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Everything posted by iancal

  1. We are going next week, returning Oct. 23. Northern Greece, Ionian Islands, Athens, Cyprus. We are both wearing long pants for the flights. That will be it for long slacks. The rest will be shorts, short sleeved shirts, a sweater, and a nylon shell. DW will take a light summer dress. We pack in layers. This has been fine for several other trips at the same time of year.
  2. We vote with our feet and with our wallets. We see little value in complaining or moaning and groaning about cutbacks. Does not matter if it is cruise lines or anything else. There is lots of choice in the marketplace so instead of complaining we simply switch products or vendors in order to find something closer to our current tastes and preferences. All of the mass market cruise lines seem to have experienced cutbacks. People complain. But they don't seem to complain when the fares stay constant, or near enough to, for years on end. My guess is that if some HAL cruisers took the value of the fares they willingly paid 15 or 20 years ago, adjusted for inflation, they could easily pay for a cruise on a truly premium or luxury line. It is the same on other cruise lines. But they either do not want to pay the fare of they are quite happy being stuck in a rut enjoy complaining about their own choice of cruise line. Those good old days are not coming back. Time to get over it and move forward.
  3. Some of DW's relatives wonder why we can afford to travel/cruise as much as we do. It was quite straightforward. We worked hard and lived below our income for most of our life. We never incurred any consumer debt, we could care less about keeping up with the Jone's, and we typically keep our vehicles for 15-20 years. It was pretty easy really. Plus, medical cost are not an issue where we live.
  4. What's to hate? It is nothing more that a commercial enterprise. When we dislike a product or find one in the marketplace that offers us more we simply switch products or vendors. Besides, there is more than one HAL. It depends on what ship you select. I have no doubt that there are a few misguided souls who hate HAL. Just as there are some who think HAL is the best cruise line on the seas and that each of their ships and sailings are so perfect as to be immune from complaint or criticism. The ones that hate should buy on another line. The ones that love should book another HAL cruise.
  5. I suspect that HAL will spend as little as possible on this ship. They will try to suck out as much revenue and profit as they can in the short term. When one of their next generation of their ships enters service , they will dump Veendam in a heartbeat. My guess is that this is HAL's new reality.
  6. We spent several weeks in South America in Feb. Plus the same cruise. We were in shorts for ll but a few days. And on those days, (Chilean fjords) we wore jeans, layers of shirt, sweater, and wind jacket. It was cold-especially on deck with the wind blowing in our face. It was cold on our balcony. But only for one day. Falklands were cool but not bad. I think past weather stats are only an indication. Anything can happen...much like Alaska weather. The two weeks pre and post was all shorts and short sleeve shirts....Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. Ushuaia and P. Mont were both very warm and sunny.
  7. As I recall we got better seating on the second leg, by far the longest, from Singapore to Gold Coast. I think entertainment as well. We did a similar trip two years prior on Air Asia from Kuala Lumper. It was $250 USD BUT we only booked that a few days in advance as I recall. Our friends in Australia gave us a heads the fare. I thought the Krabi-OZ fare was a mistake however it was at that price point for about two weeks after we booked. We have been doing Sydney-Honolulu for about $225-250 USD but that is booking anywhere from a few months in advance to a month or so in advance. We only go with carry on so we never incur baggage charges. AIrfare in in that part of the world is not as expensive as NA. When flying AIrAsia ,Nok, Jetstar in Thailand, Malaysia, etc we have typically been paying $45-65 USD for shorter flights of 1 hour or so over each of the past four or five years.
  8. We leave for six weeks in Greece and Cyprus next week. I am looking at a solo tour to India in either November or March. Not certain if we will go to SE Asia or Mexico/Costa Rica for our winter snowbird trip. And Morocco is high on the bucket to do list for the spring. No plans yet after that. Could be dead, by then so who knows. As per the other comments, that is exactly why we are doing it now while we can. We would prefer to have happy memories rather than regrets when we are in our rccking chairs.
  9. A number of years ago I asked the TA who handled my business travel for quote on an Alaska cruise for the four of us. She gave me a price and we decided not to book. The price, though competitive, seemed high when compared to other vacation options that we were considering. Weeks later she called me at work on a Tuesday.. She told me of a last minute deal on RCI leaving on Saturday (we lived in Vancouver at the time). She also told me that she had booked us because it was the only way that she could hold the cabin/fare. We had until Thursday to decide, and then full payment would be required. We decided to do it. Plus we were thankful that she did grab the cabin since it was less than half the price the quote from a few months ago. Paid on Thusrday, sailed on Saturday. We were very thankful that our TA used her initiative to do this. There was absolutely no downside for us. It was all potential upside if we decided to follow through. Which we did. We called her the following day to confirm. In the space 18 hours all cabins had been sold. Had she not gone ahead and booked we would not have done the cruise. Now, when we book a last minute we always request a hold. Sometimes for as short a time as end of business day, sometimes of two hours. It allows us to confirm and nail down air pricing that we have typically been shopping at the same time. No booking required, just a hold. Never been refused yet on any cruise line that we have asked for this.
  10. We went to Thailand on a whim six years ago. We liked S/E Asia so much, especially Thailand and Vietnam, so much that we decide to spent the next four snowbird winters there! And we may be back again this year. Enjoy
  11. We were planning to go back for a month or so of independent touring. Changed our minds. We plan to head to the Pacific coast instead. We were in Playa, Puerto Morales, Isla, and Cancun last October/November. They were doing a good job clearing the beaches however our understanding is that it is much worse this year. We will probably do a google earth a few times a day for a several days prior to booking flights.
  12. We have always traveled. Did three months driving through NA in a VW camper when I was 19. After marriage, quit our jobs, sold the house, and went to tour Europe in a VW van for four months. We have been traveling ever since. Lots of international trips in between then and retirement. Son has the travel bug, daughter does not. We retired early eight years ago. One of the main reasons was that I wanted to travel. So now we do 2 two month trips per year plus others in between. You only live once so we want o make the best of it while we can and while we have the health and the disposition to enjoy it. When we retired we changed our lifestyle to facilitate travel. No plants, not pets. We can lock and leave at the drop of a hat.
  13. The street food was wonderful. As were those soup stalls that seemed to pop up in the alley ways.
  14. We got the ES on a Hotwire win a few years ago. We have stayed at a number of ES properties while on business and on vacation. Our first impression was that the rooms were not up to the standard of their other properties. Dark and in need of a reburb. And that was three years ago. The lobby had been renovated but the elevators certainly were not. The first thing we hear people say about that property is the free breakfast or the manager's reception. OK, I guess, if you select your hotel based on a free breakfast or a glass of plonk and some taco chips. We'll be on the ship in a few hours so we really do not care to stand in line for breakfast.
  15. I think you answered your own question.
  16. There would have to be a very attractive discount for us to consider a not refundable deposit. At least 25 percent and even then we would be comparing the fare to market rates prior to committing.
  17. Leaving next week for six weeks in Europe. Independent land travel. This is the first time over numerous trips that we have not even bothered to shop for last minute Med cruises as we have frequently done in the past.
  18. We travel on Transat quite often. We do not expect our flights to be impacted in any way. This deal is not a sure thing yet. We hope that it falls through. We prefer Transat to AC. Their open jaw flight to European hubs are well priced. Good equipment and good fares. Next week we start Toronto to Athens with a return from London to Calgary. AC and others were $1150 CAD at time of booking. Transat was $735 CAD. Same for the past several years. We fear that if AC does complete the deal prices will increase and service will be poorer.
  19. The best fare that we have snagged lately was a flight this past winter. Krabi, Thailand to Gold Coast, Australia via Singapore. About 12 hours of air time. Base fare was $130 USD, with upgrades we paid $170 USD. Booked about three months in advance on Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. Flights were perfect in all respects.
  20. Time to sign up for another card. We typically have three of four. All with different benefits. Some we travel with, some we use for FX, etc. Lots of product on the market.
  21. Our Cyprus -London flight referenced above cost was actually $112 USD each for a four hour flight. I had occasion to look at the invoice this morning (2 fares). The total was 205E - 110E for the flight, 101E for 'Airport Charges'. Mind you, some Aegean revenue may be buried into the airport charges amount in order to make the fare appear more competitive with some of the regional discount airlines.
  22. We lucked out. We had a choice between Aegean Air and BA on an upcoming flight. We chose Aegean because of the departure time and pricing delta.
  23. We downsized and de-cluttered. We remain clutter free. As we age it is much more about experiences than it is about things. Sometimes when we arrive home after an extended month trip the customs folks will raise their eyebrows when our response to what you bringing home is a big fat nothing whatsoever other than a cold. Then they look at our carry on, nod knowingly, and send us on our way.
  24. I can assure you that this experience is not limited to Vueling. It is very common in parts of Asia and Europe. You carry your bag downstairs (escalators if you are lucky) and they load you on to the bus. The bus does not move until there not enough room to fit a newspaper in. Sardine city. Could be Vueling, could be one of the international carriers. Depends on both the airport facilities and the airline in our experience. The last Vueling trip we had was Palarmo-Rome to pick up a last minute cruise. Air on Vueling was less expensive, and far less hassle, than taking the train. It was 1/3 the cost of the identical Alitalia flight that left twenty minutes ahead of us!
  25. It is what you make of it. If you want to get it done quickly and efficiently you will. If you want to elongate the process and make a career out of it you will. It can also come down to how confident you are in your own skin, how insecure your are, our how strong your desire to 'fit it' is, or how flexible you are in dealing with the usual challenges with travel. Human nature really. Who cares how long you take or how much you slog along with you as long as your are happy and are having a good time.
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