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About Hlitner

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About Me

  • Location
    New Cumberland,PA, USA
  • Interests
    International travel (77 countries at last count(
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  1. We have traveled to over 100 countries and if we had to leave the USA for any reason, New Zealand is where we would live. Specifically on South Island near Queenstown. Ironically that is one place you will not visit when on a cruise. Between Fiji and NZ it is no contest......NZ. Hank
  2. The no-refund fares and deposits are happening with many cruise lines...not just Celebrity. HAL has been doing it for several years. I think it makes a lot of sense. If you feel comfortable booking with "no refund rules" then that is your option and you get rewarded with some savings. If you prefer more flexibility you can get it, but at a price. These kind of policies have existed in the airline, hotel and resort industries for many years. There is another side to this story from the cruise line's perspective. There are too many cruisers who will book multiple cruises with the intention of later cancelling all but one. In fact, we know a couple that has booked 3 cruises from next New Years! Why? They cannot make up their minds which cruise they want to take and this way they can reserve the cabins they want on each cruise. For them its no biggie and they will get their deposits back once they cancel. But they have taken cabins out of inventory which means others who want to book those cruises/cabins lose out. And when lots of people do this and then cancel around the final payment period the cruise line is flooded with available cabins at the "last minute." Sometimes this forces the cruise lines to lower the prices to unload all these last minute cabins. And I do have a question for the OP? Do you also book refundable air fares? Most folks do not even know that refundable air fares exist, but they do and they are very expensive! So what do folks so? They generally do not book their air until they are sure :). Hank
  3. We have also been checking and do not have that offer. Hank
  4. ouch! That is unreal and I don't blame you for moving. But that kind of bullying does take all forms and comes from strange places. A couple of years ago, while on a HAL cruise, I was patiently waiting at the Eggs Benedict station in the Lido. There were about 6 or 7 folks in a queue and I was #2. An elderly lady (I am a Senior guy) walked right in front of me as if she did not realize there were a group of us waiting in line. She then turned to me and said, "its Ok, I am old!" Now understand that all the folks in the queue were seniors. So I quickly responded, "the line for the old people is back there" and pointed to the end of the line. A few folks behind me quietly clapped, the lady turned red as a beet, and quickly left. The best part was the cook who was making the eggs who then said to me, "thank you, she does that all the time.! So this was truly a little ole bully lady :). Hank
  5. Being crumpled (also love the term) is generally a problem of one's own making. Consider practicing what I like to call, "crowd avoidance" although I guess "crumple avoidance" might be an appropriate term. When others are "rushing towards the gate" you should be relaxing in a comfy chair, deck lounger, etc. Once that initial rush is over you can calmly exit the vessel without being crumpled. And it is the same on the ship. Consider that if the Lido buffet opens for lunch at noon, there will be a crowd for the first hour and you might be "crumpled." So when most are waiting in queues, crumpling (do love that term) each other, etc., you would be relaxing in your deck lounger with a good book (possibly about anti-crumpling strategy). Perhaps an hour later the queues will be gone, the largest passengers will be stuffed, and then you can simply go to lunch without being crumpled. Hank
  6. If you are really into "ruins" you are going to enjoy all three places :). If you do not care about ruins you will probably start to think you would rather be in Kusadasi shopping. Because of your post, DW and I started talking about these 3 places last evening. To be honest, having been there a couple of times it is hard to remember which ruins are which...if you know what I mean. But they are all fascinating and different. I am outspoken as a frequent cruiser who has little love of cruise line excursions. We avoid them, like the plague, unless they are the only reasonable alternative to see what we want to see. Why would a cruise line not add Priene onto that tour? You already know my thoughts...but I do think it is outrageous. But you have a large OBC to use and that is a compelling reason to book the excursion. It is also a pretty long drive from the Port so there is something to say for not having to deal with the concern of getting back to the ship on time. Hank
  7. Very little problem with language in Italy. Just talk with your hands :). But seriously, DW and I do not speak any Italian (not a word beyond "grazzi") and we have driven more then 10,000 miles within the country (from the Northern borders to the south of Sicily) plus been in Italy more than 3 dozen times on cruises (returning again this October). Language has been a non-issue although it does help to be able to read a menu. These days if one has a working Smart Phone you can put on the free Google Translate App (it is truly amazing) and you have a really good translator in your pocket. Italy is among the most tourist friendly countries in the world. If you can spare the time and money, go early....stay late...and you will be sorry you did not stay longer 🙂 Hank
  8. Just to add to the fray, the Wingtips Lounge in Terminal 4 can get pretty crowded in the evening because of several flights to Asia. The last time we were at Wingtips we were flying Bus Class on China Air and they use that lounge for their flight. They had a sign outside the lounge that is was closed to Priority Pass customers. The problem is that the lounge fills up with Business/First Class passengers from several Asian airlines (who have a contract to use this lounge) and Priority Pass are the first to be locked out because of space issues. We have seen this at some other lounges where when they get crowded they are closed to Priority Pass. Hank
  9. We have not tried any of the Costco luggage although we do like most things, Costco :). As to Travelpro, we buy their relatively low cost Maxlite line and they hold up OK. When purchase through decent online discounters like ebags our cost is usually about $100. If they break (the wheels are usually what defeats most bags) they just become trash when I get around to it. Just bought a new bag a few weeks ago and DW made me promise if I buy 1 bag I must throw away 2 other old bags :). If anyone wants to get inside our luggage I would prefer they just open it rather than damage the luggage to get inside. We do not put anything of value (other then clothes) in our checked luggage. If that rare "bad egg" wants our dirty laundry...so be it. Hank
  10. I can only comment based on 21 days in the Divina's YC. There are a few interesting issues in this thread. RE the tipping situation we went on the Divina with pre-paid gratuities and without feeling obligated to give out additional tips. After three weeks we had to discipline ourselves to not go crazy handing out tip money :). The service we got in the YC was fantastic and we wanted to show our appreciation. We gave a healthy extra tip to our Butler (who had two assistants) and asked him to please take care of his assistants. There was one particular bar tender in the Top Sail lounge who took very good care of us and he was also quietly tipped. Le Muse was a problem. Over three weeks we had dined in many locations and had just about every waiter in the restaurant. But one particular waiter handled us about 2/3 of the time at dinner and we decided to slip him a tip. I would stress that none of the staff did anything to even hint that they expected tips and it would have been very easy to not tip. As to the solo cruiser, I do not think the YC is well suited to solo folks who prefer to always be with others. One can always be a little outgoing in the Top Sail Lounge and chat with other folks, but the layout is more conducive to small groups (2 or 4). We did discover that sitting at the Top Sail bar was a good way to meet some other passengers who either sit at the bar or stop by. But the restaurant is where there could be a real problem. Just about everyone on our cruise ate with their own partners or family or friends. If there are a few solo passengers we can imagine the Maitre'd encouraging them to share, but otherwise I think it is going to be up to the cruiser to try and make a few new friends. On MSC making new friends can also be hindered by language difficulties. It is truly an International cruise line and you will meet others whose native language is not English. Consider that although we were only on a Caribbean itinerary we met (in the YC) folks from England, Germany (quite a few), Finland, France, and Italy! While most spoke some English (and we speak a few words of bad French) the language barrier did impact socialization. We would sometimes sit with a German couple in the Topsail Lounge but at dinner most of the couples stayed as couples. In the case of the Germans (there must have been about 20 on our cruise) they did tend to stick together in the lounge (and sometimes shared a table in Le Muse). Hank
  11. Sorry but I missed that info. Once inside the YC on the Divina, nobody ever asks to see any ID, cruise card, etc. Even in the Top Sail lounge, if you order a drink the waiters/bar tenders just get it. The only time they would ask for your card is if you were to buy an expensive bottle of wine or order some kind of high priced booze not included in the YC price. When we were in the YC for 21 days there was not a single time anyone asked for our card. So they would have to put you on the honor system not to use any of the benefits which makes little sense. Seems to me that MSC should simply throw in the towel and give you all the benefits :). Hank
  12. If the upgraded cabin is inside the YC area, there is no way they would be able to effectively police the OPs non-use of the Top Sail Lounge or the One Pool deck. Once inside the YC nobody ever asks to see a cruise card and they just assume this is where you belong. But if in one of the YC suites located outside the YC then we would assume their cruise card will be programmed to NOT open the YC entrance doors. As to embarkation, when we were in the YC on the Divina they were pretty careful at the YC embarkation tent. They carefully checked our documents, double checked on a clip board list, and then re-tagged all of our luggage with special YC luggage tags. We were always accompanied by staff as we worked our way through the embarkation process. Hank
  13. WOW! And I thought we did adventurous crazy things :). When I looked at the air options my first reaction was to shake my head, but then noticed that the World Cruise will be in Kona the following day. So, if she were to miss her ship in Honolulu it might be possible to catch-up in Kona :). The air situation is not great and there is little margin for delayed flights. As far as the flight in FLL, we would not be comfy with a 9am flight. While it is possible (with express disembarkation) there is some risk and then what happens if she misses that 9am flight and the next flight at 11 is sold out. So we would recommend the 11 am flight. And then she just has to pray that her flights are on time and there are no luggage "issues." And finally we assume that Princess is OK with her joining the cruise in Honolulu? Having dealt with Princess with strange requests (such as taking a night off the ship in Japan and catching up at the following port) we would want Princess to agree (in writing). I am somewhat puzzled why the OP's client would want to subject herself to this much stress. The Regal is only doing a routine Caribbean itinerary. No way we would give up all those lovely sea days between LA and Hawaii (on the World Cruise) to take a normal Caribbean cruise. But I guess the lady has her reasons :). We wish her a Bon Voyage and hope it all works out. Hank
  14. So let me understand. This "gentleman" was standing prior to the show. We assume he was waiting for somebody and stood so he would be seen. And you left before the show? And just because he was standing you think that is bullying? What would we do? If this all happened prior to the beginning of the show we would do nothing and probably not even pay it any attention. Once the lights went down and the show started, if he was still standing we would have quietly asked him to sit down. Hank
  15. Overall they are more comparable then not! However, I truly dislike how RCI uses their expansive atrium area as a shopping mall with tables of wares cluttering the public areas. I do not want to feel like I am cruising on a floating shopping mall and RCI really creates that atmosphere. Princess also has their shops and a few tables of goods, but their central atrium area does have a nice atmosphere. And we do love the International Café on the Princess vessels. Hank
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