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organizedhome

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About organizedhome

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Eastern Washington State
  • Interests
    Tech and tap-dancing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Baltics

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  1. Gilly makes an excellent point, that I'd amplify: we are ALL unaware of how much our digital lives now require cloud-based server support to do, well, anything! If you don't realize that modern operating systems are designed to be online ALL THE TIME, syncing to servers and moving data in the background, you'll be very, very surprised when a limited-access system like a cruise ship starts metering your usage. For example, I am now testing a trial version of a VPN as we work on this issue. I THOUGHT I wasn't doing more than grabbing email and Web browsing, but I watched my free 500GB in traffic sink like a stone. Went rooting around, and there was Dropbox, trying to sync all my cruise photos. For someone who isn't a tech nerd, this would be a shock--and given our passenger base, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for the "internet manager" to have to explain, "Yes, I know that YOU didn't do anything, but your operating system, apps and devices have been sucking up data for hours ...." to somebody holding a great big bill for bandwidth usage. This is where the idea that "Unlimited Wi-Fi" fails: it's presumed on an old-school model that connect doesn't happen until you tell it to. Um, no--these days, a modern operating system is designed to be in touch with multiple servers in the background. I do understand Regent's dilemma, I really do. Telling someone who insists, "But I haven't even gotten online!" that they just accrued $15 in bandwidth charges due to cloud syncing would be difficult enough; the tech support challenges of explaining the issue and helping average users find and plug the bandwidth holes would be impossible. Thanks, kids! We're testing VPNs right now, and yes, Professor Bob has just verified that the upgraded plan gets you nothing but access to a few streaming sites with no performance improvement. But we're roughing out a multi-faceted way to meet our connect needs, and will report in with any observations. Just a couple of nerds having fun before breakfast. Thanks for the great discussion. C
  2. No, the OP is not confused--I still keep up with some of the young entertainers I met aboard Regent in the past few years. And I believe I have reasonable expectations; a small line is not going be able to offer a level of entertainment available to large, mass-market lines with bigger budgets and larger venues. Did a lot of Med/Baltics travel after 2010, and always came away happy with the entertainment. I'm away from my archives so can't get detailed--as I'm onboard ship now--but I enjoyed standout entertainment on European trips, such as a back-to-back from Rome-Southampton-Copenhagen. That trip featured a specialty ballroom dance couple that were a great addition to the production shows, and there were a couple of very fine musicians brought aboard for short periods--classical/jazz piano comes to mind. Stephanie Benton was a fine young vocalist whom I got to know well; she and Eric Deeb(sp?) were great duet partners. Dancer Laura Booth was a beautiful aerialist, and did work in silks that was very entertaining, and lots of fun in a small, close-up venue. Four years later? Even comparing oranges to oranges, I see a real drop in quality. Bottom line: I have NEVER walked out of a Regent performance until this trip. I'm going to hope it's just the "Alaska effect" here--and I DEARLY hope to see a wider range of offerings on the World Cruise, at the least. But it's nice to know that, as with everything, Your Mileage May Vary.
  3. Thank you all for the input; it is consistent with my own observations over many years of travel with Regent as an author and Web publisher, bringing my work with me. Obviously, a VPN is the first solution that I'd reach for, but as noted, the ship's system has so many issues with latency/signal drops that it would become a "sure, I can get there, but can't get anything done" situation. However, as also noted, even a glacially-slow VPN is a good idea for sensitive transactions like banking or finance. It's been four years since I've been aboard, and like Wendy, I had hoped that some of these issues would have been resolved. Lack of any progress in that time means I'm not really expecting improvement by January, 2021. But with multiple devices per passenger now standard, and with growing reliance on cloud-based services, the line is in an unenviable position. No matter how much capacity they add, the growth of data demand per person is always going to swamp them. On the other hand, the marketing spin creates an impression that the "Unlimited Wi-Fi" for actually means usable, reasonable access to the Internet. Choosing to control capacity via blacklist, rather than bandwidth, is only going to become more problematic, as cloud storage/servers become standard for everyone--and if you choose to give it to everybody without some kind of bandwidth charge, you're never going to have an acceptable product. The Mariner is pulling into port in Victoria, BC, as I write this--and my cellular data just became available. After 9 days aboard, my devices are all updating like mad dogs, now that they can reach the necessary servers. Bob and I will be exploring Victoria on our own today, but we'll take some time to do a bit of testing. I'll be installing a couple of commercial VPNs and doing some speed tests, while Bob wants to open command-line tools for a good look at signal quality. If I get time, I'm also going to do some testing of the "upgraded plan" that I purchased when I got onboard; my hunch is that all that $9.99 a day gets me is access to a few blacklisted domains like YouTube, NOT improved speeds or connectivity. If that's the case, I'll take a pass, next time. Will report in with results. But the idea that if I can't be "just a tourist" I don't go? Nah! Since 1999, I've traveled on cruise ships while writing books, publishing Web sites, handling media and running a LAMP stack. Only difference with the 2021 World Cruise will be the length of the trip. As I told Bob, cruising is whatever you want it to be. One way or another, I'll find the access I need--but I do wish RSSC would get their heads out of the AOL model and get with the century. Thanks! It's a GLORIOUS day aboard the Mariner.
  4. With a world cruise up next, my traveling companion and I are considering high-tech connectivity issues incident to global travel. Background: I am a web developer and author, and my partner is a professor of computer science. We will be aboard ship for four months, and need to address some pretty arcane connect issues, as both of us will be writing books during the trip. I will also need to have backend access to my website network, on a variety of platforms. Regent’s blacklists prevent me from reaching essential cloud-based servers, most notably , the entire Apple iCloud IP address block. I have no problem bringing my own media, but must reach the Apple app servers regularly, in order to keep my system updated. A check with the “Internet manager” aboard indicates that the entire IP block will be blacklisted. In the past, I was able to obtain a temporary whitelist status for brief periods over a wired connection in the computer room to take care of business; this option is no longer available, now that the ship is Wi-Fi based. Additionally, both my partner and I will need access to some specialty services not needed by most passengers. Specifically, I need to connect to my hosting provider, dns servers and back-end admin features. The issue is not one of bandwidth; it’s access. The amount of data I need is quite small, but the locations where it is stored and the servers I need to reach are currently unavailable to me. Moreover, as I transit my web network to cloud-based servers, these kinds of bans become quite difficult. The advice from the Internet manager was that we “do it in port”; you may imagine the hackles that rose on the back of my neck that arose at the idea. (And honestly, I don’t think he understood what we were asking about. I think we intimidated him a little bit.) But if that is what we must do, any suggestions? Anyone with experience using a VPN on board? Burner phones with Sim cards? A pricey global data plan with either of our current carriers? Somewhere in the hive mind, a solution must be lurking. We will be circling the globe for four months, while working on tech projects and will need to have this type of specialist access to an unfettered Internet. Frankly, I wish Regent would simply move to a bandwidth usage-based plan. If the streamers want to stream big bloated files, let them pay for it. I am happy to pay a fair rate to get to my servers, and ensure the health of my web properties. Having this ham-handed, “YouTube yes, iCloud no “policy in place is really going to be tough to work around, as someone who works in the tech industry. I hope somebody smarter than me has figured this out. Cynthia and Bob
  5. It’s a glorious morning aboard the Mariner; we are sailing southward toward Victoria BC, about to enter the inside passage. My question: what the heck has happened to Regent’s entertainment experience? Background : Long-term cruiser, devoted Regent passenger, traveling with a first-time cruiser who is being bitten hard by the bug. As both of us are high-level music lovers, I spent a great deal of time before the trip gushing about how fabulous the entertainment would be. Even if the subject matter was not in our set of preferences—classical, folk, blues, Broadway, world music—I assured my traveling companion that the evening entertainment would be none the less enjoyable. I’ve never been more disappointed. This is the first Regent cruise where I have lost all desire to watch the production shows. It appears that a major shift toward “mass market quality” has happened in the four years since I last cruised the line. First issue: the range of entertainment offerings is extremely limited, and quite narrowly drawn. So far, we have been exposed to two nights of country music, two evenings featuring a magician, a vintage “American songbook” evening and an utterly inexplicable production show devoted to Bert Bacharach. Only the Broadway production show offered anything remotely interesting, in terms of genre. For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing that they like – but for a discriminating music lover, the offerings have been simply painful. It appears the subject matter of the entertainment is geared to a much older demographic – and we are in our 60s - with a distinct down-market shift. Second problem, quality. I’m used to seeing dazzling production shows with great choreography, specialty dance couples or aerialists, and highly-talented singers. On this trip, dancers are missing their steps, singers are missing their pitch, and the stage manager can’t seem to mix the sound levels so the vocals can be heard over the musicians. No specialty acts have been offered, and while the costuming is great, choreography is simplistic, and the general experience is closer to a good high school production than to Regent’s previous high standard. Pianist Nick Messina is the sole standout, and even he has an irritating habit of audibly banging out the tempo with his foot as he plays. In short, I’ve had to eat my words. There has been little-to-no contemporary music, no classical music, no regional or folk offerings and no music during the day on the pool deck. My bottom line impression is that the line’s entertainment quality, content, and brand target have made a massive shift in just four years. I could speculate. The Mariner is now the oldest ship in the fleet, and perhaps the line is putting more resources into the newer ships. Perhaps it is our Alaska itinerary, or the short, 10 day nature of the cruise, that have convinced the line that we don’t need top quality entertainment. Right now, my partner and I are discussing what to expect with tonight’s “Krew Kapers” performance. If it is in line with previous shows, this will be the best entertainment we will have seen aboard this cruise. Anybody have an idea as to what has happened? Cynthia and Bob
  6. Thank you all so much for the encouragement – I have just booked this cruise, aboard the mariner. With a bit of scheduling luck, I will be joined by my significant other, but even if I cruise alone, I am very, very excited! Looking forward to planning and preparing over the next months – and hope to make many friends on our way to this dream of a lifetime. Off to Prime 7, to end a truly wonderful day. Cynthia and Bob
  7. Celebrating retirement aboard the RSSC Mariner, and am considering booking the 2021 World Cruise. Background: I'm an experienced global traveler with ~180 nights aboard RSSC. Have been a "seggie" on a few World Cruise segments, so familiar with some of the unique social issues around the World Cruise. May be traveling as a solo female, depending on whether my traveling companion can arrange a sabbatical from his university. Any advice for us? I'd particularly like to hear about experiences from other solo travelers--and any pre-booking cautions or reminders for a first-time World Cruiser. Thanks, hive mind. It's a GLORIOUS day in Sitka, AK; we are just pulling into port. Cynthia
  8. Kids, I'm bringing a first-time cruiser aboard an upcoming Alaska cruise--and the ONLY fly in the ointment is that we will be on the ship when HBO releases the final episode of Game of Thrones. (I am assuming that HBO content won't be available via ship entertainment systems.) Boyfriend is a superfan, and I'm into it, as well. Any ideas on how we might be able to catch the episode while cruising Alaska? Streaming won't be an option, obviously--although I'll take a good stab at a download when I'm in port and can use my own data plan. Should we look for a bar and see if they have access? Any bright ideas on how I could make sure my dear boyfriend doesn't have to go two weeks holding his fingers in his ears (so as not to hear spoilers) when this show comes to a close? Cynthia
  9. A long-standing relationship with my travel agent has come to an end, and I'm ready to book a couple of trips--but even though I'm ready to toss money in their laps, I'm having a hard time finding a qualified TA. Here's the catch: I'm hard-of-hearing and don't use the telephone. For 20 years, I've arranged all my travel via email, and it's worked extremely well. But finding an agency who is comfortable with this is proving daunting! Yes, I was able to get quotes from the cruise line, but I've had a TON of strange experiences trying to find somebody to take my money and book my trips in an ongoing relationship. Let's see. There was the highly-rated luxury cruise specialist firm that subjected my forms submission to some kind of big-data algorithm--and when my phone number came up as null, they insisted I transmit a "valid" phone number before they would talk to me. I.e., their Web form is really a honeypot for marketing, so buyer beware. Then there was the firm that insisted that they couldn't use email because "time is of the essence"--and claimed that any quote had to be accepted or turned down IMMEDIATELY over the phone. Huh? 20 years of experience on my part indicates otherwise, so they were just trying to pressure me to accept a sales call. The local agents recommended to me? Emailed all of them 36 hours ago, and not ONE taker. Um, the "aol.com" email address is a big tell that somebody isn't ready for prime time. Yes, I've consulted Uncle Google, but so far, I have yet to find what I need: a luxury cruise specialist with Regent experience, who is comfortable dealing with a deaf person via email. Anybody else have pointers for me, to help with the search?
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