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About stephen@stoneyard.co.uk

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  1. I agree with you. More than acknowledge it I would say.
  2. You may be right about Oceana being most regular over these months. In the remains of these moths we have more of Aurora and also couple of Ventura. Within the Carnival group there is most visits by Aida ships and one Queen Victoria. Outside Carnival then Fred and Saga are regulars. Winter UK cruising has grown more than I thought. They are all taking a risk with passenger satisfaction and a financial cost. I am sure safety wise they are all fine. My rule use to be never before May. Bad weather and Norovirus season I thought. I have broken it many times and Norovirus seems year round. Best wishes, Stephen
  3. I agree with you totally on this. Circumstances only seems to work one way. If circumstance outside my control mean I cannot pay for a significant part for my cruise (which is what I agreed to) then I do not get to go on the cruise. Also they get to keep the deposit. They should play by the same rules. If they do not deliver a significant part of the the cruise (Which is what they agreed to) then they should not keep all of my money. This is not compensation it is a partial refund. There was a time when Southampton cruise terminal hardly saw a ship in January, February or March. Everything was in the Caribbean or on Worlds. Cruise companies realised it was not a good idea to cruise out of the UK in the winter. P&O have Now decided they can make money cruising form the UK in the winter. You can be sure they a charging the maximum fares they think they can from loyal passengers for these cruises. With this maximised profit comes a financial risk. If they do not provide significantly what is advertised then appropriate refund should be paid. I have never seen a cruise advertisement that states this is the itinerary we hope to cruise but it is Winter so we might go somewhere or nowhere else. It probably would not sell. On obvious option would be to name all winter cruises out of Southampton as Mystery Cruises. Just a thought. There would be no grounds for complaint then about missed ports. Best wishes, Stephen.
  4. My understanding is the prohibition on marriages at sea dates back to a scandal on a Cunard liner. There was a case of bigamy. The scandal surrounding the companies involvement was enough to introduce the prohibition. Best wishes, Stephen.
  5. I do Worcester to Southampton reasonably regularly. If your sister can manage her own luggage by train the easiest option could be one of the direct trains from the Malvern stations to Southampton Central. There are a couple of these a day but not Sunday. They are not the best train but it means you do not have to manage luggage in the middle of the journey. One of these train departs just before 11AM and arrives just after 2.30PM on Saturdays. My choice is to get better trains. If you can change trains the easiest place is Oxford. It has always been the same platform for me. You could change at Reading for the same trains but it is now a big station with lots of platforms. Birmingham New Street is a very big station and busy. I personally would not change at Cheltenham Spa as the Malvern to Cheltenham service is so sparse. I always go the day before and book a hotel in the centre of Southampton. There are many ranging from budget to five stars. Taxis are readily available in Southampton and I think UBER operates in the city. Taxis to and from the dock, train station or hotels are less than £10. My favourite place to stay is a sea view room at the Grand Harbour Hotel (not Harbour Hotel) as you can see you ship arrive early morning or docked when you get up late morning. I believe some room at the Holiday Inn have the same benefit. I also drive depending on my plans. Again I book a hotel for the night before my cruise. You have two options, park at the hotel the night before the cruise and then park at the cruise terminal for the cruise. Alternatively park at the hotel the night before the cruise and for the duration of the cruise. For me both options work and the price has always been roughly the same. If you read threads on here people will tell you their preferred parking or hotel option is the only choice and why no other possible option is acceptable at all. That may well be true for them. It is possible to drive on the morning of departure from Malvern to Southampton. I have done it a few times. I now just don’t like the hassle on the morning of departure and the small risk I could miss the ship. It does save on the cost of a hotel. At the moment there are roadworks around Southampton. Allegedly one bridge closure led to the longest diversion in British driving history. I planned my journey so as to get through an hour before the road closure. Other people might be able to advise if there is a P&O provided coach option from Worcestershire. These run on the morning of the cruise but hopefully the ship would wait if a coach P&O provided was delayed. Personally I would not consider that option but I am coach phobic. Malvern to Southampton is not a bad start to a holiday. There are people who travel from far further away in the North of England and Scotland. They will have had very long and potentially stressful journeys. It is often the conversation on the first evening. Best wishes, Stephen
  6. The float pit does make Iona seem real. A ship not just blocks. On the videos it looked to me like she was operating under her own power. I may have imagined smoke and a wake form bow thrusters. I had thought she would be towed out. Hopefully that bodes well for the LNG power plant being up and running, and not delaying anything. It may just be wishful thinking on my part. Best wishes, Stephen.
  7. The float pit does make Iona seem real. A ship not just blocks. On the videos it looked to me like she was operating under her own power. I may have imagined smoke and a wake form bow thrusters. I had thought she would be towed out. Hopefully that bodes well for the LNG power plant being up and running, and not delaying anything. It may just be wishful thinking on my part. Best wishes, Stephen.
  8. A USA based cruise line of course. If the passengers booked in the UK with the UK subsidiary it could be interesting. When the Icelandic Ash cloud stopped flights a certain US cruise company attempted to abandon passengers in ports to make their own way home. Ship staff did not understand that these passengers were on a package tour and had to be looked after. I believe the UK tour operators on the whole behaved differently as they understood their obligations. Best wishes, Stephen.
  9. I did wonder what the premium will be next year. I thought I would get insured before any increase. After June I have no cruises for nearly a year and then only a short cruise so I will probably not renew if the premiums go up. Best wishes, Stephen.
  10. P&O are not very good at this. I think you have to cancel and rebook. Be careful also if yo have a cheap deposit offer from a travel agent. I believe it is the full deposit amount that is lost but I could be wrong. I would definitely check. Some UK cruise lines can be reasonable. I got a fifty pound onboard credit from CMV for a three night trip on Astoria. They phoned me unsolicited, and said that they has a special promotion on. They felt existing bookings should get the same benefit. I almost dropped the phone. On another occasion I have had a free upgrade on CMV. I rang up and asked how much it would cost and was told they would do it for free. Unknown to me they had reduced the price of the cruise for new booking significantly so it did seem reasonable. I have with Cunard cancelled, lost my deposit, rebooked. It allowed me to switch from a junior suite to a full suite for the same price. Cunard gave me a free upgrade to a Penthouse which made up for the loss of my deposit. I did not know about Saga. A line I would like to try. Thank you. Best wishes, Stephen.
  11. I have never had specific cruise insurance as I had not felt I needed it. My general travel insurance covers medical expenses, luggage etc on a cruise. Howether we have decided to go for a cruise insurance upgrade because of the current situation. This will pay £150 per person for a missed port. It will also pay £150 per person per day for confident to your cabin ordered by the ships doctor. This is a little bit more than the amount I payed for my cabin so I will not be worse off financially if this happens. There is no excess on these claims too. It has only cost me £14 for the remainder of my policy which incidentally covers all my cruises for the year. If anybody is interested my insurance is provided through my bank account with Nationwide Building Society which I know is quite popular here. Best wishes, Stephen.
  12. I read it as if there are significant changes known by the tour operator prior to departure. The option to cancel and have a full refund should be offered. It seems fair to me. You can then make alternative holiday plans and the cruise company can resell the cabin. That is of no benefit or loss to the passenger (or P&O). They are only getting their own money back because the cruise they originally booked is not available and they would not have chosen the amended itinerary. They are being put back in their original situation before booking. What your rights are if significant changes to the itinerary are made after departure I would not like to guess. There was a situation where a cruise departed and then passengers were told about a significant change in the itinerary. Nearly all ports were lost and very little was offered in compensation. It was alleged that the cruise company knew about these changes before departure. The ship had allegedly taken on food or fuel and made other amended preparations before departure. After much unnecessary unpleasantness a full refund was offered to the passengers on the cruise. Best wishes, Stephen.
  13. Thank you for that interesting article. Hopefully it something I will not need to worry about. Interesting how the response form Iglu changed. I like to know a little bit then I don’t have to take the cruise companies word as final. Obviously at that point I get professional advice. Best wishes, Stephen.
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