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Bruin Steve

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  1. And it went up 10 euros pp while I was thinking about it! BUT...it still sounded like a vast improvement over ANY long train or bus ride... And, I figure, even if I restructure the longer flights, we're still aiming at landing in Venice on the 29th...SO, I just pulled the trigger and booked it...comes out to $260 US for the both of us...We can get into Venice, stay at the Hilton, get up the next day, have some breakfast and head back to the airport...and be in Vienna by NOON! And the cost is actually in line with a lot of the train/bus costs... And, even iof we flew directly to Vienna, we'd get there some time on the 29th and pay for a hotel room in Vienna one extra night. Doesn't really matter where we recover from jet lag...Venice or Vienna...
  2. It's definitely intriguing...I remember when I traveled Europe one summer while at University, taking as many overnight trains as I could in order to save money on hotels...so, boy, do I have some stories! Anyway, I ran the idea by my wife...and she doesn't like the idea of getting off of 15 hours worth of airplanes and connections overnight and getting onto a train--even one with a sleeping compartment for a second straight night. I have been able to book the Hilton Garden Inn Mestre on "points"...so, we could get to the hotel , have dinner and get a full night's sleep, then get some form of transportation the next morning. Some sites seem to suggest there are buses direct Mestre to Vienna that can do it in under 8 hours. Of course, it also looks like we can fly Austrian Airlines at 1:55 that next morning for 109 Euros pp including one checked bag.
  3. UPDATE: Since I feel more comfortable having something booked as early as possible, we went ahead and tried to get something booked...even if we end up later replacing it, at least we have it as a "hedge". Playing within their rules, we booked it into Venice arriving with 9 nights to spend prior to our departure from Ravenna--flight arrives 3:15 pm. Rather than starting off in Vienna as we first envisioned, we've booked one night in Mestre--near Marco Polo Airport. So we'll try to get a train or other transportation from there to Vienna the following day, spend three nights in Vienna...then train to Salzburg--2 nights...then to Innsbruck for 2 nights...The a train or bus to Ravenna for the night prior to the cruise...One extra train...and a wasted travel day. But it works. Booking is cancelable...Fare, for Economy class...on British Airways (both ways--this and Rome to LAX after cruise) is $1550 pp. Seems a bit higher than we're accustomed to paying for LAX-Europe and back...But I guess it might just be prices going up. If we see prices drop for similar flights, we'll just re-book. Celebrity/RCCL also gave us an opthion on Finn Air for $11 pp less...But layover in Helsinki on the way there was only an hour and I felt a little uncomfortable with that short a time when first entering Europe. I'll keep monitoring prices.
  4. We've used RCCL Air2Sea and Flights by Celebrity for our air travel on most cruises over the last several years. It has worked well for us for several reasons: --Refundable Ticketing, cancelable if plans change (Very important during pandemic as we had several cruises canceled and cancelation of flights was easy/connected) --Not paying for tickets until Final cruise payment date. --Flexibility to change if better flights/fares became available. --Often better fares than airline or major sites...but at least competitive. We have booked two cruises for June 2025--Ravenna to Ravenna on RCCL followed by Ravenna to Rome on Celebrity. For us, we NEVER fly in right before a cruise. Always at least a few days early and try to add a little touring to that pre-cruise. Try also to NOT fly out immediately at cruise disembarkation. Best to stay a couple of days and enjoy the disembarkation city. Ravenna poses an additional problem. It's NOT Venice. It's a complicated 2.5 hour drive by car or 4+ hour trip by public transportation from Marco Polo Airport. Especially wanting to spend a few days pre-cruise, there are lots of other arrival airports that make just as much sense as flying to Venice. What we WANT to do is to fly into Vienna instead. Spend maybe 3 or 4 nights there, take the train to Salzburg for a couple of nights, then to Innsbruck, then down to Ravenna for the night prior to the cruise. Then we wanted to spend two nights in Rome after the second cruise. EASY-Fly LAX to Vienna around May 28 or 29, then fly Rome to LAX on June 29. The RCCL Air2Sea link shows us nothing--even LAX-Venice/Venice-LAX on the exact cruise dates (and we're within 11 months of both). The Celebrity site actually shows flights and fares for the exact cruise dates of that cruise--into Venice and out of Rome...And, changing Venice to Vienna, it even shows flights/fares for that. But, changing the LAX Vienna flight to a week or so earlier and we get "No Flights Found". So, I call Celebrity Air/Air2Sea. They tell me they understand what I want...and, yes, it makes perfect sense...BUT...they CANNOT do it! They tell me they can ONLY book me INTO VENICE. New corporate policy. Think about it. Venice is limiting. Fewer nonstops. Difficult transportation to port. It makes more sense to many to fly into Milan. OR do a round trip to Rome for that Ravenna to Rome cruise (might find better choice of flights, better train connections). So, now I know that I cannot count on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity assist me with air transportation to get me to and from their cruises. I guess I have to look for flights independently, pay for full airfare way in advance, get non-cancelable, nonrefundable tickets that I will be stuck with even if RCCL/Celebrity cancels or changes my cruise...AND THEY HAVE. During the restart after the pandemic, they moved my Apex cruise from Barcelona to ATHENS! (Good thing my air was through Celebrity). We had friends supposed to travel with us on our recent Japan cruise on Millennium and Celebrity arbitrarily canceled their cruise!
  5. First off, I know that many people have used this company…and will gladly post that THEIR tours using this company went wonderfully. And I am certain, that most of the time, this is the case. However, the measure of a tour provider is NOT in how they do when everything goes according to plan…it’s in how they handle things when they don’t. And I also understand that this company is NOT the actual tour provider…they are, in reality, a booking agent who deals with a list of independent local providers in many cities and ports around the world. So, though I am not completely happy with how the local guide handled this matter (poorly…though I know stuff happens), I am more concerned here with how the well-known booking company has handled things. I’ve done a LOT of cruises…and I’ve booked a LOT of private port tours. With most of them, everything goes well. I book well in advance. Sometimes, they require payment in full, sometimes just a deposit and, sometimes, it’s pay on the day of the tour. Sometimes I deal directly with the local provider, other times I’ll book through one of these agents (Viator, Get Your Guide, this one, etc.) I’ve had, just one time, a guide completely flake out and was a no-show on tour day. And, I’ve had, just one time, a tour company cancel only a short time prior to the tour–but for a very good reason which rendered the subject of the tour impossible–so completely understandable. But I have never found myself as frustrated with a tour company as I am right now. We booked two segments on the Royal Caribbean World Cruise in the Baltics and the Norwegian Fjords. We planned most of our ports months ago. Doing some with RCCL shore excursions, some with private small group tours, some with larger local non-ship tours and some “on our own”. Most important to us was Klaipeda, Lithuania. First, we have never been to this port before…But, more importantly, because this is the are from which my wife’s family originally came from. It was one of the main reasons we chose this particular itinerary. And, therefore,it was extremely important to us to arrange a fairly specific type of tour. All of RCCL’s shore excursions here…and most of the various non-ship tours one finds…are fairly general in nature: Walking tour of downtown, visit to the sand dunes, visit to the Amber Museum and free time to shop for amber…in some combination or another. All VERY uninteresting for our purposes. My wife’s family lived a long time in the area–until her immediate family moved to America…and any relatives left in Lithuania were wiped out in the Holocaust. Vestiges of the now-gone culture are limited and hard to find. But there is a little left…but it requires a good guide familiar with the history and culture to find it. So, six months ago, we did our research, compared our options, and found exactly what we were looking for with Tours by Locals. And so, we booked it. Paid the required deposit. We found another couple on our Cruise Critic roll call to join us, helping to keep the cost reasonable. Kept in touch with the guide via the Tours by Locals website. We were required to pay the price IN FULL 30 days prior to the tour…WHICH WE DID. And LATER the same day as our payment was made in full, we received a message, via Tours by Locals website, that the guide was “canceling our tour…for personal reasons”. No further explanation. That was LAST Friday. We called Tours by Locals IMMEDIATELY. First problem was that, their telephone number–using BOTH the toll-free version and the local BC number–only got us to a voice message asking us to press “5” to leave a message or press “4” if URGENT. Pressing 5 and leaving a message NEVER resulted in a call back–EVER. Pressing 4 was worse, It gave you a recording saying to have your booking number ready…then circled right back to the Press 5/press 4 message–in an endless circuit, Occasionally, it went to “hold music”, then either disconnected or sent us back to the press 4/press 5 voice message. I spent HOURS, repeatedly calling, before finally reaching a person–who did not know we had been canceled…then, after hearing the story, promised to find us another guide and get back to us with details within a day or two. I reiterated that it was urgent for us–we were leaving for Europe in just two weeks and needed to have this resolved. She never did get back to us. I called again on Wednesday, time and patience running short. After another difficult multiple calls and endless voice message loops, I finally got through to another “real person”. Went through the story again. Same promises to find us another guide. Told not to worry–”We have lots of time” (seriously. Yeah, THEY have lots of time…they are not the ones traveling NEXT WEEK with no idea of what they are going to do in this port). Again, they promise to get right back to me. Well, here we are on Saturday…one week until we fly to Europe. The other couple who were to be joining us want to move on. I can’t even assure them we have a tour. Even if we wanted to do an RCCL shorex, the prices have all gone up over the past six months and some have filled. I call Tours by Locals again to ask what’s happening. Apparently, very little. I get through to a third person. Same thing: I will try to get you another guide…along with the “we have plenty of time”, She asks me if there is a different tour I may want to take. Again, NO. We really didn’t want to go to the amber museum and/or the sand dunes…or the Lutheran Church..or the Soviet Nuclear facility. And we certainly weren’t paying for a high-priced private tour to visit any of that. We leave in 7 days. They still have our money. We don’t know if we still have anyone to share the tour. We, of course, don’t even know if we have a tour. We don’t know what we will do in Klapeida–our personally most important port. What we DO know is: Tours by Locals appears clueless. Their communications system is near impossible. Their idea of “urgent” is “don’t worry”. They really don’t know how to deal with things like this. If I am running this type of operation, I make sure my guides tell ME, in plenty of time, if they will not be available for the contracted dates. If something unexpected comes up, I immediately CALL every other guide I use in the area and get SOMEBODY, if available, to fill the order. IF that is not possible (ie, no other guides or EVERYBODY is booked for the date or if no other guide is reasonably qualified to provide or understand the tour), then I immediately TELL the customer–with many humble apologies–and find some way to compensate them for the inconvenience. I don’t waste everybody’s time and make the customer jump through hoops I guarantee that, if it were ME canceling the tour with no reasonable excuse (or even with one) at the last minute, that Tours by Locals would NOT give me my money back. I would be considered to be in breach of the contract. Probably the last time I will ever consider booking a tour through Tours by Locals.
  6. The whole reason for a cruise line to market "Guarantees" is to give them the flexibility to market at various levels and then assign them according to availability. So, at some point, RCCL, holding guarantees at certain levels, find themselves with vacancies at different levels...it then moves them around to fill the available inventory... Most people booking guarantees expect to be assigned the worst cabin at thei9r guarantee level...and, usually, that is what they get...because the other tool they have to move people around is "RoyalUp"--where they can squeeze extra $$ out of existing bookings...But, when the dust settles, sometimes they just have the open inventory only in higher categories00which is the result MOST hope for when booking the guarantee. AND, yes, an OV balcony is considered a step up from a Boardwalk or Central Park balcony...
  7. We just went through this with our first segment of the World Cruise coming up in a couple of weeks (we booked two). Usually pick our cabin...but OV Guarantee was all that was available, Figured "What's the worst that can happen?". Thought "maybe we get a window at the very front or back of the ship". Well, it was worse. We got a Deck Two cabin (the ship has only a few--rest of deck two is crew quarters) with a TINY porthole. Usually, we would have called and had them change it for another available OV--and there was one. But, since the assignment was not yet "official", they wouldn't do that. BTW, we are D+...but, officially, they say it is all RANDOM (I don't think it is--it seems that they go out of their way to give the newbies the better assignments). Anyway, that left us to deal with "RoyalUp". I put in bids for everything I could )Of course we couldn't bid on a REAL OV cabin--one with a real window--because the system considered us to already be in an OV). Not to take any chances, I went a little over the minimum bid level for a balcony...and, along with a lot of others, did get one. Cost me an extra $500. Of course, had I been able to actually book a balcony at the time of booking, I would have gladly paid another $500...and save myself a lot of stress. I'll probably never book another guarantee....
  8. Okay... First, those B2B cruises on Infinity that I was talking about in that January 2020 thread? NEVER HAPPENED. A little thing called the "pandemic" got in the way... We eventually ended up transferring those bookings to a B2B on Apex when they restarted in July/August 2021...and we had a wonderful Sky Suite on those by the time we got there. Now, OTOH, we ALSO had B2Bs on Millennium to Japan get bumped several times...until just this past March/April (2024)...and, on those, we were NEAR the window washing equipment...We were in #8054... On the CURRENT deck plans, it shows 8046 and 8050 as having the obstruction for the window washers (as well as the cabins on the other side)...AND, YES, they are there,,, We could see the equipment from 8054--two cabins away... Here is the photo from 8054... Yes, hardly bothered us from two cabins away...but I could see where it would be very annoying if closer.
  9. It would be EXTREMELY RARE. They usually only sell Guarantees when they pretty well know they have cabins available. It's just that they're not always available in the category of the guarantee. Say they have balconies available, but no OVs...they will sell some OV guarantees because they know they can free some up when they accept some RoyalUp bids or otherwise upgrade someone. Selling Guarantees gives them some flexibility in cabin assignments while allowing them to keep selling cruises at varying price levels even when the availability doesn't have that current flexibility. It would take some crazy miscalculations for them not to have a cabin for you.
  10. We usually DON'T bid on these. I typically book the category and cabin I want...and know I'm happy with my choice. But I've now seriously bid twice...and got the upgrade twice. My reason for bidding is that the cabins I really wanted were unavailable when I booked. In this case, they ONLY were offering OV Guarantees when I booked...and I was eventually assigned a very bad cabin on Serenade--#2018--one of the very few guest cabins among the crew quarters on Deck Two...and with only a very small porthole. The minimum bid for going from an OV to a balcony was $220 per person. I bid $250 pp---which was still considered "weak" on their scale. My thinking is that many people bid the minimum ...with the attitude "what the heck?"...Others bid slightly over...by, say, $5 to $20 over...figuring they'll have bid enough to be above all of those minimum bidders. Since I had such a bad cabin, it was worth it to me to bid, at least, a little over that...OTOH, I don't want to go crazy, bidding against myself...and I figured a total of $500 was something I could justify in my mind. If, when I booked, they would have had balconies available for only $500 above my OV price, we would have booked the balcony. We also put in bids on three other categories--two larger OV categories...but for bids only slightly above the minimums...something like $65 and $75 pp...and one for a "large" balcony for a little over the $300 pp minimum. Since the cruise has shown as "sold out" for some time, I figured we were waiting (and hoping) for last minute cancelations...but those do usually happen. And figured we needed to better the minimums to assure ourself of a good chance...but disregard the little "weaker-stronger" graphic,...that's just there to get you to outthink yourself.
  11. Within around 30-45 days of the cruise, they give you the opportunity to "bid" on an upgrade... They give you minimum bid amounts and it's up to you if its worth it to submit a bid... If cabins in that category aren't available, it won't make much of a difference...but, if some are or come available, your bid gets considered vs. any others...If you "win", they charge your credit card the amount you bid (per person)...and upgrade you...but you cannot pick your new cabin...it's whatever was available.
  12. Guess what? It just came through... We had an OV guarantee...and they assigned us one of the worst cabins on the Serenade of the Seas (15 night Baltic segment of World Cruise)...#2018--One of few guest cabins on LOW mostly crew quarters deck...with only a small porthole for a window... We just got the move to #7518...A balcony cabin on Deck 7 Forward...
  13. Cruise is 24 days away... A while ago, I put in four RoyalUp bids for four different category upgrades... Until moments ago, they all said "Submitted". Just moments ago, one changed to "Pending"...The other three now sat "Expired"... Who can read tea leaves? Is this good news? Or false hope?
  14. Well...the main reason I am unhappy is not so much the location (which, yes, doesn't thrill me)...It's with what Royal Caribbean categorizes as an "Ocean View" cabin. Now, as a disclaimer, I have NOT yet seen these cabins. In over 70 cruises, I've never cruised on Deck Two. Our last three cruises have been on Celebrity--in Concierge class twice, then in Aqua class. When I booked this--OVER 14 months prior to the sailing--OV Guarantees were all that was available. You see, this was marketed first as part of the "World Cruise", then as larger segments...and then, 14 months ago, they released what was left in smaller segments--and we booked two, And here's the rub: I sort of assumed an "Ocean View" cabin would have a reasonable window. We could live without the balcony for 15 nights ...or 24 with both legs...BUT a window--something with a nice view outside, something to let in some decent amount of natural light...that's what I expected. This ship has something over 220 non-handicap OV cabins on OTHER decks...ALL with decent-sized windows...and 12 on Deck Two with tiny portholes. The rest of Deck Two is all CREW cabins. And THAT description is only from what I gather from research here and elsewhere...but it's a bit sketchy. The tiny portholes are mentioned by some--on Radiance Class ships. And ALL RCCL ships are NOT the same. Some may have ordinary windows on Deck Two. BUT, assuming my research is correct...and we paid for an OV and get a small porthole the size of a dinner plate that you'd have to stand on the bed to even see out and that allows in minimal light...well...that sucks!
  15. Well... I just checked in for my July 26 segment of the Serenade of the Seas World Cruise (our first of two)... Normally, we book balcony cabins or better...and we stay away from guarantees. BUT, when we booked these, all they had to offer were insides or OV guarantees...So we took the OV guarantees. So, having now checked in, I did the barcode thing...and it looks like we've got #2018...Might be about as bad as one could get...There are only 14 OVs on Deck Two (Is the window even above the water line?). The rest of the deck is crew space and the Med Center. And, because of the Med Center, it appears there is access to only one set of elevators. My wife said, "it's okay...we'll make the best of it"...I am hoping that since it still officially says "Guarantee" that it could still change...but I'm not counting on it. Steerage, here I come!
  16. Thanks, everyone, for the advice… Looks like we will just pre-book the 11:50 and add an extra piece of luggage since I am certain my wife will never travel with only one suitcase.
  17. We’re headed to Southampton next month for a cruise. Been several times, but, looking back, most of the time we’ve done extensive land tours prior, so we’ve usually hired a car. But, this time, we’re only going 4 nights early and spending our time in Southampton (likely doing a day trip by ferry over to the Isle of Wight one of the days). Hiring a car doesn’t make sense for a short stay due to high one-way drop-off charges. Looking at National Express…which gives rise to lots of questions. 1). It looks like you need to book a time. There’s a bus at 10 am and another at 11:50 am. Our flight from Los Angeles is scheduled to arrive at 9:00 am. With luggage retrieval, customs/immigration, etc., 10 am seems tight…and there’s always the possibility of flight delays and such. Looks like there’s a “flexible” fare that’s about 10 pounds pp higher. What do you book? Or do you just wait until arrival to figure it out? 2). Looks like there’s a luggage weight restriction of 20 kg. We’re traveling for a full month. The airline allows 23 kg per checked bag…and even that is hard to do…especially for my wife. She expects to pack a 23 kg suitcase and a second hard side wheeled carry-on. As I read the website, we’d have to pay for an extra piece of luggage for the carry-on, but It sounds like they’d weigh all three together for a total weight of 60 kg. Is that correct? in addition to the cost of the tickets and added luggage, we’d also be paying for a taxi from wherever they drop u# off to the Holiday Inn…so, altogether, we’re, if I got this right, looking at around 70-80 GBP…or maybe a bit more if we wait to book it until we get to LHR. I suppose a shuttle or car service of some sort would be a little simpler but also come with a significantly higher cost. Is it worth the trade-offs? If so, who to use? thanks.
  18. But...Check-in, supposedly, opens at 12:01 am local time wherever the ship is. Would that not be the same date whether you're on the website or the app? Where I am should be irrelevant. 45 days would be the 11th either way...
  19. Same cruise... On the RCCL App: On the RCCL website: So...Does check-in open on June 10? ...or June 11? Or does it open on the website on the 11th...but open via the app on the 10th??
  20. Our last three cruises on Celebrity, we were marketed the AI "deal"---included classic drinks, lower level WiFi and, on the first two, included gratuities (those first two, we booked in 2019 when AI was all they offered--and those got lifted-and-shifted multiple times for the pandemic. Of course, the AI deal rendered the Elite Plus perks completely moot...though we received no discount on the packages for being Elite Plus. Pretty much convinced me to never again purchase an AI package. Hereafter, when cruising on Celebrity, we'll carefully use the free 240 each WiFi minutes and the 5-7 free drinks that we get as Elite Plus...and we'll just pay by the drink for anything we drink after 7 pm. On Royal Caribbean, as Diamond Plus, we get two days free WiFi each per cruise...so, sharing passwords, we're covered for 4 days of a 7 night cruise...and we'll do the off days on port days where we can find free WiFi in port. The drink voucher thong works out MUCH better. We get 10 drinks per day between us...and my wife rarely drinks more than 3...So I get 7--more than enough. And we can spread those drinks out all day and night...which is all we need. As Diamond Plus, we also get a half dozen free bottles of water and a free bottle of wine in the room. In addition to all that, on Royal, we get the Diamond (now "Crown" I guess) Club--which has a 24 hour espresso/cappuccino machine, cocktail hour appetizers and a better atmosphere and service. Celebrity Elite Plus gives us two free bags of laundry each, RCCL Diamond Plus gives us one each--only makes a difference on LONGER cruises. So, overall, the RCCL C&A Diamond Plus perks blow away the Celebrity Captain's Club Elite Plus perks.
  21. All of the small print makes it a bit confusing... But, from all I can see, none of this helps me at all. I am, independently, Diamond Plus AND Elite Plus...and well into both. IF only they'd COMBINE the points, we'd be only a cruise away from Zenith! As it is, we're pretty far away from Zenith and Pinnacle. All this does for me is to increase the numbers of Elite Plus and Diamond Plus around me, insuring any benefits are overstressed so that the lines cut those benefits back further. As it is, all we really get for Elite Plus is an extra free bag of laundry...and, for Diamond Plus, at least, we get those 5 drink vouchers and two days of WiFi--making it certain we never again buy a drink or WiFi package.
  22. AGAIN: Celebrity had previously reintroduced the Elite Cocktail Hours held in the SKY LOUNGE 1-3 nights per cruise--supposed to be restricted to Elite and above only--several months ago. We were on three cruises that had announced restricted access space in Sky Lounge. It failed miserably as they never cleared space for it. What yesterday's announcements did was: 1) Rescind the dedicated lounge space thing. 2) Add embarkation night to the 5-7 free drinks. What many of us had been hoping for was a return to the dedicated lounge and appetizers so that we could have better service and a more restricted space in which to socialize. Free drinks are immaterial to anyone with a drink package.
  23. Okay... First, this is NOT much of an addition...more of a disguised takeaway. I've recently completed three cruises for a combined 30 nights of cruising--back-to-back 12 nighters on Millennium and a 6 nighter on Summit. And the experience with the Elite Cocktail Hours was interesting, to say the least. First, us longtime Elite and above members recall when the event was really special--held in Michael's Club...with waiters who were incredibly attentive and with passed appetizers nightly. Then, they converted Michael's to a Suite Lounge and moved the nightly event to Sky. Not as intimate a room, but still, appetizers and outstanding service.. Then, because of the increasing numbers of Elite members (what happens with "reciprocity" and with free PUP credits), they went to in addition to the dedicated lounge, the ability to order free drinks at any bar (or, rather, many bars). Some people liked that option, others of us didn't--we weren't availing ourselves of the free drink aspect (especially as we had been sold drink packages), but rather of the great service and the uncrowded room and those appetizers. Then, the pandemic hit and Celebrity discontinued the dedicated lounge space in favor of just those meaningless uncharged drinks. Well, a few months back, Celebrity announced the return of the Elite Cocktail Hours in a DEDICATED LOUNGE for 1 to 3 nights per cruise depending on the length of the cruise. So, when we got to Millennium a few weeks ago, we looked forward to this, The flyer in our room gave the three nights this was to be held and the location: The Sky Lounge, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. So, on the first of these nights, we showed up...only to find out that the Sky Lounge was filled to capacity...not a seat to be found. That many Elite and above? NO. They booked the room for Music Trivia at 4:00 pm and General Trivia at 4:30 pm. When 5:00 came, Trivia was not yet over...and NOBODY in any of those chairs/tables had any intention of leaving. Of course, none of them even knew that a limited event was scheduled for the room. This same pattern held for the next two Elite Cocktail nights as well...AND for the three on the following 12 night cruise. On my 6 night cruise, they had one scheduled...and, again, same thing. The Captain's Club hostess TRIED to put up signs to section off part of Sky...but no one paid attention...and she wasn't about to move anyone out.. A few of the least desirable tables opened up--the ones near the stage, tightly crowded and not near any windows opened up...and she tried to direct Elite members to those...BUT there was no special service...In fact, there was almost NO service as the understaffed bar waiters were overloaded and weren't even passing by that part of the room. I read this "new" policy statement as Celebrity giving up on an Elite Cocktail Lounge completely. But, rather than announcing that, they are trying to phrase it so it SOUNDS like a positive: See--we are adding a night! So, for those without a drink package, you've been granted a couple of extra drinks embarkation night--IF you can find a bar waiter to serve you!
  24. So...I just booked a couple of cruises for next summer...one on RCCL Explorer of the Seas...followed by one on Celebrity Constellation. As always, I book the My Time dining option...So, I head over to the websites to make reservations. No problem for the Celebrity cruise--booked 7:00 pm every night. Head over to RCCL...Can't find a way to do it on the website or on the app. So I go over to the shore excursion options...and there are LOTS of options. None for Day 3 in Katakolon... but there are lots of great choices in Dubrovnik on Day 2... Except...we're not going to Dubrovnik on this one! Day 2 is at sea... So...I head back over to the Celebrity app...where I see it has us in Cabin #9095. Nice cabin...except it's not the one we booked. THAT was our cabin on our last Celebrity cruise earlier this month on Summit. It's all fun... 😁
  25. Back in 2021, we had a cruise planned which ended in Venice...after which, we had plans for an extended post-cruise circling Austria by rental car. Of course, that all blew up with the Pandemic. So, now, we have B2B (sort of...two days in Ravenna between cruises on two different ships) cruises booked for June 2025 which start in Ravenna (Alas, no more Venice!)...So, we're looking at an extended pre-cruise to roughly duplicate the canceled one. Both of us have been to Innsbruck but neither has been to Salzburg or Vienna. I looked at doing it by rental car--but cars have gotten expensive as has gas...and parking while in Vienna...plus, I'd rather avoid driving--though my wife prefers doing it by car to see more scenery. I'm thinking the compromise is to do it somehow by train. The initial thought is, rather than our intended 2021 route (Venice-Innsbruck-Salzburg-Vienna-Graz-Villach-Venice), that we simplify it by flying into Vienna rather than Venice...staying maybe 3 nights in Vienna...then train to Salzburg--2 nights--then train to Innsbruck--1 night--then train to Ravenna the day prior to embarkation and spend that last night in Ravenna. So, 7 nights total pre-cruise. WAY back, when I was in college, I did an entire summer in Europe, traveling everywhere by Eurail Pass. In those days (pre-internet, pre-cell phone), it was EASY. You got a paper card, you got on any train (in second class) and, when they asked to see tickets, you flashed the card. I'm sure things have changed...and there are options. Now, we COULD just buy tickets for individual train rides each time we need one--but I'd prefer less hassle. The Eurail website has a tool where you input your intended itinerary and it tells you which pass to buy. For us, since it's two countries (Austria and Italy), it says to buy a "Global" Pass with four days of usage over a 30 day period. Since we're now both "Seniors". it gives the price for that as $550 total for second class or $698 total for first class. It says there's an extra charge to reserve seats...but that's only necessary on some routes at some times. I assume we'd use it the first time when we leave Vienna to head to Salzburg...second day of usage would be the trip from Salzburg to Innsbruck...third usage would be Innsbruck to Ravenna. We'd be entitled to a fourth...so, maybe between the two cruises, when we have 2 nights in Ravenna, we could use it to take the train to somewhere else in Italy (Bologna? Venice? San Marino? Verona?) and back for a "day trip". Questions: 1) Does the Eurail Pass make sense over trying to book individual rail trips for each segment? 2) What is difference between the First Class and Second Class? Worth an extra $148? The site also mentions an extra $22 pp for "Plus"...but doesn't say what that is...What is it? 3) Do those time frames sound reasonable (3 nights Vienna, 2 nights Salzburg, 1 night Innsbruck) or should we fly in even earlier and add nights? Or, what other schedule adjustments would you make? 4) Any favorite hotels in these cities? (Back in 2021, we had booked the Hilton Vienna Park...I think it was the Hotel Innsbruck in Innsbruck...and I don't recall where we booked for Salzburg). 5) Anything else we should consider? Or not to miss? All advice is appreciated. Thanks.
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