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About TFree

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Nipomo, CA
  • Interests
    Following the Green Bay Packers, travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity, Uniworld
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. A better place to get information is the "Cruise/Travel Insurance Forum under "Cruise Discussion Topics." Beyond that, though, don't rely on us fellow cruisers to recommend the best travel insurance for your particular needs; go to www.tripinsurancestore.com or www.insuremytrip.com. Both are excellent. Call them for personalized advice (as opposed to just booking something yourself through their websites. Good luck! Tom & Judy
  2. Excellent advice. I had to figure it out some trips ago, and actually tested it to verify that the same ATM transaction costs me more if I let the local bank do the conversion, as opposed to my US bank. The question is sometimes asked in different terms, but just remember that you always want to pay or be charged in local currency (Euros in this case) not in dollars. Tom & Judy
  3. Our strategy has been to use any unused credit on blackjack in the casino. In case you don't know, you buy promotional chips with OBC. You always play the promo chips, and then if you win, they give you "real" chips which you set aside. Keep playing the promo chips until you use them all up. Then be disciplined enough to stop gambling and cash in your real chips. On our last cruise we played (I think) $300 of promo chips to use up OBC, and ended up with $360 of real money to take home with us. Obviously, you usually end up with less than the amount of your promo chips, but you are not going to lose every hand, so you always end up with something of real value to take with you. Tom & Judy
  4. Here is our recent experience. We are on the November 8 Venice to Rome cruise on the Constellation. In late April (roughly 6 months before travel), we called Celebrity Air (in our experience with them, calling is best) and they were able to come up with a really attractive open jaw fare. LAX to MAD on October 28 (10 or 11 days before the cruise), then FCO to LAX on November 18, business class on DL for $2367 pp. That was so much better than anything we were seeing, we jumped on it immediately. (Obviously, we will have to find our way to Venice with an internal European flight, but that is not a huge expense.) We have not yet paid for the tickets but seat selection was available immediately. Now by contrast, on our last cruise in late May 2019, we called Celebrity Air in late January (roughly 3 to 3.5 months before travel) to inquire about business class airfare, and they had nothing to offer that we couldn't book ourselves. So we booked through our Platinum credit card travel department, which was able to get us a trivial discount off of what we were seeing online. My conclusion is that Celebrity Air is hit or miss. If you are looking for an itinerary where they have contracted for a favorable rate, and if you call at the right time, you may be in luck. But other times they have nothing valuable to offer. Tom & Judy
  5. I am not sure if your post is in the right thread, but in any case, did you try to go directly to the Azamara bidding page, and if so did it work for you? https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/azamara-upgrade-program Tom & Judy
  6. We have used Celebrity Air on two of our last three cruises. In the two cases, they had business class fares that were WAY below the fares otherwise available directly on the airline websites. In both cases the carriers were Sky Team (Delta, Air France, KLM). In the third case, Celebrity Air had nothing special to offer and we ended up booking instead through American Express Platinum, which got us a slight discount, but more importantly refundable tickets. Maybe whether Celebrity Air has good fares depends on the itinerary, or maybe it depends on how far out you book, or maybe they have better contracts with Sky Team than with others, so if Sky Team doesn't really serve your itinerary they can't do much for you. Bottom line: we have only checked them on the last 3 cruises, and 2 out of 3 times they got great fares for us. This next cruise we are taking with them is the first time we have used the "pay later" option (I'm not sure they had it on the prior cruises). Our experience is that after the reservation was made, we were immediately able to pick seats through our account on the Delta website without any difficulty. These tickets are supposed to be completely cancellable until final payment - which makes sense since DL/AF currently has none of our money. After final payment, they are cancellable for $200 pp, and changeable for $200 pp. The beauty of that is that it basically means it is not necessary to insure the value of the airfare, since it can be cancelled or changed for a small fee. Tom & Judy
  7. TFree


    Yes, you can get cash from OBC in $20 increments. They will give you special promo chips for table games. They must have similar promo credits for machines. Then you play your promo chips as normal. If you lose, the chip goes away. If you win, you set aside the "real" chip you win and keep playing the promo chips until you lose them all. Not quite the same as cashing out, but the next best thing. Tom & Judy
  8. Unless, as in our case, you have non-refundable onboard credit to burn. On the cruise from which we just returned, we had about $280 worth of OBC to use up. So we bought table play promo chips. You can't cash in the promo chips, you can only lose them, but you can keep any "real" chips you win. So you keep playing the promo chips and setting aside the real chips that you win. We went through our $280 in promo chips and turned them into about $350 in real chips. We then stopped and cashed them in. We did not buy the 10% bonus chips before the cruise, and at least for table play, they don't sell it onboard. But if we had, we would have had 10% more chips to run through this process. Tom & Judy
  9. Redtravel: I have read in the past that the three companies in the family all use the same third party vendor for their versions of the Move Up program. At least on the Celebrity side, even if you don't get an email invitation you can still go to the Move Up page directly to put in your info and see if you are eligible. This can only be done within 30 days of the cruise. It was when I went there within 30 days that I knew I could not participate, even manually, in the Move Up program. Azamara's corresponding page is here: https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/azamara-upgrade-program. You might go there and see if it treats you as eligible to bid. Let us know if you get a chance? Tom & Judy
  10. Just as a general observation, it is not a great idea to base your decisions on travel insurance on comments from others who may or may not have purchased comparable insurance, and may or may not have really understood what they bought. In addition, policies can change over time, so even knowledgeable comments about a policy from a few years ago may not apply to the policy today. I agree with the comment that you have to read the terms and conditions yourself. Or at a minimum quiz the person selling the policy. Ask lots of questions, it is their job to know the answers. But don't rely on comments by non-insurance people on a message board. Tom & Judy
  11. Just to follow up on this, we are back now. I think I misspoke in the prior post, because I think that my Customer Service message was sent to Celebrity, not to Big Box Store (because now I can't find any email link or place on their system to send a message). So I called Big Box Store Travel Customer Service today. The agent on the line was not too helpful, since she is not familiar with the Move Up program, much less what the reasons are why they don't participate, or whether they are giving any consideration to participating. She said that would be the Cruise Buying Department that would make such decisions, and no, there is no way to contact them directly. But sure, she would pass on feedback about this. I wasn't satisfied with that, or convinced that any human will actually read my feedback, so I decided to send a letter to Big Box Travel, ATTN: Cruise Buying Department, at the address listed for mail on the Big Box Travel website. Here is the text of the letter, with identifying information removed: Dear Cruise Buying Department: I am xxxxx, [Big Box] Member number xxxxxxxxxx. We have just returned from our first cruise where [Big Box] Travel was the agent on the reservation, [Big Box] Booking Number xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. The cruise was great, and we look forward to receipt of our Cash Card in the mail. As the last month or two before the cruise approached, I learned that [Big Box] Travel does not participate in any way in Celebrity’s Move Up Program, under which passengers can put in bids on higher level cabins, and then if the bid is accepted, pay extra and move up to the higher level cabin. (https://www.celebritycruises.com/bid-on-cruise-room-upgrade) In the case of this particular cruise, we were actually able to upgrade from a Sky Suite to a Celebrity Suite for no additional cost, because the Celebrity Suite cabin cost dropped so much in price. But the more typical situation would be where it will cost, let’s say, $1,000 per person to upgrade directly, but maybe the minimum bid to make the same move would be $400 per person. If the bid is accepted, the passenger gets an upgrade for a much lower cost. I talked to Customer Service about this, but the service agent was not even familiar with the program, much less be in a position to say whether [Big Box] Travel is considering participating in this program or not. She said she would pass on my feedback to the Cruise Buying Department, but I thought I would send this letter to explain in a bit more detail. To me, this can be a significant benefit to the passenger (your client), and as far as I can tell, there is no cost to [Big Box] Travel. In fact, I have read that a Move Up under this program is considered a commissionable event, and if so it seems [Big Box] Travel would actually make money if the passenger successfully bids and Moves Up. I have become aware that most other national travel agencies do participate in the Move Up program, which (as you can tell) I consider a plus. We booked another cruise while onboard last week, and because of this issue I will be shopping the booking around before deciding whether to transfer it to [Big Box] Travel. It may be hard to match the [Big Box] Travel benefits (in the form of the Cash Card), but if other travel agents can come close and participate in the Move Up program, I would have to consider that option. I don’t know if you are willing to contact me back about this inquiry, but if you are, I would appreciate it. I would love to know two things: (1) if there is some reason that is not apparent to me why [Big Box] Travel does not participate (such as a hidden cost); and (2) if there is any chance that [Big Box] Travel will reconsider participation in the Move Up Program. If you are willing to contact me back, I can be reached at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, or at xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com, or at the address shown on the first page. Thank you for your consideration. I will post here if I get any kind of response. I urge other customers of the Big Box to write to them as well. In the meantime, I will be attempting to decipher the veiled references to other travel agents I have found on these boards, and contact several of them to shop this booking around. Tom & Judy
  12. Right. We have the same situation as you. I have submitted a customer care type email to the Big Box customer service. Their system says responses expected in 3 to 4 weeks. Approaching 3 weeks now. If I have not received a response by the time we get back from our current trip, I will get on the phone with Big Box Travel office to try to get an answer / complain. Tom & Judy
  13. Not yet. The system advised me that it might take 3 or 4 weeks for a response. We are approaching 3 now. If I don't hear by the time I get back from my trip I will certainly try to call them. Tom & Judy
  14. Hi Diamond Lover: If you are willing to compare notes on this, please send me an email at the address linked below our signature. Thanks, Tom & Judy
  15. Well, I agree. I don't know if it is worth switching in the future, and at the moment I have 3 more cruises lined up with the big box TA. I would love to learn more about yours for future decision-making. Feel free to contact me at the linked email address if you are willing. Tom & Judy
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