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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. I see nothing of importance missing from that itinerary - lucky you for having three days And the scheduling makes sense - distant places & heavy schedule on Day One, a more laid-back day close to the port on Day Three. But like the other small-group local tour operators they are flexible - you might find the itinerary switched depending on the weather etc. Day One looks pretty packed - is Faberge in the evening? If it isn't (or even if it is, cos you're in port for two evenings) do consider adding an evening option - popular ones are the ballet (but if you're an afficionado do carefully choose a good dance company) or the Folk Show (a bit cheesy with some audience participation but excellent and varied song & dance, well-performed by both singers and musicians, with a few belly-laughs). Most tour operators offer other evening excursions too. And ask if you can be driven back to the ship past the illuminated bridges. BTW, Day One will be a late and slow start due to the immigration procedure - don't concern yourselves that it'll take big chunks out of your three days, the paperwork is done on Day One and subsequently the immigration lines are quick. Best Guides has an excellent reputation. But then so do all the other St Petersburg operators. It's the only port where I'd feel confident even if I chose by sticking a pin on a list blindfolded. JB
  2. Hi, O&B's mum, Yes, I remember tinned condensed milk in the post-war years - for ambient storage it was that or powdered. With "Camp coffee" - much more chicory instead of coffee. It put me off coffee for years And much more recently I've experienced tea/coffee with condensed in the far east too. But Barraquito is a very different animal - more a Canarian take on Irish coffee, though it looks more like a Tequila Sunrise !! JB
  3. A beach day relies on the weather. And the weather will be pretty unreliable in late October. I daren't say that it won't be beach weather because weather is pretty fickle, but it's probable - hence you're finding resorts, beach bars etc closed. If you're lucky you'll have your beach day, and in excellent weather there'll probably be a bar or cafe or two that opens at short notice. But don't bank on it. Mykonos is a super little town (village?), a maze of immaculate little alleyways backed by its picture-postcard line of windmills. Milder weather than much of the eastern Mediterranean and daytime temperatures around 20c, ideal sightseeing weather if it's not wet. Plenty to keep you amused and with a good-sized cruise ship or two in town you'll find shops and harbour-front bars & cafes open. And probably the town's pelican patrolling the harbour. There's a bit of a beach at one end of the harbour but it's very basic and unattractive. For a good beach you need a taxi ride. Get your beach stuff ready, but decide at the last minute whether to take it ashore with you. JB
  4. As a general rule, the last part of April + May & June, then September & the first part of October are ideal for the Med. July & August the ports tend to be crowded, too hot for sight-seeing, and cruises & accommodation more expensive cos of school holidays. You'll have a wide choice of itineraries and US & UK ships as well as Italian ships throughout those months. Caribbean is best November to March - and those same ships will be there for their winter (northern hemisphere) season Happy huntin' JB
  5. As soon as I posted using the new attachment option I realised that it could confuse because it doesn't name a source. The old-fashioned weblink https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wZugMQpcSU would have made it clear that this was a stock video. No apology necessary, and I'm perfectly happy for you to believe than I am more handsome than the guy in the vid. JB
  6. Just for the record, Dogs4, that's not me - it's a vid I found on YouTube. I'm much more handsome than that guy, and I speak the Queen's English JB
  7. Mid-ships is the most stable, but whether that's important depends on your itinerary (outside the hurricane season the Caribbean is usually benign, in winter the North Atlantic can be pretty frisky), your luck with the sea-state, and how well you cope with the ship's movement. If you don't know how you'd cope, play safe and go with mid-ships - and as low a deck as your ego will allow you. Higher decks attract a premium, but the higher you pay the more you sway. LHT says stern rather than bow, for the same reason. Simple geometry tells me differently - but for whatever reason LHT is right. Midships also means you don't have to walk from one end of the ship to the other for your dinner, a show, your favourite bar etc. And a lower deck is no less-convenient, it means you just press a different button in the elevator. I've not travelled on all cruise lines, but its been my experience that mid-ships is no more expensive for a same-grade cabin - but you'll find that mid-ships does get booked earliest and later bookings flow from there to the extremities. JB
  8. Pictures of the destinations. They use virtually no space / weight in my luggage and don't damage. And they'll be great reminders in my dotage. Only downside is that my travels now exceed my wall-space. And tea-spoons. Unfortunately that collection's not grown in recent decades because cruise lines, hotels, restaurants, airlines, even British Rail no longer commission their own monogrammed tea-spoons. I wonder why? JB
  9. Lisbon. Yes, ho-ho is a good choice. There are two places that ships usually berth - up-stream close to the city centre. Nearest ho-ho stop is only a 5-minute walk. - downstream, near the Belem Tower & a little remote from the city centre, you'll need transport of some sort whatever you plan to do. Ho-ho's stop at the pier, which kills two birds with one stone. There are (or at least were about 3 years ago) two competing ho-ho's. One includes the historic tram in the city centre, so if that appeals choose that one. I think both main ho-ho routes are identical, but check that - and frequency - with staff at the bus stop. Funchal. I've not done the ho-ho, but it has a stop at the cruise terminal.. Instead we opted to take a little "antique" shuttlebus (similar to those in Yellowstone and Glacier NPs) to the cablecar, up to the intermediate cablecar station, then down on Funchal's famous toboggans - great fun. JB
  10. Hi, and welcome to Cruise Critic, Both Costa and MSC are big players with large fleets. Costa is part of the Carnival brand, MSC is an independent family-owned cruise line You'll find plenty of info about both here on Cruise Critic, they're well-known in North America and Europe. Click on "Forums" (top-right on this page) and and go through the forums - there are "cruise Line" forums for both. Also click on Ports-of-call - Europe, then the Med ports that interest you and type MSC or Costa into the search box (top right on that page), and in the drop-down switch from "everywhere" to "this forum" to avoid overload But in brief, both are Italian lines. MSC in particular have beautiful and stylish ships, the most modern fleet in the business. Whilst Costa's fleet is more mixed, they tend to use their most modern ships in the Med, and consign the older ones to itineraries in Asia etc. If you enjoy mixing with a very cosmopolitan cross-section (with the emphasis on Italian passengers) and the Italian way of doing things eg lots of small courses at dinner and lots of pasta, and you're prepared to go with the flow you'll enjoy. If you want an Aus or US or UK experience, English as a first language, a fry-up breakfast etc, they're probably not right for you. Two important factors..... .....Both of those cruise lines tend to be in port for shorter hours - half-days are not uncommon, which can be very frustrating especially at major ports, so do check the hours in port. .....And January. A pretty awful time of year to cruise the northern hemisphere, with exceptions like the Caribbean or the Red Sea or SE Asia. Weather in the Med will likely be anywhere between cool and cold, and it's the rainiest time of year. There's a difference between "climate" and "weather" - you can be lucky and enjoy a decently warm and dry spell, but your prospects of that being the case for the majority of a January cruise in the Med are pretty slim. Thinfool says "throw the dice". I'd only do that with a loaded dice. Neither of us is right or wrong, but history is on my side. JB
  11. And for the same reason of safety, If my car expires I leave it in the fast lane because statistically almost all accidents involving broken-down vehicles happen on the safety shoulder. We both think logically, yet others thing we're stupid. JB
  12. Thanks for now specifying Boston. But it's not the norm in most ports - they generally include cruise ports on their routes, same as they do with rail stations. And your post has highlighted the point I made a few minutes ago - folk need to research the pros & cons of ho-ho's at the ports on their itinerary JB
  13. Ditto. It may be cheaper buying in advance through the ho-ho operator (usually a small discount) or thro a third party like Viator (sometimes a small discount) or thro the cruise line (showing my cynicism here, but I doubt a discount). But you're paying in advance so probably (except in the case of buying thro the cruise line) you'll lose that money if the ship fails to port, and you'll certainly lose that money if you simply change your mind (other options present themselves, illness, fatigue, foul weather, over-slept etc ad infinitum). That's particularly important if you haven't researched (for instance, if you haven't asked here on CC) about ho-ho's for a specific city - I'm a great fan of ho-ho's but there are cities where, usually because of restrictions on bus routes, they're a waste of time. Florence, Rome and Bath are prime examples. You're also committing yourself to that particular ho-ho operator. If there's more than one operator (Lisbon, Athens, London, and plenty of other cities) you'll stand and watch their buses arrive and go while you wait for that operator's next bus. There might even be a small discount available on the day, esp if there are competing ho-ho operators. One joy of ho-ho's is that you can make your mind up on the day. Buying in advance robs you of that flexibility Just MHO as always JB
  14. No worries - 25th August is a sunday !!! A long holiday weekend, but it's the sunday. I'm almost tempted to suggest a National Express coach or ship's coach transfer, or a later start but - Nat Express will cost you time getting to Southampton coach station, waiting for the coach, one or perhaps two minor deviations to bus stops at Southampton University, Winchester or Basingstoke, and, depending on your LHR terminal, intermediate terminals or a long walk to your terminal. - Ship's first transfer coach won't fill and leave before about 8am. And for two people will probably cost as much as a private transfer. - a later start means mixing it with the herd abandoning-ship and diminishes your wiggle-time. So let's not fritter away the advantage of it being a sunday Forget 6am. Earliest unassisted disembarkation isn't usually until 7am, mebbe a few minutes earlier. If you disembark unassisted you'll be ahead of the herd - at that time there'll be no long line for port formalities. Book a car for 7.15. Being a sunday, the 55 miles to LHR will take about 80 to 90 minutes, so plenty of wiggle-time even if a massive fatal saturday-nite wreck means that the main route is closed. You'll find yourselves kicking your heels at LHR for a few hours. Try www.smithsforairports.com or www.westquaycars.com or www.aquacars.co.uk All are based at the Southampton end, all are frequently recommended by Cruise Critic members. Being a holiday weekend makes no odds. This'll be early sunday morning, most holiday traffic will have gotten to its destination on friday nite or saturday and won't be heading back to the grindstone in the big bad city until monday - or later on the sunday at the earliest if bad weather means they decide to foreshorten their weekend. On a sunday I'd even be pretty confident booking a flight after 11am. JB
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