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John Bull

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About John Bull

  • Rank
    10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Lee-on-the-Solent, England
  • Interests
    vintage & classic vehicles
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Voyages of Discovery
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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343 profile views
  1. Yes, it's very busy around the Kimpton. The Ambassade is equally convenient for the sights and yes it's a much more pleasant location and it's only a pleasant 10 min walk from Dam Square (effectively the centre), ditto from Anne Frank Huis (closer than Kimpton - and yes, pre-book a timed slot), and 15 mins from the Rijksmuseum (30 mins from the Kimpton) The only disadvantage is that whereas the Kimpon is an easy walk to the station even with luggage, the Ambassade is a 20 min walk or a taxi ride. I don' know either hotel, but IMHO location-wise the Ambassade is waaaay better. JB
  2. John Bull

    Hong Kong day tour?

    I'm not sure you'll have much time to "do" sights probably better to soak up the atmosphere. Start by taking the Airport Express train https://www.hongkong.net/transportation/to-from-airport/airport-express to Hong Kong central. It's comfortably the quickest option (24 minutes) and probably the cheapest (day-return is same price as a one-way ticket at $HK 60). HK Central links with the MTR (metro) but I suggest that instead you cross to the tram route - these are quaint & rickety trams of a 70-year-old style that will take you at street level. https://www.hktramways.com/en/interactive-map/ Take any tram west-bound to Wan Chai (the World of Suzie Wong), where the modern international shops and skyscrapers give way to an older, more colourful & ethnic Hong Kong. If it's tram numbers 3 (North Point) or 4 (Causeway Bay) or 5 (Happy Valley), mebbe stay on the tram to its terminus - the fares are peanuts - to get a good upstairs seat for returning as far as Wan Chai. (But the terminus for tram numbers 1 or 2 or 6 at Shau Kai Wan is too far) Or (I only found this when googling the tram website) there's a one-hour open-top tram tour from Western Market. For that you need to take a tram for a few stops westwards to Western Market - check the tour tickets & timing first. Consider checking out The Peak by bus or funicular, but the funicular does get very busy. Not worthwhile if the pollution (the only thing to dislike about HK) means you can't see the top of The Peak from sea level cos there'll be little or no view from the top. The "Mid-Levels" are a 10 minute walk from Central Station. A series of escalators & travelators which take uphill thro shops. Stanley Market is on the other side of the island. Regular direct buses, but it'd take a big chunk of your day. HK has ho-ho buses, I've never used them. Especially since you won't have a sail-in or sail-out, do allow time to cross from the island to the mainland by ferry. The Star Ferries, as iconic as the trams, cross from both Central and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui. So frequent that while one is loading the next is disgorging and ready to load and they just swing the gate to channel those boarding from one side of the pier to the other. Again fares are peanuts West Kowloon station, for the Airport Express back to the airport, is a ten minute taxi ride from Kowloon ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui Just a few suggestions to check out on google & googleimages/videos JB
  3. John Bull

    Allergic to cruise staterooms?

    Do you have a problem if you overnite in air-conditioned properties? Yes, I know they're the norm. in SoCal , but if you're from way up-state ......... JB
  4. Hi Lyn. Most Jerseymen are regular folk, mainly engaged in farming and tourism. But Jersey is also a tax-haven for the rich. So mentioning a family connection might back-fire, with your driver salivating about the prospects of a huge tip Souhampton seems to be a magnet for footballers from the Channel Islands, including Graeme Le Saux and Engand legend Matt Le Tissier. The team's not doing too well this season - has FIL still got his boots? For some none-too-up-to-date views of Jersey check on YouTube for episodes of "Bergerac", a TV detective series JB ps tomorrow we're off to Aus & New Zealand so won't be contributing much for the next month or more
  5. Multi-quote function not working World Traveller - The luggage limitation is to avoid the coach being over its legal road limit. Nat Express will only weigh cases if they're clearly well over the limit - and that's very unlikely to be a problem on a route from central London - there'll be plenty of passengers without luggage. 2 x 44lb per person is way better than the average airline limit. Pre-booking is strongly advised because coaches can be booked-out in advance. Extra legroom seats are a new configuration, so how quickly they'll book-out is probably something that Nat Express is currently learning. That review site surprised me. It's not a site I'd heard of, just 83 reviews. And I checked a few other big companies on that web-site - Hol Inn, Avis, etc, - most of those seemed to fare as badly. They fare much better on TrustPilot (32,000 reviews) but somewhere in-between on TripAdvisor. Always seem to be well-regarded on Cruise Critic. Of course for four passengers a private transfer is much more worthy of consideration. Do be sure the operator is aware of your luggage LHT28 - Tipping the driver isn't inappropriate, nor is it expected as of right. Pay is decent & pays for the bread and butter, tips are the jam on top if deserved. We normally tip £5 for that sort of journey. If you can practice an English accent the driver will be very happy with the same . I suggest anywhere from zilch to £10, depending on the service. JB
  6. John Bull

    Help with train to Southhampton

    Victoria coach station is 5 - 10 minute walk from Victoria train station. Nat Express coach service to Southampton (note the spelling) is direct, journey time a little over 2 hours. Coaches are disabled-accessible and Nat Express are using the Southampton route to trial extra-legroom on some seats ( extra fee of just £3). Washroom & wifi, driver loads & unloads. Fares are variable depending whether there's a promo, I've seen fares even lower that the £5 quoted by wheezedr but never more than about £16. Pre-booking recommended in case they sell-out, especially for the extra-legroom seats https://www.nationalexpress.com/en Your destination is Southampton coach station. Three choices by train - direct from Victoria train station, mainly a train every hour. As Twickenham's post this route is circuitous & takes an hour longer than trains from Waterloo. Fares are variable, over £30 walk-up but from as little as £8.50 pre-booked. - direct from Waterloo. About 3 trains per hour. Faster route (80 - 100 minutes depending on time of travel), negated to some extent by the time & cost of getting to Waterloo (taxi mebbe £12 - £15). Walk-up fare over £40 but as little as £20 pre-booked. - indirect from Victoria. Short hop by train to Clapham Junction, where you change to a train that started its journey at Waterloo. Unencumbered by luggage a local might choose this option - but not a good choice for a visitor with luggage and mother in tow. And I don' think here are cheap tickets for this option, fare is over £40. By train there's no absolute requirement to pre-book but it's waaaaaay cheaper than the price of a walk-up ticket (over £40). Cheap tickets available from about 6 weeks out (so to research use a Jan or Feb date and same day-of-the-week as your date)- note the limitations on which train times are available. http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/planjourney/search Your destination is Southampton Central Station. With luggage probably best to take a taxi from Southampton train or coach station to your ship, even if it's at City Cruise Terminal, the nearest cruise terminal. That taxi fare £5 to £10 depending which terminal. IMHO you should choose either the coach, or the direct train from Victoria. But do pre-book. JB
  7. John Bull

    Luggage Drop Southampton

    The port listing linked in my post above shows your berth, which varies depending which date you sail. Simpler if you buy the evening before - but not if that's a sunday or a holiday monday, when many shops will be closed. JB
  8. John Bull

    Group cruise name ?

    RUBBER DUCK on vacation, 10-4 JB
  9. John Bull

    NCL and visa free tours St Petersburg

    I can't give you any recent info, but the best source will be your tour operator - they've had a full season and more to get used to this new policy. Allowing for time differences and winter weekends, they all seem to be pretty prompt at responding to e-mails JB Edited to add - Is this a two-day tour? If so, what's the start time for Day Two?
  10. John Bull


    Thanks, Yes, I've just done that for Barbados. And waddayaknow - there, just as you said, was the cruise tab with "no visa required" But - and clearly Hank has done the same as me - I had only checked for cruises to Russia, that being the subject of this thread. No "cruise" tab or concession there, although we all know there is. Ditto for Turkey. And no mention of ship-issued visas for places like Vietnam or Egypt, though that's a different ball-game. A shame that it's a site not to be totally trusted, but you did wisely suggest that folk should also check with the relevant embassy or consulate. Hank - your grovelling apology accepted As is your offer of a pint - but it'd have to be proper artisan English "Real Ale", the colour and clarity of a muddy puddle with bits of brewing debris floating in it, without even a hint of fizz, and served luke-warm. Not the demon black stuff from Dublin that you drink JB
  11. John Bull


    Ditto, Don. But mebbe a post that got deleted or edited? Anyway, I can't hang around on this thread - I've got important questions to ask about removing gratuities, dress codes, chair-hogs, and smoking JB
  12. John Bull

    Hotel in Hong Kong

    The Salisbury, on Salisbury Road Tsim Sha Tsui. Forget the "YMCA" tag, it's a regular 3 - 4 star hotel. Tsim Sha Tsui is the tip of the mainland, where the super-frequent ferries cross to the Island & the Salisbury is on the waterfront, with stax of shops & such on the doorstep.Two minutes from the ferry terminal and 3 minutes from the Nathan Road shops. Rooms at the front on upper floors (11th & up) have close panoramic harbour views (masked from lower floors by the Space (?)museum(?) opposite). The location can't be beaten - HK's most prstegious & expensive hotel, the Peninsula, is next-door. And the value is excellent But that does mean it books-out early. Waterfront hotels on the island are new-build on reclaimed land - geared to road transport & with long walk-ways to get anywhere. JB
  13. John Bull


    Sounds good, SRF. But I see no "cruise" option on that page. Or when I hit "tourist visa" or any other button. JB
  14. John Bull

    "BRITEX" Britain Exit from European Union

    Close, but no cigar - it's "Brexit", not "Britex". Whichever camp any of us are in, the background is too complicated for a rant on here from us Brits and a cruise forum isn't the place for it anyway. Suffice it to say that opinion is split down the middle. Which makes it very difficult for the Prime Minister, who has made the mistake of trying to keep both sides happy. The poor deal that she agreed with the EU has alienated both sides, hence the huge House of Commons defeat for her proposal - it was voted down by members on both sides of the argument. Most folk, including Brexiteers, would prefer to maintain some sort of trade agreement with the EU, but the terms that the EU would accept appeal to no-one except the PM - a PM whose favourite saying had been "No deal is better than a poor deal". Saying "no" to a proposed deal is easy but coming up with an alternative which is acceptable to the EU & the majority of Brits (or more realistically the majority of Brit members of Parliament) is much much more difficult. Joe Public, on both sides, is totally p****d off with a Parliament which has had well over two years to sort themselves out but has achieved little and is ill-prepared for a no-deal exit in little more than two months time. There have been suspicions that the govt has been running the clock down in order to strengthen the case for accepting that "bad deal". Politicians, previously rated the third-most despised profession, have now hit the bottom. Yes, more despised than real estate agents and ambulance chasers. That's my own little rant. But to the relevance for cruisers..... ".....between other EU countries including no free travel" "Freedom of movement" is all about the right to live & work in other EU countries. Exiting the EU has no relevance to visitors, be they Irish, British, American or Martian. No, ports will not be closed. At worst, freighters may have to sit outside if there's a freight log-jam. "Labour Party causing " worker disruption –trains –buses, airports and the ports themselves"???? Where did you hear that piece of nonsense? The Labour Party leader's policy is to remove a no-deal Brexit from the various options, not total anarchy. And industrial action wouldn't be supported by the big majority of their supporters who supported Brexit. But yes, in the event of a cliff-edge no-deal Brexit disruption at the ports is a strong possibility (or probability depending on one's allegiance), and it's one reason why Joe Publics on both sides of the argument are disgusted by the waste of almost 3 years notice. But that's disruption to freight traffic to / from EU countries - likely because of the extra paperwork and cargo checks. Any disruption to others (cruise / ferry passengers, non-EU freight etc) would be a by-product of that freight disruption. A major example is that there's talk of potential traffic problems mainly around Dover - I have no idea whether that's genuine concerns or scaremongering, but the govt's apparent lethargy in coming up with infrastructure and even contingency arrangements is truly mind-blowing. The registry of a cruise ship is totally irrelevant. Everyone, including the EU, has agreed that on 30th March the ferries (most of them British) will continue to operate, all aircraft will continue to fly between and over all European countries, the sun will still rise in the east & set in the west. There'll be no restriction on the movement of freight either - at least until it arrives at the port. A cliff-edge Brexit is probably (hopefully) the least-likely possibility. Other options, which I've deliberately put in no particular order, are 2 - a delay in implementing Brexit. I don't know if that needs approval from the EU but it would be in their interests too. That would give politicians time to come up with, & implement, an acceptable option. Or, knowing the clowns that are running the country, it would mean a cliff-edge Brexit at some other time in the future 3 - Parliament and the EU agreeing terms in the next week or two (don't hold your breath on that one) 4 - A General Election. But a vote of "no confidence" in the govt was defeated, so that's now less likely. 5 - A second referendum. That'd be seen as contrary to democracy, but there's a lot of support for it. And there's a history of that sort of thing when referenda have gone against the EU. 6 -- Britain revoking Article 50 - ie abandoning Brexit. Britain does have that right, with or without agreement from the EU. But that'd be undemocratic, certainly if not preceded by a second referendum or at least a General Election, and I don't think there's time for either unless Brexit is postponed. Altogether a sorry state of affairs - but not one which will impact cruises, so no need for concern to cruisers, so Keep Calm and Carry On Cruising And a least all of our civil servants are being paid regularly JB
  15. John Bull

    Private Tour Reliability

    Ditto Dogs4 and Len. There are no tuppeny-ha'penny fly-boys in St Petersburg. Visa-free only applies to tours with accredited operators, and if one screwed-up they'd lose their accreditation. Last sights on the last day are those nearest the ship, giving them leeway to divert a replacement van if there were a problem. And I agree with Len - tours are in 16-seat vans, not big buses. Much more personal, flexible, quicker to board & alight, quicker thro the traffic. etc. JB