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Bruin Steve

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  1. I would NOT stay there...It seems to have a lot of good reviews on some sites...but I wouldn't those. Perhaps some people have really low standards...Go to the reviews on Google and filter it to read the lowest reviews first. Downright scary. Anytime you see a hotel in LA with really cheap rates, be very suspect. And the neighborhood is NOT good. If in Hollywood proper, I would stay at the Loews...and never leave the complex at night for the most part. Know that otherwise, you will likely not be a crime victim...but you may be very uncomfortable walking around. If you are the type who likes to walk around in the evening, you would be MUCH better off staying in some place like Santa Monica...and having a tour company which will, at least, pick you up at your hotel (of course, with your time limitations, that makes things difficult as most do full day tours with pick-ups in the morning). But, if you, say, got a tour from Sunseekers with pickup at the port and drop off at a hotel in Santa Monica or even Marina Del Rey...or Beverly Hills or Westwood Village), you could get in a good day of touring then get dropped right at your hotel and have a really nice evening--say strolling on the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade and Palisades Park, visiting the Santa Monica Pier, getting a nice dinner, etc....then a fairly short Uber ride to LAX the next day...after, perhaps, depending on the time ofg your flight, some nice time exploring or strolling around one of those areas that next morning... If you really want to stay closer to Hollywood, perhaps look at Universal City or West Hollywood... But don't expect to find too many bargain-priced hotels in decent areas of LA...Those really just don't exist...
  2. I can see the attraction of that particular tour company...but it really does not make things easy for you. Hollywood and LAX are really in two different directions from Long Beach. You may not get off the ship as early as you think...and, depending on day of the week, those rides from Long Beach to LAX and LAX to Hollywood may eat up quite a bit of time... This is why I usually recommend Sunseekers Tours for cruise passengers--They are the one major tour company that picks up right at the ship in either Long Beach or San Pedro, takes you and your luggage on a pretty good tour and drops off at your hotel or at LAX (though, depending on hotel choice, best to clear that with them). I am also NOT really keen on staying at an LAX hotel for any reason except that you have a VERY early morning flight out of there. There is really very little in the area--including a dearth of restaurants. There is very little of advantage to those hotels other than convenience to the airport. I don't know the length of your tour, but it sounds like you are going to have a lot of long Uber rides and you are likely getting deposited at LAX with not a lot to do between getting dropped off and your flight the next afternoon. If you are to be stranded somewhere, I really recommend staying in Santa Monica instead...or Venice Beach/Marina Del Rey. If you must stay in Hollywood, know that, for the most part, it is no longer as glamorous as the name implies. And a lot of Hollywood hotels put you in some very seedy locations...In my life, I've stayed at only one Hollywood hotel (for a business conference--I have little other reason to go there)--the Loews at Hollywood and Highland...That is about the best Hollywood location--in the same complex as the Chinese Theater and the Dolby Theater--and with lots of shops and restaurants. The other top hotel is the stately old Roosevelt--the "grande dame" of Hollywood hotels. Past that, there are few others that I'd recommend. The Magic Castle operates a hotel--which would be very interesting to stay in--and would provide you with a nice evening's entertainment. It goes down from there... Good luck...
  3. Both good choices...depends what you are looking for in a hotel. First, I am assuming this is for a one night stay prior to a cruise? ( If it's a multi-night stay and you want to so sightseeing in the Los Angeles area, another part of the city may be preferable). The Crowne Plaza is more centrally located--in Downtown San Pedro within a couple of blocks of a fair number of restaurants...and very close to the cruise terminal (walking distance for most--about three flat blocks, though they do offer a shuttle==and most just do that because it's easier when schlepping luggage). The Doubletree is, perhaps, a little nicer, newer and located in a more scenic spot--on the yacht harbor. But it is more of remote location--about three miles to the cruise terminal and about 2-2.5 miles from most restaurants...But the Doubletree is very good with its free shuttle to restaurants and to the pier. We stayed at the Doubletree before our cruise last month...and enjoyed it...here are a couple of photos from our roon:
  4. Apparently, all of these notices are going out to passengers on cruises that are upcoming SOON...and I am imagining that no one can really put an end date on any of this. I am booked on back-to-back cruises in July--Rome to Venice and Venice to Rome...So, I am hoping to an incredible extent that all of this is moot by then (but, of course, no one knows)...But, thus far, I have received no notices. I will be extremely disheartened if anything in this trip is changed. The trip is scheduled to celebrate both our anniversary AND my wife's retirement (at the end of the school year after 25 years of a career as a School Psychologist). We booked these cruises almost a year ago now and much planning has gone into every last detail. The plan is to fly into Milan 10 days prior and rent a car, touring by land to Lugano, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen and the Cinque Terre...and then a night in Civitavecchia before boarding...then, upon return, two nights in Rome. We chose the itineraries because they only repeat one port on the two cruises and they visit what will be two new ports for us--Rijeka and Zadar...and several other ports we haven't visited in a few years. I have made ALL of the arrangements and reservations--including flights, multiple hotels, rental car, transfers ship to Rome and Rome to FCO, private port tours and Shore Excursions, etc. Thankfully, we made the air arrangements with Celebrity Air almost a year prior as refundable (BUT, airfares have gone up significantly since so, if changes need to be made, it will be at some significant extra expense)...Many of the hotels are cancelable--but, again, reservations made long ago and prices have increased over time. But at least three nights of hotels as well as our rental car reservation are PREPAID and nonrefundable (and, since it's not the cruise itself, I doubt Celebrity cares). Also, having made the reservations early enough, we were able to grab the same desired midship Concierge cabin for both legs. Everything fits together so nicely...and, because of the timing of all the planning, the overall pricing is outstanding. If, for some reason, the cruise is canceled or even altered, I am sure that Celebrity will, no doubt, refund my deposit and cancel my airfare without charge...HOWEVER, I will be hung out to dry on several hundred dollars of hotel and rental car charges (I am assuming that,if even the current restrictions are still in place, flying into Milan to pick up my rental car as well as travel in the north will be out of the question. BUT, in addition, a restructured cruise, even one out of Rome, will likely not visit the desired ports...and might, likely, revisit ports elsewhere in Europe that we've recently visited and didn't intend to return to quite yet. ALSO, probably not going to get as good a deal on a replacement cruise as we had on this one. AND, current airfares and flight selection from LAX to wherever we'll have to fly in and out of will likely not be close to the airfare cost we are tied into for this. I just ran a check on ChoiceAir.com and the same dates we booked--but for worse flight times with much longer layovers starts at over $400 more than what we have booked. Any hotels we may need for whatever pre- or-post-cruise we are able to schedule, booked this most closer to the dates, will likely be at much higher rates. And, of course, I will have a lot of work to do to go back into planning mode all over again... So, no matter what happens here, if it results in changes to our trip, will cost us quite a bit... So, I REALLY HOPE all of this goes away quickly!!!
  5. These two cruises aren't for another 4 and a half months!! July 5 and July 12... There is still plenty of time to book... Of course, they may have opened this up now since all of the other Sky Suites are sold out...But, on July 5, there are lots of Aqua and Concierge remaining...and on July 12, still lots of Aquas remaining...
  6. I'm not the best source here--because I haven't yet done this...BUT, we are staying in Portovenere for three nights prior to our cruise this July...and plan on using the ferry, so I've done a little research. (I see you are going in August, so the information is likely the same). From what I've learned, ferry closures in the summer months are extremely rare--which makes sense...It is a Mediterranean climate (similar to what we have here in California), so summers are generally warm and dry...The chance of bad weather this time of year is extremely low. IF, by some extremely odd chance, the ferry is closed, there is a train to Riomaggiore--but from La Spezia...You'd have to take a bus (which makes 37 stops and takes a half an hour) or a car or taxi to get to La Spezia...or just take a taxi the entire way--though the route by road looks almost frightening... Or, the whole thing can be hiked: I'm sort of counting on the ferry as operating...
  7. We've only had a handicapped cabin once (on our Southeast Asia Millennium cruise about 14 months ago) and it was not by choice...We found out while checking in at the terminal in Hong Kong that we had been "upgraded"... Yes, the cabin is quite a bit larger than an ordinary balcony cabin, as is the bathroom...but I don't know if the increase in size holds for the handicapped Sky Suites as well as they are already larger and can probably accommodate wheelchairs and such in their standard size. I also agree that the bathroom felt odd as, in order to accommodate wheel chairs, they are missing that rise in the floor that keeps the water in the shower. We did, however, at least appreciated the midship location. That said, I feel a bit odd booking one myself... I always check, from time to time, the current fares on the cruises I have booked...and, it so happens, that when I recently checked on my cruises this summer, the Sky Suite fares had suddenly dropped drastically--almost to the rare on my currently booked Concierge cabin for at least one of the two legs of my back-to-back...to where I could pay just about $500-600 more and pick up the internet perk...BUT, the only Sky Suites available on each leg were those Handicapped Sky Suites... I thought about it and ran it by my wife...and we decided to pass... We are happy with the Concierge cabin we have booked (same midship cabin for both legs)...We don't need more space (and like ordinary showers)...The butlers are great (we've had a few suites over the years), but we really don't need them...AND, I still feel funny booking what is supposed to be a Handicapped cabin--even if they haven't had anyone who needs them book the cruise...(and I don't want to risk losing that same cabin and, maybe, have to pack up and move in between the two legs of the back-to-back). OTOH, if a standard Sky Suite came back on the market for those same rates for both cruises, we'd probably jump on it...
  8. First, yeah, I'm a Tequila snob...It comes with having done many trips and cruises to Puerto Vallarta--the only region of Mexico where Tequila is made (Tequila, by law, must come from Jalisco State and some small areas in the adjacent states...the actual town of Tequila--where the drink originated--is in the hills between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. The law is similar to how the French protect the name "Champagne") and having toured several tequila factories and done many tastings... That said, this list is actually quite disappointing. First off, I NEVER drink ANY brand of "Silver" as a first choice. Silver is, basically, what you use for mixed drinks--where you don't really care about the taste. There are three types of Tequila: Silver, Reposado and Anejo...Silver is what you get when you take the Tequila right out of the vat and bottle it--without any of the aging that gives better Tequilas their unique flavors (also leaves it with a harsher taste--yes, even Patron Silver--which is the reason for the need to suck the lime when drinking Silver. Reposado is aged 6 months in a barrel...Some of the flavor of the wood gets into the Tequila and it acquires a light brown color...It is actually the most favored type of Tequila among Mexicans. Anejo is aged in the barrel for not less than a full year--often a lot longer than that. Anejo gets a richer, deeper brown color and a very rich flavor...really a prime sipping liquor--NOT something you'd mix with other ingredients in a cocktail...it's best sipped straight--like a high end Scotch. Those of you ordering Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises and such, don't worry so much about "calling" your brand...The Juice or the Sweet and Sour mix is going to so overwhelm the Tequila that's in it that it really doesn't matter much... If there's a big problem with this list, it's that there is no Anejo on the menu at all, even for the "premier" package...and, for the classic package, there isn't even a Reposado. Now, I generally prefer a good Anejo (and no, that does not mean the over-hyped Patron)...Recently, I opened a bottle of Cazadores Reposado at home...it's not bad, but it really isn't that expensive either--I bought a liter at Costco here in SoCal, IIRC, for about $22...heck, I also have a liter of Cazadores Anejo which, IIRC, I still paid less than $30 for...At those sort of RETAIL prices, there's really no reason they shouldn't at least be on the "premium" menu--maybe even the Reposado on the classic menu!
  9. Both are incredible...but, as JB noted, Herculaneum is more compact..so, it might be a better fit for you. My wife actually liked Herculaneum more... Last time we did it, we put together a group of 8 from our roll call and arranged a tour with a local provider. We combined a half day tour of the Amalfi Coast followed by a half day tour of Herculaneum. The tour provider contracted for a licensed guide at Herculaneum who met us at the site. With eight of us sharing the cost, the price worked out to be very reasonable on a per person basis...and the tour company was very good at handling all of the logistics and getting us back to the ship on a timely basis.
  10. Any time we cruise from a port that we have to fly to, we arrive at the embarkation port at least a day early...just to avoid the stress of flight delays, missed connections, etc. For Europe, we like to fly in at least two days early--adding to our reasons the typical long travel time and major time zone change...We like to have time to acclimate ourselves to the new time prior to starting our cruise...But, more than that, we like to fly in even a longer time before the cruise--in order to have a few days to enjoy and tour the city or region we are flying into--many cruises allow no time to actually see that embarkation or disembarkation city. If you have never been to Rome, I really recommend flying in multiple days ahead of your cruise... First know that the port fro Rome is located in Civitavecchia--which is a couple of hour or more drive or train trip from Rome. For us, we also like to be at the port early00so, we head to Civitavecchia the day before the cruise and spend our last night there--to make the morning of the cruise stress-free. Therefore, if you can afford to get to Rome (FCO airport) a few days before the cruise, I highly recommend it--For example, if you can arrive in Rome 3 nights prior to the cruise, you can spend two nights in Rome and the third in Civitavecchia, giving you a couple of days to see a little of Rome. In Rome, I would recommend staying in the area of the Campo de Fiore/Piazza Navona/Pantheon to give you the location most central to the tourist sites. We have stayed, of late, aty the Residenza in Farnese: https://www.residenzafarneseroma.it/en/ It's a small hotel in this area with four stars but very reasonable prices. Others on this board have other recommendations in this area as well. You will need transportation from FCO airport to your hotel and from your hotel to the port in Civitavecchia, This summer, we will be using NCC Plus shuttles: http://www.nccplus.it/ It's a bit costlier than, say, the train...but much simpler since it's door-to-door. Train is cheaper, but you need to deal with your luggage and with added transportation from the train station in Rome to your hotel and from hotel to train station and Civitavecchia train station to the port. So, consider trade-offs of cost to convenience. NCC and other companies (many mentioned on threads here) will also arrange tours in Rome if you'd rather do that than explore on your own. If on your own, try to fit in visits to the Vatican, the Coliseum and Forum, The Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona along with any other sights that attract your attention doing your research. I really recommend visiting the Piazza Navona at night. If you stay in the area of Rome I recommend, you can easily walk to many of these sites or take a short bus ride. The Campo de Fiore is great for reasonably priced casual restaurants with outdoor seating. Good luck...
  11. Anyone who offers free transportation is really just charging you and blending it into the price. We are using NCC Plus for transportation from the ship to the hotel (70 euro total for two for a shared shuttle) and for the trip from the hotel to FCO airport (45 euro for two for a private shuttle)...
  12. This prior to a cruise out of Civitavecchia, on Sunday, correct? Also consider that Civitavecchia is a good hour and a half to two hours plus trip from Central Rome ...depending on whether you go by car or by train--and with a train, you need to account for the train schedule as well...and a ride from the Civitavecchia rr station to the port... So, consider getting to Civitavecchia on Saturday afternoon to give you the least stress-filled Sunday morning getting to the ship. You also don't really know what will happen with your flight arrival...planes get delayed, connections missed, luggage lost, etc. I would not count on making it to an 11:00 am train out of Rome Termini... I would save Venice for another trip... Get to a hotel in Rome at your leisure after your flight arrives. Remember, you may be tired after all of that travel time...and you will be several hours off of your usual time zone...So, plan on a relaxing Tuesday...take Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to see Rome...Rome wasn't built in a day...and neither is it toured in a day! If you have been to Rome before often and three full days is too much time for you in Rome (like there is such a thing), maybe go somewhere else nearby instead...Tivoli or Orvieto are great choices...In fact, Tivoli is a short train, taxi or Uber trip out of Rome and is a great little town with some very worthwhile sites--the Villa Adriana (Roman era ruins), Villa d' Este and the Villa Gregoriana to name three...We spent a couple of days there--stayed in a great little B&B--"Catillo"... And, if you haven't been to Italy before, don't try to fit both Rome and Venice into such a short time...There is so much to see in Rome...
  13. First cruise? Yes, go to Le Petit Chef (or Tuscan, if you like the menu and don't want the really cool presentation). Here's why: Blu is actually very nice...but, over the course of your cruise, even a short five night one, it will feel pretty much the same every night. It's got a few benefits over the main dining room--much smaller, easier to just show up and get seated every time. The service is excellent--but the service in the main dining room is excellent as well. But, every night, you will get seated, handed a menu, order and your courses brought to you. The menu will change each night--though some standards remain. It's like going to the same, albeit very good, restaurant every night. The specialty restaurant, whichever you choose, will break up that pattern. It's like saying "Let's try something different tonight"...And, since they normally charge extra for it, they really try to make it something special. Now, a lot of the time, we tend to think "Why should I pay that much more for dinner when I've already paid for a very nice dinner in my cruise fare?"...And I tend to agree (though we always seem to go to a specialty restaurant one or two times a cruise anyway). BUT, in your case, you are not spending ANYTHING extra for the experience...might as well take it.
  14. Changing it may be hard to do...but you can always ask...Try at Guest Relations desk when you first board... But, personally, we loved Le Petit Chef...We had pre-booked it, then found out about the two different menus, so rescheduled while onboard...it was no problem, we got the seating we wanted, even scheduling it that late. On our last cruise, we had Aqua class (Blu)...My wife actually wasn't all that thrilled with Blu (though I know some are) so we likely won't cruise in Aqua again for now...Just know that it is more similar to the main dining room experience than to a specialty restaurant. That specialty restaurant, IMHO, IS worth taking them up on. We like Tuscan Grille quite a bit...but Le Petit Chef really was special...If I were you, I would just do it...
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