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mking8288

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About mking8288

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  • Location
    "Big Apple" NY
  • Interests
    Travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, CCL, RCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Bermuda/Caribbean
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/5nup7xtw3ell4g0/CruiseCritic%20Abstract%20-%20mking8288%20-%2011.2018A.doc

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  1. Are you on that sailing, enjoy & good luck. Just had dinner with our friends that came back on the Bliss - a few words about the nice Beautiful Observation Lounge's camp experience ... be forewarned of the snoring sleepers everywhere, especially on sea days. They've been with us on the Gem's Spinnaker Lounge, which is different, nothing like what they saw last month - not nice. We as passengers cannot do anything but to voice our opinions, it's up to NCL management to address it. They got upgraded free within OV, months ago, with their GTY booking (with offers) to a nice & large pictureview family OV cabin on deck 5. Here are some pictures - much more spacious than a typical balcony, downside is no direct access to the outside with the sliding balcony door ... Bigger bathroom, double sinks & bathtub, 2 TV's and 3 closets, sliding privacy curtain between the bed & the oversize sofabed area. 3x 110 volts outlets plus 1x 220 volts euro 2-pin outlet at the long desk/dresser.
  2. Thank you for that kind alert. Yike - what to do, what to do ... now that both bacon & tiny jumbo crab cake are both out. Hmmm, maybe we will give that 7 layer cake a try this weekend. Don't they make the same, identical creme brulee for both LeBistro & Cagney (DW felt it was too sweet or sugarly)
  3. General contractor has been on schedule, on target & perhaps ahead slightly - completion set for 2021-22; without the LGA AirTrain connector to Willets Point, for the LIRR/#7 subway line to midtown Manhattan/JJCC. If and when the LGA AirTrain is cleared upon challenges, impact studies, environmental reviews, etc. - plan for more of the same and add 7 to 8+ more years, from what I read. Except, subways are bad ideas during rush hours and LIRR train schedule is limited at off-peak hours. Current LGA Link via M60-SBS and Q70-SBS works, despite the construction work, for lightly packed travelers, equipped with luggage racks. Q48 from Flushing is local bus service - also used by airport & airline crews, 1 block from LIRR station.
  4. Question is ... off-topic. Better answers, perhaps, if you pose the Q on its own. Hotel's website usually provide the needed answers (hint: given already.) When in doubt, call them directly & ask - checkout Goo Map for details (Long Island is 120 miles long vs. Long Island City,) earth/virtual views are useful & TripAdvisor.
  5. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Most non-HK locals - foreigners, "laowai" - literal translation for "old outsiders" referring to largely non-Chinese, non-yellow skins - have not been affected directly by these "incidents" in the last 6 months, including cruise ship passengers. Even during some of the events that would be defined & consider to the riots and/or violent demonstrations - laowai has not been targeted or singled out ... largely, perhaps, considered by the "movement" to be supportive & empathetic of their calls for freedom, democracy, and what not. The "inconvenience" would be mostly in mass transit disruptions, road closure and closure of businesses, including shopping malls & other public facilities all over HK - many in local, residential districts and neighborhoods ... some in/near popular tourist locations or nearby. HK Int'l Airport and its access were/are high on the list for closure, disruption and vandalism & sabotage ... i.e. large metal objects, including bicyles thrown on the rails & overhead wires (you might've read/heard about it, or not.) Latest "hit & run" targets are randomly striking different bus routes along major city streets ... today/this evening (now) at Nathan Road, forcing double decker buses to go out of surface - no "harms" done to anybody. Yesterday, metal objects including bicycles were thrown onto overhead powerlines and subway/train tracks in attempts to sabotage railway services that the public depend upon on a daily basis as commuters. No cruise ship passengers directly affected - stay with taxis, private transfers & cruiseline buses, or walk around or go elsewhere when in expected area by detouring. Stay out late into the early morning hours in HK used to be great, but not advised lately. Another weekend event being planned/staged for X'Mas Eve on both sides of the HK island - should be of interest to HK-bound cruise ship passengers. It might happen or not - with a number of ships scheduled to be there around the holidays and into next January. Better to know about it than to be totally unprepared, out of an abudance of precaution, IMHO. Two published articles (in English) from Singapore's "The Strait Times" offer more perspectives: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/petrol-bombs-fire-mar-generally-peaceful-march https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hong-kong-faces-wave-of-layoffs-store-closures What should or might one expect to see in the coming weeks, as a visitor - arriving on a cruise ship and/or flying into HK ? Well, it depends where and the time of the day - the festive holiday decorations expected to the less elaborate and scaled back. Some of the major shopping malls for locals still in their recovery mode, possibly shorter open hours. Lines are shorter with fewer visitors - retails & restaurant closings can be expected to pickup in the coming months and the tourism industry is trying to rebound. Deals, discounts & specials can be found for visitors. Things sounding better but for how long, it's anybody's guess - hope for the best and plan for the worst. "Food" for thought, shared/circulated by an expat friend in Macau -
  6. Thanks for the refresher, good grief - I've forgotten about that "upscale" dining choice, for our convenience, of course ... Now, DW isn't a big eater but this is going to get interesting - it is our P/+ comp'd dinner, guess we got continue with supper - part 2, late in the MDR.
  7. Wanna eat crab cake, order that Fisherman's Platter (fried or grilled) instead - crab cake included, that's our plan ... no upcharge. Get that 20 oz. Porterhouse ... should be plenty of red meat to share between two dining together. $16 for a "Thick Cut Bacon" as a starter, better be worth it if paying a la carte pricing ... not upcharge, however - isn't that weird with pricing but no upcharge over the Tiger shrimp. Our local steakhouse charge much less for bacon ... Gotta love & embrace freestyle cruising, to each her/his own.
  8. Whenever we travel, there's always a 6' and 10' USB (2.0 & 3.0) extension cord in the gadget pouch, easier to mix-n-joint together with the stock 3' USB cable for a 9' or 13' reach, 19' with three of them together to safely run them along the wall, out to the balcony. Amazon, Best Buy, eBay or MicroCenter - like the braided ones - minimal bulk & weight, stuff them into a corner or inside a pair of shoes, etc. No bedside outlets that I know of, and even on some of the ships retrofitted with bedside usb lamp & integrated USB charging ports, NOT all the staterooms has them
  9. Facts of life - death is part of that passage, inevitable - final stage/step. Folks live and expire daily, sometimes - while away from their home or normal place of stay, including while in-flight and on a cruise ship. Sad but true, sometimes of natural causes. Other times, due to pre-existing chronic medical conditions and/or acute onset, unexpected events. Then, there are unnatural causes, trauma and accidents, and/or from unplanned encounters (victims of crime). T/A crossing typically has a different, older demographics and longer duration at sea - thus, their final & eternal disembarkation can be expected to take longer due to regulatory requirements by governing, local authorities. I don't necessary see it as news worthy, unless the probable & likely causes of death are deemed suspicious and forensic exams pending. Hazmat response can be called in for a variety of reasons, not necessary for a clean-up ... like those that occuring at health care facilities, prescribed protocol are in place and carried out as indicated. Last but not least, HIPAA and common sense guidelines governed what info is disseminated to the "public" out of respect for privacy wishes. It can be upsetting for those personally involved and/or witnessing it, and keeping it low key and discrete can be helpful toward closure & healing for the loss of loved ones. Imagine if you or your loved one is ... Go to social media for a breaking news announcement and call the news desks to go live ? I think not. My two cents, of course. Feel free to disagree. RIP for those that departed on their final sailing in life.
  10. mking8288

    Is Seoul DIY?

    OP, have a look at this on TripAdvisor - pretty much validates what others said already, with a little more specfic about ground transportation at the Icheon Int'l Cruise Terminal. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294197-i8161-k10242107-Help_with_Exact_way_to_go_from_Cruise_Terminal_to_Seoul-Seoul.html First, what is on your must do sightseeing list - whether it's DIY or guided tour, or via ship's Shorex ?? It might help to narrow things down & come up with a short list. 1. Most taxi drivers in SK do not speak English, int'l taxis for "foreigners" at ICN airport are available, priced higher & probably much harded to find at the port, in town, etc. Airport's help/visitor's desk helped us write down our hotel's name, address for us to show the taxi driver ... dispatcher/supervisor on duty outside at the taxi stands speak a little English, the rest of them will just smile, wave & point. 2. Use/setup offline mode with Google Translate - you will find it handy & useful. Download & save offline Google Maps. WiFi are widely available all over SK, super fast - like 5G speed, amazing speedy & free at the airport - cafe use might require a purchase, coffee is like $4 USD (high standard of living). 3. Traffic in SK is horrible, miserable but orderly - friendly - no horn honking, but slow as in moving gridlocks. Patience & allow extra time are the keys to getting around, buses & taxis aren't any faster - different subway/trains (local, express & high speed options - depending on where, when = how ... transfers probably needed and signage can be confusing, not as visitors friendly as in Japan, Taiwan or Singapore, etc.) If you need help/directions - ask the younger/college age generation for best chance ... older folks most likely willing to but unable to assist. 4. Cruise terminal is near the ICN (Int'l) Airport and at least 75 to 90 minutes to downtown/city centre - depending on time/day/traffic conditions - AM rush hour starts early, ends late & start up early for the afternoon rush, into the mid evening - probably 1.5 to 2 hours each way, at least via taxi, bus or "private transfer". Based on the M's schedule that I'm reading, your actual time in exploring & seeing things in Seoul is about 5 hours, no more than 6 hours - subtracting 4 hours of transfer time - pick & choose what you want/like to see carefully, lunch on the go / quick bite ... same for light dinner, to get back to ship with the evening rush. 5. Cosmetics & skin care products are excellent buy & priced low/nice - DW loved them all. Everything else - shopping wise is expensive, except at authorized duty-free shops (know your "home" prices ... ) Get some SK Won (KRW) or dollars handy/available for fares, small purchases - credit cards widely accepted everywhere. Tipping is NOT expected nor required in general.
  11. Hey, woohoo ... I dunno either - besides, got nothing to do with customer service, for their own (in)convenience. OK, seriously - let me give it my spin, just a semi-educated guess - with these repo (between Miami & NY ... a little further than Port Canaveral. and no passengers onboard, just whoever is on the bridge & crew ... working, cleaning, maybe a little partying in between - on their own off-duty time). First, sailing before midnight - NCL get to charge for that day's DSC. Yay for FDR & stockholders. Boo for cruise passengers. Port charges & fees, taxes ... it's a win-win, maybe - depending on who's asked and responding. I stay out of the mud bath & debate, etc. Running (near) top or full speed, all ahead for NY - NCL ships generally need 2.5 days at sea to sail between these ports. In this case, they unload pax on Friday morning in a hurry and can sail, as early as noon northward. Some 50 - 55 hours later, hightailing on its fast run into NY Lower Bay by late Sunday afternoon or evening for a sunset arrival. Between these 2 ports - need time to restock & provisioning, and take on inbound passengers, luggage & crew transfer (if any - to/from shore leaves or vacation) ... boarding 4,500 pax do take time, 3 to 4 hours isn't uncommon. Pax flying in on "free" NCL Air (if any & offered/booked) should have plenty of time to make it from LGA, closest & mostly hated airport with its short 7,000 runway ... herd the late ones to the buffet, saving a few MDR meals not served, for nickels & dimes saved. Starting to make sense, huh. Run the mandatory muster drill at 10:30 pm hopefully before the seniors go to sleep & the overeaten ones doze off - an on-time departure (hopefully) passing the Statue of Liberty at 11:30 pm for a late night sailing under the VZ Bridge at midnight ... hold a star-gazing party. Extra bonus, room stewards don't need to do evening turn-down services, set it once & good until the next morning to resume regular routines ... "they" win, again. No pom poms. Weather factors, rough seas, tides, CBP & PHS inspections, Right Whales sightings, etc. will simply complicate the timing further leaving at 11 pm. Actually, there are some crazy itineraries next year - 4 nights round-trip between NY & Bermuda ... Marketing and accounting, apparently done their financial analysis on P&L, being it return on Labor Day weekend. P.S. Dexddd - below / this is for you ... first, my BIL & now one of the nieces rubbing it (embarked from Spain 3 days ago) ... Mrs. M now demanding to seriously look into options for 2020 & beyond, "am in "trouble" or not) Meanwhile, some of the early booking prices on NCL for 2020 are plain silly & ridiculous, either we find & nail some last minute ones on a good/fair price or else, stay on air-land-fly options. I know ... what you are going to tell us.
  12. Hotel package w. extended park & stay to/from Red Hook's Brooklyn pier, never read/heard about it - highly unlikely since the round-trip toll costs to the driver/vehicle is somewhere around $40 ... unless it's a Staten Island, NY one in the direction of Bayonne or Goethals Bridge off the SIE or Rt 440 - which would make any kind of Manhattan sightseeing a time-consuming one (SI Ferry & SOL would be easy)
  13. Pre-2015 dry dock, Gem's Bliss Lounge was just as inviting ... No views whatsoever, lights on a dimmer ?? with dozens of loungers & oversized sofa and several beds ... bring your own pillows, blankets & throws - optional. Hardly anybody inside when we've roaming around, let alone seeing anyone taking a nice nap. Remodeled since, last time we're there for the Latitude CruiseNext marketing seminar/reception - beds were gone.
  14. mking8288

    Taipei

    Hello, Muriel - what are your interests, seeing Taipei ? Looks like your stop is actually mid-April on a weekday, 7 am docking & 7 pm sailing from KL. Are you into food/dining, shopping, musuem & history (not everyone into them) or maybe seeing Buddist temples (hundreds of them, all over TW island) or nature ? Probably, a combo of several - while mindful of the port time - taxi around the city, train (on a schedule) could be more reliable & dependable - figure 1 hour to 90 minutes each way, including some walking to the nearest station. By taxi or Uber/equivalent - depending on traffic, it can be as little as 45 minutes ... driver's English/language proficiency might be limited - Google Translate (off-line mode) and/or pre-written destination/info in Chinese would be helpful to show, point & ask around. The various musuems & memorials are good for photos, maybe watch the changing of the military honor guard on the parade grounds (not really fancy, but ...) and a meal / coffee & dessert stop at Taipei 101 (once the tallest building in the world) with all the indoor mall shops, eatery and food courts, cafe in the basement. Ride to the top - buying admission tickets in advance is recommended, lines or queues can be long - we just didn't have time. The shopping district and the eatery aren't far from city centre, easy taxi ride away or underground subway, etc. KL's train station isn't far from the cruise terminal where all the ships docked, less than a 10 minutes easy walk on flat pavement - should be easy to find/ask the visitor's desks at the port or even locals to point you the way. Signage for popular tourist spots are bilingual in English - download Google offline maps to use ... cruise ship maps or guides often don't really help, not to scale. We're at the museum above & kind of rush thru seeing the artifacts, the crowds then were crazy - I can spend 3/4 day but DW has no patience for it. Have you checkout TripAdvisor for ideas - Youtube has virtual tours too ... Checkout this article for ideas - see these visuals from our trip 4 years ago, anything appealing ?? https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/taipei-itinerary/ Did an escorted deluxe land tour around the entire island - many places just can't be done off the ship for 12 or 18 hours, even overnight ... missing the infamous night market's sights, sound, smell, taste and real food - only 2 nights in Taipei then. If & when we go back, just going to do & stay longer in Taipei.
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