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Everything posted by Giantfan13

  1. Looking on the link from this thread, I see that there is a shared van service from the airport to your hotel for 15E. Has anyone tried that? It says their luggage limit is one medium suitcase and one handbag. How strict are they with that, as we have one large suitcase, and probably a carry on or two. Cheers Len
  2. If you are looking for a real PRIVATE TOUR, like just for yourself and family, it is never too early to do that. If not, and you are a bit undecided, I would go to your roll call and see if you can get a group together, depending on how many you would want in a group. Most tour companies won't take more than 16 or so. That is a nice group, but others prefer smaller like 8-10. But any group will get a better rate than a real private tour. If no one is interested in what you want to do, see if you might be interested in any other groups that may be forming. If not, book your tour and then, on your roll call, tell people that you have booked and if anyone is interested in joining your tour. All the major tour companies will accommodate any group and rarely will they tell you that they are booked up. Cheers Len
  3. You could rent a car and try to do it yourself. You could take the train and find a tour when you get to Berlin? Or you could sign on with one of the popular tour groups that usually do St Petersburg but also do Berlin. They are pretty reasonable, will get you to Berlin but, I believe you are then on a tour with them. If you want to go off on your own, then you would probably need your own transportation, but I am not positive about that. If you are also looking for a tour company for St Petersburg, it could save you some money by combining Berlin with St Petersburg with the same company. Cheers Len
  4. I have always done it, but this time, it tells me I can't just yet. That's why I asked if there is a time frame when you can book your dining time, before you sail? Cheers Len
  5. I don't know if or how things are done in Budapest, regarding if you are interesting in attending Saturday services while there. We happened to be in Helsinki on a Saturday and we wanted to see the Synagogue there. We thought if we could get there early enough we might be able to attend services. We did get there while services were still going on but we were met at the gate by 2 pretty big guards who very nicely told us we couldn't go in. When I asked why, they just replied security reasons. I asked if I could just go on the grounds to take a couple of pics of the synagogue, and again, they, very politely, denied my request. Again, haven't a clue if your intention is to attend services, but if so, I would contact them in advance and see what their policy is. Cheers Len
  6. We are booked on the Radiance of the Sea for a September cruise to Hawaii. We selected the Anytime dining option and know you can make a reservation time for that. But I am not able to do that now. How far in advance can I do it, or when will I be able to make those reservations. As of today it is 342 days till we sail. Cheers Len
  7. My DW just loves those High Teas on sea days, but unfortunately RCCL, as well as many other cruise lines, did away with them. I know Carnival still has them, on all sea days, but you have to bring your own tea bags unless you want just plain Lipton tea. They charge $1.95 for any sort of different tea bags. Talk about giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Cheers Len
  8. I tried this once, bought a great looking men's chain that also included a free bracelet. Wore both for about a month and it lost it;'s tarnish and started looking bad. It comes with a free replacement warrantee so I shipped it back and the sent me a new pair. Wore that for about a month and the same thing happened. Threw them both out. Live and learn. Cheers Len
  9. First of all , THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE. I am an Air Force Veteran, Viet Nam era, so I know where you are coming from. Do you really want to cruise or do you really want to drink? being under 21 seems both these things can't be accomplished mostly at the same time. Several have suggested that you look for a cruise that will take you to places where you can drink. That may be fine for a while, but anytime you are on the ship, you cannot drink and if that is your goal, the cruise will be a bummer. Instead of going home, fly to one of these islands in the ?Caribbean and just chill out for 5 days on the beach and drink as much as you want. In your situation, I really think cruising isn't the best thing if you are just looking to drink. Cheers Len
  10. Just a bit off the subject. We did a north board Alaska cruise several years ago, and we had a flight out of Anchorage, late August, at midnight. We read here on CC that IF you have a chance to see the Northern lights, make sure you are on the left side of the plane. At the airport, we changed our seats to the left side. Well, I know everyone says you can't see the Northern Lights in August, but we had a crisp clear night and we were treated to an amazing, hours worth of display. Even the Captain of the plane remarked it was unusual, but he had to compensate because everyone on the plane was looking out the left side. We did a 10 day cruise and land to Alaska and this was the thing we talked about the most, seeing the Northern Lights. So, it may not be likely, but you just never know. So to anyone flying out of Alaska or maybe any other northern city, find out which side of the plane will face North and try and sit on that side, you never know. Cheers Len
  11. I understand that to see ANYPLACE, you need to spend some time there, that goes for Europe, the Med, the Baltics and most other places cruises go to. But we are talking about a cruise and a chance to see several Hawaiian islands, while staying in your floating hotel of a ship, with all meals and a great place to stay. Yes, the purists will knock anything, but we did an NCL cruise of Hawaii on the Pride of Hawaii, (now the Jade)and loved it. So you want to know about it. Cruising the islands isn't much of a cruise. You go from island to island, so when they depart, the ship basically goes out, goes around in circles for a few hours until it's time to dock at the next island. So if you are huge into cruising then you will be disappointed. But, understand, the deal is Hawaii. On NCL we had 2 overnights and 4 islands. We arrived on Oahu 5 days early and spend great time on the island. For a great price, we saw and experienced 4 Hawaiian Islands, had a cruise where we were fed gourmet meals and had entertainment every night, all for just the cost of the cruise. Anyway, we still think it was great so we just booked the Radiance of the Sea, for September, Vancouver to Hawaii and the rates are great. almost 1/2 of what NCL is charging. For us this is the best of both worlds as we love the sea days, (5 of them) and 5 Days to see the islands. Hawaii is VERY EASY to do on your own, very easy to just rent cars in each port and take off on your own. Everyone does it. So go for it and see what all the excitement is about. Cheers Len
  12. My DW collected them, also from Alaska and the Caribbean. We made a couple of nice bracelets with charms on them and gave them to our granddaughters. We knew they were cheap, but they ended up turning black after they wore them TWO times. Don't waste you time, and if your grandkids like simulated gold that turns black after wearing it a few times, then these are for you. Buy them something nice and don't embarrass yourself. Cheers Len
  13. I fully understand your views and comments, but I still disagree, to an extent. I do NOT think that tipping is a sign or show of arrogance, especially by Americans. Yes we tip, but too many Americans tip regardless of the service they receive, as more an obligation. I tip when we do receive good service, really, no matter where we are. As several people said, tipping is not required but appreciated and that is where I was coming from. Again, if you feel that tipping some one, say a porter, who might help you out a bit over and beyond what might be expected, is arrogant, then, by all means stick to custom. If you offer and they refuse, then I can understand, but they never refuse a tip when offered. I sure don't shell out $20 for carrying a bag for me, but why not tip the way I would here, if I feel I got good service and the person worked hard at what he was doing, regardless if they are salaried. Maybe it's my stubborn streak in me, but as I said before, people shell out thousands of dollars for a cruise and then some complain about tipping. Just another point, which has been brought up many times. On tours to St Petersburg, all the companies suggest about a 10% tip to the guide and 5% to the driver. On a say $600 2 day tour that's about $90 which many people complain is very high. regardless of how you feel, I have been on this site long enough to read many people feel $10 is an OK tip for BOTH, and most are these tipping crazy Americans. Anyway Cheers Len
  14. Thanks for the heads up on the porters making a decent enough salary. Sorry, I did not know that. So I rescind my comments. Cheers Len
  15. Do try and be on deck for the entire sail in. Too many people stay on their balconies and miss the whole experience of the Archipelago sailing. Get to as high a deck as you can and either forward or all the way in the back and sit and have some hot cocoa and enjoy it all. No one really has mentioned any of the other ports you asked about and mostly for good reason, there is really nothing special about sailing in or out of most of the other ports, depending on what you might consider a good experience. Sleep in those days. :D:D:D:D Cheers Len
  16. First the it itineraries. When we cruised, we also did a 12 day with, I believe 3 sea days disbursed between the port days and we welcomed them. As said, it is a very port intensive cruise and there is no coming back to t he ship for lunch and whatever. You are off from when the ship arrives until you HAVE to get back on. From being on this site for many years, I can vouch that several have done some night time excursions also and dozed off during. Myself, I would welcome those seas days just to unwind, remember where you are and what you have done. As for the ships, I have not sailed on the Getaway, but did sail the Breakaway this past January. Both myself and my DW did not like the ship at all. It is big and crowded. Many say on these larger ships that you don't feel crowded, on the Breakaway we did. The smaller venues on the ship that they have entertainment, are always packed with no where to sit. Very little space for some quiet times and hardly any shade if that's what you might prefer. We hated their production shows and service was just not good. I would opt for RCCL. Cheers Len
  17. A question to all fellow cruisers who are afraid of getting sick. We have cruise booked for the end of October. We have paid final payment and bought travel insurance. We are due to get our flu shot around that time. Say you do come down with the flu, there really isn't much medication you can take to make you feel better. On most travel insurers, is that a valid reason for cancelling? I'm sure the cruise line would not want you on board and if you did have the flu, it would be a wasted cruise. Anyway, just supposing?
  18. Usually 3. One the 2 or 3 night in. One, 2 nights before the cruise ends and one somewhere in t he middle. Cheers Len
  19. I fully understand the principle that tipping is NOT required in many ports in Europe, but, as has been said, it is appreciated. We ALWAYS tip for service, at least if the guy is nice or helps us out in any way. What gets me is people spend thousands of dollars on a cruise, a vacation, whatever, and then bitch about tipping some one a few bucks. Yes, again, it isn't required, but why not. At least that's the way we look at it. Cheers Len
  20. Baggage handlers are NOT part of the cruise package. They work for the terminal and for the most part work mainly for tips. It may be principle for you, but these guys bust their you know what and one day you may find your luggage on a different ship. Cheers Len
  21. We are booked on the TA sailing Nov 9th 2019. We were also looking to maybe do a B2B on the preceding cruise, but on researching it, could not find a preceding cruise. her last cruise was a Med that ended on Oct 26 or so. I called RCCL and asked why there was no cruise before ours and was told she will be in drydock. To confirm this, I called my travel agent and asked her the same question. She called RCCL and got the same answer, dry dock. we are just hoping everything goes according to plan and all it needs is that 2 weeks. Sure don't want a delay in our crossing. Cheers Len
  22. We ALWAYS fly in a day earlier. Now that that is out of the way, we were in exactly the same scenario as you, last year. We had a Sunday departure and we do NOT fly on Saturday for religious reasons, so it was either Friday or Sunday. Since San Juan is not one of our favorite places we decided to fly in on Sunday. I'm not sure which airline we used, but it was also an early AM flight, NON STOP,. arriving in San Juan around noon. Again, like yourself, we had an 8PM departure and we said, why not. Everything went great, we got our bags and taxi over to the terminal. Lot's of cars going to the terminal but we were on board by 2:30. As has been said, if it is a non stop flight, do it. Cheers Len
  23. Are you seeing ANY foliage that has turned. I thought it is a bit early yet, but up in Quebec maybe. anyway, just curious. Cheers Len
  24. We have only been twice and cannot give the same info as to those that have been there so many times. BUT, we have done our homework and spent many, many, many hours on the Alaska Port of Call boards. That is where you really should go to ask your questions, not just from a RCCL board. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=55 The people that post there are just a wealth of knowledge and aren't partial to any cruise line. But If I had to make any comments as I am also an avid photographer, if you want to see wildlife forget those early, cheaper cruises in April and May. The darn animals are still sleeping. Even early June isn't the best time for bears. If I had to recommend a time, it would be mid to late July, maybe even early August when the salmon are really running. You can literally go to any stream and reach in and grab some. We have done a round trip out of Seattle and a one way, Vancouver to Whittier. On the one way you get farther north and the mountains and glaciers seem to be more spectacular, in particular College Fiord. But, on any cruise, do try and make it to Glacier Bay. It is truly spectacular. Just a hint, they used to have a book, Toursaver, that had a lot of BOGO tours and stuff that you do privately. We used it when we went but I'm not sure if it is still available. Worth it's weight in gold. Tours and excursions are very expensive, especially if you do them thru the ship, but many people do private tours et al and save a bunch of money, depending on what you might want to do. Again, visit the Alaska POC board and ask your questions there. Cheers Len
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