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About SimplyMarvie

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    All Over
  • Interests
    While cruising: Food, photography, non-cruiseline excursions, sitting in a lounge chair and reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    I approach cruiselines like pokemon -- gotta try 'em all.
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean and the Med. One day I'm gonna get to Pitcarin Island, though...

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  1. Yep. Although we're still trying to figure that out since it's a new itinerary for RCCI and they've already changed whether it's a partial transit or a port call. It'll be awesome either way, but it'd also be nice to know.
  2. I was mainly thinking about Summer Work and Travel Js, where they do have a 30 day grace between the program end date and the time they absolutely have to be out of the US (or process an extension or change of status) which is what is supposed to comprise the 'travel' part. I worked with SWT extensively in my last job, and had a number of kids who took closed-loop cruises and were not allowed back into the US during their grace period. But I think the point is that while you're admitted for duration of status for any specific admission, CBP does not have to allow you back into the US for a NEW admission, just based on duration of status. Your status for that admission ended when you left the US -- now you're knocking on the door again, and with an expired visa, that's less likely to go well for you. Sometimes there's some leeway if you're, say, an F with a new I-20 specifying continued attendence, but even then... CBP has much wider discretion since the policy changes last year and my experience has been that they're using it.
  3. Jerusalem in particular, but a lot of Europe and the middle east, are just not optimized for cruise travel. The closest you could get would be Haifa (or maybe Ashkelon?) and you're talking about a 2-3 hour drive to get to Jerusalem, and then a very limited view of the city. You'll have really similar problems in some places in Europe, and with the Pyramids. Maybe consider some land trips to your major destinations, where you can stay in one place for a while and do day trips out into the hinterlands. We're serial expats and have been since our kids were small, and there is a big, big difference between seeing a place as a port of call, and having the opportunity to live somewhere, where you grocery shop, meet people, and explore. I'm not saying one is better or worse than the other, they're just different. But if you're really looking to raise well-rounded globalist children, giving them both experiences is key.
  4. They'll need a passport, which they already have, so that's easy. Check the visa requirements of the countries you'll be entering just in case. They're probably talking about the I-20 form, which your student should have with their passport. They should probably check with their certifying official at the school and make that their SEVIS status is current and updated before they leave the country and that their visa is VALID. A number of people on F and J visas have grace periods for various reasons at the end of their visas where they're okay to remain in the US after the visa has technically expired. The thing is, during those grace periods if they leave they cannot return and a closed-loop cruise counts as leaving.
  5. I just did this with our December booking -- booked through Royal, and then transferred to an agent. We're US-based, but live overseas and trying to deal with RCCI's customer service with a 45 minute hold time at an 8 hour time difference was making me crazy. It was a FANTASTIC choice. We got an extra bit of OBC for doing it, and the TA was able to fix our two issues (I mis-spelled my own name on the booking, (d'oh!) and a cabin assignment question) with one e-mail. She took the initiative to get us an upgrade on the second cabin from an inside to an ocean-view for a song because I'd mentioned my youngest kiddo was afraid of the dark. She'll also monitor for price-drops for us, or when it might be advantageous to upgrade our booking, but to be honest even if she does nothing else for us in the next 3 months I'm still happy not to sit on hold with RCCI.
  6. Cruznduo: I don't know, because I haven't been yet, but maybe Cruisefan123 does? 🙂
  7. I just noticed that this is your granddaughter -- probably best to chat with her mom and find out what mom is comfortable with and do that. (Even if it's not 100% the same as what you might do... 🙂)
  8. No worries! We're overseas and use Whatsapp extensively -- what is nice about it is that a lot of service providers also use whatsapp, so we can message or call restaurants, tour guides, AirB&B folks, etc from anywhere with wifi signal and not have to worry about dialing internationally. It also works on cell carriers -- it's what my son uses to talk to friends back home in the states, rather than expensive international minutes -- and if you're just texting the data usage is low. It also handles group texts well -- it would be great for coordinating between a family or tour group.
  9. It depends on the kid. I would totally let my 13 year old do that, but my 11 year old (while smart) is unbelievably directionally challenged and would never make it back to the cabin without help. If she's got a good head on her shoulders and direction sense, she'll probably be fine.
  10. I can't imagine not going ashore -- going places is the reason we cruise, and we've got plenty of time to hang out on the ship during evenings and sea days.
  11. Yep. But is it cheaper than getting turned back at the airport after I (inevitably) forget to renew the stupid thing on time? I know any number of Europeans who are from countries who qualify for visa waiver -- ie. they can use ESTA -- and still chose to pay extra for the full 10 year visa and come in and do a full interview for it, because then they're set and don't have to worry about short-fuse business trips or sick relatives or whatever. I would definitely pay for something similar if it was offered (but get that I'm probably in the minority there... :) )
  12. You guys basically got it in one -- I'm an expat living outside of my passport country, in another country on a long-term residence visa and so I don't have a 'normal' National ID. The ID that I do have based on my visa status isn't widely used here, so no one recognizes it and the number on it has the wrong number of digits to go through the host country's computer systems as an ID. You need a national ID to do just about everything here, so it's a problem. My passport both has my visa (which proves I have legal status to be here) and has an acceptable number of digits to be entered into an ID field in most computer systems, which needs to happen every time I spend a large (more than about $80) amount of money, get gas, get my car fixed, make a reservation for something, go to the doctor, pick up a library book, and do a whole bunch of other normal day to day things. So I carry it with me to facilitate day-to-day life.
  13. We rarely use cruise line excursions. They're often extremely expensive for what you get, especially if you're cruising with a family. For the 5 of us on our upcoming 11 night cruise, booking the mid-priced ships excursion in each of our 6 ports would cost more than the total fare did to go on the cruise in the first place. Plus, like people said above, they're often large bus tours. As much as I love my fellow man and cruise passengers I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than be on a large bus tour for anything, anywhere. There's a huge amount of sitting, a huge amount of downtime, the buses are often uncomfortable, and my kids have a hard time behaving. And for $500-700 per port, we can do WAY better with a mini-bus or rental car, public transportation, cellular data GPS, and a sense of adventure. What that means, really, is that I have to do a huge amount of legwork before the cruise to decide what we're going to do and see and how we're going to manage it. What cities do we want to drive in, and where is that too risky? Is there public transportation? Are cabs reliable? etc. It probably means that we see less stuff than we would on cruise line excursions, because I'm fanatical in making sure that we get back to the ship on time, so we don't venture too far away unless we're on a tour. It also means that cruising for us is less of an all-inclusive concierge experience and more like one of our 'normal' land-based family vacations. At the moment, I'm okay with that... but this is definitely something where your mileage may vary and there is no One True Way for people to do things.
  14. I live in a country where I'm required to have my passport on me at all times -- I literally check as I walk out the door (and sadly, can't make 'spectacles, passport, fitbit and phone' rhyme). I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of being in a foreign country with no internationally recognized form of identification or anything that identifies me as an American.
  15. The only part that irritates me about this is that Americans don't have the option to apply for a standard 10 year travel visa, like Europeans who don't want to mess around with ESTA do. As someone who travels a lot, and takes advantage of last-minute airfare sales, etc. I would DEFINITELY pay $160 (or whatever the fee is for the Schengen version of a US B1/B2 visa) to not have to worry about this for ten years... because I know myself, and I know I'd be that person who is half-way to Germany and realizes their travel authorization ran out 3 months ago and then gets stuck crying in the airport.
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