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About Hlitner

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    New Cumberland,PA, USA
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    International travel (77 countries at last count(
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  1. We have been trying to deliver this message for years. A high appraisal simply means insurance costs more. Most insurance policies give the insurance company the right to replace lost (or stolen) jewelry with like stuff. So if they can replace your $2000 necklace for $400 you will get the $400 replacement which might also be appraised for $2000! So what is something really worth? Value-wise it is only worth what somebody is willing to pay. So the next time a jeweler gives you a $2000 appraisal try asking him/her if they will buy that piece for $1500 and they will generally say NO! And its even worse in the art world where so much "junk" sold on cruise ships is really worth a fraction of what the "art auctioneer" said it was worth. WOW! I would appraise that beautiful piece at $5000 but will sell it to you for only $2000! And I will even throw in free shipping :). Hank
  2. This is a favorite personal topic seldom discussed here on CC. The problem is that most folks are "wedded" to 1 or 2 specific cruise lines which often do not span the huge size differences between many vessels. DW and I love variety which includes many cruise lines (16 to date) and various size vessels (from 20 passenger to over 4000). We have yet to try any of the "blight of the Seas" vessels that carry more than 6000. The OP asks about being "bored" and that is a really personal kind of thing. DW and I are happy on the smallest vessels as long as we have our Kindles! But we know other cruisers that have a need for constant activities and that can be a problem on really small vessels, especially on sea days. Given the OP's concern with boredom perhaps a compromise is in order. So give strong consideration to Viking and Oceania, but you might want to stay away from the even smaller ships. On the other hand, if "diving for spoons," and the "hairy chest contest" is your idea of fun you are still going to be unhappy. And I should add that it is not only size, but there are major differences between cruise lines. For example, on HAL ships if you are not happy with team trivia you might find yourself being forced to entertain yourself. Speaking of small luxurious ships, what keeps many folks happy? Socialization does seem to increase on small vessels. On larger ships there seems to be (at least to our eyes) many folks who try to escape socializing. It starts in the MDR where they will wait (sometimes for a long time) until they can get a 2-top...so as to avoid being at a larger table. The funny thing was that when we recently cruised on a 450 passenger ship or a luxury line we quickly found that folks went out of their way to socialize. We came off that small ship with many more new friends then we often find on ships 10 times that size. Rather then spending a few hours at various organized activities we often found ourselves enjoying cocktails, food, or just chatting with new friends. It is amazing how many folks can spend most of their day online in chat rooms and other social media, but have no idea how to do the same thing face-to-face. Hank
  3. Actually I think your #1 is definitely a myth and #2 can be a myth for many folks. Perhaps at one time (forty+ years ago) cruise lines were more alike then not! But now that could not be further from the truth. Yes, they all have ships upon the sea but. otherwise, there are many differences between lines and even ships. Compare a 450 passenger Seabourn vessel to a 6000 passenger ship! Yes, they both have food, entertainment, and plumbing. I would agree that there are many similarities between some mass market lines, but differences are very common. That is why DW and I prefer to cruise on many different lines (and size ships) because we seek variety. As to "bad days at sea" we have met quite a few folks who found themselves truly disliking being a ship. For these folks nearly every day aboard is awful and they cannot wait to disembark (and will not likely take more cruises). Many cruise lovers (we certainly fall into that category) seem convinced that everyone else will also love cruising. But the cruise life is not for everyone! We have some of those folks in our own family. Hank
  4. European weather is just as predictable as North American weather :). We just returned (yesterday) from a trip to Europe (including a TA cruise back to the USA). For most of our trip (which started in October with our visit to Italy) the European weather was excellent! In fact, the weather we had while spending a few days in Italy (and later during our first 9 days of our cruise) was near perfect! But the very nice walkway we used in Florence (from our hotel into town) during October has recently flooded due to excessive rains and a very high river. In October Venice had fine weather. Now, most of the island/city is under water! What has happened in Venice is a flood of historical proportions! But we have been in Venice during November of other years where the weather was near-perfect. The only advice I can offer the OP is that we generally feel more comfortable with October weather (in Europe) then in November. But that is anecdotal and it could be just the opposite when you visit. Hank
  5. You are looking for absolutes in an area that has anything but! Probably the Cadillac of evacuation policies is that issued by Medjetassist. They are about evacuation but do not cover any other medical expenses. Most trip insurance policies include some kind of evacuation coverage and minimal medical. Some medical-only plans like Geoblue include more generous medical coverage coupled with large evacuation coverage. When you are faced with a real emergency things happen fast, there can be lots of negotiation, and even the best plans can have problems. Very few, if any, medical policies will pay in advance on overseas claims and in most cases you will need to provide your own cash payment of a credit card with adequate credit. When I had to evacuate my DW from Japan back to the USA, our Geoblue policy did purchase her Business Class (lay flat) fare in advance, but this was all negotiated by yours truly. We had to pay all of our medical bills (many thousands of dollars out-of-pocket and were later (several weeks after filing detailed claims info) reimbursed. We also had to deal with the stress of emergency treatment (including some surgery) in an Asian hospital where none of the physicians/nurses spoke English (the hospital. In our case, the quality of care was outstanding (I have enough personal medical experience to recognize quality) and the patient made a full recovery (after 3 months of care and 3 trips to the operating room). At the time, the issue of money was a very distant concern although we did go out of our way to communicate and negotiate with our insurance company. One facet of International travel is one's ability to accept some risk or, alternatively pay a lot of money for excellent insurance! Those of us who do a lot of world travel generally understand the risks and find it acceptable. Others either learn to live with their "concerns" or stay closer to home. We recently (on a Princess cruise) dined with a couple where the husband (who is a lawyer) told me he was very "risk adverse" and did not like to take chances. His wife later expressed her frustration with her husband's inability to accept reasonable risk...which resulted in crimping their travel style. There is no right or wrong but simply the recognition that we all have our own idea of acceptable risk. Hank
  6. We do not insure that risk other. Then what is covered by our Chase card. We once calculated we have saved over $100,000 by not insuring all travel risks. Whether or not you choose to insure various risks is simply a matter of your personal risk tolerance. We have often pointed out that ones liability for medical is unlimited while most other travel risks involve limited liability. Hank
  7. We have been in Florence for the last few days and dining at new restaurants (for us) recommended by DD who spends time in Italy on business. The portions have been quite large and I feel like a stuffed Turkey. Not only have the pastas been generous, but even our meat 2nd plates have been huge. Hank
  8. At the risk of repeating myself we were ultimately on the hook for the $50 deductible. GeoBlue reimbursed me for every other penny (or yen) of the medical bills plus paid around $10,000 in medical evac costs. Without insurance we would have been out of pocket for about $17,000 medical. Hank
  9. Regarding getting DW evacuated, GeoBlue paid for last minute Business Class (lay flat seat) to get her back to our home airport. If we had stayed in Japan for her medical treatment, we would have likely been there for weeks which would have cost GeoBlue more money. Once they got her to the USA they were no longer financially responsible for her medical care. As to the Chase cards, it is best that you go on their web site and read all the info on the benefits. It is complex. Hank
  10. Yep, when they need an unbroken yoke they use real eggs. But order an omelet or scrambled and you get liquid eggs in a box. Hank
  11. Perhaps you need to discuss the definition of a jigger? Technically one could argue that it is 1 1/2 ounces but there are different sizes of the small device. I have also seen 3/4 ounce, And 1 ounce. And many bars use automatic measuring devices that can be set. At the Martini bar some bar tenders will pour a generous amount...especially if they know you have a drink package. A friend argues that the perfect Martini is straight gin or vodka. He says if the person wants some vermouth you just put some ice in the shaker, add a little vermouth, shake once, drain out all the vermouth and then add gin or vodka :). Hank
  12. OMG! Washing clothes. We darn near never wash clothes when on a trip. If we are on Princess, HAL or Celebrity we get free laundry and will happily let the ship do the work. We pack "heavy" which also works to reduce laundry. Princess laundry is a bit slow (sometimes 3 days) but that is not a big problem on long cruises. Hank
  13. Your friends might want to do some research on each of their islands vis-à-vis off-season. Some of the most popular Greek Islands (such as Mykonos) go into an off-season shut-down mode in early November. Many shops and restaurants close for the winter and transportation services scale back to a slower off-season schedule. While it might be a nice time of the year for those who prefer a relatively quiet island, it can also be a little frustrating when many of the popular restaurants and clubs are closed for the season. Hank
  14. LOL. I read to this our in-house "shopping expert" and her suggestion was to price-out stuff online (before you leave home) so you have a basis of comparison. In recent years we sometimes have difficulty finding bargains in Europe, although the strong dollar should be helpful. We are on our way to Italy and also plan to do some "comparison shopping" :). The other hassle is trying to get a refund of the 20% VAT tax. Getting VAT refund forms validated has sometimes been frustrating because of long lines at airports and even finding a refund validation desk at ports. Hank
  15. Yes, it is safe in the daytime (I would not want to stroll that area after dark). But there is not a lot in the immediate area so you might want to use Google maps, expand it to get all the details, and act accordingly. There are a few eating venues and bars within a long walk, but some may not be open at lunch time. Hank
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