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new_cruiser

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About new_cruiser

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Sacramento, California
  • Interests
    Small ship cruising and small group tours.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Windstar

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  1. I'd never go off-ship without some type of government ID. If not my passport, I at least have my driver's license, global entry card or my passport card (not valid for flying internationally but still a valid government ID). I guess you aren't the only one who carries no ID because when we were in Portugal, the guy before me in line at a ticket booth was very put out that they wouldn't give him the senior discount ticket without ID showing his birth date. He did look over 80, but policy at that site was no senior discount without ID. Having an ID can be useful even in cases where it isn't essential. Japan is one of the few countries that requires carrying a passport when you go ashore on port calls. At least that's what the guidance says. When I was there on a Windstar cruise with 3 port calls in Alaska before crossing to Alaska, I don't recall my passport being checked on leaving or returning to the ship.
  2. That's not exactly true. There are small ship cruises that are entirely in Alaska; e.g.: UnCruise, Alaska Dream, Lindblad. No mainstream line cruises begin and end in Alaska. They have one way cruises from Alaska (Seward or Whittier) to Vancouver or vice versa - not Alaska to Seattle or SF because that would be a PVSA issue. Alaska cruises out of Seattle or SF are round trip or occasionally one-way to/from Vancouver.
  3. My TA does that for me. When I see a price drop during the Price assurance time, I drop her an email & she takes care of it. Plus, I get OBC from the TA.
  4. I wasn't close to Bangkok. Bangkok hospital has branches in different areas of Thailand. I was in Phuket and they brought me to Bangkok Phuket hospital which is in Phuket. I wouldn't call it 6 star, but maybe 3 or 4 star. Anyway, as nice or nicer than the usual US hospital room. Re: mouse use injury: my first thought was real live mice (like maybe working in a lab). Guess it's because I've used a roller ball for ages and kind of forget about using a computer mouse. I solved the hair issue by getting it cut short about a week after I returned home. Washing it with one hand wasn't so hard and even brushing it out I could manage. I like to put it in a ponytail when cooking, exercising or anytime it getting blown in my face would be annoying. That was something I couldn't do with one hand. Summer's coming and I'd been thinking about getting it cut short anyway. It took hitting 3 stores but I found a reasonably comfortable sports bra that is manageable for me with one hand and produces a decent result. So with that, I'm set for Costa Rica next week. The physical therapist gave me lots of exercises to do. Things are improving slowly but it aches a lot of the time. I'm hoping it settles down a bit more before the trip. Yes, it does give you a respect for those who deal permanently with disabilities. There was a contestant on the Great British Baking Show who didn't have a full hand; when I watched it initially I was impressed that she could compete with the other bakers but I'm even more impressed now.
  5. 🙂 I only figured out last cruise that there's a little lever that you can push to lock the line so it doesn't pull out more and sag when hanging the heavy damp clothes on it. All these years of staying in hotels with these lines and I've never noticed that feature - not sure if they all have it.
  6. It's probably the same as on Wind Star with two hooks I addition to the one it pulls out from so it can be set up as a triangle making more hanging space in the little shower.
  7. Yes the hospital chain is known for handling "medical tourism" - people going to a country with cheaper but still good medical care for surgeries. There was an ad in one of the elevators for the bone and joint department surgeries such as knee replacement. The port agent said that they wanted to send me to the best hospital in the area rather than the nearest. On my trip home, I happened to chat with two people who had experience there - one who's an expat in Thailand part of the year and one who's father was treated at the Chang Mai branch of the hospital after an injury while they were traveling together. The doctors/PAs treating me after I've gotten home have told me that the treatment I received in Thailand was the correct treatment and matches what they would have done to treat such an injury. They say it has been set correctly - all the angles are right which is important. Perhaps it was just lucky this trip, but the sailing was extremely smooth. The ship didn't heel over much at all. It's one of the smoothest cruises I've been on. I have mainly sailed on Windstar including two cruises on their smallest ships which are similar in size. I've been once on a Celebrity ship (~2000 passengers) and once on Crystal. We didn't spend a lot of this trip on full sail, most transits were motor assisted. I guess the winds weren't favorable this trip. There was at least one sail away where we went the wrong direction (i.e. not headed toward our next port) to enjoy being under full sail for a while. That was beautiful. I got to try steering for a bit. One difference I noticed between Star Clipper* and Wind Star*, is the stairways on Star Clipper are much steeper. In January, I was on Wind Star for 10 days and didn't mind the stairs at all (neither ship has elevators). I was getting tired of the steeper stairs on Star Clipper by the end of the week (I have short legs) especially with one good hand. The stairs to the tender platform aren't much different on the two ships. The stair thing wouldn't bother most able people. It wouldn't stop me from going on Star Clipper again, but I mention it because someone might be okay with the more moderate stairs on Wind Star but have difficulty with the steeper ones. I loved the ship. I loved that it looked more like a traditional ship. It was fascinating to see how the sails were raised and fun to be able to steer it from the ship's wheel. The other passengers were very friendly. It was an easy ship to be solo on. There were quite a few other solos, some traveling together but not sharing a room, but the couples on the trip were friendly to solos too. There were a mix of English, French and German speakers. Often announcements were in all three languages. If enough French or German speakers sign up for an excursion, there will be a group for those languages; English is always provided. There was one child (probably early teens), a very nice boy who mixed well with the adults. The captain and crew were great. I wasn't crazy about the cruise director. All of the stops on this itinerary except Penang were beach stops - small islands with a beach, most with snorkeling. They mostly didn't have trails for a hike through the rain forest. That's part of why I took the excursion. Personally, I'd have preferred to have some more variety mixed in. If not town stops, something with some hiking or gardens. I wouldn't hesitate to travel on Star Clipper again, but I'd choose my itinerary more carefully to get one with more variety. If Windstar and Star Clippers had a similar itinerary, price would probably be a big factor in choosing which one. *Each line has one ship with a name very similar to the line name which can be confusing. Star Clippers is the cruise line and Star Clipper is one of their ships. Windstar (one word) is the line and Wind Star (two words) is one of their ships.
  8. Was it two broken wrists at the same time? I can't even imagine how to deal with that. Glad you made it through. I have my first rehab visit Wednesday - it's really needed. The wrist and hand are really weak now and don't have full flexibility - I can't lift much more than my tea mug. I plan on being diligent about the exercises. I have a trainer at the gym and she will help with rehab too. This hasn't deterred me from traveling alone. I decided when I was in college, almost 40 years ago, that I wasn't willing to live a life limited by fear. My room mate didn't want me to walk back alone at night after working in the computer center so I went with her and her boy friend. I finished my program quickly and fell asleep on a couple of chairs waiting for them to finish so we could go back to the dorm later. When I woke with a stiff neck, I decided that this caution wasn't how I wanted to live. I've been very happy with the results of that decision. I've traveled a lot alone - mostly for business but also some vacations and personal travel days tacked on to business trips. My husband isn't as interested in travel as I am though when he goes he enjoys himself. And after all, I was able to handle what happened just fine. I'll be heading out on another trip in a couple of weeks. Not solo this time, something new for me. My grand daughter is going to Costa Rica on a trip organized through her school and I'll be going along as one of the chaperones. Thank you! I tried to do a good job writing it. I was worried it was too long for people to read, but I wrote it because people from time to time here say they are worried about traveling solo and I wanted to relate a story of getting through having dealing with a non-ideal event during solo travel -- that even if something goes wrong it can be handled. Also to mention some of the things to be prepared for. Healing is on schedule at this point. I've been told it will need a lot of rehab after being immobilized for 7 weeks. I'm glad to be getting started on the rehab phase.
  9. My Medicare Advantage provider doesn't have a relationship with the hospital in Beijing. The travel insurance coverage is secondary - which means they don't pay until the primary provider has paid for what they cover and the travel insurance sees what's left. That means the hospital bill (deposit and any remaining payment at the end) has to be paid upfront by me and then we deal with getting the insurance to reimburse. Fortunately, I have a high enough limit on a credit card to cover it. That was done before surgery on the first day. I forgot to include the interview with the hospital insurance dept in the list of things that were covered before surgery. The final bill was somewhat less than the deposit so there was a small refund at the end. At check out the hospital provided documents describing all the treatment they did and the costs. We submitted that to Kaiser (my Medicare Advantage provider). The documentation must have been good enough because they sent us a check without any questions for everything except a $500 co-pay. I still have to submit that plus the cost of the extra flight to the travel insurance. If I understand correctly, basic Medicare doesn't provide coverage outside the US (other than some corner case exceptions like if there is an emergency and the closest hospital is in Canada), but some Medigap and Medicare Advantage programs do cover it. Another detail I forgot - the second day in the hospital, the ship's port agent showed up bringing my suitcase from the hotel the ship uses. It would have been better to take it with me when I went to the hospital but leaving it behind worked out okay. Since I had everything essential in my backpack and wasn't going to wear anything but a hospital gown for a few days, I didn't need anything from it before it showed up.
  10. The travel insurance company will provide assistance getting home if needed. Once I'm told that I will be okay to leave and fly home after 3-nights (the day before the last hospital night), I call United and they nicely waive the change fee and over-ride the fare increase for the new booking. They even manage to get me the upgrade to business class that wasn't going to clear on my original flight. My original flight itinerary ends at San Francisco where I would have then taken BART and Amtrak for the last 100 miles. That often works out better than taking the short plane hop or dealing with Bay Area traffic to get home, but not with the bad arm. I ask the travel insurance to arrange for the plane or a car/van transfer. They need a form from the hospital first to say I'm clear to travel. They email a copy of the form to me and forward it to the hospital insurance office to fill out. But meanwhile, I'm impatient to know that the details are settled. They say that it's fine with them if I book the flight myself and submit the receipt to them for payment. There is a flight that works and the price is okay so I go ahead and book it. They do get the form from the hospital. They have there own medical review of the form and send one question. They want to check that the limb isn't in a full cast; that it's in something that will allow for expansion as it is likely to swell during the flight. It's in a splint with an elastic bandage so that's fine. All my shoes are lace-ups (other than my sandals but I don't like to fly in them). I find videos on-line for how to tie shoes with one hand. I manage to do it though it is hard to do snug enough that it stays tied. Maybe that's why the video also includes how to double knot the lace with one hand - I double knot and that fixes the issue. With that done I'm able to get dressed myself the last morning in the hospital and I'm ready to go. Flights home go smoothly. I check the roll-aboard that I would normally carry on as it will be too hard to deal with one-handed. I'm regular economy with a window seat on the flight from Phuket to Beijing which is okay but the extra space of business class is sure nice with the injury on the long flight from Beijing to SFO. Menu choices in the airports and on the planes are influenced by "what can I eat with one hand and not make a mess." My left non-dominant hand at that.
  11. Gurney to surgery, surgery, wake up being transferred to a gurney to go to the recovery room, recovery room and then back to my hospital room. It's a really nice room with a long couch that could serve as a day bed, an arm chair, a table with 4 chairs in addition to the hospital bed. There is a room service menu for family members and a note about the charge if extra towels and bedding are needed. I guess that's part of the medical tourism thing. The bathroom has a large walk-in shower. The hospital is well staffed too. The buzzer is answered promptly. A woman comes in each morning to give me a sponge bath. The last morning, she tapes a plastic bag around my splinted arm and helps me shower. She washes and dries my hair, then puts it in a braid. WiFi internet connection is good - I can keep in contact with people. Verizon Travel Pass also covers the calling so I was able to have long talks with my husband and my grown kids who all called to help me not feel alone. I can see they were right about the immediate surgery and antibiotics. I got a pretty high fever the 2nd night there. Fortunately it came back down in a few hours and was the only sign of infection. Other than that recovery was uneventful.
  12. I consider whether to take my rolling bag with me to my hospital or leave in the luggage storage to pick up later. I decide to leave it as there will be plenty of time to come back and get it and it will be a pain to have to keep track of at the hospital. The driver thinks that's the right thing to do to. Off we go. It turns out it's about an hour drive to the hospital. We drive past another hospital to get there. They take me to Bangkok Phuket Hospital - it is a super-nice hospital. The Bone and Joint department is on the ground floor and looks large (not surprising due to medical tourism). I see the doctor and he sends me for an X-ray. Back to the doctor for the verdict - the radius is broken; it's a displaced fracture (all the prior fractures in my immediate family have been non-displaced - just slap a cast on it and let the bone heal) so this is my first time dealing with that and I didn't understand the implications even though due to the joint deformation, I was pretty sure the bone was out of place. Furthermore, it is a compound fracture (aka open fracture). The small tear above my wrist is because the bone opened the skin at the moment of fracture. It's been more than 6 hours; almost 24 hours since the wound and infection risk is high. There is no "patch this up with a splint and fly home tonight." It needs immediate surgery to debride the wound, put the bone back in place with a plate to keep it there and at least 3 days in the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. Pre-surgery stuff starts happening: a blood panel, an EKG, consult with a cardiologist who asks a lot of questions about my health including list of medications I'm on,consult with the anesthesiologist who asks a lot of questions about my health including list of medications. I'm glad I have the medication list handy on my phone. All the doctor's speak quite good English and are easy to communicate with. They bring me up to my room for a short wait before surgery. I message my husband at home about what's going on (I'd wanted to wait until I had a diagnosis) and where I am. I call the travel insurance to let them know what's going on. I call United to let them know why I won't be on my flights. I call my Medicare Advantage plan (Kaiser). I call the hotel and talk to the ship staff to let them know that I won't be coming back for my bag that night and can they figure out a way to get it to me. This is probably my worst time - as I have time for thoughts of what if something goes wrong when I'm under anesthesia and I'm here all alone. It all feels so sudden.
  13. This small ship doesn't have a doctor. One of the dining room staff is also a nurse. I seek him out - he unwraps the arm, cleans the wound again, bandages it and applies another elastic wrap. There are a lot of things that are really hard to do with one hand. A waiter cuts my food. I manage most of dressing by myself. Ship mates help with tying my shoes. The next day is the end of the cruise. The captain has a room steward help with packing my bag. The captain tells me that they have arranged for a car to take me to the hospital. There is no cruise terminal - the ship tenders to a hotel's jetty and has a meeting room in the hotel with drinks and snacks where one can hang out and where there is luggage storage. Fortunately, my carry-on is a daypack. I can get that on and off myself and it leaves my one good hand free for holding hand rails and such. My flight is after midnight so I naively think that I'll go to the hospital, they'll do what they can, splint it and I'll have plenty of time to make my flight.
  14. I broke my wrist while solo on a cruise in Thailand last April and thought those on this board might be interested in hearing about the experience. I just got the cast off so I can type more easily now. It was a round trip out of Phuket on Star Clipper. It's a small ship, ~ 140 passenger capacity but carrying around 70 people this trip - there was no solo supplement so the low occupancy was partly due to having a lot of cabins with 1 passenger. Most stops were beach stops on islands in National Parks. The last full day, I took an excursion that visited an elephant sanctuary and had a bamboo raft float down a quiet river. Water levels were low and at one point they were talking about cancelling the excursion, but in the end the excursion went. Feeding and washing the elephants was fun - that was the main reason I chose to go on the excursion. Then the float trip. There are two passengers on each long narrow bamboo raft. A guy at the front poles the raft through the water - the water level was really low. Our raft got stuck on a big rounded boulder that was well above the water in middle of the stream. The guy was having a lot of trouble getting the raft over the boulder so I got out onto the boulder to make it lighter. This turned out to be a big mistake - the far side of the boulder was slanted and very smooth. When I went to get back in the raft, my shoes slid right down it despite having good sole treads. My hand hit hard against the boulder. Major pain - 11 on a scale of 1 to 10! I felt dumb about landing badly but perhaps my arm hitting saved my head from hitting and getting a concussion. I get back onto the raft. I felt kind of light headed so I laid down which also allowed me to elevate the injured wrist on my chest to try to keep the swelling down. For the rest of the trip (perhaps a half hour), I stayed that way. When we got to the landing stage, my fellow passengers were so supportive. They were very concerned that I had support getting off the raft. There were several flights of stairs up to the parking lot and there was always someone to take my good arm for stability going up the steps. I guess I was in shock - quite able to handle stairs but feeling a bit shaky so it was really nice to have that support. While the guides were figuring out how to handle it and people were having a snack, someone offered their microfiber towel and people helped fashion it into a sling. We are on the mainland, about an hour's boat ride from the island the ship is at. My clothes, passport, etc are all on the ship. I'm pretty sure that my wrist is either broken or dislocated as there is an odd bulge in the wrist and the wrist is very stiff. There is also a small tear in the skin near the bulge and I'm sure that skin didn't hit the rock. One of the excursion guides presents the alternatives. There is a small hospital on a military base that we can visit and still get back to the boat in time to rejoin the excursion going back to the ship. If we go to any other hospital, we can't get back to the ship that day. So, I agree to go to the base hospital. When we get there it is almost deserted - it's a national holiday and there is almost no one there. I'm seen by two men who I think were medics of some sort. They clean the wound, wrap it in an elastic bandage and give me a sling. They insist that I've just dislocated the joint, that since I can move my fingers it isn't a broken bone. (I'm skeptical but no point in arguing with them, their English is pretty limited.) We go back to the boat. By the way, all this time I've been very nervous about how I'll get back on the boat - we had to go up a ladder to exit the boat and I'm not sure how I'll do that with one arm. Back with my fellow passengers - they insist that I get loaded onto the boat first and get lots of support. The tide was a bit higher than when we arrived so it's not quite so far down to the boat and with instructions and help from the boat crew, I transfer down the ladder into the boat without much trouble. My fellow passengers insist the I get seated in the least bumpy spot at the rear of the speed boat for the very bumpy, nearly hour-long trip back to the ship. A crew member provides a life vest to use as a cushion and I find a way to sit that keeps my wrist from being jostled by the bumps. Transferring from the speed boat to the ship is very awkward with one hand, but with help from the crew I manage it. I'm back on the ship!
  15. We are looking forward to this cruise too. Sacramento winters are moderate compared to New England, but we still like a warm get away. Most of the ports will be new to us and we really like this itinerary including visiting all 3 ABC islands. We booked in January right after returning from our Panama/Costa Rica on Wind Star. We have also been moving to longer cruises now that we are both retired. I'd love to join a meet-up.
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