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GradUT

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  1. GradUT

    Passport

    I agree with NJHorseman that it makes sense to go ahead and get a new passport now. Reasons: 1) it's good for 10 years now that he's 17 years old, 2) you intend to pay for his next passport anyway and 3) now is a relatively quiet time for passport processing, so you should get it fairly quickly. Having experience with the repatriation of U.S. citizens from foreign countries -- the age of the person trying to return to the U.S. is not really the issue. The issue would be the reason for the return. If it's a serious medical emergency, the paperwork to get you home will be done quickly. If it's a lesser emergency, the wait will likely be longer.
  2. We were in Mazatlan earlier this month and paid 150 pesos for a pulmonia from the area near El Shrimp Bucket on the Malecon to the Playa Mazatlan in the Zona Dorado (Golden Zone). We then paid 160 pesos for a pulmonia to go back to the same area. If you pay more than 200 peso/$10, you'd probably be over-paying.
  3. We have a son that lives in LA and our "go to" beach is Zuma Beach near Malibu. It's a long, wide beach with plenty of clean bathrooms/changing rooms. And if you don't want to pay for parking, you can find free street parking on weekdays.
  4. Because it was still the low season, we got day passes at the Westin earlier this month (October) and we had a great day. The beach was nice but the pool (especially for kids) was fabulous -- huge and not very deep. The adult pass was 800 pesos and included 300 pesos for food. (The fee for the pass and the food allowance is smaller for kids). HOWEVER, the day passes depend on hotel occupancy and it's likely to be high in March. So you couldn't count on getting a day pass. (However, if you are a Marriott Bonvoy member, you MIGHT be able to get a confirmed day pass if you request it in advance.)
  5. I've done a couple of the short cruises out of Florida to the Bahamas and they have been fine -- definitely no problem with party-ers. If the logistics (e.g. school drop offs and pick-ups for kids) are a problem, then just take the 3-day cruise. Freeport is not a great port stop (we stay on board when we are there), so it's hardly worth the extra day and hassles.
  6. We did a Segway tour that went through Old Town Mazatlan and along the Malecon. It was a ton of fun and gave us a good overview of the town. After the Segway tour, you could return to the Old Town market for shopping or take a pulmonia or taxi—about 150 pesos—to the Zona Dorado. We went to the Playa Mazatlan for beachside drinks (and they also have a lunch buffet). Segway Tour: http://www.baikasmazatlan.com/
  7. GradUT

    Alaska Cruises

    You might look at other cruise lines to Alaska, even if it means you only go for 7 days as opposed to 11 days. When we cruised to Alaska a couple of years ago, only Princess and Holland America were allowed into Glacier Bay, one of the highlights of an Alaskan cruise. If going to Glacier Bay is a "must" for you, then you won't be able to do it on Carnival, unless the rules have changed. Also, as much as I enjoy Carnival for Caribbean and Mexican Riviera cruises (we were on the Splendor for its last Mexican Riviera cruise a couple weeks ago), I think a cruise line like Princess or HAL is better suited for Alaska.
  8. We just got back from PV and we went to the Westin Resort and Spa for the day. The day passes (which can only be purchased on the day if the hotel is not at capacity) cost 800 pesos per adult and give you access to the beach and pool and a 300 peso credit for food and drink. The beach was good; the pool was amazing and our 300 peso credit covered the cost of lunch (burger/fries/soda). Everyone at the hotel was super friendly and informative. The cost of our taxi from the port to the hotel was 150 pesos.
  9. Take the train to Luebeck. Luebeck is an old Hanseatic town with a lot of great history, architecture, etc. It's an interesting town to walk around and was one of the highlights of our Baltic tour.
  10. Since your friends have never cruised, do them a favor and tell them to leave the auto-gratuity on their bill and tip extra if they are so inclined. They are obviously unaware that the auto-gratuities cover many people that work behind the scenes for their comfort and enjoyment. And waiting in the long line at Guest Services to remove the auto-tip will be a BIG waste of their precious last day on board ship. P.S. ObstructedView2–I love it!
  11. That seems expensive to me when the per bag cost of my Twinings tea is just over 10 cents each.
  12. I have emailed the Maitre D’s on my last 3 cruises, including one that I took just 2 weeks ago, and they have all responded quickly and accommodated me as requested. I find e-mailing 2 days after the cruise just before my own departs works well—you don’t want to email too early or on a departure date when they are super busy. I would try emailing again according to my method. If you wait until you are on the ship, you’ll likely have to wait in line instead of enjoying the ship. Plus, if you wait, you may get the size table you want, but it could be in an undesirable location, e.g. right next to a service area.
  13. Yes, yes, yes. Although we are able to do self-assist debarkation, we stopped doing it several cruises ago. The leisurely breakfast and shorter lines for debarkation/Customs makes for an infinitely more pleasant morning.
  14. It took a bit of research on my part (and help from other CC'ers) to come up with some ideas for excursions at our Mexican Riviera cruise ports that did not involve ships excursions. Hopefully the following will give you some ideas: Cabo San Lucas -- This was our first port and we had booked a snorkeling tour but it was cancelled due to high winds. So we spent the day on the ship and had a good time being on an almost empty ship. Mazatlan -- We had been in Mazatlan many years ago and wanted to see some of the places we remembered from then. We started out by walking from the ship to the malecon and then along the malecon for quite awhile. We had hoped to eat lunch at our old favorite, El Shrimp Bucket, but it was closed for renovation. We then took a pulmonia (100 pesos) to the Playa Mazatlan Hotel in the Zona Dorado for a cool drink in the restaurant adjoining the beach. It was quiet (early in the season) and we had an enjoyable time. From there, we took a pulmonia back to the area near the Shrimp Bucket for our Segway tour with Baikas. The tour lasted about 2 hours and covered much of the Old Town and part of the malecon. Our guide, Carlos, was excellent and we had such fun riding the Segways. http://www.baikasmazatlan.com/ Puerto Vallarta -- We wanted a beach day and I found a brochure on this forum with information about all of the various hotel properties and their day passes. Few, if any, of the hotels sell day passes when the hotels are at capacity, but we were there in early October when things were quiet, so we had no problem. We chose the Westin Resort and Spa based on their price (800 pesos with a 300 peso credit for food and drink) and the reviews of the beach and hotel. This turned out to be an excellent choice. Buying the day pass was easy and we were soon on our loungers on the beach. There were a few vendors who passed by, but not many. I wouldn't say the beach and water were the best I've ever seen, but they were good enough for us. At lunch, we chose to eat at the beachside cafe rather than the main hotel restaurant and we had excellent service and delicious food. The 300 peso credit for food easily covered the cost of a large hamburger/fries plate and a soda. After lunch, we went to the huge pool which was really nice! Taxi fare to/from the cruiseport cost about 150 pesos each way.
  15. Danish Viking (and others) may not like the business model of the Copenhagen Free Walking Tours, but it's a legitimate business and the tours are not at all "dodgy". In fact, the tour that I took with them was one of the highlights of my entire Baltic cruise. DaffyRaffy, you can be assured that there will be a group if you do one of the free walking tours as they are very popular.
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