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iancal

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Posts posted by iancal


  1. Those cheap customers are are providing revenue on cabins that would otherwise go vacant.  No different than the hotel business or the airline business.  The inventory goes stale.  That fact is built into the business plan of all three.

     

    We do the cruise lines a favour by buying last minute cabins.  And we do ourselves a favor.   Once we are on board we have no problem spending money on wine,  liquer, alternate dining venues, and some services, etc.  But zero on cruise excursions, transfers, or packaged pre/post cruise hotels.

     

    I believe that HAL is simply having trouble attracting a new base of customers.   Their existing older product has been depreciated plus it does not offer some of the features that some want.   We should be a target market for HAL but they certainly not any more attractive to us than a Princess or a Celebrity.  Depending on the ship, HAL is a less attractive buy based on our personal preferences.


  2. We have only been to one shipboard art auction. We did not stay long enough to get any ginger ale, aka champagne.

     

    I will say this.....we found the auction 'show' more amusing than some of the so called comedians that we have been subjected to on various ships over the years.

     

     


  3. Buy as much as you can. Even more.

     

    After all, it is 50 percent off AND duty free.  You will get a wonderful appraisal certificate for at least double what you paid . 

     

    Plus...whatever you can gain by using your superior negotiating skills to reduce the price even further.  The salespeople at these stores are complete rookies and give away real discounts willy nilly.

     

    They will will put any amount you request on that 'appraisal' certificate.  Just think of what a great deal you got vis a vis that appraisal certificate.  Genius.

     

    Cannot say fairer than that.  Can you?    We sometimes wonder how these stores remain in business for so long since they sell below cost, below wholesale.  Perhaps they make it up on volume or the perhaps the proprietors are simply kind hearted, generous share the wealth types.


  4. We stopped taking our Amex card when we travel.  We found too many places simply do not want to take the card.  Plus, our SPG Amex card adds 2.5 percent to each FX transaction.  Not worth the bother of having in our wallet.  Now, we use it very infrequently at home as well.


  5. My understanding is that it is not a Mexican tax, but rather a state tax by the state of Baja Sur.  That would include Cabo, La Paz, etc.  It does not appear to include Ixtapa, PV, Huatulco, etc.  Apparently if it is not collected at airports or seaports it will be collected at hotels.

     

    Have to wonder if if will have any impact.   We plan to avoid Cancun/Puerto Morales this year because of the the sargassum problem.  Wonder if the sargassum issue in the Yucatan will will push people over to Baja, and more specifically Cabo ..   Wonder if other states will do the same and implement a tax. We are headed down to Huatulco for a month, maybe two months in mid Jan and then heading up the coast.   Don't want a situation where every state levies a tax and we have to pay.   There are lots of states...just under 30 I believe.


  6. We prefer the MDR.  But it really depends on the level of service and the quality of food on the ship that we happen to be on.  

     

    We have been on ships where the MDR was fabulous in all respects.  We have also had cruises where either the meals were mediocre and not worth bothering about, the service poor, or the food inconsistently prepared or served cold.   We then retreat the buffet and to the alternative dining venues.  Not to mention our schedules for the day if it is a port day.


  7. You simply do not know.  The most enjoyable four days we have ever spent in Rome were in mid November.  The weather was perfect, the lighting was perfect, and the tourist crowds were non existent. We went out in the morning wearing light cotton sweaters.  By 10:30 we had removed them.    It could have just as easily been cold and wet.  We have had mid-late beach and swimming days in Crete, Sicily, etc. and we have also had periods of rain.   Prepare to dress in layers.  This past Oct the weather was fantastic.


  8. I believe that it has more to do with what 'the traffic will bear' than anything else.  Last time we booked an Australia/NZ cruise we saved just over 30 percent by calling the RCI office in Sydney vs the best price that our NA on line TA was offering.  Adjusted for currency of course.   RCI Australia were aware of our country of residence since they brought up our details from past cruises.  DW did exactly the same by booking her Baltic cruise with a UK agency.  Last month we booked five nights at a seaside hotel in Cyprus on a UK site.   About 40 percent less that we could find from the usual NA booking sites.   Had the same experience booking Aerolineas flights to Iguazu-saved about 30 percent by calling the Aeroplineas call center in BA vs buying on line.  It took all of 10 minutes.

     

    When we shop for travel we always shop the international sites.  It is not often that the NA cruise price is less but it does happen.  But, we have enjoyed considerable price differences by booking hotels, air, and tours on out of country sites.  Now we do this as standard practice when we are shopping for overseas travel products.

     

    We use a credit card that does not charge an admin fee for currency exchange.  We end up paying the Visa rate of about .35% over the prevailing market rate at time of settlement.   Our other credit cards would otherwise add 2.5 percent to this rate.


  9. We have done  numerous land and cruise trips in the Med in early -mid Oct over the years.  One of our favourite areas.    The first part of the month has always been good in the Cyclades, on the Turkish coast Bodrum, Antalya, etc, on Crete.  Same for Sicily and Malta in our experience  Good enough to swim and sunbathe.

     

    After that it is a crap shoot.  You cannot predict the weather.   We have had beautiful sunny days thought to November.  On one trip we had some cooler days and intermittent rain.  In Sicily mid Oct we  rain in the Aeolean Islands (eastern Sicily) with wind that prevented us from going by boat to other islands.  A week later we were swimming and sunbathing on a beach near Erice on the western side of Sicily.   We have experience similar weather in Crete.


  10. Our TA gives us good OBC.  More importantly, she has provided impartial  feedback from her customers.

     

    In one instance that feedback stopped us from booking what was apparently a 'dog' of a ship at that time.    She has also told us about other more competitive offerings that we were not aware of when we were about to book inside the final payment window.    We would not get even one of those three benefits if we were booking on line OR booking with a cruise line employee.


  11. Not certain where you plan to go in the Med.  We have often traveled in Sept/Oct.

     

    We we spent much of this past Sept/Oct in the area. A month in the Ionian Islands and two weeks in Cyprus.  Weather was excellent there as it was in Athens.  We had two half days of rain on Zakynthos. Otherwise it was perfect.   Our time on Cyprus was fabulous, right up until departure in late Oct.   30-34C on the beach, 20/23 in the mountains.     In past trips we have sunbathed and swam in the ocean on Naxos, Crete, and Sicily to name a few.  But....weather can change.   We tend to favour spring or mid Sept-Mid Oct. 

     

    We would never recommend a July/Aug trip to the Med.  You are right.  Too crowded, too hot, too everything. 


  12. Late booking cruise opportunities is one of the reasons why we focus on the ship and itinerary rather than the cruise line.

     

    Any benefits that accrue for frequent cruiser programs pale in comparison to some of the late booking cruises that we have been able to take advantage of.  Plus, we have experienced some cruise lines/ships that we might not have otherwise experienced.


  13. IF you opt to get a 30 day visa from a consulate pay extra attention to the dates.  Ensure that you use your actual anticipated day of entry and not the date you are requesting the visa.  Prior to getting ours we read of several people who had not paid particular attention to this and had issues as a result.


  14. You can get some very good last minute fares through the various cruise air programs.  On our last med cruise was a last minute.  We were ending in Sicily with no air home. We had some options. We then saw an extremely attractive offer on a Rome-Barcelona cruise four days out.   

     

    The even larger bonus for us is that we were able to secure cruise air home from BCN at a great price on BA with excellent connections.  Saved us casting around for other one way air home options or having to resort to an LCC flight to London or Paris in order to catch a reasonably priced one way flight back to Canada.   Bottom line....cruise air is well worth looking at in a late booking situation.


  15. It might depend where in Corfu you plan to go.

     

    We spent a week in Corfu this past September.  We could see four ships in port on the day we went into Corfu  old town.  It was  a zoo...so busy we left after a little while and returned the following day when there was only one or two ships in port.  Huge difference. Both times in the afternoon.


  16. On one occasion we cancelled a cruise just prior to final payment and re-booked it several weeks later.   Our TA gave us a heads up that it was not selling well so we took a chance.  We realized a  substantial saving over our initial booking cost.  That helped to switch us on to late bookings when possible.  Sometimes it isn't depending on the itinerary.

     

    We  shop based on ship instead of cruise line.  That widens the field for us plus we get to travel on several cruise lines and appreciate the differences between them.  We do not really care what name is on the funnel.


  17. Most of our late bookings have been 3-7 weeks out.  A few were 3-5 days out.  We have had a few during prime vacation periods-over Christmas and Easter/March break.  If the cruise departs from a non NA port we also check pricing on non NA web sites.  Sometimes there can be significant price differences for the same cruise simply by not booking in NA.


  18. This is how we book most of our cruises.  We follow two or three ships plus air if required.  We typically determine our buy price and hit the button when the price shows up.  We always have a backup plan.  

     

    Usually, on our extended land trip we look for last minutes if we are near a port.  Our travel schedules are usually flexible.  We have done this in Europe several times and in FLL/MIA. Plus one from San Diego.   More challenging fr us because we always want a verandah.  There is a 90 day list that I peruse from time to time but it is by no means complete.   We get last minute offers emailed from Princess.  Celebrity and RCI have last minute deals posted every week.  Over the last year of so we have seen some very attractive HAL late booking prices.  Especially Alaska and Caribbean.

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