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Everything posted by iancal

  1. This is really not such a big issue. I have no doubt that other cruise lines will continue their respective children's programs. EXCEPT of course for those people who booked a family cruise on a ship that will not have a proper children's program, and are now inside the cancellation window and hence cannot cancel and re-book on another cruise line. Not certain if HAL is making a conscious decision to move away from the small slice that they have of the family cruising market or if is simply a move to reduce headcount and expenses. Either way, there are plenty of other family friendly cruise line options in the marketplace to choose from. There is always a chance that this is a trial balloon to gauge customer reaction. I do not think that the fat lady has sung her final song on this one.
  2. No surprise. For years the cruise lines tried desperately (and very successfully) to suppress reports of crime on their ships. Hard to say whether crime has increased over the years or whether the reporting of crime has increased because of better Government oversight. The internet has also helped to change this by increasing public awareness and public pressure for change. If it was left to the cruise industry there would never be any reports or warning about crime on cruise ships. Not in their interest.
  3. We view bargain in terms of value for money. Not simply for price. We also view it in terms of competitive offerings. Seems to us that lately, base on our preferences, some of the premium lines offer us much better value than many of the mass market cruise lines.
  4. Agree completely. Having spent time in Siem Reap we would never, ever consider a quickie cruise line excursion. Good hotels can be obtained for far less that $150. There are plenty of good local guides. We got our guides info from a tripadvisor form. A/C Lexus SUV moved us around the sites in such as way as to avoid the tour crowds. Picked us up early in the AM, back to the hotel in the hot afternoon for a cold beer and a swim. The other benefit...he gave us some history of his families past during the regime. He also talked to us about the present, his spouse was a college instructor. She had to tow the line in order to keep her position. We flew in from Chiang Mai. It took all of 15 minutes to go through the visa formalities on arrival. We left by land. It would take you as much time to fly from Singapore as it would to drive from where most cruise ships dock into Bangkok central. That is the reality of it. We did three nights. One night after arriving in the afternoon. Then two full days touring. Departed after the third night. We very much enjoyed our time in town, looking in the stores, trying out the local restaurants, and attending a local show.
  5. We take our Visa and our MC credit cards. Our Amex stays at home. It got to the point where fewer and fewer overseas merchants were accepting Amex so we stopped taking it on trips. We use use a card that does not charge a hidden admin fee on foreign transactions. Not certain about PINs. Our cards have been chip and pin for at least five years now. Tap is very common now as well though some places have a limit on the transaction amount. Much faster and easier than PIN input.
  6. Perhaps this is simply indicative of where the HAL management team plans to change the cruise line's direction. . There are other cruise lines that do not have a children's program just as there are other cruise lines that do. Thankfully there is lots of choice out there to meet everyone's wants and needs. Certainly not the end of the free world so to speak!
  7. We have been in and out of Australia...Gold Coast, Sydney multiple times. Going through customs and immigration was a non event. We landed at Gold Coast airport from Thailand this past February. We were through customs/immigration in all of five minutes. Mind you, we had the correct paperwork, we are oldies, and we only travel with a carry on bag each. Hardly the type to get more than a quick once over-dog or no dog.
  8. We were in Australia for part of last winter. We took advantage of low cost Jetstar flights to fly into Hobart (from Brisbane) and fly back from Launceston to Sydney in early March. Our Australian friends suggested this and gave us a heads up on one of the very frequent Jetstar seat sales. We spent a two nights in Hobart, then rented a car for a week and toured the island, staying at B&B's along the way. Our only regret was perhaps not staying for a few more days. Very friendly people. We found it very different from other places we have been in Australia. Definitely worth a trip for anyone who is doing a pre or post in Australia.
  9. If you like to swim in the ocean, the water will most likely be warmer in early October than it will be in May.
  10. For now. Don't tell the bean counters or before you know it the change machines will be in there before you can say jack robinson. If expense was an issue HAL might have been better to charge a fee for HAL club rather than eliminate it altogether. As a parent or grandparent I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee for this. But of course, this cost would be taken into account when comparing total cruise costs across the competitive landscape.
  11. The message to cruisers with children is clear (if indeed this is their hard to fathom direction). Cruise without your children, select other cruise lines that have a proper children's program, or cruise HAL and be prepared to place them in what appears to be an unsupervised video game (and probably revenue generating) arcade. I know what I would do if I planned to take children or grandchildren on a cruise.
  12. IF you can only travel the Oct/Nov timeframe I would travel as early in Oct. as possible in order to hedge my weather bet. We have gone swimming in the Med in places like Naxos, Crete, Sicily, Malta, and Cyprus at this time of year. Your chances of good weather in early Oct. are excellent. And we find that the water from swimming is often warmer than we expected.
  13. We have purchased air direct with the airline in Argentina and Turkey, a cruise direct with the cruise line in Australia, an African safari direct with the provider in S. Africa, and hotels either direct or through travel vendors in other countries, plus Greek holiday package on a UK website. The latter called us back in Canada to finalize the buy. Never had an issue. We only do it if the savings are substantial-and they sometimes are.
  14. It is normal for us to provide our passport when registering for accomodation, renting cars, currency exchange, and air/water transportation. I cannot think of one time over many years of international travel where an in country private tour operator requested either our passport numbers or a copy of our passports- Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa or Central/South America.
  15. We have also booked cruises and other travel products with TA's and travel vendor offices in other countries. When we travel internationally we take our NA prices and compare them with in country prices in those other countries. We have enjoyed significant discounts on hotels, air, and on one cruise by doing this.
  16. Always with our on line TA. Once direct when it was advantageous for us to book direct with RCI in Sydney for an OZ/NZ cruise. We have never had an issue reaching our on line TA by phone. We view this strictly as a commercial transaction. We are not looking for a new best friend when we deal with our TA. We simply want to get the cruise booked at the best price, net of TA provided OBC's. Plus, we want her unbiased opinion and feedback on ships that we are considering.
  17. They may feign interest in comments. But really, their web site has been a disaster for years in comparison to that of others (competitors and those under the same corporate umbrella) both in terms of design and performance. One would think that since this a marketing tool, a sales tool, and a potential revenue generator that HAL might pay attention to the comments on the forum. So...perhaps they do pay attention but simply do not action anything.
  18. We expect to be heading to Mexico next month for 6-8 weeks on an independent land trip. Starting in Huatulco. We have done a fair amount of research. There are areas that we intend to avoid, just as there are in other countries.
  19. No, the opposite. We started retirement with a 6 month international trip. SInce that tme 8 years or so ago, we do two extended trips (6-8 weeks each) plus one week last minute AI's when the offer is attractive. We downsized and moved into a home that we could essentially lock and leave. Travel was a key reason since we live in the snow belt. Two change since retirement. We take far fewer cruises and the ones we do take are typically booked inside the final payment window. The second change was I like to be away for 3 months, even longer. DW does not. So we compromised at 6-8 weeks.
  20. We have hep vaccinations. Not because of travel to foreign lands but for travel at home and throughout NA.
  21. iancal


    NO surprise. Nor does it appear that the 737max will be back in service anytime soon.
  22. We had one itmatrix price/fare code on an international flight where the airline price, when we called, was considerably more that the itmatrix option. $1500 direct with the airline vs $1050. on itmatix. We checked on three common booking websites. Only the third one had the flight at the price itmatrix displayed...plus the web site displayed the same fare codes. Never happened to us before or since that time. This all done with 15 minutes of getting the itmatrix price options.
  23. Penang is a good stop for a cruise line. Get off the ship and you are in town. We close that when we arrive by ferry we wheel our bags over to our hotel.
  24. We have spent a number of winters in Thailand. Also Vietnam and Malaysia. We keep looking at cruises but never consider buying if majority of cruise days are stops in those countries. Our strong preference would be a land tour. We travel independently but we have spoken to a few people who were on land tours. IMHO land tours are the best way to really see those sites without the loss of so much time traveling to and from where the ship happens to dock. AIr is very inexpensive in SE Asia. Figure on $30- $60 an hour for short flights. Much, much less for longer flights.
  25. When we buy consolidator class tickets, either from the cruise line or on the web, we are very careful about two things. First-we want a major carrier who has multiple flights daily. We do not want the last flight of the day. I take note of those flights and times just in case one of our flights is delayed. Second, if there is a connection, we want to be on the same airline for the second flight AND we want to ensure that the airline has multiple flights to our final destination. We only do carry on now so checked bags are never an issue for us. We picked up a one way consolidator class ticket on BA from Toronto to Istanbul. We had a few choices. We selected BA because they had, at that time, three flights a day to LHR. We took the earliest. Plus, they had the same for LHR to Istanbul. Had the same on BA coming back from Barcelona to Calgary. Coming home we did not care about the limited sched with only one flight daily from BCN to Calgary.
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