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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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  1. Yes, no worries. If you' want to be extra-cautious you could disembark unassisted (haul your own bags from your cabin) ahead of the herd & possible lines. But, as per Hanks's comment, you'll probably be relying on the port shuttlebus to the gate, where you switch to a local bus to the station. Bus to station takes less than 5 minutes, but time taken for the rest of the process is extremely variable. JB ps Don't mis-read Hank's "ships are usually cleared within a half hour after docking". That's half an hour to clear the paperwork prior to the start of disembarkation.
  2. I'm so glad that several members have mentioned NYC. So now I can have my say without being pilloried Many years ago we finished a coast-to-coast road trip in NYC, five days before our flight home. We booked the first night into a hotel at Newark airport. A bus was due to go to Times Square, so we hopped on for a preview of NYC. Had to climb over deadbeats & drunks to get out of the bus station, walked up one side of 42nd Street & down the other side with her hanging onto me and me hanging onto her handbag. Then back over the deadbeats & drunks & caught the next bus back to the airport. We had two unused tickets for Delta flights (for the flight Newark to LA at the start of our trip it was cheaper to buy a 3-flight pass than a simple one-way ticket) so we went to the Delta desk and asked what was the first flight out in the morning. The clerk said Boston, but once he realised our situation he suggested Orlando - early March was too cold for Boston, and spring-break had just finished so Orlando wouldn't be crowded. First visit to Florida, thoroughly enjoyed it. Have been back to Florida a few times - flights to Orlando are cheap, and it's a decent start point for exploring SE USA. But nowadays Orlando is way too crowded & commercialised. Have since also been to Boston - loved the place, even though we're not city-lovers.. We really didn't give NYC much chance - brief first-impressions & all that - so we're being more than a bit unfair. But we've never been tempted to go back JB
  3. Yes, we loved both cities. Especially Amsterdam. Stayed in a canal-side apartment conversion, tall & very narrow building with a front wall which, like most canal-side buildings, leaned forward enable furniture & such to be hoisted to the upper windows. JB
  4. Yes, Amsterdam's Little Mermaid is exceptionally well-hidden - I've not found it despite years of searching. But Copenhagen's Little Mermaid is a lot easier to find (but yes, very small) JB
  5. Sue - I'll agree with you about Ocho Rios and/or Falmouth (your description suggests it's Falmouth), but I'm not sure why you mentioned them, because they're not iconic places that anyone would consider "great". I don't think that any iconic city that I've visited has under-whelmed me, despite some negatives here and there like crime, value-for-money, over-crowding. But two world-renown places that seriously disappointed were ............... - the Great Barrier Reef - it was dead and grey, with very little marine life. I just hope that's only in the small areas into which we tourists are funnelled. There's waaaaay better snorkelling elsewhere in the world, like the Red Sea, South China Seas, even the Caribbean. - South Africa's Garden Route. We chose that route to get from Natal to Cape Town - very little to see, despite a couple of diversions, because the road was tree-lined. - and perhaps not world-renown, but the Blue Ridge Parkway thro' Virginia etc. Drove it one time in early spring - brilliant, mile after mile after mile of panoramic views both sides. Automatically repeated it a few years back - but in high summer, so the same problem as the Garden Route. Poor research C'est la Vie JB
  6. Hi Linda, Highclere isn't worth it for me. But then period dramas aren't my thing. And yes, it's perfectly feasible & worthwhile for a Downton Abbey fan. There's a slim chance it might be, or be incorporated into, a ship's tour. DIY you have two, possibly three, options............... By train is the most economical, although it involves one or two changes.. Taxi to Southampton Central station, 5 -8 minutes, under £10. Buy return tickets to Newbury, about £30 per person. https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ For this route purchasing your rail tickets in advance is no cheaper, and is in any case a little complicated from outside the UK. Just allow a little extra time to buy at the station - there's a manned ticket-booth. You have to change trains at Reading, and depending on your time of travel you might also have a change of trains at Basingstoke. Best to keep life simple by aiming for a train time that involves just the one change. Journey time 1 hr 20 mins to 2 hrs 10, depending which train time. There's a taxi rank at Newbury station - take a taxi for the 6 mile / 10-15 minute drive to Highclere Castle. I don't know the cost, probably about £15. There's no taxi rank at Highclere Castle, so arrange for the driver to return for you at a pre-arranged time. Total travel cost for two people about £100. Or travel by road - 35 miles, about 45 minutes (plus an extra 10 - 15 minutes if before 9am) ........................ By private transfer car or van. More expensive than the train of course, but the opportunity to find sharers via your cruise RollCall - that'd be simpler & easier, and cost-sharing would hopefully keep the travel cost per person tolerably near the train option. Get quotes from https://www.smithsairportcars.co.uk/ https://westquaycars.com/ https://www.aquacars.co.uk/ All three are based in / near Southampton and are frequently used & recommended by Cruise Critic members. By car rental. Probably not worth the complication, the cost of extras ( taxi to / from the depot, insurance, GPS, fuel, etc), and the time involved in collecting / returning. But the route & driving are easy - almost all divided highway. Most major agencies, with the notable exception of Avis, have depots less than a £10 taxi ride from the ship. It's probably best to pre-book Highclere Castle tickets. BTW, it's not a "castle", it's a stately home. And as well as the Downton Abbey connection it was the family home of Lord Carnarvon, who financed Howard Carter's search for the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. He joined Carter for the opening of the tomb, and died three months later - the first victim of the Curse of Tutankhamun JB
  7. Hi, Note that Southampton doesn't have a double "hh" - a common mistake but one that can cause problems when looking up train timetables & such. It's Southampton With a 5.00 pm sailing, back-on-board for a Southampton port-of-call is normally 4.30 pm. But since this is a back-to-back you need to check with Cunard whether you have to re-register, repeat the safety drill, etc. If so, your back-on-board is more likely to be 3 pm or 3.30, which will make a big dent in your day. So you may be limited to a lazy day in the city. Southampton is a working port city, not a tourist city. But it certainly does have enough to interest a visitor for a day. QM2 usually berths at QE11 Cruise Terminal, deep in the docks. That dock road is busy with truck traffic, pedestrians are only separated from the heavy truck traffic by a yellow line. So you're strongly advised to hail a cab for the short drive to the old walled part of the city, no more than £6. She sometimes berths at Ocean Cruise Terminal, from there the old town is only a ten-minute walk. Old town has the city walls & gates, historic buildings like Tudor Merchant's House (well worth an hour or more), Medieval Merchant's House (only open weekends), Westgate Hall, & Gods Tower (houses archaeological museum). At the northern end of the walled city is the Bargate, which was the old city's main entrance from the London road - the old town is known locally as "Below Bar". Good pubs to try for a drink or meal in old town include the Dancing Man pub & micro-brewery housed in the 13th century stone-built Wool House on Town Quay, or just around the corner in Bugle Street the attractive & historic Duke of Wellington pub, very popular with cruisers. But it's not like most folks' idea of a walled city - it was heavily bombed in the Blitz of 1940, and modern properties sit cheek-by-jowl with the historic ones. On the other side of the Bargate, outside the walled city, is Above Bar - the post-war main shopping street and several malls, notably the large West Quay Mall. Elsewhere in the centre of Southampton are places like.... "Solent Skies", a super little volunteer-run aviation museum. A short walk from Ocean Terminal, and well worth an hour. It focuses on aircraft built or operated from Southampton. Exhibits include a Spitfire (designed, developed and first built in Southampton before the factory was blitzed) and a Princess flying-boat that you can get into (Southampton was the UK's premier flying-boat centre during the short pre and post-war life before regular long-haul aircraft were developed). Sea City Museum, council-operated museum dedicated to Titanic. Relies heavily on dioramas and personal stories, comparatively few artefacts but very well-presented. It's at the northern end of the main shopping street, Above Bar, in the Civic Offices complex (identify the complex by its tall white clock-tower). Art museum in that complex too. More Southampton detail at http://www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit including guided or self-guided walks. So, enough for a lazy day in Southampton and all walkable (other than mebbe a short taxi hop from/to your ship). But if you want to travel out of the city ............... Salisbury & Stonehenge Cunard may offer this as a ship-sponsored tour. If you prefer to DIY, you need to plan to arrive at Stonehenge at opening time, and keep a constant watch on the time. There's a direct half-hourly train from Southampton central station (five minute taxi ride from your ship)) to Salisbury costs about £11 return-ticket, journey time about 40 minutes. Take the Stonehenge ho-ho bus from Salisbury train station. Bus ride takes about 30 minutes, expect to spend about 90 minutes at Stonehenge then ho-ho back to Salisbury to check out the magnificent Salisbury cathedral and historic city centre. Ho-ho (if conveniently timed) or walk or taxi or local bus to Salisbury station for the train back to Southampton. Post back if this is a sunday, there are a couple of complications. Buy your Stonehenge tickets as well as ho-ho tickets from the ho-ho driver (same price as at the gate). This avoids the need for pre-purchasing a timed ticket to Stonehenge, and avoids wasting advance payment if your plans change. If you take ship's tour, their entrance tickets are also any-time. Stonehenge is no fun in bad weather. Salisbury is an historic & laid-back cathedal city (tallest spire in the country, one of the four original copies of Magna Carta, etc). A day in Salisbury is well worthwhile, even if you skip Stonehenge. http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ http://www.thestonehengetour.info https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/ Winchester Cathedral city only 15 mins by frequent trains from Southampton. Older than Salisbury, it's the former capital of Wessex (King Alfred & all that). But narrow streets and rather more tourists make it feel more crowded, less laid-back. Centred on Winchester Cathedral. Huge. IMHO not as inspiring as Salisbury's but centuries older. Houses the grave of Jane Austen. Interesting history of subsidence, and a tribute in the cathedral to the brass-helmeted deep-sea diver who a century ago spent years strengthening the foundations. https://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/ The following places only if your back-on-board is 4.30 or later.......... Queen Victoria's Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight. From Town Quay take Red Funnel's traditional car ferry to East Cowes , not the hi-speed ferry to (West) Cowes. Ferry ride about an hour. Then a short bus ride (any bus from East Cowes) and ask the driver to put you off at Osborne House - it's less than ten minutes on the bus. Check return bus & ferry times. I'm always wary of ferries on a port-of-call day, but the Red Funnel car ferry is super-reliable. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/osborne/ https://www.redfunnel.co.uk/en/isle-of-wight-ferry/ Beaulieu Take the little Hythe ferry from Town Quay across Southampton Water to Hythe (very long pier, but a little historic train to take you from boat to shore), then a taxi from the rank for the 6 miles across a corner of the New Forest to Lord Montague's complex at Beaulieu. Arrange with the driver to return for you at a pre-determined time, there's no taxi rank at Beaulieu. (the local bus service is extremely infrequent, and ignore any references on the web to the "beach bus", it no longer operates) The Beaulieu complex majors on Britain's National Motor Museum, but for those in your party not interested in cars & trucks there's also the Bishop's Palace (home), the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey (sacked by Henry V11 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries), and various smaller attractions like the Secret Army - during WW2 it was a training school for spies. https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/ http://hytheferry.co.uk/ Portsmouth. Home of the Royal Navy, the main attraction is the Historic Dockyard & Ships. And close by, the Spinnaker Tower (only bother to go up if visibility is good when you're there). Portsmouth has much more to offer like Old Portsmouth's harbourfront fortifications and harbour entrance. Its conjoined city of Southsea is a resort city. On its seafront are Southsea Castle and adjacent D-Day museum and views across the Solent to the Napoleonic Solent forts and the Isle of Wight and plenty more besides, and the ring of Napoleonic forts (google "Palmerston's Follies") which surround the city. But in all honesty you'll only have time for the dockyard & ships, so with your limited time it's only worthwhile for afficionados. From Southampton by train or bus is about an hour. By train your destination is Portsmouth Harbour station (it's at the end of the line, after the main city station), by bus it's The Hard / Travel Interchange. Three different names for the same place, and it's only a two-minute walk to the Historic Dockyard gate. https://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/ https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/ BTW, You can be off the ship along with those hauling their own luggage at about 7am, ahead of regular disembarkation which normally starts around 7.30. But bear in mind the opening times of where you want to visit - if you stay in the city it's pointless to disembark before about 9am. But first things first - check what time you have to be back at the ship !! Have fun choosing JB
  8. I think most people have forgotten the route to the pub, Hank. And if they haven't, they'll find it's been screwed-up by cycle-lanes, road closures, one-way sidewalks & such Our local is currently the kitchen - a short walk of about ten feet from my sofa & TV. No need to pre-book, no need to douse ourselves in sanitiser, no need for table service, no need to drink thro a mask, no need glower at folk who're not following the rules, no need to figure what 2 metres is in feet and inches. Poor drinks selection in the kitchen, but enough beers for 6 months and a cupboard-full of Aussie Shiraz. And of course none of the evil black mud We'd be delighted if you & Kathy came over to this side of the Pond again, Hank. But whether you'd have to be imprisoned in a Premier Inn room for a couple of weeks isn't up to me - you'll have to ask BoJo. Keep safe & sane. (I'm keeping safe ) JB
  9. I foresee a potential movie along the lines of Jurassic Park JB
  10. Although there certainly are differences between crew & passengers, I agree that same crew for the next cruise isn't a great deal different to some passengers doing a back-to-back. But there has to be a balance between safety and normality. Changing crew-members each cruise would of course be nonsensical, whereas it's no big deal to decline back-to-back bookings. And perhaps refusing back-to-backs is more to do with PR than safety, an attempt to show - rightly or wrongly - that safety is paramount. And a BTW - for the near-future, whether the cruise line makes a profit surely isn't really relevant. They have massive fixed overheads, whether they sail or not. So I see the objective of providing at least some cruises, even with lower passenger numbers, as being to minimise their losses. JB
  11. Certainly construction had its problems. A major one was the amount of sediment in the lagoon, which clogged the mechanisms and closures. So yes, a degree of surprise that it worked the first time that it was needed. Doesn't mean that it'll still work next year, so fingers-crossed. But better than relying on King Canute JB
  12. Huh??? They are offering 13-day cruises on Mein Schiff 6, eg https://www.kreuzfahrt-ticket.de/p/meinschiff6-11-230721/ No "back-to-backs" would reduce the risk of infection carrying over from cruise to cruise, but I don't see how it can have anything to do with the cruise line trying to evade responsibility for a Covid infection. In fact, quite the reverse - no back-to-backs means that an infection is more likely to be down to inadequate pre-cruise sanitising or crew infection, because no passengers are on both cruises JB
  13. Flu killed about 34,000 in the USA in 2019 Covid-19 has killed 211,000 to date in 2020, even though it arrived at the end of the 19/20 winter and the 20/21 winter hasn't arrived yet. A vaccine is very unlikely to be widely available in 2020, and without precautions and restrictions that death rate would double every 3 to 4 days. So there's no comparison between Covid-19and the flu. The common cold does not kill, altho like Covid it can occasionally lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia was the cause of about 50,000 deaths in 2019, but I can find no statistics on those which started via a cold - so clearly it's not considered to be significant. So there's no comparison between Covid-19 and the common cold. Norovirus is a particularly horrible virus, and something like 20 million folk in the USA are affected every year. To date, over 7 million have tested positive for Covid-19. Because there was no Covid-19 testing available for the general population in the early days, and because for many folk the symptoms are minor or they are asymptomatic, the true figure for Covid-19 is probably much higher than that for norovirus. But the death rate for norovirus is about 800 p.a. That's quite a lot lower than 211,000 and counting !!! So there's no comparison between Covid-19 and norovirus. All the statistics above are on trusted medical websites like CDC, not from "Karen from Facebook". Bugs du-jour? There are vaccines for transmissable diseases like Yellow Fever and yes, there's mandatory vaccination, with certification, for those who visit infected parts of the world. Or can you name some other bugs du-jour which are infectious??????? JB
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