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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. Just an alternative suggestion which is to book a decent hotel in the more popular downtown area of Shanghai where you have a large choice of restaurant, tour, and even walking options. Then, the day of your cruise simply have your hotel get you a taxi to the port which should cost no more then $25. I am not a big fan of staying at the cruise port which is more then 15 miles from the center of things. Hank
  2. For what its worth we have never found any advantage to booking while aboard. We have tried it a few times and always had to either cancel the booking or get it repriced since we could always find much better deals from or favorite cruise agencies after we returned home. The only FCCs we find worthwhile are on Princess where they are very generous with "stacking" OBCs. We can later find the best deal with a cruise agency and then have them also apply a FCC. Hank
  3. w I think our good friend, JB, has it right. In the past few years we have seen a major change in booking options. Nearly every hotel/motel offers two prices.....a lower price for those who are willing to book a non-cancelable reservation and a higher price where you keep your ability to cancel without penalty. We have even seen some hotels offering a third option which is allowing cancellations up to 3 days (sometimes it might be 4 days) with no penalty....but this will cost somewhat more then a non-cancelable reservations. This kind of policy has also become relatively common with many European hotels. These options make a lot of sense. Folks can either choose to save money or pay more to keep their cancellation options. Cruise lines would like to move to a similar model but have the problem of what they would then do to fill unsold berths. Celebrity has tried to play the game where their CEO said there would not be the great deals for last minute bookers. However, they quickly moved away from that policy, which we predicted when the policy was announced, because they do not wait to sail with empty berths. An empty berth equals "opportunity lost revenue" which is money lost forever. Cruise line executives can talk a good game, but they also need to fill those empty berths. Hank
  4. DW and I have developed a strong dislike of ship photographers.....not just on HAL but any cruise line. On a recent Princess cruise the photographers had this nasty habit of blocking passenger flow as we embarked in many ports. At one point I nearly knocked down one of the photographers and suggested he get out of the way (my words were not that polite). One nice discovery when we first cruised on Seabourn was that the line has no ship photographers nor do they waste a lot of space with photo galleries. Hank
  5. For many years we would squeeze-in between Thanksgiving and Xmas a Celebrity cruise in the Caribbean. We would try to book 14 -21 days depending on the schedules. Then along came LLP with her ideas of cut backs and price increases and we quickly realized that MSC's Yacht Club was such a better value then Celebrity..not to mention MSC's Yacht Club was a far superior product then what we would get on X. As to the Edge, it is a ship for which we have little interest. Booking a cabin or suite with a real balcony can cost more then taking a cruise on Seabourn or some other luxury lines. And in the final analysis it is just another Celebrity cruise....mass market line with too many cut-backs to count. Hank
  6. I think Flatbush Flyer said it best, :"Not a problem unless it's a problem." I strongly dislike having to depend on the airlines when embarking on a cruise. Not only are there the too usual issues with delays and cancellations but there are also the times when checked luggage does not arrive. Just last summer on a pretty simple flight from Seattle to Anchorage, our luggage missed the flight (the airline employees only had 3 hours to get our luggage on the plane). Fortunately we had planned for that situation by spending a night in Anchorage before driving off to other parts of AK. I think it was John Jay who said something like "hope for the best but plan for the worst" which is a great rule for travel planning. Hank
  7. Unless it is CVS. We got our first shot at CVS and they said we would get an e-mail 3-6 months later when they had the vaccine in stock. No e-mail. DW happened to be at the same CVS and asked about our 2nd shot and they said, "no problem" we have plenty of vaccine. But they had no explanation of why we were not notified. Do not assume anyone will advise you for your 2nd shot. Be assertive and make an inquiry after 3 months. Hank
  8. You miss my point. We recently cruised on the Summit in a very nice regular balcony cabin. No suite, few perks and a few hundred dollars or OBCs. Our cost for that cabin (booked as a terrific last minute deal) was about $100 per passenger/day. Now compare that to somebody paying over $500 per passenger day for a suite. Perhaps they get free drinks but they are paying $1000+ per couple/day for that perk plus a few other things like a larger cabin. They are on the same ship, fight for the same deck chairs, listen to the same music in the same bars, etc. Meanwhile, in my nice balcony cabin I might decide to dine at Murano and negotiate a price around $35 per person. So we are now paying $135 per person/day and dining in Murano which is far better then what you will get in Luminae. Add another $40 per person day and we are now paying $175 for an all inclusive cruise where we dine in Murano! Suddenly that suite is not such a great deal even if it includes drinks. We like to compare X to Seabourn where we paid about $400 per person/day for a truly all-inclusive exclusive experience on a line where everything is relatively upscale, there is no fighting for seats in the showroom or on deck, etc. My thesis, which we have talked about for a few years, is that when mass market lines such as X charge luxury line prices they do not generally deliver luxury line quality. Perhaps the exception is MSC's Yacht Club and NCL's Haven Suites where they can deliver a true ship within a ship. Perhaps X has reached that level with the Edge Class....but we have no first hand experience. For those seeking something a bit larger then Seabourn there is Crystal! When we have talked to those paying big bucks on Celebrity they are generally very loyal to X and simply do not consider other product. Kind of like somebody who buys a decent VW and has no real knowledge of Rolls Royce. Hank
  9. Hmmm. That would take some dedicated staff to sell cards and somebody capable of running the machine and reading the numbers. I assume that still exists because it does generate a profit for HAL. We are old enough to remember when cruise lines ran BINGO as a para-mutual thing where all the proceeds were kicked back in cash prizes. Now, it is viewed as a profit center with the internal question being "how much can we skim off before anyone notices." Like most BINGO games on shore they will generally offer some huge jackpot, at the last game of the cruise, for some kind of blackout situation that is a real longshot. But tell some folks that the BINGO Jackpot is $10,000 (even if the odds are one hundred million to one) and they shall come. Kind of like slot machines. Hank
  10. LOL. We have a SS cabin on our next HAL cruise (30 days) but have not been lured (yet) into CO. Why? We are already 5 Star Mariners so get some the CO benefits. And DW could care less about the breakfast. So what would we get for our money? And no, we are not cranky (for the record) but are just fun. Hank
  11. Bingo definition: used to express satisfaction or surprise at a sudden positive event or outcome. Hank
  12. You mean the reps need to be "told to play dumb?" Hank
  13. If you take away the spa programs and trivia is there anything left? Hank
  14. This thread made me smile. "Ordinary coffee" is not what I would call that stuff they put in a coffee cup. But that is not a specific HAL problem. As to the free drinks at the various Mariner's club events one has to measure that against the "pain" of going to those events (yes, I know those events are the highlight of some cruiser's lives). The last time I suggested attending a Mariner's Club event to DW I received "the look" along with the comment that "we can pay for our drinks." As we sat at a bar and noticed the long queue to get into that Mariners Club function I had to admit that DW had a good point. Hank
  15. Guess you and I can disagree on Aqua Class where we have spent too many cruises. Some of the amenities that used to come with AQ cabins have been "chopped" since LLP took over Celebrity. Simple things like free bottled water and the little footstools on the balconies are history. And we have been constantly underwhelmed by the cuisine in Blu. And on the Solstice Class ships which is where we have taken the majority of our X cruises, many of the AQ cabins are actually in awful locations under the pool deck with their balconies in a large ugly shadow cast by the overhang. We used to put a value on Aqua of about $25 per passenger day better then a regular balcony cabin. Somebody once mentioned an interesting idea for HAL. Folks that book SS cabins and who want more amenities might also be interested in Club Orange...especially if they could get that at a discounted rate. It would still be a fraction of the cost of booking a Neptune Suite. Hank
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