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Everything posted by iancal

  1. I suspect that a fair number will remain and continue to complain and wax poetic about the glory days of ‘seafaring’. We will select the itinerary and the ship that best meets our preferences at that point in time. We are not looking to marry a cruise line...just looking for a date as it were. The offerings are changing with market demands so we will attempt to maximize our personal return from an enjoyment and a financial perspective. There are many good ships and cruise lines to choose from. We do not really care about cruise line financials. We are not shareholders or bond holders.
  2. I really have no idea. We have, on several occasions, booked hotels, air, and tours in other countries at significant discounts to what we would have otherwise paid had we booked in Canada or the US.
  3. We did the same when we lived in Vancouver. The other big bonus was that we were able to see the weather forecast for the next two weeks just prior to booking three days ahead.
  4. Same here. But for us this is no longer the reality for mass market cruise lines such as HAL. So we see little point in complaining about it. Plus, we very much prefer the casual atmosphere to formal. If we wanted the latter and a cruise more along the lines of the the past we would select Cunard or some other more formal cruise line. Or Perhaps Seabourn.
  5. We were told by the RCI agent that our seniors discount was $300 AUD per person Plus prepaid gratuities. I do not know if the $200 obc was part of the seniors rate. He mentioned after bringing up our profile on his screen. It was mentioned after he applied the $200 cabin credit for a balcony cabin. I did not ask. Just happy to get it and happy to realize such a large saving over what we would have paid had we booked with our US Ta. Don’t know if there were any contractual differences since we booked and paid in full two or three weeks prior to blast off. Our focus was on the net bottom line inclusive of OBC’s. The senior discount, inclusive of gratuities was certainly more that five percent of the discounted late booking price. No idea what the percentage was of list.....if a list legitimate list price really exists. We were down to just over $85 AUD pp per diem for this 21 day balcony cabin cruise. A person on the Oz page of C.C. gave us the heads up on this offer otherwise we would have booked it with our usual on line US TA. So we decided to call RCI Sydney direct. So glad we did. They got some of it back though. We had just been on a Princess cruise where the on board currency was AUD. The RCI on board currency was USD and prices were higher. Adjusted for currency, bar prices were about 50 percent higher for beer, wine, and specialty coffees on RCI.
  6. Why on earth would anyone care what a Carnival Corp ships are being used. No doubt they used the closest and the ones that made sense. Carnival, Princess, Costa, HAL.....does it matter what logo is on the funnel as long as the ships get there. This is about Carnival Corp.
  7. Exactly. The past is past. It is the present and future that matter to us. We do no long for the old days of cruising any more than we long for those ‘they don’t build them like the used to’ death trap automobiles.
  8. Today you can fly return to Europe from some gateways for as little as $400 or less. You can snag a seven day Alaska or Caribbean cruise for $399, sometimes less. That is roughly equivalent to $200 in 1990 dollars assuming average inflation of 2.4 percent.
  9. We require air for most cruises. There have been times when we stopped shopping for last minute cruises because of air prices. Other times we have been on extended land trips and fairly close to a port. Popular vacation times can be a challenge for air. Having said that we are flying to Athens this week. We booked air in early July. We checked the prices two days ago. If we purchased the exact same flights the price would have only been be $33 more than we paid in July. In between the prices did go up, and then came down again. It happens.
  10. The former owners and management team managed HAL down to the point where their P&L and their Balance Sheet were so weak that they could net secure financing for new builds. That is not defamation. It is the harsh reality of business. We judge cruise lines and cruise ships by the here and now. We are buying today’s product. Not some foggy memory of what we might have bought and experienced in the past. HAL is no doubt moving in the direction that they feel the market is headed. History is littered with firms that failed to change with market direction. We would book some HAL ships in a heartbeat. There are some HAL ships we would not consider. Does this make us, or others like us so called HAL haters? I don’t think so. Simply a matter of matching our preferences to specific ships instead of believing that all ships in the fleet deliver a homogeneous experience as we perceive it.
  11. We usually book last minute. More often anywhere fro 30 to 40 days out. The closest have been three days out. Always a balcony. We select two or three competing ships and buy when our target price hits. If we need air watch those prices as well. Usually when we are ready to book our TA hold the cabin for a few hours or until the end of the day. Just enough time for us to finalize our air arrangements.
  12. N Yes, we are Diamond on RCI. We did not book with a TA. We booked directly with RCI by calling their office in Sydney. I suspect that RCI (and others) have different offers in different countries just as they have different booking Terms and Conditions. I was told that gratuities inclusive was part of the package and we certainly were not charged on board. We also were given a $200 OBC. What made up the 35 percent difference advantage in booking directly with RCI Australia was the reduced cabin price for seniors, the inclusion of gratuities, a and the $200. RCI obc. The $200 Diamond cabin credit for selecting a balcony cabin was common to both Australian and US quotes. The difference also took into account the OBC that our US on line TA was offering. I was amazed at the difference in price. It took us about two seconds to say yes. This 21 day cruise last minute cruise was already heavily discounted. We often check prices in different countries. We will be in Cyprus next month. Last week we booked a resort through a UK Travel firm. The cost was about 30 percent less than booking it on North American sites. This does not happen very often.
  13. Med cruise. Crystal Symphony. Everything was perfect. Med cruise. Celebrity Solstice. Everything was perfect.
  14. We have only had a seniors discount once. It was on RCI Australia. We called their office in Sydney to book a last minute cruise. Halfway through the booking process the agent advised us that an identical balcony cabin two doors down had come available. It was a cabin in their seniors program. We got a few hundred dollars each discount plus we got the gratuities for our 21 day cruise included. We very surprised because the cabin was already significantly discounted. Then, at the end he applied the $200 Elite cabin discount that we get when booking a balcony. All told the net difference between booking with our NA on line TA and directly with RCI Australia was just under 35 percent.
  15. We do not care. We are far more interested in quality and value than we are with quantity, social cachet, or impressing the Jones’. We are quite happy, we do not need our respective egos stroked the size of a ship or by the on-board facilities.
  16. Such a shame that there are apparently. no other cruise lines that employ staff that remember you, remember your name, or that some cruisers consider to be friends. Those other cruise lines must employ all the unfriendly, forgetful types who are doing the job only for the money.
  17. So called loyalty to a cruise line and loyalty programs are about the last consideration for us. One we select the itinerary it comes down to ship, then cruise line. We look at the pros and cons of each, including price, and then come to a tentative decision. IF it is a tie we may lean toward RCI because of their diamond benefits. But only if everything else is equal. A bag of laundry, some internet minutes, a half price dinner will no do it for us. And we ignore the other...a couple of bottles of water, priority boarding etc. Don’t need our egos stroked.
  18. We cross the border multiple times in a year. Plus we do several out of country trips each year. We have never, ever been asked about our prescriptions drugs by Canadian customs and immigration folks. We have been asked about liquer, cigarettes, cash money, and firearms (especially at land crossings). We have been told that the focus on airport entry is typically cash money, meat and plant products, and narcotics/illegal substances. At land crossing the focus is very much on firearms and illegal substances. It is fairly obvious to the border inspection folks that tourists on their way to cruises etc. They want to get the processed and on their way so that they can deal with the real threats. I suspect that if you check with any country their border folks will give you very similar advice. I cannot see any border inspection folks having the time or the inclination to ask Ma or Pa Kettle, on their way to a cruise or a trip through the Rockies, about their blood pressure pills, *****, or whatever. As long as it is not five years worth. The only exception might be if it is a slow day (highly improbable) and you are caught with items such as undeclared cash in excess of $10K or firearms, or if you are extremely rude and obnoxious from the word go (highly unlikely and within your control). Or if the screen lights up with your criminal record. Again...highly unlikely.
  19. If you want a ship that mirrors your exact requirements then go ahead and charter one. If not, pick one that is closest to you wants and desires. This business of wistfully thinking about what was in the past or complaining and griping about a cruise line or the direction of it's management is a complete waste of time and energy. Get off the dime and move forward. Here is today's news....they won't be changing things to meet your every wish, desire, and memory. If you are like me you have more past that you have future. Make the best of it. Don't cheat yourself out of the present because of some misplaced sense of entitlement. Just 'go for it' and move on with the rest of us. And if that ship or that cruise line does not work out simply choose another one next time. Heaven knows there is a lot to choose from out there. And if the library is not to your liking..well live with it and be a tad flexible. Look for something else in that ship that exceeds your expectations and perhaps pleasantly surprises you or your misconceptions. Mints not quite right either....then bring your own and move on.
  20. Never. -New crew -Focus on the freebees...cruise line execs, travel industry exec, travel mag folks, key suppliers, etc. Paying passengers are second class. Venues closed for private events. -Work not finished, incomplete, or ongoing work. We feel the same way about the first cruise after drydock and the last cruise prior to drydock
  21. We use a site where various TA's bid for your business. Usually as a double check to determine if our TA's net price in the ballpark. Our experience is that there are one or two respondents who always appear to low ball. We look at the quote, call them, and magically those balcony cabins are no longer available etc. We always want our prices...inclusive of taxes and with OBC's, cruise line and TA, clearly indicated in writing. We never provide our payment info without having a very clear hard copy document outlining this, the final payment date, and the purchase conditions, ie whether any or all the deposit is non refundable. We are big on the trust but verify regime when dealing with vendors.
  22. I cannot even recall ever being asked as we entered any country if we had any scripts. We have entered the US countless times by land, air, and sea. Never, ever been asked the question. Nor can we recall seeing it on any entry forms from any country that we have visited. I have no doubt that most countries have regs that the can enforce when officials feel the need. All of the countries that we have visited understand the benefits of tourism and appear to do their best to strike a balance between enforcement for the sake of enforcement, common sense, ,manpower issues, and their tourism industry. Really, who are they going to hit on.? In our case two travel weary tired looking seniors each with a tattered carry on or someone whose suitcase is of interest to the dog or whose suitcase shows signs of tampering as it goes through the Xray machine? Or someone who has a suitcase full of banned fruit, and meat products, plant material, or an excessive amount of cash but yet failed to indicate this on their entry card.
  23. We have been through Australian customs and immigration at least five, perhaps six times over the past three years. Air and sea. Not once were we questioned about our medications. The customs and immigration folks are pros in most countries are pros. They have gut feel and can read people well. The biggest threat, I believe, is the ‘new man on the job’ challenge.
  24. Customs and immigration and police forces certainly do have the ability to determine what drug is what by the physcial appearance. Not a difficult thing to do if you know how. And they certainly do. IF they are in the least bit suspicious about what two oldies like us happen to be holding I doubt very much that they will rely on what happens to be printed on the label attached to script container or a letter for that matter. Anyone with a $50 printer can run up a legit looking label or letter in minutes. . All they need is the drug name, drug ID#, and the usual MD and patient instructions, etc.
  25. Perhaps we have been fortunate. Nine years of post retirement travel in Africa, Europe, Asia, Americas, and Oz/NZ. Never been questioned once about the pills we take along. No prescription containers ....just the tabs together in one container. On one trip they included a highly controlled tab that had street value.
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