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About Hlitner

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    30,000+ Club

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  • Location
    New Cumberland,PA, USA
  • Interests
    International travel (77 countries at last count(
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  1. LOL, a good question. Perhaps the fact that it is called the Northern Lights Cruise will give folks a hint 🙂 And yes, they actually did see the Northern Lights on this particular cruise . Hank
  2. Saw a twitter post from 3:15 AM Norway time (40 min ago) from a man who is on the ship. "Ship is still pitching in bad seas and many passengers are miserable. The Captain is hoping that the wind and seas calm down enough to bring the ship into port." The poster did not say which port. Hank
  3. Speculation is the "ship of fools." But we are talking about seas of around 8-10 meters (according to reports) would not be a major problem for a cruise ship. Trying to forecast the loss of power is an entirely different issue. Given some of the posts about power loss issues on other Viking vessels, it sound like there are some engineering issues that need to be addressed. Hank
  4. And the "obvious" answer is that the worst place for a large cruise ship to be in a major storm is docked (or anchored) in a port! The norm is to get the ship out to sea (where it is actually safer) and try to avoid the storm or the worst part of the storm. In fact, most harbor masters will close ports in severe weather and request that ships depart....generally before the storm reaches the port. What happened here is not necessarily related to the weather but to a major power failure (usually electrical). None of us who routinely cruise (we have spent over 1000 days on cruise ships) or spend time at sea are "making light" of it! In fact, I have texted a family member who is on that ship (she is doing fine) to express our concern and inquire about her well-being. And as I posted earlier, she replied that they are doing OK and waiting to be rescued (they are still thinking by helicopter). What I find distressing are the comments (such as yours) that immediately want to point the finger of blame to something, or start asking about compensation. Neither of those issues are appropriate at this point in time when over 1100 folks still remain on that vessel. Trust me that my wife's cousin (who is on the ship and at her muster station) is only concerned about getting to land.. There will be plenty of time later to deal with the blame game. For now, it is about saving lives. Hank
  5. Just took a look on the twitter site and noticed a picture of my wife's cousin sitting in a lounge in her lifejacket. We texted her thinking they might be close enough to shore to get a signal. We got a quick response that they were fine and waiting for helicopter rescue. She expects it could be many hours (that might be an understatement) but seemed to be in good spirts and would fill us in whenever they get to land...."somewhere in Norway." Hank
  6. Not sure if you are aware, but by purchasing a timed vaporetto pass (out of a vending machine or at a ticket office) you can have access to all the islands at a far lower cost then any excursion. So, for example, a 48 hour vaporetto ticketed (unlimited use) might cost you about 33 Euros per person. This would give you the ability to go to any (and all) of the islands in the lagoon (Murano, Burano, Torcello. Lido, etc) whenever you please. Other then in Venice itself, the primary means to get around the islands is by walking :). On Venice, you can use a combination of walking (the best way to see most places) and the vaporettos. We often will run out to Burano to escape a very crowded day in Venice and return in the late afternoon, by which time, many of the day-trippers have already left. Hank
  7. Not sure we understand the question asked by the OP. If it is a matter of having little or no bill at the end of a cruise, this has nothing to do with the overall cost. For example, when we cruise some of the luxury lines (which are essentially all-inclusive) we have little or no bill at the end of a cruise. or... Since we shop around for the best overall deals we often get very generous perks (on board credits) and often return with a very small bill....or in one notable Princess case we actually received a $700 refund check for all the unused OBC. Sometimes the cheapest overall cruise may involve a substantial end of cruise bill. One of our favored high volume cruise agencies will often offer various prices for the same cruise, based on perks. In some cases, booking the lowest price (which includes no perks) is a much better deal. But one of their cruise agents told me that many cruisers prefer to pay a higher overall cost if they have less of a an after cruise bill. So if I offer you $700 of OBC, or zero OBC with a $1000 less price....many will book the deal with the OBC. Go figure. Since DW and I do a lot of cruising and international travel, we compare things by breaking it down to a total cost per travel day. If we decide to take a month-long driving trip in Western Europe we have a very good idea of what it will cost us per day. If we take a 30 day cruise we also know about what it will cost us per day. Whether we pay everything in advance or after the trip is not relevant (to us). Hank
  8. Cutbacks! Give me quality, and charge prices that the will ultimately be determined by market forces. I have managed to live through much of the life of the so-called cruise industry, having started cruising in the mid-70s. Over the decades we have seen many changes in the industry which is fine. But it is only recently (the last 5-8 years) that we have noticed a pattern of cut-backs that really impact the little things that make cruising so special. Many of our favorite mass market lines (and we have been on most) are driving us away into the hands of the luxury cruise market. DW and I would actually be very happy to keep cruising the mass market lines (over 100 days a year) if it were not for the little nickel and dime things. For us it started many years ago with RCCL (now known as RCI) when they changed their entire philosophy from service and quality based to a mega ship company that seeks a different consumer market. And then they exported some of their key executives to Celebrity where that line is now following a path of lesser quality (especially in cuisine and entertainment). HAL is a line that seems to have lost its way and it is becoming difficult to explain their overall philosophy since it varies so much, from ship to ship. Sure, we can react to cutbacks by simply paying more money for better quality lines..which is what we have done. But luxury lines come with their own baggage and there are many things we prefer on the mass market lines. But consider that we have an upcoming cruise on Seabourn that actually cost us less then booking a comparable cabin on some of the mass market lines. In fact, there are all kinds of interesting price variations now which can often make the ultra luxury lines a far better value then many of the decent cabin categories on mass market ships. Go figure. Hank
  9. No reason to cross the busy street over to Walmart to get a bus to town (Centro) and it could actually cause a lot of confusion since there are multiple bus stops in front of Walmart with none of them having buses to town :). The only place on that Walmart side to catch a bus to town would be along the side street closest to Sams. If you want to take a local bus to Centro (or the Old Town) you can catch one along the main road in front of the port (on the same side as the port) (where you would see Walmart and Sams across the street). The fare is now 10 Pesos and most of the drivers no longer take dollars. More and more buses now have electronic fare boxes into which you insert your Peso coins (no change) or you can drop a bill into a small plastic bin (no change). The closest bus stop depends on which of the 3 piers your ship is docked. If you are at Pier #1 you would go to the stop right next to the Shell Station. That also works for pier 2. Pier #3 is a bit different and the closest bus stop would be to walk out to the main road (you will see the large Liverpool Store (and mall) across the road) and turn to your left where there is a small covered bus stop. Take any bus that has "Centro" in its front window and avoid the buses that say "Tunel." Hank
  10. Not a problem. We just turn those kind of things in to a crew member and suggest they send it to lost and found. Never have a problem finding a chair :). Hank
  11. Perhaps you have hit on a solution. Train the dogs to eat the straws :). Hank
  12. 35 Falls! My goodness, I cannot count that high (only have 10 fingers). It seems to me that terrorism is the least of your problems. DW and I get calls several times a year from a Medicare contractor who wants to pay us a visit to assess our living situation vis a vis falls. Perhaps we should give them your name :). On the other hand, you are still walking and breathing so perhaps you were born under a very lucky star. Hnak
  13. You will get a taxi at the port :). Some of the taxis may not want to take the short haul (to the train station) but there are always some drivers who have no problem with the ride. Just make sure to settle on a price before you get in the taxi. We have sometimes lucked out and shared a large van/taxi for 5€ per person although some drivers will want 10€. The last time we took the train with lots of luggage we had no problems at the Le Havre end...but were somewhat frustrated in Paris. The taxi queue outside the station was very long and there were very few taxis. DW and I finally decided to walk a few blocks (with all our luggage) to another taxi stand where we were finally successful in getting a cab. By the way, our favorite taxi company in Paris is "G7" who actually has an English speaking number for when you may want to reserve or summon a taxi to an area without taxi stands. Since we usually rent an apartment in Paris we always need a taxi when we are ready to leave...and will reserve with G7 the day before. They have never failed us. But this is not very helpful for outside train stations. Hank
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