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Flatbush Flyer

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Everything posted by Flatbush Flyer

  1. At any cruise price, there’s no contest. IMO, Sydney is a far better land visit than Tokyo. Tokyo is huge and there are a few good museums that set it apart if you’re into Asian history. Otherwise, it’s just another large/overcrowded (and VERY expensive) metropolis. Sydney, on the other hand, is a beautiful city that is far more interesting and “user friendly” in many ways.
  2. Exactly! There were only two questions of significance on that survey- both carefully worded/limited to elicit “support” of bad news for the current program. One was “which worse-than-now situation would you prefer?” And the other was to “rank order only 3 items” (instead of prioritizing all items) which, of course, will end up erroneously suggesting that the O Club is basically irrelevant. In addition, not having a space for written comments on that survey is unconscionable when so many of us who are O long-haulers are a tremendous resource for informing O’s corporate decision-making regarding the policies that directly impact the guest experience. Since the survey was sent under Neli Arias’ signature, I urge all of you who know Neli (or who have corresponded with her) over the years) to contact her with your concerns AND reasonable suggestions for actually improving the O Club experience. BTW: small though telling item: Have you noticed that the onboard O Club “Ambassadors” are now referred to only as “Future Cruise Consultants?” The seesaw has fully flipped from “service” to “sales.”
  3. Though it can get pricey, museum shops often have a selection of affordable originals/reproductions of historical/cultural significance. Likewise, indigenous art collectives in exotic locations are often worth the detective work to identify and find them. And don’t forget that a bit more research can identify authorized art restorers who have museum permission to manufacture/market certified “spot on” handmade reproductions of handicrafts in their collections.
  4. Duty Free shops anywhere are seldom (if ever) a better deal than at home in the US (even in locations with State Liquor Stores). On the other hand, in-port specialty liquor/wine shops and, in particular, excursions to your itinerary’s regional wineries/distilleries can mean some rare/real acquisitions/bargains for knowledgeable/discerning consumers. For example, certain varietal wines are very difficult to find outside of their country (or even their appellation) and may certain editions may only be available at the winery or distillery itself. Caricante wine (from a “postage stamp” sized Sicilian appellation) immediately comes to mind. Same holds true for spirits (like the oh-so-affordable/exquisite Dingle Gin from Ireland). That said, however, a little research back home can often find a U.S. distributor/specialty shop that can get what you want. Of course, however, the State Store predicament in some locations most often puts the screws to any hope of shipping from a different State. BTW: Anyone headed to SYD for a cruise? If so, check out the Red Bottle Wine Shop (formerly the Australian Wine Center) at Circular Quay (a short walk from the ship if it’s parked there). Also, is Ensenada a stop on a future cruise? If so, find a guide or excursion and head straight for Val de Guadalupe wineries and some excellent wines. The list goes on ….
  5. Surrounded by an ocean in a tropical climate area with a ton of port stop beaches and you’re worried about the size of the ship’s pool(s)???🤔
  6. O Lifers can convert existing bookings to SM. But, whether the resultant deal saves or costs you bottom line $ varies significantly since there appear to be no algorithm yet in play (nor will there be once all the O Life applicable cruises have occurred). FWIW: we had two recent cruises where we could switch. Only one would’ve gotten a “better” deal but the limited value wasn’t worth the hassle.
  7. Not necessarily. Recently, in Thailand, among all ATM machines we tried to use (that had our card’s logo), a couple of them rejected the cards (two different cards) while most ATMs were OK. And, for others (with little experience abroad) reading this thread, never use your credit card in an ATM machine since a cash withdrawal will immediately start the accumulation of interest on your entire CC balance. Also, be aware that some machines are bank ATMs while others are Exchange Bureau machines with significant transaction fees (e.g., Travelex). And I agree with others here who have said always indicate that you want your credit card charges made in local currency so that your regular home bank exchange rate and fees will be used (almost always a better deal than their banks).
  8. Good point. Just did a “book onboard.” The chosen cruise was on the O Club “10% off” list. Got that discount AND the “book onboard” low price match guarantee plus bonus SBC on the new cruise. BUT, there was no 5% book onboard fare discount added to the O Club 10% deal. O’s mantra (“No Double Dipping”) strikes again.
  9. As is often the case with O: what you read in the O website FAQs and “reality” can be vastly different things. Might I suggest that, as you approach your twentieth cruise credit, you contact the O Club folks in Miami and enquirer about what you’ve got in mind for your complimentary 2 weeks on an O ship. Come to an agreement and go from there. That’s what has worked for us.
  10. Add to that that O Connoisseurs Club TAs are the first to know about the upgrade availability and you can inform your TA if you’re interested and what would be your OK price.
  11. IMO: Partial canal transit is like kissing your sister. Nonetheless, it is possible.
  12. …until it’s a problem. (Just one of the reasons why most premium/luxury lines still require all passengers on all itineraries to have passports).
  13. In this case, N/A Could mean “not applicable” if the tour is under $200 (as was the case under O Life where U.P. folks paid no premium for them. That said, however, I do agree that, under O Life, Unlimited Passport, was most often not as good a bottom line deal as was the YWYW option.
  14. …but are still useless for international air travel. Not having a passport with 6 months expiration leeway? Not a problem until it’s a problem - a very costly problem.
  15. No more illy coffee the Dom LaReserve is way overpriced. Save the money and buy some outstanding bottles of NorCal sparkling wines.
  16. They’ll be empty then… but the door will be locked.
  17. For one thing, you can’t be on the cruise just yet since Riviera is in Japan. Also, have you signed up for the 3/9 M&G?
  18. US residents with Medicare? Get a supplement that, when you leave the US, converts to regular emergency insurance which coordinates with GeoBlue.
  19. As is the case with the tours section of the O web, know that availability of culinary classes (like excursions) shown may be incorrect- particularly if you are on a multi-segment cruise. ALWAYS call O to confirm what’s available!!!
  20. Others don’t have SM (kept O Life where they had other perk choices). The online choices you still see is an option for them. You can upgrade to Prestige once onboard.
  21. O, for far longer than it’s consortium arrangement with NCLH, has not disaggregated its fares. And what many unfamiliar with the maritime world seem not to recognize, is that there can be substantial costs to a cruise line each time an originally scheduled port is cancelled by O (rather than by the port itself) or replaced for whatever reason. Not only may there still be charges for labor, tugs et al. at an O cancelled port, there are the new charges for a replacement port that O does not pass on to its passengers. Add to that the cost of time and effort in possible navigational and fuel charges as well as added food and beverage expenses during missed port events and it should quickly become apparent that no ship’s master ever wants to modify the original itinerary if it’s at all possible. That said, if a narrow one-sided view of port charges is that important to some folks, they should definitely consider changing cruise lines or at least get travel insurance that covers reimbursement for missed port taxes.
  22. I don’t know. The SF Chronicle bo longer carries his syndicated travel ombudsman column, which I seem to remember often dealt with issues that involved North Americans traveling abroad. That said, I do know that his Elliott.org staff will, at least, reply to reasonable issue requests by providing good contact info for company leadership folks that can get consumers one step closer t solving their own problems. I also know that when he chose to write about a travel issue with carriers that included land, air and sea, he usually got results. So, can’t hurt to try Elliott since there’s no charge for the service (though donations to the non-profit are always welcome).
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