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About mking8288

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  1. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Hello, mate from down under. At this moment, I have more "confidence" predicting how to pack and/or weather next January than the unpredictable rioting in HK, often distorted & twisted in news and social media, depending on who you believe ... DW and I go to raw, unedited social media to watch & decide for yourselves, without necessary listening to the news commentary. i.e. This past weekend, 20+ homemade Molotov cocktail (petro bombs) were launched at one of the local HK police stations by (peaceful ??) multiple demonstrators (rioters ??) in a matter of seconds. There is another call-out for this Sunday, this time - the destination from TST's waterfront (popular tourist landmark ... near the Star Ferry) is the West Rail Station ... with the HK Airport Express's Kowloon Station nearby (which has been frequently closed temporary due to "public gathering events" (codeword = demonstrations / riots) Back on topic directly (with these background) - 1. Part of the problem for any travelers, is getting to the airport (HKIA) by any means, authorities has been advising those with departing flights to get to the airport at least 3 hours prior, just in case. HKIA has an indefinite court injunction and is generally well-guarded, especially when certain "protest" plans are known to LE & police ... access strictly enforced. 2. HKIA is on the Lantau Island - getting there, by any means, can be a last minute challenge. We used to count on taking the A21 that run along Nathan Road to/from the airport ... not anymore, although no plans to visit anytime soon with the current unrest. A direct cruiseline airport transfer, generally more expensive & comparable to a taxi ride, is probably a "safer" way to get there upon disembarkation for same day/afternoon/evening travel ... hangout air-side, the airport faciliies are excellent - plenty of eateris, restaurants, shops & places to sit/relax, lounge access & free WiFi (not ideal but.) 3. There are 2 hotels near HKIA, one is walkable & the other is a 10 minutes shuttle ride away. But, if you are staying overnight there - getting into town & back, isn't going to be fun or easy, unless you are flexible with sightseeing & ready to head back ASAP should events "unfold" quickly. 4. Staying on the HK island side isn't necessary going to be any better - the "gatherings" can pop up anywhere & the crowds are known to disperse and branch out to multiple shopping malls, MTR stations and setup random road blocks, stopping traffic and tossing "objects" randomly. If there is trouble ahead, turn & leaving, don't stop to "sightsee" or watch, and keep your smartphone/camers/vidoes out of sight, please ! Of course, HK might be safer by then - it's anybody's guess at this point. Check with Aussie's official government travel advisory for the latest & ask the cruiseline about their contingency plan(s) if any. Here's a news video that I like to share (of course, you might find similar and/or opposing ones on BBC News or CNN Int'l, in addition to local SCMP or CCTV Int'l from China, etc. - you decide whom to believe & endorse) - "Violent protests continue in HK" by 7News Australia (Robert Ovadia) - posted / shared on YT - search for this on their news, written from a "foreign" journalist's points of view covering the events on the ground. http://7NEWS.com.au - also on FB & Twitter In general, "foreigners" seen as visitors/travelers are not at risks or prone to be attacked, as these groups/fractions are looking for global support for their "beliefs" - "laowai" are considered to be sympathetic and not to be offended. Waves of restaurants, stores & retail closings are happening already and more are expected in the coming months - plan your visits accordingly and please use the MTR links and tourism links to stay updated during the stay of changes, hours & what's subject to closure. Macau (next door) is open & very safe, it's not a bad idea to consider (short) staying there instead. Safe travel & happy cruising.
  2. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    One of the many news items from the HK-based SCMP today (Saturday's online edition): for a taste/sample of what has been going on lately - IMHO, of course - demonstrations no longer peaceful & non-violent, protests that would be classified as riots ... some would consider some of the facts as being terrorism (borderline ??) https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3032654/hong-kong-protests-petrol-bombs-thrown-mtr-station In any event - looking ahead at the Kai Tak cruise terminal schedule for the coming weeks only / near term only - only a handful of ships are making a port (overnight) stop in H.K. I am strongly advising, urging fellow CC'er planning to go ashore to download & pre-install the MTR Mobile App - see this link below - for the latest public transit status, station closure & alternative transport options - in view of recent "incidents" & no longer confined to the airport or Central/TST or Prince Edward Station in Mong Kok. Another Sunday of public gatherings that turned confrontational, non-peaceful and violent, what else can I say or don't know what to think of the near future. Many MTR subway stations vandalized before, repaired & reopened and again, damaged & firebombed today, again - now shutdown or closed temporary. It's in various news media - go view to decide for yourself. If you travel around, use this live MTR App while visiting: http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/mtr_mobile.html Safe travel, happy planning & enjoy the cruise, wherever you go.
  3. Sure thing ... if not mistaken, GG is land restricted until 2020 with the holiday/work schedule. I am just amazed about the price drops at 2 to 3 months out, now sweeteen with these CN DoubleUp & Insiders deals. Joy's satellite internet is THAT bad, huh ... well, that's one mega ship that we will eventually check out with the sun/pool deck remodeled. Slightly off-topic, despite the CDN to USD exchange rates - if you got time & flexibility, checkout the GEM specials coming up just before the holidays, 8 nights on the boring "milky" run, berthed overnight in PC before that 50:50 stopover at GSC & onward to Nassau, before turning around again. SailAway balcony is almost a steal even with the current solo "penalty" still in place (applying 2 certificates & extra OBC for NCLH shareholders ...) Competing against the Bliss sailing out on the same day, same stops but 7 nights only ... Chalk it up as Andy Stuart's departing gift, LOL.
  4. I posted this - with screenshot of our multiple emails - earlier, but ... and CC's "Search" function hasn't been old reliable, ever since the upgrade last year.
  5. Thanks for posting. Whew, those PP cards do come in handy ... you are sure about losing it & not getting pickpocketed ? Were they checking for them while going ashore and/or upon returning to the ship. Thankfully, it's a Friday & you found your way to the US Embassy. Are they serving the same old MDR Menu daily, every day for lunch - when we're on longer sailings, the chef managed to come up with a daily specials ... DW was just commenting about the lack of options for lunch, especially on sea days ... our next cruise is going to be on her.
  6. Cool, I forgotten about that Nordstorm ... just a semi-educated guess on my part. Incidentially, just posted updated info/pix about LGA on the "411" thread that Carol/138East started, errr ... 3 years ago. You might find it useful ... on your midnight arrival, it will be very quiet & nearly deserted at any & all terminals - call the Hyatt first about how to get picked up, they might just come over to your airline terminal instead ... it's about a 10 minutes trip from downtown Flushing at that hour. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2310823-la-guardia-411-congestionconstruction-issues/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-58548252 Indeed, there are several of them nearby - closest one, Prince Street Liquor & Wine is 1/2 block from the Hyatt ... and 2 Starbucks not far away (HP has its own cafe, not to mention other Asian bakery/coffee shops all over) and when CVS on Roosevelt Ave at the #7 subway train & LIRR station is 24/7/365 for Rx, OTC and of course, soda & bottled beverages (providing that cruiseline will allow it to be taken onboard ... not NCL) But, we avoid the Skyview Mall & whole area on weekends, traffic is just a nightmare w. limited on-street parking & folks trying to into various indoor garages. Just AVOID the Comfort Inns, Best Western, Days Inn, etc. in this area ... the Ramada get mixed reviews, from my insider's sources. For poster's "orientation" & future "reference" to others - pull these pix colllections out again - #1 & #2 for the Hyatt, notice the roof-top garden/bar lounge ... #3 looking from H toward Main Street, Sheraton LGA 1/2 block on the right ... historic church on the lower left. Tons of eatery all around - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Fusion, etc. in addition to the usual ones inside the hotels.
  7. A question come up - sometimes - as to whether any of the airport hotels nearby at LGA are within walking distance, the answer is no, not recommended. As seen from Terminal C & D - the Marriott Hotel at LGA is the closest one at 1/4 mile distance, over the 102nd Street highway (parkway) overpass to Ditmas Blvd - it is NOT safe nor pedestrian friendly, especially with the onging constructions & narrow lanes and it is not smooth nor illuminated at night. Until further notice, for arriving airline passengers - the hotel shuttle pickup is/remain to be from Terminal A on the far/other side of the airport - requiring a free airport shuttle ride first ... 10 to 15 minutes + wait time for the frequent shuttles - to get there; and, then to get picked up by the hotel's shuttle (sometimes, they are shared by more than one hotel ... yes, and, it can get filled up at peak travel times) These shuttle buses are very much accessible friendly, with low ramps, some can be lowered further by the bus driver on demand, for ease of getting on & off - still, best to pack & travel light these days, especially when flying & with bag fees, etc. Safe Travel ...
  8. Time for a pictorial update for LGA, one of the most "hated" transportation domestic airport hub in this region ... actually, I was here last week & again this morning, not too bad around/between 10 and 11 a.m. - traffic was moderate but moving, getting off the highway (Grand Central Pkwy or GCP) into the airport's service roads. Getting dropped off post-cruise, there are separate exits for the main/central - Terminal B, Terminal C & D used by Delta & other airlines further east (new ramps/access roads & new multi-level parking and drop-off) plus Terminal A, west of the other exits (coming from/closer to Manhattan) - also the designated free waiting lot to meet arriving pax ... i.e. limo, hotel & car shuttles, etc.) with JetBlue flights. Pictures illustrating the massive, ongoing construction work taking place - new ramps being constructed over the 8+ lanes highway overpasses - that will eventually, when finished, ease the misery to all the terminals ... closer to the parkway - as close as 1 to 2 years away from now. The AirTrain connection is coming but that's another story by itself - not going to "discuss" or deal with that & "what if" here, period. For out-of-towners, here are your views coming out of arrival/street level from T-C or T-D ... (MTA bus & SBS services with connections to subway lines will be to your right - please get those MetroCard(s) from vending machine inside the terminal first - SBS bus routes, see the posted signs on how to first, do not board without getting a printed receipt !!) If you are getting picked up by a LGA hotel shuttle, you will most likely need to turn to the left and get onto the next free "Red Route" shuttle first, with your luggage & carry-ons, plenty of racks for bag storage onboard, just a hassle & allow extra time. The quick ride to the pickup area at Terminal A is about 10 minutes or less (usually) - do not panic, you will be driven & "leaving" the airport and on local city streets but returning to/from LGA via 82nd Street parkway overpass, to the parking area at "A" - and then, look for your hotel & car rental pickup spots, or whatever. If you are using Carmel or Dial 7, or Uber/Lyft - you will need to get on the free "Green Route" shuttle to Terminal B, which is often the most congested (not shown here) also downstairs/outside in arrival level. Confused & not sure where or which way to walk/go - there are friendly official "greeters" holding up signs "?" to help show you the way, just ask. There are no Uber/Lyft dispatcher - only use the APP. On my way earlier to connect to the LIRR train/subway - took the MTA's Q48 bus, a popular local route used by off-duty flight crews with their rollerboard & cabin bags ... 2 AA uniformed crew still wearing their ID tags heading to town for some rest, somewhere, to the last stop.
  9. Heads up for bargain, solo & last minute cruisers ... despite/nevermind the nickels & dimes, there are good deals floating out there for the next 2 to 3 months. To sweeten the temptations, CruiseNext DoubleUp offer is back - just got multiple emails in our In-Boxes this afternoon, maybe Rio needed to shore up the financials for the upcoming quarterly results, or whatever. That's like saving an extra $250 by using 2 certificates to book a sailing, whether it's the SailAway deals or Take All 5 "freebies" (NOT) - or, apply it to an existing early booking (final/full payment, not yet due) along with any possible OBC from one's T/A (if not directly booking with NCL) and credit card offers/promos (i.e. AMEX) etc. Link to a FAQ/thread on CruiseNext Certificate - https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2564713-cruisenext-program-cruise-next-deposit-certificate-faq/page/4/ More tips/discussions on how to take advantage of CNC (i.e. solo cruising) - https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2695651-first-timer-tips-tricks-useful-info/
  10. Hyatt Place @ 39th Ave, downtown Flushing is fine & very good location, about 2.5 miles east of LGA and they do have complimentary airport shuttle - in the middle of the largest Chinatown. 99.75% sure being fine with safety & walking around, etc. (not used by NYC DSS or Red Cross, etc.) It's what I consider the top/best hotel in this area, displacing the nearby Sheraton LGA a city block away. @dodger1964 - you will be fine. Easy & plentiful choice for car service to Brooklyn (or Manhattan, even Cape Liberty) cruise terminal - Carmel, Dial 7, etc. It's a little further east of the Springhill Suites that's on the other side of the "park" - we had out-of-town extended family staying there last year, nice & clean and all - location not as good but they got a nice last-minute deal for 2 nights too. You will like this HP, excellent roof-top bar & view of Manhattan's skyline - was it the Skyview Mall that you walked (a long way across - under the elevated #7 subway track - to get there, with a Target store, food court, supermarket, etc.) These are "hidden" treasure in NE Queens - another brand new Sheraton Four Points coming soon ... Marco Polo LGA, also east of the airport is a decent choice; all slightly further away from midtown Manhattan. Enjoy !
  11. GG, thank you for posting all these wonderful pix & images, and the changing options - but, what the heck is "Street Food" at the buffet (not that I think you would make a mad dash to go check them out personally ... we wouldn't). Food opinions, as you & I all know - and, most here - are highly personal & subjective, and fine on offering Chicken Parmigiana in lieu of prime ribs or roast lamb, etc. as a lower cost substitute ... pitch it as healthy choice eating as they wish.
  12. Goooood morning, loving the review with the pictorials ... and, don't you worry about the sequence in posting, it's never easy to post "semi-live" (yeah, I should know, not easy to scroll or go back-n-forth to see what was uploaded, etc.) It's all good, really ... otherwise, not "fair" to being an informed "critics" That avocado toast with a poached egg ..... looked so good. We are heading north to Vermont to catch Fall foilage colors but I am going to have trouble ordering something like that at our Marriott, LOL. Look forward to seeing more dining & food "comments" - knowing that it's always personal & subjective. Have a beautiful day ahead !
  13. Last I heard - earlier this year - there are now "only" less than 40 Ambassadors entirely among the entire ranks (2 years ago - there're about 50+ ... the counts are shrinking) ... on 2 of the sailings with them onboard & recognized during the Captain's reception, the Ambassadors were apparently too frail to join or attend. BTW, if I am not mistaken, didn't it used to take 750 points to reach Ambassador status at NCL - it has been changed - recently ?? - to just 700 points, not that we are anywhere near to chase or go after it. IMHO, not that important ... even airlines' FF that reached million miles status aren't as highly valued as they used to be. With the double point promos & other "boosters" - not that difficult to jump ahead to being P+ after a few cruises with careful "planning".
  14. Nothing within easy walking distance of PC port/cruise terminal - some are even further away from the highway overpass/connector/bridge over the causeway - on a warm/hot & sunny day, not fun to do that 20 to 30 minutes walk ... didn't see anything like a 7-11 or even gas station with convenience store anywhere nearby, until you go past the marina on the other side. Taxis/shuttle ride to Coca Beach or Coca Village are inexpensive - just hop on one & pay the driver on the spot. NCL usually docked next to the Disney terminal & one of the landmark is shaped like a large ship with sails, it's the PC authority - nothing there to see nor open to the public. For the times that we stayed onboard, watch other cruisers walked out the gates & parking area, toward the main road & coming back shortly thereafter. Inside the terminal building, there are vending machines pre-security & don't even think of bringing "banned" ashore or coming back. Dropped those off in the huge 55 gallon "amnesty" barrels, no questions asked.
  15. Self-service OTC meds machines are located just outside/next to or near the ship's Medical Center (seen them on the Gem, Dawn & Escape ... don't recall if I saw them on the Breakaway) ... I also lookout for the presence of AED, usually just outside the entrance to the buffet (Garden Cafe) - highly visible, usually in a red case (and, I trust them to inspect the built-in battery on a regular basis) Here's the one on the Escape ... gift shops carry a very limited (and, over-priced) selection of basic items. We pack & restock ours - more variety to deal with most common "needs" & with our health plan's 24/7/365 Telemed consult - we can get an eScript written & send as needed for minor acute issues.
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