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About JohnKen3

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    Cool Cruiser

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    London, UK

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  1. JohnKen3

    Tea kettle in the rooms of Crystal Serenity

    I have only ever seen kettles on Cunard (all staterooms) to date
  2. On the Mozart, they provide a box of liquids tabs of soap. You just throw one sachet into the machine and then load it up with your clothes. A lot tidier than using powder. We use this all the time at home. I trust this more that the liquid soap automatically pumped into the washing machine on the Symphony/Serenity.
  3. JohnKen3


    Loads of little shops who are authorised money changers in Prague and Budapest. For small amounts, just bring US$ or Euros. You will get a better exchange rate than in the US. There are so many tourist in Prague and Budapest, there is no issue not having local currency apart from having the right coins to visit the public toilets.
  4. JohnKen3

    Palace of Versailles?

    http://en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices I suggest you find a better travel agent. Someone is ripping you off unless you booked a private car to wait for you all day there. If you the weather is good, you can spend a good portion of the day just walking the gardens/grounds. The palace is merely the icing on the cake
  5. JohnKen3

    Carl Wishneusky - Avenue Saloon

    Yes. I took the time to read what was on the piano bar before I posted my comments. Why would I make such comments if I did not Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  6. JohnKen3

    River Cruising at 42? A good fit?

    Unlike an ocean cruise, you are not really trapped on board a river cruise. There are daily stops so you can choose to do a group excursion or do you own thing. There is less need to feel that you have to fit in. What matters is the service from the staff, quality of food and speed of bar service. Meal times are the group activity so check if you have to share a table or not. Different river cruise lines operate systems. On Crystal River Cruises, you are never asked to share a table at any time. It’s open dining so you just walk in whenever. On other river boat the passengers tend to go into the restaurant at the same time of the staff cannot cope. If you have tired yourselves during the day then evening entertainment/ distractions are less important.
  7. JohnKen3

    Carl Wishneusky - Avenue Saloon

    One thing that makes me nervous reading Carls website is that Cunard only tends to employ pianists who are instrumentalist and do not sing. Cunard does not really have any piano bar venues except at the pub (i.e. the Golden Lion). They have a pianist playing at various venues like the Commodore Club. He also has a classical piano background. The Avenue Saloon really requires a vocalist to build an atmosphere. Mark Farris and Perry Grant both sing well and accompanies themselves (and others) on the piano. They can also do instrumental sets when required.
  8. JohnKen3

    First Impressions

    Bar Harbour always concerns me. It is so much like tv series Murder She Wrote and Jesica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury). However, doesn’t someone get murdered every week? The one interesting element of Crystal’s open dining is that you can dine alone or just chat away to the table next to yours. It has a great atmosphere. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about Crystal. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  9. What do you like about river cruising? If it is going ashore and doing something different every day, then consider kicking off with a Med cruise that will offer you the same opportunities. It might be a shock to the system if you have several sea-days in a row where you might feel trapped on boat the ship. Then the other key issue is the size of ship. River boats are small so you might wish to try out a smaller ship rather than a vessel that takes 3000-5000 passenger which can be very overwhelming. If you like the personal touch of the staff on board a river cruise then consider a small ship as your first cruise. The more passengers, the more facilities there are on-board but if you like getting off the ship daily, then maybe such amenities are less of a concern.
  10. JohnKen3


    Sihanoukville is a dump. It is full of casinos catering to mainland Chinese gamblers. Yes there are beaches at the casino resort but don't get excited about this which Crystal offers excursions to. Do not expect to see anything of the real Cambodia. The only thing useful about the stop in Sihanoukville is that it allows a 2/3 day land excursion to Angkor Watt which is a great experience. You get off at Sihanoukville and get get back on in Saigon or vice versa. The current practice is that Crystal arranges for Cambodian and Vietnamese visas for all passengers. The cost of visa is billed to your room charge which does not cost very much. Even the port facilities there are pitiful but it is modern at least.
  11. JohnKen3

    How soundproof are the rooms on the Serenity?

    I have never heard noise from the next room through the walls. However, I do hear people talking loudly while along the corridor through the main door. I also do year folks in the next room talking if they are seated on their balcony. The walls are find. The doors, not so much
  12. JohnKen3

    Travel Agents

    I believe the person asking the question is from the UK. The T&C are different to the rest of the world given UK law. Switching travel agent is not practiced in the UK. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  13. JohnKen3

    Planning a big birthday celebration cruise

    I suppose the question is why you wish to change cruise line for a big birthday? Sounds like it is the itinerary. What is important to you? Warning staterooms on Crystal are small and all are of a similar size except for the Penthouses. A balcony is only important if the weather is right (not too hot and not too cold) for you to enjoy it. Folks dress up in the evening. However, do you really wish to pay a premium price to dine next to someone wearing shorts. Isn’t this a big birthday that requires celebration? If your birthday is during the cruise itself, expect a special massive birthday breakfast during the cruise along with a card from the captain and senior crew, decorated table in the evening although I am not sure how this works with open dining now. It’s horses for courses. There is a reason for choosing a cruise line. It is not just about the itinerary. The Crystal difference is that it is all inclusive so no signing of receipts or finding your room card at any time of day. The wines in the all inclusive are very acceptable. Go to the Bistro or the Cove Bar and arrange for your own wine tasting. There is a daily suggested wine but if you find you like one, just order it. The folks at our table of 8 once drank the ship dry of a lovely red Paso Roubles. Evening cocktails at the Avenue are lethal. Those drinks just keep coming, no ordering needed for the regulars. One thing that Crystal does extremely well are enrichment lectures during the day, evening entertainment with production shows or headliners. Then there is the entertainer at the Avenue Saloon or the pianist at the Cove. This is why we book Crystal consistently. Finally, if your husband does not like to dance, there are Ambassador Hosts to ballroom dance with you or the many single ladies on board. Crystal is owned by a casino chain; Resorts World (otherwise I do not think they operate on the US West Coast. Big in the Bahamas, New York area and internationally). It is those casino operations that subsidises Crystal from what I can tell. You only quote Las Vegas casino chains. For some strange reason there is site for Resorts World in Las Vegas that has never been built on in years. Resorts World operate one for the two casinos in Singapore. Together, there is more money stakes at those two casinos annually compared with all the casinos in Las Vegas put together annually. This is before their other casino operations in the Far East. The casino on board is called Resort World At Sea. Sent from my iPhone using Forums
  14. JohnKen3

    Travel Agents

    There are two divisions involved belonging to same business and owners. One provides the admin services for Crystal UK. This is why it processes all UK bookings. This is on the upper floor. There is another which is the cruise specialist for cruises they sell cruises to the general public. This is on the ground floor. There is also a basement with lovely kitchen facilities to handle catering for sales events. The admin services provided on the upper floor is for Crystal UK and Paul Gauguin. As I said, I tend to get my own information even room selection from Cruise Critic and other on-line cruise resources. The ground floor cruise company does not appear to be advantaged in any major way that I can see. I tend to use them as it is relatively easy for me to get to for the odd occasion when I have to see them (e.g. picking up cruise tickets where there is a postal disruption due to weather issues). Ultimately over the years, I now know a couple of agents there so it is more about relationship rather than price for me. They also will do Crystal bookings on Amex without any additional charge. I am an frequent flyer miles fiend! Ancientmariner uses a major UK travel agent who declared a profits warning last week due to the UK weather and usually gets a better discount compared with ground floor cruise firm I use. Neither offer on-board credit direct unlike the US but give a discount on the price.
  15. JohnKen3

    Travel Agents

    It is about what you want from a travel agent. I must say ever since the days of the internet, I have never used a travel agent until Crystal made me use one. Now, I only use the Travel Agent for booking cruises (not just Crystal). They are a cruise specialist. I do all my own flights (so on my head be missed connections etc) and accommodation pre/post cruise. This is more because I am a control freak. There are on-line travel tools that let me balance costs against the connection pain I am willing to bear. Thanks to this forum on Cruise Critic, I often know things before my travel agent (and my travel agent operates in the UK general sales office for Crystal UK so all UK bookings go through them). Some passengers want their Travel Agent to keep an eye on offers, price changes or On Board Credit. I do not really need that (and UK T&Cs are different to the rest of the world due to UK law).