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About TMLAalum

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    Lake Erie's South Shore
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    Golf, skiing, reading, watching too much HGTV & knitting
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  1. Very much appreciated, Magnolia! We are on the Legendary Danube in November. I've sent the link to your posts to our friends also cruising with us. DH & I are definitely choosing the Cesky Krumlov tour and likely the evening concert in Vienna (do we need to dress up for this?). Since we've spent time in Budapest we may try to book tickets to Parliament on our own and wander the market again. The evening tour is a possibility too. Not starting in Prague since we've visited there as well but will take the train to Munich post-cruise.
  2. If you can wait, the pricing for the Celebrity cruise is likely to go way down closer to sail date. That's what happened with our B2B around the horn and up to San Diego.
  3. Quick summary of ports: San Antonio- since we were B2B from previous cruise, booked a tour to Valparaiso, Vina del Mar & a winery w/ The German Pirates. Valpo was pretty foggy, but we did get to ride 2 different funiculars, had a walking tour of the city's murals, drove thru Vina del Mar with a quick foto op at the Easter Island statue there. Winery was ok- Indomita- crowded but the sun was shining there so a nice end to our tour. Coquimbo- Walked this port. Gray day. Not too impressed. Lima- Tour w/ Monica Tours. Highly recommend her. Traffic was insane but we had a brief walking tour of the old city, visited the catacombs at San Franciso, and then requested Huaca Pucllana vs a museum. Ended with the Love Park. Manta- We were very fortunate to be in line early to disembark thanks to one of our tour members holding our place since we had 2 disabled folks participating.. Problems with the gangway led to many not leaving the ship until noon (10 am arrival time). We went with Narwell for their Manabi Diversity Tour and were on the port shuttle at 10:30 with our tour start after 11. Did not have time for Montecristi museum and only 15 minutes to shop there. Puntarenas- Went with a roll call member who it turned out was probably a travel agent who booked with Odyssey. As promised we were on a van of 14, but also on the tour were 3 other vehicles including a large bus. So we toured en masse. Enjoyed the crocodile river tour and included lunch. Stopped by the side of the road to see capuchin monkeys and later to see macaws. Also made stops at a produce stand, souvenir store and a lookout that cost $3 although included a beverage and use of toilet. Huatulco- Toured with Enrique. Lovely port. Would be great for the beach & old part of the city if you didn't want to tour. Appreciated Enrique taking us to his village- quite a contrast from the resort area. Puerto Vallarta- Did the Celeb Tequila & Mariachi tour. Ok but think the included lunch gave us tummy troubles. Cabo San Lucas- Book Alejandro of Tours by Locals. In retrospect would have booked one of the glass bottom boats on our own since the land part of the tour didn't have much to offer since we declined Tequila tasting. San Diego- Passport check was poorly organized by Celebrity calling too many groups too quickly. There was no customs check.
  4. Hi Rosy & Dave! I think you have made a great choice! We weren't impressed with the infinite veranda on our Edge cruise. So should we book her again or her future sister ships, we'd go w/ forward facing OV, sunset veranda and, if Lady Luck would smile on us, a suite! Barb
  5. Thanks for the caveat, cruisemom. At least for the upcoming tour I know the organizer is a passenger as our payment is required to be delivered to their cabin on the evening we first set sail. However, your scenario might have been the case on our China cruise...a private tour to Beijing was organized by a person who disappeared from the roll call months ahead of time. The tour guide was Catherine Lu, very highly acclaimed on Trip Advisor, so we were excited to be with her. A fellow roll call member and I felt lucky that we were able to maintain the tour despite the organizer being MIA- now I'm wondering if the original posting was a ploy. Nonetheless, we had a fabulous tour at a fair price.
  6. Actually, I have organized 9 private tours for our upcoming itinerary. I started with the other couples we're traveling with, then reached out via email to cruise friends we've made on other journeys to see if they were interested in sharing. For three of the nine I did post on the roll call. There are three ports without plans which is by design and two ports that we did book a ship's tour. See above reply- particulars of the tour as posted on the roll call indicated small group (which is true in that the van holds more than the fourteen of us!), and a great itinerary at a reasonable price. Frankly, it was appealing to sign on for something that I didn't have to organize!
  7. The first time it happened to us was in Naples. We signed on with a roll call member for a small group tour of Herculaneum and on the day of the tour found out there were about 30 others with us. The tour leader procured taxis to take us there & back paid for by him from our monies to him, which also paid for the guide at the ruins. Needless to say, most of us felt duped. Recently, we signed on for a tour in Mexico that a roll call member posted. Today I learned that we are on Bus #4 for this tour. It is a small bus and there are 14 of us total on that vehicle, but was taken aback by the total number of us taking the same "private" tour-will end up being 56 people in all! There is another roll call member who is organizing a variety of tours in every port but, if signing up with that person, one is aware that there are many others participating and is informed of the size vehicle one will be assigned to before making a monetary commitment. Buyer beware is the old adage. But it is disconcerting to learn that all private tours offered by roll call members are not exactly tour sharing.
  8. Agree about the email bombardment...but on the other hand we've had years of never getting any emails from Celebrity and, had it not been for Cruise Critic, we'd have missed out on beverage, dining and excursion sales.
  9. Why not lay out the options for your dad (unless it's a surprise)? One way to do the one-way without one extremely long day of flying is to spend a day or two in Vancouver or Seattle before the flight to Anchorage. If you do the southbound voyage, the cruise will be a nice way to recover from flying even if you don't break up your flights with a city stay.
  10. If you select a midships cabin on the Eclipse or Solstice, your dad would be in the center of pretty much everything except for the theatre, sky lounge and forward open decks for scenery viewing. Too bad elevators only move vertically.... Another consideration for your dad would be that there are no dead-ends on the S-class ships. To the best of my memory no matter what deck you are on, you can walk from bow to stern without detours.
  11. We were recently on HAL's brand-new Nieuw Statendam. Smoking was allowed in the casino on a limited basis; however, even on non-smoking days, the smell of cigarettes permeates the common areas. We boarded 18 days after the first passengers and the first thing I noticed was the smoke odor and wondered if I was imagining it since I was unaware of HAL's policy on that ship. Decor preferences are personal; however, to me, I felt like this new ship's interior was very dated-looking...low ceilings, lots of vinyl, clashing colors, and clashing patterns.
  12. Thank you so much, Ellie! We will be in Iguazu Falls 2 weeks from today! We booked a package thru Say Hueque, staying at the Panoramic Grand, so it will be interesting to see if their service warrants their pricing. We are 4 couples traveling together, and we've rented a huge apartment fro 3 nights in Buenos Aires , but just occupying it the first and last. This way we can leave our cruise luggage there and fly light to Iguazu. Is there a restaurant in the National Park? I suspect we will be very thirsty and hungry by lunchtime.
  13. Before Icelandair flew out of CLE, we drove from there to YYZ. We flew out on a Sunday and returned on a Sunday so didn't have traffic issues. Parked our car via a hotel stay & fly package. However, last August we did need to travel through Toronto to head to a fishing resort in northern Ontario. Even though we departed our hotel south of Hamilton close to 9:30, we encountered horrendous traffic so time of day is a definite consideration! We are on Avalon's Legendary Danube in November and booked our own flights w/ ff miles and adding on our own pre & post river cruise travels.
  14. We are booked with Avalon on this cruise for early November with friends. Since DH and I had spent several days in Prague we just booked the cruise only portion, but our friends opted to include Prague. Being able to decide whether to add-on or not is a definite advantage IMHO.
  15. IDK if it's because we had a group of 6 cabins for our upcoming Danube cruise on Avalon, but we booked through a local TA, who is affiliated with a large service, and our perks include prepaid grats per person, $75 OBC and 2 cocktails per cabin plus one person's fare free, which we will share the savings among the 12 of us.
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