if our dates were flexible. When we said they were, he suggested the same cruise three weeks earlier because they could add us to a group and save over $1000. I was doubtful about the implications of joining a group, but he explained that it was actually a group of cabins not a group of people and we wouldn't even be awa
  25. Since we always have to fly to cruise, I pack as lightly as possible. Mix and match is my method. Black capris, black shorts. black trousers and a long black skirt with coloured tops. I have gradually accumulated non iron items, so packing is easy. Then I take sandals, black dressy shoes and wear walking shoes on the plane. Underwear, some inexpensive but fancy jewellery and some scarves and I am all set. I can pack for a thirty day trip in a 23" suitcase, although a winter trip is more challenging because sweaters and a jacket take up more room.
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