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Posts posted by jstducky

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your response.


    The $50 deposit quote included payment for port access fee. I was able to get a per person "discount" for each day for walking outside the terminal gate to catch transportation.


    I have a couple of more questions, if you wouldn't mind answering.


    For Saigon, did you arrange pickup inside terminal gate or outside thereby avoiding port access fee?

    Our ship Azamara Journey will be docking at Nha Rong (downtown Saigon).

    Where was your ship berthed?


    If docked at Nha Rong, did you walk, take Azamara shuttle or arrange pick up inside or outside terminal gates?


    I have heard stories on how to walk across the street to avoid injury.

    What was your experience like regarding walking across streets/intersections?


    Who did you use to book tours for Halong Bay and Da Nang/Hoi An if your cruise stopped in those ports?


    We're planning for an 8 hour cruise in the Bay on day 1 and on day 2 the ship leaves at 1300 hours so we're not planning anything for the second day.

    Did you do the kayak option?


    For Da Nang, we're in at 0800 and leaving at 1900 hours. We had originally thought we could fit in My Son but upon further reflection, time would be really tight. So, we are just planning for Cham Museum, Marble Mtn., China Beach and Hoi An if it's possible time-wise.


    Your thoughts would be appreciated and any other tips would also help.


    Thanks again


    Harry E.


    Sorry, I haven't been checking these boards very often.


    For us, our cruise ship docked at Phu My. While I guess it would have been possible to walk outside of the container port area, I wouldn't suggest it as it was quite far. Zoom met us in person right at the end of the gangway.


    The 13 members of our tour group (from 5 different families) had already planned to meet in advance in a certain location before we got off the ship so that we could walk off together. We met Zoom right away and he led us right to his waiting bus and driver. We took a quick group picture with the ship and we were off! We were the first people out of the port. There was one other private tour group that had found their guide, but they weren't yet on their way when we left. The ship tour groups weren't even close to being organized. So that was a huge benefit to having our own group.


    As far as walking across streets and intersections in Vietnam it wasn't too bad. Any time we needed to cross anywhere, Zoom was with us and he guided us across when it was safe and then remained in the middle of the intersection until we all crossed. I don't think anyone ever felt unsafe crossing.


    As for the rest of Vietnam, I can't help you out there. The only other stop our cruise ship made in Vietnam was Nha Trang, which isn't one of your stops.

  2. Hi,

    I posed the same question posed to mjbc.


    We are thinking of booking with Zoom Tours. On day 1 Saigon city tour and day 2 Mekong Delta.

    May I ask you what you paid as a deposit?

    Our cost for the 2 days is approx. $92 pp. (4 people) and he is asking for a $50 per person refundable deposit.

    Is the $50 pp deposit reasonable and in line with what you paid?


    Thanks in advance!


    We paid a 50% deposit on the cost of the tour that we agreed to.


    However, after we made our deposit, we actually had other cruisers join our tour, which lowered our per person price. No worries, that just meant that the remainder we had to pay to Zoom at the end of the tour was much lower than the 50% we had originally thought. That was nice.


    Zoom is completely trustworthy and you don't have to worry about sending a deposit to him.


    It was such a fantastic tour and I'm so glad we chose to go with him for HCMC tour.

  3. Phu My will be exactly the same. The distance from Phu My to Saigon/HCMC is about 70 km and will take a good 2-3 hours to drive to and from.


    RCI should offer a shore excursion called Ho Chi Minh City On Your Own or something similar. They take you from the port to the center of the city and drop you at a designated location. You're then given 3-5 hours on your own (depending on how long you're in port) to do whatever you want on your own. You come back and meet at the designated time and they take you back to the ship.


    No way this is $10 per person though. On my Princess cruise last month (though we did a private tour), the ship was offering this service for $69 per person

  4. Get a credit card that does not charge the 3% foreign transaction fee. Capital One has one.


    Western Union will charge $10 US to send a $150 US deposit. Good luck getting your money back if you have to cancel.


    There are a few other major credit cards out there that don't charge a foreign transaction fee --- American Express Platinum and UnitedMileage Explorer Plus from Chase.

  5. Interesting to read these stories.


    I received many unrequested emails from tour guides operating in Vietnam for months leading up to my cruise. They found my email address by perusing through the roll call and my past posts.


    Anyhow, I received an anonymous email from someone slandering Zoom talking about how he was illegal and unlicensed, blah blah blah.


    I asked Zoom directly about the information in the email he sent me, and Zoom was more than happy to send to me his license information and other materials proving himself as a authorized tour guide, even though I did not ask for this info. I was just sending him the email to tell him that I received a negative email from someone else.


    I had already decided at this time to take a tour with Zoom.


    In the end, I'm so glad I did. He was the tour guide for Chelsea Clinton when she was in HMC in 2000 while he was a tour guide for someone else's company before he started his own company. He's legitimate and professional and I couldn't have asked for a better day.


    I've been on numerous cruises and have done private tours around the world, I can say without hesitation that Zoom's tour was one of the best, most professional tours I've done. We were well taken care of, we saw tons, did lots, and had a fantastic time.


    Our group of 14 saw more than the ships tour did at half the cost. In fact, our per person cost for the tour was less than the ship's "on your own" tour of HMC. Can't beat that! (and our tour cost included water in the van, drinks at the Rex Hotel, lunch at Pho 2000 - our only out of pocket costs was our own personal shopping)

  6. One thing for adults choosing to participate in the various activities of the night, but really hard to see children exploited that way! The one girl in the picture looks to be all of about 8 years old.


    Unfortunately, there's a huge market for young girls in the industry, fueled by overseas tourists who come looking specifically for these young, innocent girls.


    Also, unfortunately, the large majority of these girls are "sold" by their families who live way out in the countryside and are desperate for money. They sell their girls to these people who exploit them so that their girls can send money back home.


    Very sad, indeed.

  7. jstducky - meant no problem using credit cards in stores in the malls or even in "bigger" restaurants


    By the way water: I drank water offered in restaurants in Japan with no problem (read water was clean).


    In HK, only drank water in high-end restaurants, but for small restaurants or those "alley" places bought bottled water. Had conflicting info - place where we rented our apartment said make sure water is boiled, local friend (from the US) said never had a problem. So we compromised.


    So Korea -- only drank bottled water - read somewhere water was not so clean. With this approach, we didn't have any problem.


    Thanks for that tip! I'll keep that in mind. This is pretty much my policy when I go to places like Bangkok, and I'm picky about water anyway. So, I'll make sure to be careful about water in HK. And not just water - ice too since they use the same water to make the ice cubes.


    Thanks for the info about cash vs. credit cards. Much appreciated.

  8. Thank you for your review, especially of Hong Kong since I'll be there in 3 weeks time!


    I have a quick question about Hong Kong - the street vendors, etc. and the food stalls on the street - I assume it's Hong Kong $ only and no credit cards? Did you exchange money, or take money from an ATM at the airport? If yes, were ATM's plentiful? I assume that throughout the city itself, if you needed more cash, that ATM's were plentiful and easy to find?


    Finally cabs in HK, are they cash only? Or do they take credit cards? Or do they take the Octopus cards?



  9. As I understand it, on-board currency is $AUD when sailing from Australia and in ¥JPY when sailing from Japan.


    Check out post #7 in this thread from the Princess forum from April 2012.




    Other reviews have also mentioned Yen on-board.


    Hope this helps.


    I actually just looked at the boarding passes and other travel information from Princess for my sailing on the Sun Princess from Hong Kong to Singapore- the paperwork says that onboard currency is in USD $

  10. I have flown EVA last summer (July 2011) from LAX to BKK. I was satisfied with them as an airline and would not hestiate to fly them again. I flew in Economy.


    If you are worried about Economy, you can look into Economy Plus. Seats are more expensive, but you do get a little bit more room.


    Many of my family members live in Bangkok, and they use EVA constantly in their Economy Plus seats.


    While EVA is not Thai Airways, I wouldn't have a problem recommending EVA to anyone, and I've flown Thai, EVA, Korean, China, and JAL


    And I had no problems communicating with anyone in English. If you layover in Taiwan, the airport is nice enough and for me, the time between flights was minimal.

  11. Have you considered going over to Sentosa Island?


    I've heard that the Maritime Experiential Museum at Resorts World Sentosa is quite good, though I haven't been there myself.




    There is also a Universal Studios there. However, that would take a whole day.



    Thank you for the suggestion of Sentosa Island. I will have to look into it. I assume you take a ferry over? Does it take a long time.


    I'll check out the Maritime Experiential Museum and see if my husband may be interested in it.


    The Universal Studios doesn't really interest me too much since I there's Universale Studios here in Southern California as well.


    Geez, so much to do and so little time!

  12. Thank you for this information, this is terrific! I really appreciate you taking the time.


    Thanks for the suggestion for the Gardens by the Bay. That looks fantastic. Do you think that doing the Gardens by the Bay and the Botanical Garden as well is too repetitive? Or are they different enough? How much time would you suggest for each? A couple of hours? Is the orchid area at the Botanical Gardens where the Diana orchid is?


    Thank you for the suggestion of lunch on the SkyDeck at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I will need to try and figure out what would be best for us timewise. Do you think if we did lunch, reservations would be required since the hotel is so popular?


    And I appreciate the suggestion that the river cruise isn't worth it. Exactly the kind of advice I am looking for. Is Clarke Quay at night worth it? I've also read that Newton Circus at night could be fun. Which would would you recommend?


    Also, where is the Merlion statue located and is it worth seeing in person?


    Again, I appreciate all the advice.

  13. 1 night isn't enough! Stay 3 nights at least!


    Plenty to do in Singapore. :)


    Here is our official tourism website.



    Ok, now we're seriously considering cutting short a day with my family in Bangkok and doing 2 nights in Singapore post cruise rather than 1.


    The thought is to do the following in our time:


    Singapore Flyer in the afternoon time

    Night Safari at Singapore Zoo

    Marina Bay Sands Hotel SkyPark - in your opinion, is this worth it?

    Botanical Gardens


    Orchard Road

    Raffles Hotel grounds, souvenir store and Long Bar

    Clarke Quay


    do you think that's a pretty good list of what to do while in Singapore?


    Also, do you think a Singapore river cruise is worth it or necessary?



  14. Thank you so much for this review! The pictures were fantastic!


    I am thinking of doing an Asian cruise next year that would start in Hong Kong with an overnight and end in Singapore (it's on Princess, not Royal). But Ho Chi Minh City is one of the stops.


    Can you tell me what tour company you used at Phu My and why you chose this particular company? Did you have a guide and a driver? Did they suggest an itinerary for you? Is the 2 hour drive from Phy My to HCMC without scenery and boring?


    Also, I was thinking of flying into Hong Kong one night before my cruise, and then day 1 of the cruise overnight in Hong Kong with departure the next afternoon. I know there's a lot to do in Hong Kong, is 2 nights enough to see Victoria Peak, the Buddha at Lantau Island and everything else one should do in Hong Kong? I've never been there before.


    At the end of the cruise, I was thinking of staying 1 night in Singapore and then flying out the next afternoon from Singapore to Bangkok. So, in the 1.5 days in Singapore, what do you suggest as my priorities to do and see? I really want to do the Singapore Flyer. I've also heard that the Singapore Zoo has a good night tram ride program. What else should I see in my short time there.


    Also, back to visas. I know you said you didn't need them since you are Singaporean. I am actually Thai (hence why I am thinking of flying on to Bangkok) and hold a Thai and US passport. I believe that with my Thai passport, I wouldn't need a visa for Vietnam. So, if a Visa isn't needed, but you still need to pass through immigration, do you just show them your visa and then you're on your way?


    Thanks again!




    Docked 8-5 in the old city harbour

    We contacted the tourist office and were sent a map and a book about the different sights.



    By the cruise ship terminal. They sold some souvenirs there also sold stamps, postcards and had a postbox.

    We walked into the old city (about a 10 min walk). There was a shuttle bus offered for this. We went up to the castle first, there are some view points looking down onto the city. We did most of the churches and sights in the city. We managed to get onto the tour of the Bastion Tunnels. Normally you have to book but we managed to tag on the end of a group (the first one started at 11am).


    We had lunch in the town square in under the city hall – we spotted the sign saying ‘worthy elk soup’ for 1 euro. We also got a roll (which was like a pasty with different flavours) and a drink for 4 euros – it was the cheapest we saw.


    We also did the city museum which was very interesting. There were lots of tourist shops selling many souvenirs.


    We walked back to the ship and we onboard around 4:00pm.




    I'm assuming this is where you ate?



    I saw the sign and I just couldn't help but take a photo!

  16. Sinny -


    Thank you soooooo much for all of your help with my transportation questions in Helsinki.


    I just got back from my cruise yesterday. I was in Helsinki last Tuesday and we loved our time there.


    Your help with Bus 14 from Hernesaari was invaluable. We took it straight to Temppeliaukio and then from there took the 3T tram around. When we finished at the end of the day at Market Square, we took the 3T tram back to Kamppi, found bus 14 and took that back to the pier. Had no problems at all!


    Other people were lost, but with your help we knew exactly what we were doing!


    Thank you!!!

  17. Thanks from me, too! I'll be there (West Terminal) on the 20th as well, so I'll have to look for tram 9 if there's no shuttle arranged by the cruise line. Hopefully the port site will change their web site on the 13th. The site is great, as it lists services in each terminal, and transportation to use to get to the center of the city - but it will soon be very confusing to a lot of people if they don't change the "transportation" part!!


    Thanks for the "heads up." I'll check out the tram 9 route.


    If you go to the HKL website, where all Helsinki public transportation is listed, they have updated their website with the new bus numbers, routes, trams routes, etc that begin on 8/13/12.


    For instance, for 14B that is going away, there is a route map for 14 (which will replace 14B) that says from now through 8/12, and then a second route map that states it begins on 8/13


    So, if you need updated routes, timetables, etc. you can go to the HKL website and plan your journey that way.

  18. thank you for this information!


    this will effect me as I will be in Helsinki, docking at Hernesaari on August 21st.


    so, I will change my route a little bit and rely on bus 14 to get me back and forth (rather than bust 14B and 16 as I had previously planned)


    my plans are still doable, but it's a good thing I knew in advance of the change, or else I would have been in Market Square looking for bus 16 and then panicking when it never arrived!


    thanks again for the information!

  19. Yep, you're still there with bus 14.

    Take the 3T to Kamppi and change there to 14.


    Ok, so what was Bus 14B is now just bus 14, but it will have the same stops, just a different bus number?


    So, when I leave in the morning and take bus 14 to Temppeliaukio, I would still get off at either Kauppakorkealoulut or Apollonkatu?


    And when I want to come back from Kauppatori in the afternoon, I'd take Tram 3T to Kamppi and change to Bus 14 in the direction of Hernesaaren laituri?

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