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Everything posted by iancal

  1. I do not understand the issue. If you are not happy with the hotel, the service, the location then simply do not book it again. No different that how we approach restaurants, cruise ships, airlines...well just about anything really. If you are uncertain as to the service levels simply call them and inquire. Our experience with travel products, hotels and cruise lines, is that price and brand are always an indication of the quality of the product or the level of service. We vote with our feet and with our wallets if we are not satisfied.
  2. Absolutely agree. We did our own. Arranged the flights, hotels. Transport from the airport to the park or to the town is plentiful. You definitely do not need a tour guide for the park, nor do you need one to drive you back and forth to the park. This was probably one of the easiest DYI tours that we have ever done. The only not so difficult bit was calling down to the Aerolineas call center in BA (on the advice of the 1-800 CSR) in order to get access to more flight times and save about 30 percent on our return air fares vs booking on the web.
  3. Alitalia needs much, much more than a new name, new colors, and a leaner corporate culture.
  4. We were there for two nights in an upgraded room. Did not eat there but the bed was the most comfortable that we experienced in months of travel!
  5. We are anxiously waiting for Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to open it This area is one of our favorite go to areas for snowbirding. We do not anticipate them opening this winter as a group. Our understanding is that Thailand is open to a certain extent in Phuket (not where we typically go) and have indicated that they may open up more in the upcoming months. We are already planning an alternative snowbird location for the upcoming winter. The challenge with any country at the moment is that covid is far from static and still has a way to go. Countries will be relaxing and/or re-introducing covid restrictions at will based upon the then current situation in those countries. A great deal can happen between final cruise payment and sailing day. This situation must present a very difficult challenge for cruise lines and for the leisure travel industry in general.
  6. I do not see an issue with price. People make a choice. Buy the cruise line package or DYI. If the cruise lines can enhance their bottom lines by offering products that are are attractive to some at prices some are willing to pay then I say good luck to them. It is just good business.
  7. Agree. Moreover we have traveled to many foreign countries. It is very unusual to find someone who cannot speak a little English, or in our case a little French as well. The only place we have had a slight language problem in many years of international travel was a small B&B in a southern Chile town. Even then...the language was not an issue. We knew what our host wanted, she knew what we wanted. I believe that the the cruise lines and some TA's play on this 'foreign language' and 'foreign country' business in order to increase sales of pre and post packages.
  8. I cannot imagine actually paying to take a cruise line bus in FLL or indeed one of those shuttles from hotel to port where everyone is squished in. Seems to me it is faster, and usually less expensive, to DIY and grab a taxi. The distances are short, the fares are low. You pay for the trip, not per person. The last thing we want to do after getting off a plane or cruise ship is wait in some clapped out, retired from route service Greyhound bus to fill out before leaving the airport or the port.
  9. We have stayed in two hotels that were used by cruise lines, HAL included, that we can remember. In Rome, we stayed at the Sheraton Golfo (?) while on a business trip. Subsequently, after being in Rome multiple times on vacation I could not imagine staying at that location as a tourist. We stayed at Westin Ft. Lauderdale (beside the I95). Close to nothing a tourist would be interested in. It was the weekend, it was a business hotel. We were on a land trip, had a car, and got it on a Hotwire win for sub $100. Cruise lines get great rates at these hotels on the weekend because vacancy is high. So do we if we book direct or go through Hotwire or Priceline. We checked the HAL rates out of interest. They were incredibly high. Cannot imagine a good TA recommending this hotel, based on location, for any pre or post cruise. I can well understand why some people like the ease of booking with HAL or another cruise line. We have had years of independent, spontaneous travel so booking somewhere new where there could be a language issue has never been a concern of ours.
  10. HAL is in business to make a profit. No doubt they have profit margin targets for every aspect of their business including pre/post cruise and excursions. We have never found any cruise line hotel offer to be attractive. HAL included. More often as much as 2X that we would pay on our own. Moreover, sometimes we have noticed that some of these hotels were not located in the best tourist centric locations. You really do have to independently check this if you book hotels through a cruise line. Some people want the convenience and are will to pay for it. It is all about choice. When we were on a SA trip we priced the cruise line trip to Iguazu Falls. Made our own arrangements for about 1/3 the cost that the cruise line wanted. One additional night to what the cruise line was offering. Complain? No. We had a choice and we selected based on our requirements.
  11. I pull the batteries. Pull the ragtop battery when I take it off the road each fall. I pull the battery from the daily driver, switch the insurance to fire/theft the day we leave for several months. Both are in our unheated garage. Never an issue.
  12. We hesitate to deal directly with any cruise line agent. Not much point to it from our perspective. Not a fan of hold time/elevator music. It is just one reason why we deal with our on line TA. Plus the reduced fares, independent advice, and fast turn around on emails or phone contact. Our TA does a great job of dealing with the cruise line and sorting our any issues. That is why the cruise line gives her commission income.
  13. Another attraction for us is how very easy it is to travel in Greece and make arrangements as we go. The people are so friendly and welcoming. We meet people from other parts of the world. It is the same friendliness and ease of travel that we experience when we snowbird in Thailand. Probably one of he reasons we keep going back to both. Besides the seas and the fabulous food!
  14. We were three nights in Seville. Could have stayed longer. Seville would be a no brainer to us if the alternative was Cadiz.
  15. We moved as much as possible to the web when we retired. Our neighbour empties our box of junk mail one every 7-10 days. DW gets three months worth of prescription meds prior to leaving home..or whatever amount is required. On line banking from time to time to monitor accounts. We also have alarms on some accounts. Never had problem…not even when we were away for seven months.
  16. Sept '22 is a long way off. Any time we have flown into YVR from another country we have had to clear customs , pick up our bags, and place them on another belt. Similar to what we have done when we have flown into YYZ or YUL from overseas destinations and changed planes for a domestic flight.
  17. I do not think it matters where your TA happens to be. The only issue is whether or not you are happy with the service. Our strong preference is avoid cruise line sales reps/PCC's or whatever they like to refer to themselves as. We live in Canada, our former internet based TA for cruises was in Florida. We used a UK TA for Greece/Cyprus and for two last minute AI’s in Mexico pre covid. We booked an Australian cruise by calling the cruise line's Sydney, Australia call center to take advantage of a significant saving in fare. Several years ago we used a TA in South Africa rather than a local TA in our city who claimed to ‘specialize’ in Africa. Better service, better offerings, better pricing. The internet has brought the world to our home….or anywhere else we happen to be. No different than calling a TA in the neighborhood where we live. We only care about price. independent advice, and whether the service level meets our needs.
  18. Who knows??? My guess would be yes. Covid still has a long way to go. January is not far off. The last thing any cruise line needs is the bad PR from a potential floating covid ward.
  19. We have done the Terraced Houses twice. Both time on private tours that got us there early in order o avoid the buses. We thought this was the highlight both times. We were with two in laws on the second trip. They wanted to see Mary's House so we asked the tour guide to take us. Our impression was that it was little more than a well conceived tourist trap. I would give other options like a Turkish lunch, visit to a 'craft factory' etc. a wide berth unless you are interested in getting a pitch for leather clothing or carpets or your basic trinkets and trash tourist shops.
  20. We tentatively have two trips planned in the New Year. January/Feb and April/May We have absolutely no idea what the covid situation will be nor do we have any idea what the various countries we plan to visit have in place for restrictions. The only thing that makes sense to us at this point is to have a good plan B in mind should plan A go down the pan. Today's data and restrictions only serve as a very rough indication that we certainly will not depend on them to make firm or any non refundable travel financial commitments. Not to mention safeguarding our own heath and welfare.
  21. One thing for certain.....IF we were buying an internet package we would never buy a package in advance of the cruise. We would buy a small amount on board and then determine if it is worth our while in terms of speed and access. More than once we have been disappointed with 'free' internet minutes on a ship because of performance/speed that we never bothered to use all of our free time.
  22. Since retiring ten years ago we tend to be late booking and last minute spontaneous travelers. We plan to be even more so over the next year or so.
  23. Our favorite cruise lines in Greece... Levante, Blue Star, Seajets, Minoan, Zante, Sea Speed, Anek.......
  24. We never bother. On one or two cruise lines we do get some 'free' internet time. We stopped buying it. It was expensive, even more so when you consider the speed/quality. We will use our ipads during a port stop. But beside the dock where everyone else is. Often some bar or restaurant a few blocks away that is not crowed and has free wifi. But...it has been a while since we have purchased wifi on any ship. Perhaps it has improved or the price has gone down. Might do everyone some good to be without wifi for a spell.
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