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Everything posted by sammiedawg

  1. It is hypocritical for locals to complain about cruise visitors “overwhelming” a port or city. Many local economies are dependent on tourism. Many local economies purposely developed tourism to boost jobs and employment. They will sing a different tune when the economy slows down and people reduce travel. There are wealthy enclaves that do not welcome day visitors of any kind. St Barth’s is one. The Hamptons do not want day visitors driving in, they don’t even have accommodations for week long visitors. Homes are rented for the season.
  2. True story, no one could make this up. We received flyers in the cabin asking us to buy pins so the ship could improve crew quarters. These blinking light pins were being sold at a table, evenings outside the show lounge. Usually the physician, her husband and the nurse manned the table and explained the purpose of the sale. They were also sold mornings in the show lounge to people claiming tender or tour tickets. The physician’s husband sold the pins. We asked our room steward about the fundraiser and he told us it was his first contract on HAL. He said newer ships offered more in crew quarters.
  3. Our Prinsendam room steward was on his first contract with HAL. he didn’t seem too thrilled to be there. He told us crew space was not as nice as on the newer ships he had worked on for other cruise lines. Officers were even taking up a collection to improve crew quarters- selling light up pins in return for a donation. This is the only time sailing eight cruise lines that we were solicited for money to improve a ship. On every cruise line we have sailed, crew members say they have no choice on which ship they are assigned to. They don’t pick their ships. Every line we have sailed has a mix of newbie and experienced crew.
  4. Round trip Vancouver is not the best itinerary and does not lend itself to do a land tour, before or after. The best itineraries will be listed Vancouver to Anchorage northbound, or Anchorage to Vancouver southbound. People routinely do a combined land tour of Alaska before or after the cruise. I don’t know what ships HAL is using for Alaska next year. Holland America has gone downhill over the last ten years. So have other mass market lines. It is still a decent choice for Alaska as they have Glacier Bay permits and they run their own land tour programs. We like the Princess Alaska program the best, their cruise tours are wonderful. They have fabulous wilderness lodges and offer a myriad of cruise tour choices. They also have Glacier bay permits. The Royal Princess, one of their newest ships, is doing Alaska next year and we are thinking about it for an extended family trip. If you want a more upscale cruise lines, most of them do Alaska but they generally don’t have Glacier bay permits. They will partner with land tour companies but they generally don’t have their own lodges. Alaska is wonderful but try to do a land tour.
  5. Cruise bus tours generally do not appeal to us so we always research ports and plan accordingly. We learn and remember more when we do our own research. Rick Steves guides to cruising are our best source. We’ve hired lots of private tour guides, especially if first time visitors. We’ve booked our own museums, trains, attractions, city tours. We’ve ridden hop on, hop off buses, trains, trolleys. Occasionally we just ride the circuit for the full route, especially if it is a repeat port. Oceania ‘s European cruises are very port intensive. We will pick a port or two and pretty much take the day off, other than riding the ship shuttle and looking around.
  6. There are padded lounge chairs on the promenade deck, but it isn’t a traditional walk around deck. Food on Oceania is the best we’ve encountered at sea. Excellent service, too. I’m not an expert on the dress code, which is country club casual. There are quite a few threads on this subject, with different people interpreting it.
  7. Cruise ships sail under flags from other countries, I don’t think US tax laws apply to crew. Passengers definitely pay the bulk of crew wages, in the form of gratuities. Consumer agencies and a certain law firm have lots of data on this. In the event gratuity collection falls short, the cruise line is required by most employee contracts to kick in the amount of the shortfall.
  8. This is correct- bonuses, commissions, wages, salaries are all incorporated into the W2 as taxable wages. Gratuities are reportable income too.
  9. I thought of one other option. If your ship gets in a day early and stays overnight in Papeete, change your flight to fly home the night before. The cruise is really over by then. Eat dinner, pack up then disembark. Take a taxi to the airport. We’ve done this a few times in exotic areas with limited flights. The airport is fifteen minutes away and is tiny. This option avoids killing an entire day after a morning disembarkation.
  10. I would cancel the cruise line air and rebook. OldSalt is correct, there will be 7:30 am flights certain days of the week, Air France to LAX often has this flight. Hawaiian Air is worth checking. We hate red eyes and gladly pay extra to avoid one. If you stay with the current flight, the Intercontinental hotel is a good choice. They might not offer a day rate but if you book the hotel for that night you should get into the room mid afternoon. Relax at the pool prior to getting into your room. Don’t try to kill the day in Papeete.
  11. I would avoid deck 3 staterooms. Once or twice I took the wrong staircase and ended up in this section. It had a dreary, below deck feel. We’ve had C1 fourth floor cabins a couple times, we enjoyed everything including the location.
  12. It was a six hour day. The guide took us on a quick walking tourof San Gim, than we had a couple free hours. The guide walked us through Volterra in an hour or so. We stopped quite a few times along the beautiful Tuscan roads to admire the gorgeous scenery. We stopped at the famous field Bocelli uses for his concerts. So sorry but I don’t remember the guide’s name, we found him on TA. Guides in Tuscany tend to be expensive but the money spent was well worth it.
  13. I highly recommend hiring a guide to take you to the hill towns of Volterra and San Gim. The ride through Tuscany is very memorable and both towns are very interesting.
  14. We were fairly new cruisers when cruise lines rolled out automatic gratuities. This policy was widely hailed as a progressive way to handle the old, mysterious practice of handing out envelopes to tip for service. To the OP- you are absolutely fine to limit tipping to the daily hotel service charge added to your bill. If you buy drinks the added gratuity on many lines is even higher than the 15% Holland America charges. 15% is a significant bar tip and there is no need to add onto this.
  15. We love Rome Cabs, this is the easiest way to tour Rome. They pick you up early and drive you quickly and efficiently from site to site. We’ve done the train from Civi to the Vatican, a great DIY. Rick Steves Cruising guide to the Med gives precise instructions. First time we did it I memorized everything, now I would put it in my phone. Prebuy museum tickets. The port bus takes you to a parking lot, where there will be a city bus running back and forth to the train station. If local cabs are available take one to the train station. We have walked to the train station rather than waiting in lines. The walk is slightly uphill, we are average walkers and it took 15-20 minutes. Inside the terminal buy a round trip ticket from the smoke shop. At the train track verify your train stops at the Vatican, don’t go all the way to Termini. Take a cab from the train station to the Vatican museum entrance. Spend the morning in this magnificent museum.. Grab a quick snack at the museum eatery. Depending on crowds go into St Peters, walk the Square. Then reverse the process to get back to Civi. Normally cabs meet each train, some have port access and can drive right to your ship. If no cabs the walk back is slightly downhill and easier. Someone asked about Termini to Civi. We purchased tickets at the station from a kiosk, we usually buy the next departing train. Civi train may be on track 25. Make sure you validate the train tickets, they spot check for validation.
  16. Luggage storage in any port is uncommon. I’ve never seen it at the Manhattan port. I didn’t know about Schwartz travel. Good to know. If you have status with a hotel chain, see if you can store luggage there. My friend does this.
  17. I like Princess, especially their Alaska itineraries. It’s been a few years.
  18. I would look for a private tour operator to pick you up at the port, then tour you for the day. Your luggage would remain in the car while you tour. You won’t waste any time. We swear by Rome Cabs. We’ve used them multiple times for transfers and a couple times for touring. Send them an email.
  19. It is absolutely true that Rome and other European airports do not open check in gates “three hours early”. No matter what the web site says. And don’t sweat long lines because most everyone on your flight is in line too.
  20. You will be fine. We’ve made 11ish flights. Don’t worry about the lines, most everyone else on your flight is standing in the line with you.
  21. Conventional business wisdom says it is more expensive to find a new customer than to retain an old one. But the reverse may be true on mass market ships offering layered loyalty programs.
  22. I didn’t mention any of the events you cited. I mentioned private clubs where patrons are very well dressed but they no longer wear formal wear to any event. (I actually have a 30 year old picture of my father at an NYC College Football Hall of game event, wearing a tux).
  23. This thread is quite the throwback in time. In the real world, almost all US private clubs for boating, golf, social life, swimming dispensed with formal dress eons ago. Country club casual is where it is. People look very nice and they would laugh at the idea of formal wear. Even prom kids don’t wear tuxedos or evening gowns any more. I had two brand new prom “gowns” with tags on, purchased fifteen years ago but never worn. I tried to donate them to a local group that recycles prom clothing and they declined the donation. They said kids would not wear them. Other than a Holland America cruise, I haven’t see tuxedos in forever.
  24. People can look perfectly nice minus tuxedos and suits.
  25. High end credit cards (Chase Sapphire Reserve in particular) offer good travel benefits and definitely cover medical issues that arise. There is a benefit for medical cancelation, probably less than the full amount. Check out your credit card travel benefits. We are not looking for 100% coverage on anything. Assume a little risk (partial reimbursement, higher deductibles) and you will save thousands over a lifetime on all types of insurance.
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